Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
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.
Over the last twelve months the administration of Norfolk Island has gradually been assumed by the Australia Federal Government.
Norfolk Island is part of Australia, but has been largely autonomous. No outsiders have been allowed to purchase property there, and those who come from outside to provide services are generally limited to a three year stay before they are required to leave. This would be fair enough if the island were genuinely autonomous, capable of running its own affairs. But it is not. Apart from tourist income which does not even come close to paying the bills, every aspect of life on Norfolk is paid for by Australian taxpayers. After a couple of hundred years of subsidising a lavish lifestyle on a tropical paradise for an exclusive and pampered few, Australian taxpayers have finally had enough.
Now Norfolk Islanders are whining about unfair it is, and how their island is being colonised. See the article on the Norfolk Island transition from the Guardian copied below. Of course if they don’t like what is happening, there is one very simple solution. Declare your independence, and pay your own way.
The former chief minister of Norfolk Island, Lisle Snell, has called for a royal commission into the Australian parliament’s decision last year to revoke the island’s autonomy, and the subsequent running of the island by the commonwealth.
As of 1 July, Norfolk Island will be subject to Australian immigration and border protection rules. Islanders will fall under the Medicare system and will be eligible for social benefits, including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. They will also fall under Australia’s tax system.
Since May last year, the island has been in a transition period as Australian government buildings are established and the island’s health and welfare systems abolished. The Australian government argued the island relied on the mainland for financial support, and that its laws and government services were outdated.
The changes meant that Snell was left without a job. His anger has only escalated since May.
“I took a very bad turn,” Snell told Guardian Australia. “I was distressed for months after my dismissal. To be dismissed in such a manner as was conducted at that time, so illegally, so unjustly, so unfairly … it took me many, many months to get over that. I was forced into semi-retirement, although I can’t afford to be.”
Snell and other islanders have established the group Norfolk Island People for Democracy, which is calling for an independent review of the process of bringing Norfolk Island under Australian governance, which Snell describes as an “illegal takeover”.
“Really what should be done is, a royal commission into the manner of Norfolk Island’s takeover should be held,” Snell said. “There was no proper process done. There should be a royal commisison into the farcical situation that has occured. We are a peaceful people, we don’t like conflict. But the situation has never deteriorated to an extent like this before.”
On Tuesday the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC delivered a petition against the perceived takeover signed by the islanders to the United Nations in New York. It would take months for the UN to reach a decision, Robertson said.
“There is a special committee on decolonisation which will consider the matter later this year,” Robertson told the ABC.
He said he supported the islanders in their fight for autonomous governance.
‘We’re not Australian’: Norfolk Islanders adjust to shock of takeover by mainland
“They will be kicked out of the commonwealth parliamentary unit, they won’t be able to compete under their own flag at the Commonwealth Games, they will have to join an Australian team,” he said.
“What is more, I think, rather pathetic in fact in Australia’s conduct, the first thing the Australian administrator did was to have the radio station ban any criticism of Australia.
“This is typical colonial behaviour, isn’t it?”
Snell confirmed that the island’s radio station was now under Australian government control, and said islanders were barred from saying anything negative about the Australian government on air.
Guardian Australia has contacted the relevant minister for comment on the claim.
Islanders had also received notices from the government that their jobs were defunct or were likely to become so, Snell said.
“The feeling on the island is now one of great distress,” Snell said. “People in administration, those working in roads or mechanical fields, in forestry and so on, have all had their jobs affected. In some cases, both husbands and wives will no longer have a job from 1 July, so there’s now increased unemployment and financial distress.
“They have not been offered the change to upskill or reapply.”
The word “mutiny” had been scrawled on the new Australian government buildings, Snell said, which he said indicated the levels of distress, because “we are a peaceful people”.
Many of the islanders are descended from the mutineers who captured HMS Bounty in 1789.
Snell said many of the island’s roughly 1,200 citizens would hold a rally on Wednesday at the old military barracks. People were fearful of losing their unique language and culture as they come under Australian law, he said.
“We will gather to talk and assist anyone in easing their pain and try to give them clarity and guidance through this,” Snell said.
The Australian federal minister for major projects, territories and local government, Paul Fletcher, has said islanders would be employed where possible. Last month, Fletcher announced Waterway Construction as the successful tenderer to construct the $13m upgrade of the island’s Cascade Pier. Islanders would be employed, Fletcher said, and local businesses would supply building materials.
“Once the project is complete, nominated members of the Norfolk Island community and regional council staff will receive training in the safe and effective operation of the hydraulic crane,” he said.
The New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, has said his state will help the federal government in providing health and education services to the island. Norfolk Island laws are being rolled in to NSW ones, with any legislation on the island that Australia considers outdated or inappropriate removed or replaced.
“The Australian government is committed to providing high quality, affordable and safe health and aged care services for Norfolk Island,” Fletcher said.
“I am looking forward to working with NSW government agencies to ensure the best possible outcomes for the Norfolk Island community.”
Tonga pleads with the world: Global warming is real and is affecting us today. Save our pacific island 😢
Two different islands, neither in Tonga
There’s only one problem: the picture shows two different islands, neither of which is in Tonga.
The top photo is Kwajalein Island and the bottom photo is Ebeye Island. Although both in the Kwajalein Atoll they are not the same island and are part of the Marshall Islands, a long way from Tonga!
No more the grinding poverty and filth of 150 years ago. Fossil fuels have made the world a safer, cleaner, greener place.
That’s something to celebrate! From Viv Forbes at Carbon Sense.
It was petroleum that provided the kerosene that replaced whale oil in lamps and greatly reduced the slaughter of whales.
Coal saved the forests that were being cut down for smelters, forges, charcoal, heaters and stoves. Steel made with coke then replaced wood for mine props, bridges and tall buildings. As steam engines and iron ships replaced wooden wind-jammers in world navies and merchant fleets, the forests expanded.
Coal gas and clean coal cured the smogs of London and Pittsburgh. Piped gas for home heating and street lighting and the even better “clean-coal-by-wire” (coal powered electricity) worked wonders to reduce air pollution in “The Big Smoke”.
Petrol driven cars and trucks removed horse manure from the big cities, and tractors reduced the amount of land required to grow food for those cities.
Nuclear power is the ultimate “green energy” – enormous amounts of clean energy generated on a tiny footprint, by minute quantities of fuel, with little effect on air or water quality. Its only disadvantage is that, unlike coal and gas, it does not recycle the gases of life to the atmosphere.
Naturally there are risks in every human endeavour but modern energy sources kill far fewer people and wildlife than were once lost in timber getting, horse breaking, wind-jammers, sulky capsize, air pollution and city wildfires. And to believe that man can tweak the climate with carbon taxes is non-sense.
In contrast, the so called “green energy” sources usually lauded on Earth Day have a heavy toll on the environment to produce piddling amounts of unreliable and costly energy.
Both wind and solar energy are so dilute that large areas of land must be sterilised by roads, transmission lines and construction sites to collect significant energy. Already many wind towers have been abandoned and others are being de-commissioned because of high maintenance costs or poor energy production.
Roof-top solar is a joke as a reliable supplier of energy for most of humanity. In most installations of wind and solar power, the facilities would not be built without subsidies and other political props, and it is doubtful that the green-power turbines and panels will generate enough useful energy over their limited life to recover the energy needed for their raw materials, manufacture, construction, roads, power lines, earth works, maintenance and decommissioning.
Green energy is not environmentally friendly.
Where big wind/solar facilities are constructed, many native birds and bats are sliced by whirling swords, or singed and fried by concentrated solar heat rays. Blinded by their obsession with blaming fossil fuels for everything, greens pretend that this unnecessary slaughter of wildlife is not occurring.
Without carbon and nuclear fuels, Earth would be raped for fuel and food by destitute people trying to eke out a living without the greatest boon to modern living – cheap reliable energy. As Alex Epstein, from the Centre for Industrial Progress says eloquently, “fossil fuels are the greenest energy”.
Roger Franklin writes in Quadrant Magazine:
On the western flood plain of the Maribyrnong, the lesser of Melbourne’s two brown rivers, Buddhists have built themselves a handsome temple and, most arresting, a gigantic golden statue of their guiding philosophy’s founder. It is quite the spectacle and well worth a glance as your Werribee-bound train approaches Footscray station. But unless you have a particular interest in the sound of one hand clapping, a glance is all it’s worth — and, obligingly, Buddhists don’t see any need for grants and government programs to promote “understanding” of their creed. Alas that another religion were so content to mind its own business. As Fairfax Media demonstrates today with a series of profiles — Australia’s Muslims Speak Up — it seems that one cannot be regarded as a fair and unbiased citizen without an obligatory knowledge of Islam, its adherents, their agonies and the bigotry we are told yet again makes the lives of Australia’s faithful so very difficult.
That, at any rate, is the series’ intent. The end result, however, is the polar opposite. Unwittingly, wrapped in its gush of multi-culti pablum, at least one of the profiles illustrates why one doesn’t need to be a peddler of prejudice to find Islam more than somewhat alien and not a little unsettling.
Reading Aisha’s story in The Age, it seems clear that her every experience of islam was violent or at least unpleasant, from her failed marriage to her repressive and hostile high school, and most of her experiences of non-muslim Australian society were by contrast warm and colourful and welcoming. Yet all this seems to prove to her is that Australians are racists and it is no wonder so many muslims are angry.