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Sunday, 29 April

19:30

PR: LEEKICO helps Blockchain Network Connectivity Project NKN to Close Successful Crowdfunding "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

LEEKICO helps Blockchain Network Connectivity Project NKN to Close Successful Crowdfunding

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

Sydney, Australia LEEKICO, a one-stop-service ICO platform, successfully supported NKN, a project aiming to rebuild the Internet that will be truly open, decentralized, dynamic, safe, shared and owned by the community, completed its highly anticipated token sale on April 19th, 2018. With LEEKICOs support, NKN collected a total of ETH 24,100.

NKNs early bird sale, which was only opened to participants who were previously whitelisted for the project, started on April 2nd and was completed on April 8th. The main ICO took place on April 19th and collected 70% of the hard cap in the first 3 minutes, with the cap reached shortly after.

LEEKICO supported NKN in both stages of the ICO, managing the KYC (Know Your Customer) whitelisting during the first stage and the crowdfunding during the second. Thanks to LEEKICOs service and marketing support, the project managed to reach 2,000 participants, and generate over 9,000 new sign ups to LEEKICOs platform and deliver over 15,000 visitors per second to the projects website at its peak.

NKN (New Kind of Network) is a new generation of highly scalable, self-evolving and self-incentivized blockchain network infrastructure. NKN addresses the network decentralization and self-evolution by introducing Cellular Automata (CA) methodology for both dynamism and efficiency. NKN tokenizes network connectivity and data transmission capacity by a novel and useful Proof of Work.

NKN focuses on decentralizing network resources, similar to how Bitcoin and Ethereum decentralize computing power as well as how IPFS and Filecoin decentralize storage. Together, they form the three pillars of the Internet infrastructure for next generation blockchain systems. NKN ultimately makes the network more decentralized, efficient, equalized, robust and secure, thus enabling healthier, safer, and more open Internet.

NKN i...

17:19

Soros's Foundation to Exit Hungary Amid Crackdown, Presse Says - Critique "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Newly re-elected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared Open Society Foundations, organisations funded by billionaire international currency speculator, George Soros, unwelcome in Hungary. I think he is right. Soros funds, in tens of billions of dollars, lots of Non Government Organisations (NGOs) around the world, many of them through his Open Society Foundations (OSF). Although these NGOs usually identify as 'charities' or 'grass roots' movements, all have in common the political aims of open borders and identity politics, a form of balkanisation. Backed by billions, not millions of dollars, this is the opposite of democracy. In Australia GetUp, which has links to the Australian Greens and the Labor Party, is one of the best known of Soros-linked foundations. (See "Australian democracy swiss-cheesed by George Soros Open Societies Foundations.") GetUp collects your information and resells it or uses it for its own political ends, employing 'organisers' to find and interact with likely prospects for influencing Australian politics the GetUp way (and they don't like population restraint). GetUp has also been running very expensive campaigns to prevent their being obliged to declare themselves as political lobbyists, although they describe this as campaigning for democracy. (See GetUp vid about 'attack on democracy'.) Interesting problem, isn't it? See John Bentley here: "Diversionary tactics, smokescreens and the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Bill 2017.") Soros also funds the 350.org, which has empowered the Shoalhaven Greens to fight the Adani Coal Mine in Queensland, driving down its share prices. Sounds good to you? But, meanwhile, Mr Soros massively invested in coal and fossil fuels as the share price fell. You could say, well, Mr Soros is profiting from bad to fund good - except that he is funding coal, anyway. A number of writers in the Australian Independent Media Network (AIMN) defend Soros when people criticise him, which makes me think that AIMN isn't all that independent. The financial press, such as Bloomberg and investing.com defend Soros like some kind of white knight. See, for instance, https://m.investing.com/news/world-news/civil-organizations-in-hungary-brace-for-government-crackdown-on-ngos-1413683?ampMode=1.

The bigger picture

...

....

13:30

The Mirage of Data Portability "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

In The Facebook Trials: Its Not Our Data I wrote:

Facebook hasnt taken our datathey have created it.

Moreover, its the prospect of profits that has led Facebook and Google to invest in the technology and tools that have created our data. The more difficult it is to profit from data, the less data there will be. Proposals to require data to be portable miss this important point. Try making your Facebook graph portable before joining Facebook.

In an important post, Will Rinehart, adds detail:

Contrary to the claims of portability proponents, however, it isnt data that gives Facebook power.

Facebooks technology stack, the suite of technologies that it uses behind the scenes, clearly shows the importance of scaling, as much of the architecture was developed in-house to address the unique problems facing Facebooks vast troves of data. Facebook created BigPipe to dynamically serve pages faster, Haystack to efficiently store billions of photos, Unicorn for searching the social graph, TAO for storing graph information, Peregrine for querying, and MysteryMachine to help with end-to-end performance analysis. Nearly all of this design is open for others to use, and has been a significant boon to programmers in the ecosystem. The company also invested billions in content delivery networks to quickly deliver video, and it split the cost of an undersea cable with Microsoft to...

05:04

Latam Eco Review: Respected ancestral healer murdered in Peru "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Below are summaries of the most popular stories by our Spanish language service, Mongabay Latam, from the week of April 16 22. Among the top articles: the environmental worlds reaction to the terrible assassination of Olivia Arvalo, an activist of the Shipibo people in Peru; the search for a better system of land distribution in Colombia; and the struggle of indigenous communities in Bolivia against the construction of the Rositas hydroelectric plant. The image above from the vast Mongabay Latam archive, of a Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) a colorful bird endemic to northern Australia, was the most popular on Latams social networks. Peru: Assassination of Shipibo leader and healer Olivia Arvalo, a traditional healer of the Shipibo people, was 81 years old. For the past few years, she lived near Pucallpa in the Yarinacocha district where she produced artisanal crafts and occasionally led ayahuasca sessions. Image courtesy of the Temple of the Way of Light. To understand the magnitude of Olivia Arvalos murder, it is important to know who she was within the Shipibo indigenous community of the Amazon. The 81-year old, fatally shot April 9, served as a meraya, or master healer with ancestral knowledge of traditional medicine practices. She will continue being a living symbol of wisdom and feminine strength that contributed to the reaffirmation of our cultural identity, helping us establish a line of communication between the Shipibo Konibos, medical science and western society, said Ronald Surez, president of the Shipibo Konibo Xetebo Council. A

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Saturday, 28 April

10:20

Colin Mitchells powerful submission to the Senate finds the national radioactive waste selection process to be deceitful "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Colin Mitchell  Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics re the selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility from Colin Mitchell (independent campaigner)

I believe that the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility (NRWMF) is flawed because:

  1. The notion of broad community support is considered far too narrowly as applying only to the local community.The NRWMF is a National project which could have environmental consequences extending far beyond the local community to encompass large areas of SA and beyond into other States of Australia, potentially effecting the whole nation. For example, leakage of radioactive material into the water table could spread over time causing disastrous effects on human and animal health, as well as agricultural crops. Also escape of radioactive material into the atmosphere could have similar negative consequences across wide areas of Australia and beyond. This is a decision which involves far more than the welfare of the immediate local community, rather the welfare of all the people of SA and all the people of Australia should be considered.

    Recommendations: Broad community support should extend to include the people of SA as a whole. Community opinion in other States of Australia should also be considered

    Community support should be gauged by multiple methods including wide-ranging telephone and internet polling, acceptance of petitions and public meetings in Adelaide and all other major cities and towns in SA.

    This process should be carried out by an independent b...

04:38

Anzac Day: The useful dead "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group Anzac Day Statement for 2018.

Originally published by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Anzac Day: The useful dead

This is the MACGs Anzac Day Statement for 2018.

1915

On this day, 103 years ago, Australian, New Zealand and other troops of the British Empire stormed a Turkish beach. It was a poorly conceived, poorly executed plan to secure a passage through the Dardanelles for the navy of the Czar of Russia. It was a sideshow in the greater crime of the war itself, where two rival imperialist alliances fought to redivide the colonies, markets and resources of the world. The war was ended by revolution, first in Russia in 1917 and then in Germany the following year. Victories for the Entente on the Western Front, while significant, were a result of the social disintegration of the Central Powers rather than being decisive factors themselves.

Today

War is politics pursued via other means. Politics under capitalism is the battle between the capitalist classes of different countries and between each capitalist class and the working class it exploits. Conflict between the most powerful capitalist classes has produced a system of imperialism. In modern globalised capitalism, wars are fought to advance the perceived interests of the capitalist classes of the belligerent powers and nationalism is propagated to enrol the workers behind the flag of their masters. In Australia, dead Anzacs serve once more. Their sacrifices are useful to todays politicians to generate support for todays wars.

Australian Imperialism

Australia is a small-time imperialist power in its own right, supporting the US-dominated world order so it can dominate the South Pacific unchallenged. Australias politicians therefore got a rude shock recently when reports started circulating that Vanuatu, a Pacific Island country...

03:00

The Biggest Monetary Shockwave in 47 Years "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Whats your idea of paradise?

Sunny skies? Sandy beaches? Crystal blue waters?

Were we to describe our ideal paradise, it would look very much like everyday lifeonly more affordable.

Electricity, healthcare and education wouldnt cost a dime.

Thered be no interest on loans.

Petrol would be 15 cents a litre at the pump.

Food and water would be clean, plentiful, and cheap.

Best of all, owning a home would be considered a human right.

Are we nave enough to think our idyllic paradise awaits Australia in the future?

Far from it.

But it may surprise you to learn that our utopian paradise is more fact than fiction.

This was life in Libya before the war.

How to destroy a nation

Libyas downfall began in 2011 following the brutal murder of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi. His death signalled a dramatic turn for the worse for the countrys six million inhabitants.

Quite why things have turned out as they have in the North African enclave is a matter of great debate. But everything points to a mindless pillaging of a once thriving nation.

In the aftermath of the US-NATO intervention seven years ago, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously boasted We came, we saw, he died!

Her victory speech is light on why they had to come, or why he had to die. But it underlines how reckless and rife with impunity the West deals with regimes that dont bow to its wishes.

When rogue states overstep boundaries set by Western powers, the outcome is always the same, with untold misery following.

The US-NATO coalition claims its intervention in Libya was carried out on humanitarian grounds. Gaddafi was committing atrocities against his people, they claimed, so he had to be taken out.

But if the aim was to stop unsubstantiated killings, the interventionists failed miserably. Seven years of civil strife will attest to that.

Whats more, NATO destroyed Libyas vast $33 billion irrigation system, which provided water for 70% of the population. If this is what progress looks like, it has much to answer for.

Of course, such interventions are rarely about humanitarianism.

Gaddafis gruesome execution was brought about because hed overstepped the international orders boundaries. That order assumes that whats in the best interests of the West is also in the interests of the rest.

Gaddafis crime wasnt that he mistreated his people. It was that he wanted to make Africa a more indepen...

00:28

The ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Land managers in Australia have adopted many of the fire-control practices of the aborigines and have partnered with native people.

While the skill of aborigines with fire had been noted before the giant brushfires early settlers remarked on the park-like nature of the landscape and studied before, its taken on new urgency. Thats why Australian land managers have adopted many of the ideas and partnered with native people as co-managers. The fire practices of the aborigines are also being taught and used in other countries.

Scientists have looked to Australian natives for other insights into the natural world. A team of researchers collaborated with natives based on their observations of kites and falcons that fly with flaming branches from a forest fire to start other fires. Its well known that birds will hunt mice and lizards as they flee the flames of a wildfire. But stories among indigenous people in northern Australia held that some birds actually started fires by dropping a burning branch in unburned places. Based on this TEK, researchers watched and documented this behavior.

Aboriginal people dont see themselves as superior to or separated from animals. They are walking storehouses of knowledge

Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People https://e360.yale.edu/features/native-knowledge-what-ecologists-are-learning-from-indigenous-people

From Alaska to Australia, scientists are turning to the knowledge of traditional people for a deeper understanding of the natural world. What they ar...

00:21

Climate change global impacts now, with rapidly melting Arctic ice "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Melting Arctic sends a message: Climate change is here in a big way, The Conversation,  Mark Serreze, Research Professor of Geography and director, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, April 26, 2018 

Scientists have known for a long time that as climate change started to heat up the Earth, its effects would be most pronounced in the Arctic. This has many reasons, but climate feedbacks are key. As the Arctic warms, snow and ice melt, and the surface absorbs more of the suns energy instead of reflecting it back into space. This makes it even warmer, which causes more melting, and so on.

This expectation has become a reality that I describe in my new book Brave New Arctic. Its a visually compelling story: The effects of warming are evident in shrinking ice caps and glaciers and in Alaskan roads buckling as permafrost beneath them thaws.

But for many people the Arctic seems like a faraway place, and stories of what is happening there seem irrelevant to their lives. It can also be hard to accept that the globe is warming up while you are shoveling out from the latest snowstorm....

00:18

South Australia Health now dealing with infectious disease threats increased due to climate change "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Disease threat forces SA Health to prioritise adapting to climate change

HEALTH threats from extreme weather events and diseases spread by mosquitoes have prompted SA Health to prioritise adapting to climate change in a new blueprint. http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/disease-threat-forces-sa-health-to-prioritise-adapting-to-climate-change/news-story/fc734296a4580dda2c60320f8e8ac463#.ajdi8  Matt Smith

Chief medical officer Paddy Phillips has told The Advertiser the frequency and severity of heatwaves and bushfires, and the increased risk of the spread of disease by insects and bugs, meant climate change threatened the wellbeing of South Australians.

His warning comes as SA Health released its draft State Public Health Plan for the period from 2019-2024. Professor Phillips said multiple government agencies needed to consider the impact of climate change when developing policies and strategies to manage and prevent public health risks.It should also be front of mind when agencies assessed the suitability of health infrastructure and assets.

Variations in our climate have increased the frequency and severity of weather events such as floods, droughts, bushfires, storms...

00:15

Australias first lithium battery recycling plant established in Gisborne, Victoria "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Australias first lithium battery recycling plant launched https://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-first-lithium-battery-recycling-plant-launched-19366/, By Sophie Vorrath on 27 April 2018 

00:11

Crikey! Australia Zoo goes solar, with 648kW of PV RenewEconomy "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Home of the crocodile hunter to install biggest solar system at any Australian zoo, to save on electricity and spend more on conservation.

via Crikey! Australia Zoo goes solar, with 648kW of PV RenewEconomy

00:10

South Australia solar farm connects to the grid RenewEconomy "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

A 4.9MW solar farm has been connected to the grid in South Australia, signalling shift from large scale wind to large scale solar.

via South Australia solar farm connects to the grid RenewEconomy

00:09

Jobs boom in renewable energy, but action needed to avoid bust RenewEconomy "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Data released by ABS today shows a boom in renewable energy construction to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target is driving jobs growth and creating new employment opportunities, said business and energy experts.

via Jobs boom in renewable energy, but action needed to avoid bust RenewEconomy

00:09

Australia becoming the global centre for renewables for mines RenewEconomy "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Driven by favourable economics and additional benefits including carbon reductions and social license, major and mid-tier Australian mines are adopting renewables.

via Australia becoming the global centre for renewables for mines RenewEconomy

00:08

Future transport will be cheap, personalised, and on demand RenewEconomy "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Australias transport industry on cusp of radical change, says report but could be a trillion-dollar train wreck if business, government dont get on board.

via Future transport will be cheap, personalised, and on demand RenewEconomy

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Friday, 27 April

22:15

Teens Dive Into Mud Pit To Save Scared Kangaroo "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Two teenagers were riding their dirt bikes near Sydney, Australia, earlier this week when they saw something unusual sticking out of the mud: a head and two pointy ears.

Pulling up to get a closer look, Jack Donnelly and Nick Heath, both 19, were met with a heartbreaking sight. A kangaroo had wandered into the deep mud and was stuck neck-deep. He was exhausted from struggling to escape and wouldnt stop crying out.

The friends instantly knew he wouldnt make it without their help. After rushing home for supplies, Heath wrapped a rope around his waist and waded into the thick mud as Donnelly kept a grip on the tether from solid ground.

Credit: Facbook/ViralHog

The kangaroo was writhing and stressed but instantly relaxed once Heath managed to pull him out.

Credit: Facebook/Nick Heath

The roos life was important to us so we went out on an arm and leg, Heath told TODAY. We think he went searching for water there, and it was really muddy so he got himself really stuck.

The kangaroo was clearly sick from not being able to access food or water while he was stuck, so the teens contacted WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue right away.

Credit: Facebook/ViralHog

The rescu...

06:05

Japanese Capital Prepares to Boost Aussie Property Market "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

In the US state of Maryland, the local specialty dish is crabs with a spice called Old Bay.

I ploughed threw a bunch when I was there last year. And believe me, a cold beer to go with the dish is mandatory, such is its saltiness.

I dont think Maryland is famous for much else.

But its status in the world of markets recently went up a notch.

This development like the famous butterfly effect could ripple all the way out here to Australia.

And as Ill explain below, it could send Aussie property values even higher than they are now

In March, a US company called Dominion Energy put the finishing touches to its new US$4 billion LNG export terminal in Maryland.

Its only the second export terminal in the lower 48 states.

It was not so long ago that the US was building import terminals to bring in gas from overseas.

Now the US is on track to be a top three global supplier in gas. Its been an extraordinary shift thanks to the shale revolution in the countrys prolific energy basins.

Few countries are as blessed as the United States when it comes to natural resources and arable land.

This month, a Japanese LNG tanker pulled up in Maryland and loaded up on US gas.

The US embassy in Tokyo tweeted that it will be the first of many to power millions of Japanese homes and businesses.

No doubt it will. Japan is the largest LNG buyer in the world.

This development is also a real boon for the world as a whole.

Low energy costs will keep inflation down worldwide and lower costs for Japanese businesses. That should make them even more profitable than they are now.

These businesses will then start looking for somewhere to invest their retained earnings.

And thats where it gets interesting for us here in Australia

The Australian reported yesterday that Japanese groups could have as much as $20 trillion to allocate to buying up assets worldwide, especially in real estate.

The Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund alone is the biggest pool of retirement savings in the world.

These guys may not even want to invest in Australia. But they dont have much choice.

Japanese government bonds yield nothing. A 10-year bond, for example, carries a return of 0.05%.

In any case, the Bank of Japan (the central bank) owns 80% of 10-year Japanese bonds. Its hoovered up most of the supply as part of its monetary shenanigans.

This deliberate policy of suppressing the yield curve is sending Japans regional lenders bankrupt...

02:05

Aerial photos of Maules Creek mine pit lake "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

The above aerial photo from the 14.4.2018 with the 300 tonne dump truck in the foreground shows the sheer amount of water in the Maules Creek mine pit. Its deeply concerning given that the Tarrawonga and Boggabri coal mines are both dry and that the original EIS modelling estimated only 36 ML of groundwater would have flowed into the Maules Creek coal pit over the last 12 months.

Without transparent data to the contrary, this raises the significant prospect of connectivity of the coal seams to the Maules Creek alluvial aquifer.

De-watering Pump

In order to drill, blast and excavate the coal, the mine is systematically de-watering the coal seams.

The de-watering pump in the Maules Creek coal mine can be seen in this short video. According to the 2014 Water Management Plan the discharge from this pump ends up in the Mine Water Dam to be used for dust suppression.

The question for local people is is the mine only de-watering the coal seams?

...

01:22

This Stunning Blue Bird Is The Most Dangerous One In The World "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

With long, wispy eyelashes and a vibrant blue face, Bernie the southern cassowary has a look that rivals even the fanciest of peacocks.

But dont get lost in his dreamy gaze hes also the most dangerous bird in the world.

Credit: WFFT

Bernie, formally known as Bernard, was taken in four years ago by Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand after he escaped from a temple where hed been kept captive for 10 years.

His beak and eyes were severely injured, and he could barely stand but after months of intensive care, Bernie recovered fully and now lives happily at the wildlife center with plenty of room to forage and run.

Credit: WFFT

But while he's unusually friendly for his species and doesnt show any signs of aggression toward his caretakers, that doesnt mean they let their guard down. We are still extremely cautious of his strong legs and dagger-like claws, WFFT wrote recently.

Armed with thick, helmet-like plates on their foreheads and powerful legs that can run up to 30 miles per hour, cassowaries are often called living dinosaurs. Their 4-inch talons bear an uncanny resemblance to those of velociraptors and conservationists say the birds are one of the most direct relatives to prehistoric creatures who are still here after 80 million years.

Credit: WFFT

Those talons also make them the most dangerous birds in the world. While cassowaries who are native to the rainforests of Australia and New Zeal...

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Thursday, 26 April

16:37

Stand by for tax cuts? "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Bag of tricks

The Coalition has famously lost 30 Newspolls in a row.

But might Turnbull and Treasurer ScoMo have a trick or two up their sleeve yet?

They might. 

Australia's labour force participation rate has blazed to an all-time high - in part thanks to immigration - while over the year to January 2018 employment screamed higher by +431,000 persons, a truly monster result. 


There's never been a 12-month period like it for employment growth, and in turn that's delivered a very welcome boost to the federal budget.

Better yet, figures out today showed the export price index jumped by +4.9 per cent, having already increased by +2.9 per cent in the preceding quarter. 


The boost was delivered by metal ores, and coal and coke.

16:35

Dwelling starts easing back "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Supply and demand charts

One of the unexpected outcomes of this record construction cycle has been that Melbourne's assumed structural oversupply of dwellings never really arrived, except for high-rise apartments in some isolated pockets.

Why were the forecasts and forecasters wrong?

Partly because of the weakness of the respective economies or Perth, Darwin, and Adelaide, Melbourne began to attract migrants from interstate as well as overseas.

The population growth in the city accelerated ahead of even the record levels of construction. 


The headline numbers for New South Wales don't look too far out of whack, with about 61,600 dwellings completed in 2017, while dwelling starts are now easing.

But Sydney did still have a record number of apartments under construction at the last count, so there is a big pool of stock yet to be absorbed, despite record high population growth


Queensland's developers didn't anticipate the post-resources boom employment and population slowdown, and thousands of planned apartment builds have now been scrapped.

I've heard the figure of 10,000 proposed Brisbane apartments being cancelled bandied around - though I haven't substantiated it, so that's one for you to research,....

01:37

Chapters "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

At a certain point in an academic career, you start getting lots of invitations to write book chapters, which is a lot easier than going through the mill of submitting articles to journals, dealing with referee reports and so on. Ive had three emails in the last few days, telling me that books to which Ive contributed chapters have come out.

The one of most interest to readers here will be The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy by David Ritter, with contributors including Adrian Burragubba, Tara Moss and Berndt Sellheim, Lesley Hughes,Hilary Bambrick, Ruchira Talukdar, Geoffrey Cousins and me. The title is self-explanatory. Although Adani seems to have gone quiet for the moment, this will be an important resource if the Galilee Basin project is revived, or for future struggles.

In addition, theres the Sage Handbook of Neoliberalism, where I have a chapter on Rise, Decline and Future Prospects, and Human Forces and Engineering, which came out of a final year course for Honours Engineering students, to which I contributed a chapter oh climate change,

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Wednesday, 25 April

11:29

Plunder Down Under: The Rot in Australias Financial Services "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

It has all the elements of a crudely crafted, if effective, tale: banks and other financial services, founded, proud of their standing in society; financial service providers, with such pride, effectively charging the earth for providing elementary services; then, such entities, with self-assumed omnipotence, cheating, extorting and plundering their clients.

This is the scene in Australia, a country where the bankster and financial con artist have been enthroned for some time, worshipped as fictional job creators and wealth managers for the economy.  Impunity was more or less guaranteed.  All that might be expected would be the odd sacking here and there, the odd removal, the odd fine and limp slap of the wrist. But then came along something the Australian government never wanted: a Royal Commission.

While Commissioner Kenneth Haynes Royal Commission into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services industry initially promised to be a fizzer, one that risked being stage managed into oblivion by a conservative former High Court justice, the contrary has transpired.  Even in its infancy, it has produced a string of revelations that have sent the financial establishment, and those supporting them, into apoplectic worry.

The Turnbull government, long steadfast in treating Australias banking and financial sector like a golden calf, has found itself encircled by misjudgement and error.  Former front bencher Barnaby Joyce had to concede error in arguing against a Royal Commission into the sector. I was wrong.  What I have heard is [sic] so far is beyond disturbing.

Ministers have been more mealy-mouthed, in particular Revenue Minister Kelly ODwyer who has given a string of performances featuring stellar denial and evasion. Initially, she told the ABC last Thursday, the Government said that it didnt feel that there was enough need for a royal commission.  And we re-evaluated our position and we introduced one.

Such a view ignores a strain of deep anti-banking suspicion within some conservative circles notably of the agrarian populist persuasion.  The National rebels George Christensen, Llew OBrien and Barry OSullivan were repeatedly noisy on the subject.  (The unregulated free market sits uneasily with them.)

The undergrowth of abuse has proven extensive and thorny.  Clients, for instance, have been charged services they were never supplied; monitoring systems to ensure that such services were, in fact, be...

02:13

Who will pay for Queenslands Linc stink? "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Former Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson (back) and Mr Peter Bond, CEO and founder of Linc Energy in 2011. AAP Image/Andrew Taylor.

Mia Armitage

Poisoned land, workers told to drink milk to prevent burning their stomach linings, nearby farm pigs allegedly dying from the Linc stink and a $23M clean-up bill.

Former gas company Linc Energy is guilty on five counts of wilful and unlawful environmental harm, a Queensland District Court jury found in early April, but the case for farmers and taxpayers is far from over.

At least one appeal, a separate criminal case hearing against former Linc directors and a possible class action against the Queensland government are still to come.

Guilty but free: corporate law saves Linc

The company entered liquidation in May 2016, ten weeks after it was committed to stand trial, and was not required to defend itself in court. District Court judge Michael Shanahan said it was a somewhat unusual criminal trial and entered a not guilty plea on Lincs behalf.

The court heard workers at the underground coal gasification (UCG) site in Hopeland, near Chinchilla, almost 300 kilometres west of Brisbane, were told to line their guts with milk and yoghurt to prevent acid burning, not to drink onsite tank water, and were given bottled water.

A former Linc manager told the court he warned then CEO Peter Bond in 2007 the site should be shut down.

The former Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) issued an environment protection order (EPO) against Linc in May 2016, demanding the company keep critical infrastructure onsite, conduct a site audit and undertake basic environmental monitoring in other words, start cleaning up.

But liquidators from PPB Advisory had by then disclaimed the sit...

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Tuesday, 24 April

09:02

A Question Of Humanity: Why Not Report Why We Stand With Palestine In Melbourne? "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

During a recent action in Melbourne in support of Palestinians gunned down by Israel snipers for protesting their right of return, Australian activists encountered the usual abuse from pro-Israel supporters. But as Tasnim Sammak explains, it was the puzzling questions from media that most surprised.

Recently, I was marshalling the protest in front of Melbournes State Library for Palestine in solidarity with The Great Return March at the Gaza border. It was a dangerous and messy task made necessary by the presence of Avi Yemini and the Australian Liberty Alliance, who gathered no more than 40 people and a speaker system to blast the Australian anthem at us and call us Islamic terrorists.

As one of the founders and organisers of the Palestine coalition group Solidarity for Palestine Melbourne with insight into the planning and execution of our protest from its urgent call post-death toll to its conclusion at the steps in front of Melbourne Central Train Station, I was the media liaison person for our protest.

I was asked by Channel 9 News, The Age and numerous other media outlets the not-so-impeding question: Why are you protesting for Palestine here in Melbourne? As a second-generation Palestinian whose father was born in Gaza, I said that we are members of the Palestinian community, something about international solidarity as resistance, open gun fire policy, Israeli snipers, ongoing siege on Gaza, latest massacre; for the key words of our suffering and oppression are countless.

As I was responding though, I felt a deep discomfort for having to state reasons that are obvious to me as a Palestinian, and to any supporter of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and dignity. Of course we are out here on the streets of Melbourne expressing solidarity for Palestine before the Australian public and members of Parliament. 21 peaceful protesters were gunned down at the Gaza border by a sniper policy that remains in place in two consecutive Friday protests for the...

03:33

Community gets a say in court review of Gloucester coal mine "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

A recent photo taken on a site visit to the Gloucester mine. Photo supplied.

The community group Gloucester Groundswell has been fighting for a long hard 12 years against the Rocky Hill Coal project, a greenfield open cut coal mine at Gloucester. The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) have been in court arguing that the community should be allowed to participate in legal proceedings which will determine the fate of the Gloucester Resources Limited proposal for an open cut mine near the town.

During a full-day hearing on Friday last week, Gloucester Resources strongly opposed Gloucester Groundswells application to join the case, arguing the court should not hear from climate science and social impact experts in considering whether to approve the mine.

Clearly the Gloucester Resource group didnt want the climate change impacts argued before the court, said said EDO NSW CEO David Morris.

Following a full-day hearing on Friday last week, the Land and Environment Court has agreed that the community group Gloucester Groundswell, has the right to participate in legal proceedings.

Our client is allowed in to Court, said Mr Morris.

They are allowed to bring in climate science experts to present evidence on the mines contribution to climate change; they are also allowed to present expert evidence of the mines detrimental impacts of dust and noise on the community, as well as how it will fracture the social fabric of Gloucester.

The mine has been rejected by the planning assessment commission, the government is against the mine on land use planning and visual impacts and the community is against it on visual impact and climate change impact.

This appeal in which they [the community] will now play a key role, is the next step in this long journey, said Mr Morris.

The mining company appealed to the Court after the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in December 2017 found the mine was not in the public...

02:39

Queensland Govts vegetation management bill needs improvements to protect endangered animals and rivers and end deforestation crisis "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 - 10:28am
  • Parliamentary Committee majority report recommends the Vegetation Management Bill be passed by the House with seven additional recommendations
  • The bill, while a step forward, needs to be strengthened to end the states deforestation crisis
  • Legislation does not protect all threatened species habitat, as promised during election
  • Bill does not protect all river areas despite election promise; just Reef rivers

The Palaszczuk Government must tighten up loopholes in its vegetation management legislation or it will not end the deforestation crisis in Queensland, The Wilderness Society said today after the parliamentary committee looking at the legislation tabled its report.

The bill is a good first step in addressing the deforestation crisis in Queensland, but the laws will need to be stronger in order to end the states deforestation crisis, said Wilderness Society Queensland Campaign Manager Gemma Plesman.

The proper test of these laws is whether they bring down Queenslands globally significant levels of deforestation and the environmental problems associated with it. It is not clear that these changes will be enough to end the deforestation crisis. It may not stop clearing of threatened species habitat, for example, as was clearly promised during the election. Clearing in Queensland killed nearly 45 million animals in just one year, in 2015-16.

The bill does not protect riverbanks other than in Great Barrier Reef catchments with meagre buffer zones of just 50 metres. The government needs to make 50-metre buffers on all the states rivers to protect them from damaging erosion problems, including in the struggling Murray-Darling Basin, Channel Country and Gulf Country.

The legislation will not fully protect threatened species habitat because there are still loopholes to allow clearing for fodder and much of the state is exempt from clearing controls, Category X vegetation. The committee recommends that the self-assessable codes will be reviewed within the next three yearsit is scary to think how much forest and bushland could be destroyed in that time.

Queensland urgently needs strong laws to stop our deforestation crisis. In this state, one native animal is killed every second from deforestation. A Gabba-sized area of forest and bushland is bulldozed every three minutes. Queensland alone means Australia is the only dev...

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Monday, 23 April

22:14

Government announces 1000 more private contractors to answer Centrelink phones "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

 

Contributed from Victoria

The Coalition governments drive to privatise Centrelink services will be pushed up another notch, with the major expansion of the contracting out of answering services.

Four times as many  jobs as has been the case so far, will be handed over to the private sector. The union covering Centrelink employees, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has branded this as damaging and cynical, and is hitting back with a public campaign to put a stop to it.

The 1,000 new contractors are to answer calls from Centrelink benefit recipients. The minister for Human Services, Michael Keenan, said that this will cut the long waiting times that plague the system. Last year, 55 million callers got the engaged signal. This, he suggests, will be cut down too.

But the union disputes the claim. A trial that was already taken place, through the contracting out of  250 private call centre call centre jobs to multinational Serco, and this has made little difference. it is suggested that the objective has always been to undermine job security within Centrelink, not to improve service.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said its members in Centrelink had told the union that Serco contractors had been used to fudge damning statistics showing poor phone service standards at the welfare agency.

The Department of Human Services, which oversees Centrelink, was paying call centre contractors to click through calls to improve its statistics, without resolving clients problems, she said.

Weve been calling loudly for years for more permanent Centrelink call centre staff to replace the more than 5000 jobs the Turnbull government has slashed in this department.

Instead the government is continuing to sell the agency off piece by piece, lining the pockets of their corporate mates like Serco rather than putting that money into wages and secure jobs for call centre workers.

The union has pointed out that the government has again used the cynical tactic of deliberately cutting Centrelink and providing an appalling standard of services, and then using this as a justification for privatisation of a critical public service.

Contracting out work will be paid for to the tune of $51.7 million over three years, from the existing allocated budget, meaning that there will be cuts elsewhere. The new contracting jobs are not permanent, and this amounts to the deliberate casualisation o...

06:08

Critical information missing from Santos Pilliga proposal "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Pilliga Push protectors outside the Santos office in Narrabri say they are sticking to their plan to stop CSG mining. Photo Tree Faerie.

Santos has failed to reveal crucial aspects of its Narrabri coal seam gas scheme in its response to the record number of 23,000 submissions generated by its environmental impact statement for the controversial project, the Wilderness Society has said after Santoss response was made public.

Santos has still not revealed where it will drill its 850 wells and where the hundreds of kilometres of pipes and roads will go so its impossible to say exactly how bad the impacts will be, said Wilderness Society Newcastle Campaign Manager Naomi Hodgson.

The Rural Fire Service highlighted this as a problem in its submission and Santos has still not revealed this information. Santos has not yet prepared a bushfire management plan or a risk management plan. Santos still has no plan on how to deal with the hundreds of thousands  of tonnes of toxic salt the project will create apart from saying there are garbage dumps that can receive general solid waste. The NSW Government can not approve the Narrabri coal seam gas scheme when such critical information is missing.

Santoss approach is like saying it wants to bulldoze a freeway through a city but refusing to say where the route will go and which buildings it wants to knock down. But in the Pilliga the many endangered species dont get any compensation, they just lose their only home.

The Pilliga is the only home for the Pilliga mouse, the national stronghold for the south-eastern long-eared microbat, the NSW stronghold for the barking owl, and the most important home for koalas and the black-striped wallaby in inland NSW.

Ecologist David Milledge highlighted concerns over Santoss fauna surveys in a submission by the North-West Alliance yet no new fauna surveys have been conducted. A 10-day survey by Landmark Ecological Services led by Milledge found more than twice the animals in the project area than Santoss consultants did in a four-year period.[1]

The Narrabri coal seam gas scheme will decimate the project area in the Pilliga Forest, with roads and gas pipelines ripped through NSWs most important inland forest connecting...

04:35

Land Policy encroachment by UNDP and World Bank "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Author: Justin Ondopa

UNDP and World Bank must stay away from land policies in Papua New Guinea.

Under the auspice of its REDD+ strategy, sponsored by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the Word Bank, the UNDP is taking over the mandated institutional functions of the Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP). Recently, through the UNDP website, this mysterious giant development partner has seen fit to solve land development issues in Papua New Guinea. The UNDP has advertised two positions International Consultants to support development of a Sustainable Land Use Policy in PNG and also National Consultants to support development of a Sustainable Land Use Policy in PNG.

I find it very troubling for a foreign development partner, (whose funds come from major economies), to lead the development of a LAND USE POLICY in this country. Firstly, the UNDP must understand they are financially supported by the WORLD BANK through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The same World Bank has a very bad record dealing with the land issues in PNG, but is now trying to find solutions to sustainable land development.

Has the UNDP forgotten the recent failed Structural Adjustment Programme to mobilise customary land in this country? It was controversial, the whole nation stood against any strategies pushed by foreigners and so-called development partners, and the Chan Government threw the World Banks SAP out of the window. The successive Somare governments also refused to allow donors to fund, and participate in anything to do with land in this country. Even Australia (DFAT) has said no to fund or interfere in land issues (including land policies) in PNG. Who is UNDP?

With these short historical events still ringing fresh in Papuan New Guineans, the UNDP through the World Banks FCPF finds it very comfortable to develop a Sustainable Land Use Policy (SLUP) for the Country.

How much do UNDP, World Bank and FCPF know about land tenure, our customs, feelings, mindsets, and traditional bondages that bind our people with their land? Policy development in this country is not the job of a foreign entity, let alone international fly-in consultants from UNDP, to come and develop a paper and shove it down our throats, and say digest it. It works! Policy development on any development ma...

03:47

Groundwater modelling misses the mark "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Now that water supplies in the Maules Creek area are running low, residents are questioning the impact of mining and the ability to improve water levels given the existing baseline data, the monitoring of mine water usage and the state governments regulatory processes.

The Maules Creek coal mine was approved with a series of conditions that required the development of groundwater management plans, the validation of computer modelling, the development of adaptive management triggers and response plans, and self regulation by the mine itself.

It is hardly a recipe for the early identification and resolution of problems without strong government oversight. Based on past experience with noise and dust, mine self-regulation is unlikely to work should anything threaten the mines operations and returns to its shareholders.

Unfortunately, the government itself is conflicted. At the same time as the mine was being approved and constructed, the Department of Water was being systematically gutted, with the removal of operational staff, technical experts and middle management, leaving only the licensing division and the politically connected senior management to supervise any complaints and then manage the fallout.

Now, as water levels decline, the regulatory regime will come under the microscope and it is important to note that the potential for groundwater impacts were raised strongly prior to the projects approval.

The Peer Reviewer of the Maules Creek coal mine groundwater modelling had serious doubts back in 2012.

Using the MDBC guidelines checklist, the modelling is found to be deficient and/or lacking in the areas of calibration, verification, sensitivity analyses and uncertainty analyses each to varying degrees.

The primary risks of impact being assessed are associated with the alluvial systems yet the connection between the alluvial and bedrock systems in the calibrated model are not assessed to the previous studies and conceptual model to provide the reader with any confidence the model is replicating reality.

In fact groundwater specialists engaged by Maules Creek coal said exactly that on Page 62 of their...

03:22

Forget European reform the Germans have anyway "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

For readers who follow my Twitter account, you will be aware that occasionally I have have brief interchanges with various Europhiles who have an abiding faith in the capacity of the Eurozone to reform itself along progressive lines to make it resilient against economic cycles and capable of advancing the prosperity of all the citizens who share the currency. They were particularly incensed when my latest book Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World with Thomas Fazi was published in September last year. Our argument has always been that Germany is Germany and as such there is little hope that the basic flaws in the EMU will be resolved any time soon. Well in the last week, the Europhile bubble has been well and truly pricked by the decision of new German finance minister Scholz to retain the hard-line order-liberal Ludget Schuknecht as the chief economist in the Finance Ministry. Signal: nothing is going to change in the EMU that matters.

The Left Europhiles were salivating when Olaf Sholz came out of the SPD negotiations with Merkels CDU as Finance Minster, a move they claimed would more closely align German foreign policy (and Eurozone policy) with that of French President Emmanuel Macron who had been pushing a sort of limited reform agenda in the Eurozone.

At that stage, I doubted that any meaningful reform would occur, given that Scholz sits on the very conservative end of the SPD continuum.

I expressed that view in this blog post Europhile reform dreamers wake up there will be no far-reaching reforms (March 12, 2018) just after the so-called GroKo was finalised in Germany.

I noted that all this enthusiasm about the Social Democratic Party (SPD) entering a new coalition with Merkels Christian Democratic Union (CDU) conservatives, overlooked the obvious fact that the SPD had been in coalition with the CDU between 2005 and 2009 and again since 2013.

In other words, the GroKo (as it is being called Groe Koalition) has been in government for some years while Germany has gone off the rails with huge external surpluses, persistent fiscal surpluses, its labour market offering worsening conditions to workers, and its public infrastructure degrading so much that trucks can no longer cross key bridges.

And remember the SPD is not exactly a progressive force having introduced the first big neoliberal push under its Agenda 2010 strategy.

On March 14, 2003, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder introduced the famous Agenda 2010 to the Bun...

03:19

Petroleum ISDS cases pose major threat to climate action "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

April 23, 2018: ANU academic Dr Kyla Tienhaara has published research  in the Journal Transnational Environmental Law showing that mining and energy industries are the most frequent users of Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms heard by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID), one of the two main tribunal systems that hear ISDS disputes. This poses a threat to effective measures to rapidly reduce carbon emissions.

She found that, at present, there are no known cases where an investor has formally launched ISDS over the introduction of a carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or renewable energy incentive scheme. The latter have been challenged only when modified retrospectively. However, claims have certainly been contemplated, including against the Australian governments proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme in 2009.

ISDS cases have arisen in response to:

  • A 2017 moratorium on oil and gas operations within 12 nautical miles of the Italian coastline;
  • restrictions placed on a coal-fired power station by the German city of Hamburg;
  • a ban by the Canadian Province of Quebec on hydraulic fracturing (fracking, a process with potentially significant climate and groundwater impacts); and
  • the United States (US) Obama administrations rejection of a proposal by TransCanada Corporation to build the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil produced from Albertas tar sands to various refineries in the US.

The German case was settled and, at the time of writing, the case in Quebec had not concluded, whereas the Italian case was only in the very early stages. TransCanada withdrew its claim against the US following President Trumps executive order allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to move ahead. The article also provides evidence of regulatory chill, in which the threat of ISDS has discouraged governments from regulating.

Dr Tienhaara argues that, in trade and investment agreements like the proposed TPP-11, governments should not limit themselves to a narrow tobacco carve-out, (which is the only clear exclusion in the TPP-11) because Big Oil actually poses a greater threat to public policy than Big Tobacco. One option would be for negotiators to...

02:32

Royal Commission into finance industry exposes some truths but the problem is systemic "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Contributed by Joe Montero

The Turnbull government compelled by circumstances to respond to popular pressure of action on the banks, the disclosures of whistleblowers and finally rebellion among its Coalition partners in the National party, with a Royal Commission.

At to this point, there had been a straight out refusal to budge, and there is still no real desire for a proper investigation. The government has been forced to make a concession, but even this has been  manipulated, by widening its terms of reference to include the whole financial industry, and most importantly, including the superannuation funds.

By doing this, Turnbull expected to turn the spotlight away from the banks, and there has been an attempt to wheel in through the back door, the already declared and cherished aim of privatising the industry superannuation funds and handing them over to the same banks. On the one hand, these banks are supposed be be investigated, and on the other, the ground is set for rewarding them. This is intended as a scam to hoodwink the public and protect the banks, not punish them.

At least this was supposed to be how it was going to work. But it seems the Royal Commission, has taken something of a life of its own. By the end of last week, the chiefs of AMP, Commonwealth, and Westpac had had fronted up and evidence came out that showed widespread use of alleged bribery, forged documents, repeated failure to verify customers living expenses before lending them money, and miss-selling insurance to people who cant afford it.

The AMP admitted that it had been lying to regulators, and the Commonwealth Bank admitted some of its financial planners have been charging fees to clients who have died.

AMP CEO Craig Meller fell on his sword and stepped down immediately. Other casualties might follow.

People have been hurt. Sometimes, they have lost homes and businesses. Meanwhile, profits went through the roof last year, with the Commonwealth Bank making $9.8 billion, up 4.6 percent. this was followed by Westpac (full-year profit $8.1bn, up 3 percent), ANZ ($6.4bn, up 12 percent), and NAB ($6.6bn, up 2.5 percent...

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Sunday, 22 April

02:07

Extracting Metals from E-Waste Costs 13 Times Less Than Mining Ore "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Photo: An imported laptop housings pile in Guiyu, China. Credit: Basel Action Network, Flickr Creative Commons

Alyssa Danigelis | Environmental Leader | April 9, 2018

Recovering gold, copper, and other metals from electronic waste isnt just sustainable, its actually 13 times cheaper than extracting metals from mines, researchers report in the American Chemical Societys journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing and Macquarie University in Australia looked at data from eight recycling companies in China and calculated the cost for extracting metals from e-waste in a practice called urban mining. They note that a typical cathode-ray tube TV contains almost a pound of copper and more than half a pound of aluminum. It also contains 0.02 ounces of gold.

The recyclers expenses, which were offset by government subsidies and revenue from selling the recovered materials and components, included costs for waste collection, labor, energy, material and transportation plus capital costs for equipment and buildings, accordi...

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Saturday, 21 April

13:07

David Spratt: This is now or never time "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

The Paris Climate Agreement was ratified by most countries in the world in 2016. So, two years down the track how are we are going, then, with following up on that promise to reduce our carbon emissions? Well, the United Nations Environmental Program put it like this: to date, we have failed.

Melbourne-based climate researcher David Spratt has written a document for Breakthrough about this.

In our live radio interview in The Sustainable Hour on 18 April 2018, David Spratt told the listeners:

http://climatesafety.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/DavidSpratt_1-5C_6min032.mp3

We can now see that climate change could be so severe that it is what we would now call an existential crisis. In fact, the head of Emergency Management Australia, which is Australias and the federal governments umbrella body for responding to emergencies, like bushfires and so on, a couple of weeks ago he said: Look, we now face an existential risk which is a risk that could actually pu...

03:00

The Great Income Tax Swindle "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Youve probably never heard of Gregor MacGregor.

Yet he carried out what might be the biggest investment fraud in history.

A Scottish solider and adventurer, he travelled to England in 1820 seeking settlers for Poyais, a new island colony hed established in Central America.

As MacGregor detailed in an elaborate sales guidebook to woo investors, Poyais was a land rich in natural resources and beauty.

Situated in waters off the coast of Honduras, MacGregor pitched it as home to a flourishing British settlement.

With the promise of fortune in their eyes, hundreds of Britons spent their life savings on buying up Poyaisian government bonds and land certificates.

But that was nothing compared to what happened next

Some 250 British nobles became so enamoured with Poyais that they packed up and set sail to forge a new life on the resource-abundant island.

Yet, upon their arrival, they were met with the most unexpected twist.

They made land only to find no trace of civilised life. There was no burgeoning settlement. And no pickaxes hacking away at the ground.

The fabled Poyais, to their horror, was nothing more than thick, dark forest.

Stuck in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by jungle as far as the eye can see, MacGregors swashbuckling pioneers were left stranded.

Most cruelly, more than half who set sail for the promise of a better life lost their lives on this expedition to nowhere.

Those that were fortunate to survive returned to Britain where, upon their arrival, they alerted authorities as to MacGregors deception.

But while word got around of MacGregors deceit, the state was powerless to do anything.

MacGregor had already emigrated to France, where he was hard at work seeking his next batch of victims to swindle.

History is littered with dodgy tricksters who fleeced people of their life savings.

From Charles Ponzi to Bernie Madoff, the temptation of easy riches has proven irresistible time and again.

When the ruse comes unstuck, as it always does, prison cells beckon.

Yet while this provides some comfort to unwitting victims, cherished life savings never return.

But even those who see their nest egg go up in smoke can count themselves lucky. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Most of us believe were too smart to fall for such trickery.

But can you be sure of that?

Can you even be sure youre not being conned rightnow?

In fact, wed argue that youre part of the biggest pyramid scheme in history....

00:00

April 21 #OnThisDay in #Australian #History "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

1810 - When convicts and free settlers had a free moment they held the first recorded horse race in Oz, in Parramatta.

1830 - The NSW Bushranging Act allows the arrest of anyone suspected of being a bushranger. We could apply this to any politician today, so.....Bail Up!

1839 - William Duffell, a shepherd, was murdered on the bank of the River Torrens by a starving local Aboriginal Yerr-i-Cha.

1856 - Stone masons downed tools and stopped work on the Victorian Legislative Assembly (Oh goodness! Wherever will they change out of their wigs and garters?!) when their stone mason artist brothers, slogging their backs out on the Melbourne Uni, joined in the fun and marched on Parliament House. This was the world's first 8 hours day procession.

1856 - While South Australia had a horse-drawn railway operating at the mouth of the Murray River in 1854, the first line carrying steam powered trains opened on 21 April 1856 between Adelaide and Port Adelaide. It was built by the colonial government to the then Australian standard gauge of 1600 mm.

1861 - Burke, Wills and Grey stumbled into Coopers Creek only to find they'd missed the depot party and then made the really bad decision to make for the appropriately named Mt Hopeless.

1864 - The foundation stone of the Launceston Town Hall was laid on April 21 1864, exactly a week after Hobarts.

1868 - Henry James O'Farrell was hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol for the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred Duke of Edinburgh.

1883 - G.E Morrison made his entrance into Melbourne after a casual stroll of more than 3,000 kms from Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 123 days.
Because he could.

1887 - The Wedderburn Junction to Wedderburn Railway Line (VIC) opened.

1887 - The Robbie Burns Statue was unveiled at Ballarat before a crowd of 15,000.
The statue of Burns and his dog, which cost one thousand pounds at the time of its commission in 1884, is believed to be the first statue constructed to honour a poet anywhere in Australia.

1897 - The (Warwick) - Hendon - Allora - Goomburra Railway Line (QLD) was opened for those deliciously gorgeous steam trains.
The little branch opened for business, the principal contractors, A. Overend and Company, having completed the section for the princely sum of 5,256 ($10,512). The first mixed train trundled down the light track to make the first of many connections with the main line. The contract for the construction of the Allora Station House, platform and Goods Shed was awarded to J. Garget.

1903 - By 1903, all was in readiness for the introduction of electric trams to Bendigo, and although the lines did not extend to Kangaroo Flat and White Hills as planned, the tramway was officially opene...

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Friday, 20 April

02:30

Rules and Regulations for the Management of the Maules Creek Water Source "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

The Maules Creek Water Source Management Zone is part of the larger Namoi Water Sharing Plan (WSP). The Maules Creek Tributaries Management Zone (shown above) includes the Maules Creek coal mine which has a pump in the bottom of the pit that is de-watering the mine. This pump should, in theory, be covered by the Namoi WSP but its all in the definitions.

Licences

The Maules Creek coal mine owns the 78 ML Green Gully water licence 12479 which is subject to the cease to pump rules in the Namoi WSP when less than 1 ML per day is flowing across Elfin Crossing.

The mine also owns the 138 ML licence (12811) that came with Olivedeen in Zone 5, the 3000 ML high security Namoi River licence (13050) and the newly created 300 ML Porous Rock licence (29588) which was granted on the 21st of June, 2012, for perpetuity.

The Porous Rock licence was granted just 4 months prior to the mines state planning approval on the 23rd of October 2012 and just 18 days after the Namoi WSP commenced on Oct 4, 2012.

Modelling

The Green Gully 78 ML per annum licence is sufficient to cover the .25 ML per day that the groundwater modelling in the EIS estimated would be lost from from Zone 11 groundwater.

However 78 ML is insufficient to cover the output of the de-watering pump so the remainder of the de-watering of the pit (based on the groundwater modelling estimates) relies on the newly created Porous Rock licence and its exemption in the newly commenced 2012 Namoi WSP.

Definitions

The WSP definition of Porous Rock would include coal seams.

...

02:06

Wild Dolphin Caught On Camera Giving Birth "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Passengers aboard a dolphin-watching boat in Australia got a rare and completely adorable surprise last week.

Cruising waters near Mandurah, the group spotted a well-known female dolphin, named Squarecut, splashing and spinning around in a shallow area near shore.

Credit: Robyn Bickell/Mandurah Dolphin Rescue Group

Volunteers with Mandurah Dolphin Rescue Group, who were in a nearby boat, had been watching her for the past few months and knew she would be giving birth to a calf any day. And luckily for them, she chose a day with an audience.

After the dolphin spent a while swimming in circles and writhing around in the waves from her contractions, her calfs tail started to emerge. With a bit more swimming and pushing, the baby finally made a grand appearance and the dolphin watchers couldnt have been more excited.

Credit: Robyn Bickell/Mandurah Dolphin Rescue Group

"Dolphins are like our little family here, and so to witness a dolphin birth, it was truly an incredible experience for me," Robyn Bickell, a dolphin rescue volunteer, told ABC News.

Squarecut nudged her newborn up out of the water to breathe, and then the two continued swimming side by side for several more minutes near the boat. While the babys gender is still unknown, the rescue team has nicknamed the little dolphin Pom-Pom.

...

00:00

April 20 #OnThisDay in #Australian #History "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

1793 - At a loss at how to dress that pesky flax?
Fear not!
For the vessel Daedalus has parked itself out front with Lieut. Hanson and the Maori flax dressers on board.

1817  - In an effort to avoid the usual house painting and wallpapering John Oxley went for a jaunt to the west, beyond Bathurst, to trace the Lachlan River.

1822 - George Lang got a little something something in the mail today!
And it wasn't even his birthday!
To George Lang.......
20 April 1822
Sir,
I am directed by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane to inform you in reply to your letter of the 5th March 1822, that he will make you a grant of one thousand acres of land and will assign you the services of four convict servants who with yourself will be victualled from the King's Stores for six months from the date of your taking possession of your said land
I am , Sir, Your Obedient Servant
F. Goulburn, Colonial Secretary

1830 - George Wyndham kept a diary 1830-1840 whilst in the Hunter Valley, and he recorded place names, exciting events, people.
Todays entry was not one of the exciting variety.
"Gathering cornstalks into heaps"
I did warn you.

1836 - John Batman and his missus and billy lids rocked up in Port Phillip to carve a comfy spot on Batman Hill for themselves (which is now the simply splendid Southern Cross Spencer Street Station yards).

1839 - George Grey's expedition was saved by friendly Aborigines.
After discovering the Gascoyne River, the longest in Western Australia, Grey's party continued southwards in two whaleboats. The boats were wrecked near today's Geraldton, so they continued the journey on foot. Leaving weaker members of the party behind to be rescued later, Grey took five of his men and set off for Perth. They finished all their provisions in four days, and for the next three days, travelled without food or water. They were sustained briefly by a pool of liquid mud until on this day friendly Aborigines found the party and gave them enough food to regain their strength to continue the journey.

1864 - Derrimut , a headman or arweet of the Boonwurrung (Bunurong) people from the Melbourne area, passed away on this day at the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum at the age of about 54 years.
He warned the early European settlers in October 1835 of an impending attack by "up-country tribes". The colonists armed themselves, and the attack was averted.
He fought in the late 1850s and early 1860s to protect Boonwurrung rights to live on their land at Mordialloc Reserve. When the reserve was closed in July 1863, his people were forced to unite with the remnants of Woiwurrung and other Victorian Aboriginal communities to settle Coranderrk Mission station, near Healesville.
The Melbou...

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Thursday, 19 April

20:33

British Conservative party financial scandal "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

This 2012 video by ABC News from Australia says about itself:

UK Conservative Party donation scandal deepens

British Prime Minister David Cameron has bowed to pressure and revealed occasions where he has dined with party donors in his flat.

And now, six years later

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, Friday, April 20, 2018:

Tory donor fraud firm protected from raids

HMRC refuses French request to investigate Lycamobile

CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has serious questions to answer about HMRC stonewalling French requests to inspect the Tories biggest corporate donor over money laundering and tax fraud allegations, Labour said today.

The revenue told French tax officers it would not seek a search warrant for the London headquarters of telecoms company Lycamobile, which donated more than 2 million to the Tories up until 2016.

The transnational also gave more than 1 million to the Prince Charles Trust, according to a BuzzFeed investigation reported today.

An HMRC email to the French government explaining that it would not probe the matter actively cites the fact that Lycamobile is the Tories biggest corporate donor.

The missive also notes: [Lycamobile have] significant resources at their disposal and are extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched without instructing their own lawyers to look at any search warrant in detail.

Shadow chancellor...

Saturday, 14 April

03:00

Why Oil Could Be on the Way to $150 a Barrel "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Heres a fact I bet you didnt know

Every $1 upward movement in the price of oil increases the earnings of BHPs petroleum division by US$64 million.

Isnt that incredible?

Well, if Im right in the following analysis

Oil is set to go from US$67to $150 per barrel.

Thats a lot of extra potential extra zeroes for BHP.

So how will we get there?

Welllet me ask you a question.

What do you know about the velocity of money?

I know, I knowa bit analytical for a Saturday.

But hear me out. Because its one of the most fascinating subjects in economics theory.

Whats more, it shows you why oil prices, after years in the doldrums, could be about to make a shocking resurgence.

But youll rarely hear it discussed in the news.

Thats why it will hit everyone by surprise.

Market commentators seldom mention it.

And investors are mostly clueless about it.

Yet this theory is key to understanding why oil prices, and the global economy for that matter despite efforts by the financial wardens to conceal it is rife with inflation.

This week oil hit a three-year high. I believe this is a sign of things to come.

In short, oil could be on the cusp of a major price breakout.

To explain, we must come back to what economist refer to as the velocity of money.

Economists always overcomplicate things when explaining this concept, but its actually a very simple to wrap your head around.

Imagine youre sitting around the dinner table with nine of your closest relatives

In your hand is a $1 coin. No one else has any money in possession. In this example, your dollar represents the total money supply in your family.

If you stick that dollar in your pocket, youd end up with whats known as zero velocity.

This is no different to keeping money in the bank. All it means is that you havent given the dollar to anyone in exchange for something else.

No transactions means no velocity.

But lets look at this from another angle

Say you turned to the person seated to your right and handed them the $1 coin.

What youd find now is that the velocity of money wouldve increased to 1.

Now lets take this a step further

As this coin gets passed around the table, every new change of hands adds an additional number to the velocity.

If the coin is passed a...

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