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Saturday, 17 February

00:52

The first atom ever to have had its picture taken Catallaxy Files

My before bed reading the last few weeks has been Lucretiuss De Rerum Natura which is a philosophical tract written around around 2000 years ago, whose arguments are based on the absolute assumption that everything in the universe is made up of atoms. Very radical in his time, and a belief that did not become part of our scientific understanding until the eighteenth century. FWIW my favourite book of the present century is The Swerve. No book has impressed on me, to speak in cliches, that everything changes and nothing lasts forever. Absolutely nothing about the world we are in and nothing we know about it will survive. And what The Swerve is about is how the last remaining copy of De Natura in the world was rediscovered in 1417. And then goes on to describe the world then in the context of the world when the Roman Empire was at its peak, and of course, with our world in the picture as well.

As for atoms, we now assume their existence even though no one has seen one, at least not until now. We also assumethere are between 10^78 to 10^82 atoms in the known, observable universe. In laymans terms, that works out to between ten quadrillion vigintillion and one-hundred thousand quadrillion vigintillion atoms. Or to help with the numbers there are approximately 7 x 10^27 atoms in the average human body. And everyone of these was there at the Big Bang or maybe it was only the number of particles that were there, or whatever. But there they were. The mystery of existence will never be known.

And each of these atoms, as again I understand it, has a scale of size so that if we were inside St Peters in Rome, a speck of dust floating in the air would represent the size of the nucleus of an atom relative to the size of the atom represented by the cathedral. How is this possible?

So up above we have a picture of an atom taken just the other day: How a Student Photographed a Single Atom With a Store-Bought Camera. The entire picture is not, of course, the atom, but somewhere between those pointy metallic tubes and along the black line between them there is a tiny dot of a white speck. That is also not the atom, its the light from an array of surrounding lasers being re-emitted by an atom. Its not much, but out of...

00:15

Quotes of the Week North Coast Voices


"And so it turns out that not only is Barnaby Joyce a shocking hypocrite, he's also a repulsive cliche."  [Journalist Clementine Ford describing Australian Deputy Prime Minister and MP for New England Barnaby Joyce, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 2018]


Barnaby Joyce has a history of screwing over women.  [Journalist Kasey Edwards writing about Australias deputy prime minister in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2018]


"During the 2016 presidential campaign and into the White House, Trump and his aides have defended a male aide accused of domestic violence, a male Senate candidate accused of pursuing inappropriate relationships with teens and a male campaign manager accused of assaulting a reporter. In each case, Trump and his top staffers used strikingly similar language to defend the accused, noting that he had denied it, defending his integrity and casting doubt on the women's claims."  [Journalist Ryan Teague Beckwith writing in Time magazine, 8 February 2018]

...

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Friday, 16 February

23:58

Historic landmark mansion sold $52.5m suspected offshore Chinese buyer Stop Foreign Ownership in Australia

A historic Melbourne mansion that was once Victorias Government House and the home to governors has changed hands for $52.5 million, smashing the states residential price record.

Art dealer Rod Menzies has sold Stonington mansion at 336 Glenferrie Road in the prestigious southeastern suburb of Malvern, public records show.

The buyer is listed as the company JJH & Co, which is directed by Xiao Cao, who in media reports today was suggested to be an accountant representing an undisclosed party.

Mr Menzies has been contacted for comment. Former Marshall White agent Sean Cussell is understood to have sold the home and declined to comment when contacted by The Australian.

Prestige real estate agents in the citys leafy southeast raised eyebrows at the size of the deal, suggesting the buyer was an offshore Chinese purchaser who had also bought the Noorilim Estate in regional Victoria although a caveat or title documents have yet to be lodged.

The grand Malvern home, built in 1890, was bought by Mr Menzies for $17.5 million in 2008, records show.

Stonington became the home of Victorias governor in 1901 before being purchased by the state in 1928 and served as the states Government House until 1931. It has also been a girls school, hospital and teachers college.

The price paid is substantially higher than the last Victorian record, where mystery Chinese buyer Qi Yang placed a caveat on former Mirvac...

21:36

If you have good ratings you can do whatever you please just ask Donald Trump, Don Burke and Barnaby Joyce. The AIM Network

When Malcolm Turnbull made his bizarre bonking ban pronouncement on Thursday, he did Barnaby Joyce an enormous favour.  A favour which Joyce is obviously too stupid to recognise. All of a sudden, the conversation has moved from a man abusing his position for personal gain back to people falling in love. Putting aside the expectations

The post If you have good ratings you can do whatever you please just ask Donald Trump, Don Burke and Barnaby Joyce. appeared first on The AIM Network.

20:21

What conservative triumph looks like Press gallery reform

Conservatives within the Coalition should be enjoying their moment of triumph. They have negated a supposedly progressive Prime Minister and tethered him to the unpopular and disastrous policies of his conservative predecessor. They have cast off all but two of those pesky state governments, with their namby-pamby health and education and human services, and have command of the high ground of the federal government. They stand poised to deliver tax cuts, to hold forth against Aboriginal claims through the Uluru Statement, and for welfare crackdowns.

This is the moment Australia's conservatives worked so hard for so long to achieve. Why, then, is everything crumbling around them? Could it be that what Donald Horne called "second-rate people" are part of our defences against tyranny?

The press gallery started the year by trumpeting a 1% rise in polls as "a strong start to the year" for the government, and we now see why that was not merely wrong but fundamentally stupid. It simply had no basis in fact. It was wishful thinking masquerading as analysis.

There Can Be Only One

Turnbull and Joyce have been at one another's throats for a week now, and today it came out into the open.

Malcolm Turnbull is the first Prime Minister since Gorton and McMahon whose parents were not married before and throughout his childhood. Keepers of the sacred flame of Leather Jacket Malcolm, closet liberal, overlook and cannot reconcile his absolutely fustilarian attitudes toward marriage and adultery. It may explain why his approach to the same-sex marriage debate convinced both sides he wasn't with either. The amendments to the ministerial code are in line with that aspect of the man: if you ever wanted an authentic response from Turnbull's heart to a public policy issue, that will have to do.

Barnaby Joyce has rallied his party around him (see below) and acts like he's invincible. In 2009, Joyce's lower-key predecessor Warren Truss helped sink Turnbull's first term as Liberal leader when he all but declared he wouldn't work with him. Joyce is trying to reprise that when he called Turnbull "inept", but the stakes in government are higher than they were back then. He has reached the stage where Nobody Tells Him What To Do, what the Greeks called hubris - and you don't need a classical education to know what comes next.

From time to time the Nationals have to stand up to the Liberals to protect their distinct identity, and to assert the interests of rural constituents. This is not one of those times. Any National who dies in a ditch defending Joyce - come to think of it, they seem awfully quiet at time of writing - gets nothing from this government. Even Christensen has retreated into the arms of his white supremacist buddies than defend the man who stuck his neck out for him.

Joyce is the minister in charge of national infrastructure. To do that job you need to operate effective...

18:27

The dissident right and the race thing Skepticlawyer

The blogger Zman provides a very useful summary of the dissident right:

If you were trying to reduce the main points of the Dissident Right with a few bullet points, it would be:

  • The people in charge have dangerous fantasies about the future of society and the nature of man
  • The mass media is just propaganda for those fantasies and can never be taken at face value
  • Race is real, ethnicity is real and evolution is real. In the main, humans prefer to live with their own kind. Diversity leads to conflict.

There is a more to it, but those are the three main items that come up over and over among writers in the Dissident Right. The people in charge, of course, dispute these and consider them to be ignorant, paranoid and immoral. Question the browning of America and youre a dumb racist. Notice that mass media often looks like a coordinated public relations campaign and youre branded as a paranoid. Of course, anyone mentioning the realities of race and sex is the branded a Nazi or white supremacist.

A useful summary, because pithy summaries of positions from the inside are almost always a helpful addition to understanding and debate. One of the ways, for example, you can tell that much academic writing about neoliberalism is worthless is the lack of forensic analysis of what alleged neoliberals write.

Pithy summaries tend not to be the places for nuance. But what I found useful in Zmans summary is it pinpointed for me why I read a lot of dissident right stuff but do not identify with it.

I read a lot of it in part because they often are willing to consider facts and concerns which conflict with the progressivist piety display politics that dominate so much of the media and elsewhere (and help provide strong coordinating effects). Also because I do think said politics include some dangerous fantasies about the future of society and human nature. And because I do think that ethnicity is real and evolution is real.

Against social constructionism

Continuing with points of agreement, evolutionary psychology tends to have not nearly enough history or comparative anthropology in it (see a...

18:00

Donald Trump, democracy and the changed climate of thought Independent Australia

Donald Trump, democracy and the changed climate of thoughtTrump is not a fascist like Hitler and Mussolini, because he has no ideology at all but he is well on his way to becoming a dictator like them all the same, writes Noel Wauchope. read now...

17:44

Malcolms Cunning Stunt And Barnabys Stunning Press Conference! The AIM Network

What can I say? I mean What can I say? While many in the Liberal Party have been referring to members of Barnabys party by the abbreviation Nats,  Mr Turnbull doesnt seem to have noticed that theyve changed their name in the 1970s and are no longer the Country Party. Malcolm announces that ministers in

The post Malcolms Cunning Stunt And Barnabys Stunning Press Conference! appeared first on The AIM Network.

17:30

Sexual Despotism: Malcolm Turnbulls Bonking Ban The AIM Network

Its all the rage at the moment, stirring the halls of power in certain countries, and satisfying some sense of puritanical virtue. Bonking is off the cards for politicians at least in certain contexts, and some states. In Australia, the issue of the Deputy Prime Ministers relationship with an ex-staffer whilst married persists in

The post Sexual Despotism: Malcolm Turnbulls Bonking Ban appeared first on The AIM Network.

16:05

Strong in the arms The AIM Network

There seems to be a kind of continuity in this latest mainstream media (MSM) Sgt Schultz plea over the Barnaby Joyce whole kit n caboodle when they say in a plaintive squeal; I know nuffink! which, considering social medias eye-rolling acceptance of THAT reality, they suddenly now seem to be all over the situation

The post Strong in the arms appeared first on The AIM Network.

15:18

Chimpanzees throwing feces Catallaxy Files

The following is from Jane Goodall Institute of Canada:

In their natural habitat, when chimpanzees become angry, they often stand up, wave their arms, and throw branches or rocks anything nearby that they can get their hands on. When chimps are removed from the wild and kept in captivity, they experience stress and agitation, which can cause them to react in the same way by throwing things. Captive chimpanzees are deprived of the diverse objects they would find in nature, and the most readily available projectile is feces. Since they also tend to get a pretty strong reaction from people when they do throw it, their behaviour is reinforced and likely to be repeated.

What better explanation of what is going on in Canberra.  What a disgrace.

Whilst the Prime Ministers political management skills are, how do they say in French, crap, it is gob smacking that the person who created the mess is upset at the way the cleaner has tried to clean the mess.  Yes, the cleaner did a lousy job, but the cleaner did not make the mess.

And much like the person on the Labor back-bench who has admitted they are a dual citizen in breech of (a plain text reading of) the constitution, the problem is that these people think they are more important than the institutions they are there to represent.

I will leave the final work to the Senator from the great State of Victoria.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

14:00

A belated Recognition and a new policy (Part 1) The AIM Network

Part Nine of a history of European occupation, rule, and brutal imperialism of Indigenous Australia, by Dr George Venturini. A belated Recognition and a new policy On 11 October 2007, in one last opportunistic electoral manoeuvre, Prime Minister Howard announced his support for The eight time: Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous Australians in a new preamble

The post A belated Recognition and a new policy (Part 1) appeared first on The AIM Network.

13:00

In which the pond abandons the reptiles and goes in search of a TGIF laugh ... loon pond


Fear not. The pond isn't going to take a look at scintillating Sharri doing over Barners one more time ...

There are a number of reasons. First the Terrorists have become very keen on a Times-style paywall, and the pond is inordinately pleased, and has taken this as a personal compliment. 

The reptiles have gone to all this trouble just to stop the pond, with its gnat-like number of hits?

Steady. It's easy to get swept up by delusions of grandeur and imagine that the reptiles have taken this stand as a direct riposte to the pond ... but the reality's a little more obvious, as noted a few days ago in Crikey ...


You'll have to access Crikey for that hot link and the rest of the story, but the point's obvious enough ... the reptiles are in a world of pain.

It's all the weirder then that news.com.au still keeps on giving away the family jewels for free ... do the reptiles really think this bait and switch strategy is working?

And besides, the pond can only take so many bouts with Barners and the reptiles on any given day. 

It's worse than a Tamworth Paleo diet ... kill the 'roo, eat the lapin in a red wine sauce ...feast on Barners beef jerky ...

The pond likes to vary its diet and lately on a Friday, it's taken to hanging out with the Speccie crowd ... and there's usually some prime example of extremely aged wagyu dangling on the vine ... or perhaps clutching a medal ...

...

12:37

Our reserves are open for pillage No Right Turn

The Reserves Act 1977 is meant to protect our environment, by placing some areas off-limits for development. Except, it turns out that it doesn't. Where a reserve is owned and managed by local government, they can apparently let it be dug up for an open-cast coal-mine:

One of several legal attempts to block a new coal mining venture on the West Coast has failed, but campaigners say the fight to stop the mine is far from finished.

[...]

Forest and Bird fought a separate legal campaign over an earlier decision by Buller District Council to allow the mining company access to its Water Conservation Reserve.

The council then rescinded that decision after being threatened with legal action from Forest and Bird.

Rangitira replied by challenging that reversal in the High Court.

That case has now produced a verdict, and it went against Forest and Bird and in favour of the mining company.

The court argued the original approval of access - granted under the Crown Minerals Act - had higher legal standing than the Reserves Act that Forest and Bird had relied on to block access.


This follows straightforwardly from s109 of the Reserves Act in combination with s22(2) of the Interpretation Act 1999. While local councils are required to have regard to the purpose for which land is held, it can be balanced against other considerations such as supposed economic benefit. Which, given the usual quality of local government decision-making and its propensity for capture by large donors and special interests, means open pillage.

As for fixing it, I'd suggest repealing s109. Does any MP want to bring a member's bill?

The full decision is here.

12:30

The Barnaby Affair: Are the Liberals up to making him go? Independent Australia

The Barnaby Affair: Are the Liberals up to making him go?Tensions between the Liberals and Nationals over the Barnaby Joyce sex scandal have destabilised the Australian Government, writes Dr Lee Duffield, who says the historical record shows its nothing new. read now...

11:48

Turnbulls latest bag of tripe The AIM Network

One hardly knows where to begin. Yesterday, Head Galoot Malcolm Turnbull announced that in an effort to curb the apparent enthusiasm of his ministers for shagging their staffers, he was adding a new rule to the ministerial regulations, forbidding sexual relationships. Only ministers are denied these pleasures: backbenchers can carry on as usual. Turnbull has

The post Turnbulls latest bag of tripe appeared first on The AIM Network.

10:50

Turnbulls latest bag of tripe. No Place For Sheep

  One hardly knows where to begin. Yesterday, Head Galoot Malcolm Turnbull announced that in an effort to curb the apparent enthusiasm of his ministers for shagging their staffers, he was adding a new rule to the ministerial regulations, forbidding sexual relationships. Only ministers are denied these pleasures: backbenchers can carry on as usual. Turnbull []

09:42

...and on whistleblower protection No Right Turn

Abortion isn't the only area where Labour is moving to act on its promises. last year, the newly elected government suggested it would strengthen whistleblower protections. Now, they're doing that too:

Work has begun on a review of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said today.

The Government is exploring whether the law and procedures to protect whistle blowers need to be strengthened. The review will start with a series of targeted workshops next week.

Getting this right is critical to building public confidence in the integrity of government and business in New Zealand, Mr Hipkins says.

It is crucial that employees feel safe to report cases of serious misconduct. Anyone who raises issues of serious misconduct or wrongdoing needs to have faith that their role, reputation, and career development will not be jeopardised when speaking up.

The first step in this review is to identify possible gaps and weaknesses in the current Act.


There are a couple. Firstly, that whistleblowers can't go to MPs or the media if their reports are ignored by their proper reporting chain. Secondly, that (thanks to National) it is literally a criminal offence for staff in some departments (notably those with significant intrusive powers) to pass on evidence of wrongdoing. Thirdly, that it is not currently a criminal offence to retaliate against whistleblowers. All those things need to change. Hopefully this review will be the first step in that process.

09:32

Economics in Two Lessons John Quiggin

Ive finally committed to delivering a manuscript of my long-overdue book Economics in Two Lessons. As part of the process, Im going to post the chapters, one at a time, and ask for comments, criticism, encouragement and so on. To begin at the beginning, heres the Introduction.

09:24

Labour acts on abortion No Right Turn

During the election campaign, Jacinda Ardern promised that if elected she would decriminalise abortion. Now Labour are taking the first step towards that, with a review by the Law Commission

Justice Minister Andrew Little intends to ask the Law Commission to update the archaic law on abortion, including looking at decriminalising it.

This morning, the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) told Parliament that the 41-year-old law was impractical and made the difficult lives of women seeking abortion even more difficult.

The committee added that it had been years since it had seen any meaningful engagement from Parliament, including over three years since a minister had met with its members.


A review by the Law Commssion is a good idea - it will formally document how badly the current archaic law works, while examining more modern laws from overseas (e.g. Victoria). And it should give us decent draft legislation for any change.

The question is whether it will pass. In order to get enough votes, any bill will need substantial support from National, but their current leadership contest shows that even "liberals" like Amy Adams are grovelling to the Christian right and defending the status quo. That might not last - there's nothing as two-faced as a politician - but its a bad sign. There's also a real danger of wrecking amendments such as mandatory scolding "counselling" or parental consent requirements, which may undermine the right to abortion in practice. So we may end up with a great proposed law, which we can't pass due to too many National misogynists in Parliament. Though given the expected length of time for a review, it'll probably be the next Parliament which has to deal with this anyway, so we'll at least get a chance to fix that first.

09:23

New ministerial conduct rules Catallaxy Files

I have quite a different take on the new ministerial rules than Sinc. First, it is not about re-criminalising adultery. No one is suggesting that Barnaby Joyce should be arrested,  charged with adultery, convicted and jailed.

No, the reason that Turnbull needed to act as he did is similar to why many businesses have such policies. As a protection to the companys assets and as a protection to the taxpayer.

It is also wrong to suggest that it requires special surveillance. In a small office it is quite clear when the boss is having it off with a staff member. If the boss and the staff member can have relations without anyone else knowing well good on them. But pretty soon there are clear signs they start travelling together frequently. They are the last two in the office. Then there is the favouritism given to the staff member which causes immense disquiet among the other staff.

Ultimately the staff member is moved to a higher paying job elsewhere, as one can hardly move the minister (or MP).

Then when the affair goes awry the recriminations start, there is hatred and nasty behaviour by both parties. Perhaps the staff member charges sexual harassment or worse. Both are distracted from the work they are paid to do.

In all of this the grateful taxpayer picks up the tab. Without formal guidelines banning such behaviour, the Government is tacitly accepting such behaviour and hence exposing the taxpayer to all these costs.

No, the guidelines are required and should apply to all MPs, not just ministers.

They should also apply to public servants, as all of this happens in departments too. Obviously we are talking here of direct reports (or within the same team), where the senior person can either misuse taxpayers money to eg travel together.

There are good reasons for the long ban on nepotism in the public service and elsewhere. What we are talking here is tweaking the definition of nepotism so that the sophistry we have observed about whether Joyces lover was a partner or not and when that happened cannot be used as an excuse to favour an individual with taxpayers resources not because of their work skills but because of the bed skills.

08:30

The power and the folly: Will Adani go down like Gunns? Independent Australia

The power and the folly: Will Adani go down like Gunns?The Adani and Gunns parallels demonstrate Australian politicians are completely controlled by the power of vested corporate interests, writes Peter Henning. read now...

07:55

U.S. Ambassador to Australia: Who Is Harry B. Harris Jr.? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.us"

President Donald Trumps love affair with general officers shows no sign of abating. On February 9, 2018, he nominated Admiral Harry Binkley Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and the first Asian-American to reach the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy, to be ambassador to Australia.

 

Harris father, a World War II veteran, was a machinists mate chief petty officer in the Navy who married a Japanese woman when he was stationed in Japan after the war. Harry Jr. was born August 4, 1956, in Yokosuka, Japan. His father retired from the Navy in 1958 and the family moved to a farm in Tennessee, and then to Pensacola, Florida. Harris graduated from Booker T. Johnson High School in 1974, having participated in Naval Junior ROTC.

 

Harris went on to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating with a B.S. in engineering in 1978. He subsequently earned a masters in public administration from John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in the early 1990s and an M.A. in national security studies from Georgetown in 2000.

 

Harris went into naval aviation and, after flight school back in Pensacola, he was assigned as a tactical coordinator for P-3 Orion anti-submarine patrol planes, coordinating the personnel and the equipment in the back of the plane. From 1985 to 1987, Harris served as a tactical action officer aboard the carrier USS Saratoga, including participation in the response to the October 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the April 1986 bombing of Libya.

 

He continued to advance up the chain of command in naval aviation, with stops in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from 1992 to 1993, commander of Whidbey Island Naval Base, and as special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1998 to 2000. He served as assistant chief of staff for operations, plans and political-military affairs, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain. Harris earned his first star in 2005 when he was again serving in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as director of Information/Current Operations.

 

On March 31, 2006, Harris took over as commander of Joint Task Force Guantnamo. Under his watch, three prisoners held at the base, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami and Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, died while in custody. Harris quickly declared the deaths to be suicides, saying: I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us. However an investigation by Harpers magazine cast considerable doubt on that verdict, pointing out the near simultaneous times of death while held separately; the improbability of the prisoners ability to kill themselves in the...

07:28

In which Barners keeps ruining everything for the reptiles, and so the pond ... loon pond

  

 

Oh Barners, Barners ... once the pride of Tamworth, the first to see the street light in the southern hemisphere, a most unique city* (*usage licensed from News 24) ... look what you've made Malware do ...

The reptiles are completely distracted, and so, perforce is the pond ... where's the talk of the great Chinese climate hoax, how can the bromancer's love of the Donald flourish in this shade?


What could the pond do?

Who's up first? What's on second?

...

06:09

Self interest tramples public good Joyce again Pigs Fly Newspaper

SAFEGUARDS FOR THE WATER and environmental values of the Pilliga have been compromised by politicians acting in their own interests.

Im now an old man following the ancient Chinese tradition of seeking refinement and reclusion in the mountains after a busy working life. My mountains of choice are the Warrumbungles in north-western NSW. Here Im fortunate to live in a secluded valley with a high and reliable spring, from which I can gravity feed my drinking water. The spring rises, at pressure, out of what is known as Pilliga sandstone.

To the north is the Pilliga Forest, made famous by Eric Rolls in his classic book about the Australian landscape, A Million Wild Acres. Rolls had a deep understanding of the impact of non-Indigenous settlement and how the landscape functions. One of the primary functions of the Pilliga landscape is to filter water through its sandstone base and recharge the Great Artesian Basin  the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world.

In 2005 a year before Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce bought two properties in the Pilliga, near Gwabegar, described as mongrel country  Eastern Star Gas revealed that after spending $50 million exploring the area, mainly around Narrabri, the company had developed plans for 1,100 coal seam gas (CSG) wells dotted across the Pilliga, feeding a $150 million pipeline to the Hunter Valley.

Joyce and his (ex) wife Natalie bought their first block in July 2006. Sale records show it was purchased from Brett and Traci Worrell for $230,000. In February 2008, the Joyces...

06:00

Day to Day Politics: Beetroot Head now officially off the boil. The AIM Network

Friday 16 February 2018 Today I had intended to write on the subject of taxes. I had gathered all my notes and placed them in my Pages document ready to rip into it. However, my wife kept nagging me about doing things that I had kept putting off. In addition to that, Barnaby Joyce seemed

The post Day to Day Politics: Beetroot Head now officially off the boil. appeared first on The AIM Network.

03:44

The Productivity Commission gets it wrong on Economics 101 Catallaxy Files

Today in The Australian

 

The god of long reports makes sure no one reads them. Having released its 600-page draft report on competition in the Australian financial system, the Productivity Commission would do well to keep the candles at that gods shrine burning

02:53

Myths of Westminster democracy oecomuse

Almost everything we are formally taught about our system of government is deeply anchored in vested dishonesty. All the formal claims to democratic principle fall short. Here is how those structural designs benefit as undeserving a character as Barnaby Joyce.

Like many Australian voters or saintedAustraliantaxpayers as many choose to define us (taxpayers are everyone who buys anything other than fresh food so, you know, everyone) I am incandescent at the mess caused by the current deputy prime minister and his senior coalition partner, the prime minister.

Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce have less idea how to clean up this spilt milk than my teenage son wiping the bench after making two-minute noodles, which trust me is a very low bar. Both men, and both parties they head, and thus by definition all the dithering cowards in their caucus, are terminally and irredeemably incapable of completing the tasks we pay them big money to achieve. Like running the country.

Two of the most deeply held Westminster myths are especially relevant to the shambolic shitshow that is now Barnaby Joyces political career. For the sake of brevity and sanity I limit this post to these: ministerial accountability; and the public interest obligation of the fourth estate.

For the record, I was writing about the moral and political failures same thing, when it comes to Pilliga properties and inland rail, CSG and Eastern Star and Santos, the Murray-Darling river flows and Wesfarmers and irrigation licenses and water theft and more of Barnaby Joyce before it was cool. I also have a rogue theory on why Joyce chose to publicly concede his marriage was over after the 2 December 2017 by-election.

I lived and voted in New England for thirteen years and visit annually to see family, and this is what I think: Joyce would have won anyway, but the charade allowed New Englanders to deny, to themselves, official knowledge that they were re-electing a grifter and a fool who was quite obviously drowning in a mid-life quagmire of his own making.

Nobody wanted to know, because nobody wanted to feel the prick of truth as they stood by their leery, beery charlatan of a man, their representative clown of the first order whose crass and boorish rent-seeking ways were well-known, but who nevertheless delivered the pork from a hapless beholden Coalition government and the public purse. Plus they hated Tony Windsor for backing Gillard, despite the obvious integrity of his decision-making process.

The by-election charade was aided and abetted by corny sentiment and distant ignorance from political journalists too eager to go along with the rebuttable presumption that white rural folk have an ontological right to define themselves in opposition to city culture a...

01:00

The Hungarian Election: Viktor Orbns Crusade Against Globalism "IndyWatch Feed Politics.us"

NOTE: This is the third of several articles I am writing to promote my fundraiser to cover the Hungarian election starting next month. To find out more about the fundraiser and how you can help, click here.

With the next articles Im writing on the Hungarian election, Im going to focus on specific parties and personalities and their political platforms, and theres no better place to start than with Prime Minister Viktor Orbn himself and his Fidesz party.

The current Hungarian government is technically a coalition, as Fidesz governs with the KDNP (Christian Democratic Peoples Party). However, the KDNP isnt truly an independent party and is treated as an extension of Fidesz for all intents and purposes, similar to the relationship between the CDU and CSU in Germany or the Liberals and Nationals in Australia.

Fidesz was originally founded in 1988 as the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz is the Hungarian-language contraction of that name) to protest the Hungarian communist government. A student movement, it and Orbn rose to fame in 1989 when he gave a speech commemorating the reburial of Imre Nagy and other leaders of the 1956 revolution who had been killed trying to overthrow the government. In his speech, Orbn demanded not only that the communist regime hold free elections, but that the Soviets withdraw their forces from Hungary. Fidesz would later win seats in the subsequent post-communist elections.

While Fidesz began as a liberal partyOrbn studied at Oxford under a Soros Foundation scholarshipin the mid-90s, the party moved to the right, greatly increasing its popularity. In the 1998 elections, Fidesz went from being one of the smallest parties in the National Assembly to the largest, allowing Orbn to become Prime Minister in coalition with two other parties. While his first tenure in government was not nearly as radical as his current stint (due to his weaker position), Orbn did manage to implement some of the concepts of his illiberal democracy, such as reintroducing benefits for mothers, joining NATO, and passing a law providing education and health benefits for ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries such as Romania.

Fidesz lost the elections in 2002 due to a series of corruption scandals involving its coalition partners: while it remained the largest party in the National Assembly, the opposition MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) was able to form a governing coalition with another party. Viktor Orbns response was to sit back and w...

00:16

A brief history lesson from Labor on the subject of Barnaby Joyce's performance as a federal minister North Coast Voices



Labor MP for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon on his feet in the House of Representatives, listing some of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for  & Nationals MP for New England Barnaby Joyce's many failings.

Hansard, 14 February 2018:

I want to quickly take us to the member for New England's performance. I'm going to read this as quickly as I can. There are so many to talk about. He forcibly relocated the APVMA to his own electoratea disaster for Australian agriculture. He abolished the COAG committee, which was doing so much work to bring the states and the Commonwealth together. He sacked his departmental head, destroying the culture, trust and motivation of those who work in the department. He doctored his Hansard. He ditched drought assistance. He tried to move the Regional Investment Corporation to Orange without any governance, giving him full flight to do whatever he wanted with his pork-barrelling exercise. He's destroyed trust in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, a real threat on the water front and in our food bowl. Biosecurity has been a disaster. He tried to abolish the Inspector-General of Biosecurity. It was only our resistance that prevented that from happening. 

...

00:15

Failed coal seam gas mining company Linc Energy's 9 week trial underway in Queensland, Australia North Coast Voices


As the story unfolded.........

ABC News, 16 April 2016:

Oil and gas company Linc Energy has been placed into administration in a bid to avoid penalties for polluting the environment, a Queensland green group says.

It was announced late Friday that administrators PPB Advisory had been called in to work with Linc's management on options including a possible restructure.

In a statement to the ASX, the company said after receiving legal and financial advice and considering commercial prospects the board decided it was in the best interests of the company to make the move.

It comes one month after the company was committed to stand trial on five charges relating to breaches in Queensland's environmental laws at its underground coal gasification site.

The state's environment department accused the company of wilfully causing serious harm at its trial site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.

...

Thursday, 15 February

22:52

Lets recriminalise adultery Catallaxy Files

Couples seen in each others company should, in future, be required to produce their marriage certificate or sign a stat dec that they are not rooting. Tooting is still acceptable.

Politicians especially should not fornicate with anyone. Making love to their state-sanctioned partner in a state-recognised relationship remains acceptable. Prime Minister and Cabinet will be liaising with the Health  Department to establish guidelines as to appropriate times, duration, and positions for love-making. ASIO is currently hunting down the wit who suggested that these guidelines will soon be mandatory and are to be rolled out to the general public.

On a slightly more serious note, Im wondering how anyone imagines that a ban on sex between politicians and staffers  can be enforced? After all the government is unable to prevent politicians from brazenly occupying seats in the Parliament in violation of s44 of the Constitution. Now it hopes to prevent people from sneaking around after dark. Are our representatives in Canberra and their staff really naughty teenagers who need to be under close adult supervision? (Dont answer that its a rhetorical question). Does ASIO have so few people on its watch list that it can now spy on 200-odd politicians in Canberra?

20:46

Michaelia is hoping we have short memories The AIM Network

Michaelia Cash must have been hoping that everyone would keep looking at Barnaby when she chose to stick her head up today to spruik her take on the latest labour force survey but, thankfully, some journalists have memories that stretch back further than last week. QUESTION: Senator Cash, is your office being investigated by the AFP

The post Michaelia is hoping we have short memories appeared first on The AIM Network.

20:15

Assange, Judge Arbuthnot and the Arrest Warrant The AIM Network

Justice is an elastic concept. Like other terms in law, it has room to expand and contract. But one weakness burdens legal strictures that supposedly have an objective reality to them: power. Power brutish, power as a spectral force, and power arbitrarily exercised. Any reading of Julian Assanges case must be, to that end, understood

The post Assange, Judge Arbuthnot and the Arrest Warrant appeared first on The AIM Network.

17:00

In which the Moorice goes on parade and the pond jumps to attention ... loon pond



At last a sign of normality, and the return of sanity to the reptiles after Barners' bush bash ...

Usually the pond wouldn't go to a third sitting on a day, but when Moorice speaks, the pond jumps to attention. 

Always has, always will ... this is, after all, on any given day, one of the world's greatest climate scientists, and with any other number of areas of expert ability ...

Sure, some of the reptiles kept trying to stir the Barners' pot, and there was a regular parade of Barners' related matters and Jack the Insider even attempted a shocking comparison between Barners and other politicians of a clingy, cling-wrap kind ...

  

Why do the reptiles waste their time with this trivia, when Moorice has spoken and all would benefit from a little time at his feet listening?

You see, just as surely as Moorice keeps carrying on about the nonsense of climate science catastrophists, and their regular predictions of doom, how he al...

16:41

Ok. Ill Say it. Catallaxy Files

Barnaby.  You gotta go and not just on annual/personal leave.

From the punters guide to the removal of a member of the front bench:

  1. They are a distraction sucking up political oxygen.  Strike 1.  Reference the front page of every newspaper and lead story in every news bulletin.
  2. They are a policy dud.  Strike 2.  Reference especially Judiths comments but also his tenure as the shadow finance minister.
  3. They demonstrate poor judgement.  Strike 3.  Reference lotsa stuff of late.

Dear National Party.  Sorry, but its time to take the necessary actions and vote Barnaby off the island.

And in as much as Spartacus hates to engage in whataboutism, any Parliamentarian who associates with and sits along side the worlds greatest treasurer, has no claim whatsoever to talk about what is and is not the appropriate use of tax dollars.

Whatever the claims against Barnaby, they would not account for more than a fraction of the total number of $900 cheques issued.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

16:00

Income Tax 101 brought to you by Mr Joyce (the other one) The AIM Network

By Terence Mills Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas and not the partner of Barnaby Joyce, gave us a 101 lesson in taxation and basic economics this morning. Im still trying to get my head around it but the gist of it is that if in your daily endeavours you can ensure that your expenditure exceeds

The post Income Tax 101 brought to you by Mr Joyce (the other one) appeared first on The AIM Network.

16:00

Turnbulls tawdry corruption tally tops the ton that didnt take long! Independent Australia

Turnbulls tawdry corruption tally tops the ton that didnt take long!The Turnbull Government has reached a round 100 in separate instances of rorting the system. So lets hold our noses as Alan Austin continues IAs corruption count! read now...

13:58

There are Keynesians in even the most unlikely places Catallaxy Files

This is from, of all places, Maurice Newmans article in The Oz today on Trumps news might be bad for his forgotten flock. So which is the absolutely wrong word in this passage?

Despite a decade of easy money, continued fiscal stimulus and a personal savings rate that has tumbled from 6.6 per cent to 2.4 per cent in just 12 years, the US economy during calendar 2017 grew at 2.5 per cent, hardly a number to write home about. Indeed, adjusted for the once-off hurricane rebuild effect, it managed just 1.5 per cent in the last quarter.

It is, of course, the first word, despite. If he had said instead, because of then all would be clear. Artificially low rates of interest, high levels of unproductive public spending and falling savings are the very recipe for stagnation.

13:00

In which the bromancer doubles down on the full Donald flip ... loon pond



With the pond still hung over from Barners' epic bush bash, what better hair of the dog than the bromancer gone full Trump?

What better excuse to run a few cartoons celebrating the Donald and his foreign policy initiatives?


Yes, everywhere you might care to look, it's President Trump, and how the bromancer dotes on his new beloved ...


The pond knows his devoted, immensely loyal fans will love that Lobbecke, but the trouble for the pond, wanting to find matching cartoons, is that American cartoonists don't have much to say about the Donald's foreign policy, as astute as it is ...

...

12:57

Destruction of Black Swan Lake angers Gold Coast residents Independent Australia

Destruction of Black Swan Lake angers Gold Coast residentsGold Coast residents and environmental lobby groups are angered over the removal of a popular local habitat for various birds, all in the name of progress, writes Suzanne Arnold. read now...

12:41

Extending the bright-line No Right Turn

The government has announced it will extend the de facto capital gains tax on investment properties:

Government is extending the amount of time for which investment properties must be held before their owners can avoid capital gains tax - despite a warning that it could be bad news for renters.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash confirmed the "bright-line" test would be extended from two years to five in legislation working through Parliament.

"The extension of the previous government's bright-line test will help dampen property speculation and make homes more affordable," Nash said.

He said reducing speculative demand would help to improve affordability for owner-occupiers.


Good. Because the way the rich get to enjoy tax-free capital gains on property speculation, while the rest of us pay taxes on everything we earn, is unjust and wrong. Its good to see it limited. At the same time, it clearly doesn't address long-term speculation, or financial assets (which the ultra-rich own almost all off). Labour has punted that problem till next election. Hopefully they'll actually show some spine and implement a proper capital gains tax if they win, rather than continuing to protect the untaxed rich.

12:38

A Trivial Enquiry The AIM Network

Heres a light-hearted little yarn for the weekend. A Melbourne story. It is true in every way, myself witnessing some of it and having got the details from the mans wife. The last I heard, he was being studied by one of the Melbourne unis as to why he had not yet died from such

The post A Trivial Enquiry appeared first on The AIM Network.

10:47

Dunne on the OIA No Right Turn

Despite no longer being in Parliament, former MP Peter Dunne is still writing a weekly column. And today, he has a few thoughts on the Official Information Act. Dunne's perspective is useful, because he's been on both sides of the Act, as a requester and as a Minister, so he's seen how it works from both ends. His conclusions are that the government plays games and that this needs to stop, and that the Act needs to be extended to cover Parliament (but not MPs) and the courts. But his way of getting there is just bizarre:

Therefore, it is time for a joint working party, involving the Ombudsman's Office, the news media, and the politicians (not just the government of the day) to be convened to prepare a new OIA that upholds its original principles and the good things about the current legislation, but which also modernises its scope, processes, and, if possible, operating culture in the light of contemporary circumstances. And then we should commit in these rapidly changing times, to carrying out a similar review every five years.

We don't need another review - everything Dunne suggests was recommended by the Law Commission review in 2012. What we've lacked since then is a government willing to implement its substantive recommendations. It remains to be seen whether the current government is interested in real change or not. But one sure sign that its not will be if it sets up another review.

10:07

Growing corruption scandal around Netanyahu and weird connection with James Packer Antony Loewenstein

My story in todays Sydney Morning Herald/Melbourne Age:

Israels Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is in trouble, and it partly stems from his close relationship with Australias most recognisable billionaire, James Packer.

The countrys second longest-serving Prime Minister is facing potential charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust after an extensive investigation by Israeli police. They accuse Netanyahu of accepting nearly $US300,000 ($A380,000) in gifts over 10 years.

Case 1000 which is also known as Cigars and Champagne, revolves around alleged bribery and paying for favours. Packer, along with Hollywood producer and former secret Israeli agent Arnon Milchan, are alleged to be those behind the payments.

Its now up to the countrys Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, to decide whether the police evidence is strong enough to indict the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu does not deny accepting huge gifts from both men, but refutes allegations that he granted them any favours.

Milchans personal assistant, Hadas Klein, told Israeli police in November that, there was an understanding that Arnon had to supply the Netanyahu couple with whatever they wanted. The cigars were requested by Netanyahu personally.

The Prime Minister alleges that pink champagne and expensive jewellery requested by Netanyahus wife, Sara, were tokens of good friendship with Milchan.

Israeli police claim that Netanyahu pushed for the Milchan law, cutting taxes for returning Israelis who have spent time overseas, helped Milchan get a 10-year US visa and assisted the producer in furthering his film work. Israeli police have also recommended charging Milchan.

Packers relationship with the Netanyahu family is also under scrutiny (though he is not facing charges). According to testimony released by Israels Channel 10 in late 2017 after Packer spoke to Australian Federal Police agents in Australia on behalf of Israeli investigators, the casino mogul said: I admire Prime Minister Netanyahu and am happy that I was given the opportunity to be his friend. I was happy to give him presents, many times at his request and his wife Saras request.

At the time of the interview, a spokesman for Mr Packers Crown Resorts said: There is no allegation of wrongdoing on Mr Packers behalf The Israeli and Australian police have confirmed that he was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect.

Netanyahu allegedly requested gifts and services from Packer worth up to $US100,000 including champagne, tickets to a Mariah Carey concert (Packer was previousl...

08:30

EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The Barnaby Affair and the Media Watch debacle Independent Australia

EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The Barnaby Affair and the Media Watch debacleHow did ABC Media Watch get it so wrong? Completely ignoring the role of IA and other independent media outlets in reporting the truth about Barnaby Joyce months before the mainstream media. read now...

08:25

Cool for Cats Catallaxy Files

One of the pleasures of contributing to Catallaxy Files is the knowledge that it is the smartest and best informed community in Australia.

To wit, Spartacus would like to pose the following question in the hope that someone can provide an answer.

If, as is constantly repeated, wages are not rising, how is it that the government is collecting squillions of extra tax dollars through bracket creep?

Where is the data supporting the proposition that wages arent rising?

Please explain.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

07:05

In which the pond provides rolled gold coverage of the reptiles attending Barners' bush bash ... loon pond


Day whatever of the Barners' bush bash - it started so long ago - and the pond is reeling, and the reptiles are slowing ... but the Terror is still maintaining the rage ...


The Terrorists also borrowed the Bolter from the HUN, and wheeled him out so that he might bung on a fine amount of frothing, foaming indignation ...


The past few days have also been busy ones for the lizards of Oz, as they tried to keep the bush bash on the road ... 

All sorts of angles were trotted out and for a moment the pond became an avid collector of digital headlines ...

There was the Overington ploy ... time was on her side ...
...

06:00

Day to Day Politics: If you throw mud it usually comes back to hit you in the face, Barnaby. The AIM Network

Thursday 15 February 2018 During the 2016 election campaign the National Party ran a television advertisement of 2 women chatting and inferring that Tony Windsor was having, or had had, an affair. They were eventually forced to take it down but it greatly upset Tony Windsor and his family, and it was one of the

The post Day to Day Politics: If you throw mud it usually comes back to hit you in the face, Barnaby. appeared first on The AIM Network.

06:00

Mining for Development "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

The 2014 DFAT evaluation of the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC) contains a succinct and valuable summary of the rationale for the overall Mining for Development (M4D) initiative.

It said inter alia working in the mining sector was a new experience for the Australian aid program. This is quite extraordinary given the strengths of the Australian mining management regime and the evident needs of so many developing countries for improved performance in that area.

The evaluation also said:

to support developing countries to maximise the economic benefits from their extractives sector in a socially and environmentally sustainable waywas logical and consistent with the Australian Governments commitment to making progress towards the MDGs. The Australian Government recognised that the mining sector had considerable potential to help reduce poverty, accelerate human development and economic growth.

It is hard to believe that it took the aid administration in Australia until 2007 to work this out! The creation of wealth has always been a necessary, although not a sufficient, condition of the sustainable elimination of poverty.

This recognition was not an accident or a coincidence. It arose from repeated requests from African Ministers to me during my time as Parliamentary Secretary and subsequently as the PMs Special Envoy.

My initial brief was to talk to Ministers about our plans to assist in areas such as maternal health and water and sanitation. These were well received, but I was consistently asked: What about mining?

The governments did not want or need assistance with attracting investment. What they wanted was assistance with the regulation of mining. They recognised that Australia is rare among donor countries in having a large and well regulated mining industry and a high level of expertise in education and training related to the mining industry.

Requests varied in detail but were remarkably consistent. Governments in Africa wanted assistance with managing the granting of leases, environmental regulation, occupational health and safety issues, taxation, and fiscal issues.

It was also apparent that the impression of Australia in many of the countries I visited was substantially influenced by the behaviour of our mining companies. They are the main things many people see that is understood to be Australian. This carries reputational risk as well as benefits. Assisting with effective regulation of the industry will be, and be seen to be, an important counter-balance to the risks and an addition to the bene...

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