In the meantime, I am heading to the Dominican Republic and Haiti for the next ten days on a short-term immersion program with the Ignatian Colleagues Program. I'm really excited as it will be my first visit to both countries. I'll see what I can share. Otherwise, I'll be back in about ten days.
In the meantime, I am heading to the Dominican Republic and Haiti for the next ten days on a short-term immersion program with the Ignatian Colleagues Program. I'm really excited as it will be my first visit to both countries. I'll see what I can share. Otherwise, I'll be back in about ten days.
Abbott’s anti-immigration push dead
I think Greg Sheridan is attacking a straw man below. Abbott would obviously want to direct immigration cuts to individuals who are least likely to adapt well to Australian life but Sheridan pretends that Abbott wants to cut all immigration across the board. I think it is fairly obvious that more selectivity is needed as the way of cutting total numbers. How else would you do it?
As Malcolm Turnbull meets Donald Trump, former prime minister Tony Abbott’s misguided attack on the immigration program, strongly rejected by conservatives Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison, suggest the populist right in Australia is learning all the wrong lessons from the US President.
It is becoming an increasingly negative force, which measures its puny tactical accomplishments only in what it can stop, never in what it can achieve.
It would be impossible for a journalist to have a higher opinion of Abbott than I do. I regard him as a major figure in Australian political history and have written at length of his government’s achievements, but his attack on the immigration program, which contradicts much of what he did in government, is 100 per cent wrong.
It is wrong in its particulars, and it represents a decline in the quality of Abbott’s political contribution. It looks like populist pandering.
The political leader in Australian history who most comprehensively cut immigration was Gough Whitlam. The other mainstream political force that has typically argued for big immigration cuts is the Greens, and for many of the same reasons as Abbott cites.
That the populist right now finds itself on a unity ticket with Whitlam and the Greens indicates the ultimate sterility and false promise of populist solutions. Abbott has called for a more or less immediate halving of the immigration level — something he never suggested or entertained as prime minister — and blamed immigration for wages stagnation, housing shortages, infrastructure bottlenecks, welfare dependency and other ills.
He cites the high level of welfare dependency of refugees five years after their arrival and conflates this into a general anti-immigration position. However, refugees are very different from skilled immigrants. So long as we choose refugees who will make a personal and political commitment to Australia, we are rich enough to bear the cost.
If Abbott thinks we should cut refugee numbers, fair enough. Argue then for that, not for a general cut in immigration.
As prime minister, Abbott increased our refugee intake. You cannot credibly be Captain Compassion in government when you’re looking for majority support and transform into Harry Hardheart out of government when you are looking for a populist corner of resentment.
Both Dutton and Morrison, who were key ministers under Abbott and once his closest allies, rightly rejected the almost cartoonishly simplistic economic arguments Abbott used to oppose immigration generally.
More supply in the labour market means a lower price for labour, he declared. This really is the territory of the Greens and the trade union movement of a century ago. In that case, we should never have any immigration and we’d all be rich.
In fact, immigration makes the economy bigger and makes, over time, everyone more affluent, provided it’s a well-run program.
Dutton, the cabinet’s leading conservative, yesterday pointed out that with two-thirds of our intake being skilled immigrants, the economic benefits to Australia are very substantial. As the Productivity Commission has pointed out, skilled migration increases productivity.
Abbott is also just plain wrong to say Australia’s program today — 183,000 migrants last year — is a historically high number.
Australia welcomed a net migration of 153,000 people in 1950 when our total population was eight million. Our population is now three times bigger, our immigrant intake merely 30,000 more. In other words, it is a much smaller immigration intake as a percentage of our population today than it was then. And we were much poorer then.
The great immigration of the 1950s and 60s occurred under conservative Australian governments led mostly by Robert Menzies. That was a time when conservatives were nation-builders, not forces of negation and protest.
Abbott is right to say infrastructure, especially roads and houses, has not kept pace in Sydney and Melbourne. This is a bipartisan political failure. State governments Liberal and Labor have been equally ineffective in providing needed infrastructure, as have federal governments of both persuasions.
The wretched populism involved in turning against immigration may yield some resentment-corner political dividends. It will also yield very bad policy for the national interest.
Australian Parents To Take Part In International Sex Ed Sit Out
Australian school children are being increasingly subjected to early sexualisation through programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships and sex ed shifting from focusing on biology to teaching sex positivity. This is not a uniquely Australian phenomena with sex ed being taught at younger ages and in a lot more graphic detail in nations such as the United States and Canada. These new programs are mandated by governments in public schools with parents getting no say in the matter, if they are told about them at all.
Not surprisingly parents are fighting back against this government overreach in an area which used to be the realm of the parent who could best decide how to teach their children these sensitive topics. Part of the difficultly in challenging such programs is that the masses are not informed about what is contained in them, so much activism involves just communicating to the public the disturbing material contained in them so enough can begin to put pressure on the politicians who sign off on such programs.
To protest against the compulsory nature of the programs parents in the United States are planning a National Sex Ed Sit Out on April 23 where they will pull their children out of school for the day as an act of defiance against the education authorities. The sit out is being promoted by the Activist Mommy (Elizabeth Johnston), an Ohio mother of 10 who is America’s most prominent campaigner against graphic sex ed programs. The concept of a sex ed sit out has spread internationally.
Given Australia’s problems with such programs parents in Australia are planning to take part, the event has been shared on prominent parental activist pages. There is also an effort being undertaken to organise a Parents United for Kids Rally in each state and territory to coincide with the Sex Ed Sit Out for parents to take their message to the people mandating these programs.
The state of Victoria has the worst of these programs with it still teaching the uncensored Roz Ward version of Safe Schools and where the Respectful Relationships program which is supposedly taught to counter domestic violence was born. The Australian Christian Lobby recently presented a a 16,675-signature petition to the Victorian Premier’s Office against the Safe Schools Program. Victoria is facing a state election year with these programs likely to be a prominent campaign issue.
If enough students are absent from school on one day for a reason the education bureaucrats don’t approve of then the sit out will have achieved its goal of making policymakers take note of these parents concerns.
Science or silence? My battle to question doomsayers about the Great Barrier Reef
By Professor Peter Ridd. His university is desperate to shut him up as he tells basic scientific truth, which they see as threatening the funding that they have bought with lies and alarmism. Ridd leads the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Australia and has authored over 100 scientific papers
Around the world, people have heard about the impending extinction of the Great Barrier Reef: some 133,000 square miles of magnificent coral stretching for 1,400 miles off the northeast coast of Australia.
The reef is supposedly almost dead from the combined effects of a warming climate, nutrient pollution from Australian farms, and smothering sediment from offshore dredging.
Except that, as I have said publicly as a research scientist who has studied the reef for the past 30 years, all this most likely isn’t true.
And just for saying that – and calling into question the kind of published science that has led to the gloomy predictions – I have been served with a gag order by my university. I am now having to sue for my right to have an ordinary scientific opinion.
My emails have been searched. I was not allowed even to speak to my wife about the issue. I have been harangued by lawyers. And now I’m fighting back to assert my right to academic freedom and bring attention to the crisis of scientific truth.
The problems I am facing are part of a “replication crisis” that is sweeping through science and is now a serious topic in major science journals. In major scientific trials that attempt to reproduce the results of scientific observations and measurements, it seems that around 50 percent of recently published science is wrong, because the results can’t be replicated by others.
And if observations and measurements can’t be replicated, it isn’t really science – it is still, at best, hypothesis, or even just opinion. This is not a controversial topic anymore – science, or at least the system of checking the science we are using, is failing us.
The crisis started in biomedical areas, where pharmaceutical companies in the past decade found that up to 80 percent of university and institutional science results that they tested were wrong. It is now recognized that the problem is much more widespread than the biomedical sciences. And that is where I got into big trouble.
I have published numerous scientific papers showing that much of the “science” claiming damage to the reef is either plain wrong or greatly exaggerated. As just one example, coral growth rates that have supposedly collapsed along the reef have, if anything, increased slightly.
Reefs that are supposedly smothered by dredging sediment actually contain great coral. And mass bleaching events along the reef that supposedly serve as evidence of permanent human-caused devastation are almost certainly completely natural and even cyclical.
These allegedly major catastrophic effects that recent science says were almost unknown before the 1980s are mainly the result of a simple fact: large-scale marine science did not get started on the reef until the 1970s.
By a decade later, studies of the reef had exploded, along with the number of marine biologists doing them. What all these scientists lacked, however, was historical perspective. There are almost no records of earlier eras to compare with current conditions. Thus, for many scientists studying reef problems, the results are unprecedented, and almost always seen as catastrophic and even world-threatening.
The only problem is that it isn’t so. The Great Barrier Reef is in fact in excellent condition. It certainly goes through periods of destruction where huge areas of coral are killed from hurricanes, starfish plagues and coral bleaching. However, it largely regrows within a decade to its former glory. Some parts of the southern reef, for example, have seen a tripling of coral in six years after they were devastated by a particularly severe cyclone.
Reefs have similarities to Australian forests, which require periodic bushfires. It looks terrible after the bushfire, but the forests always regrow. The ecosystem has evolved with these cycles of death and regrowth.
The conflicting realities of the Great Barrier Reef point to a deeper problem. In science, consensus is not the same thing as truth. But consensus has come to play a controlling role in many areas of modern science. And if you go against the consensus you can suffer unpleasant consequences.
The main system of science quality control is called peer review. Nowadays, it usually takes the form of a couple of anonymous reviewing scientists having a quick check over the work of a colleague in the field.
Peer review is commonly understood as painstaking re-examination by highly qualified experts in academia that acts as a real check on mistaken work. It isn’t. In the real world, peer review is often cursory and not always even knowledgeable. It might take reviewers only a morning to do.
Scientific results are rarely reanalyzed and experiments are not replicated. The types of checks that would be routine in private industry are just not done.
I have asked the question: Is this good enough quality control to make environmental decisions worth billions of dollars that are now adversely affecting every major industry in northeast Australia?
Our sugar industry has been told to make dramatic reductions in fertilizer application, potentially reducing productivity; our ports have dredging restrictions that threaten their productivity; scientists demand that coal mines be closed; and tourists are scared away because the reef is supposedly almost dead – not worth seeing anymore.
Last August I made this point on Sky News in Australia in promotion of a chapter I wrote in “Climate Change: The Facts 2017,” published by the Australian free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.
“The basic problem is that we can no longer trust the scientific organizations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies … the science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated and this is a great shame because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions and the fact is I do not think we can any more,” I said.
The response to these comments by my employer, James Cook University, was extraordinary. Rather than measured argument, I was hit with a charge of academic serious misconduct for not being “collegial.”
University authorities told me in August I was not allowed to mention the case or the charges to anybody – not even my wife.
Then things got worse. With assistance from the Institute of Public Affairs, I have been pushing back against the charges and the gag order – leading the university to search my official emails for examples of where I had mentioned the case to other scientists, old friends, past students and my wife.
I was then hit with 25 new allegations, mostly for just mentioning the case against me. The email search turned up nothing for which I feel ashamed. You can see for yourself.
We filed in court in November. At that point the university backed away from firing me. But university officials issued a “Final Censure” in my employment file and told me to be silent about the allegations, and not to repeat my comments about the unreliability of institutional research.
But they agreed that I could mention it to my wife, which was nice of them.
I would rather be fired than accept these conditions. We are still pursuing the matter in court.
This case may be about a single instance of alleged misconduct, but underlying it is an issue even bigger than our oceans. Ultimately, I am fighting for academic and scientific freedom, and the responsibility of universities to nurture the debate of difficult subjects without threat or intimidation.
We may indeed have a Great Barrier Reef crisis, but the science is so flawed that it is impossible to tell its actual dimensions. What we do know for certain is that we have an academic freedom crisis that threatens the true life of science and threatens to smother our failing university system.
Must not address women as 'darling'
South Australian Liberal MP Tim Whetstone has come under fire after calling another election candidate 'darling' during a public meeting.
At a forum at Renmark in the Riverland yesterday, Mr Whetstone told SA Best candidate Michelle Campbell to "get a brief, darling" after she described regional Port Pirie as being a marginal seat.
It prompted a member of the audience to call out Mr Whetstone's actions as "aggressive and sexist", and he went on to apologise.
But on ABC Riverland today, Ms Campbell said she had received no personal apology, despite his public backdown at the meeting.
"I can understand he is trying to make a point of difference and he is trying to be noticed," Ms Campbell said. "It's always a bit tricky sometimes for men when there are women stepping up and trying to be leaders in the community."
Ms Campbell said she approached the audience member who spoke up at the meeting to thank her.
Turns Out Australia’s Anti-Piracy Legislation Is Actually Working?
Remember when The Pirate Bay and a bunch of other torrenting sites were blocked in Australia back in December 2016? Well, despite the naysaying at the time, it looks like the strategy is sort of working to prevent piracy.
A new report released today by Incopro, a company that specialises in research on intellectual property, reportedly shows that Australian traffic to the blocked sites has dropped by 53 percent in the last year.
It’s more than just a couple of blocked sites too. Since the government passed legislation making it easier for websites to be blocked, film and TV copyright holders have been going absolutely gangbusters with their court orders, succeeding in getting hundreds of sites blocked by internet service providers.
I mean, sure, many of those sites are just different web addresses you can access The Pirate Bay at (this whole blocking system is a little like whack-a-mole), but still.
Anyway, the findings about the piracy reduction are a little surprising, given the criticism the ban faced when it was first being considered. At the time, opponents pointed out that the blocking system is fairly easy to bypass, and that other countries that tried a ban had reportedly just inspired more people to visit sites like The Pirate Bay.
Who knows, maybe Australians are just lazy. Or maybe it has something to do with the streaming services that have become available down under since the piracy bans. Incopro’s full report doesn’t seem to be available to the public yet, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here
Following the sudden improvement in their after-tax earnings following the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, many publicly-traded U.S. companies are taking advantage of the permanent corporate income tax reform by buying up shares in their own companies.
That strategy is in addition to doing things like increasing compensation and paying out bonuses to employees, increasing dividend payouts to investors, reducing debt and other balance sheet repairs and also investing in new business growth opportunities, all of which have been made possible by the reduction of the corporate tax burden.
Of these strategies, things like dividend hikes and share buybacks matter to investors, where as of 2017, count approximately 54% of U.S. households among their number, either through direct ownership of shares or through indirect vehicles like mutual funds and retirement and pension plans. Where share buybacks are concerned, Investopedia has put together the following video to explain how they can affect the value of shares of stock for a company that chooses that strategy.
So what does that mean for investors in 2018? A boom in buybacks if Birinyi Associates' observations of the year to date for share buybacks through mid-February 2018 is any indication:
Since President Donald Trump signed the tax bill, companies have announced about $170.8 billion in stock buybacks, the most ever for this early in the year.
"There's a whole stock pile of cash that just came back. Take Cisco. We know they had $68 billion trapped overseas, and they're going to take $25 billion of that and buy back stock," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.
Birinyi Associates, which has tracked buybacks since the 1980s, said this year's level, from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, is the most ever, topping $147.2 billion in the period of 2016, which had been the busiest at this point of the year.
Given that data point for the previous record amount of share buybacks in 2016, we've projected what the total for share buybacks in 2018 may be, assuming that the full year's total matches the same proportion that was ultimately recorded back in that earlier year for the S&P 500.
The historic data in the chart above comes from Yardeni Research and Standard & Poor, where we've estimated the full year's buybacks for the S&P 500 in 2017 from the data for its first three quarters, and then used the Birinyi Associates' figure for the first month and a half of 2018 to project the total share buybacks for S&P 500 companies in 2018.
What we find is that 2018's projected total of $628 billion in buybacks will break the previous record of roughly $589 billion worth of stock repurchases that was set by U.S. corporations in 2007, which would work out to be about a 7% increase over that previous record.
Time will tell if share repurchases were the right thing for the companies that are choosing this action to have done with the benefits they received from U.S. corporate income tax reform.
Quite honestly, I do not know a great deal about Robert Hunziker. But on Monday, he wrote a piece that was special because it injected urgency into the climate debate. Urgency is a quality I often forget to stress both in my life and this blog. So I really appreciated his effort. If we are to escape the fire and energy trap we have built for ourselves, time is rapidly running out—if the goal is to build a post-fire civilization, we should have gotten serious about it in 1973. Projects take time. BIG projects take BIG time and effort. So rebuilding complete civilization, which is the biggest project I can imagine, will require trillions and a global effort.
In addition to reposting him below, I wrote him an email.
Your There is no time left was magnificently crafted—not to mention scary as hell.
As I see it, the fact that no one wants to talk about genuine climate change solutions is that the problem is SO large, very few can comprehend even a tiny segment of the big picture.
The basic problem is fire—that’s where most of the excess CO2 is generated. Making things worse, we are burning carbon that is millions of years old (coal, petroleum). And making this catastrophic, civilizations were designed to run on fire. This took humanity at least 6000 years to accomplish. If your essay is even partially correct, we have about 5 years to replace this incredible investment.
Part two is cultural. This sort of solution will absolutely depend on the kind of people who build the extremely difficult. While the idea of covering a cloudless hunk of the Gobi with solar cells is imaginative, it doesn’t work unless people figure out how to move that massive energy to China’s great cities. Since this has never been done before, it rivals the moon shot in complexity. (Five years, huh?) And yet, we live in a culture whose closest portrayal of the scientific and technological literate is The Big Bang Theory. Yet it is precisely these sorts of persons who have ANY chance of building the new and necessary world. At least we could stop making fun of them and learn what they must accomplish.
Rebuilding complete civilizations will be expensive. We need the world’s central banks to change policy so that the end-fire project is properly financed. Unfortunately, the people who pull the large levers of monetary policy share a fatal flaw—they are scientifically and technologically illiterate. Yet they can either ensure a new civilization or watch the one we have burn to a crisp. Time to make a new qualification for potential central bankers—they MUST be able to demonstrate an understanding of what it means to live in a fire-based civilization.
There Is No Time Left
ROBERT HUNZIKER, FEBRUARY 19, 2018
Imagine a scenario with no temperature difference between the equator and the North Pole. That was 12 million years ago when there was no ice at either pole. In that context, according to professor James G. Anderson of Harvard University, carbon in the atmosphere today is the same as 12 million years ago. The evidence is found in the paleoclimate record. It’s irrefutable.
Meaning, today’s big meltdown has only just started.
And, we’ve got 5 years to fix it or endure Gonzo World.
That’s one big pill to swallow!
That scenario comes by way of interpretation of a speech delivered by James G. Anderson at the University of Chicago in January 2018 when he received the Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service, in part, for his groundbreaking research that led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to mitigate damage to the Ozone Layer.
At the time, Anderson was the force behind the most important event in the history of atmospheric chemistry, discovering and diagnosing Antarctica’s ozone hole, which led to the Montreal Protocol. Without that action, ramifications would have been absolutely catastrophic for the planet.
Stratospheric ozone is one of the most delicate aspects of planet habitability, providing protection from UV radiation for all life forms. If perchance the stratospheric ozone layer could be lowered to the ground, stacking the otherwise dispersed molecules together, it would be 1/8th of an inch in thickness or the thickness of two pennies. That separates humanity from burning up as the stratospheric ozone absorbs 98% of UV radiation.
In his acceptance speech, James G. Anderson, Harvard professor of atmospheric chemistry, now warns that it is foolhardy to assume we can recover from the global warming leviathan simply by cutting back emissions.
Accordingly, the only way humanity can dig itself out of the climate change/global-warming hole is by way of a WWII type effort with total transformation of industry off carbon and removal of carbon from the atmosphere within five years. The situation is so dire that it requires a worldwide Marshall Plan effort, plus kneeling in prayer.
Additionally, Anderson says the chance of permanent ice remaining in the Arctic after 2022 is zero. Already, 80% is gone. The problem: Without an ice shield to protect frozen methane hydrates in place for millennia, the Arctic turns into a methane nightmare. This is comparable to poking the global warming monster with a stick, as runaway global warming (“RGW”) emerges from the depths. Interestingly enough, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group/UK, composed of distinguished scientists, seems to be in agreement with this assessment.
Assuming professor Anderson is as accurate now as he was about the Ozone dilemma, then what can be done? After all, the world’s biggest economy, which has over-reaching influence on the biosphere, is under the influence of anti-science leadership. In fact, the Trump group is driving scientists out. France is hiring left and right under its “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative. Thirteen of the initial eighteen French science grantees are from the U.S.
The world cannot count on leadership from America. In fact, quite the opposite as America gears up for massive fossil fuel production like never before just as the biosphere starts crumbling. Leadership by arrogance is a deadly deathly exercise.
Donald Trump claims the Paris ‘15 accord will hurt U.S. business because it requires reduction of emissions. That’s costly. He’s got it backwards. U.S. business and neoliberal tenets destroy the climate whilst creating an inverted pyramid of wealth that undermines the entire socio-politico-economic fabric. It’s the one-two punch, (1) ignoring and abusing the biosphere because “care for the planet” requires extra costs that eat into corporate profits whilst (2) undercutting upward mobility as American wages are exported and destroyed when U.S. manufacturing offshores to low wage countries like China and Mexico and Thailand. What could be worse for American workers than competition with the lowest common denominator in the world while living in a dicey biosphere? In part, it’s why the American middle class is almost broke, actually appended to credit cards in debt up to eyeballs.
As such, between squeezing the daylights out of middle class pocketbooks and abusing the biosphere, U.S. leadership stinks so badly that it demands outright change, similar to France in the late 18th century when thousands of arrogant aristocrats were beheaded in the streets, and the American Revolution (1775-83) when colonists got fed up with the madness of their leader, King George III. Except, King George was the first British monarch to study science. Still, the king suffered from “acute mania.”
Good News: There is a silver lining to the Trump presidency: Inept, arrogant, stupid leadership often times serves as a catalyst, often times revolutionary, for major changes in the socio-politico-economic fabric of society. This is seen throughout history. The reasoning is simple enough. Inept leadership brings to surface all of the warts for all to see. The deficiencies and inequities are not only exposed but also hit citizenry over the head like a leaden hammer. Suddenly, people awaken from their deep coma and kick the bums out. In the case of King Louis XVI of France, he was beheaded before a crowd of tens of thousands in the streets of Paris. In the case of King George III, his ineptness led to the American Revolution. Both leaders served as catalyst to radical change. Today, the warts are (1) neoliberal globalism with its tail of inequities, leaving 90% of society choking on dust. “The one percent” says it all, and (2) fossil fuel use/abuse, as the planet chokes on a dust cloud so thick that it’s losing its breath (new research shows that global warming destroys oxygen). There’s one powerful catalyst, amongst many! more
Venezuela launched the Petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency that is supposed to augment (strike that: replace) the totally debased fiat currency the country has. And the launch is a pure gas, surrounded by bombastic claims from crypto-fans who can't be bothered to read the script.
Behold the following bits from the priceless writeup by the Bloomberg (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-20/venezuela-is-jumping-into-the-crypto-craze):
Apparently, Dubai has an asset-backed or commodity-backed currency. It does not.
Apparently, currency is what makes Dubai Dubai. It does not.
Apparently, all that differentiates Dubai from Venezuela is... err... I am not sure what it might be in the eyes of the cryptos experts, but here is a tangible metric of difference:
One ranks 179th in the world in Economic Freedom Index, another ranks 10th. And similar rankings differences apply across all reputable measures of economic, social, legal and political institutions quality, and country risk measures.
But, not to be outdone by their own ignorance, the crypto-fans brigade soldiers on:
Free markets led by some of the most corrupt, venally politicized Government officials in the world.
Check mating oneself publicly is, apparently, a required condition for being a crypto expert these days.