Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
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”.
Definitely a contest worth entering:
Introducing ‘The President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition’ – £1000 prize to be won.
Nobody should be surprised that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instituted effective blasphemy laws to defend himself from criticism in Turkey. But many of us had assumed that these lèse-majesté laws would not yet be put in place inside Europe. At least not until David Cameron succeeds in his long-held ambition to bring Turkey fully into the EU. Yet here we are. Erdogan’s rule now already extends to Europe.
At the end of last month, during a late-night comedy programme, a young German comedian called Jan Böhmermann included a poem that was rude about Erdogan. Incidentally the point of Mr Böhmermann’s skit was to highlight the obscenity of Turkey already trying to censor satire in Germany.
What happened next happened in swift order. First of all the Turks complained to their German counterparts. Within a few days the programme had been pulled. A few more days and it was whitewashed out of existence altogether. In the meantime Mr Böhmermann himself was forced to go under police protection. The worst blow then came late last week when Chancellor Merkel allowed the prosecution of Mr Böhmermann to go ahead in Germany. Strangely enough, Chancellor Merkel is currently pretending that the trial of a German comedian in Germany for insulting a foreign despot is a liberal act.
Please submit all entries to email@example.com, under the heading ‘The President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition’. The winning poem will be announced by 23 June.
via Andrew Bolt:
Antigone’s brave stance for Justice and Nature against unjust human laws is what electrified me. We in the Western world live in days of mad, accelerating, and bewildering change. A same-sex couple is the same as a man and a woman; male and female is an illusion; an unborn baby has a right to life only when her mother grants her that right; children may be taken from their natural parents for the gratification of adults; and anyone who opposes these schemes may, for their intolerance and bigotry, be ridiculed, sacked, fined, imprisoned, and, most sinister by far, re-educated.
At this time when the laws of nature and basic justice are conscientiously unravelled and suppressed, Antigone’s defiance makes the heart swell. “I was not like, who feared no mortal’s frown, To disobey these laws, and so provoke the wrath of Heaven.”
As the storm-clouds of social change gather and loom, here is Sophocles’ ancient and potent inspiration for all those who stand, whether in the Christian tradition or not, for Nature and Justice. Seeing that we must die, we had best do so, in this awesome battle, faithful and brave.
From a longer article by Campbell Markham at MercatorNet.
Walmart as an example:
“… while the company’s revenues seem high, Walmart’s profit margin is far from fat: a mere 3 percent. The company has billions in expenses every year—so significant that in a 31-day month, all its sales in the first 30 days go toward paying expenses. Only on the 31st day does the company actually turn a profit, assuming nothing goes wrong during that month—like an unexpected jump in wages.
Just like any other firm, Walmart employs individuals who will earn the company revenue. After pay increases early this year, the average full-time Walmart employee will earn $13.38 per hour, well above the industry average of $10.29. With other benefits, including short-term disability and paid time off, the company’s actual cost per employee is significantly higher.
That Walmart pays an average of $13.38 an hour plus benefits means it expects the average employee to earn the company more than that amount. While a jump in pay of just a few dollars may seem trivial, for a company that employs 1.4 million domestic employees, it is positively massive. This is not to mention the additional costs associated with taxes paid for each employee. With such thin profit margins, Walmart cannot afford to ignore these costs.
As the cost of employing workers increases, Walmart has to decide whether its current workforce is worth the price. For example, if a worker’s hourly wage plus benefits is $30 per hour, but he or she generates only $25 in revenue, the company loses money for every hour the employee works. Under those circumstances, it would benefit the company and its shareholders to lay off workers. It has nothing to do with “corporate greed.” It’s business. Firms can’t operate at a loss.”
It really is simple. If the government forces employers to pay workers more than those workers make for the company, the company will either stop employing them or go broke. There’s no point whining about reality. No one owes you a job. If you don’t want to work for yourself, get a job by proving to an employer that you will make more than you cost.
I have pretty much gotten to the point that whenever I see news of a hate crime committed against blacks, gays or muslims I assume it is a hoax.
There is a long. Very long. And growing. List of hate crimes that featured in the mainstream media and were subsequently shown to be false.
A Syrian refugee has admitted to setting fire to a German shelter where he was staying, spray-painting swastikas on the walls to make it look like a political crime. The asylum seeker said the arson attack was in response to poor conditions at the shelter.
I guess he was used to much better food and accommodation at home ….
And no, this doesn’t speak to a larger truth. Lies don’t. They are just lies.
Two articles from the Financial Review, both warning about Australia’s debt levels.
The first about the National Australia Bank’s concern that further debt increases will risk Australia’s AAA credit rating – meaning higher interest rates, and a less attractive business and investment environment, which in turn means higher unemployment and lower tax revenues.
Treasurer Scott Morrison says the coming budget will ensure the government lives within its means: “It means you don’t make promises for which there is no money. It means that you keep your expenditure control tight”
All well and good, but the NAB is not convinced, and neither am I.
“However, NAB’s Mr Jolly expressed unease that the looming federal election and next month’s budget may see both sides of politics ease up on budget repair efforts to maximise votes.
He also pointed out that debt levels are well above the average of the past 36 years, hitting 15 per cent of GDP last year and on the way to 18 per cent over the next two years. That’s about three times greater than the last time S&P cut the credit rating to AA in 1989.
Mr Jolly said that keeping the ratings agencies happy would require demonstrating “ongoing restraint”, thereby continuing the likely drag on economic growth of recent years.
“With a general election at some point over the next six months, where the government and opposition will be releasing policy initiatives and making promises, a question for investors is whether fiscal restraint will continue.”
In January, S&P warned that Australia’s AAA rating was based on an expectation of ongoing budget restraint that would result in “consistently narrowing deficits over the forecast horizon, maintaining the general government debt near or below current levels”.
The agency cautioned that there was a need for “strong” government savings to offset the exposure caused the offshore borrowings of Australia’s banks.”
Then there are similar concerns expressed by Forbes Magazine, which says Australia is the second most likely country in the world to suffer a debt crisis within the next three years. The most likely is China. And of course, if China suffers a debt crisis, it won’t be buying our resources, which means we will be in trouble too. If China falters, so do we.
We just cannot afford generous welfare schemes or refugee resettlement programmes, or health and education systems to which those who benefit directly make no meaningful contribution, nor trendy but pointless projects like fast rail systems. We must return to a system where those most in need are cared for, and at the same time, every member of society is expected to make a contribution.
This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.