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IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.

Thursday, 13 December


Australias Chief Scientist gives the Clarence Valleys Daily Examiner a polite serve "IndyWatch Feed"

This is what happens when a once proud 159 year-old newspaperis brought by Rupert Murdochs News Corpand begins to publish the political rot that Andrew Bolt spews forth.

The Daily Examiner, letter to the Editor, 11 December 2018, p.13:

Doing nothing on climate change not an option

On Tuesday, December 4 you published an opinion piece by Andrew Bolt titled, Less marching, more learning, which included a reference to me admitting that we could stop all Australias emissions junk every car, shut every power station, put a cork in every cow and the effect on the climate would still be virtually nothing.

Those are Andrew Bolts words, not mine, and they are a complete misrepresentation of my position....


Human Rights 2018: when forgetting is not a good thing "IndyWatch Feed"

The Guardian, 11 December 2018:

As those who lived through two world wars die out, taking with them real memories of past atrocities, the world is back on a path to self-destruction, a leading authority on torture has warned.

Human rights are facing a worrying backlash from a global community that has failed to learn the lesson of the past.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said the global community had become complacent in the face of injustice because the world no longer understood why human rights should be protected or what the world would look like without them.

I dont think its a coincidence that 70 years after world war two, when the last witnesses of past atrocities are dying away, we start to see human rights being questioned on a broad scale, said...


Rafes Roundup 14 Dec "IndyWatch Feed"

In no particular order. Australian Institute for Progress, The Institute of Public Affairs IPA, the Centre for Independent Studies CIS, The Sydney Institute, Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, Quadrant On Line, The Australian Taxpayers Alliance, Tim Blair, Andrew Norton, the classical liberal in Carlton, Rite-ON admirable Queensland activists!, The Menzies Research Centre, Jim Rose Utopia You Are Standing in It. LibertyWorks.

Still building and looking at more specialised sites.

Overseas. Spiked, Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Dan Mitchell.

Climate. Viv Forbes Carbon Sense, Watts Up With That?, Jo Nova, The Global Warming Policy Forum, Global Coal Plant Tracker, Tony From Oz,

Education and Culture. Heterodox Academy. Accuracy in Academia, Intellectual Takeout, Institute for Humane Studies.

For Nerds. Rafes Rathouse, Stephen Hicks, libertarian philosopher, Critical Rationalist Blog, My bookstore.



World leaders abandon the sinking ship in Poland while the southern ocean cools "IndyWatch Feed"

Two great posts from Jo Nova. World leaders stay away from Poland apart from islanders from the non-sinking islands looking for money. And the Great Southern Ocean is cooling instead of warming. Could there be a problem with the models?


2018 Victorian state election : Left / Right : Results! "IndyWatch Feed"

See : 2018 Victorian state election : far right (and left) candidates (November 10, 2018). As the results have now been finalised (see : ABC | VEC), I thought Id take a look and see how the (far) left and Continue reading


China gets the message. Keep the coal fires burning "IndyWatch Feed"

if for power youre yearning. With apologies to Vera Lynn. If you really want the home fires.

A recent report from the activist group CoalSwarm included satellite imagery that shows many coal-fired power projects that were halted by the Chinese government have quietly been restarted. In total, 46.7 gigawatts (GW) of new and restarted coal-fired power construction are either generating power or will soon be operational. If all the plants reach completion, they alone would increase Chinas coal-fired power capacity by 4%.

Abroad, it is the same story. By the end of 2016, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, China is involved in 240 coal-fired power projects in 25 BRI countries with a total installed capacity of 251 GW,27 making it the most important global player in the development of coal-fired power projects.

Over the past year, demand for energy is up substantially, as high as 15% in the case of natural gas. Given the overwhelming need to boost economic growth, climate change issues are largely absent from official action: Chinese authorities are focused on securing these energy supplies.

Many of Chinas initiatives, including much of its Belt and Road (BRI) development initiative are focused on serving the countrys need for energy, through the building of pipelines, power facilities and ports in more than 70 countries. In particular it focuses on:
securing natural gas and oil supplies:
imports through pipelines from Myanmar and Turkmenistan
planned imports via the nearly completed Russian Power of Siberia10 project
and a proposed Power of Siberia 2 pipeline
from the Middle East, via pipelines through Gwadar, Pakistan to Kashgar, China
securing LNG supplies from as far away as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Qatar, the United States and Canada, as well as from Russias Yamal project13 along a Polar Silk Road.
securing oil supplies from Oman, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Congo, South Sudan, Brazil, Venezuela, and Canada.


Christian Porter: We Have Announced A Watchdog And We Wont Have Anyone Say A Word Against Chihuahuas! "IndyWatch Feed"

Big News! The Morrison government has announced a policy on a federal corruption body. Apparently theyve been working on it for a long time. In fact, theyve been working on it even before we had our latest PM. They were even working on it at the time they told us that they we didnt need

The post Christian Porter: We Have Announced A Watchdog And We Wont Have Anyone Say A Word Against Chihuahuas! appeared first on The AIM Network.


Lets dance "IndyWatch Feed"

Rather than joining those who examine the entrails of what happened in the past 12 months and makes a narrative around the good, the bad and the ugly, how about we raise the tone a tad and look at attitudes and consensus. Wasnt the last week of Parliament fun? Effectively the coalition government wanted to

The post Lets dance appeared first on The AIM Network.


Nice try guys but I dont think anyones buying it "IndyWatch Feed"

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter gave a press conference today to announce their response to the Ruddock review into religious freedom and the formation of a National Integrity Commission. In explaining the need for religious freedom legislation and a Religious Freedom Commissioner at the AHRC, Scott started out by telling us what a religious country

The post Nice try guys but I dont think anyones buying it appeared first on The AIM Network.


Be Offensive and Be Damned: The Cases of Peter Ridd and Tim Anderson "IndyWatch Feed"

It has been an ordinary year for universities in Australia. While the National Tertiary Education Union pats itself on the back for supposedly advancing the rights and pay of academics, several face removal and castigation at the hands of university management. Consumerism and pay are the sort of quotidian matters that interest the NTEU. Less

The post Be Offensive and Be Damned: The Cases of Peter Ridd and Tim Anderson appeared first on The AIM Network.


The unspoken crimes of the ASX Part 4 "IndyWatch Feed"

The unspoken crimes of the ASX Part 4Benjamin John Pauley this time focuses on media interference in the Australian Stock Exchange. read now...


A modern libertarian discusses the problems of immigration "IndyWatch Feed"

This is from Gary North in the Journal of Libertarian Studies: The Sanctuary Society and its Enemies

In the United States today, the waiting period for citizenship is as short as five years. The waiting period is similar in other democratic nations. This, not the threat of economic competition, is the problem of immigration for the free society. Because the citizen authoritatively declares the law and seeks to impose it on others, he can become a threat to the free society. The problem is the moral content of his confession of faith and his possession of civil sanctions, not his productivity and his possession of economic sanctions. Mises was short-sighted here: a nineteenth-century, anti-clerical, would-be value-free analyst, i.e., a liberal. It is not the welfare state as such that creates the problem of immigration; rather, it is the confession of faith of the would-be immigrants. If their confession inherently threatens the moral and judicial foundations of the free society, then immigration is a problem, with or without the presence today of a welfare state. Freedom is based on more than private contracts. It is based on a moral vision, which includes a vision of the moral boundaries of the state.

This is the single most important issue of our time. Read it all.


David Bidstrup on the summer power rip-off "IndyWatch Feed"

The other day I submitted an article analysing 2018 YTD costs for wholesale electricity in the 5 states that make up the national electricity market. It did not fly but my interest was aroused again today when an article in the state of darkness daily rag talked about the big battery helping to drive down costs.

Using the data from the YTD analysis and adding December 2017 I have looked at the summer costs, (December 2017 + January 2018 + February 2018) for QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS and SA to see what the differences are. These are wholesale prices before the transmission people and the retailing parasites add their margins and presumably before the RET subsidies are distributed. Remember also, it is supposed to be a national market.

For each state I found the percentage of time that price/MWh was above $150, the actual cost of the electricity consumed in these periods and the percentage of the total summer cost that it represented. The editor cannot reproduce the table or the chart and it may have to await the return of Sinc to see the results most clearly. They can be summarised as follows.

Victoria and South Australia were outstanding in the amount of time when the price was more than $150 per MWh and the amount of the total bill for the summer period that was racked up on those high cost days. The amount of time in the high cost zone ranged from 0.4% for NSW, 0.7% for Qld, 2.1% for Tasmania, 2.4% for Victoria and 4.9% for SA. The highest cost for the period showed a huge range from $280/MWh in NSW through 2,500 in Qld, 4,200 in Tasmania, to 12,900 in Victoria and the gold medal at 14,16676.50 in SA.

Another way to report the difference between the states is to count the % of the total summertime costs that were incurred during those short periods when the price was above 150.MWh.

The folk in NSW have it easy. They had 4.97% of the time with prices above $150/MWh and the total percentage of the summer bill was just 1.47.

SA and VIC, the renewables states were not so fortunate. For the 2.43% of time in VIC the percentage of the summer bill was 32.96. In SA, the state of darkness and rank stupidity it was 45.39% of the total summer bill for 4.9% of the time.

A chart that cannot be reproduced here shows the gigantic spikes in SA and Victoria on Jan 18 and 19 when consumers were flogged with when prices up $14,000+ per MWh as the system was about to fall over. TAS managed to get free power when SA and VIC were paying through the nose.

As I said, this is supposed to be a national market. Clearly it is a very distorted one where consumers are treated differently in different states. When electricity was generated in large thermal power stations the cost did not vary from minute to...


In which the pond reports on a strange "IndyWatch Feed"


By golly, the HUN seems agitated about something and so do the Terror and the Currish Snail ...

So what happened to the reptiles of Oz? And the 'Tiser, only finding space right down the bottom?

Did some reptiles get the frights? There's SloMo doing a sort of back flip, and the Mocker blathering about progressive shaming, but there seems to be a remarkable shining and a shaming going down ...


Australia finally acts on corruption "IndyWatch Feed"

After years of dismissing federal corruption as a "fringe issue" and complaining about state-level corruption investigations "persecuting" people, the Australian government is finally going to establish a federal anti-corruption agency:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new anti-corruption commission, having come under sustained pressure from crossbench MPs with the balance of power.

Labor, the Greens and minor parties have long campaigned for a corruption watchdog, arguing current systems are woefully inadequate.

During the final sitting weeks of the parliamentary year, Mr Morrison had said his Government was not against a national anti-corruption watchdog but described it as a "fringe issue" being pushed by the Opposition.

Speaking today, Mr Morrison said it was crucial the public had confidence in Commonwealth employees and agencies.

But most importantly, it will have jurisdiction over federal politicians, who are currently ignored. And with widespread corruption among political parties, that seems vitally important. No democracy should tolerate corrupt behaviour by politicians and officials, and it is long past time Australia solved its corruption problem.


25 reasons why the Coalition has failed the nation "IndyWatch Feed"

25 reasons why the Coalition has failed the nationThere are many reasons why the Coalition has been politically inept. John Lord examines 25 of the key areas in which they failed. read now...


I have a book coming out in February 2019! "IndyWatch Feed"

In February 2019, probably just before Australia lurches into the long-awaited federal election campaign, Ill have a book coming out on the Liberal Partys women problem. On Merit is part of MUPs Little Book series. It starts with the emergence of the red shoe brigade following the Liberals recent leadership troubles, and looks at the []


No such thing as the level of demand at an aggregate level "IndyWatch Feed"

Through the whole of the Costello years as Treasurer, I would say that everyone would live through these exceptionally good economic times, but no one would learn a thing. And its not just that we had balanced budgets, but had ZERO DEBT. Only country ever to do this and we floated on air. So then we elected Labor and then we had the GFC, and then we had the advice from Treasury to go early and go hard, and so here we are today, in a crumbling economy with living standards heading south. Which is a preamble to this: Peter Costello and later treasurers right to stress benefit of surpluses. Not so sure about those later treasurers, but Peter was the legitimate article, Australias greatest Treasurer.

In his book on Australian treasurers, Bowen describes Costello as the countrys first post-Keynesian treasurer, rejecting the idea that taxes and spending should be used to manage the level of demand in the economy, with that task left to the Reserve Bank. The pursuit of a budget surplus was seen as evidence of good economic management and became an end in itself. Costello was able to distil his political message into a simple message: Surpluses are good and Liberals deliver surpluses, Bowen writes.

Half way there. There is no such thing as the level of demand at an aggregate level. You cannot manage it. You cannot cause it to go up and down. Aggregate demand has no separate existence apart from aggregate supply. It is Keynesian junk theory whether it is spending or adjusting rates. It will not work and never has, ever. Modern macro is false from end to end. As John Stuart Mill put it, and found in my Free Market Economics where it is explained at great length: demand for commodities is not demand for labour. That was written 170 years ago. The idea that there is progress in economic theory is just plain wrong.

PLUS THIS: From Max in the comments:

Austrian theorist Henry Hazlitt argued that aggregate demand is a meaningless concept in economic analysis. Friedrich Hayek , another Austrian, wrote that Keynes study of the aggregate relations in an economy is fallacious, arguing that recessions are caused by micro-economic factors.

The Keynesian is a collectivist methodologically. He looks at aggregates. He recommends government programs that affect aggregates.

Keynes argued, and his disciples still argue, that the cause of unemployment is insufficient aggregate demand. This is another way of saying that the cause of unemployment is excessive...

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Wednesday, 12 December


The GCSB appear to be breaking the law again "IndyWatch Feed"

When Parliament passed the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, one of the aims was ostensibly to give Ministers greater clarity over the spying activities they were being asked to authorise, so they could properly judge the necessity and proportionality of the breaches of human rights they were being asked to approve. As part of this, warrant applications were required to include greater detail. But are the spy agencies actually meeting those requirements? The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has reviewed the first 9 months of warrants under the new Act, and the conclusion is only "maybe".

Obviously there are teething problems when a new law is introduced, in this case compounded by the refusal of spy agencies to cooperate with IGIS beforehand on how it would be interpreted. The good news is that the SIS seems to have got with the programme, taken the IGIS' recommendations on board, and are now complying with the law. The story is different for the GCSB, and the IGIS identifies several major issues:

  • Seeking Type 2 warrants (which only authorise actions against foreigners) rather than Type 1 warrants (required for anything targeting a New Zelaander) for activities which they expect to result in the incidental collection of the private communications of New Zealanders. This means they are subject to a lower level of scrutiny, require only the approval of the rubberstamp Minister, and the "incidental intelligence" can be retained and used if they "incidentally" turn up anything interesting.
  • Using extremely broadly-defined classes of targets, where it is not entirely clear who might be a lawful target and who might not be (in at least one case, anyone who the GCSB had a "reasonable suspicion" that they might have a reasonable suspicion of).
  • Using tortured definitional games and reference to other warrants (in some cases, forward-looking references to future warrants that have not yet been authorised or even applied for) to obscure exactly who they are targeting and what they are doing, frustrating the goal of clarity and impeding the Minister's ability to assess the necessity of the warrant.

The IGIS's overall assessment: "I...


EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The two major parties are not the same Wayne Swan "IndyWatch Feed"

EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The two major parties are not the same Wayne SwanMany are concerned that the Federal Opposition has, by passing the encryption bill, endangered the rights of ordinary Australians. read now...


Greens NSW majoritarian preselections and walking away "IndyWatch Feed"

I received an email yesterday from Justin Field, a Greens members of the NSW upper house, effectively laying out a threat that himself and his colleague Cate Faehrmann would quit the party unless the party met two of its demands:

Specifically they are asking that the party agree to a complete recount of the votes for the last preselection in the case that Jeremy Buckingham is removed from the ticket for the upcoming state election, and also that the organisations Left Renewal and Solidarity are added to the proscribed organisations list, effectively prohibiting members of those organisations from also being members of the Greens NSW.

The latter point is a callback to an early fight in the history of the Greens NSW, when members of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), now Socialist Alliance, were thrown out of the Greens in 1991.

The former point is an attempt to relitigate the results of this years state preselection, which saw the left of the party take the first two spots on the ticket for the upper house, pushing Faehrmann and Fields allies Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker into third and fourth places respectively. At the time the expectation was that neither of these seats were winnable, although Buckingham had been narrowly elected in 2011 from the third spot on the ticket, so I think expectations of his defeat were exaggerated.

In this post I will run through what could happen if the party were to split, and a quick explanation of how the partys preselection rules have played into this conflict.

The partys preselection process is meant to be proportional. The first spot on the ticket is elected as a single-member preferential ballot. Then a second count is conducted to choose two candidates (with a quota of 1/3 + 1) using proportional representation. One of these two would have already been chosen for the first spot, so the other person gets second. Then further rounds of counting are conducted with a lower quota, so an extra person is chosen each time.

In a factionally-divided contest, which is what the Greens NSW had earlier this year, you would expect such an outcome to give the more popular faction the first and third positions, and the other faction second and fourth. And this is indeed what happened. The lefts David Shoebridge and Abigail Boyd won the first and third positions, with Buckingham and Walker comin......


In which the pond worries about the reptiles' loosing business model ... "IndyWatch Feed"

How's the barely literate reptile business model going? At the risk of loosing the bet, the pond cowers at the sight of the bromancer in full flight

But it does allow the pond to get the Rowe of the day out of the way early, with more relevant Rowe here

She's alive, she still stalks the earth, no looser she, and Bell can still cartoon away here

But enough of a loosing bromancer irrelevance, with the digital ink already dry, and the actual story, with May revanche, and with many more twists and turns to land this morning.

The pond was in search for an empty mind and a Seinfeld moment, and who better to deliver a column about nothing than the dog botherer?

It might have been titled "dog botherer in search of a column," a strange phenomenon with Cohen just going down, the Donald in a funk sulk, May still on the Brexit slide, and the reptiles in a state of hysteria about reli...


Climate Change: Ignoring the cow in the room "IndyWatch Feed"

Earlier in the year the government ran a consultation on improvements to the Emissions Trading Scheme, aimed at making it actually work. Yesterday, they announced their decisions. Most importantly, the total number of units available to the ETS will be capped, with future caps announced five years in advance to give the market certainty about how much they can pollute. The implication is that the cap will shrink towards our targets. Secondly, units will be auctioned by the government. Which is broadly what we needed to do in the first place, before the scheme became a polluter support scheme loaded with free allocations and exemptions to subsidise incumbents. Speaking of those free allocations, they will continue for the moment, but there will apparently be a decision on them next year. And for the system to actually function, they need to be eliminated as quickly as possible (a five year transition period seems more than fair IMHO).

The other big change is the price cap. At the moment, polluters can simply bank their units and pay $25 / ton - a strategy which makes sense when carbon prices are higher than that (as they are ATM). The government will replace this with a "cost containment reserve", which will auction a set number of new units into the system if prices rise too high. These units will be backed by an equivalent tonne of removals, so in theory it means no net pollution. But it both undermines the ability of the scheme to actually reduce pollution, and creates a pool of credits future governments will be tempted to sell or give away to their donors. Obviously, price spikes are bad for polluters, but that's the point. If the carbon price is "too high" for a polluter, the market is sending a signal that what they do is no longer viable, and that they should either pollute less or shut down. We accept this logic for every other business input: wood, petrol, electricity, wages. We should treat carbon - which threatens our fucking lives - no differently.

These are useful changes, but still just tinkering around the edges. The core decision - what to do about agriculture - has again been put off, left hanging while the Zero Carbon Act consultation considers whether we even have a target for agricultural emissions, let alone whether we should make farmers pay their way. And until we do the latter, our ETS will ignore our biggest source of pollution, and be fundamentally broken and unfit for purpose.


Suitable accommodation for seasonal worker programs "IndyWatch Feed"

Accommodation is one of the largest expenses incurred by seasonal workers participating in Australias Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and New Zealands Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE). The cost of accommodation varies depending on the employer and availability in the area. The provision of suitable accommodation is a condition of the pastoral care policy of both programs and is the responsibility of employers, not the workers. Workers must pay for this provided accommodation with deductions taken from their pay regardless of whether they are earning an income or not. There has been public criticism about accommodation for seasonal workers in Australia and New Zealand. Reports have shown that some Pacific workers have been placed in overcrowded and substandard lodgings with inadequate facilities and rates set too high (this was also noted by an SWP agent in March 2018 in personal communication with the author of this article). This blog looks at some of the challenges, as well as changes that have recently occurred in relation to accommodation standards in the RSE, and argues that such changes should also be considered in the SWP. More research is recommended, in addition to better oversight from governments.

RSE and SWP accommodation

Seasonal workers are employed in regions where accommodation is often scarce, especially in peak seasons. Many growers, in particular small-scale operations, consider it burdensome to provide adequate accommodation and pastoral care for their labourers. RSE employer surveys reveal that suitable and reasonably-priced accommodation for workers to live in for periods of up to nine months remains one of the most challenging aspects of pastoral care for some employers.

There have been many unsubstantiated claims that accommodating RSE workers have inflated rental prices in various regions, such as Marlborough in New Zealand, and as RSE worker numbers increase the scarcity of housing is becoming apparent. Growers have responded in various ways; Hotus Ltd, an RSE employer based in Blenheim, recently built customised accommodation for their workers. The....


Yet another Frydenberg ministerial blunder disclosed which is still reverberating "IndyWatch Feed"

The Guardian, 11 December 2018:

The Australian government has permitted the export of hundreds of rare and endangered parrots to a German organisation headed by a convicted kidnapper, fraudster and extortionist, despite concerns the birds could be sold at a huge profit.

An investigation by Guardian Australia has revealed that the Berlin-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots received permission to export 232 birds between 2015 and November 2018 more than 80% of all the live native birds legally exported from Australia in the same period.

The exports include threatened species such as Carnabys and Baudins black cockatoos, worth tens of thousands of dollars each.

The head of the ACTP, Martin Guth,...


Centrelink's 'robodebt' headed to the Australian Federal Court? "IndyWatch Feed"

9 News, 10 December 2018:

Centrelinks robo-debt recovery scheme was intended to seek out and destroy debts, but instead its thrown more than 200,000 Australians into financial turmoil.

Now, Victorias former head prosecutor, QC Gavin Silbert, is lending his voice and fighting back against the controversial system which aims to claw back up to $4.5 billion in welfare overpayments.

I think its illegal and I think its scandalous. In any other situation, youd call it theft. I think theyre bullying very vulnerable people, Mr Silbert told A Current Affair. 

If debts are owed to the public purse they should be paid, they should be pursued. These are not such debts, he said.



A very English take on Denmark "IndyWatch Feed"

Heres also why Brexit happened. Europe is a mystery. Europeans come from a faraway land. Australia is nearer.

lead Screenshot. Danish for kids. YouTube.

To understand what the English are about, read Matthew Engel reporting on his trip to Denmark this week in the New Statesman (30/11, print issue). Its great; but most importantly, its honest. He could not avoid mentioning the Brits obsessions about Scandinavia  hygge (cosiness), smorgasbord and a few more (yes, and Hamlet, of course). The three benchmarks of Danishness for the Brits. It made me chuckle. Good writing indeed.

However, parts of it saddened me too. Engel explained things about Denmark, which couldve been applied to any other European country. Obvious things that I always thought didnt need mentioning. But Engel was right in bringing them up they need to be explained when addressing a varied British readership.

Engel wasnt being sloppy. In fact, the 67-year-old didnt get certain things himself, before travelling there; he admitted realising them only now. Lets look at three key passages.

First, Engel said that the Scandinavians certainly dont see themselves as part of some amorphous Euromass. Well, who does? The Spaniards think of themselves as distant. The Italians too, almost cast away on a leg-peninsula that tickles Africa with its toes. Ukrainians feel Russia is breathing down their necks and would only be too pleased to be part of a so-called Euromass. The list could go on and on. But maybe, as seen from England, we do all look the same.

Secondly, Ben Rosamond, a British professor of politics at the University of Copenhagen, was asked about Danish society. Rosamond sees hygge as being about companionship and bonds, but also as an exercise of Danishness with a dark side to it because if you cant get in, its a bit of an issue. This is a society where the entry barriers are quite high.



No planet but this one "IndyWatch Feed"

The Voyager 2 spacecraft has just passed through the heliopause and into interstellar space, forty years after it was launched.

On the one hand thats a stunning technological achievement and a reminder of the wonderful universe we live in. On the other, its a reminder that humans will never go out to explore this universe, or even leave Earth in significant numbers.

Although Voyager 2 has passed the heliopause it is still within the gravitational field of the sun. It would take another 30,000 years to fly beyond the Oort cloud which marks the boundary.

These facts could have been computed when Voyager was launched though at the time its mission was limited to five years. But if they had been pointed out as an argument for the impossibility of interstellar travel, the response would surely have been that the problem would be solved by technological progress. Forty years before Voyager was launched, flying across the Atlantic ocean was a major feat. Forty years or so before that, the first heavier-than-air flight was undertaken by the Wright brothers.

Extrapolating one could reasonably expect that forty years more progress would produce massive advances in space travel including human space travel. In fact, though no one knew it at the time, the heroic age had already passed. No one has travelled to the moon since Voyager 2 was launched and, quite possibly, no one ever will. The promise of the space shuttle has been abandoned in favour of the 1950s technology of the Atlas rocket. Meanwhile physicists have closed off just about every possible loophole that might allow us to evade Einsteins conclusion that the speed of light is an absolute limit.

The other achievement of the Voyagers and their successors has been a comprehensive exploration of the planets and moons of the solar system. They have revealed many marvels, but nowhere remotely habitable compared to, say, Antarctica or the Atacama desert.

The biggest lesson of our decades of space exploration is that Earth is the only planet we have.


Climate change is not up for debate "IndyWatch Feed"

Climate change is not up for debateThe full effects of climate change are nearly upon us. We can't afford to keep arguing about it. read now...


Hybrid cars, hybrid power systems and free fish in the sea "IndyWatch Feed"

Someone remind us of the difference in price between standard and hybrid cars. We are putting in place a hybrid power system. Someone explain how that can reduce the cost of hot meals and fresh goods from the coolroom.

I was told at lunch that sun and wind are free. So are the fish in the sea. So how come they charge for them in the shop? On the bright side, when the power fails they will be cheap because the fishmonger will have to give them away or throw them out.


From Oedipus to Morrison "IndyWatch Feed"

They came to him. The Theban citizens, in pain and in prayer. They came to king Oedipus and cried for his help. But, you, too, Oedipus, with your own eyes, you too can see how the whole of Thebes is in the grips of a battering sea storm of troubles and you too can see

The post From Oedipus to Morrison appeared first on The AIM Network.


William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate "IndyWatch Feed"

In the incessant self-praise of the US imperial project, kept safe in a state of permanently enforced amnesia, occasional writings prod and puncture. Mark Twain expressed an ashamed horror at the treatment of the Philippines; Ulysses Grant, despite being a victorious general of the Union forces in the Civil War and US president, could reflect

The post William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate appeared first on The AIM Network.


A win for democracy "IndyWatch Feed"

For the past few elections, local authorities have been obsessed with online voting as a way to cut costs. They were planning a trial at next year's local body elections. But now its been cancelled:

The proposed trial of online voting in next years local body elections will not proceed after the working party comprised of nine councils made the reluctant decision to halt the trial. Although the working party had recently selected a provider that satisfied all of the security and delivery requirements, the cost burden for the councils involved ultimately forced the decision.

This is the second election in a row this has happened, but its still good riddance. Online voting is fundamentally insecure, and no election conducted online can be trusted. We need our democracy to be more reliable than Microsoft Windows, and that means keeping it offline, where it can't be fucked with by two-bit script kiddies, political parties, and foreign governments. The bad news is that rather than accepting this, the local government working party still wants to press one and try again in three year's time. It would be better if they simply buried the idea for good.


The people of this country dont want "IndyWatch Feed"

Full story: PELOSI, SCHUMER PLEAD TO TRUMP: LETS DEBATE BORDER FUNDS IN PRIVATE. Instead, very public with the best bits in the video above. Might also mention this as well: Pew Survey: Out Of 27 Nations Polled, Zero Want More Immigrants to Move to Their Country and that includes Australia. As for Trump and the Dems, heres the transcript of the relevant bits on border protection:

TRUMP: We need border security. People are pouring into our country including terrorists. We have terrorists we caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time. Ten. These are very serious people. Our border agents, all of our law enforcement has been incredible, what they have done, but we caught 10 terrorists. These are people that were looking to do harm. We need the wall. We need more important than anything, we need border security of which the wall is just a piece. Its important. Chuck, did you want to say something?

SCHUMER: Yes. Heres what I want to say. We have a lot of disagreements here. The Washington Post today gave you a whole lot of Pinnocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built and how much is there, but thats not the point. We have a disagreement about the wall, whether its effective or not

TRUMP: The Washington Post

SCHUMER: not on border security, but on the wall. We do not want to shut down the government. You were called 20 times to shut down the government. You said, I want to shut down the government. We dont. We want to come to an agreement. If we cant come to an agreement, we have solutions that will pass the House and Senate right now and will not shut down the government. Thats what we are urging you to do. Not threaten to shut down the government.

TRUMP: If you dont want to shut down the government

SCHUMER: Let me just finish. Because you cant get your way let me say something, Mr. President. You just say, My way or we shut down the government. We have a proposal that Democrats and Republicans will support to do a C.R. that will not shut down the government. We urge you to take it.

TRUMP: If its not good border security, I will not take it.

SCHUMER: Its very good border security.

TRUMP: If its not good border security, I will not take it.

SCHUMER: Its what

TRUMP: Because when you look at these numbers of the effectiveness of our border security and when you look at the jo...


Why should our politicians be the only people who are unaccountable? "IndyWatch Feed"

Over the last couple of decades, organisations throughout society, whether they be charities, not-for-profits, unions, or corporate boards, have seen increasing requirements for more transparency and accountability The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) was established in December 2012 to, in part, maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector through increased

The post Why should our politicians be the only people who are unaccountable? appeared first on The AIM Network.


WINZ undermines KiwiSaver "IndyWatch Feed"

The idea of KiwiSaver was to encourage new Zealanders to save for their retirement. But WINZ is undermining the scheme by demanding that people use their retirement savings rather than giving them benefits:

The number of people looking to dip into their KiwiSaver funds for hardship reasons is rising sharply.

One of the scheme's default providers Fisher Funds said how to access the funds because of financial problems is now the most common query received from savers, with some savers being told to withdraw funds by the Ministry of Social Development.

Fisher chief executive Bruce McLachlan said it is an unfortunate state of affairs.

"We do have very established [social welfare] mechanisms in New Zealand already... I would like to think that is dealing with the real hardship cases, rather than people getting access to KiwiSaver."

KiwiSaver savings are not treated as "cash assets" for the purposes of the accommodation supplement, or (it seems) for the purposes of receiving temporary additional support. So WINZ's response to someone going to them and asking for help is to demand they make themselves ineligible. Its both a terrible incentive, and simply illegal, and the Minister should be telling them to stop immediately.


British walk-out from Europe has been a long time coming "IndyWatch Feed"

British walk-out from Europe has been a long time comingDebate in the British parliament over the Draft Agreement with Brussels has produced above all fresh conflict, confusion and uncertainty. read now...


Member's Day "IndyWatch Feed"

Today is the last Member's Day of the year, but it looks like it will be taken up with local business. First off, the government is ramming through its Muldoonist Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill, designed to steal part of a conservation area to enrich farmers. As if that's not controversial enough, they then plan to do the same with the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill to effectively impose a Treaty settlement against the wishes of local hapu (in other words, to breach the Treaty of Waitangi).

Finally, there's the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngi Tahu Representation) Bill, which would bypass the usual process for creating Maori wards and electing members and allow Ngi Tahu to directly appoint two members to the Canterbury Regional Council. Which is both undemocratic - they should be elected, not appointed - and creates serious conflict of interest problems. We'd be horrified at the thought of Fonterra being allowed to appoint members to a council responsible for setting policy around water and pollution, but Ngi Tahu's dairy investments and ongoing conversions put it in the same boat. I support guaranteed Maori representation on councils, but they should be democraticly elected and proportionate to population. This proposal does not meet either criteria, and it should either be amended so that it does, or rejected.

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Tuesday, 11 December


Climate Change: Forfeiting the profits of fraud "IndyWatch Feed"

Since 2008, the New Zealand government has pursued a climate change policy based on fraud, using dodgy or outright fraudulent Russian and Ukranian "credits" to "offset" our ever increasing domestic emissions. And we've banked the "surplus" from that fraud, and are still using it to "offset" our (still increasing) emissions until 2020. But at COP24 in Katowice, Climate Change Minister James Shaw has apparently ruled out using these credits in future:

New Zealand's Climate Change Minister James Shaw has ruled out his nation using carryover credits to count against its Paris climate target, saying such a move would make it challenging for the world to meet the important goal of reducing emissions.

Mr Shaw made the comments to Australasian journalists in a conference call on Tuesday after meeting his Australian counterpart Melissa Price during the climate talks in Katowice, Poland.


Mr Shaw declined to detail his talks with Ms Price. He said, however, it was his government's view no nation should resort to a prior period "surplus" to count against Paris goals. New Zealand would not do so "if we have any units left over".

"Paris is a completely new legal construct," Mr Shaw said, adding it was "never intended" for Kyoto credits to be carried over.

"We would discourage any country from using [them]," he said.

Which sounds good. But the devil is in the details. Shaw could be ruling out using our fraudulent "surplus" entirely, or he could simply be ruling out using it to meet Paris commitments. The former would be good, the latter would effectively be continuing the scam and continuing to profit from it until Paris kicks in. On current projections, we're expecting to use more than 30 million tons of CP1 "credit" to meet our (self-imposed) CP2 obligations - almost half a year's emissions. OTOH, at the least Shaw is committing to erasing ~90 million tons of fake credits, and that is significant. If we are to meet our Paris target, we're actually going to have to reduce emissions, rather than rely on the profits of fraud.


In which the pond finds the usual climate science denialism, endures a bout of bromancer hysteria, and does the long march with nattering "Ned" ... "IndyWatch Feed"

The pond was delighted that this day it was Ross Fitzgerald experiencing a Malware haunting and it seemed the sighting of the miserable ghost had led Fitzgerald to produce a very silly proposition .seeming to imply that if Shire clapper SloMo (as Gadfly is inclined to call him) loses at the next election, it will somehow be the fault of Malware and will somehow tarnish his NBN-destroying legacy.

Begone miserable ghost, and the idle fantasies you induce

Meanwhile, there were other fish, and a planet, to fry ...

As soon as cartoons of the Toles kind start circulating, you can rely on the reptiles and Lloydie to renew their trolling


Greens bias?

What about rampant climate science denialism bias? You won't find your average Catholic still sticking to the 'natural rhythm' routine - not if they want to avoid pregnancy - but how the reptiles love t...


Does the Labor Party deserve our vote? "IndyWatch Feed"

Does the Labor Party deserve our vote?Is the Labor Party offering a genuine, inspiring alternative to the current mess of a Government? read now...


Forest giants house thousands of animals (so why do we keep cutting them down?) "IndyWatch Feed"

Comic explainer: forest giants house thousands of animals (so why do we keep cutting them down?)

File 20181129 170241 np8k0s.png?ixlib=rb 1.1Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Madeleine De Gabriele, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

Giant eucalypts play an irreplaceable part in many of Australias ecosystems. These towering elders develop hollows, which make them natures high-rises, housing everything from endangered squirrel-gliders to lace monitors. Over 300 species of vertebrates in Australia depend on hollows in large old trees.

These skyscraper trees can take more than 190 years to grow big enough to play this nesting and denning role, yet developers are cutting them down at an astounding speed. In other places, such as Victorias Central Highlands Mountain Ash forests, the history of logging and fire mean that less than 1.2% of the original old-growth forest remains (that supports the highest density of large old hollow trees). And its not much better in other parts of our country.

David Lindenmayer explains how these trees form, the role they play and how very hard they are to replace.

Read more:
Mountain ash has a regal presence: the tallest flowering plant in the world



Bolsonaro Government Announces Brazil Will Not Sign UN Migration Pact "IndyWatch Feed"

Several European countries have already announced they will not sign on to the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

They fear the agreement will take away their sovereign right to control their own borders.

** The United States
** Poland
** Estonia
** Czech Republic
** Austria
** Hungary
** Switzerland
** Croatian
** Bulgaria
** Australia
** Israel
** Lithuania
** Latvia

These countries will not agree to the globalist insanity.

Latvia and Lithuania announced they will not sign the UN migration pact last week.

On Monday the Bolsonaro government in Brazil announced the South American country will not sign the UN Migration pact.

Republica De Curitiba reported (translated):

Ernesto Arajo, the future Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government of Jair Bolsonaro stated in the second that Brazil will not sign the Global Migration Pact proposed by the United Nations.

For the chancellor, immigration should not be treated as a global issue, but rather according to the realit...

Thursday, 06 December


Leprosy was thought to be eliminated in Papua New Guinea but its back "IndyWatch Feed"

At the start of the 21st century, Papua New Guinea declared that leprosy was eliminated.

Eliminated but not eradicated. With the rate dropping below the World Health Organizations elimination threshold  one in ten thousand the nations government redirected scarce health money elsewhere. But leprosy never went away. Eighteen years later, leprosy is back with a vengeance in Australias nearest neighbour. The dreaded bacterial disease can take years or decades to incubate, with steadily worsening disability from nerve damage, such as a hand frozen into an unusable claw. But the historic scourge is now readily treatable with antibiotics, with excellent outcomes if treated early.

Retired GP Dr Colin Martin, the chair of Leprosy Mission Australia, told newsGP that Leprosy never went away in PNG. Its a complicated place, with all these valleys with poor access The government is prioritising HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Leprosy doesnt seem as exciting. But from an individual perspective, its a catastrophic disease due to the stigma, social dislocation and disability it causes.

Now, leprosy is spreading again, with clusters in poor settlements on the outskirts of the capital, Port Moresby, and in remote villages. The disease is much more common amongst women and children, and is spread through cohabitation.

Logistics is shaping up as a major problem. There are caches of antibiotics stored in major cities, but getting them to remote river valleys or up into the misty highlands can be hugely challenging.

A person might walk a full day to a clinic to find that their medications for the next month arent there, Dr Martin said.

In PNG, the Leprosy Mission helps get people diagnosed and treated and gives vocational training to people with the disease. For people whose disease is caught late, the organisation gives supportive devices, arranges reconstructive surgeries and even supplies sunglasses for sufferers who have lost the ability to close their eyes.

Rosa Koian is a project manager with the Leprosy Mission Papua New Guinea. She said their Port Moresby operation had seen around 400 new cases in recent years. A lot are undetected, she told newsGP, Weve identified children who dont want to go to school because their teachers thought they might pass the disease on to the next child. Weve got four of those back in school Papua New Guineans live in crowded conditions. People with leprosy live in with their families and thats how the bacteria spreads. We have some families where the whole family has it.

When Rosa or one of the organisations 52 fieldworkers suspects som...


Fortnightly links: Development Bulletin No. 80, language barriers in crises, Islamophobia and support for ISIS, and more "IndyWatch Feed"

The latest Development Bulletin has been published, and its a bumper issue filled with articles on development in the Pacific, past, present and future.

This article in The Economist discusses ways in which language problems are a challenge to crisis responses.

The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board has recommended an Australian Global Medical Research Fund as part of its priorities for the next two years.

Is there a relationship between Islamophobia and support for ISIS? Smart new research from Tamar Mitts drawing on data from Twitter suggests there is. (Journal article here; open access here.)

Pakistan has one of the worlds highest rates of abortion, this NPR article explains.

As the Syrian crisis continues, Rukban has become, to its residents, a symbol of the international communitys inability (or unwillingness) to help, writes Rozina Ali for The New Yorker.

The post Fortnightly links: Development Bulletin No. 80, language barriers in crises, Islamophobia and support for ISIS, and more appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.

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