Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
Iran is building a military base in the Kurdish heartland of Northern Iraq, apparently specifically to target the Kurds, who are leading the fight against ISIS.
If this marks a new level of understanding betweeen Iraq and Iran, then it amounts to the creation of a Shi’ite arc extending from Hezbollah in Lebanon, through Syria and Iran down into Shi’ite majority Iraq.
The Saudis won’t like this.
Fukushima, vaccines, chemtrails. It is always the same.
CT (Conspiracy theorist) “Something really bad and scary is happening!”
Me “I don’t think there is any evidence to support that.”
CT “That’s because there is a massive cover-up. The (government, power companies, big pharma, Monsanto) are deliberately hiding the truth from the public.”
Me ” How do you know that?”
CT “Because there is no evidence. If they weren’t covering it up, there would be. Isn’t that obvious? Are you crazy or something?”
In response to the customary whining on the ABC about possible reductions in the government spending other people’s money:
Cuts to arts funding are not ‘tantamount to the Coalition Government standing bang in the middle, right on top of Uluru with a megaphone, shouting “Oh just work for free! You know you want to!”‘
It is simply that ordinary tax payers are getting fed up with paying for other people’s hobbies. Artists do not have to work for nothing, nor are they expected to. Like the rest of us, whether butcher, baker, or candle-stick maker, they simply need to produce something other people value enough to pay for.
If they can’t or won’t, that’s fine, but then they have no right to demand the government force working families to pay for what is often mind-bogglingly dull and uncreative “art” that no one would buy if they had a choice.
Government funding for the arts encourages dependence and mediocrity. Time to can it completely.
If you want people to pay for something, make something people are willing to pay for.
An update on the new website, www.blissyoo.com.
As some of you know, for the last several weeks I have been working on a new website, www.blissyoo.com, an alternative to Facebook.
There were two major reasons for this. Firstly, Facebook has made Mark Zuckerberg and a few others very, very rich, while those who do most of the work and provide all the content – you – get nothing at all. It is fair enough that most advertising income goes back to running the website. It is hugely expensive to develop software, run servers, provide support, etc. But how is it right that the people who put in what makes everyone keep coming back – you – get nothing for your efforts?
We have done the sums, and believe we can give users back 20% of all advertising income from their home page/wall/timeline (we call it your journal, but more on that later).
The second reason is that Facebook actively edits out news stories and posts it doesn’t like. That is just wrong. Who is to say that your opinion, photos, likes and and dislikes, should simply be ignored because they don’t fit somone else’s political agenda? We take the view that while anything publicly viewable should be family friendly, on your own journal, among your own friends, and in groups and communities you create, you should be able to post anything you like (as long as it’s legal, obviously!).
The other side of that coin is that this site is not a “safe zone.” If you are someone who is offended by the thought that some people might see things differently from you, or becomes distressed when you hear an opinion you do not share, this is not the community for you!
Below is the site logo, designed for us by Simone Halloran of Little Birdy Design.
It is a B for bliss. It is also a heart, and suggestive of a winding road – a journey – and perhaps a mother holding a child. I couldn’t be happier with what Simone has done for us.
We have just finished sorting some minor issues with text size and colour, chat system and music sharing, and are now in the middle of the move from shared hosting for development, to dedicated servers in the US and Singapore plus CDN for live/production mode.
Once that is done, two days of testing to ensure all database settings have moved across and then bang! A blissful flight into the future 🙂
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no prospect of a Liberal party led by Malcom Turnbull ever returning to the party’s former core values of social conservatism, fiscal responsibility and personal integrity.
Being determined to win at any cost, and make any promises to do so, is not a win at all. Certainly not for the Australian people. Unless there are principles, there is no point.
Three years of Shorten and Plibersek is a ghastly prospect, with its certainty of increased energy costs and costs of doing business, higher unemployment and debt, and a reopening and refilling of detention centres.
But it is more and more likely that ordinary and loyal Liberal voters will see this as the only alternative to the destruction from within of conservatism in Australian politics.
Those of us who believe that social conservatism and economic libertarianism offer the best path for peace and justice and prosperity for Australia may well believe, as I am coming to do, that this will only be achieved, and with it, a sound future for Australia, by sending a clear message that the Liberal Party needs to return to principled conservative leadership.
Even if the short-term cost is three years of Shorten.
Freezing temperatures from Chablis to Côte Chalonnaise to Chinon and Montlouis damage young vine buds, threatening this year’s crop
Early reports from the Loire were not hopeful. “In the memory of vignerons, there are two major freezes: 1991 and 1994. This is on the level of 1994. It’s historic,” said Guillaume Lapaque, director of the federation of the Indre-Loire wines trade group and the Bourgueil wine syndicate. “It froze on three nights—April 18, April 25 and then April 27.”
Lapaque said he does not have exact estimates of damaged vines yet, but the early word is bad. “In Bourgueil and St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil it’s between 50 and 60 percent. In Chinon, it’s a little less, about half. In Montlouis, it’s very serious. And in Vouvray, happily it’s not too serious overall, although some vineyards have problems.”
More cold is in the forecast, but Lapaque adds that the damage has already been done. “You can’t set fire to a forest that has already burned. The lower vineyards froze, it doesn’t matter if they freeze again. The upper slope vineyards didn’t, and we don’t expect them to,” said Lapaque.
I spent some time at QUT studying law. It was an interesting experience. I knew when one of the lecturers made the claim that the Blackstone contained the “rule of thumb” – a provision in law that men could beat their wives with a rod provided it was no thicker than a thumb – that theory was more important at QUT than reality. Blackstone of course says nothing of the sort, if anything highlighting the greater protection women have under English law.
So when I first read about this story almost two years ago, I was not surprised.
Two students entered a resource room. Several computers were free and they began to use one. They were confronted by a staff member who demanded to know if they were indigenous. They said they were not and she told them they would have to leave because that room was reserved for the use of indigenous students. They left without fuss, but later asked on Facebook how anyone expected segregation and racism to be overcome by a policy of segregating people and resources on the basis of race. Their posts were polite and intelligent.
The staff member concerned, Cindy Prior, made a complaint that their comments constituted racial vilification. She has been so traumatised she has been unable to work for the last two years.
Just to repeat. A staff member throws two students out of a resource room because they are the wrong race, and when they ask questions about this, they are accused of racial vilification. This is 18C. It is worth noting that the only reason this particular case has come to public attention is the the students have persisted in asking their questions, and in denying that they acted with any racial animosity. The vast majority of cases are “settled” in a Kafkaesque and labyrinthine system without any possibility of public scrutiny.
Now read on, from The Australian:
Two students accused the Human Rights Commission yesterday of “recklessly” breaching their human rights in a row stemming from a $250,000 damages claim brought by a worker who barred white students from a room at the Queensland University of Technology.
Jackson Powell and Calum Thwaites, who lodged separate complaints with the commission, are seeking a formal apology and compensation for their costs in defending racial hatred claims.
They say the commission has treated them with “flagrant indifference” because they are “white Anglo-Saxon heterosexual citizens who maintain a male gender identity”, have no criminal record, no outspoken political opinions and no record of participation in trade unions or religious sects.
Their lawyer, Tony Morris QC, said the commission’s conduct in managing the case had been “illogical, irrational and patently bizarre”, leading to gross unfairness to Mr Powell, Mr Thwaites and other students.
The students say their rights were infringed because the commission failed for at least 14 months to notify them they were being accused of racial vilification under section 18c.
The delay meant that while QUT, its staff and its lawyers had 14 months to prepare a defence to the claims by QUT staffer Cindy Prior, Mr Thwaites was told of the serious complaint days before he was told to go to a conciliation conference ordered and run by the commission. He had no funds and little time to get legal advice or achieve a resolution before the case escalated to the Federal Circuit Court.
The racial vilification case was lodged in the commission in late May 2014 by Ms Prior, who alleges she was severely traumatised by Facebook posts from students responding to her action in preventing the men using QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit in May 2013.
The unit has been described as a “culturally safe space” for indigenous students, but there was no sign suggesting it was off-limits to white students who wanted to access computers that were not in use.
Ms Prior has been unable to work for 2½ years and wants $250,000 from QUT and the students.
Hong Kong is part of China, so the Chinese are entitled to do that.
The concern is that the refusal is likely an expression of China’s disapproval of the US/Philippines alliance, and joint US/Philippine opposition to China’s expanionism in the South China Sea.
“Beijing denied a US aircraft carrier permission to make a port call in Hong Kong, a US consulate official says, a rejection that comes amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the US on Thursday night the visit by the USS John C. Stennis would not be allowed, said the official, who requested anonymity.
US defence chief Ash Carter visited the Stennis earlier this month.
“[The ministry] needs to approve every ship coming into Hong Kong. [They] said ‘no’ to the carrier,” the official said, adding the reason for the denial was not clear.
In a written reply to the South China Morning Post’s inquiry, the ministry said on Friday night that port calls made by US warships and military aircraft were examined on a “case by case basis in accordance with sovereignty principles and specific circumstances”.
Carter flew to the nuclear-powered carrier for a two-hour visit on April 15, as it sailed about 100km west of the Philippine island of Luzon. Experts said the move likely irritated Beijing as Carter was accompanied by his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin.”
Trump may get the nomination. There are not enough delegates left for any other candidate to win the required number. If Cruz won every remaining delegate, he would force a contested convention, but still not have the numbers to win.
I have said from the first primary that the only way the Republicans could lose was to nominate Donald Trump. Not so much because there is anything wrong with him, but because of the extraordinary level of antipathy towards him in his own party.
Many of the criticisms of him in the video are unfair. Those who know whim and have worked with him, including women, blacks and Latinos, respect him and felt respected by him. With the right advisors he would make a good president. But will the Republican Party be willing to spend the money and do the work to convince people of that? It will be much harder after videos like this one.
I cannot join in the general rejoicing about the subs being built in Adelaide.
Submarines and other defense requirements should be built so as to provide the best possible equipment for our defense personnel, at the best possible value for Australian taxpayers.
Building the subs in Adelaide will cost an additional $18 billion. That is, at a cost of approximately $15 million per new job in Adelaide.
$15 million per job in Adelaide in additional taxes which have to be extracted from businesses and workers. Which of course means $15 million per job that can no longer be used in private enterprise to employ people, to research and develop and provide new products and services.
To put this another way, each new job in Adelaide in the sub project will cost the jobs of approximately fifteen people employed elsewhere, because the money that would have been used to pay them will now be going in additional taxes to fund make-work in Adelaide.
This is not job creation; it is exactly the opposite.
Or of course, if we were willing to pay the taxes required to fund an extra $18 billion, that would have been enough to buy an extra four subs.
This decision is not good policy. It is economically illiterate, and very poor value for Australian tax-payers.