MAD Matter Files

Here you can find a number of articles written by past and present MAD members on a variety of important topics! Some of the articles are quite old, but many are extremely relevant to events happening today.


China, Google and the Internet
Sashi Balaraman, February 2006.
“China continues to steadfastly resist Western liberal ideals, but in allowing Google, Yahoo and MSN to operate in their country, they tolerate them to a degree. The oppressed Chinese are mostly in agreement that whilst these corporations sometimes toe the line, the presence of such companies allows them to express their views.”

The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Media Debates – Glossary and Who Owns What
Tim Sonnreich, February 2006.
“There is a requirement under the content quotas regime for stations to show 250 hours of Australian made drama each year, although stations rarely meet this goal and nothing happens, because the licence owners are powerful people and you’re not.”

Negotiating for the Release of Hostages Taken in Iraq: Part 1 and Part 2
Tim Sonnreich, November 2005.
“Many of the hostages who end up in the hands of the lunatics – are actually ‘sold’ to them by other groups who do the actual kidnapping. It’s at this point that we can really save lives. There is evidence to suggest that these ‘middle-men-kidnappers’ can be persuaded to release hostages before they hand them over to the ultra-extremist groups.”

Government Funded Controversial Art: Case Studies
Tim Sonnreich, August 2005.
“The photo featured a crucifix suspended in the artist’s own urine. Serrano said it was a commentary on organised religion, not the existence of religion or of the Christian faith. Catholics in particular and Christians in general, didn’t really care what its intent was.”

Case Study: The Ok Tedi Mine, PNG
Tim Sonnreich, July 2005.
“The chemicals poisoned the water, killing or contaminated over 70% of the fish, killing off other animal species (like wild pigs) that were previously hunted in the area. Tons of sediment in the riverbed caused a relatively deep and slow river to become shallower and develop rapids, which pretty serious when the most common form of transport is canoe.”

Case Study: Bougainville and the Panguna Mine.
Tim Sonnreich, July 2005.
“The enigmatic Ona still refused to recognise the agreement and appeared to have gone quite mad, declaring himself the King of the Independent Kingdom of Meekamui, a nation whose territories apparently include the highlands of Bougainville and the Panguna mine. The “King’s” economic advisor, “Prince Jeffrey” is from the so-called independent sovereign State of Mogilno (which as far as I can tell, only exists on the internet and in Jeff’s head). But despite all the crazy promises he made, Ona’s men still control the Panguna mine.”

Pacific Island States: How a ‘Guest Worker’ scheme could help the whole region.
Tim Sonnreich, June 2005.
“Put most bluntly, in Fiji there are many workers, but not many jobs. In Australia there are many jobs and not enough workers. It seems ridiculous that the federal government is desperately trying to find 20,000 additional skilled migrants to boost the pool of available labour but won’t accept a guest worker system.”

Whales: Now That’s Good Eatin’!
Tim Sonnreich, June 2005.
“The population of whales is about 10% of pre-commercial hunting days so before Japan gets excited about the ‘rebound’ of the Minke species, it should think a little more deeply about the issue, which ironically, prompts the Japanese to say “Ok, we’ll go do another study of whale numbers in the South Pacific” which entails killing a few 1000 more.”

Using Torture to gather intelligence about Terrorism: This should be a lot harder to defend in debates than it currently is.
Tim Sonnreich, February 2005.
“Water-boarding (where a shackled prisoner is very nearly drowned) is simply designed to provoke abject terror which, with humourless irony, is precisely the crime these prisoners are ‘suspected’ of plotting to commit themselves… Condoleeza Rice has even refused to state categorically that “water boarding” is torture.”

US Global Military Strategy: Planning for the next war, and the next, and the next…
Tim Sonnreich, January 2005.
“The British Ministry of Defence argues that with the cost savings that will come from sacking 20,000 people, the military can invest in new technologies that will enhance their capabilities. Although that may be true, very few pieces of advanced technology can conduct peace-keeping or restore security to the streets of Iraq.”

The Music Industry and the Internet: The Original Odd Couple
Ravi Dutta, August 2004.
“In early 2004, the RIAA started suing random “small fishes” and making an example of them. The problem was some of the people who they were charging: an eight year old girl, and a 72 year old woman. This turned into a public relations nightmare.”

Kashmir: The Never-Ending War (This actually has nothing to do with cricket.)
Sashi Balaraman, August 2004.
“Whilst the common Indian and Pakistani wish peace for the region, neither will accept a softening of their respective stances. Until the corruption and stagnation that exists in the two countries’ governments is rooted out, Kashmir will continue to be a war zone, a dangerous breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists.”

Democracy: What you’ve always needed to know about it, but been too stupid to realise you didn’t
Tim Sonnreich, May 2004.
“Sri Lanka has a big problem with some pesky terrorist/freedom fighters called the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers want to carve off a fair slice of Sri Lanka and make it a Tamil theme park (or something). Sri Lankan politicians fall into two main categories: those who are willing to talk about giving the Tigers a theme park, and those who rather just kill the Tigers. In their infinite wisdom the Sri Lankan people voted for a softy as Prime Minister and a psycho as President. So the PM had a mandate to compromise and the President had a mandate to shoot people who wanted to compromise. Hmm, problem.”

North Korea: The “Dear Leader” is out of his friggin’ mind
Tim Sonnreich, July 2004.
“In 1998 North Korea fired a missile over Japan that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. For some reason Japan is usually touchy about the threat of nuclear weapons.”

Australia’s Foreign Aid in the South Pacific: The Drug of the Masses
Tim Sonnreich, April 2003.
“AusAID in PNG has allowed 450 students to study at tertiary level here in Australia… How influential will these 450 tertiary educated Papuans be when there are virtually no jobs in their own country? It’s quite likely that many will become useful and productive members of the Australian economy.”

Piracy: Maritime Terrorism (not the “Ahoy Matey”, slightly-camp kind)
Tim Sonnreich.
“In the Sulu region of the Philippines there is only one aging patrol boat to police the entire region’s waterways, which are used by thousands of people each day. Worse still is the fact that officials often misuse this scarce resource to conduct their own smuggling operations.”