Climate Change

Nonviolent Protest Groups Placed on Anti-Terrorism List

Last week it was revealed by the Groaniad that the environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion, had been put on a list of extremist organisations, whose sympathisers should be treated by the Prevent programme. Extinction Rebellion are, in my view, a royal pain, whose disruptive antics are more likely to make them lose popular support but they certainly aren’t violent and do keep within the law. For example, in one of their protests in Bristol last autumn, they stopped the traffic for short periods and then let some cars through before stopping the traffic again. It was a nuisance, which is what the group intended, and no doubt infuriating to those inconvenienced by it. But they kept within the law. They therefore don’t deserve to be put on an anti-terrorism watch list with real violent extremist organisations like Islamist and White fascist terror groups such as the banned neo-Nazi group, National Action.

But Extinction Rebellion aren’t the only nonviolent protest group to be put on this wretched list. Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday revealing that the list also includes Greenpeace, the campaigners against sea pollution, Sea Shepherd, PETA, Stop the Badger Cull, Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, CND, various anti-Fascist and anti-racist groups, as well as an anti-police surveillance group, campaigners against airport expansion, and Communist and Socialist parties.

I can sort of understand why Greenpeace is on the list. They also organise protests and peaceful occupations, and I remember how, during the ‘Save the Whale’ campaign, their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, used to come between whalers and their prey. I also remember how, in the 1980s, the French secret service bombed it when it was in port in New Zealand, because the evil peaceful hippies had dared to protest against their nuclear tests in the Pacific. From this, and their inclusion on this wretched list, it seems they’re more likely to be victims of state violence than the perpetrators of violence themselves.

Greenpeace’s John Sauven said

“Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?”

And Prevent’s independent reviewer, Alex Carlile, said:

“The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”.

Zelo Street commented that this was all very 1960s establishment paranoia. Which it is. You wonder if the list also includes anyone, who gave the list’s compilers a funny look once. And whether they’re going to follow the example of Constable Savage in the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch and arrest gentlemen of colour for wandering around during the hours of darkness wearing a loud shirt. This is a joke, but the list represents are real danger. It criminalises any kind of protest, even when its peaceful. About a decade ago, for example, Stop the War held a protest in Bristol city centre. They were out there with their banners and trestle tables, chanting and speaking. Their material, for what I could see where I was, simply pointed out that the invasion of Iraq had claimed 200,000 lives. They were on the pavement, as I recall, didn’t disrupt the traffic and didn’t start a fight with anyone.

As for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, this is a knee-jerk attempt to link pro-Palestinian activism with terrorism. But wanting the Palestinians to be given their own land or to enjoy equal rights with Israelis in a modern, ethnically and religious diverse and tolerant state, does not equate with sympathy for terrorism or terrorism itself. Tony Greenstein, Asa Winstanley and Jackie Walker are also pro-Palestinian activists. But as far as I know, they’re all peaceful, nonviolent people. Walker’s a granny in her early 60’s, for heaven’s sake. They’re all far more likely to be the victims of violence than ever initiate it. In fact, Tony was physically assaulted in an unprovoked attack by an irate Israeli, while one woman from one of the pro-Israel organisations was caught on camera saying how she thought she could ‘take’ Jackie.

I realise the Stop the Badger Cull people have also physically tried to stop the government killing badgers, but this is again disruption, not violence. And one of those against the cull is Brian May, astrophysicist and rock legend. Apart from producing some of the most awesome music with Freddy Mercury and the rest of Queen, and appearing on pop science programmes with Dara O’Brien showing people round the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, he has not, not ever, been involved in political violence.

This shows you how ludicrous the list is. But it’s also deeply sinister, as by recommending that supporters of these organisations as well as real terrorist groups should be dealt with by Prevent, it defines them as a kind of thoughtcrime. Their members are to be rounded up and reeducated. Which is itself the attitude and method of suppression of totalitarian states.

Zelo Street pointed the finger for this monstrous shambles at Priti Patel. As current Home Secretary, she’s ultimately responsible for it. The Street wanted to know whether she knew about it and when? And if she didn’t, what’s she doing holding the job? But there’s been no answer so far. And a police spokesperson said it was unhelpful and misleading to suggest the nonviolent groups on the list had been smeared.

The Street said it was time for Patel to get her house in order, but warned its readers not to bet on it. No, you shouldn’t. This is an attempt to criminalise non-violent protest against capitalism and the actions of the authorities and British state. It’s the same attitude that informed the British secret state’s attempts to disrupt and destroy similar and sometimes the same protest movements in the 70s and 80s, like CND. And it will get worse. A few years ago Counterpunch published a piece reporting that the American armed services and police were expecting violent outbreaks and domestic terrorism in the 2030s as the poverty caused by neoliberalism increased. They were therefore devising new methods of militarised policing to combat this. We can expect similar repressive measures over this side of the Atlantic as well.

This list is a real threat to freedom of conscience, peaceful protest and action. And the ultimate responsibility for it is the Tories. Who have always been on the side of big business against the rest of society, and particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

They’re criminalising those, who seek peaceful means to fight back.

Climate change and the strange death of libertarianism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/01/2020 - 4:10pm in

It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was talking about the “libertarian moment” in the US. Now, libertarianism/propertarianism is pretty much dead. The support base, advocacy groups and so on have gone full Trumpists, while the intellectual energy has shifted to “liberaltarianism” or, a more recent variant, Tyler Cowen’s conversion to “state capacity libertarianism“.

Most of those departing to the left have mentioned the failure of libertarianism to handle climate change. It was critical for two reasons. First, any serious propertarian response would have required support ofr the creation of new property rights (emissions permits) and the restriction of existing ones (burning carbon). That would imply an acknowledgement that property rights are not natural relations between people (owners) and things (property). They are socially constructed relationships between people, allowing some people to use things and to stop other people from doing so. Second, the effort to deny the necessary implications of climate change inevitably resulted in denial of the scientific evidence that climate change was occurring. That contributed to a situation where most former libertarians are now Trumpists, happy to deny the evidence of their own eyes if that’s what the leader requires of them.

I’m working on a longer article spelling all this out. In the meantime, comments welcome.

While Some Battle to Save Australia’s Ecosystems, Others Blame Gov’t for Climate Change Denial

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/01/2020 - 4:34am in

Australia is burning. Since September of last year, an area larger than Japan has gone up in flames– more than twelve times the area that the California wildfires of 2018 engulfed. The worst blazes are concentrated in the south and east of the enormous island continent, but every state and territory has been hit. States of emergency have been called in New South Wales and Victoria, as aid agencies and volunteers battle to save property and both human and animal lives. Many have put their lives on hold, dedicating themselves to fighting one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history. The government of Scott Morrison has been condemned for years for ignoring the increasingly alarming warning signs of potentially catastrophic events.

Fires are a natural occurrence in the Australian bush, vital for regeneration. But the intensity and the speed of the blazes, which have been recorded traveling as fast as 40 miles per hour, have staggered those attempting to deal with it. Carolyn Jones from RSPCA South Australia, a charity which treats and rehomes injured animals, told MintPress News that, “The scale of wildlife and habitat devastation from these fires is unlike anything we have experienced,” adding that she fears that the bushfires have driven many native species to extinction. Josh Meadows from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), an environmental group numbering some 600,000 members, agrees: 

Conservative estimates by scientists suggest more than a billion native animals have been killed so far. Huge areas of habitat have been destroyed, meaning many animals that have survived the fires are now struggling to get enough food and water.” 

Australia koala fire

Dr. Kothari treats a badly injured koala. Photo | RSPCA South Australia

Australia contains incredible natural beauty, from temperate rainforests to deserts to long mountain ranges, and possesses extraordinary biodiversity, with huge numbers of mammals, birds and reptiles evolving uniquely from the rest of the world in the more than 10 million years the landmass has been separated from others. However, much of it is under grave threat. 

MintPress News followed the RSPCA’s attempts on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, (the country’s third-largest island), an area hit by particularly intense fires. It was home to over 25,000 koala bears, the only population in the world free from the endemic diseases of mainland koalas. Over 32,000 of the island’s livestock have already been confirmed dead. Dr. Gayle Kothari, a veterinarian with the RSPCA said that they were being inundated with dozens of animals. Staff are currently doing their best with limited resources to treat and ease the pain of a wide range of wildlife they find.

Many animals are in a state of shock; severely dehydrated, confused and hungry. Some arrive with terrible burns to their faces, skin or hands and need regular bandage changes and pain relief. When the RSPCA first arrived they had no electricity so they treated animals by torchlight. In lieu of a proper field hospital, they have had to improvise; “Every koala that gets an anesthetic is given subcutaneous fluids from a drip, and in the absence of a drip pump or a drip stand, we used a ladder and managed to get a rope over one of the beams on the roof of the shed,” Dr. Kothari said. Without cages, animals are placed in baskets lined with blankets after surgery. Their efforts have been stymied by the fires themselves, which forced them to evacuate the island earlier this month.

Australia koala fire

A badly injured koala is treated for burns. Photo | RSPCA South Australia

Jones told MintPress, “Our teams of expert staff are working in coordination with expert animal rescuers and carers from other organizations. It is an ongoing team effort by tireless and compassionate people to save as many animals as possible.” However, for many, it is already too late. Meadows suggests that the Kangaroo Island dunnart, a marsupial found only on the island, may have been driven to extinction, while he fears that the koala population across the southeast of the country has been decimated. RSPCA South Australia are currently raising funds – online donations can be made here. Dr. Kothari says the money will go towards providing lifesaving treatment to animals, many of whom need weeks of care, revegetating the island and supporting wildlife rehabilitation groups. 

Australia koala fire

Injured koalas rest in the Parndana triage center. Photo | RSPCA South Australia

 

A Changing Climate

The increasingly hard to ignore background to the fires is a swiftly changing climate. Australia’s average temperature has increased by over 1°C over the last century. Before the fires began, the country was already suffering through its hottest and driest year on record, and things have got hotter still, with both the capital Canberra and the largest city, Sydney, experiencing all-time temperature highs this month. The western suburbs of Sydney reached over 120°F, replete with winds of over 60 mph on January 4. Many, not least the ACF, have pointed the finger at the government of Scott Morrison.

“This fire season has been a devastating wake-up call for many Australians. People who may have thought climate change was a vague, distant threat are now breathing bushfire smoke and reeling from the lives lost, the thousands of houses destroyed and the death of a possible billion native animals,” Meadows said. 

The ACF released a press statement claiming Morrison had been bought off by the Australian fossil fuel lobby:

While our country burns on a scale and intensity never seen before, the Morrison government refuses to address the root cause – burning polluting fuels like coal… Coal, oil and gas companies donate big money to Australian political parties, buying access to decision-makers to block climate action and keep burning dirty fuels,” its CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy said.

The annual Climate Change Performance Index ranks Australia as one of the poorest performing countries on global warming, the index scoring Australia’s climate policy as the worst of all countries in the world. The country has seen huge protests over the past year over the building of more mines and coal power plants that assure that the world will not reach the required levels to stave off the worst effects of climate change. 

Morrison himself, while giving the go ahead to more fossil-fuel-burning power stations, personally attacked teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, accusing her of spreading “needless anxiety” about climate change, suggesting that children were being propagandized into becoming environmental zealots. His government contains a number of outright climate change deniers who float disinformation and block efforts to reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions. In 2017, while Treasurer, Morrison axed funding to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, the organization telling The Guardian that Australia was now in no position to respond to climate emergencies. 

While fake news spreads faster than the bushfires – conspiracy theories abound that arsonists, the Islamic State, or even China started the fires – the “real news” coverage of the catastrophe has not been much better. There has been a distinct reluctance to contextualize the fires as a consequence of global warming in both Australian and American corporate media, all of whom are either owned by or are funded through advertisements from heavy carbon-producing corporations. As one media watchdog put it: “Australia Wildfire Coverage Is Long on Koalas, Short on Causes.”

 

The Human Cost 

The fires have released an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. While firefighters have managed to extinguish some bushfires, others rage on; last week two merged to create a “megafire” measuring over 1.5 million acres. The smoke released is choking the country; microscopic, toxic particles released into the air are causing severe respiratory problems across the nation, as particles enter the human bloodstream and internal organs. The death toll officially stands at 28. However, long after the blazes have been extinguished, complications from smoke inhalation and mental illness induced by trauma will continue to take theirs.

Nearly 3,000 homes have been destroyed and countless numbers have been evacuated. Included in those were the residents of Mallacoota, Victoria, who spent New Year’s Eve trapped on the beach, as fires raged around the coastal town and smoke turned the sky orange. The clouds of smoke have traveled across New Zealand and the Pacific and have reached as far as South America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Virtually every Australian has been affected, as fires rage across the country, in particular in the more densely populated southeastern states. Both Melbourne and Sydney have been engulfed in choking hazes. The fires have brought into sharp relief Australia’s vulnerability to climate change, with many with the opportunity considering permanently leaving. And as the country gets hotter, disasters on a similar scale will become a more regular occurrence. 

Money has been pouring in in the form of donations worldwide, not least from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who donated three minutes’ income to help the operations. Heavy rain in the southeast has finally extinguished some of the blazes. But for residents of Melbourne, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire, as torrents of rain caused severe flooding today, reminding all that, no matter how much we fool ourselves, we are all subject to the elements. Without a substantial change in policy, rescue workers like those on Kangaroo Island will be fighting an uphill battle in the future.

Feature photo | Dr. Gayle Kothari, a veterinarian with the RSPCA, inspects damage from wildfires on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Photo | RSPCA South Australia

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post While Some Battle to Save Australia’s Ecosystems, Others Blame Gov’t for Climate Change Denial appeared first on MintPress News.

Good News As Millions Of Spiders And Other Dickhead Animals Die In Bushfires

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/01/2020 - 8:23am in

spider

A positive has emerged from Australia’s summer of bushfires as scientists report that countless spiders, ticks, ants and other dickhead animals have perished in the flames.

“Those little eight legged bastards can scuttle as fast as they want but they won’t be able to outrun a rampaging fire front,” reported a cackling Professor Aristotle Knid from the Department Of Dickhead Animal Studies at the University of Wangaratta. “It’s a great tragedy that so many cuddly animals like koalas and sheep have been killed but on the bright side a truckload of brush turkeys and ibises have also gone down.”

“With any luck Australia’s population of bitey green ants, feral rats and blowflies may never recover from this,” said Dr Carrie P. Crawley, Curator of Annoying Prick Animals at Taronga Zoo. “Of the fifty million dollars allocated to wildlife recovery I’m hoping not a red cent goes towards bringing back any plovers.”

Marine biologists are keeping their fingers crossed that thousands of bluebottles and toadfish have been scooped up out of the ocean by water bombing planes and dropped directly onto the flames.

Peter Green

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

Hanson Doesn’t Rule Out The Earth Being Flat And Exacerbating The Bushfires

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 7:00am in

Hansonn

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson has refused to rule out the World being flat and the effect of which exacerbating the current bushfires burning in Australia.

“We can’t say for sure that the earth is round,” said Senator Hanson. ”I have been shown some fascinating blogs and YouTube videos from my colleague Malcolm Roberts which have definitely convinced me to keep an open mind.”

“And if the Earth is flat surely that has to have an effect on the bushfires. I mean look at a stove they are flat, not round and they heat things up.”

When asked why she was so willing to believe a blog, YouTube video or Senator Roberts over say NASA or 97% of all Scientists, Senator Hanson said: ”Well where are there blogs?”

”If NASA can go to all that effort to fake a moon landing why can’t they produce a blog or Tumblr page.”

”My crackpot team of researchers spend a lot of time online and they’ve never shown me a thing from NASA that has me convinced that the Earth is definitively round.”

Mark Williamson

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

Jeff Bezos Donates Three Minutes’ Income to Help Australia Fight Wildfires

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 5:39am in

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the newly crowned richest person in the world, announced Sunday on his Instagram page that his company was donating one million Australian Dollars (around 690,000 U.S. Dollars) to help the country deal with the continent-wide fires ravaging the nation. “Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires,” he wrote. Amazon also pledged to provide technical support to government agencies dealing with the emergency. The gesture gained him a great deal of priceless positive press across the world, with headlines linking him and Amazon to solidarity with people in need. “World’s richest man’s generous bushfire act” read the headline in one local Australian outlet.

View this post on Instagram

Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires. Amazon is donating 1 million AU dollars in needed provisions and services. Find more about it and learn how customers can help as well. Link in bio.

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos) on Jan 11, 2020 at 10:17pm PST

To many people worldwide, one million dollars is an almost incomprehensibly large and life changing sum. But to Bezos, who became the world’s first centi-billionaire in 2018, the amount represents a very small contribution to an urgent catastrophe affecting an entire continent. Bezos earns a reported $230,000 every minute. Considering these figures, the 690,000 U.S. Dollar donation represents just three minutes’ income for the business and media magnate. As a comparison, would somebody who earned $500 per week make an announcement on social media that they had just donated five cents to help tackle the blazes? Because that is what they would earn, on average, every three minutes.

In this context, Bezos’ donation appears to be far less a generous gift to the people of Australia but a cold, calculated public relations move, designed to ward off increasing organized resistance to his enormous wealth. 

Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sander has targeted Bezos specifically and declared that “billionaires shouldn’t exist.” As MintPress reported last month, despite the supposed generous philanthropy of billionaires like Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, they continue to accumulate wealth at an almost exponential rate. Just as reports about Amazon workers’ poor pay and shocking working conditions were surfacing, Bezos declared that the only way he could see to spend the financial resources he accrued was to explore the solar system and beyond. Sharing the profit with his beleaguered workforce appears to genuinely not have occurred to him. 

Linsey McGoey, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, UK, told MintPress that, “philanthropy can and is being used deliberately to divert attention away from different forms of economic exploitation that underpin global inequality today.”

Bezos’ donation appears somewhat Scrooge-like in comparison to other public figures who have also donated. Media personality Kylie Jenner donated $1 million. Meanwhile, singer Pink gave away around one percent of her estimated fortune ($500,000). He was also bested by the Instagram model and sex worker Kaylen Ward, as the Californian raised over $700,000 promising to send naked pictures to anyone who proved they donated over $10 to a bush fire charity. Ward’s Instagram account was later suspended.

https://twitter.com/betty__cam/status/1196933769862643713?ref_src=twsrc%...

Bezos is keenly aware of his public image and uses his media network to control public attitudes towards him and his business empire. Media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have consistently found that the Bezos owned Washington Post gives their owner and his companies extremely positive press.

While celebrities line up to donate to high profile causes like the Notre Dame Cathedral fire or the fires continuing to rage in Australia, other disasters in developing countries, far away from TV cameras, are not receiving the same attention. Flooding in Indonesia has killed more than twice as many people as in Australia, with little outcry and insufficient international help.

The Australian bushfires have resulted in 27 reported deaths – mostly in the state of New South Wales – as an area the size of Tennessee has been burned. Over one billion animals are estimated to have been killed as well. But while temperature and fire records are set, both Australian and American media fail to make the connection between the catastrophe and human-induced climate change. Amazon itself is a serious contributor to climate change: the company has a massive carbon footprint, producing over 44 million metric tons of carbon per year.

Rain and cooler temperatures are scheduled for this week in New South Wales, but authorities say that it is unlikely to be a solution to the blazes. Neither is Bezos’ donation.

Feature photo | Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos answers questions during his news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Jeff Bezos Donates Three Minutes’ Income to Help Australia Fight Wildfires appeared first on MintPress News.

The Interview (Updated).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 8:29pm in

(source)
That journalists love a scoop is a fact so well-known it has become a commonplace.

So, when last Sunday ABC journos were given an unscheduled opportunity to interview Scott Morrison (no doubt with little notice and by someone close enough to the man himself), it is understandable that they were eager to seize the opportunity.

And, given the tragedy of apocalyptic proportions that has hit Australia (and indeed how unusual the situation appears to an outsider like yours truly) it was reasonable to expect not only a big announcement, but The Big Announcement.

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I get up early every morning. The first thing I’ve been doing in the last months is to turn the TV on, to learn of the latest disaster. Call me masochist. I was watching. I saw the “Weekend Breakfast” crew advertising the surprising interview earlier that morning (it must have been between 0600 and 0700 AEDT). I saw the interview (at 0830). The excitement in the young reporter’s voice and expression was reasonable; as was the perplexity in the more veteran interviewer.

The same disbelief is evident in David Speers’ account of the interview (my emphasis):

“Asked three times, the Prime Minister refused to rule out increasing Australia's target to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.”

Anyway, this is how Speers sums up Morrison’s answers. While I don’t quite agree on everything, I am just a low-paid worker and an outsider and Speers was there doing what he does for a living.

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Michelle Grattan has been around for a while. She’s seen many things and learned from them. I think her assessment, a month ago, was prescient:

“Morrison is the ultimate pragmatist and so, if he sees it in his interest, he may well be willing to readjust. Not radically, nor quickly. Just enough, as and when he judges it, to satisfy middle-ground voters.

“He did a little of this before the election when he topped up funding for ‘direct action’ and advanced pumped hydro, although some read more into the shift than was there.”

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So, my assessment of Morrison’s “adjustments”? His big announcement?

Firstly, as former Liberal Stephen O’Doherty remarked after the interview, Morrison now talks of climate change and bushfires openly, without appealing to Michael McCormack’s “self-combusting piles of manure” or paranoid conspiracy theories. This is a step in the right direction, I guess, and it may anger some of the rabid freaks in the COALition ranks: from the higher-ups like McCormack himself and Matt Canavan through Keith Pitt, George Christensen, Craig Kelly, Barnaby Joyce and Giovanni “John” Barilaro, down to nobodies like Michael Pengilly.

Secondly, Morrison wants to persuade us he gets it, as Speers says. Moreover, he wants to persuade us he cares. His trademark crooked smirk -- the “coal lump” smirk -- is gone as is gone his off-hand, contemptuous dismissal of questions (“Gossip!”, “Canberra bubble!”); he now insists on shaking all hands (even unfriendly ones). He makes a show of humility; he’s suddenly understanding and forgiving. How persuasive that was? It’s for you to answer.

Thirdly, he may or may not call a royal commission which -- at best -- will provide plenty of theatre during a year or two and a report which will be promptly left to dust; and -- at worst -- will be a witch hunt and rubber stamp destructive practices the rabid freaks want. (Update: thank you, Pauline Hanson, for your unbeatable illustration of that last point.)

As I see it, after months of bushfires, that’s it. That’s as far as Scott Morrison will shift his stance and that because it is in his interest.

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Against numerous denials from Morrison and his lackeys, others insist on reading more in his words. Perhaps they are right. They may have inside information. Honestly, I wish they were, although I suspect there is more than a little wishful thinking there.

For, most of all, what I heard was Scott Morrison parroting zombie-like the mantra he and his COALition henchmen have been parroting forever now: “meet and beat our targets”, or a slight variation thereof. One must have been comatose or catatonic to have not heard the same inane phrase.

And one doesn’t need psychic powers to know that there was no thought in Morrison’s head beyond the need to control political damage and empty talking points that everybody, Morrison included, knows are false.

Morrison Banking On Rising Sea Levels To Put The Bushfires Out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 8:22am in

morrison 730

Australia’s Prime Minister (for now) Scott Morrison has told colleagues to not worry too much about the bushfires as they will soon be extinguished by rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“Yeah Scotty’s not too phased by the bushfires as he’s adamant that the Lord will intervene somehow and put them out,” said a Government Spokesperson. “The only thing he is currently worried about is Peter Dutton.”

“To be fair we all should be worried about Dutton, he smells blood.”

When asked why the Government wouldn’t be concerned about the potential devastating effects of rising sea levels the Government Spokesperson said: “Why would we be concerned, sure a few beach houses might be lost but at least the fires will be out.”

“As well think of the potential for development if the sea levels rise. Bondi Junction would be on the water and people could go scuba diving through the lost suburb of Bondi”

“I better get on the phone to my real estate agent and start buying up land in Bondi Junction.”

Mark Williamson

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

This is no time for despondency or pulling the duvet over our heads. This is a time to regroup in solidarity to understand the problems and find solutions; our future depends on it. Let’s organise!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/01/2020 - 3:26am in

Protester holding sign with slogan "Change the politics not the climate"This time of the year is for making new year’s resolutions and this year was no exception. A local radio channel reported that a survey had revealed that the most popular one was doing more to be ‘green’. However, whilst our good intentions are worthy it is becoming ever clearer that the scale of action required goes far beyond individuals. It is also clear that despite our well-intentioned promises and the increasing alarm bell warnings of the scientific community, the well-oiled engine of consumption rolls on. It invites us through sophisticated advertising to consume the latest piece of technology or travel to exotic places and is designed to persuade us that green and infinite consumption growth can go together. You too can save the planet by buying that ‘sustainable’ cotton t-shirt with the message ‘There is no Planet B’.

Indeed, a report published by the UN Environment Programme and other research organisations revealed that the world’s nations are planning to produce about 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2°C and 120% more than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. So much for curbing fossil fuel production and saving ourselves. As Mans Nilsson, an executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute commented ‘We’re in a deep hole – and we need to stop digging’.

And yet across the world, those messages are being ignored. Our ice caps are thawing at an unprecedented rate. The snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80% since the beginning of the 20th century. Glaciers in India are receding so fast that it is believed that most of those in the central and eastern Himalayas could virtually disappear by 2035. The impact on water resources will be devastating to the livelihoods of around 129 million farmers in India who depend on glacier meltwater to grow their crops – put bluntly, the food we eat. The edges of Greenland’s ice sheet are shrinking, and scientists say that extreme ice melt will affect coastal communities across the world. Thawing permafrost has caused ground to subside more than 4.6 metres in Alaska, worse as permafrost degrades under a warming climate, some of the carbon contained within will decompose and be released into the atmosphere. In Siberia, in what is known as the Kingdom of Winter, the permafrost is also thawing and revealing the bodies of long-dead animals preserved in the permafrost for more than 32,000 years.

GIMMS reported last year on the fires in the Arctic as well as Brazil and Bolivia which destroyed vast tracts of the Amazon forest causing huge devastation in terms of biodiversity loss and threats to valuable water resources. Reuters reported earlier this week that deforestation in Brazil rose to its highest in over a decade in 2019 under the administration of President Bolsonaro. INPE the space research organisation has suggested that the timing and location of the fires were consistent with land clearing encouraged by Bolsonaro as part of his economic development plan which has emboldened ranchers and loggers to slash and burn.

This week people across the world have been looking on in dismay at the ongoing destruction happening right now in Australia as bush fires rage, burning more than 17 million acres across the continent, destroying its biodiversity and killing hundreds of millions of animals in their path not to mention demolishing whole towns, causing loss of life and leaving frightened people in dangerous conditions on beaches waiting to be rescued. Record heat, ongoing drought and dry vegetation have all played a devastating role in the destruction, which will not only affect those habitats for years to come but will also cause an increase in carbon emissions as burning trees release it into the air. The fires will impact on people’s long-term health and damage agriculture and businesses, the consequences of which will be costly.

Extreme weather events from droughts to storms and floods are becoming the norm and the media brings them to our living rooms with instant newsflashes. We can see the devastation they bring across the globe from Australia and Asia to the US and Europe and even the UK where over recent years we have had our fair share of extreme weather from floods to heatwaves. Only this week it was reported by Public Health England that the summer heatwaves of 2019 resulted in almost 900 extra deaths and over the past four years more than 3,400 people have died as a result of extreme heat. And last November very heavy rainfall left acres of valuable farmland under many feet of water destroying crops and affecting livestock and inevitably the livelihoods of farmers. MPs warned last July that the UK was ‘woefully unprepared’ for the impact of the climate crisis.

And yet, disgracefully, some leaders around the globe still have their heads firmly in the sand over the threats to the lives of people and the natural world. The outcome of the climate conference in Madrid which took place in mid-December last year was deemed disappointing by the UN Secretary Antonio Guterres who said that the international community had lost an important opportunity to tackle the climate crisis. Laurence Tubiana from the European Climate Foundation called it a ‘far cry from what science tells us is needed’. With the prospect of next year’s climate conference being held in Glasgow, Boris Johnson has already been warned by environmentalists that preaching to other nations whilst the UK fails to make progress on its own commitments will lead to humiliation.

The commitment of the Conservatives on one of the most pressing issues of our time has been derisory. Expanding aviation and road-building plans are quite simply not compatible with eliminating CO2 emissions. Promoting electric cars may provide a stopgap solution but not a sustainable one since the batteries to power them also require energy to extract, manufacture and dispose of them and indeed the rare earth materials to make them are themselves finite. Add to that the environmental impacts of battery production for use in wind and solar power which may also negate any environmental benefits and one begins to see how things are not simply a matter of exchanging one energy source for another in a finite world of resources where everyone globally will be chasing those same raw materials to sustain and green their economies. Without consideration of the problems of resource availability and strategies to create green supply chains and more reuse and recycling of the rare materials needed for solar photovoltaics, batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, greening our world will be fraught with difficulties.

Furthermore, our standard of living has been built on the backs of those poorer countries where many of the resources we need to maintain our lifestyles are found and whilst we benefit, those same countries have also been at the sharp end of our excessive consumption in terms of climate change and western inflicted poverty.

What is needed is a revolution in the way we think about how we live, what our values should be and how we consume. And yet, in light of the challenges we face globally, inertia and lack of real commitment could be viewed as puzzling given the future real costs both financial and physical of inadequate governmental action. However, one does not have to look very far for the answer; rampant, out of control capitalism which relentlessly feeds on driving economies regardless of the consequences. Over 40 years and more political dogma in the form of neoliberal ideology has embedded itself, not only in our governmental and political structures and educational and other institutions, but also in how the public has been led to believe economies work, persuading them that there is no other way, indeed no alternative. The price we are paying in social, environmental and economic terms has been terrifying.

Aside from the vast wealth and indescribable poverty living side by side, with swathes of working people offered up to the god of the market and reaping the consequences in low wages and precarious employment, poor housing and inadequate access to good healthcare and education and other services, we are now experiencing the inevitable environmental consequences of planetary exploitation by large global corporations which dominate the corridors of power, lobby politicians and infiltrate political circles with special advisers to serve their own profit interests. The planet and the natural environment and its resources, human labour and our public services have all become commodities to be traded in the market and bought and sold for profit. The concept of the common good has been replaced by market diktat. Governments which should be serving the interests of their people are instead serving those of large corporations and allowing them to dictate policy and legislation.

The god-like domination of market solutions to our most pressing challenges are, however, not about the common good; they are about keeping the wealth and power in the hands of the few at huge cost. Our democratic institutions are being whittled away so that capitalism in all its rottenness can continue its rape and plunder of nature, its biodiversity, its resources and the people who depend on it.

So, what can we do? It seems sometimes that we are powerless to oppose the mainstream economic orthodoxy and corporate power. However, in light of what is happening, we still do have choices. We can choose to become the ‘lords of the ashes’ or we can choose a different path; one which restores concepts of the common good and of values other than exchange for profit. We need to restore the confidence of working people in democracy and the politicians that serve them and give them confidence that their voice after having been ignored for too long will be heeded.

Shining a lens on monetary realities to show the possibilities for real change and to provide answers to the question of how we pay for a progressive agenda, a green transition and a job guarantee must be foremost in our minds now. We must find ways to reach out to those who have suffered the most as a result of 40 years of political attachment to ideologically driven agendas. We must, as a matter of priority, develop clear and comprehensible strategies to communicate to ordinary working people how an understanding of how money works opens up the opportunity to develop solutions to those serious issues which dominate their lives – from jobs and housing to the decay of public and social infrastructure and their local communities.

To that end, GIMMS is organising two events in London and Manchester with a view to exploring how that might be achieved. To buy a ticket follow the links below. In the light of the disappointing election result, this is not a time to hang up our boots; this is a time to express our solidarity with those who have been left behind and come together to develop a coherent strategy for change which will engage the nation and offer some hope for a better and indeed a sustainable future.

Professor Bill Mitchell and Professor Steve Hall Seminar – London – February 20 @ 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm  – £5.98

Professor Bill Mitchell and Professor Steve Hall Seminar – Manchester – February 21 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm – £5.98

Finally, GIMMS recently added a new fact sheet on the Green New Deal. If you’d like to explore the issue further or indeed find out a bit more about what MMT is please follow either or both of the links below.

The Green New Deal

A brief introduction to Modern Monetary Theory

 

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The Gower Initiative for Money Studies is run by volunteers and relies on donations to continue its work. If you would like to donate, please see our donations page here

 

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The post This is no time for despondency or pulling the duvet over our heads. This is a time to regroup in solidarity to understand the problems and find solutions; our future depends on it. Let’s organise! appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Moyers and Bacevich on “The Age of Illusions”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 10:37am in

Bacevich: "It is past time for us to have a serious conversation about what freedom means, what freedom entails, what obligations or duties freedom imposes. We’ve avoided that, and I think, in particular after the Cold War, we didn’t want to talk about that."
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The post Moyers and Bacevich on “The Age of Illusions” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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