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News Corp Calls For Urgent Action On Y2K Bug

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/09/2021 - 5:13pm in

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News Corp will begin advocating for immediate action on the Y2K bug in its newspapers and television services, in a change of editorial policy ordered by Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch said the time to act on the Y2K bug was now, adding that he wanted to lead the way on the issue by being just two decades behind the rest of society, rather than thirty years or more, as is customary. “We will be calling for a net zero position on the Y2K bug by 2050 at the latest,” he said.

News said they were merely responding to the views of their readers, most of whom were unaware that the change to the new millennium had already occurred.

“Y2K is starting to become a real concern for some of our readers,” a spokesperson said, refuting claims News Corp had downplayed threats of the bug in the past. “News Corp has never denied Y2K or the gravity of its threat. However, we – as is the traditional role of a publisher – report a variety of views and opinions on any issue. Some of them hug closer to what you might call fiction but that is also the job of a writer,” the spokesperson said.  

A plan has been devised to limit – but not muzzle – dissenting voices among News Corp’s conservative commentators, who will be expected to reframe their Y2K arguments, although the campaign will not appear in the national masthead, The Australian.

The Y2K about face has come off the back of other major editorial changes from News Corp, including taking a more forward-thinking approach to reporting impending disasters. Last week they reported on an incoming meteor which may be harmful to dinosaur populations.

Matt Harvey

The Amazonification Of Chicago

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/09/2021 - 8:33pm in

Click to share this on FacebookThe Amazonification Of Chicago

EDITOR’S NOTE: This report is being co-published with Boondoggle, a newsletter tracking corporate tax breaks and subsidies run by Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. Check out the newsletter here.

Residents of Chicago who went for a stroll in a local park recently might have come upon an unexpected obstruction: an Amazon locker partially blocking their path. Thanks to a deal Amazon cut with the city’s parks department, 49 Amazon lockers — where customers can pick up and leave packages — were deployed in public parks, with another 53 planned for future placement.

Parkgoers and local lawmakers quickly revolted against the private co-option of public space. The outrage increased after the nonprofit news organization Block Club Chicago used a public records request to reveal that the city would receive, at most, $137,600 in payment from Amazon, which made a $7.8 billion profit last quarter alone.

“Amazon should not be occupying public space regardless of what they offer but we have to note that 137K is a slap in the face,” tweeted Chicago Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez. Amid the outcry, Amazon removed the lockers and halted deployment of others, pending the results of a project review.

This incident is emblematic of two trends, neither of which are good for taxpayers or local communities: Amazon’s increasing use of public resources to entrench its monopoly, and Illinois and Chicago’s reliance on public-private “partnerships” that result in public costs and privatized benefits.

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The Amazon Swindle

Amazon has received more than $4 billion in state and local subsidies across the country, most of which has gone toward building out its warehouse and distribution network. It uses that network as leverage to batter both rival retailers and small businesses that sell products on its platform. States and municipalities that use public funds to support Amazon’s network, in other words, are paying to harm their own local businesses and retail outlets.

Illinois has proven to be particularly fertile ground for Amazon. A recent investigation by WBEZ and the Better Government Association found that Amazon has received $741 million in taxpayer subsidies in the Chicago area alone, and that wealth was mostly extracted from Black communities.

In return, those communities received dangerous Amazon warehouse jobs, strained public services, and increased pollution and traffic. There’s also constant low-level talk of Illinois building a third airport in the Chicago region, which would become a hub for Amazon as it works to put UPS and Fedex out of business.

Blocking park paths with its lockers, then, is simply par for the course.

Public Assets, Private Profits

Sadly, letting Amazon pull dollars out of local communities and giving it control of key public infrastructure goes along with the region’s long history of allowing subsidization and privatization projects to go awry.

Since 1985, Illinois has doled out more than $8 billion in state and local tax incentives. Among those deals are several high-profile busts. For example, in 1989, Sears received half a billion dollars to locate its headquarters in Hoffman Estates, a Chicago suburb. A study last year “found no evidence that the massive package of tax incentives made a long-term difference to the economic well-being of Hoffman Estates compared to that of other similar nearby suburbs that did not make such corporate deals.”

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In 1985, Mitsubishi received $250 million to open a plant in Bloomington-Normal. Predictions that the plant would create thousands of “ripple effect” jobs at auto parts suppliers never materialized, and the plant closed in 2016, resulting in the layoff of 1,200 workers. Similar to Sears, Motorola Mobility received $118 million in 2011 to keep its headquarters in Illinois; following its 2014 merger with Lenovo, it engaged in several rounds of layoffs.

It’s not just massive company-specific deals that harm Illinois. The state’s premier economic development program, known as EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy), in theory supplies general tax credits to corporations creating jobs in Illinois. A 2015 Chicago Tribune study, though, found that two-thirds of the corporate recipients didn’t fulfill their job creation promises. “State officials can't say how many jobs have been created through the job program; nor can they say how many jobs EDGE companies have eliminated,” the Tribune found.

Last year, a state audit found that Illinois is still not doing enough to track what those corporations are doing with public funds.

Similar problems have plagued the city of Chicago itself, issues that have been exacerbated by the penchant of several city administrations to privatize public services, leading to a toxic stew of pro-corporate policy.

For example, Target received local tax breaks to open stores in tonier parts of Chicago while it was reneging on promises to maintain stores in underserved minority communities. It was only after Target announced its plans to close those stores that Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed to get tough on corporate dealbreakers. The shuttered sites on Chicago’s South Side lay empty for two years.

Likewise, the city council only passed a law allowing Chicago to claw back tax breaks from corporations that fail to keep their promises after a corporation that had received nearly $20 million in public funds botched a coal plant demolition, covering a neighborhood in dust.

But those incidents pale in comparison to the city’s leadership actively selling off public goods for private benefit. In 2008, Mayor Richard Daley’s administration famously allowed private interests to manage the city’s parking meters for 75 years. The corporation in charge of them today — Chicago Parking Meters, a consortium led by Morgan Stanley — has already recouped its investment, with more than 60 years of profits left to go. For drivers, rates on parking meters more than doubled from $3 to $6.50 per hour between 2008 and 2013, while service deteriorated. The city has even had to compensate Chicago Parking Meters for “adverse events” such as street festivals and street repairs that cause meters to be out of service.

Similar arrangements for Chicago’s Skyway toll bridge and underground parking garages further leave taxpayers facing long bills and subpar service. For example, the garage contract has a “non-compete” clause preventing the city from opening new parking facilities when necessary. (Chicago drivers are currently suing Chicago Parking Meters for being an illegal monopoly.)

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel even seems to have leveraged his plan to privatize the city water system’s customer service program into an ambassadorship to Japan, using the effort  to cozy up to Japanese corporations.

So turning over public park land to Amazon for a pittance fits in with the much larger pattern of lawmakers selling Chicago’s public infrastructure off a bit at a time and letting corporations build their businesses on the backs of Illinois taxpayers.

There are a few state bills that could help mitigate some of those harms. For instance, lawmakers in both the state Senate and House have proposed having Illinois join an interstate effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate company-specific corporate subsidies. Democratic Rep. Michael Halpin has also authored a bill to ban non-disclosure agreements in economic development contracts, which is a key tactic Amazon has used to hide its subsidy efforts in the Chicago area.

It would be nice to think that such efforts and the swift public condemnation of the Amazon lockers are a signal of a new approach to public-private partnerships in the Windy City. But if you believe that, I might have a public park to sell you.

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“There Is No Climate Crisis”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 8:34pm in

Click to share this on Facebook“There Is No Climate Crisis”

Editor’s note: This article is being co-published with Westword, Denver's independent voice since 1977.

“There’s no air pollution today, that’s great!”

“Yeah, it’s so nice.”

So began the first snippet of conversation I heard as soon as I entered the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s Energy Summit, an annual Denver conference that gathers together the state’s biggest fossil fuel players for a day of panel discussions and liquored-up networking. The exchange came from a man and a woman in business casual who had just poured themselves coffees from a breakfast bar. Not far from them, an old protester with a long white beard stood outside the conference entrance, holding up a large banner proclaiming, “CLIMATE CRISIS!”

This year, the summit took place at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Tuesday, August 24, which truthfully did feature relatively clear Colorado skies. But even on a morning where you could kinda see the mountains, it was hard not to remember just how bad things looked over the preceding weeks, when Denver residents choked on the worst air quality of any major city in the world, thanks to a combination of wildfire smoke pouring in from California and the Pacific Northwest as well as ozone pollution fueled, in part, by the oil and gas industry gathering at the conference.

Science has long informed us that human-caused climate change and emissions are largely responsible for both poor ozone and increased wildfires. The United Nations’ recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report presented even more evidence that human activities like fossil fuel consumption are the primary drivers of climate change. So the fact that this particular conversation about blue skies was taking place at the start of an oil and gas summit was almost too ironic to believe.

“There Is No Climate Crisis”A protestor outside the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s Energy Summit (Credit: Chris Walker)

Just as ironic? That the summit was being held at a shrine to the nature that’s being destroyed and the science that’s being ignored — although George Sparks, the museum’s longtime CEO, didn’t see any paradox. As he told attendees in his opening remarks, “I’ve always sorta considered you guys my peeps,” and “There's no industry that embodies nature and science more than [oil and gas].”

But irony or not, I was here on a mission: I wanted to get a read on how the leaders of one of the largest and fastest-growing fossil fuel industries in the country think about climate change, and how they talk about it amongst themselves.

The name of this year’s capstone panel discussion? “Combating Climate Change Together.”

A major rebranding effort is currently under way as fossil fuel interests like the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and its members position themselves not as climate change deniers, but as staunch, even proactive, allies in reducing emissions and reaching carbon neutrality. Other summit panels, including “Mitigating Greenhouse Gases” and “Investing in the New-Energy Space,” suggested that the latest iteration of this conference would be unlike any in the past.

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But as I headed deeper into a lobby where the 100 or so attendees milled around platters stacked with fresh fruit and croissants — a noticeably smaller gathering than previous years due to COVID-19 concerns (more were following online) — I wondered how an industry that fundamentally contributes to climate change, not to mention has spent decades burying or denying climate science, can now be acknowledging and even “combating” the disaster. How do Colorado’s oil and gas executives square that circle, and why now?

Political No-Shows

The first 90-minute panel discussion of the morning offered approximately zero clues to understanding how the fossil fuel industry is coming to grips with climate change, despite broadly covering the areas of political, social, and economic changes since the last energy summit occurred in 2019, before the pandemic.

“Obviously, climate change is a big topic of the day,” said Colorado Politics columnist Eric Sondermann at one point, but then he and his fellow panelists said nothing else about it. They instead focused on how the pandemic is bad for the economy, and how a weak Republican Party in Colorado spells trouble for oil and gas.

Noticeably absent? Actual politicians.

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Colorado’s oil and gas industry has grown into the nation's seventh-largest energy market, with over 100,000 employees and an estimated $19-billion a year impact on the state's economy. It has reached that point by flexing its political muscle, having spent $82 million on state elections since 2016, and millions more on local lobbying.

The result is significant political sway: The industry got the state’s Democratic governor and legislators to water down a major climate bill by removing a cap-and-trade approach to emissions reduction before the legislation passed the bill earlier this summer, even though Colorado was already behind on hitting its emission reduction targets.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that previous energy summits drew high-profile Colorado politicians, such as Republican Sen. Cory Garner, Democratic Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, setting the stage for various political glad-handing opportunities and attempted gotcha questions.

But a few days before this conference, environmentalists from over a dozen organizations called on Hickenlooper and Bennet to make a show of “publicly boycotting” the summit. The activists didn’t have to worry. Even without that outcry, it’s hard to imagine that most Democrats would have been interested in being so publicly associated with oil and gas right now.  In fact, Polis and Hickenlooper latter committed to appearing alongside climate advocates the following Wednesday, September 1, at Union Station to promote electric vehicle infrastructure.

The political no-shows weren’t lost on the attendees. “I don’t see any decision-makers,” said one person sitting near me during the first panel.

“Yeah,” replied another, “it’s a brave new world.”

Saving The World Through Fossil Fuels

Things got interesting during the second panel, “Investing in the New-Energy Space.”

“There is no opt-out clause anymore,” a sustainable investment consultant named Alanna Fishman declared about addressing environmental issues. “Just six years ago, it used to be, ‘Why are we entertaining these conversations [about climate change]’?”

Now, said Fishman, investors are pushing corporations on their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts, to ensure the companies are taking proper consideration of social and environmental issues including climate change. Case in point, she said: look at all the corporations scrambling to introduce positions like chief sustainability officers.

But the push by investors for detailed reports on social and environmental responsibility is clearly frustrating some oil and gas players.

“We’ve been doing ESG for 20 years,” said new-energy panelist Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services, one of Colorado’s largest fracking operations. “I don’t know of an industry with more people that care passionately about the communities they work in, [which are] usually poor, rural communities.”

“There Is No Climate Crisis”The “Investing in the New-Energy Space" panel. (Credit: Chris Walker)

Wright went on to present an argument repeated again and again at the conference: Colorado’s oil and gas companies have been voluntarily cutting greenhouse gas emissions by “the largest grossest reduction of any industry,” thanks to investing in developments like more secure facilities, better methane detection systems, safer pipelines, and infrastructure less prone to gas flares.

But these changes didn’t come about simply because they were the right thing to do. The improvements helped the companies’ bottom lines. “We all know about the London… er, the Paris Accord or whatever that thing was… that basically put a lot of limitations on what we’re doing,” Drew Talley, a drone operator who detects methane emissions, told me during a break. “But what people don’t realize is that producers don’t want this gas to leak either, because when this gas leaks, that’s money. It’s hitting them in their pocket book.”

Wright, however, didn’t want to talk about saving money or embracing corporate sustainability at the new-energy panel. He wanted to hammer home an idea his fracking company put forward in its first ESG report, released earlier this summer: Fossil fuels are helping humanity.

“Our goal isn’t to check a box or to meet some goal that someone else says is really important,” Wright told the panel. “It’s what we believe will drive the betterment of human lives.”

“And let me divert on that a minute,” he added.

“There. Is. No. Climate. Crisis.”

Wright paused, and you could feel the electricity in the room. He went there. Two guys in front of me looked at each other and smirked.

Wright has a history of provocation. He generated headlines earlier this year when he trolled The North Face with a video and Denver billboard thanking the brand for making its products using petroleum, after the brand refused to fulfill an order of fleece jackets by a Texas oil and gas company.

But even coming from Wright, the outright denial of a climate crisis seemed extreme. After all, most attendees had passed by the climate activist waving a banner outside the event proclaiming those very words.

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Wright elaborated on his claim: “There’s been no increase in extreme weather in the roughly 100 years of datasets we have. And… the annual deaths globally from extreme weather events have dropped 95 percent over the last century, from an average of half a million a year to an average of 25,000 [a year] over the last decade.”

Wright was way off the mark. Most of his information — as referenced in his own ESG report — seems to have come from a single researcher’s interpretation of old IPCC reports. The latest IPCC report from a few weeks ago, which Wright chummily pointed out “no one reads,” makes unequivocal links between extreme weather and human-caused climate change. For example, climate scientists on the panel found that the types of historic heat waves like the one recently experienced in the Pacific Northwest are now 150 times more likely than they were in the past.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, now blames climate change for 150,000 annual deaths, and that number is on the rise.

But Wright had more pressing matters on his mind — like bad dreams.

“The energy dialogue getting divorced from reality has massive, massive costs,” he told the room. “One that hits close to home: 20 percent of children report having nightmares about climate change when they go to sleep. I speak in schools all the time; childrens (sic) have way less interest in going into science or technical fields because what they see is: Science is ‘Thou shall adopt the alarmist doctrine or you will be called a denier and shunned.’”

One of Wright’s proposed solutions: get more hydrocarbons in the hands of poorer societies. “A third of humanity cook their daily meals using wood, dung, and agricultural waste inside their homes,” claimed Wright, which he said was causing indoor particulate pollution and millions of deaths. What could possibly be a better social impact than making sure people have fossil fuels so they aren’t cooking with poop?

When the panel ended and attendees headed towards lunch, people were still buzzing from Wright’s comments.

“Chris is always fun,” one said.

“Yeah, I had a friend who’s watching the livestream text me and say he’s laughing,” another responded.

Others had strategic takeaways from the environmental, social, and corporate governance discussion.

“My interpretation is using ESG as an offensive rather than a defensive category,” said one conference-goer as we snaked our way through the museum’s space exhibit.

“Yeah, it’s like a power play!” replied a colleague.

“Oil And Gas Touches Everything”

Now it was time for a power lunch. The museum had set out way more tables than needed in the building’s glass-topped, central atrium. I approached a table with a few people already seated. “A warning and an invitation,” I said before sitting. “I’m a journalist.”

“Uh oh,” a woman said. But she laughed, invited me to join the table, and introduced herself as Tia Haggart.

Haggart is a sales representative for a company called Uptake that licenses software to oil and gas producers. It’s not something she always talks about with her friends. “They are environmentally conscious and enjoy nature, like outdoor activities in Colorado,” she said. “But they don’t necessarily think of how oil and gas touches everything.”

Haggart mentioned cars, then pointed towards her phone as another example. “This was made with oil,” she said. “And even Tesla, their battery-operated cars use minerals that are mined with oil and gas.”

“There Is No Climate Crisis”Lunch at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s Energy Summit (Credit: Chris Walker)

Lately, Haggart told me, discussions with her friends about her work and its impact on the planet are getting more heated and less rational. “I usually choose not to talk about it,” she told me. “You have to choose your battles. But sometimes I dig in, and I’ll say, ‘Well, stop using your phones, computers, and so on.’”

“Like Chris [Wright] said,” she continued, “we’ve been doing ESG forever. Now they just want us to put it in reports to make it look good for investors.”

“So what did you make of his comment that there is no climate crisis?” I asked the table. “Because that would seem to butt up against the U.N. Secretary-General’s recent remarks that the IPCC’s [August 9 report’s] findings amount to a ‘code red for humanity.’”

A geologist named Rick Palm spoke up. “I think what [Wright] said, to back it up, was all about death rates,” he said. “It wasn’t about whether there is an increase in climate change or not.”

So climate change, I was learning, is real. But a climate crisis? Perhaps a bridge too far for this crowd.

Just then, waiters wearing masks appeared with breaded chicken and rice dishes. Afterwards, conversation turned to the terrible wildfires in California that were pouring so much smoke across the American West.

“I just wish we could do something about it,” said Haggart.

Money Talks

During the afternoon panels, the conference took a sharp turn.

“We need to reduce emissions quickly, and pull CO2 directly out of the air,” said Ryan Edwards during a session on mitigating greenhouse gases. Edwards is a policy advisor for Occidental Petroleum, whose acquisitions include Anadarko Petroleum, a company that found itself in hot water for, among other things, owning a leaking gas line that caused a home explosion and two deaths in Firestone, Colorado in 2017.

“The IPCC is making it clearer and clearer every day that [emissions reductions are] going to have to happen,” Edwards continued in a twangy Australian accent. “And I think the science is overwhelmingly indisputable that we need this, and we need it on a big scale, so it’s getting harder and harder to say we don’t.”

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The remark felt like a sharp divergence from the tone of other summit panelists, but Edwards then revealed the strategic thinking behind Occidental’s pledge of carbon neutrality by 2050: The company is taking full advantage of tax credits Congress expanded in 2018 for companies that capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Financial incentives might be pushing the oil and gas industry to embrace carbon capture and sequestration. But the jury’s still out on the efficacy of direct air capture technology, especially if such approaches are being deployed to justify extracting more oil and gas. After all, if reducing carbon footprints is the ultimate goal, isn’t the most effective move to transition away from fossil fuels?

After the discussion ended, I asked one of the panelists this question. The person didn’t have permission from their boss to speak on the record, but on background, they said they didn’t see the demand for fossil fuels going away in the near future. Even if their company were to stop extracting oil, others would continue to do so, since people keep buying it.

All The Feels

The final session of the day, provocatively named “Fighting Climate Change Together,” reiterated the idea that Colorado’s oil and gas industry doesn't plan to make fundamental changes anytime soon

“Exactly one hour from now you’ll be able to reward yourself with a drink,” began the moderator, a free-market advocate named Kristin Strohm who heads a think tank called the Common Sense Institute.

But before the libations, Strohm set up the day’s big conversation around climate change. “There seems to be no industry spared as pushes for more regulations and mandates continue to swirl around climate change discussions,” she said. “The question you have to ask yourself is: Are these aggressive climate change proposals even realistic, or would it mean the destruction of businesses, industry, and even our economy?”

Dan Haley, president and CEO of COGA, who had played event host all day, jumped in.

“When we have conversations about climate change," he said, "it’s important to start with the work this industry has already done to reduce our emissions, and we should be proud of that."

The worst thing Colorado could do? Become California, said Haley, "a state that says fossil fuels are the bad guys and they import fossil fuels from foreign countries because they can’t keep their grid going in the summertime."

"That increases climate change," he claimed, since fossil fuels from other nations might not be produced with the sort of clean techniques utilized in Colorado.

The main problem, he told the crowd, has been messaging.

“I was fortunate to get this job six years ago,” said Haley, who had previously served as The Denver Post’s editorial page editor. “And I told a friend of mine that I was going to be doing this, and she said, ‘Oh that’s so great.’ But then she whispered, ‘But we don’t tell anybody.’

“That doesn’t work,” he said. “If we’re not proud of what we’re doing, then our friends, neighbors, and fellow Coloradans won’t be proud of what we’re doing.”

Yes, Haley continued, “We have the science on our side… we have the data and the facts on our side,” but more than anything else, he declared to his colleagues, “We also need to come with emotion. And we need to talk about how important this industry is to our way of life in Colorado, all the wonderful things we’re doing to contribute to humanity.”

The fellow panelists, including representatives from Colorado’s auto, agriculture, and housing industries, all nodded.

Yes. Emotion.

“People want to feel good.” Haley was on a roll. “They want to feel that people are acting on their behalf — and these industries are. We’ve got to figure out how to tell that story.”

Finally, we seemed to be getting somewhere: Maybe right here, right now, the people responsible for half of Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions would reveal the secrets of how they plan to convince the world that they are actually the ones who are going to save us from climate disaster.

But then 5 o’clock hit, and Strohm, the moderator, cut in: “I know I’m standing between you and cocktails!”

Reckoning with climate change would have to wait. It was time to drink.

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Matt Canavan Demands That Coal Miners Be Allowed To March On ANZAC Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 8:19am in

Nationals Senator and known Cos play enthusiast Matt Canavan has called on the Government (of which he is a part of) to change the rules to allow coal miners to march on ANZAC Day.

”Sure, the ANZAC’s did a bit of good but come on, Coal puts food on tables, lobster in my case,” said the Nationals Senator. ”All I’m asking is that I get to don my little fluro top and black up my face and march with pride down the street.”

”I mean they let the gays march on Mardi Gras, why shouldn’t Miners march as well?”

When asked why he was so against our Troops, the Nationals Senator said: ”I’m not against the Troops. I just look better dressed up as a Coal miner than I do as a Soldier.”

”I mean, if someone from the Army wants to provide me with a uniform and some cash to you know, help me spread the message then I’d be happy to lobby for them.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a big day of TV and Radio interviews to talk of how I’m being silenced for my views.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

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Lockdown Announced In Byron Bay, Healing Crystals Already Sold Out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/08/2021 - 6:15pm in

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Business

Shops in Byron Bay have been stripped of healing crystals, dream catchers and astrology charts, just minutes after a seven-day lockdown was announced this afternoon.

Byron Bay store owner Kyra Love said some customers had trollies overflowing with crystals, salt lamps and other essentials. “We’ve totally sold out of BioChargers too”.

The panic buying means some residents could be without crystals for weeks, which experts warn will have absolutely no impact on their lives whatsoever.

Byron residents say they have followed lockdowns in other areas closely, so they know what to do to stop the spread of the virus. “We’ve set up a group hug session for the community tomorrow, and then we’ll run daily drum circles after that” a spokesperson said.  

Media reported earlier today that one person in the Byron area was positive, infuriating residents who claim that all people in Byron are positive.

Christine Holgate To Receive $1 Million From Australia Post, Will Be Left In Safe Place If No-One Home

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/08/2021 - 4:05pm in

In a landmark decision, Australia Post has agreed to a $1 million payout to former CEO Christine Holgate, which will be left in a safe place if she isn’t home to receive it.

Ms Holgate received the news via a text message from her former employer, which read:

‘Your $1 million employment termination payout is arriving today. Reply Y and we’ll leave it in an over-sized envelope underneath your doormat, which will cause the doormat to bulge weirdly, thereby drawing attention to the fact that there’s a valuable item – such as $1 million in cash – underneath it’.

Otherwise, reply N and we’ll take it to a Post Office eight suburbs away”.

A subsequent message advised that the delivery had been delayed and was now expected to arrive in October.

______

With thanks to @biqua for the idea

Coalition Agrees To Give $300 To Gerry Harvey For Every Australian Vaccinated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/08/2021 - 11:10pm in

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Business, Comedy

The Federal Government says it will adopt the spirit of Anthony Albanese’s ‘cash for jabs’ proposal, agreeing to pay $300 to Gerry Harvey for every Australian who comes forward to be vaccinated.

Earlier, Mr Albanese announced a Labor plan to give cash to every Australian who was vaccinated, but the government said a more targeted approach was required.

“Incentives are good, but they need to be properly directed,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said, announcing the new policy.

“What we don’t want is a typical Labor scattergun, cash-splash approach where everyone gets rewarded. What we need instead is a pointed approach that funnels funds directly to the business billionaires who need it most”.

He said with Harvey Norman receiving only $22 million in JobKeeper subsidies last year, the company was crying out for additional government support. “I think every Australian will feel proud to know that when they go to get their jab, they’ll be helping a struggling furniture retailer keep their profit margins in eight figures”.

Thanks to @greenbeam for the headline idea

This Is How Universities Die…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/07/2021 - 3:02pm in

What lies behind the ruthless exploitation of higher education?

Renegade Inc. host, Ross Ashcroft, met up with Author and Professor of Organisation Studies at Sydney's University of Technology, Peter Fleming, to discuss.

The post This Is How Universities Die… appeared first on Renegade Inc.

This Is How Universities Die…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/07/2021 - 3:02pm in

What lies behind the ruthless exploitation of higher education?

Renegade Inc. host, Ross Ashcroft, met up with Author and Professor of Organisation Studies at Sydney's University of Technology, Peter Fleming, to discuss.

The post This Is How Universities Die… appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Unseen trends and the society we are becoming.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/07/2021 - 5:49pm in

Societies are evolving and complex, which often makes it hard to see at any moment where things are going. It was thus with the move of Northern European countries towards democracy in the 19th century, which seems inevitable and clear in hindsight but blurred at the time by lots of other developments that have now been forgotten, such as an increase in Protestant fanaticism and an anti-technology (Luddite) movement. In the last few decades there have also been many trends, some already waning, like the increase in international migration, and some on a seemingly unstoppable growth, like increased inequality. As in previous centuries, events like covid-mania accelerate some previous trends, like state surveillance, and reverse others, like the growth of international tourism.

Many commentators have rushed towards applying a particular label to the developments of the last 50 years. One hears about neoliberalism, financialization, or unsustainable growth. Though they make things sound neat and simple, such labels immediately make things moral and political, forcing people to take sides, which obscures the breadth of changes and makes a calmer assessment impossible. Let us thus look here at some of the less noticed trends which do not easily fit into existing labels. In this short post I just want to flag some trends in the Western world and briefly mention some instances of misperceptions of trends, leaving analysis for later. I will deliberately not show any statistics, forcing you to engage with the ideas rather than be a ring-side observer. See what you yourself make of these issues.

One major trend is the stark increase in the volume and extent of state regulation ever since the early 1970s, under any political leadership, pretty much everywhere in the Western world. From a few hundred pages of regulation per year, our bureaucracies and parliaments are now producing hundreds of thousands of pages of regulation per year. This rise makes a mockery of the idea that we are in a period of neoliberal deregulation, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the true direction of travel. The change defies any simple left/right or neoliberal/socialist label. It is a rise in bureaucracy. It has many causes, including meddling bureaucrats looking to expand their sphere of influence, but also the demands from large corporations for regulations that make life harder for the small business competition. The rise in regulation thus does not fit existing labels.

Another major trend is the decrease in IQ of the population in the Western world, probably due to increased use of mobile phones and social media. The mayor loss is the reduced capacity for abstract thought and seeing the interconnections between events. This is a profound dumbing down of the population with effects on every sphere of life, ranging from the quality of our institutions to the types of art enjoyed. Again, this trend is hardly known though it has been clear from the late 1990s. The phenomenon furthermore is not easily given a political label. It is neither pro-environment nor anti-environment, liberal or anti-liberal, woke or populist. Yet it is deeply worrying as a dumber population is less productive and easier to mislead.

Another such trend is the move towards monoculturalism in many areas of life, including politics, media, corporations, entertainment, academia, and commerce: the people, the manners, and the morals in these spheres all look the same. The gradual increase in similarity between people in the same sphere was noted a long time ago by Ortega Y Gasset (1930s) and Theodor Adorno (1960s), and has now reached a zenith: the coffee shop in Berlin is pretty much the same as in Melbourne or Los Angeles. The coffee shop is furthermore pretty similar to the movie theatre or the truck hire company: similar protocols and staff manners. The left-wing politician in Sydney is pretty much the same as the right-wing one in Ontario, using similar language and media methods. Italian artists differ in the language from the famous Polish or Kiwi ones, but the sounds, images, and personalities are very similar. Once again, such a trend is not so easy to put into a political or moral box. But it is a profound change with many consequences.

Let us then briefly mention the issue of misperceptions in trends.

There are the slow changes that are talked about in particular circles, but hardly known by a wide audience. A big one is the changes in demography. As they say, demography is destiny, so any observer of politics and international relations should have a good grasp of what is happening with demographic trends. But how many truly do? How many know whether fertility rates in the Muslim world have remained steady or are decreasing? How many know if the population of Latin America is still expanding or stabilising? Who would know if and when India will overtake China as the most populous country? The answers are ‘decreasing’, ‘still expanding but at a slowing rate’, and ‘in the next 10 years’. Did you know and do you see the great significance of such trends for analyses of the future? Once again, such trends are not so easily put into a political or moral box.

There is also the converse, which is trends large parts of the population believe are immense which are in fact relatively minor compared to other factors. For instance, if one were to ask a random person in the West whether the food security of Africa is more threatened by climate change than by reversing economic growth, I bet many would say ‘climate change’. Don’t even get me started on the magnitude of the threat of covid as compared to that of lockdowns! A sense of real proportions is thus rare because moral and political imperatives increasingly distort our view of things, which is itself an important trend.

A final trend that is hardly known I wish to alert you to is the major reduction in autonomy among workers in the West. Since about the 1980s more and more workers, even the well-paid ones, are spending their working lives surrounded by tight protocols and schedules, with increasingly less discretion over what they do and how they do it. It has been a creeping change wherein labour is more and more shackled to processes and compliance mechanisms. It is an explosion in regulation inside both private and public workplaces. Being bossed around in every aspect of life is now a lived reality for most of us, but who realises this or minds? What effects will the increased habit of obedience have on our societies?

There are hence many profound changes that have been brewing for decades, changes that defy easy political or moral labels. ‘We’ are becoming more regulated, dumber, similar to others, obedient, and ignorant of demographic and social realities.

What kind of society are we then moving towards? I am not sure. Are you? Do put your views in the comments!

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