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Tuesday, 05 January


After Duckgate: The Liberal Party goes back to the future in Dunkley Independent Australia

After Duckgate: The Liberal Party goes back to the future in DunkleyAs a crisis and scandal ridden Liberal Party struggles to put our fires in so many different areas, speculation swirls over the future of Dunkley 'Duckgate' duckie deceiver, Donna Bauer. read now...


Most Muslims are non-violent Skepticlawyer

It is true: most Muslims are non-violent (in the straightforward sense that, outside defence of themselves and their immediate family, they do not engage in violence). In fact, as far as I am aware, that has true across the history of Islam, especially as Muslims includes women and children. But even if we just consider men, most Muslim men are non-violent. Again, as far as I am aware, that has also been true across the history of Islam (apart from its earliest years).

It is also irrelevant. Sadly, across the breadth of human societies through time, it is the violent who have been wildly disproportionately important in determining the trends and patterns of human history. So, with Islamic history, the key issues have far less to do with what connection it has to the non-violent majority, but what sort of connection it has to the direction, forms and patterns of violence (and violence-laden aggression) among any violent minority.

There the news is less good. We can observe among the Muslim minority (pdf) in France–including those born and raised in France, and given a secular state education–the same patterns of persecution of minority kafir as we do in Muslim majority countries.

Recurring patterns

What is striking about Islamic history is how powerful the recurring patterns are. While we currently observe violent movements claiming to purify Islam and return it to its original vision, such started not long after the death of Mohammad, with the Khwarij, and continued in medieval Islam, with the Almoravids and...


Americans are so stupid – their country has become a dumping ground Catallaxy Files

Actually, I don’t think this way about Americans at all. It is, in so many ways, the most admirable country on earth. But America is being taken for a ride by its political elites, and in this heading I am only echoing Donald Trump’s own concerns. This is a story from the Washington Post on Donald Trump’s first paid ad where the following sentiment is found:

In an interview Sunday with The Post, Trump said that he has six to eight ads in production and that his was a “major buy and it’s going to go on for months.” He said he hopes the spots impress upon undecided voters that the country has become “a dumping ground.”

“The world is laughing at us, at our stupidity,” he said. “It’s got to stop. We’ve got to get smart fast — or else we won’t have a country.”

It is America’s elites who are not quite there. Obama describing a sizeable percentage of foreign leaders as “crazy” may be the most perfect example of projection I have ever seen.


Turnbull’s government has a ‘sexism problem’ Drag0nista's Blog

Given the events of the past week, it’s time to recognise some of the government’s outdated views on women.


George Will in National Review Catallaxy Files

The following is a very slightly (6 days) dated post by George Will in the National Review.

The final line captures it for me – the common thread is the collapse of judgment in, and the infantilization of society by, government.

Sadly, this thread extends to Australia.

Please detail your own examples.

2015′s Foolish Finish

E. B. White reportedly said “the most beautiful sound in America” is “the tinkle of ice at twilight.” In 2015’s twilight, fortify yourself with something 90 proof as you remember this year in which:

We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars. The attorney general of New York, which reaps billions from gambling — casinos, off-track betting, the state lottery — moved to extinguish (competition from) fantasy football because it is gambling. Florida police raided a mahjong game played by four women aged between 87 and 95 because their game’s stakes allegedly exceeded the $10 limit set by state law. A Michigan woman was fingerprinted, had her mug shot taken, and was jailed until released on bond because she was late in renewing the $10 license for her dog. New Jersey police arrested a 72-year-old retired teacher, chained his hands and feet to a bench, and charged him with illegally carrying a firearm — a 300-year-old flintlock pistol (with no powder, flint, or ball) he purchased from an antique dealer.

The University of Georgia said sexual consent must be “voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest.” Imaginative consent? Connecting climate change to sex, the National Bureau of Economic Research warned that hot weather leads to diminished sexual activity. Elsewhere in “settled...


And pray tell, what's wrong with a quaffing prosecco, you dour, dullard, grey, taxpayer-funded goose? loon pond

As always, the pond is pleased to present the deep thoughts of a man employed by an institute, a research centre if you will, which has sucked deep and hard on the taxpayer's generous funding tit ...

The spectre of taxpayer-funded bludgers flaunting themselves in the lizard Oz no doubt haunts sensible folk around Australia, but that's the price that has to be paid for paying attention to the reptiles' money-losing business plan ...

And so to the thoughts of a man so resolutely lacking in a sense of humour that once again the pond is reminded of the theory that this might well be genetic ...

It's impossible to make this sort of stuff up. No, not the notion that the Caterists give a flying fuck about the suffering of the workers and the protection of the poor, as they saunter out from their fortified, taxpayer-funded institute - research centre if you will - given that it spends much time researching taxpayer grants ...

Rather, as noted, it's the possibly...


An interesting lack of links Catallaxy Files

Paula Matthewson has an op-ed in over at The Drum on the Jamie Briggs affair. After a reasoinable summary of the story – complete with many links to illustrate the points we get:

Yet despite his carefully worded statement of contrition, the disgraced former minister does not appear to be remorseful and his supporters are now retrospectively trying to excuse his behaviour through actions that are tantamount to blaming the victim.

No links.

Right on cue, comments started to appear on social media sympathising with Briggs, bemoaning that a man can’t get fresh with a pretty girl these days without being accused of sexual harassment. Suddenly, and reprehensibly, in some quarters the leaked photos and texts pivoted public discussion of the event to the woman’s behaviour instead of the man’s.

Again no links.

Blaming the victim is reprehensible and completely unacceptable. Name the bastards doing this. Let us judge their poor behaviour for ourselves. Insert links into the story making those allegations.

What we have had is a secret trial and a judgement. We mere observers, Liberal-voters, and tax-payers are asking for more information. Turnbull hasn’t sacked his butler – that would be a private decision; he has sacked an elected politician – that is a public decision. Yet he is relying on private information for having made a public decision. We fully understand that the PM can choose his own cabinet – but again we also expect him to justify his choices.

An additional thought: There have been several comments in the posts and people have privately communicated with me that Jamie Briggs was sacked because he had a history of poor behaviour. That may be the case. I don...


Five big nuclear issues for 2016 — and Australia's role in them Independent Australia

Five big nuclear issues for 2016 — and Australia's role in themNuclear issues got next to no discussion in Australia in 2015. That is sure to change in 2016 from five explosive factors, writes Noel Wauchope. read now...


A giant pump and dump scam No Right Turn

That's the only way to describe what has happened to Dick Smith Electronics. They were bought by Anchorage Capital, a private equity firm, for $20 million in 2012. Anchorage then gutted the business, pumping up the reported profit in the meantime, and used that increased reported profit to dump it on the public for $520 million in 2013. Of course, that gutting led to long-term problems, which have finally resulted in the company going bankrupt again. But Anchorage has walked away with half a billion dollars, ripped straight from the pockets of the fools who bought in to their IPO. And now that the company is bankrupt, they (or someone just like them) gets to pull the same scam again. Rinse, repeat...

And this is why you should never trust stock markets. They're simply scams and tools for the sociopathic rich to steal more money.


Our racist spies No Right Turn

Over the weekend, the Herald had a piece on the racist and sexist attitudes of New Zealand's spies. The New Zealand Intelligence community had commissioned a report on diversity from a Massey University intern, which uncovered racism and sexism in their workplaces. Maori and Pacific employees were subjected to constant low-level racist abuse, while women reported being victims of sexual discrimination. An "old boy" culture and a view that diversity and difference were threats to security rounded out the horror story.

Unexplored by the story: the consequences of this racism and sexism on the GCSB and SIS's work. Because if the spies think being anything other than dead, white and male makes you a security risk and that all Maori are criminals, and feel comfortable expressing this to their non-DWM colleagues in the workplace, you really have to wonder how that spills over into their work - and how many people have been spied on and had their lives poked through as a result.

And here's the kicker (from 6.2.3.b of the report):

It became apparent through discussions that there was a significant proportion of staff who did not think of their organisations as a government department. This was more apparent by staff within GCSB but was evident in the NZSIS. This perception was perpetrated by staff that had significantly long careers in intelligence or had not worked in external government agencies, and did not see the work being performed
as a "public service". it was often mentioned by these employees that they did "not see the point of reflecting the outside community" because of this.

That public perception that "our" spies don't work for us? They don't think so either. And while its a problem for diversity in the wor...


In which the saga of the witches' brew turns into a proxy war ... loon pond

The pond is in to historical irony as much as the next person, and thanks to twitter, the links and the ironical jibes keep flowing, as per the mutton Dutton's press release still online here ... 

But after reading Andrew Cockburn's A special relationship The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again (inside Harper's paywall, but it can be found here), the pond was also reminded of proxy wars and how to conduct them, and how to get entangled in a centuries old Islamic civil war, which has once again burst out into the open, as the appalling Wahhabist regime of Saudi Arabia goes full tilt against the appalling theocratic regime of Iran. Only fools would choose sides in this one, and the United States and its deputy sheriff down under have regularly played th...


To the “bad” manners born! Truth Seekers Musings

To the “bad” manners born! As the Turdball, alleged government enters the new year, still trying to sell the proposition that it’s a “New” government, not just a close, plastic, facsimile of the Abbott’s regime; anyone with even half a … Continue reading


A seat with a 12.5% margin at the last election is now at risk Catallaxy Files

It is hard to believe that Malcolm is the leader of any political party of significance. The latest instalment of the Jamie Briggs saga in The Oz defies belief. This is from the latest episode.

As the fallout from Mr Briggs’s resignation continues to rattle the Coalition, The Australian can also reveal that Right-aligned MPs in South Australia will today discuss potential replacement candidates for the blue-ribbon seat of Mayo held by Mr Briggs on a 12.5 per cent margin. The move comes amid heightened speculation that Mr Briggs, 38, may not want to recontest the next election and as Liberal strategists fear losing the seat, which is threatened by Nick Xenophon’s decision to run lower house candidates in South Australia.

Supporters of Mr Briggs say he is considering his future in par­liament and “waiting for the dust to settle”, but feels aggrieved by the process put in place by Mr Turnbull.

The Australian understands that on December 10, after the formal complaint had been lodged by the consular staffer about Mr Briggs’s “inappropriate” behaviour at the Stormies Bar on Nov­ember 27, Mr Turnbull phoned the then cities minister to discuss the complaint against him and his decision to launch an independent investigation.

In the phone conversation, it is understood Mr Turnbull suggested to Mr Briggs that while the investigation would run its course, it was likely that he would need to consider resigning his frontbench role. . . .

While some MPs say this is evidence that the investigation was a “stitch up”, others suggest Mr Turnbull made the assessment that there was little room for leniency because Mr Briggs had failed to apologise t...


How will Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce & Nationals MP Kevin Hogan handle local opposition to Turnbull Government's move to lower penalty rates? North Coast Voices

Electorates in Northern New South Wales, such as Page and New England have an long-established tourism component in their local economies.

Both full-time, part-time and casual retail and hospitality workers play a big part in the tourism industry in these rural and regional areas, so it is interesting to note that local opposition to the Turnbull Government’s less than subtle move against weekend penalty rates in the retail and hospitality sectors is obviously on the radar of local voters.

Polling in key Liberal and National Party seats shows strong opposition to reducing Sunday penalty rates for retail workers, according to new ReachTEL polling commissioned by The Australia Institute.
Polling conducted across the electorates of Page, New England, Warringah and Dickson on 17th December shows that between 65% and 79% of people in these electorates want Sunday penalty rates in...


Stocktake of waterbirds in eastern Australia has shown the lowest breeding level on record North Coast Voices

ABC News 27 December 2015:

A stocktake of waterbirds in eastern Australia has shown the lowest breeding level on record.
The annual aerial survey, conducted by the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, confirmed a dramatic long-term decline in the number of waterbirds.
Director Richard Kingsford said that over 33 years of counting, average numbers had fallen more than 60 per cent.
The trend continued in 2015 with a further drop compared to the previous three-to-five-year period.
"This is the second lowest number of waterbirds we've seen in that 33-year period and it's symptomatic of the real impacts of this drought that's occurring across the eastern half of the continent," Professor Kingsford said.
The survey covered all the major rivers, lakes and wetlands from Queensland down through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, including the Murray-Darlin...

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Monday, 04 January


Malcom Turnbull's Tokyo Shock Boys Independent Australia

Malcom Turnbull's Tokyo Shock BoysTokyo Shock Boys, eat your hearts out; you have nothing on our Liberal boys when it comes to performing dumb stunts, like abusing a reporter and then sending her the text. read now...


Leadership 101 – today’s lesson Catallaxy Files

OK Malcolm. Paying attention? Here’s the lesson: you are on your own side, you are on the same side as all the other people who sit with you and behind you in Parliament. No self-inflicted wounds. No creating hostages to fortune. No sacking of ministers, or anyone else, until the costs of not doing so are clearly overwhelming. That’s the lesson. Now a working example.

Exhibit A: Jamie Briggs. No doubt a story so terrible that if we heard it all, we would personally take every action to ensure that he was ostracised from decent company and run out of Parliament. At that point, out he goes, but not till that point is reached. Hasty action makes you look like a clown. This is where we have now arrived because of your intemperate actions. Although the heading looks OK – Journalist Samantha Maiden accepts Peter Dutton’s ‘mad witch’ text apology – the first paras in the Malcolm-friendly Oz are a bit of a worry:

Labor has lashed out at Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s “boorish” and “unbecoming” text after he called a female journalist a “mad f.king witch”, urging Malcolm Turnbull to explain the cabinet minister’s behaviour.

Mr Dutton has come under fire for the text message he accidentally sent to News Corp Australia’s Sunday political editor, Samantha Maiden, over her coverage of fallen junior minister Jamie Briggs’s late-night bar incident with a female public servant in Hong Kong.

Mr Dutton has apologised for calling Maiden a “mad f.king witch” after she reported yesterday that Mr Briggs had sent colleagues a photograph of the diplomat who complained about his behaviour, which ultimately led to his resignation from the frontbench.

Dutton would not have emailed anything had you not created the Jamie Briggs saga. You are not the calming influ...


The Kathy Jackson enablers Independent Australia

The Kathy Jackson enablersPeter Wicks looks at some of the lawyers, reporters and politicians who helped make Kathy Jackson what she is today. read now...


Victim blaming takes the Briggs debacle from bad to worse Drag0nista's Blog

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the festival of bad behaviour brought to us by Jamie Briggs and […]

Sunday, 06 December


So, you want to reduce inequality … (some modest, and some practical, proposals) Skepticlawyer

Concern over rising inequality has certainly been a significant feature of recent intellectual and political discourse, particularly in the US (for example here). Let us suppose we were serious about reducing inequality, what would we do?

One thing you would not do is significantly raise top income tax rates, that would not have much effect at all. Besides, at a certain point, one runs into significant Laffer Curve effects, which is why income tax rates have remained much lower across the Western world than they were in the immediate postwar decades–governments don’t want to reduce their revenue by having tax rates too high.

Since folk who worry about inequality tend to be nostalgic for the low-inequality postwar era up to around 1970, we an easily identify a range of policies which will reduce income inequality.

(1) Massively cut back on higher education. Since higher education generates low income students in their 20s who tend to become high income professionals in their 40s, the higher the use of higher education, the greater is life cycle inequality. Also, since higher education is more expensive than primary or secondary education, and with very few positive social spillover effects (though we can identify some negative spillover effects), government support for higher education tends to be subsidising...

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