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Police "PR," Australia style

Australia is agog.

"Prime Minister attacked by wild mob." "Gillard saved from Aboriginal riot by police." Lurid media stories are accompanied by photos of Prime Minister Julia Gillard being hauled through a crowd of police, losing her shoe, stumbling and falling at one point, being shoved into a car, and hauled to "safety."

No-fly zone in Libya—did it prevent a massacre?

(Following is the text of an e-mail I sent to Avaaz.org today, commenting on their continuing to claim credit for having "prevented" a massacre of civilians in Benghazi in March. I also include the e-mail trail below.)

Dominick et al, I want to thank you for the e-mail below. While I disagreed with it intensely, I did appreciate it that Avaaz put an effort into explaining its positions, and that it was a thoughtful reply, and not a bunch of buzzwords/key messages.

14000 US deaths from Fukushima? Not likely!

A duo of "radiation experts" have caused a flurry of concern lately over radiation from Japan's crippled nuclear reactors.

Triple the number of bicycles on Toronto's streets? Brrrrr!

You can't beat foresight when engaged in strategic planning.

Being able to do thought experiments about the consequences of adopting a strategy or tactic is crucial to one's ability to handle those consequences. That can be true even when your strategy is successful.

Accusations of "rape as a weapon of war" as a weapon of war

Here's a letter I wrote to NDP leaders shortly after they voted to approve extending the war in Libya. (Someone who used to be a colleague at my workplace got himself elected to Parliament recently. I'm sure he didn't think he'd be a pro-war voter within weeks of the election!)

I must say I was taken aback by the NDP's voting for more war in Libya. And I'm sure you think it was a big victory that you got some kind of a promise from the Harperites to prosecute "rape used as a weapon of war."

Twenty-two years later, we still believe the Tiananmen myth

Twenty-two years after Tiananmen, and the fairy tale is still told with gusto.

On Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 I attended an event called "From Tiananmen to Tahrir Square," (TtoT) where five speakers attempted to draw parallels, distinctions, and lessons from the events of May-June, 1989 in China and the revolt in Egypt earlier this year.

Most of us, including that night's presenters, believe the Tiananmen myth, not the facts. That limits us. You can't really draw useful conclusions from what didn't happen.

Private is just the public minus one

Do you know how big the largest possible private sector organization is? That's easy. It's the public sector, minus one.

That's the essence of the private sector—it excludes. In fact, that's the point of the private sector. It's the definition of the private sector.

Nothing good can come from continuing to stoke rebellion in Libya

A few days ago, I typed out the following to the Globe and Mail in response to this article.

* * * * *

I hate to break it to our Fearless Leaders, but the revolution in Libya has been lost, and has been lost for some time now. It's clear that the rebels are no match for the Libyan army-the only territory they can occupy is whatever's been cleared for them by NATO bombs.

Seriously, folks!

I have on occasion advised spokespersons that they ought to remove the sentence, "We take [some issue] very seriously" from their quiver of PR speaking points. I explain that just about everyone confronted by an issue these days claims to take it "very seriously," even when they obviously don't, to the point where the phrase just doesn't mean anything any more. Even when I explain, I find myself confronted with looks of incomprehension. It seems like it just doesn't compute.

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