Links for 03 March 2009 through 07 March 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 03 March 2009 through 07 March 2009, containing traces of nuts:

Fine posts for 2008

Given that mere popularity doesn’t reflect quality, here’s my personal selection of my best, timeless posts for 2008. Happy reading!

Thailand’s political crisis: an introduction

Photo of PAD protesters at Bangkok airport

Thailand’s long-simmering political crisis finally made it onto Western TVs this week when protesters closed Bangkok’s international airport, disrupting [shock horror] Western tourists.

The essence is that the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the guys in the yellow shirts who’ve shut down the airport, want prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์) to resign. They reckon he’s the puppet of a former corrupt prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

You could argue that Somchai’s election, while controversial, was constitutionally valid. But PAD has run out of patience with the string of corrupt and presumed-corrupt politicians. Even the army chief reckons it might be time to call fresh elections to clear the air. But Somchai won’t budge.

This isn’t a simple story of The People versus the Evil Politician though. The roots of conflict go deep into Thai history and culture.

Continue reading “Thailand’s political crisis: an introduction”

Links for 23 August 2008 through 24 August 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 23 August 2008 through 24 August 2008, with shaved parmesan:

Super Hornets are Go

Photograph of US Navy F-18E Super Hornet aircraft

Defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon has announced that the controversial purchase of 24 Super Hornet aircraft will go ahead.

The review of the Howard government’s decision to buy the aircraft — at a total cost of $6 billion even though the RAAF hadn’t wanted them — reached some damaging conclusions, including:

  • There has been a lack of sound, long-term air combat capability planning decisions by the former Government over the course of the last decade.
  • The retirement of the F-111 was made in haste but is not irreversible. The cost of turning the F-111 back on would be enormous and crews and skills have already moved on.
  • The former Government’s decision to leave Australia’s air defences in the hands of the Joint Strike Fighter project was a flawed leap of faith in scheduling terms and combined with the quick decision to retire the F-111 early, allowed an air combat capability gap to emerge.
  • The subsequent timetable the former Government put on the acquisition of an interim fighter left Defence planners with no choice but to recommend the Super Hornet. No other suitable aircraft could be produced to meet the 2010 deadline the former Government had set. One year on, that is now even more so the case.

Cancelling the order would still incur a financial penalty and create “undesirable tensions”, and the final conclusions is that “the Super Hornet is an excellent aircraft… and is the only aircraft which can meet the small delivery window created by the former Government’s poor planning processes and politically-driven responses.”

As a shareholder in Australia Inc, I’d like to know why the former “board members” allowed this to happen. When company directors are negligent they become personally liable so why, given the report’s damning conclusions, does Brendan Nelson not become personally liable?

Continue reading “Super Hornets are Go”