Jeremy Corbyn on Arms to Saudi Arabia, the Environment, the Living Wage and University Education

This is a short video from RT of just under two minutes, in which the Labour leader gives his views on Britain selling weapons to Saudia Arabia, Donald Trump’s disastrous attitude to the environment, the living wage, and that university education should be free.

Arms to Saudi Arabia

Addressing the Labour party conference, Corbyn states that whilst he obvious wants us to send all the aid necessary to deal with the consequences of the war and the bombing, the best thing to do is to stop the war altogether and to begin that by ending our supply of arms to the Saudi coalition that is undertaking that bombardment.

The Environment

Corbyn explains that Donald Trump is saying that he wants to walk away from the Paris climate accord and tear up all those decades of environmental campaigning that got us over that hurdle to that place, are totally wrong. Corbyn states that our movement has to be as strong on environmental protection and eco-protection as it is on social justice, because that is the way we protect the future for all of us.

The Living Wage

He declares that he does not think there is anything particularly extreme in saying a living wage should be for all workers at ten pounds an hour. You should have rights at work from the time you start your work.

On University Fees

He admits that Labour’s proposal is expensive, but he thinks it’s the right way to invest our money. It was to end college and university fees in order to make further and higher education free for everyone that wants to undertake it.

These are excellent policies and are certain to draw fire from the Tories and Blairites. There was a piece in the I this weekend about the massive growth in British arms exports. It’s supposed to have grown by 83 per cent last year.

And it was under Thatcher and Major that student grants were axed, and tuition fees introduced under Tony Blair, though they were raised massively by the Tory – Lib Dem Coalition.

As for Trump’s position on the environment, this is almost omnicidally dangerous. Some environmental scientists, according to the press, believe that we may actually only be ten years away from the tipping point where global warming is irreversible. We have to protect the environment, if we are not to bequeath our children a ruined, poisoned, dying world.

Now watch the Tories, the Lib-Dems and the right-wing press go absolutely berserk telling everyone that this’ll all be bad for the economy, that businesses won’t be able to afford it, that it’ll make our exports uneconomical, and repeat all the old tropes about ‘high spending Labour’ and that this will lead to more tax rises ad nauseam. Of course, none of this will be connected to the fact that very many Tory MPs have strong links to the arms and petrochemical industries, and that too many MPs across the House are millionaire managing directors. Quite apart from the fact that any tax rises Labour may make will be placed on the extreme rich, not the poor, who can’t afford it. It’ll be the complete reverse of what the Tories and New Labour have done.

Australian Males Baffled By Purpose Of Strange Object Found In Strawberries

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/09/2018 - 8:17am in


Men throughout Australia are continuing to investigate what might the purpose be of the mysterious pointy metallic objects that keep being found inside strawberries.

“It’s a shortish sliver of steel with a hole at end that tapers to a quite sharp point. We think it may be some kind of jousting stick for cockroaches,” said Professor Barry Ocker, chief researcher at the Institute For Bloke’s Science. “It’s left us quite perplexed, and in the meantime I have all these holes in my socks and I have no idea what to do about them.”

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Kirrawee garbage truck driver Bob Schooner, holding up a spikey thing that he found inside a punnet. “My best guess is that it’s a harpoon for mice who like to go whaling. As if I don’t have enough to worry about with all these missing buttons on my shirt.”

Men have been warned not to insert the objects into their eyes and to refrain from picking their teeth with them till their actual purpose has been ascertained.

“My theory is that it is a pole vault for fleas,” said Engadine bricklayer Tyson Harley. “But I have more important things on my mind, such as how to patch up all the worn out bits of my jeans.”

Peter Green

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Old Advert in Private Eye with Very Clear Message to Blair

I know this is coarse, rude and therefore not at all adult, but I thought the advert below was still very relevant to today’s political situation. I found it on page 30 of Private Eye’s edition for 4th-17th February 2005. I haven’t reproduced all of the advert. The piece I’ve not copied contained details of how to pay for the shirts, and as I don’t know if the company still exists, I don’t really want to see people potentially wasting their money ordering stuff from a firm that may have vanished over a decade ago.

I think it’s obvious that the shirts and their slogan were aimed squarely at Tories bitter at Blair’s government and New Labour. However, it’s still relevant, because only a few weeks ago Blair stuck his head up from wherever he’s been skulking since leaving office and turning the Middle East into a bloody, smoking battlefield. As you will remember, he emerged to tell the media that the far Left had taken over the Labour party, and it may not be possible for ‘moderates’ to retake it. He therefore urged people to consider supporting a new, centrist party. This new, centrist party is presumably Unite For Change, the new party that’s been set up by what looks very much like people connected to Blair and New Labour donors. Blair appears to have been hoping that the ‘moderate’ Labour MPs – in reality, Blair’s supporters and therefore, like him, extreme-rightwing Thatcherite entryists – would leave the party to join this new outfit.

In fact, as John McDonnell has pointed out, Corbyn and his supporters are the real moderates. Corbyn’s proposals for renationalizing the NHS, giving workers better rights, reviving the welfare state, the nationalization of the railways and the partial renationalization of the electricity grid are traditional, centrist, Old Labour policies. These stressed a mixed economy, the nationalization of the utilities to serve the interests of the British public, not their owners or private investors, strong unions to protect working people, and a proper welfare state to support the poor and the disabled. They aren’t the policies of Trotskyites, Stalinists, Communists and the Hard Left, or whoever else Joan Ryan, the Blairites, Tories and the lamestream media feel they can use to smear Corbyn and his supporters.

As for Blair’s new centrist party, no-one is interested in it, it has precious few members, and its only policy so far seems to be that it wants Britain to remain in the EU. But apart from that, it seems simply to be a rehash of New Labour, where the party raised most of its money from rich, millionaire donors, who the party then did its best to please by adopting legislation that suited them, but not Britain’s working people, and placing the same donors or their senior management in positions of government.

I believe this country would definitely be better off if we remained in the EU. But Blair’s new centrist party has absolutely nothing to offer ordinary people except more poverty, more job insecurity, more welfare cuts, more privatization and the destruction of the NHS as it is sold off to private healthcare firms. Just as Thatcher, Major, Blair, and Cameron wanted, and which May is continuing.

The message is coarse, rude and nasty, but in a Britain in which 4.5 million children are in poverty, and a quarter of million people are using food banks to save themselves from starvation, it’s all too appropriate. It’s just a pity there isn’t a similar set of shirts now for May and the Tories.

How Hedge Fund Activists Prey on Companies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/09/2018 - 7:01am in



By Shin Jang-Sup  The casual observer can hardly comprehend the value-extracting power of hedge fund activists. Technically, they are no more than minority shareholders. Yet they exert enormous influence, often forcing these companies to undertake fundamental restructuring […]

The post How Hedge Fund Activists Prey on Companies appeared first on Evonomics.

Evolving the New Economy: Tim O’Reilly and David Sloan Wilson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/08/2018 - 11:09pm in



David Sloan Wilson interview with Tim O’Reilly I use the phrase “Evolving the Future” a lot nowadays. It’s the title of a major scientific review article (“Evolving the Future: Toward a Science of Intentional Change”) […]

The post Evolving the New Economy: Tim O’Reilly and David Sloan Wilson appeared first on Evonomics.

A dash for the deserts? What the solar revolution could lead to.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 8:52pm in

One of the best pieces of scientific news the last decades has been the spectacular improvements in solar energy generation. The current world price was set in 2017 when the Dubai government bought a large future solar contract for 7.3 US cents per Kilowatt Hour,  a mere 1/6th of the price in 2010. Compared to the 1970s, solar cells now cost less than 1% of what they were then. Unless you own a coal mine, that counts as great news!

Let’s dream out loud a little as to what this revolution in solar might lead to this century. I expect solar to transform the deserts around the world, and I like the fantasy that solar power will be used to green Australia’s deserts by pumping desalinated water up to the top of the Dividing Range.

Before sharing such dreams, let us first discuss a few technological bottlenecks to wider-scale adoption. A continuing problem for solar is that it is intermittent, meaning that large-scale usage depends on technology to store surplus energy and transport it to and from the areas of generation to where it is used. Both long-distance electricity transport and large-scale storage remain very expensive and very limited in scope at the moment, despite technological advances in both.

As a rule of thumb, you lose 5% of the electricity for every 1,000 kilometres of electricity transport, and even that requires prohibitively expensive electricity lines. That rules out any fantasy wherein Australian solar farms supply New York!

Battery storage has come a long way since the 70s, with of course the big Tesla battery in South Australia showing that you can have large batteries that can turn on and off very quickly, which is important for solar applications because solar is very variable. Yet, even that battery is relatively small and not capable of storing whole days worth of population consumption, and it’s way too expensive as a storage device to allow solar to compete with fossil at the moment for large-scale supply to the grid. It’s current function is to smooth intermittent supply from fossil-fuel power stations, making fossil fuel more attractive!

In case you’re wondering: batteries in the form of ipads or electric cars are basically too small fry to make much of an impact on this equation.

You might think there is some clever combination that solves all problems. For instance, you might fantasise about storing surplus electricity by pumping up water to some high-mountain lake from which you later on draw electricity by having it fall down again. Think carefully about the main issues involved: you lose something like 20% of the energy pumping the water up at the mountain; you need very unusual mountainous terrain that allows you to have two large lakes from which the water tumbles and gets pumped up without much leakage at either end; and if the population is 2,000 kilometres away, you lose another 20% getting the electricity to and fro. All this is quite apart from the installation and running costs of the lakes, the pumps, the solar panels, and the electricity lines. From my reading, such a package is a long way off being commercially viable, and really only a longer-term dream for countries like China that have the requisite mountainous terrain.

The hope of course is that the bottleneck technologies continue to improve. They will have to for solar to replace fossil as the go-to source of energy for the main electricity grid. The same considerations, btw, also go for wind energy, which has seen similar reductions in price. Both technologies are now low-cost enough to be commercially interesting for many applications and in particular areas, but the package is still not quite there yet to knock fossil off its throne. That, btw, is partially because fossil fuel has become a lot cheaper too, particularly since the US and China found vast reserves of shale oil and gas. Hence the world’s carbon emissions are still increasing despite renewables hitting an all-time high of 25% of world energy consumption.

Relevant to this are the current developments in China.  In the 00’s, the Chinese government wanted to be independent of fossil fuel rich regions, like the Gulf and the US. It invested massively in solar technology, which lead to huge cost reductions in solar technology, now copied elsewhere. Yet,  the Chinese have recently found vast reserves of shale gas and as a result are scaling back their own solar projects, which tells you they don’t think solar is cheap enough to replace gas. When it comes to this sort of thing, the Chinese leaders are a very pragmatic bunch of engineers, so stories of evil conspiracies of the fossil fuel industry are unlikely to have mattered for this decision: costs will have dominated.

Supposing that the battery and transport costs of electricity indeed come down though, the future of solar seems immense. Let’s dream a little.

For one, cheap solar transforms deserts from places bereft of human activity to prised assets for electricity generation. You see, many deserts are near the equator where the sun is the brightest and land in the deserts is extremely cheap since there is nothing much else for humans to do there. So deserts are the logical places to house massive solar farms.

What is currently in the way of a place like Australia filling its deserts with solar farms is the transport costs of electricity and the big-battery issue. When those bottlenecks are gone, the dash for the deserts is on. Places like Australia, Saudi Arabia, but also California and Mexico, would be big beneficiaries. Plenty of cheap deserts in those places where nothing much else happens of high value.

Deserts in Africa and Central Asia could also be stacked with solar panels, but in those cases there is an additional bottleneck, which is that the main users of the electricity would be in other countries, which raises the issue of international politics. Like the oil pipelines that go through many countries, electricity cables that go through different countries would be prime targets for extortion and political in-fighting. The countries in Africa with lots of deserts are very politically volatile and any expensive electricity lines would undoubtedly get sucked into many conflicts, which essentially just increases the price. Central Asia is a bit more stable, but the same problem applies, so don’t expect the dash to happen there first.

The deserts might well be affected by another solar-related change, which is that intermittent availability is not a problem for desalination and water pumps. Hence one of the major processes that is not dependent on the big battery problem, nor even that of electricity transportation costs, is that of desalinating ocean water and pumping it to the deserts to make them greener. It is a prime thing to do with the excess electricity during sunny days, when the price would be close to zero. This too is highly relevant for Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries with deserts close to the sea.

In the case of Australia, the obvious scenario is for solar farms to supply the energy to desalinate huge volumes of water just East of the Dividing range, pumped up to the top of the Dividing Range, and then let loose to the West of that range, essentially desalinating parts of the desert and greening the interior. If you look at a geological map of Australia, the most suitable place to pump the water to would seem to be somewhere west of Lismore: from the top of the range there, one could let the water stream via a system of canals to the Great Basin to the North-West and into the Murray-Darling Basin to the South-West.

Admittedly, this is a mere pipe-dream at present, but hej, why not? Building these pipes, canals, and pumps could be one of the major infrastructure projects of the 21st century. Once the technology has been perfected in Australia, it is a good bet the companies would be commissioned to repeat the feat in many other places in the world, so it could become one of our comparative advantages.

Cheap solar unlocks the deserts in another way, which is that it provides the energy for lots of air conditioning, making them much more habitable, though obviously still confined to in-doors environments.

Finally, cheap solar makes the deserts more attractive places for extremely energy-intensive industries, like Bauxite-to-Aluminium processing or big chemical plants.

Then the issue of climate change. Would cheap solar (and wind), combined with cheaper big batteries and cheaper electricity transportation, on its own lead to such a reduction in fossil fuel usage so as to halt the warming of the earth? It would seem the answer at the moment is still ‘no’ for several reasons.

For one, one should always bear in mind that the increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are like a blanket over the earth that only very slowly gets reduced in its thickness if it is no longer added to. By very slowly, I mean that the natural processes that return atmospheric CO2 levels to pre-industrial values take centuries, if not thousands of years. So even if all human emissions were to stop abruptly today, the world would continue to warm for a long, long time yet.

It also remains the case that there is huge regional variation in just how cheap fossil fuel is and that this implies that the whole package containing solar would have to be extremely cheap to out-compete fossil for most applications nearly everywhere. You see, in some places, like the Gulf, the costs of pumping up the oil is almost zero and the only costs borne by the users is that of usage. Even if the solar panels were for free, the other elements (batteries and transport) will often be too expensive to compete with that. In areas with strong winds, abundant sunshine, and less easily available fossil fuels, the relative costs look different.

The convenience of fossil fuel should also not be under-estimated. Fossil fuels are very portable, pack a lot of energy punch for their weight, and of course they have the advantage of the huge existing infrastructure for its dissemination and usage (fuel stations, existing power plants, and lots of combustion engines). Even free solar energy would take a long time (decades?) to flush out those advantages.

You might think that cheap solar (and wind) could out-compete these mobility and energy-per-weight advantages of fossil fuels by, for instance, being used to create hydrogen that would also be mobile and an alternative to fossil fuel. Whilst there too, the technology is progressing, the key problem with hydrogen is that it is so bloody volatile and explosive. Just as you don’t put ammunition depots in the middle of the cities, so too do you really not want large stores of hydrogen anywhere near large population centers. The technology needs to progress a lot to overcome that bottleneck. Remember the Hindenburg disaster!

Finally, there remain applications for which solar (or batteries in general) is not energy-intensive enough. Key among those are aeroplanes and large ships. Those two applications alone would ensure the world continues to pump more new greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than naturally gets taken out, which essentially means that the world as a whole would just slightly more slowly go through its fossil fuel reserves.

Doesn’t it help if the world burns its fossil fuel reserves more slowly? Basically, ‘no’. From a geological-time perspective, the difference between burning up the fossil fuel reserves in 50 years or 300 years is nigh-irrelevant for the eventual peak in global warming. You would thus still need to do something else than merely slow down the fossil burning if you want to halt global warming (like actively taking out CO2 or geo-engineering).

So technologies still need to improve spectacularly for solar (and wind) to seriously dent the climate change trajectories over the coming centuries. Yet, it would seem that the technologies are getting close to the point where we should expect major effects on our deserts already. Cheap solar should be expected to make them much more habitable and suitable for energy-intensive industries.

Coles Launches Mini Collectable Single-Use Plastic Bag

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/08/2018 - 7:43am in


Business, Featured

coles little shop plastic bag

Supermarket giant Coles has added to its successful mini collectables range, announcing a tiny single-use plastic bag that customers can collect, store in a pile in a kitchen cupboard for a few weeks, and then throw away.

Coles spokesperson Linda Redman said there were 1.92 billion to collect. “They’re tiny, they’re fun, and they’re absolutely useless!” she said.

An advertisement for the mini shopping bags said stocks were unlimited. “We’re making mini versions of your favourite plastic bags! Take as many as you want!” the advertisement said, in an unrealistically excited voice.

Woolworths has responded by releasing a slightly larger, thicker version of the mini plastic bag.

Coles Release Series Of Collectable Mini Choked Sea Animals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/08/2018 - 8:15am in


Supermarket chain Coles has announced that following on from the success of its mini collectable grocery items it will be releasing a series of mini collectable sea creatures that have choked on discarded plastic shopping bags.

“Shoppers will be able to collect such items as a tiny replica loggerhead sea turtle with a Coles plastic bag stuck halfway down its gullet,” confirmed Coles marketing executive Ray Markup. “The range will also include an octopus with its legs trapped inside a plastic bag, a dugong with a plastic bag caught on its flipper and a red footed booby with its neck caught in the handles of a plastic bag.”

“I’ve got three spare mini stormy petrels with plastic bags in their windpipe that I’m willing to swap for a rare mini wandering albatross with a plastic bag wedged in its lower intestines,” said desperate shopper Fiona Flybuys. “I’m hoping to get a mini dolphin with a plastic bag in its blowhole next time I spend thirty dollars and then I’ll have the complete set.”

There have been reports of rare collectables from the ‘Little Choke’ range selling for as much as $300 on e-bay to obsessive collectors.

In response, rival store Woolworths has been considering giving away its own range of collectable mini dairy farmers who’ve been sent to the wall by spiralling farm gate prices for milk.

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Farmers Fight Off Flood Of Breakfast TV Presenters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/08/2018 - 8:15am in


Farmers in New South Wales and Queensland currently in the midst of a drought have faced a new challenge in recent weeks with a surging flood of breakfast TV presenters bearing down on them.

“Mate it’s been tough, I was out ploughing the fields yesterday and a wave of Today Show crew came rushing past me,” said a Bourke based farmer. “I feared for my safety and my fields are wrecked.

“The bastards set up their cameras and catering in my wheat field. I’m ruined.”

Police have warned farmers to treat the breakfast TV crews with caution as they are highly persistent and can turn aggressive.

“We recommend farmers keep a safe distance away from these crews as not only are they after tales of hardship, they are also after contestants for Farmer Wants a Wife.”

Mark Williamson

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Homeless Man Spends Night Sleeping In CEO’s Mansion To Get Authentic Feel Of What It’s Like To Have Bags Of Money

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/08/2018 - 8:31am in


Business, CEO, Homeless, SBS

Mosman Mansion.jpg

A homeless Sydney man has described spending the night snoozing cosily in a $10 million Mosman mansion as part of the annual Vinnies Tramp Sleepin as a sobering experience.

“I’ve got a newfound admiration for how tough it is to have so much choice of what to watch on your wide screen tv,” said long term rough sleeper Phillip Hartnell. “Initially I curled up to sleep in the doorway of the bedroom before realising I was supposed to bunk down on top of the bed under the goose feather doona.”

Participants coped with a full night in the indoors with only a complimentary pair of silk pyjamas to wear and a fridge full of Bollinger to keep them nourished.

“At one point in the night a chill wind swept through the house and I had to flop my hand out from under the doona to flick the electric blanket up a notch,” said a chastened Hartnell. “I’m really glad I took part in this, and not just for the opportunity it gave me to get some publicity for my “walking around the city pushing a trolley full of random pieces of bark” business. I’d be more than willing to take on a CEO as an apprentice.”

Hartnell’s night in the mansion finished at 6am with him being chased back out into the street by police officers who confirmed that there was no such charity event as the Vinnies Tramp Sleepin.

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.