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Has Scott Morrison Lost his Mind?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/01/2022 - 9:24pm in

(source)
Truly, I am at a loss for words. Have a good look at the composite above. You see the little boy playing with a toy forklift? Charming, isn’t it?

Would you believe me if I told you that that’s how Scotty from Marketing thought he could solve the supply chain problems crippling the Australian economy?

Nah, you say. I’m going bananas, right? I’m exaggerating?


Not quite. The idea that genius put forward today was to lower the age to drive forklifts. That’s how he initially announced it. Full stop, period, end of the story.

It was only after state premiers and territory chief ministers – apparently unanimously – rejected his brain dead idea, that he, at the end of the National Cabinet meeting, dejectedly added: he thought to lower the age required to drive a forklift to 16, as if that made the whole thing sound less unhinged.

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Let me tell you something. In Australia, 16-year-old kids can get a learner driver’s licence and drive a normal passenger car, but nowhere can they drive by themselves unsupervised by a fully, unrestricted licenced driver (normally, mum, or dad or an older sibling).

Unless Scotty wants his teen forklift drivers to work next to a fully licenced forklift driver, he is asking for a lower threshold for forklift licences.

There is a huge variety of forklifts, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t specify, but let’s suppose he isn’t thinking about those really big, expensive, heavy ones able to handle fully loaded shipping containers weighing 50 tonnes (49 tons) and more (or the equivalent of more than the gross vehicle mass of a fully loaded 6 axle semi-trailer truck).

No. Let’s imagine he is thinking of the smallest motorised forklifts, capable of handling between 400 and 500 kg (880 to 1,100 lb), equivalent to the combined average weight of 6 or 8 persons. His idea is to take a teen learning to drive the family car with mum or dad sitting next, give him/her a couple of hours training and sent him/her alone to drive that forklift inside a warehouse. What could possibly go wrong?

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I can remember only one precedent to this cinematographic demonstration of unmitigated imbecility: Donald Trump’s suggestion of using bleach to treat COVID.

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(source)
That’s not funny.

That man is running this country during a pandemic, people. It’s him who decides the policies shaping Australia and even the world: from climate change response to the economy to China. Our lives and the lives of our children are literally in his hands.

Will I ever see a journo ask him the questions hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of Australians are asking themselves: is he out of his mind? If you are a journo reading, you can ask him something like this: "Are you drunk or on drugs, Prime Minister?” Or “are you really that stupid, sir?”

Police violently break up Afghan refugee protest in Indonesia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/01/2022 - 7:45pm in

The refugees would like either citizenship or resettlement

Originally published on Global Voices


Afgan refugees in Indoneisa have been meeting to protest perceived inaction from the UNHCR. Refugees are calling for either Indonesian citizenship, or resettlement elsewhere. Image via YouTube.

Content notice: This article contains mention of depression, suicide, and police violence.

A peaceful protest of Afghan refugees was violently broken up by police on January 17 in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, a city on the island of Sumatra. The refugees were attempting to draw international attention to their years of displacement, mistreatment, and neglect by the Indonesian government and the international community. Police dispersed the protest by beating attendees and striking them with batons. Several attendees were reportedly injured. 

The protest emerged outside of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office because an Afghan refugee community member committed suicide on January 16. They were the 15th person to die from suicide in the community. Veronica Koman, an Amnesty International representative tweeted a video of the clash [content notice: some viewers may find the following video disturbing]: 

Some Afghan refugees have been living in limbo in Indonesia for over a decade, waiting to either receive citizenship from the Indonesian government or get approval and documents to move to another country. 

Mohammad Juma Mohseni was forced to leave Afghanistan in 2011 and has been living in Indonesia for nearly a decade. He told Gandhara news, a branch of Radio Free Europe, “[Fifteen] people have committed suicide and 10 have been prevented from committing suicide.” He added, “neither Indonesia nor the UNHCR has had a positive message for us.”

The Indonesian government is not party to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 protocol intended to eliminate restrictions on who can be considered a refugee. It does not have any official asylum laws and delegates all oversight to the UNHCR office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There are over 13,700 Afghani refugees in Indonesia who have been there for over 10 years. 

According to the SUAKA, an Indonesian civil society organization for refugee rights, asylum seekers in Indonesia are not permitted to work, receive social benefits from the Government of Indonesia, ​​own a car or motorbike, travel outside city limits, or go to university.

The IOM covers basic living costs while they await repatriation or resettlement. 

International inattention and tragedy


Some Afghan refugees in Indonesia have been camping outside of the UNHCR building for months. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

Monday’s incident is the latest in a number of heartbreaking incidents in recent months as Afghan refugees desperately try to call attention to their plight in Indonesia. Some refugees have been continuously camping out outside UNHCR offices waiting for news about their resettlement and attempting to raise awareness about their situations.

A group of Afghan refugees staged a 24-hour protest outside the IOM office in Medanon on November 30, 2021. One attendee, Ahmad Shah, 22, set himself on fire in front of the building. He had been in Indonesia awaiting permanent resettlement, separated from his family and loved ones, and unable to leave the country since 2016. 

He suffered third-degree burns and was reportedly taken to a nearby private hospital until he was moved to a public one on the same day. 

UNHCR Indonesia spokesperson Dwi Prafitria Juma told The Jakarta Post the agency was “deeply concerned about” and investigating the incident.

At least two dozen Afghan refugees had previously set themselves on fire. Six survived. 

“This is the seventh person we saved who was experiencing undue stress and fighting depression from living in limbo for around seven years,” said Juma in a press conference in front of the UNHCR office.

In recent months numerous refugees in Indonesia have sewn their mouths shut as a form of civil disobedience and protest.

In an interview with the Voice of America news agency the founder of Solidarity Indoenisa for Refugees (SIR), Ali Yusef, explained that Indonesia's refugees feel forced to take such extreme measures because they feel silenced and unheard. He worries for their mental health and urged UNHCR representatives to take immediate action.

The facts on the ground are that the UNHCR is less responsive to the fate of refugees in Indonesia. The proof is that they are not able to communicate with UNHCR when they want. … Don't let their delay mean the refugees who are sewing their mouths can injure themselves or even take their own lives. In the name of humanity UNHCR, please meet them. Explain that UNHCR is looking for a solution for them.

He added, “The world will judge Indonesia to be indifferent to international citizens.”

Both the UNHCR and IOM are responsible for managing refugees in Indonesia until they can be moved to another more permanent location. Both have been accused of neglecting and mishandling refugee affairs in the past. 

Before the Taliban came to power in August 2021, Indonesia housed the fourth-largest number of Afghan refugees in the world — behind Iran, Pakistan, and India. Most of these refugees intended to stop in Indonesia only temporarily until they could reach Australia. However, in 2013, Australia closed its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. Many were left stateless and stranded in Indonesia without recourse.

The situation has worsened since Kabul fell in August 2021. Experts say the situation in Afghanistan is likely exasperating feelings of helplessness that many Afghan refugees already deal with. It has also crushed their slim hopes of potentially returning to their home country and made it even more unlikely they will get rehoused, due to added influx of new refugees who have fled the Taliban.

Additionally, many countries have lowered the number of refugees they accept in recent years, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of resettled refugees has reached a 20-year low, according to the UNHCR. The organization found that 160 countries had closed their borders at some point during the pandemic in 2020, with 99 states making no exceptions for people seeking protection.

As a result, many refugees are finding it impossible to relocate to a third country or attain stability.

For years, refugee advocacy organizations have been calling for improved conditions in Indonesia, though those calls have not received much traction. In the meantime, citizens are doing what they can and using the hashtag #HelpRefugees_Indonesia on Twitter and social media, as a rallying call to support refugees. 

In a change.org petition, discussing the situation Afghan refugees face in Indonesia, Musa Zafar wrote:

Their most basic fundamental rights, which are emphasized in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are systematically infringed on a daily basis. Their freedom of movement, education, employment, and political and social rights have been ignored. These people have been forgotten and the world has turned a blind eye to their crisis.

Australia’s refugees react to double standard over tennis star Novak Djokovic's treatment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 6:59pm in

Djokovic deported, but many refugees and asylum seekers remain imprisoned

Originally published on Global Voices


A rally led by the Refugee Action Collective, calling for the release of refugees currently being detained in Park Hotel, Carlton. Flickr photo by Matt Hrkac, (CC BY 2.0)

Australia’s refugees and asylum seekers highlighted their struggle for justice by comparing their situation with Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic who arrived in Melbourne on January 5 but was prevented from entering the country after his visa was canceled by immigration authorities.

Djokovic refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but he got a medical exemption to allow him to play at the Australian Open. Australia requires vaccination in order to enter the country. After his visa was canceled, he was placed in the same hotel where 25 refugees and 7 asylum seekers have been indefinitely detained. He pleaded his case in court but in the end, he lost his appeal and was deported from Australia on January 16. The Immigration minister Alex Hawke had made his decision based on Djokovic ‘being a risk to “civil unrest” and a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment”’.

Australia has a complex history regarding its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

For much of its recent history, Australia accepted refugees for resettlement, with over 800,000 refugees and displaced persons settling in Australia since 1945, according to the Federal Parliamentary Library.

Each year, the Australian government usually allocates around 14,000 places to refugees and others with humanitarian needs.

The main difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee is that asylum seekers are people seeking international protection whose claims for refugee status have not yet been determined.

Nevertheless, a refugee may still not have been granted a visa, in which case they may face indefinite detention.

Since July 2013 anyone arriving in Australia by boat without a valid visa has not been eligible for asylum. Many have been held in offshore detention centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea. Many have also been turned away and sent to Indonesia. Some of these people have been settled in other countries such as the United States or returned to their country of origin, whilst others have been brought to Australia for medical attention.

In addition, as the Refugee Council of Australia explains:

…detention is mandatory for those without a valid visa. It is also indefinite, and there is no independent review.

…Australian law requires that a person should be detained until they are granted a visa or leave the country.

They may be detained in a prison-like detention centre or in community detention.

Several refugees were able to draw attention to their plight because of the public mania over the Djokovic case.

Reaction from refugee communities in Australia

Mehdi Ali, an Iranian refugee, is disappointed that interviewers want to know more about Djokovic than refugees like him who have been in detention over the past nine years.

He posted a photo featuring fellow refugees carrying banners about the number of years they have been seeking asylum in Australia:

Adnan Choopani, a refugee from southwest Iran, called out the government's double standard and said that some citizens are more equal than others in Australia.

He was also curious to know if the Australian Border Force (ABF) is treating Djokovic with respect:

During a protest, refugees demanded access to basic human rights which had been denied to them. Mohammed Joy, a refugee from Bangladesh, tweeted their demands and said he is grateful to Australians who have been pushing for the recognition and protection of the rights of refugees. In this video he talks about the plight of refugees while addressing a crowd in front of the hotel:

Former refugees, Mostafa Azimitabar also weighed in on the issue and urged the public to learn more about how Australia is treating refugees and asylum seekers:

Journalist and award-winning writer Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian-Kurdish refugee who was detained in Australia’s immigration detention center for six years before his release in 2019, compared the situation of refugees with what Djokovic experienced in Australia:

A further furore emerged after the court's decision, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison tied to muddy the already troubled waters:

Djokovic is already in Serbia, but the campaign for the rights of refugees continues in Australia. He has not yet made any statement of support for the refugees in the detention hotel, despite many calls for him to do so.

ACTU Statement on RATs and Masks.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 5:49pm in

 

[A]

Comrade Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary, sent us an email today. It’s at the bottom of this post. I fully support it. Before reading it, let me give you my own views on the matter.

Faced with a COVID outbreak of his own creation, Scott Morrison once again wants essential workers to risk their health so that society does not grind to a halt. He is right on something: we (not himself, not business people, not CEOs, not shareholders, not professors of philosophy or history or economics) are essential. We, with all our faults and weaknesses, but also with all our strength.

(If you are interested: a list of those included in that essential We.)


Unlike earlier during the pandemic, however, this time Scotty wants even sick but otherwise asymptomatic workers to attend their workplaces, in disregard of the health of uninfected coworkers and their families and – ultimately – of the public at large. That breaches Australian law.

Not happy with that, that son of a bitch found a whole new meaning to the “rat race” term. He wants us to chase largely non-existent rapid antigen tests (aka RATs), which he neglected to do last year, when the experts adviced him.

But there’s more: he wants us to literally pay the price of his incompetence and recklessness. Buying in bulk, those tests could have cost the Commonwealth “between $3.95 and $11.45 a test” at most. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found they are being sold at some retailers for up to $70 each.

Although we are constantly lied about who really carries the weight of the world and sometimes even we forget it, deep down workers intuit it is we who are really essential. We are the collective Atlas. As such, we do not intend to let society face a crisis that could be avoided. We take this situation very seriously. So, the union movement repeatedly approached the Government for discussions. In his stubbornly mendacious way Scotty refused, sending instead his lapdogs Fraudenberg and Hunt to obfuscate the public.

As long as their pockets remain untouched business people – surprise! – do not care.
Federal Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, as is customary in him, cowardly refuses to openly support labourers. So, we are on our own, boys and girls.
 Well, if forced to, against our will, we’ll strike. So, if you are one of those patients, customers, clients, commuters, travellers, students and their parents angered by the chaos the COVID pandemic created, this is your opportunity to do something constructive, instead of releasing your temper on those who are doing their best to serve you: put pressure on that bastard now. Make noise, raise hell. Or we’ll do it in your place. And, as always, if you are a worker, join your union and prepare to fight.

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 Statement from yesterday's ACTU Leadership meeting:

Leaders from national unions have today met to discuss the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the rapid spread of Omicron.

Union leaders reported on the devastating impact the latest Covid wave is having on the health and incomes of working people.

All unions express their solidarity, respect, and deep gratitude to the health care workers of our country who are experiencing the full brunt of this wave of sick people.

The unions representing those workers report that they are exhausted and feel abandoned by governments who have encouraged “let it rip” policies.

The “let it rip” governments have failed to prepare our health system and our community, and they are responsible for Australia suffering the highest per capita infection rates in the world.

Australia is now experiencing our worst days since the start of the pandemic and the highest level of sickness ever seen in the workforce. Essential workers are being expected to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the country going and in many cases without the protections they need.

The union movement will do everything we can to keep people safe and act to slow the spread of this latest wave of the Covid pandemic.

Unions condemn the failure of the Morrison Government to respond to our requests to work with us during this crisis; or our demands for the provision of free Rapid Antigen Tests, improved masks, fixing close contact definitions and restoring support for businesses and workers.

The Morrison Government has ignored repeated calls over the last 6 months from unions regarding the urgent need to procure RATs as an essential part of our Covid defence as well as the slow pace of the booster and children’s rollout putting working people at increased risk.

We have determined that despite the Prime Minister not acting to keep working people safe, the union movement will.

Accordingly, the meeting today resolved to write to all employers reminding them of their obligation to do all that is reasonable and practical to keep workers safe.

This will require each workplace to undertake a new risk assessment for Omicron in consultation with unions, workers and their health and safety representatives. In addition, where appropriate, sector-specific plans should be developed in consultation with unions.

New measures are now needed to ensure safety at work.

For workplaces where working from home is not an option, the provision of free RATs by employers to all workers will be necessary once supply is resolved, alongside upgraded masks and improved ventilation.

Union members will take whatever steps are necessary in their workplaces to ensure they are as safe as possible.

Where employers do not fulfil their obligations, the union movement determines to do everything within its power to ensure the safety of workers and the community.

This may include ceasing work or banning unsafe practices.

Free RATs are needed for the whole community to limit the spread and keep people safe, not just essential workers.

The failure of the Federal Government to act and to provide free and accessible RATs puts us all in harm’s way.

We are calling on the community to join us and demand the Federal Government reverse this decision.

The union movement will work directly with the community to demand all members of the Federal Government be held accountable for the inaction of the Prime Minister.

In unity,

Sally McManus
ACTU Secretary

PS. Rapid Antigen Tests should be free and accessible for all. Sign and share our petition here.

Image Credits:
[A] Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, Collins Street, Melbource. Author: Biatch. Source: WikiMedia. File released into the public domain by its author. Although not required, my usage of the file does not imply endorsement, neither of me personally nor of my usage of said file.

Australia Wonders What ScoMo Will Stuff Up Next

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/01/2022 - 7:00am in

After a week in which the country has suffered through a severe shortage of Rapid Antigen Tests with Covid running wild and now appearing to be at war with Serbia over the fallout from Novak Djokovic’s visa issues, the majority of Australians are wondering what Prime Minister ScoMo will stuff up next.

”Well, we know he doesn’t hold a hose, but God damn doesn’t he have anyone in his inner circle who might be able to show him how?” Asked a Nurse who was taking a quick 5 minute break from their 16 hour shift.

‘Being PM’s not an easy job that’s for sure, but this bloke doesn’t turn up half the time,” said a small business owner desperately seeking staff. ”Don’t suppose you know how to wait tables or clean dishes?”

When reached for comment on how he thought the country was coping with his leadership, the PM said: ”How good is Australia?”

”We are moving forward and not looking back. In fact I’m going to pass a law to make it illegal to look back. Unless of course you are looking back at how good Captain Cook was.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a hit with my good mate Bernard Tomic, he’s a good chance to win the open this year, well he will be once Border Force thins out the field a bit.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

Nation Eagerly Awaits Who The PM Will Throw Under A Bus Over The Djokovic Bungle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 8:20am in

Australians are eagerly waiting to see who Prime Minister Scotty who was fired from marketing will throw under a bus following his Government’s bungling of Novac Djokovic’s visa.

”The field is wide open as to who ScoMo will throw under a bus,” said a Spokesperson for Sportsbet. ”We have Karen Andrews as odds on favourite followed by Dan Andrews.”

”However, you can’t write off Bridget McKenzie, she definitely has form in this area.”

When asked whether many Australians were gambling on who the PM will throw under a bus, the Spokesperson for Sportsbet said: ”At the moment with Covid running rampant there’s not much else for people to do but sit around and gamble.”

”And we run bets on pretty much anything you can poke a stick at, including who you can poke a stick at.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I saw two seagulls fighting over a chip I need to get over there and start taking some bets.”

”Oh, please gamble responsibly.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

The Morrison Wave: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 4:13am in


To describe in words the situation Australia is facing would be long. The health system is verging on collapse. Supply chains aren't in much better shape. Supermarket and pharmacy shelves aren't refilled. My gut feeling is that we might be about to face an economic contraction.

The chart opening does not fully convey the magnitude of the disaster Scotty from Marketing and Dominic Perrottet created either. But it does go a long way: those two blokes proved that Australia can indeed punch above its weight. We're number one among rich nations.

That's how the "let it rip" strategy looks like.

Conservative Succession: The Failures of Liz Truss

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/01/2022 - 3:33am in

Conservative SuccessionThe Failures of Liz Truss

Sam Bright examines the record of the Foreign Secretary, as she eyes-up Boris Johnson’s throne

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A war of succession has started in the Conservative Party, as MP and ministers begin to imagine the end of Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister.

Polls throughout the Christmas period showed a comfortable Labour lead over the Conservatives, with Johnson embroiled in a series of scandals involving sleaze and COVID rule-breaking. After winning an 80-seat majority in December 2019, the chances of a coup against Johnson before the next election seem increasingly likely.

One person hoping to benefit from Johnson’s demise is Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has barely concealed her political ambitions in recent months – summoning the style and spirit of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in an attempt to court support among Conservative members.

Her plan seems to be working. The latest ConservativeHome survey of party members, released on 28 December, showed that Truss had the highest approval rating of any Cabinet minister – +73.5 – a position that she has retained for months. Johnson, by contrast, logged the lowest approval rating in the Cabinet, of -33.8.

A former Liberal Democrat who backed the Remain campaign in 2016, Truss has reformed her image in the Johnson era – adopting the Brexit cause and blending it with a vocal ‘free market’ ethos, building close relationships with the libertarian think tanks that occupy Tufton Street.

In her role as International Trade Secretary, which she held from July 2019 to September 2021, Truss was the embodiment of Brexit – the person tasked with negotiating and signing the trade deals that supposedly underpin Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ project.

However, beneath the political perceptions, how effective has Truss been in her various roles in Government?

Truss has gained plaudits among Vote Leave advocates for her post-Brexit optimism, but the fruits of her labour don’t match the rhetoric. This, to some extent, is down to the innate flaws of Brexit.

Truss and her predecessors were forced to sign roll-over agreements with countries that previously traded with the UK under EU deals. Roughly 70 of these agreements have been signed, and in effect they add nothing to UK trade – as they merely replicate conditions that we previously enjoyed within the EU. In fact, according to trade experts at the University of Sussex, these agreements are not perfect replicas and so have damaged trade slightly.


The Populist AllianceHow Vote Leave Came toRule British Politics
Ian Lucas

Indeed, former Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry notably exposed Truss’ deceptive rhetoric over the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with Japan. Truss claimed that the UK-Japan deal goes “far beyond” the pre-existing agreement between the EU and Japan, yet the Government’s own forecasts predicted that the EU-Japan deal had more economic benefits for the UK than the UK-Japan deal. The EU deal was projected to increase UK GDP by £2.6 billion, whereas the new deal is only projected to increase GDP by £1.5 billion over the same period.

“There hasn’t been a huge vision of how we will do things differently to the EU,” trade expert David Henig told Euro News, in reference to the Japan agreement.

Thus, Truss was tasked with signing brand new trade deals that were previously unavailable to the UK under the strictures of the EU. The two most prominent have been agreed with Australia and New Zealand, yet their impact on the UK economy is not expected to be transformative.

The Government estimates that the two agreements will increase GDP by between £200 million and £500 million annually – by 0.01% to 0.02% – or between £3 and £7 per head. These benefits will also only be seen after 15 years, when the agreements have been integrated into business practices and the functioning of the economy.

Meanwhile, a trade deal with the US is nowhere near being achieved – and Truss has refused to guarantee that the UK will strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the US by 2030. This is despite the Government – under the direction of Truss – publishing its negotiating objectives for a US deal in March 2020, following bold claims during the referendum and after that the UK would be able to sign extensive free trade agreements with the world’s largest economies.

“The sad answer is that the Government is happy to accept, on our behalf, the economic losses from Brexit in return for political benefits (sovereignty), and trade agreements with other countries are merely making the best of a bad job from an economic perspective,” observe trade academics L. Alan Winters and Guillermo Larbalestier.

Under her leadership, some MPs took to labelling the Department for International Trade as the ‘Department for Instagramming Truss,’ due to its focus on promoting the International Trade Secretary rather than achieving tangible results, according to Politico.

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Austerity and Ideology

This did not, however, prevent Liz Truss from achieving a promotion in Boris Johnson’s latest Cabinet reshuffle.

In September 2021, she was appointed Foreign Secretary – taking over from Dominic Raab, who was roundly criticised for his laboured response to the fall of Kabul in August last year. However, in her first few months in the role, Truss has endorsed decisions that will hamstring her department and its overseas work.

In her first week, Truss signed off drastic foreign aid cuts to war-torn states, while reducing funding on the environment and gender equality. Syria will receive £48 million in overseas aid this year, compared to £154 million last year. Yemen, still suffering from a civil war that began in 2014, will see its budget cut from £221 million to £82.4 million. It has been estimated that more than 80% of Yemenis now live below the poverty line and that half of the population face a clear and present danger of imminent famine.

In total, overseas aid to Commonwealth countries has been slashed by £500 million, despite claims made during the Brexit campaign that leaving the EU would strengthen our ties with its 53 member states. Indeed, in October 2019, Truss herself told Commonwealth ministers and high commissioners that “we can and must seize the opportunity Brexit presents to take advantage of new partnerships with some of our oldest allies across the Commonwealth”.

Truss also appears to be comfortable with austerity being applied within her new department. The Foreign Office is set to reduce its staff numbers by 20% in four years – which former Foreign Office Permanent Secretary Lord Ricketts has called “completely incompatible” with the Government’s rhetoric about ‘Global Britain’.


Conservative MPs Radicalised by COVIDare Coming for Johnson
Adam Bienkov

This mirrors Truss’s approach to public spending cuts in 2015 when, as Environment Secretary, she was one of the first ministers to accept the reduction in departmental funding proposed by then Chancellor George Osborne. Her department faced funding cuts of between 25% and 40%, but Truss insisted that it was “a big opportunity”. At the time, Guardian writer and environmental journalist George Monbiot described Truss as “impervious to argument, facts or experience”.

“I’m probably one of the more ideological among my colleagues… that’s what motivates me,” Truss told Politico last year, perhaps justifying Monbiot’s analysis.

What’s more, it doesn’t seem that Truss is immune to the sleaze stories that have plagued Johnson’s administration in recent times. It was revealed over the weekend that Truss insisted on hosting an official event at 5 Hertford Street, a private members’ club owned by a Conservative donor, against the advice of civil servants.

The event was held in June 2021, when Truss was International Trade Secretary. The venue agreed to reduce its bill from £3,000 to £1,400, on the condition of immediate payment – which could only be facilitated by an emergency process.

5 Hertford Street is owned by Robin Birley, a donor to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign and the half-brother of Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith. The club is renowned as a meeting place for elite Brexiters and has even played host to receptions organised by Truss, in preparation for a possible leadership bid, according to The Sunday Times.

The Department for International Trade was also forced to correct the expenses that had been spent by Truss and three of her staff on a four-night trip to Singapore and Vietnam in December 2020. Originally, the department said that no expenses had been logged, before admitting £4,000 worth of expenses and £1,600 of additional accommodation costs.

Posting on Twitter, Emily Thornberry said that she has never received an explanation for these additional costs. “Some will say it doesn’t matter,” she said. “But this is about character, and if Truss’s natural instinct is to hide the truth and hope no one asks questions when it comes to small things, don’t be surprised when she does it about big things.”

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The post Conservative Succession: The Failures of Liz Truss appeared first on Byline Times.

North Atlantic’s Warm Winter.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/01/2022 - 1:09pm in

(source)

With the exception of Scandinavia, all of Europe, parts of western Siberia, and the Atlantic coast of North America are set to register above average temperatures (1979-2000 base) on January 1st, 2022, according to ClimateReanalyzer.org. In eastern US and Canada, Germany, Denmark and Poland temperatures may exceed the average for this time of the year by more than 10ºC (18ºF).

A couple days ago, Spain was registering record temperatures for winter. Particularly Bilbao, in northern Spain: local thermometers rose to 24.7ºC for the first time since 1947, when temperatures started being collected. Spokesman for the Spanish meteorological agency (AEMET) Rubén del Campo, quoted by The Guardian, said: “These high temperatures are not normal. These are temperatures that you would normally see in the month of April.”

In western US and Canada temperatures are heading the other way: up to 10º to 12ºC below average. In particular, residents of Colorado witnessed in the last few days a cold and dry winter, with raging wildfires. Longer fire seasons, anyone?

It finally started snowing, which is a mixed blessing: it does help firefighters; the newly homeless, however, may feel differently.

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I can’t say I’m familiar with the weather everywhere in the northern hemisphere, but two things I can say:

  1. 25ºC in northern Spain at this time of the year is unusual and 
  2. winter wildfires anywhere do sound strange to me.

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In Australia, La Niña is bringing rain to the east. Enhanced cloud cover over southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales (including Sydney) has contributed to a slightly, but much welcome, milder summer. But Little Tassie and New Zealand – of all places! – are having a warmer summer – I guess a re-think to my dream of retiring to Tasmania or the South Island may be required. Damn!

The Morrison Wave (Updated).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 8:43pm in

Courtesy of ABC Online, this is how the COVID pandemic has evolved in Australia since March 2020:


A view of the same data starting now on Dec 1st:


Happy New Year, folks!

Doubling times are currently under a week: from Dec 21st, when there were 4,575 new cases, it took three days to double to 9,121 on the 24th. Then it took 5 days to double again to 18,242 (on the 29th) and in two days it almost doubled for a third time to the current 32,940 new cases registered today, December 31st.

All states and territories are seeing alarming increases in the number of new cases, but it is in New South Wales, under Premier Dominic Perrottet, where things are worse.

To allow Anglosphere readers a comparison: the American population is roughly 13 times the Australian population (the UK, 3 times; Canada, 1.5; New Zealand, 1/5), based on Worldometer estimates of population as of December 30th. Just multiply Aussie COVID figures by those values to see how Oz compares.

The saving grace is that – even in NSW – the numbers of patients hospitalised, in ICU and ventilated remain low:


The daily rate of hospitalisations, however, is picking up speed.

Likewise, daily deaths are still lower than they were in the first part of the pandemic, but the accumulated total is increasing:


Perrottet remains, predictably, stubbornly optimistic:

(source)
But official guidelines issued to the public change by the day. First it was when boosters were recommended (from six months after the second vaccination date, to five the next day, to four a few days later). Now it’s isolation and rapid antigen test use:

(source)

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2022 we have the next federal election, even though Scotty from Marketing hasn’t called it. Let me give Scotty a friendly advice: pray to God deaths remain low. Believe it or not, Scotty, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to kill voters before the elections. Survivors may not be too forgiven.

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UPDATE: 01/01/2022.

As I have first-hand experience on these matters, I will have more to say about this in coming days, but the bottom line is that workers end up copping abuse for a state of affairs they did not create.

Now it is nurses and midwives who have to face a deeply dissatisfied public, while the media tends to bury references of abuse deep down in their coverage (that is, when they actually make any reference to it). 

(source)

Don’t get me wrong, the public is right to be angry. The system is failing. But they should direct that justified anger at those whose reckless decisions caused this chaos, instead of choosing the easy and convenient target at hand: the nurses.

So, people, use your brains, quit scapegoating essential workers. If you add unwarranted shit to their already dire situation, you may find you have no nurses left to help you. That isn’t rocket science, is it?

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