Tag: Australia

Donald Trump violates U.S. federal election laws by sending fundraising emails to foreign politicians

Current and/or former elected officials in no fewer than six foreign countries have received campaign fundraising emails from the campaign of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. The countries in which current and/or former elected officials have received fundraising solicitations from Trump include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. In at least one case, a former head of government of a foreign country received a fundraising solicitation from Trump.

Trump has only recently started using emails to solicit campaign donations, and it first became clear that the Trump campaign’s email list had serious flaws when Katherine Clark, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party, received a Trump email, despite the fact that Clark is a known supporter of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. However, no laws were violated by Trump when his campaign sent an fundraising solicitation to Clark, because Clark is a United States citizen.

However, numerous current and former members of parliament in at least six foreign countries have clearly indicated that the Trump campaign has sent fundraising solicitations to individuals who are not United States citizens. Under the federal election laws of the United States, it is illegal for an American presidential candidate to solicit campaign donations from individuals who are not United States citizens.

At least two members of the Australian House of Representatives, Tim Watts and Joanne Ryan, reported via Twitter that they had received emails from the Trump campaign asking for campaign donations:

Both Watts and Ryan are members of the Australian Labour Party.

In case you are wondering who the former head of government who received a Trump campaign fundraising email is, it is former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who was the last member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which is now defunct, to serve as prime minister:

The fact that the Trump campaign tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, which is not owned by Trump, to Campbell for a big discount proves that the Trump campaign is completely incompetent.

Ida Auken, a member of the Danish Parliament, also received a fundraising email from Trump:

Auken is a member of the Danish Social Liberal Party.

Anders Adlercreutz, a member of the Parliament of Finland, confirmed to Josh Marshall of the American political website Talking Points Memo that members of the Finnish Parliament have received Trump fundraising emails:

Adlercreutz is a member of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

The Iceland Monitor has reported that Katrín Jakobsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, was one of at least three members of the Icelandic Parliament to receive campaign fundraising emails from Trump. Jakobsdóttir is the leader of the Icelandic Left-Green Alliance.

However, the strongest critic of the Trump fundraising emails to foreign politicians is Natalie McGarry, a member of the British House of Commons from the Glasgow area in Scotland. After receiving a fundraising email from Donald Trump, Jr., who was acting on behalf of his dad’s presidential campaign, McGarry wrote a response to the younger Trump in which she strongly criticized the elder Trump’s hateful, bigoted rhetoric and told the younger Trump that she hoped that American voters “reject your father fundamentally at the ballot box”. McGarry is not a member of any political party, although she was a member of the Scottish National Party until 2015. An online friend of mine posted to her social media page McGarry’s letter to the younger Trump, and it has been shared online over 1,700 times:

None of the foreign elected officials donated any money to Trump, to the best of my knowledge.

Donald Trump has proven that his presidential campaign is absolutely incompetent when it comes to operating an email list, and he has broken the law by attempting to solicit campaign donations from foreign politicians.

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How to shorten American campaign season while still allowing people to take part in democracy

While Australia has a short, campaign season for all seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament, America’s campaign season, especially in regards to presidential elections, but also in regards to congressional and even state legislative and other types of elections, is ridiculously long to the point of being seemingly perpetual, and it needs to be shortened badly. However, at the same time, we must allow the same or greater level of ability of voters to participate in the political process.

Here are some of my ideas for speeding up America’s political process:

  • Establish a national primary day for party nominations in federal elections, preferably the Tuesday following the first Monday in September
  • Establish a filing deadline for federal races that is four weeks before the national primary for non-incumbents and five weeks before the national primary for incumbents
  • Overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by federal constitutional amendment and allow for robust regulations, limits, and restrictions on money in politics

One reason why many voters here in America are burned out by the political process is because campaign season is too long. It’s time to change that.

You’re not supporting Serena Williams by painting your face black

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post uses Australian English spelling rules.


At the women’s singles semi-final of this year’s Australian Open tennis major, at least two fans were seen on television holding a sign reading “Keep calm and be Serena” and…wait for it…wearing black face paint. “Serena” is Serena Williams of the United States, who won her semi-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and went on to lose the grand final to Angelique Kerber of Germany. While I’m not a fan of tennis at all, I do know enough about the sport to tell you that Serena is probably the top athlete in all of sports globally.

If you’re wearing blackface, you might claim to be supporting Serena, but you’re actually being very racist.

Blackface was commonly used in theatre plays for many, many years, with usage in the United States being commonplace well into the 1960’s. In blackface performances, white actors would wear black face paint to portray black people. For fans to employ racism that the theatre industry used is absolutely unacceptable, and something that Serena herself finds to be very offensive. I’m surprised that there are many Australians who are very racist, to tell you the truth.

Hillary Clinton suggests going too far on gun safety

Hillary Clinton, whether she knew the fact that Australia instituted a mandatory confiscation of assault weapons in the mid-1990’s or not, stated that “Australia is a good example” to model a federal gun buyback program after, and that a federal gun buyback program is “something worth considering”.

I want to make two points about this.

First, the gun proliferation lobby is, not surprisingly, attacking Hillary over her remarks right away. However, they’ve distorted Hillary’s words to make it look like she fully supports a mass confiscation of guns in this country. In reality, she’s not yet outright supported a mass confiscation of guns, but she did say that she would be open to the idea of supporting a federal gun buyback program of some kind. If the NRA starts running ridiculous spoofs of the “How to Speak Australian” Foster’s beer commercials, you’ll know that the NRA has no fucking clue as to what the fuck they’re doing.

Second, if Hillary does decide to fully support an Australian-style mandatory assault weapon confiscation, she would be running head-first into opposition from virtually the entire Republican Party and a large chunk of the Democratic Party. There’s two reasons for this. First, supporting taking legally-obtained firearms from law-abiding Americans is extremely unpopular in this country, even among Democrats and with gun safety being a major political issue in this country. Second, unlike the Australian Constitution, which has no provision banning the Australian Parliament from enacting a mandatory gun buyback program, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution would be interpreted by most judges, even many liberal judges, as banning the enactment of a mandatory gun buyback program in this country.

Make no mistake about it, I am not a gun nut or a puppet for the gun lobby. I support universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning the sale of assault weapons, requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement, and enacting a gun registry. These are my views, and they do not necessarily line up with those of any presidential candidate.

While my political views may not line up 100% with those of Bernie Sanders on every single issue, he’s the only reasonable person running for president when it comes to gun safety, and his views on guns are the closest to mine. He supports background checks, ending the gun show loophole, and banning the sale of assault weapons. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has suggested the idea of taking legally-obtained firearms away from law-abiding Americans, something that I think goes too far.

My 2015 Rugby World Cup predictions

With the 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC), the premier international tournament in the sport of rugby union, scheduled for next month, I’m going to make predictions for every game of the entire tournament. Since this is a two-stage tournament, with a four-pool, 20-team round robin segment called the pool stage, followed by an eight-team elimination segment called the knockout stage, with a somewhat complex point system being used to determine standings for the pool stage, predicting the entire tournament correctly is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible.

In the RWC, wins in the pool stage are worth four points, draws are worth two points (if two teams are tied after regulation in the pool stage, the game is declared a draw), and losses are worth zero points. Additionally, one bonus point is awarded for scoring four or more tries (in rugby, a try is scored by grounding the ball behind the opposing team’s goal line) in a game, and one bonus point is awarded for losing by seven points or fewer. I’ve listed games according to pool and in the order within the pool that they are scheduled to be played. I’m using the (winning team) (winning score)-(losing score) (losing team) format to display projections, with teams scoring bonus points (BP) being noted in parenthesis. For standings, if at least one game in a particular pool ends in a draw, I’ll use the win-draw-loss format for team records, and, if no games in a particular pool end in a draw, I’ll use the win-loss format for team records. Points are displayed as the following mathematical formula: (win and draw points)+(bonus points)=(total points)

Here are my predictions for the pool stage of the 2015 RWC:

POOL A (Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, Uruguay)

England 21-17 Fiji (Fiji BP)
Wales 32-6 Uruguay (Wales BP)
Australia 25-19 Fiji (Fiji BP)
England 17-17 Wales
Australia 49-9 Uruguay (Australia BP)
Fiji 20-19 Wales (Wales BP)
Australia 34-30 England (Australia and England BP)
Fiji 31-11 Uruguay (Fiji BP)
Australia 25-13 Wales (Australia BP)
England 71-3 Uruguay (England BP)

Australia – 4-0-0 – 16+3=19
England – 3-1-0 – 14+1=15
Fiji – 2-0-2 – 8+3=11
Wales – 1-1-2 – 6+2=8
Uruguay – 0-0-4 – 0+0=0

POOL B (Japan, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, United States)

Japan 22-21 South Africa (South Africa BP)
Samoa 29-22 United States (Samoa and United States BP)
Scotland 11-10 Japan (Japan BP)
South Africa 57-24 Samoa (South Africa BP)
United States 22-20 Scotland (Scotland BP)
Samoa 31-12 Japan (Samoa BP)
South Africa 37-20 Scotland (South Africa BP)
South Africa 30-24 United States (South Africa and United States BP)
Samoa 27-15 Scotland (Samoa BP)
United States 22-21 Japan (Japan BP)

South Africa – 3-1 – 12+4=16
Samoa – 3-1 – 12+3=15
United States – 2-2 – 8+2=10
Japan – 1-3 – 4+2=6
Scotland – 1-3 – 4+1=5

POOL C (Argentina, Georgia Republic, Namibia, New Zealand, Tonga)

Tonga 40-15 Georgia Republic (Tonga BP)
New Zealand 19-18 Argentina (Argentina BP)
New Zealand 102-6 Namibia (New Zealand BP)
Argentina 38-10 Georgia Republic (Argentina BP)
Tonga 35-14 Namibia (Tonga BP)
New Zealand 49-18 Georgia Republic (New Zealand BP)
Tonga 22-9 Argentina
Namibia 24-19 Georgia Republic (Namibia and Georgia Republic BP)
New Zealand 32-20 Tonga (New Zealand BP)
Argentina 49-3 Namibia (Argentina BP)

New Zealand – 4-0 – 16+3=19
Tonga – 3-1 – 12+2=14
Argentina – 2-2 – 8+3=11
Namibia – 1-3 – 4+1=5
Georgia Republic – 0-4 – 0+1=1

POOL D (Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Romania)

Ireland 36-11 Canada (Ireland BP)
France 40-36 Italy (France BP, Italy 2 BPs)
France 39-12 Romania (France BP)
Italy 29-16 Canada
Ireland 41-3 Romania (Ireland BP)
France 41-20 Canada (France BP)
Italy 33-29 Ireland (Italy BP, Ireland 2 BPs)
Canada 44-30 Romania (Canada and Romania BP)
Italy 55-12 Romania (Italy BP)
France 19-19 Ireland

France – 3-1-0 – 14+3=17
Italy – 3-0-1 – 12+4=16
Ireland – 2-1-1 – 10+4=14
Canada – 1-0-3 – 4+1=5
Romania – 0-0-4 – 0+1=1

In rugby union, tries are worth five points in a game, conversions after tries are worth two points in a game, and goals (which can be scored on either penalty kicks or drop kicks) are worth three points in a game. If I’ve predicted a team to win a game and earn a bonus point in the standings, lose a game by more than seven points and earn a bonus point in the standings, or lose a game and earn two bonus points in the standings, then I’m predicting that the team will score at least four tries in the game in question.

Since the top two in each pool advance to the knockout stage of the RWC, that means that I predict that Australia, England, South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand, Argentina, France, and Italy will advance to the knockout stage. In addition, I’m also predicting that, in addition to the eight teams that I’ve predicted to advance to the knockout phase, Fiji, the United States, Tonga, and Ireland will qualify for the 2019 RWC based on their performance in the 2015 RWC.

The quarterfinal pairings for the knockout stage are 1B (first-place from Group B) vs. 2A (second-place from Group A), 1C vs. 2D, 1D vs. 2C, and 1A vs. 2B, with the winners of the first two quarterfinal pairings facing each other in the first semifinal, and the winners of the last two quarterfinal pairings facing each other in the second semifinal. The winners of the semifinal matches advance to the final to play for the Webb Ellis Cup that is presented to the winner of the RWC, whereas the losers of the semi-final matches advance to the bronze final to play for third-place.

Should any knockout stage game end in a tie after regulation, two ten-minute extra time periods would be played, with both periods being played in their entirety regardless of whether or not scoring occurs and/or one team is ahead after the first extra time period. Should extra time end in a tie, a ten-minute sudden death extra time period, in which the first team to score wins, would be played. Should neither team score in the sudden death extra time period, a kicking competition, in which both teams will get five place-kicks at goal, would be played, and whoever kicks the most goals in the kicking competition wins. Should the kicking competition end in a tie after each team has taken five kicks, then a sudden death kicking competition, in which the kicking competition is continued until one team kicks a goal and the other team misses, would be played.

QUARTERFINALS

England 25-22 South Africa (Sudden Death Extra Time)
New Zealand 41-19 Italy
France 45-18 Tonga
Australia 36-15 Samoa

SEMIFINALS

England 26-23 New Zealand
Australia 24-21 France

BRONZE FINAL

New Zealand 33-27 France

FINAL

England 19-19 Australia (England wins in Sudden Death Kicking Competition 12-11)

I’m predicting that England, the primary host country of the tournament (Wales will host several games, although most of the games will be held in England), will win the 2015 Rugby World Cup and claim the Webb Ellis Cup.

CONFIRMED: Hillary Clinton was actively involved with developing TPP before she was against parts of it

Since launching her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has voiced opposition to parts of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that, if fully implemented, would undermine American sovereignty and result in thousands of American jobs being moved overseas.

However, Hillary Clinton wasn’t simply for the TPP before she was against parts of it; she was heavily involved in developing the TPP before she was against parts of it. To prove this point, International Business Times, a business news website, linked to seven leaked diplomatic cables from September 2009 to February 2010 in their report about the U.S. State Department’s role in developing TPP under Hillary Clinton. These cables outline the then-Hillary Clinton-led U.S. State Department’s involvement in developing the TPP with other countries that would be parties to the TPP if fully implemented.

In chronological order according to the timestamp on each cable, here are the cables outlining how Hillary Clinton’s U.S. State Department was involved with the development of the TPP:

  • September 18, 2009 – New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser “expressed his firm belief that the U.S. Administration would move forward on expanding multilateral trade when the timing is right”.
  • September 30, 2009 – Then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg “was interested in moving beyond” the current bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam. Additionally, Then-Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister (now-Vietnamese Foreign Minister) Pham Binh Minh complained that the U.S. was “too protective” regarding international trade.
  • November 27, 2009 – Then-U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats visited Japan on November 16 and 17, 2009, and his visit was viewed by Japanese officials as “a strong sign of the importance the United States attaches to the U.S.-Japan economic relationship”. However, Japan was “not ready to join a broad regional trade agreement due to sensitivities over agriculture” at the time.
  • December 22, 2009 – Then-U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak hosted a dinner for representatives of would-be TPP member countries, and said representatives “inquired about the goals and objectives of the United States at the upcoming Melbourne (Australia) meeting March 15-19, including the shape and content of the agreement to make it a 21st century agreement, timing, and rules for new members”. Michalak was only mentioned by last name at the very end of the diplomatic cable and was never mentioned by first name in any part of the cable.
  • January 6, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand requested “an additional officer in the Political/Economic Section” for, among other purposes, “allow the Economics Officer to focus on preparations for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations”.
  • January 28, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia advised Then-U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, who was referred to as an ambassador in the cable, on strategies for convincing Malaysia to join the TPP, including advising Marantis to “highlight the priority the Administration is giving to the Trans Pacific Partnership initiative, and the role that the TPP will play in promoting economic competitiveness and trade opportunities in the region”.
  • February 19, 2010 – Then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frankie Reed engaged with New Zealand officials “on a wide range of topics including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”, and Mark Sinclair, New Zealand’s chief negotiator for the TPP, stated that the New Zealand government “views the TPP as a platform for future trade integration in the Asia Pacific (region)”.

The Deputy Secretary of State, Undersecretary of State, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassadors, and U.S. Embassies are all part of the U.S. State Department, both when Hillary Clinton was the head of the State Department, as well as today.

If you needed proof that Hillary Clinton’s recent opposition to parts of the TPP is purely political expediency, there it is. Her U.S. State Department has played a key role in developing the TPP, and that’s something that, as much as she wants to, she can’t deny.

U.S. Open golf championship shaping up to be one of the most memorable in decades

Normally, I don’t watch golf tournaments, but I made an exception for this year’s U.S. Open championship, largely due to FOX heavily promoting their coverage of the tournament during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series automobile races that I watch on most weekends (NASCAR’s top series has an off week this week).

What those watching the U.S. Open have seen over the last three days has been one of the greatest first 54 holes of a major golf championship in history.

The biggest story of the tournament hasn’t been Tiger Woods missing the cut. The biggest story isn’t the difficulty and physical demands of the Chambers Bay golf course, where the tournament is being held this year. The biggest story isn’t Jordan Spieth trying to win the second leg of golf’s grand slam (winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, the (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the four major men’s golf tournaments, in the same year). The biggest story isn’t FOX covering a major golf tournament for the first time.

All of those stories I listed in the above paragraph are big stories of this tournament, but the biggest story of the tournament has been Jason Day, an Australian who is 10th-ranked professional golfer in the world, collapsing from benign positional vertigo on his final hole of the second round of the tournament, then coming back in the third round and shooting a round of 68 (2 under par) to tie Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace for the championship lead at 4 under par after 54 holes. Day’s third round performance was absolutely phenomenal, especially when one considers that Day was not physically well throughout his third round.

Tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open golf championship is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing final rounds of a major golf championship in a very long time. Should two or more players tie for the lead after all players are finished with their final round, an 18-hole playoff would be played by those tied for the lead on Monday.

Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard treated in a sexist manner by the Australian media once again

Note to Seven Network Tennis ReportersAfter easily winning her second-round match of the women’s singles tournament at tennis’s Australian Open, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was asked to do a twirl by a male reporter for the Seven Network, an Australian television network:

An unusual request greeted 20-year-old Canadian tennis phenom Eugenie Bouchard after she breezed her way into the third round of the Australian Open with an easy 6-0, 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens.

When Bouchard met the on-court interviewer — a man — to talk about the match, which lasted a mere 54 minutes, he asked her to “give us a twirl.”

[…]

Bouchard obliged, “somewhat uncomfortably” showing off her bright pink and yellow outfit, as the Associated Press reported…

Since virtually nobody would ask a male tennis player to do a twirl in a post-match interview, the Seven Network reporter acted in a sexist manner toward Eugenie Bouchard. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Bouchard has been subject to sexism by a Seven Network reporter at an Australian Open. Last year, a female Seven Network reporter asked Bouchard who she would want to date if she could date anyone she wanted to, which is the type of question that virtually nobody would ask a male tennis player.

While I’m not a fan of tennis (in fact, I’ve never watched a tennis match before), I’m getting tired of the rampant sexism in the sports media. Sports journalists should stick to asking tennis players questions about their tennis game.

Indiana Toll Road, privatized by Republicans, files for bankruptcy

The latest example of how privatization schemes have failed the American people comes from Indiana. Specifically, the Indiana Toll Road, which was privatized by Republicans several years ago, has officially filed for bankruptcy:

The company that operates the Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, though Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement Monday drivers of the route through northern Indiana can expect “business as usual.”

Debt-ridden ITR Commission Co., a spawn of the Spanish-Australian company Cintra-Macquarie, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago in a prepackaged plan to restructure its approximate $6 billion debt.

The company in 2006 paid $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease of the road that runs between the Illinois and Ohio state lines, but the toll revenue failed to meet company expectations.

This is the main reason why I’m opposed to toll roads, especially ones that are leased to a private entity by the state in which they’re located. If the toll road doesn’t get enough traffic, then the company that owns the lease can’t pay the bills, and motorists and taxpayers get the shaft. We need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, not let it go bankrupt.