Australia

“This Time, don’t Give the Liberals your Vote.”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 5:52pm in

Life is full of perverse, cruel irony. That sentence is a case in point.

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Alex Turnbull is no radical.

It would be nearly inconceivable for him to be a left-wing radical: before resigning his seat in Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull, Alex’s father and former Goldman Sachs partner, was Australia’s richest politician. Alex (against my rule, I’ll refer to him and his father by their first names, for brevity) is a hedge-fund manager based on Singapore.

I know little about Alex’s ideas on economic policy, social and cultural issues, and I only know he supports action against climate change. Until now he flew under my radar, so to speak. His father was, of course, as neoliberal as the vast majority of the bien-pensant. That places Malcolm squarely within the mainstream.

Malcolm was a promoter of last year’s Same Sex Marriage Postal Survey and a supporter, albeit a timid one, of the Yes side, which eventually won (61.6% Yes, 38.4% No, national figures). That result led to the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, extending the right to marry to same sex couples, being passed in Parliament. That earned Malcolm some cookie points among the liberally-minded public (in the vaguely ideological sense of the word liberal), although did not endear him to the decidedly conservative sections of his own party, the Liberal-National Coalition (LNC). On this subject, too, Malcolm fits well with the mainstream.

Back in 2009, then federal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull supported a carbon emissions trading scheme, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (an initiative of the Labor Party’s Kevin Rudd, at the time PM). As with SSM, that earned him credibility with the mainstream, although it marked him as a “socialist” before the coal mining industry-funded conservative fringe of this party (one could say that episode marks the birth of the “insurgency” which eventually succeeded last month). As a consequence of that internal opposition, Malcolm gradually drifted away from climate change action, without entirely abandoning it

It seems reasonable to conclude that Malcolm isn’t a right-wing extremist, either. And one could extend that assessment, at least provisionally, to Alex.

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It’s important to make that point, because I believe many in the Left (in Australia or abroad), without being fully supportive, could sympathise with father and son, a duo in many ways similar to themselves. It’s the kind of men they could comfortably share tea in a Victorian manor room and exchange pleasantries, if not a Platonic dialogue for mutual edification.

And yet, the title of this post are Alex Turnbull’s words. Yes, he was actually urging Liberal voters not to vote for his father’s (presumably his own) party. He was doing precisely what the Republican establishment have been condemned for not doing with Donald Trump.

Turnbull Jr. isn’t speaking in the name of the alt-right. Whatever personal reasons he may also have, he’s speaking in the name of classical liberalism and climate change action and against those he calls “crazies” (“insurgents” and “wreckers”, in his father’s words: the LNC extremely conservative faction).

Alex was urging that, even if it costs the Liberal Party and the LNC’s 1-seat majority in the House of Representatives, even if that leads to a loss of power. Even if it leads (God forbid!) to an opposition victory.

Hopefully, many Liberal voters think as he does.

I’m sure many on the Left, particularly the American “Left”, would applaud Alex’s courage and urge Liberal voters to heed him. They may feel disappointed by his father’s more cautious stance (he refused to campaign for the Wentworth candidate, but did not come out openly against him), but those more charitable among them may even find in their hearts some understanding for his more delicate position.

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The cruel and perverse irony I spoke about earlier should now be evident to some readers. Others may need some explaining. They are my intended readership.

Those same “leftists” who would likely applaud Alex Turnbull’s courage (and did sternly condemn the Republican establishment’s cowardice) are also at the forefront of “the vote for the Democratic Party come what may”. No matter if the party does not represent you anymore; no matter if it never did; no matter how you feel about it. It’s the lesser evil. Anathema and eternal damnation upon heretics saying otherwise.

That phenomenon is not strictly limited to the US. You find the same thing in Australia or in Britain and I would be surprised there weren’t all sorts of local variations all over the world. Understanding that phenomenon is, therefore, fundamentally important and indeed vitally urgent, not only for the Left, but for humanity’s survival. We won’t survive if there is no radical change: exactly what these people oppose, in deed if not in words.

I’ll advance here my thoughts on that matter, for what they are worth, based on my own personal experience. A warning to readers: my evaluation is as frank as it is negative and pessimistic. If readers lack the stomach, they are well advised to leave now.

I dislike the “idiocy” multi-purpose explanation: by explaining all, it ends up explaining nothing. On top, it reeks of self-promotion (the “smarter” critics, by implication, should replace the “idiots”). Besides, those people aren’t idiots by any measure. In fact, I’d say many are extremely intelligent.

It’s not ignorance either, although the case here is less clear. In general they have their fields of expertise and there some of them may have something useful to say. The problem is that they tend to overestimate their own competence and believe it universal.

(Incidentally, together, those two observations imply one cannot ignore what they have to say; but one must put up with lots of irrelevancies, sometimes bordering on eccentricity -- if you stumble upon them, you’ll have no difficulty understanding this -- and take even what goes beyond that with handfuls of salt. The occasional glimmer of insight may justify the effort, but one pays a price for it: the cost/benefit analysis is unclear.)

They aren’t blind: it’s not that they cannot see the words one writes; they aren’t dumb: it's not that their minds cannot grasp the ideas they transmit. It’s that they refuse to engage with them. Their way out is to pretend misunderstanding, to feign indignation, empty pompous rhetoric, often offensive. To resort to faux emotional distress -- as I’ve seen an adult, who claims to be an intellectual, do -- is not merely dishonest, it’s pathetic and grotesque.

Behind that attitude, I think, there’s a kind of arrogant cowardice masquerading as pragmatism, a petty bourgeois stubborn sense of entitlement, self-importance and intellectual and moral superiority. These people are incredibly good at self-justification, which -- allied to their endless moralising -- makes them, at worse, appear as hypocrites and concern trolls, or useful idiots, at best. Nothing illustrates that better than Alex Turnbull’s example.

Maybe I’m too negative. I’m not infallible, like Peter’s successors. Readers are not my children, they don’t have to do as I say. So, as always, I advice them to exercise critical thinking if faced by this breed of “leftists” (sadly, including at least one “Marxist”). If you do and pay attention -- trust me -- you will know them.

Perhaps someone more skilled, diplomatic and patient than me could be more successful in establishing a constructive dialogue with them. I tried. I can’t do it anymore, and so I won’t. Unless readers fit the bill more closely than me, I would strongly discourage any active dialogue. To me they are -- regrettably -- as much the enemy as capitalists and their avowed servants. Personally, I have more respect for a guy like Turnbull Jr. To say something different would be a lie.

In a twisted way, they are a more insidious enemy: they genuinely believe themselves leftists and that everything they offer is unquestionably true; and that is how they represent themselves to the wider public. Their education, too, lends them credibility. You can see how that combination can hurt you and the real Left and how it can mislead the unwary, yes?

If I’m right, and I sincerely hope -- for the good of humanity -- reality will prove me wrong, one day their children and grand-children may curse their names. If that day comes, they will have deserved that.

The Sky At Night Looks at Britain in Space

I just managed to catch the weekday repeat a day or so ago of this month’s Sky at Night, in which presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock and British astronaut Tim Peake looked at the history of Britain in space, and forward to the country’s future in the deep black. The programme’s changed a bit over the past few years in the case of its presenters. It was famously presented by Sir Patrick Moore from its beginning in the 1950s until he passed away a few years ago. This made the programme the longest-running show presented by the same person. Aderin-Pocock joined it before Moore’s departure. She’s a black woman scientist, with a background in programming missile trajectories. She’s obviously very intelligent, enthusiastic and very definitely deserves her place on the show. But I wish she’d done a job that didn’t involve the military use of rocket technology, however much this is needed as part of national defence.

Aderin-Pocock was speaking to one of the management officials from Orbex, a new, British company, which has developed a rocket launcher and intends to open a spaceport in one of the more deserted areas of Scotland. The rocket will stand about 17 meters tall, using propane and High Test Peroxide as fuel. High Test Peroxide is a highly concentrated version of the hydrogen peroxide used by hairdressers to bleach peoples’ hair. The use of propane is particularly important, as it’s lighter than conventional rocket fuels, meaning that the rocket doesn’t have to carry as much fuel to lift off into space. Advances in satellite design have also allowed the rocket to be smaller than other spacecraft used elsewhere. British universities have succeeded in developing microsatellites – satellites that are much, much smaller than some of the satellites put into orbit, but which can perform the same functions. As these satellites are smaller and lighter, they only need a relatively smaller, lighter rocket to launch them.

The Scottish launch complex also wasn’t going to be as big as other, larger, major launch complexes, such as those of NASA, for example. I think it would still contain a launch tower and control buildings. As well as the official from Orbex, the show also talked to a woman representing the rural community in the part of Scotland, where they were planning to build it. She admitted that there would be problems with building it in this part of the Scots countryside. However, the community was only going to lease the land, not sell it to Orbex, and care would be taken to protect the farms of the local crofters and the environment and wildlife. Like much of rural Britain, this was an area of few jobs, and the population was aging as the young people moved away in search of work. She looked forward to Orbex and its spaceport bringing work to the area, and creating apprenticeships for the local young people.

The programme went on to explain that this would be the first time for decades that a British company was going to build a British rocket to launch a British satellite. From what looked the British space museum in Manchester, Time Peake stood under the display of Britain’s Black Knight rocket and the Prospero satellite. He explained how the rocket launched the satellite into space from Australia in 1975. However, the project was then cancelled, which meant that Britain is the only country so far which has developed, and then discarded rocket technology.

But Black Knight wasn’t the only space rocket Britain developed. Peake then moved on to talk about Skylark, a massively successful sounding rocket. Developed for high altitude research, the rocket reached a maximum of altitude of 400 km in the few minutes it was in flight. At its apogee – its maximum distance from Earth – the vehicle briefly experienced a few minutes of zero gravity, during which experiments could be performed exploring this environment. The Skylark rocket was used for decades before it was finally cancelled.

Aderin-Pocock asked the official from Orbex how long it would be before the spaceport would be up and running. The manager replied that this was always an awkward question to answer, as there was always something that meant operations and flights would start later than expected. He said, however, that they were aiming at around the end of 2020 and perhaps the beginning of 2021.

Orbex are not, however, the only space company planning to open a spaceport in Britain. Virgin Galactic have their own plans to launch rockets in to space from Cornwall. Their vehicle will not, however, be launched from the ground like a conventional rocket, but will first be carried to a sufficiently high altitude by an airplane, which would then launch it. I’m not a betting man, but my guess is that of the two, Orbex is the far more likely to get off the ground, as it were, and begin launching its rocket on schedule. As I’ve blogged about previously, Branson has been telling everyone since the late 1990s at least, that Virgin Galactic are going to be flying tourists into space in just a few months from now. This fortnight’s Private Eye published a brief list of the number of times Branson had said that, with dates. It might be that Branson will at last send the first of his aspiring astronauts up in the next few months, as he claimed last week. But from his previous form, it seems far more likely that Orbex will start launches before him, as will Branson’s competitors over the pond, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

When asked about the company’s capability of perfecting their technology, Orbex’s manager not stressed the skill and competence of the scientists, technicians and engineers working on the project. This included not just conventional space scientists, but also people, who had personally tried and failed to build their own spacecraft. He said that it was extremely important to fail to build rockets. He’s obviously referring to the many non-professional, hobby rocketeers out there trying to build their own spacecraft. He didn’t mention them, but one example would be the people at Starchaser, who started out as a small group of enthusiasts in Yorkshire but have gone on to create their own space company, now based across the pond in America. I think it’s brilliant that amateurs and semi-professionals have developed skills that the professionals in the industry find valuable. And the failures are important, as they show what can go wrong, and give the experience and necessary information on how to avoid it. I don’t think the rocket will be wholly built in this country. The manager said that some of it was being constructed in Copenhagen. This sounds like Copenhagen Suborbitals, a Danish team of rocket scientists, who are trying to put a person into space. They’re ex-NASA, I believe, but it’s a small, private venture. They have a webpage and have posted videos on YouTube, some of which I’ve reblogged. They’ve also said they’re keen for people to join them, or start their own rocket projects.

I’d been looking forward to that edition of the Sky at Night for the past week, but when the time came, it slipped my mind that it was on. I’m very glad I was able to catch it. If Orbex are successful, it will be the first time that a British satellite will launch a British satellite from here in Britain. And it sounds really optimistic. Not only will Britain be returning to space rocket development, but the Scots spaceport sounds like it will, hopefully, bring work to a depressed area. I’m also confident that the local environment there will also be preserved. The launch complex around NASA is necessarily so remote from other buildings, that it’s actually become a wildlife haven. So much so that it’s now a location for birdwatching.

When it was announced that they were planning to build a new spaceport in Scotland, I assumed it would be for Skylon, the British spaceplane. There had been articles in the paper about the spacecraft, which stated that it would be launched either from Scotland or Cornwall. It seems I was wrong, and that it’s Orbex’s rocket which will be launched there instead. But nevertheless, I wish Orbex every success in their venture, and hope that sometime soon Skylon will also join them in flight out on the High Frontier.

Australia and its Israel Embassy: What are they Thinking?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/10/2018 - 12:00am in

Tags 

Australia, Israel

James O’Neill According to recent media reports, the Liberal candidate in the Wentworth (Sydney) by-election, former diplomat David Sharma said he “was open” to the idea that Australia’s embassy in Israel could be shifted from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a separate tweet he went further and said Australia “should consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The ostensible reason is that it would be following the lead of the United States. In separate reports, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is said to be making an announcement in Canberra on 16 October also suggesting that Australia should follow the US lead. Sharma did qualify his suggestion that Australia’s embassy shift to Jerusalem “should be looked at in the context of a two-state solution (to Israel-Palestine)“. It is possible that both Sharma and Morrison have timed their statements to coincide with the by-election by making a pitch for the Jewish vote in that electorate. According to census data, Wentworth has 12.5 percent of its population professing the Jewish faith, a significant figure in electoral terms. That is the …

Two More Optimistic Scenarios and Breaking News.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 8:27pm in

To counter wild allegations that I am an incurable pessimist, I’ll leave readers with the most optimistic scenario I could find for how this slow-motion train wreck of climate change is going to develop.

Note that that possible future is only 2040 (when I hope to becomfortably dead), not the 2050s. Things will have changed by then, but that scenario won’t be as bad as I imagined, at least for a while. One thing won’t have changed though: The political debate around climate change.

(source)
Enjoy!

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And speaking of enjoyment: Alex Turnbull, Malcolm’s boy, is urging voters to vote anything but Liberal in the upcoming Wentworth by-election (I am qualifiedly optimistic that a defeat there would mean the Coalition loses his Lower House 1-seat majority: bye-bye Coalition government is a likely scenario). Alex is really pissed off at those who unceremoniously dumped his old man.

Seriously, though, the kid has a point. The Coalition is veering more and more towards the fashi right.

ScoMo wasn’t too happy with Turnbull Jr., but managed to maintain some composure. (I think he’s only rude and ill-tempered with ABC TV female interviewers.) It’s anyone’s guess how long it will take until someone uses the C-word with Alex, You see, that’s the favourite Coalition insult: Communist (not the word you thought, or … the other even more insulting one coalition!).

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BREAKING NEWS:

Our beloved PM announced his ministry’s intention to consider moving the Australian Embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Apparently we are not supposed to see in ScoMo’s surprising announcement, which reverses decades of bi-partisan policy towards the Middle East, his and his party’s despair on the likely defeat in the approaching Wentworth by-election.

It’s important to note that the Wentworth electorate is representative of the Australian upper-middle class (source). That explains why it was until now a safe Liberal seat, even though open to social and cultural issues, but moving towards the right in economic policy.

Income-wise, the median weekly personal income for Wentworth is $1,242 versus $662 for Australia. In the matter of professions, Wentworth almost doubles the proportion of university professionals (40.7% versus 22.2% for Australia), and the proportion of managers (20.8% versus Australia’s 13.0%).

It’s also educated: 46.8% of Wentworth inhabitants has education above bachelor degree, versus the 22.0% figure for Australia. Wentworth more than doubles Australian educational achievement.

But with this particular announcement ScoMo is playing identity politics. As it turns out, Wentworth is home to one fifth of the Australian Jewish community (91,022): 18,214 souls. 12.5% of its residents are Jewish, versus 0.4% in Australia.

The Liberal candidate, David Sharma, apparently was Australian ambassador before the court of the Messiah, Bibi I. It seems the idea was his. I haven’t heard Former Foreign minister Julie Bishop say a word about this announcement, which the Turnbull ministry had opposed.

Let’s see if this elite population is immune to shameless demagoguery.

Jeremy Corbyn in Bristol: It Is Important Children Understand the History of the Empire

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/10/2018 - 12:25am in

This is a short clip, of just over a minute, of Jeremy Corbyn at Bristol’s City Hall, put on YouTube on Thursday by the Daily Fail. Corbyn speaks on the need to educated children about Britain’s role in the slave trade and the British Empire, and mentions Bristol as one of the cities involved in the trade, like Liverpool, and some of whose merchants became rich from it. He states that it’s important people understand the treatment of Black people across the Empire and the contribution they made to it. He says that Windrush has highlighted this need, and the making sure all our children understand the history of the Empire will make our communities stronger. The video shows him descending the ramp leading up to the Council House’s entrance, and inside standing in a dock watching a video on the Empire, or slavery.

The blurb for the piece runs:

Jeremy Corbyn today unveiled proposals to ensure schoolchildren are taught about the legacy of Britain’s role in slavery and colonialism. The move comes on the same day as Labour faces accusations that it is ‘putting ideology first and children second’ with its plans to impose a new rule book on all schools. The National Curriculum already recommends that children learn about the slave trade, the British Empire and colonies in America. Mr Corbyn said that ‘in the light of the Windrush scandal’ it is ‘more important now than ever’ that children learn ‘the role and legacy of the British Empire, colonisation and slavery’. Pictured top right, a drawing showing a slave ship and bottom right, immigrants arriving on the Empire Windrush in 1948.

Thangam Debonnaire, the Blairite MP for Bristol West, also got into the I on a related issue. She had stated at a council meeting that the statue of Colston in the centre of Bristol should be taken down. Colston was a Bristol slave trader, who spent most of his life actually in Mortlake in the London area. He used some of the profits he made from his slaving to do charities in Bristol, including Colston Girls school. Redcliffe School, an Anglican faith school in Bristol, which Mike and I attended, was also endowed by Colston. Every year there is a Colston Day service at which a select group of pupils are given a Colston bun. The big concert hall in the city centre is also named after him.

He’s obviously a very controversial figure, and the Black community has been demanding since the 1990s to have the statue of him taken down. Debonnaire has added her voice to the campaign, saying that we shouldn’t commemorate those who have oppressed us.

Mark Horton, a professor of archaeology at Bristol University, was also on the local news programme for the Bristol area, Points West, on Thursday as well, talking about the statue, the debt Bristol owes to Africa and the need for museums here on slavery or Africa. When asked about Colston’s statue, he made the point that it wasn’t even a very good statue. It’s not actually very old, dating from the late Victorian period. He felt that instead there should be a plaque explaining Colston’s role in the enslavement of Africa’s people, and the statue should be packed in a crate in the City Museum.

He stated that if we wanted our children to be world citizens, we should also have a museum dedicated to slavery and Africa, like Liverpool’s Museum of slavery. David Garmston, the co-host of the news programme, said that Bristol already had a gallery on slavery at the M Shed here in Bristol. Horton agreed, but said that it was a small one. He then referred to the exhibition at the City Museum back in the 1990s, entitled ‘A Respectable Trade’, which went on at the same time as the TV series of the same name, based on the novel by Philippa Gregory. This had a huge number of people attending. Mark said that he had worked in Africa, and had seen for himself the damage imperialism had done, and a museum to Africa was the least we could do.

Listening to him, it struck me that what was really needed was for the Empire and Commonwealth Museum to be revived and brought back to Bristol. I did voluntary work in the slavery archives of that museum from the 1990 to the early 2000s. It was a private museum housed in one of the engine sheds in Bristol’s Temple Meads station. And it did a good job of representing the peoples and cultures of the British Commonwealth, including marginalized indigenous peoples like the Australian aborigines. Unfortunately, in the early part of this century the Museum was offered the premises of the Commonwealth Institute in London. They accepted and went off to the capital. The Museum failed, and the last I heard its former director, Dr. Gareth Griffiths, was being investigated for illegally selling off the Museum’s exhibits. He claimed he was only doing so as the trustees hadn’t given him enough money to keep it running. In my opinion, the Museum should never have been moved from Bristol. If it had still remained here, I’m sure it would still have been running, and would have been a major part of Bristol heritage sector.

I’ve got mixed feelings about these proposals. I’ve no objection to a museum of slavery in Bristol. Liverpool has one, and other cities around the world also have them. Roughly at the same time Bristol was mounting its ‘Respectable Trade’ exhibition, Nantes was also mounting a similar one on its history as France’s main slaving port, called ‘Les Annees du Memoir’. The slave fort at Elmina in Ghana, one of the main areas from which western ships collected their human cargo, also has an exhibition on its part in the slave trade. However, I feel that every care needs to be taken to prevent such exhibitions being used to inculcate White guilt, to express the attitude that White Bristolians are somehow indelibly and forever guilty because of what their ancestors did.

And there are grave problems with any museum of slavery which does not include the wider background to the European transatlantic slave trade. Slavery has existed in various forms across the world since antiquity. The Arabs also conducted a trade in Black slaves from Africa. They were driven across the Sahara into the North Africa states, and sometimes beyond. During the Middle Ages, they were imported into Muslim Spain. The Arabs also exported them across the Indian Ocean to what is now India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Arabia. Indigenous African peoples were also involved in the trade. One of the chief slaving states in West Africa was Dahomey. In East Africa, in what is now Kenya, Uganda and Malawi, the slaving peoples included the Swahili and Yao. The Europeans didn’t, as a rule, enslave Africans directly themselves. They bought them off other Africans, who could also make immense profits from them. Duke Ephraim, one of the kings of Dahomey, had an income of 300,000 pounds a year in the 1820s, which was larger than that of many English dukes.

After the British banned the slave trade and then slavery themselves, they launched a campaign against it across the globe. the east African countries that became Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Rhodesia were invaded and conquered as they were centres of the Arab slave trade and the British wanted to prevent them from exporting their human cargo to British India. In some parts of Africa, slavery lingered into the early years of the 20th century because those countries weren’t conquered by the British. Morocco continued importing slaves from Africa south of the Sahara until c. 1911 because the British prevented the other European countries from invading. At the same time, North African Arab pirates preyed on and enslaved White Europeans until Algeria was invaded and conquered by the French. It is estimated that 1 1/2 million Europeans were enslaved over the centuries in this way.

Slavery also existed in Indian society, and the British were responsible for trying to suppress that also in the 19th century. Then Indians, and also the Chinese, were also virtually enslaved too in the infamous ‘Coolie Trade’ in indentured Indian servants, who were imported into the British Caribbean and elsewhere, to replace the Black workers, who had been freed. The Indian and Chinese workers were technically free, but were bound to their masters and worked in appalling conditions that were actually worse than those endured by the former Black slaves.

The history of slavery is complex. It is not simply a case of White westerners preying on people of colour, and I feel strongly that any museum set up to show the history of this infamous trade should show that.

New Anti-Fracking Petition on Change.org

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/10/2018 - 4:38am in

I had this email sent to me by Change.org, asking if I would like to add my name to a petition launched by Bob Dennett against the resumption of fracking in the UK. The email reads

News just in from the High Court: fracking is set to start in the UK for the first time since 2011, when it caused two earthquakes.

Bob has been campaigning against fracking since the earthquakes happened near his home in Lancashire.

He says that the council failed to properly assess the safety risks, and that fracking could cause serious health and environmental problems across the country. Despite the High Court ruling, he’s vowing to keep fighting – but he needs your help.

His petition to ban fracking in the UK has 116,000 signatures – will you add your name?

Petitioning Claire Perry
Ban fracking before it’s too late!

Petition by Bob Dennett
Kirkham, UK

On the last day before parliament broke up for the summer recess, the government snuck in its approval for fracking near where I live in Lancashire. This will be the first fracking in the UK since drilling by the same company in 2011 caused two earthquakes, and will pave the way for it to spread across the country.

Fracking – which involves drilling into the earth to extract shale gas – poses a serious risk to our health and our environment. This is why I’m calling for it to be banned.

In April 2011 I was woken up by my house shaking so hard that I thought a large vehicle had collided with the building. I quickly realised that it was an earthquake which was later proved to be caused by Fracking Company Cuadrilla drilling for shale gas. Ever since then I’ve been campaigning against fracking to protect future generations, including my own grandchildren.

Where fracking is happening in the US, Canada and Australia, people are getting sick as a result of the toxic chemicals they are exposed to via air and water. Even our own government reports acknowledge that emissions of polluting chemicals in the air will increase. Pollution brought about by the fracking operation can also kill crops and pose a severe threat to wildlife. Methane leaks from gas wells and pipelines make fracking a serious contributor to climate change, more serious than CO2.

The UK’s anti fracking movement is made up of ordinary people doing whatever we can to protect our communities, our lands and our grandchildren against huge fossil fuel industries.

I refuse to let earthquakes, contaminated water and climate change be an accepted part of the world that we hand down to our grandchildren.

Please sign now to tell the government to ban fracking!

As this message points out, fracking has been a major threat to the environment across the world. When Cameron threatened to introduce it over here, communities up and down Britain organized against it, including near Keynsham, a small town near where I live in Bristol.

If you want to add your name to the petition, go to

https://www.change.org/p/ban-fracking-before-it-s-too-late?recruiter=75092145&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial.pacific_abi_select_all_contacts.select_all.pacific_email_copy_en_gb_4.v1.pacific_email_copy_en_us_3.control.pacific_email_copy_en_us_5.v1.pacific_abi_gmail_send.variation.lightning_share_by_medium_message.control.lightning_2primary_share_options_more.control&utm_term=438308

The Price of Survival.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:08pm in

I think there’s little need to repeat the dramatic pleas the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made last Monday: to avoid world average temperatures rising above 1.5°C greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45% within the next 12 years and reach 0 (as in nada, zilch, rien) within 32.

There’s a detail, however, most commentators have overlooked. To achieve those reductions, in a capitalist economy, where prices are the rationing device par excellence, it “would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2°C target” (Yes, maties, that was there, too).

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The release of the IPCC report came a few days after our latest prime minister, Scott Morrison (aka ScoMo), concluded a tour over drought-striken regional Australia.

Tuesday morning former mining sector employee and current Federal Environment minister Melissa Price went to the radio: “We make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is getting electricity prices down,” she said. “Every year, there’s new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. To say that it’s got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

“That would be irresponsible of us to be able to commit to that”, added the extremely responsible Price.

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Faced with that one would be tempted to conclude that Morrison and Price are two idiots. That, however, is a simplistic diagnostic and, as all wrong diagnostics, is bound to lead to a wrong treatment.

For one, because that “explanation” ignores the politics behind those two characters.

As it is known, Morrison, a conservative Coalition leader, replaced Malcolm Turnbull -- who once championed a carbon tax -- after a conservative backlash leaded by Tony Abbott ousted Turnbull. Turnbull’s popularity had plummeted among other things because energy prices had risen, placing low-income consumers in a very difficult situation, thus the lack of apologies.

Morrison was Turnbull’s rearguard action to stop the even more conservative (to say nothing of repulsive and odious) Peter Dutton from getting the top job.

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But there are, in fact, at least 76.4 billion other very good reasons for Morrison’s and Price’s unapologetic “idiocy”.

(source)
Look at the chart above. At the current rate of production, the world’s proven reserves of coal should last 134 years, on average. But averages hide enormous variations: the reserves of the Russian Federation and North America could last between 350 and 400 years. That’s a lot of coal laying around, waiting to make its owners richer. Put yourself in their shoes: would you be anxious to let that money go?

Let’s look more closely at those reserves:

World's Top 10 Proven Coal Reserves
(billions of metric tones)

USA            237.3
CIS            157.0
China          114.5
Australia       76.4
India           60.6
Germany         40.7
Ukraine         33.9
Kazakhstan      33.6
Colombia         6.8
Canada           6.6
(source)

That data are for the end of 2012. Australia has the fourth largest coal reserves and is the fifth producer, but given its small population, most of that output (421 million tones per year) is for export. That’s how Australia manages to be the world’s second coal exporter.

And that coal is presently fetching a very good price: US$114.16 per ton, up from a five-year minimum of 49.02 in January 2016 (source). At the current exchange rate, that is 161.50 little Aussie battlers.

Moreover, coal mining is -- and has always been -- a crap job. Still hundreds of thousands if not millions of people all over the world earn a living doing that (and, wages being what they are, they are relatively lucky). How would you feel if your livelihood depended on that?

That’s to say nothing of those whose livelihoods depend indirectly from coal mining. Or those who grew used to the cheap energy fossil fuels make possible (because it’s not only coal we need to take into account: we also need to cut down other greenhouse gases emissions, like methane, which largely comes from cows).

----------
Although it lacks the pleasant self-congratulatory implications of the “idiocy” explanation, this more comprehensive framework has an advantage: it also explains ScoMo’s negative attitude towards the capitalist development of renewable power generation alternatives.

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Morrison is a member of the Pentecostal Church. Unless some exceedingly bright young internet post-Keynesian comes up with the silver bullet to kill that monster, it seems we are left with ScoMo’s own solution to climate change. “I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain,” he has been quoted as saying during his tour, “and to pray for our farmers. Please do that”.

Either that or we ditch capitalism, before it bakes us to death and destroys our civilisation or maybe even life as we know it.

(source)
Theres something chillingly apocalyptic in a religious man delivering us straight into the gates of Hell.

‘Sky At Night’ on Sunday on Britain in Space

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:42am in

Next Sunday’s edition of Sky at Night, for 14th October 2018, will be looking at the history of the British space programme and its possible future. The blurb for it in the Radio Times runs

Space Britannia

The future of Britain’s space programme, examining plans for the first UK spaceport in Scotland and the potential launch of revolutionary micro-satellites over the next decade. Guest presenter Tim Peake looks at the history of British space exploration.

The programme’s on BBC4 at 10.00 pm.

Britain did have a very successful space programme from the 1950s to about 1975. The UK developed a number of very successful sounding rockets, like Skua, which were used by meterologists for the exploration of the upper atmosphere. Development of the Blue Steel missile, intended as the launcher for Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, resulted in the creation of the Black Knight rocket, which successfully launched a British satellite, Ariel, into orbit in 1975 from Woomera in Australia. And then the British launcher programme was cancelled, as civil service mandarins felt it would be more economical to have our satellites launched by the Americans.

We were also part of the ESRO programme in the 1960s until that finally fell to pieces in the 1970s. This was a European programme to produce a common launch rocket for European satellites We were to produce the first stage, and the French, Germans and Italians the others. Our part of the rocket worked perfectly, but there were problems with the other stages. This led to the programme’s cancellation as costs mounted. The French, however, continued developing rockets, leading eventually to the launch of Ariane, which has been immensely successful. We were left behind as the launch of our satellites depended on the Americans’ own plans and launch priorities. And the suspension of the space shuttle programme after the Challenger disaster, I believe, did result in Britain losing that as a launch vehicle for the duration.

Black Arrow, another British Rocket

There have been a number of plans to develop British spaceplanes, like MUSTARD in the 1960s and then HOTOL in the 1980s. HOTOL was cancelled because of difficulties getting the airbreathing engines to work. However, work on the plane continued after its official cancellation. The problems have been ironed out, and a new spaceplane developed, Skylon. It’s not a crewed vehicle, so it doesn’t look like any British astronauts will be going into space direct from Blighty just yet. Nevertheless, things are looking very optimistic for the British space programme, as there were reports in the papers a few months ago that the plane would be all set and ready to fly in the very near future, like 2020. I certainly hope so, and will look forward to seeing what this programme has to say about it all.

Books on Jews on the Slave Trade

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 1:38am in

Jackie Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum and a Jewish woman of colour, was, as I’ve blogged about several times before, smeared as an anti-Semite after some snitch from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or a similar organization hacked into a private conversation she had been having with two friends on Facebook. This was about the Jewish involvement in the slave trade. Walker, as is abundantly clear from her own commitment to her faith and communities as both a Jew and a woman of colour is certainly not an anti-Semite. She makes it very clear that while there were Jews active in the slave trade, the ultimate responsibility for it lay with their masters, the Christian monarchs of Europe. Her discussion of the subject was based on, and cited research, by mainstream historians and scholars.

Looking for books on the subject on the Net I found these two, available from Amazon.

Saul S. Friedman, Jews and the American Slave Trade (Transaction Publishers 1997).
and Eli Faber, Jews, Slaves and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight (NYU Press 1998).

Both of these books seem to have been written to refute the assertions of the Nation of Islam that Jews were chiefly responsible for the American slave trade.

The Amazon Review of Friedman’s book runs

-Jews and the American Slave Trade is a much needed response to an explosive issue that has been plagued with false charges and pseudo-scholarship. In a calm, logical and precise academic fashion, Dr. Friedman amply proves that Jews did not dominate the slave trade to and in America and, in fact, played a minuscule role even when part of the larger European, West Indian, North American, and South American slave societies. From ancient slavery to colonial mass transport, through each involved European nation to each American colony, Dr. Friedman’s careful analysis is thoroughly documented and interestingly crafted. Jews and the American Slave Trade should be read by students, teachers, and the public at large.- –Dr. David A. Rausch, professor of history, Ashland University -The best antidote for myths and falsification of history is the truth. Prof. Friedman has provided just such an antidote to the calumnies of recent years about the role of Jews in the Atlantic slave trade. It is a scientific work that reveals the bad as well as the good. There is no doubt that this is the best survey of Jewish involvement in the slave trade to the Americas. It ends with a masterful analysis of the antipathy that has developed between Jews and African-Americans in the contemporary United States.- –Howard L. Adelson, professor of medieval history, City University of New York -In this forceful and impassioned response to the Nation of Islam’s Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews (1991), Friedman (Youngstown State Univ.) combines his own extensive primary source research in American archives with the findings of David Brion Davis and hundreds of other distinguished scholars, to document conclusively -that Jews did not dominate the slave trade in the European colonies of South America and the Caribbean or the antebellum South-… Friedman’s essential point remains clear: -when the import and sale of Africans was at its peak Jews owned less than three-one hundredths of a percent, 0.03 percent of all the slaves in America.- All levels.- –E. R. Papenfuse, Choice -Saul Friedman’s book is a trenchant, courageous, and scholarly refutation of that lethal mix of old-fashioned Jew-hatred and modern Holocaust envy which expresses itself in the allegation that Jews controlled the slave trade to and in America.- –Edward Alexander, professor of English, University of Washington, Seattle “

For more information, see: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jews-American-Slave-Trade-Friedman/dp/1560003375

Amazon’s description of Faber’s book states

In the wake of the civil rights movement, a great divide has opened up between African American and Jewish communities. What was historically a harmonious and supportive relationship has suffered from a powerful and oft-repeated legend, that Jews controlled and masterminded the slave trade and owned slaves on a large scale, well in excess of their own proportion in the population.

In this groundbreaking book, likely to stand as the definitive word on the subject, Eli Faber cuts through this cloud of mystification to recapture an important chapter in both Jewish and African diasporic history.

Focusing on the British empire, Faber assesses the extent to which Jews participated in the institution of slavery through investment in slave trading companies, ownership of slave ships, commercial activity as merchants who sold slaves upon their arrival from Africa, and direct ownership of slaves. His unprecedented original research utilizing shipping and tax records, stock-transfer ledgers, censuses, slave registers, and synagogue records reveals, once and for all, the minimal nature of Jews’ involvement in the subjugation of Africans in the Americas.

A crucial corrective, Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade lays to rest one of the most contested historical controversies of our time.

See: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jews-Slaves-Slave-Trade-Perspectives/dp/0814726380/ref=pd_sbs_14_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0814726380&pd_rd_r=3d9f47d4-c977-11e8-8b24-ed803f1d8857&pd_rd_w=66JkT&pd_rd_wg=IEMvw&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=18edf98b-139a-41ee-bb40-d725dd59d1d3&pf_rd_r=S1B4YJZT7YR2G4RT5W0K&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=S1B4YJZT7YR2G4RT5W0K

I haven’t read either of these books, and so I can’t personally comment on them. However, from what I’ve read about the slave trade, they seem correct. Hugh Thomas in his book, The Slave Trade, makes the point that Jews played only a very minor role in the American slave trade.

And if a tiny minority of slavers were Jews, it is also true that Jews were also part of anti-slavery movements. In February 1869 there was a public meeting against the slave trade and the enslavement of the indigenous Pacific Islanders in Sydney, Australia. The meeting included not only Christian religious leaders like the Anglican bishop of Sydney, the Rev. John Graham of the Congregational Church, and the Revs. J.P. Sunderland, Adam Thomson, and G.H. Morton,m a Presbyterian minister and G. Hurst, a Methodist clergyman, but also the Rev. A.B. Davis, rabbi of the Sydney synagogue.

The claim that Jews were the dominant force in the American slave trade is anti-Semitic, and utterly refuted by real history. These two books might help readers interested in learning the real truth behind the Nation of Islam’s vile claims. And Jackie Walker herself is demonstrably not an anti-Semite, but an impassioned worker for racial equality and an opponent of racial prejudice, who based her comments also on genuine, accepted scholarship.

Heroic Roosters Fan Watches Entire Grand Final With Broken Chardy Glass

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 8:07am in

Tags 

Sport, Australia

Roosters

The biggest secret of the NRL Grand Final has been revealed after victors the Sydney Roosters admitted that their biggest fan had inspiringly watched the entire game whilst concealing that the stem on his wine glass had snapped.

“I’d actually broken the stem in three places during the Preliminary Final against the bunnies last week,” said number one fan Brenton Trustfund, who attended three actual games this season. “I wrapped some tape around it and barracked the rest of the match with my hand supporting the bulbous bit of the glass that holds the liquid.”

Trustfund’s life coach devised a clever game watching plan to allow him to enjoy the Grand Final whilst avoiding any dangerous contact to the injured receptacle.

“We sat Brent down on a plastic chair at the back of the patio and got one of his biggest mates to block anyone who moved in to clink the glass after a try had been scored,” said Bellevue Hill life coach Sheree Kambala. “We made sure that he refilled just before and after the half time break so that jostling around the wine bottle was at a minimum.”

“He completely foxed us throughout the week with the story that there was a small crack in the side of the glass and that he may have to drink his chardonnay out of one of those big red plastic cups,” said rival Melbourne Storm fan Simon Laneway. “I tried to get to him to put the glass down and come outside to talk about house prices but he just hid himself behind the chip bowl and directed the cheering from a distance.”

Peter Green
http://www.twitter.com/Greeny_Peter

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