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Friday, 12 February


Setting the record straight on one of Tony Abbott's phantasies in 2016 North Coast Voices

Malcolm Turnbull’s first official visit to the U.S. since becoming Australian Prime Minister occurred this year. He met with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington DC on 19 January 2016.

The occasion was attended by an obligatory White House press release and photo opportunities:

At the end of January sacked former prime minister Tony Abbott hotfooted it to Washington and then briefed News Corp to the effect that on 30 January he attended...


Donald Trump in 2013 Catallaxy Files

This is Donald Trump receiving an award from the American Spectator in 2013, long before he was running for President. Listen to not just what he says – which are themes he has been discussing since entering the race – but also how he says it – which is temperate, balanced and filled with common sense. And he knows a thing or two about budgets, deficits and getting value for money. There is no doubt in listening to this that he is not a Democrat and is a Republican, but of a kind not hitherto seen. From this point on, for me it is Donald Trump for President. America’s problems may be too large to fix, but if they can be fixed, he is the only person in public life who has the potential to do it.


Minister for Human Services & Minister for Veterans' Affairs showing his contempt for the Australian electorate North Coast Voices

Liberal MP, Minister for Human Services & Minister for Veterans' Affairs, lobbyist and professional investor, Stuart Robert, elevates the non-answer to an art form in an effort to keep the Labor Opposition, mainstream media and voters in the dark – as evidenced by these examples of his answers to questions without notice in the House of Representatives.

Question Time, House of Representatives Hansard 9 February 2016:

Mr DREYFUS: My question is to the Minister for Human Services. I refer to the minister's trip to China in August 2014 and the statement from the minister's office in The Courier Mail:
Mr Robert was on approved leave and attended in a private capacity.
Minister, is this accurate?


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Thursday, 11 February


The Assange Case: won’t somebody think of the women No Place For Sheep

  Julian Assange first expressed his willingness to be interviewed by Swedish prosecutors, who were investigating allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women against the Wikileaks founder, in London in November 2010, as this BBC time line demonstrates. It is common practice for Swedish prosecutors to interview persons of interest in countries […]


Telstra takes on energy utilities with home solar and storage plan Independent Australia

Telstra takes on energy utilities with home solar and storage planTelstra's rollout of solar and battery storage looks to be a game-changer in the home energy market. RenewEconomy's Giles Parkinson reports.  read now...


Assange takes the long view political geometry

The Julian Assange of a few years ago looks into the far distance from a small room, contemplating his, and our,  future


“Say’s Law needs to be revived, pronto, if we are ever to recover from the Great Recession” Catallaxy Files

j.-b. say

What might interest you more than the words is that I didn’t write them, although I do, of course, agree with them completely. They are from an article in The American Spectator, Demand for Economic Growth by Bob Luddy.

Jean-Baptiste Say theorized that the growth of economies is not demand-driven, but growth is created by new and lower cost products and services. McDonald’s created huge demand in 1955 with a 15-cent hamburger, and now dominates fast food worldwide. As a result, a new, trillion-dollar industry has been created — eating away from home. We eat at grocery stores, fast food restaurants, at work, and from food trucks.

In 1925, Bell Labs made enormous investments in telephone technologies, resulting in international phone service at a modest cost. Today, electronics have improved service and lower costs, so virtually anyone can communicate worldwide.

Casual observation helps us validate Say’s Law. The big-box retailers have provided low-cost goods, stimulating demand for all types of consumer goods. We now have on-line vendors offering every product imaginable at even lower cost, delivered to your door by none other than FedEx, which did not exist when I was in college.

America has the opportunity to take full advantage of Say’s Law, and to create new demand and growth from investment and innovation. The requisites are: lower taxes, reduced regulation, and leaders to innovate. We must also focus on education, as innovators must have enormous knowledge to create the future world of ideas.

Small business, which creates the majority of new jobs, is especially challenged by government regulation, bec...


Another starving watchdog No Right Turn

What is it with National and starving watchdogs? First, they under-funded the Ombudsman, meaning a huge increase in the amount of time it took for OIA complaints to be resolved. And now they're underfunding the Independent Police Conduct Authority, with predictable results:

Allegations of excessive force by police are going uninvestigated by the country's independent watchdog, due to financial pressures on the organisation.


The authority had been forced to abandon plans in some areas, such as assessing the standard of detention facilities and shifting its focus from "just blaming" to prevention.

While the IPCA could cut costs by reducing its investigations, Carruthers said that was not a desirable solution.

"We'll never be short of money because we can always decline to investigate independently, as we think fit ... but there comes a time when we then don't feel comfortable about actually doing the job that we're there for."

Speaking after the meeting, IPCA operations group manager Warren Young confirmed the authority had already passed up independently investigating some cases, instead referring them back to police to check themselves, because it was "beyond our resource".

"There have been occasionally matters that we've referred back to the police where if we'd had the resource, we might have investigated, including, for example, excessive force cases."

Which means the police are investigating their own (and of course finding nothing) - exactly the problem the IPCA was set up to solve in the first place. Either they need to be funded to do the job properly, or we should end this charade of independent oversight.

OTOH, given that the police...


The first Trump-Sanders debate Catallaxy Files

trump v sanders

Ifill: Now to our closing statements. Sen. Sanders, you are up first.

Sanders: This has been a very illuminating debate. We’ve seen firsthand the anger, the aggression, the last gasps of the 1 percent. They see a revolution coming. We are going to seize the tools of the state and bring prosperity to millions of Americans who have been oppressed for so long.

Trump: Bye-bye, Santa. Bye-bye, Jesus. Bye-bye, Easter.

Ifill: Sen. Sanders, please finish your statement, sir.

Sanders: The system is rigged, folks. That’s it. Thank you.

Ifill: Mr. Trump?

Trump: We are going to make America great again. I’ve said this many, many times throughout this campaign and people nod their heads. I don’t know—I guess no one’s ever said something like this to them before. We don’t think America can be great anymore. But we can be. I see...


The pond must do a double take rather than take a break, thanks be unto the Terrorists ... loon pond

The pond was going to take a break, and then the Daily Terrorists served up this front page.

Any time someone manages to work 'baffling' and 'Catholic' into a front page splash, the pond has to step back, and offer admiration and awe.

So a belief in talking snakes isn't baffling?

So an acceptance of walking on water, and water into wine, and sourdough loaves just right for Paul Sheehan, and virgin births, and multiplication of fishes, and saints and statues in abundance isn't baffling?

Forget about limbo, the Catholics did, and go searching through the bible for purgatory and let the pond know the result of your research. No, Maccabees isn't allowed. Just get baffled with the bull ...

Then there's the mystical nonsense of three in one, with the Holy Ghost allowed to go around spreading his seed like a randy old camel-herding goat or spirit.

And then there's the angels you couldn't fit on a pin head.

But the capper for the pond, always, is transubstantiation.



Failure No Right Turn

Why does inequality matter? Just look at the consequences:

Children living in poverty in New Zealand are at least six times more likely to struggle with maths than students from wealthy backgrounds, a new report has found.

The ranking was one of the worst in the developed world, with only Ireland, Israel and Poland doing worse.

The report from the OECD, Low-Performing Students: Why they fall behind and how to help them succeed found students from the poorest 25 per cent of households in New Zealand were more than six times more likely to be low performers in maths compared with those in the top 25 per cent.

Our figure was five times that of Australia.

And what that bland statistic means is poorer life chances, kids hobbled from birth by the economic status of their parents. Which means worse jobs and higher costs later on. It is profoundly unfair, an affront to our values.

Our education system is supposed to correct for economic inequality somewhat, to give every kid a good start in life. That's clearly not working. And with National talking of "reforming" the decile funding system to take money from the poor and give it to rich schools that their rich mates send their kids to, its unlikely to get any better. The other alternative, of course, is that we tackle the root cause: poverty. But National is even less likely to do anything about that.


Ordinary Americans fought Big Money and won in 2015 Independent Australia

Ordinary Americans fought Big Money and won in 2015Like the U.S., our democracy is threatened by powerful corporations who control the levers of power in Canberra. But Americans are now "as mad as hell" and are reclaiming theirs. Jessica Mason from PRWatch reports. read now...


Open Government: Learned nothing No Right Turn

The government has finally released its Open Government Partnership Mid-term Self-assessment Report, just four months after it was supposed to. They're so proud of it that they didn't even issue a press release on it - just a quiet change to the heading of a web-page. The major change? The addition of the promised "statement from the Stakeholder Advisory Group" on the Action Plan and contents. Which, stripped of its waffle, comes down to one sentence:

Because of the brevity of time since the Stakeholder Advisory Group was formed, it is [sic] not been able to provide collective detailed comments on the particulars of the actions.

This is dated "September 2015" - from before the draft was published. Which makes you wonder why it wasn't in the draft in the first place, and why it took them four fucking months to produce the final one.

But the SAG is "look[ing] forward to providing practical advice and leadership" on the development of the new Action Plan, and to "be[ing] transformational and to ensur[ing] civil society is actively engaged". So how's that working out for them? Likewise, how is the government's promises of learning the lessons of their disastrous first action plan and starting consultation sooner working out?

Badly. It appears they've learned absolutely nothing (or at least nothing they're willing to take on board), and gearing up to repeat the same mistakes they made last time.

The central problem is time: the second National Action Plan is due on June 30. But the SAG is only just meeting today to discuss it. Which means they're running on pretty much the same timeline as they were last time - the one which...



Ruddock's retirement gig a Captain's Call? Independent Australia

Ruddock's retirement gig a Captain's Call?The Australian public is gobsmacked: Ruddock as a defender of human rights? Is this Turnbull's 'Captain's Call' or a calculated snub to the UN? David Tyler reports. read now...


Australian international aid and community sector agencies united behind churches across the country who are opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back to Nauru & Manus North Coast Voices

Media Release, 4 Feb 2016:

JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT: ACOSS, Australian Council for International Development, Anglicare Australia,Catholic Social Services, Mission Australia, Oxfam Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Save the Children, and World Vision.

Australian international aid and community sector agencies today united behind churches across the country who are opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back
to offshore detention centres.

The groups, including ACOSS, Australian Council for International Development, Anglicare Australia, Catholic Social Services, Mission Australia, Oxfam Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Save the Children, and World Vision, urge the Australian
government to allow the families and their children to stay in Australia.

“The High Court of Australia may have ruled against the challenge to the legality of ou...

Wednesday, 10 February


The pond takes a break knowing the United States is in safe hands ... loon pond

Sing it soft ...

Sing it cartoon ...

Sing the question loud ...

Sing the answer proud ...

The pond is taking a break and will return as circumstances allow ...

(And more Rowe...

IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed Archiver

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