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Monday, 11 January


North Coast Voices looks back on this day for the last three years...... North Coast Voices

On this day last year North Coast Voices was commenting on…….

*  the fact that the Liberal Party rank and file were beginning to detest Tony Abbott:

Letter to the Editor in The Sydney Morning Herald on 24 December 2014:

Tony Abbott will never learn. His harsh and inhumane policies on refugees, young people, the unemployed and so on have already (and deservedly) earned him acute unpopularity. Now he appoints his henchman Morrison to apply his blowtorch to all social welfare recipients.


Did Clarence Valley Council attempt to pull the wool over Iluka residents' eyes? North Coast Voices

Recently I received a ‘phone call from an Iluka resident which began along the lines of: I met you once at the bus stop in Maclean and I wonder if you know…

What this very concerned person from the opposite side of the Clarence River then told me was that Clarence Valley Council chose to advertise an approx. 19ha 162 lot low density residential subdivision with 10 new roads within Lot 99 in DP 823635 Hickey Street, Iluka on 24 December 2015 – Christmas Eve – and also to start a 28 day exhibition period from Boxing Day, 26 December. [Clarence Valley Council, block_ad_

From my experience, local government only acts in this manner if both it and the developer of record do not want informed community scrutiny of a ‘favoured’ development application (DA).



Keep Calm & Carrying On Making The Tea! North Coast Voices

Oh dear, this man may yet be Australia’s next Deputy-Prime Minister.

Former accountant and current Nationals MP for New England and 
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources 
Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce

What could possibly go wrong?...

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Sunday, 10 January


A musical interlude for the holidays The Political Sword

[Woody Guthrie]

In my piece ‘Are you sure you’re not a radical?’ I wrote: ‘Over the centuries folk music has been important in supporting the oppressed and Ireland and many countries in South America have a long tradition of revolutionary music.’ So I have chosen in this ‘summer recess’ to present some of that ‘revolutionary’ music to make the point that such music has influenced, and continues to reflect and influence, social and political movements. There are over 40 songs linked here, so it is not intended that you listen to every track in one sitting. Take your time over the next ten days, come back a few times, and check out as many as you wish. I hope you find some that you like. [Please note that these are not always what I consider the ‘best’ songs but I have been limited to some extent by what is available to link to.]

In the 1840s Thomas Osborne Davis in Ireland wrote ‘A Nation Once Again’ which set the tone for the Irish fight for independence for the next 80 years. Davis recognised the power of song and wrote:
“… a song is worth a thousand harangues". He felt that music could have a particularly strong influence on Irish people at that time. He wrote: "Music is the first faculty of the Irish... we will endeavour to teach the people to sing the songs of their country that they may keep alive in their minds the love of the fatherland.”


Economics for Infants Catallaxy Files


My granddaughter had her first birthday today. I therefore wrote for her an instructional on all things economic, which I have titled Economics for Infants. There will be a new one every year and one for all siblings and cousins as they arrive. But so far, she is the only one. Although really quick on the uptake, I didn’t wish to make it too complicated. But while she will never hear from me on the existence or otherwise of Santa, this is part of what I wrote since it is never too young to find these things out.

Most importantly, you must never think of the government as the same as your parents.

The government is not there to give you things although they might pretend that they do.

You cannot look to the government to feed you, to give you clothes, to keep you warm, to give you presents.

The government doesn’t even care about you, not even a tiny bit.

It may be a bit early to say to someone who cannot even walk that a satisfying life comes only if you are able to stand on your own two feet.

My son thought that I should have written something more story-like, along the lines of Animal Farm. And so I shall, but not until she is two when she will be more able to follow the analogy and see the ironies of life. In the meantime, I thought I would set the early scene for more to come.


Medicare Bulk Billing Rates message to Prime Minister Turnbull – stop messing around and making women’s cancer checks more expensive Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has supported local Burnie resident Kalhi Deegan’s call for the Liberal Government to stop messing around with Medicare Bulk Billing Rates.

Click below to view 1 min YouTube – with Kalhi’s message to PM

“I will do whatever it takes in the Australian Senate – including voting against all Liberal/National Government Legislation – to stop Malcolm Turnbull and his incompetent Health Minister Sussan Ley from increasing the cost for Australian women to access vital Cancer health checks.” said Senator Lambie.

“I agree with Tasmanian businesswoman Kalhi Deegan 100%. Health Minister Sussan Ley and PM Turnbull must stop messing with our Medicare Bulk Billing rates. Australian women should never be forced to pay $30 for pap smears – when most were able to access this vital women’s cancer health check – for free through our Medicare and Bulk Billing system.” said Senator Lambie.

“ I notice that the Victorian Liberals are pushing for more women in Parliament. ( What good is it, having more Liberal / National women members in the Senate and Lower House – if they don’t have the courage to stand up for women over the important life and death issues?

Conservative women politicians who talk about fixing a gender imbalance – while their senior female colleague tries to bring in dangerous health policy changes that are guaranteed to harm thousands of Australian women each year – is hypocritical, obscene and an insult.

If Health Minister Sussan Ley and her male Liberal political masters are allowed t...


How South American drug cartels embraced Guinea-Bissau Antony Loewenstein

My investigation in the Guardian:

Guinea-Bissau’s Bijagós islands look like a tourists’ paradise – the 88 mostly uninhabited islets are filled with palm trees and white, sandy beaches. But the archipelago has been best known as a smugglers’ paradise.

Described by the UN as a narco state, Guinea-Bissau has long been a drug trafficking hub for South American cocaine cartels. And although this illegal trade appears to be declining thanks to US and UN counter-narcotic policies, the country still bears the scars and remains dogged by the same poverty and institutional weaknesses that allowed the drugs industry to take hold in the first place.

On Bubaque, the main inhabited island, there are no roads, just dirt tracks. People live in mud-brick homes, and pigs and dogs meander in the streets. Most of the small guesthouses are empty; despite nascent efforts to promote the islands’ rich biodiversity, tourism has yet to take off. At Bubaque’s airstrip on a November day, the small terminal was empty and men on bikes rode along the “runway”, hacked out of the grass and scrub.

This isolation was one of the elements that attracted drug traffickers to this area in the heyday of west African drug trafficking in the first decade of the millennium.



How Guinea-Bissau became a cocaine smuggling hub Antony Loewenstein

My investigation in Foreign Policy:

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau — The headquarters of the Judicial Police, the government agency charged with prosecuting Guinea-Bissau’s war on drugs, sits on a dusty street in the middle of this deceptively quiet West African capital city. Inside is the country’s only drug-testing laboratory, a recent addition thanks to a surge in European Union funding to curb the flow of illegal narcotics north toward its borders.

Without guards or metal detectors, the lab hardly feels like the front line in a war against violent criminals thought to be trafficking billions of dollars worth of cocaine each year. But officials say the assorted vials and testing equipment here represent an important, if limited, first step toward routing the South American cartels that have ventured thousands of miles from their home turf to stake out an ideal drug transit point in one of Africa’s weakest states.

“We want to diminish 80 to 90 percent of the drug trade flowing into Guinea-Bissau,” said Sargento Natcha, the lab’s soft-spoken coordinator, as he tested a small sample of cocaine with a kit bought with donor funds. “The EU has promised to send more equipment.”

But the odds are stacked against Natcha and his team at the lab. Key players in the country’s notoriously corrupt government — the same government that must act on any leads produced by the lab — are thought to be backing the drug trade. The United Nations has dubbed Guinea-Bissau, an impoverished nation of 1.7 million, Africa’s first “narco-state.” For decades, its governing elite is known to have opened the country to South American drug barons who use it as a base for smuggling vast quantities of cocaine to Europe,...


Choosing a new Australian flag Independent Australia

Choosing a new Australian flagWhat would happen if Australia followed New Zealand’s example and allowed a fully democratic process to choose a national flag? With support from the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, historian and regular IA contributor, Dr Benjamin T. Jones has designed the Alternative Australian Flag Survey. read now...


World politics as a spaghetti western (Part 1) Independent Australia

World politics as a spaghetti western (Part 1)When it comes to mainstream media coverage of foreign policy, our side are the good guys; those not on our side are the bad guys, writes Dr Evan Jones. read now...


Speaking of puritanism and manly seed and the imaginative Brendan O'Neill, as the pond is always wont to do on a meditative Sunday ... loon pond

As the debasing of the word EXCLUSIVE continues apace this mediative Sunday...

Only one rag seemed to realise that an EXCLUSIVE shared around the nation might not be an EXCLUSIVE, unless it was understood to be an EXCLUSIVE to the House of Murdoch ... and so preferred to pun ...

What, no EXCLUSIVE? Such are the meditative days of our lives.

Meanwhile, there being very little joy in watching Joy, the pond has decided that it has formed a set against writer-directors and David O. Russell in particular, and anyone else deluded enough to think that it's possible to make a Citizen Kane about selling miracle mops on an infomercial channel ......


Why the Knox piece fails in every way. No Place For Sheep

  It’s difficult to read respected Fairfax sports journalist Malcolm Knox’s “parody” piece criticising Chris Gayle’s sexist on-air comments to journalist Mel McLaughlin, as anything other than racist. Dominated by Knox’s use of patois, a dialect infused with racist cultural and political history, its tone leans, for mine, rather more towards a taunt than a parody, […]


Dog Blog: Three Days in January DUCK POND

The new year has opened with rain, which is far better than the alternative. The weather, as always, is a mystery that looms over us. The experience of climate is more elusive, dependent as it is, on memory.

The New York Times, which is a problem to some, has accepted the reality of climate change. Justine Giles provided “Short Answers to Hard Questions”.

It would be much easier if everyone made reference to one temperature scale. Otherwise it necessary to know that one degree Fahrenheit is equal to 0.556 degrees Celsius. Thus a mean surface warming of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit is approximately one degree Celsius (0.9452) since 188o, when global temperature records started.

Still for Dexter, Hannah and myself when climate change kicks in we are likely to be dead and forgotten – we hope. All we have is the present – or else consciousness is not confined by temporal bounds. Which is the greater shadow: consciousness, death or the convergence of both?

Dexter has a aural haematomaThe cartage in his left ear is damage, and it is filled with blood. One ear appears to be paying attention, while the other does not. I don’t think it is . My suggestion that it was caused by putting the harness on was dismissed by the vet.

So w...


Sharp rise in Green Power bills the fault of Federal Coalition Government North Coast Voices

Consumers want answers after energy providers have announced a price increase of up to 41 per cent for their green energy contribution to coincide with the new year.
In the days leading up to Christmas, Origin Energy customers were notified that "a rise in the market price of renewable energy" meant GreenPower electricity charges would increase from 3.61¢ per kilowatt hour (excluding GST) to 5.10¢ per kilowatt hour from January 1, 2016.
The increase was so steep, northern NSW resident Russell Mills was sure there had been a mistake.
"I did the maths very quickly and it came up as a 41 per cent increase. I thought that's substantial, am I missing something?" he said. 
"There was nothing in the letter explaining the rationale for it, so I rang them and I spoke&nbs...


ISIS called and heard this response: sorry, I have a life North Coast Voices

Sky News reporting on ISIS response to increased air strikes, 27 December 2915:

The Islamic State group has released a new message purportedly from its reclusive leader, claiming his self-styled "caliphate" is doing well despite an unprecedented alliance against it.
In the 24-minute audio posted on Saturday, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says air strikes by the international coalition only increase his group's determination and resolve.
He also mocks a recently announced Saudi-led Islamic alliance against "terrorism" and warns Israel that "we are getting closer to you" every day.
To Israeli Jews, he says that they "will hide behind trees and stones" from the IS.
Al-Baghdadi urges Muslims world over to join the fight, saying it is their Islamic duty to rise up everywhere.
The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed but it was posted...

Saturday, 09 January


Donald Trump and migration Catallaxy Files

What are the advantages Muslim societies have in dealing with others? This is how it is explained by John O’Sullivan: Europeans Studiously Ignore Muslim Mobs, but most importantly, what he shows is the effect of Islam on the subjection of women and the state of mind it creates. His final para, though, is the one that matters. It is the one that everyone migrates to if they are thinking about the preservation of our Western way of life.

Which brings me finally to Donald Trump. His policy of simply halting Muslim immigration has been denounced all around. It is, of course, discriminatory and thus a mortal sin in today’s politics. Fine. Let’s rule it out. But if his critics don’t want a blanket moratorium on all immigration — which I assume they don’t — and if they don’t want to repeat the experiences of France and Germany in 30 years’ time — which I also assume they don’t — shouldn’t they tell us what they will do?

He, of course, does not mean let us rule it out. He means, if you are serious about an end, you must be serious about finding the means. And to understand either, you have to have some idea of what you are up against. This is what we are up against.

If we exclude divine favor as an explanation of this long advance, as Christians and post-Christian secularists presumably should, the rules that explain it include capital punishment for leaving Islam (a.k.a. apostasy), which is presumably a disincentive to doing so; strict rules for regular public prayer, which strengthen group solidarity; a privileged position for men over women, amounting in practice to ownership of them as either wives or concubines; a hierarchical structure within Islamic society that places Muslims in a position above non-Muslims in law, government, and social life; and a religious orthodoxy that endows Muslims with a general superiority (an...

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