Monthly Archives: December 2017

Australian Politics 2017-12-31 15:44:00


Feminist Push to make childcare unaffordable

The Leftist IEU (Independent Education Union) have issued the call below.  Government "quality" mandates, including high staff numbers and sweeping  educational requirements for child-minders, have already pushed up the costs of child-minding to the point where most working mothers spend a large slice of their earnings on child care. The union wants a leap in pay for child minders that could push many working mothers out of the workforce altogether.  So I support the call. Young children need their mothers at home, as the research by Erica Komisar has shown.

The claim that a university education is an important qualification for becoming a child minder is absurd and I would like to see the evidence for the claim.  Some education could no doubt help but why university?

The IEU lodged evidence and submissions to support its pay equity claim for early childhood teachers just before Christmas.

This is the latest step in the IEU pay equity case that has been running before the Fair Work Commission since 2013.  The Union is seeking pay rises for university qualified teachers in preschools and child care centres. 

"The claim is based on comparisons with male employees  male teachers in primary schools and male engineers.  At present, teachers in early childhood, who are almost all female, can earn tens of thousands of dollars less than teachers in schools. For example the top award rate for a teacher in a child care centre is less than $70,000 whereas a teacher in a primary school earns close to $100,000" says Carol Matthews, Assistant Secretary of the NSW/ACT Branch of the IEU.

"We are certainly not seeking rates of $156,000 as some media outlets have claimed," she added. "The top rate for a teacher in a child care centre under our claim would be just over $100,00".

The claim only affects a small proportion of the overall number of staff in services and the Union calculates the impact on costs would be relatively small.

"Parents would not necessarily bear the brunt of these increases. The sector is already funded by state and federal governments to the tune of billions of dollars.  Governments should also fund fair pay rates for university qualified teachers as they are so important to children's

The Union states the importance of university qualified teachers to improved learning and social outcomes has been known for decades and is a central plank of the federal government strategy for early childhood education and care.

Via email

Left’s year of Trump-phobia and other insults

There was much hope that the Year of the Rooster would usher in a time of honesty and moral fortitude, which would fit in with the search for individual and collective wellness throughout the land. And there were good signs when it was realised that, contrary to many a prediction by Canberra academic Hugh White, another 12 months had passed without a military conflict between the US and China.

Alas, it soon became evident that 2017 was a bit like any other time — replete with hyperbole, historical distortion, wish fulfilment and false prophecy. Month by month:

January: London-based Australian economist Steve Keen is fawned on by Fairfax Media’s Patrick Commins for his foresight. It’s almost a decade since Keen predicted a 40 per cent drop in home prices following the global financial crisis. Keen seems to hold the view that he is so far ahead of his time that his prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Writer George Megalogenis praises former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam for having Justin Trudeau-like progressive policies on refugees. Megalogenis overlooks the fact Whitlam tried to stop Vietnamese refugees from coming to Australia when he was in office.

February: Federal parliamentarian Bob Katter appears on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live and al­leges that, as treasurers, Labor’s Paul Keating and the Coalition’s Peter Costello “doubled the dollar in value”. He just made this up but was not corrected by the presenter. ABC Radio Sydney presenter Wendy Harmer, a member of the eco-catastrophist club, rails against the construction of Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek on environmental grounds. She reckons it will add to the heat in western Sydney, making the area “unlivable”. Harmer also predicts that the tarmac will melt — which makes you wonder how people live and travel in, say, Dubai.

March: ABC journalist Eric Campbell announces that not only is President Donald Trump a “dreadful man” but he has a “dreadful family”. Campbell asks, how did this nightmare happen? The answer is, Trump got elected. Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker tells Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 that it would take about 750,000 years to reach a recently discovered new solar system. Asked about any qualities that would make the planets in it habitable for humans, Tucker replies, “Firstly, you don’t have Donald Trump as president.” Journalist Paul Bongiorno tweets that “everything” about Nauruans is “undemocratic, unaccountable and offensive”.

April: The Sydney Morning Herald opens up on the NSW Liberal Party. Heath Aston declares that Bronwyn Bishop’s grip on her seat of Mackellar had once been considered “North Korean in its dominance”. Which makes it unclear how she lost preselection. Aston describes Margaret Cunneen SC as part of “the conservative Catholic mafia” that supports Tony Abbott. The use of a term such as “Muslim mafia” would not be cleared for publication at a Fairfax Media newspaper. Meanwhile, journalist Sean Nicholls suggests that there was an attempt by the NSW Liberal Party’s right wing to derail the moderate candidate in North Sydney in a “suicide bomber-like” move. Really.

May: ABC TV’s Media Watch presenter Paul Barry tweets: “No idea if this is true — claim that Trump impeachment process has begun.” It hadn’t. Bongiorno tweets: “There has been a death at Buckingham Palace, world awaits for an official announcement.” The vibe is that Prince Philip had died. He hadn’t. OnRadio National’s Breakfast, Fran Kelly and Alice Workman agree that the Perth-based Liberal MP Andrew Hastie is part of the “Catholic right”. He isn’t a Catholic.

June: Visiting British political operative Alastair Campbell ad­vises a supportive audience on ABC’s Q&A that he told his former boss Tony Blair that where Adolf Hitler “took a few years before he started to go for journalists and judges, Trump did it in week one”. Blair thought this “over the top” — but not, apparently, Q&A presenter Tony Jones. Meanwhile, on The Drum, guest panellist Rory O’Connor supports his 80-year-old uncle’s view that Trump is “doing the same thing” as Hitler did. Harmer expresses surprise that a terrorist attack occurred in an up-market suburb such as Brighton in Melbourne.

July: News emerges of ABC management setting up a staff meeting where those assembled are asked to sit in a ring and talk “through” a plastic toy about how they feel. This attempt at corporate wellness has still not led to the appointment of a conservative in any of the ABC’s prominent programs. The ABC’s Marius Benson opines that “the Trumps look too much like Ceausescus” — a reference to the murderous Romanian communist dictator and his wife. Late at night, Sky News’ Ross Cameron tweets: “In a world where trust seems hard to place, the moon will never let you down.” Now, that’s handy to know.

August: Sky News presenter Kristina Keneally declares that she would “like to think that Jesus, who excoriated the scribes and Pharisees, would have been a fan” of Tim Minchin. Jesus claimed to be the son of God, Minchin is a proud atheist. Failed environmental prophet Tim Flannery reckons that in China “the air’s unbreathable, the water’s undrinkable and the food’s inedible”. Yet there are more than a billion Chinese. Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside QC links Malcolm Turnbull’s warning on terrorism with the propaganda of Nazi Hermann Goer­ing. On Twitter, Van Badham foretells that Trump will be just like Hitler.

September: Senator Derryn Hinch fesses up that even a “close friend … doesn’t like me”. Some time after Peter FitzSimons praised the Italian health system, his wife Lisa Wilkinson complains of her medical treatment in an Italian hospital that “was like walking into a building in Beirut”. The Age’s Julie Szego sees similarities between Turnbull’s language and the “wilful distortion worthy of Uncle Joe” Stalin. Sky News’ David Speers reflects that Labor has “held more positions on coal than the Kama Sutra” — opening up a whole new way to interpret Vatsyayana’s tome.

October. Erik Jensen informs The Drum that “racism is the reason” he is editor of The Saturday Paper. Writing in Fairfax Media, Steve Biddulph preaches against “dysfunctional men” such as Trump, John Howard, Abbott, Peter Dutton and Eric Abetz. He describes Howard as a “dismal human being”. This is abuse posing as argument. Journalist Sarah Macdonald “just can’t get over how much smarter Hillary (Clinton) is than Trump”. But not smart enough to campaign in Michigan or Wisconsin, it seems. Peter ­Greste reckons it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder, not terrorism.

November: The Yes case in the same-sex marriage postal survey prevails by about 62 per cent to 38 per cent despite a Griffith University analysis of Twitter that concluded the No side would gain a narrow victory. Two reporters on the influential ABC radio AM program claim that in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe “led a guerilla uprising against the British”. At the time, the country was not a British colony. Greens MP Adam Bandt reports that when he “heard that a head of government was cancelling parliament … I thought I was hearing about Zimbabwe, not Australia”. The reference was to the Prime Minister’s decision that the House of Representatives would not sit for one scheduled week. Just one.

December: The year concludes much as it began with so many media types presenting with Trump-phobia. On Late Night Live, presenter Phillip Adams and his panellists David Marr, Laura Tingle and Tony Windsor all agree the US President is a dud. According to Marr he’s a “buffoon”. According to Tingle, Trump is “bringing the world to the edge of nuclear disaster one week and being a buffoon the next week”. Meanwhile, The Saturday Paper ends the year with an explanation for the present state of the vale of tears in which we live. Its front-page declares: “It’s all John Howard’s fault.” Well, at least we know.


I’m a student. Here’s how free speech died at university

UNIVERSITIES really do have a free speech problem, and it should no longer be considered controversial or ‘right-wing’ to say so

Luke Kinsella

ONCE upon a time, society designated universities as intellectual battlegrounds where fights weren’t won by intimidation, but with logic and reason. That’s what separated them from the outside world and its ugly improprieties.

Censorship was antithetical to these refuges of intellectual civility. In fact, it was a sign of cowardice. Unlike the outside world, universities were sanctuaries where all ideas were welcomed and everyone had a seat at the table.

Not anymore. Students around the world have a disturbing intolerance to different opinions. When faced with unfamiliar or offensive views, their gut reaction is to ban them, or condemn those who have them.

In 2015, the Boston Globe reported on a petition created by students at Wesleyan University in protest of their student newspaper’s decision to publish an op-ed critiquing Black Lives Matter (BLM). The petition garnered 147 signatures and called for the newspaper to have its funding revoked. It said the paper failed to ensure Wesleyan University was a ‘safe space for the voices of students of colour’.

I’ve experienced this first-hand. In 2017, I was a columnist for my student newspaper. I wrote a column about the threat to free speech at universities, which every member of the board of editors refused to publish — thus proving my point. Their reason? My criticism of the BLM protesters at Wesleyan.

My editors interpreted my criticism of individual BLM protesters as a rejection of BLM’s entire platform. I never actually criticised their core message: that African-Americans are too often the victim of unjust police brutality — a proposition I agree with.

I criticised the censorious behaviour of individual protesters. There is a difference. Regardless, I was accused of expressing a “damaging” opinion that “endangers students” and is “invalidating to people of colour”.

I have no reservations in describing these students, who I come across every day, as bullies. They’ll laugh at you. They’ll ban you. They’ll make unfounded generalisations about what you believe. And when they know they’ve lost, only to rid themselves of any passing cognitive dissonance, they’ll insult you.

Students should obviously be safe from physical violence. But saying my opinion is “damaging” equates speech with violence. As does the Wesleyan petition, which implies conservative beliefs make students ‘unsafe’.

The belief that speech can be equivalent to violence is an extremely common myth at universities. Students think sticks and stones may break their bones, and words WILL (literally) hurt them. This myth has some sinister implications.

If you think an opinion will cause you physical harm, you’ll seek ‘safety’ from it and use violence in ‘self-defence’. As a result, students defend the ideological homogeneity of their university like they would defend their own physical safety.

We need to teach students that words can’t cause physical harm, and they should never be safe from offensive or confronting ideas. After all, that’s kind of the point of university. You’re supposed to seek out people with whom you disagree, not hide from them, or ban them.

Earlier this year, Ben Shapiro’s visit to UC Berkeley attracted 1000 angry protesters, which forced the university to pay $600,000 in security fees. The pioneers of the 1960s Free Speech Movement, which originated at Berkeley, would hardly consider this ‘free’ speech.

And Berkeley is no anomaly. Since 2000, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has updated a ‘Dis-invitation Database’ that records attempts to disinvite speakers from coming to American universities. The number of dis-invitations has reached 360 (so far).

Instead of actually disproving opinions they dislike, they’ll just insult them. They have an array of go-to jargon and insults, but their favourites include: ‘problematic’, ’violent’, ‘unsafe’, ‘hate speech’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘invalidating of lived experiences’. They blame everything on a white supremacist, heteronormative, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal society.

They act like the most victimised people in the world, but many of them are literally the most privileged people of all time. They live in Australia in the 21st century and often, come from extremely privileged families and go to the most prestigious schools in the country.

Using any of the above labels is like a rallying cry for professionally outraged student protesters, who make their peers afraid to associate themselves with certain opinions. FIRE found that 54 per cent of students admit “they have stopped themselves from sharing an idea or opinion in class at some point since beginning college”.

Too often, these labels are complete misnomers. Students will throw them around haphazardly with no concern for the ramifications. Take, for example, the protesters at Shapiro’s event, who chanted: “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” — despite Shapiro not being a Trump supporter, a Klansman or a fascist.

Earlier this year, the University of Sydney Union (USU) blocked funding of the Conservative Club’s screening of a documentary that explores social issues relating to men, and critiques feminism.

The screening went ahead, but was protested by 50 to 60 students screaming: “Sexist, racist, anti-queer, bigots are not welcome here.” Conservative Club member Renee Gorman responded, saying: “I’m not a bigot or a racist, I’m not anti-queer, I’m not all the labels they’ve attached to me.”

Actual bigots exist, but students waste their time going after innocent people. Why do they do it? I think there are four potential reasons. Four reasons why this craziness is going on.

Firstly, students (both left and right) have forgotten the art of respectful disagreement. Pivotal to effective disagreement is giving your adversary’s motives the benefit of the doubt. But students don’t do that — they assume peoples’ motives to be impure, unless proven otherwise.

People are no longer ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they’re ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Your political opinions are a reflection of how good you are as a person and anything considered ‘offensive’ isn’t just incorrect, it’s immoral, and not worthy of discussion. Pew Research found 40 per cent of American students believe the government should prevent people from saying offensive comments.

Students live in impenetrable echo-chambers — particularly on social media. As a result, they can’t substantiate their opinions against challengers. Why? Because they never have to. Students expect agreement; they expect detractors to change their mind immediately. But in their frustration, they resort to baseless insults. Students’ first instinct is to protest for their beliefs, rather than sit down with the people that disagree with them.

The left is particularly guilty in this regard, but mostly because they make up the majority of students. The right have their stupid go-to slurs as well, which include: ‘Marxist’, ‘social justice warrior’, ‘cuck’ and ‘feminazi’.

At university, political disagreements should be so commonplace, they’re forgettable. But disagreements are so rare, tense and combative, that onlookers watch them as a form of entertainment. Instead of participating, most students grab the popcorn.

The second reason is a form of identity politics which says it’s not the merit of one’s argument that matters, but their racial, gender or sexual identity. Students believe some identities are more qualified to speak about certain issues than others. So most political arguments take the form of: As an X, I believe Y.

And if you speak about a Y that falls outside the scope of your X, you’re not taken seriously. You can only speak about issues pertaining to your own personal identity.

For example, in discussions about feminism, only a woman’s opinion matters. When a man states his opinion, no one actually proves him wrong. Instead, he’s dismissed as not having the necessary ‘lived experience’ to have a valid opinion. Logic and evidence has ceased being the standard for truth, and identity has filled it’s place.

The third reason: virtue signalling. At university, your level of outrage toward certain people and opinions directly corresponds with your social status. Student leaders are ideological clones of each other.

Students will find any way to publicise themselves ‘fighting the good fight’. The more outraged you are, the better person you’re perceived to be. The more you hate the other side, the more your side loves you.

Sometimes, activism is less about actual causes, and more about gaining social brownie points. And with social media, students can broadcast their good deeds to everyone they know. It makes them feel good, and within their respective echo-chamber, it makes them look good.

Students want the thrill and excitement of calling out actual bigots. It gives them a sense of certainty, meaning and belonging. So if some innocent people are caught in the crossfire to provide that sensation, then so be it.

The fourth and final reason is that there is a short supply of bigotry, but a high demand for it. Students want to be offended, and for that, they need offensive people. But as racism and sexism have declined, they have to maintain their high level of outrage by lowering the bar for what’s considered offensive.

Or as sociologists Bradley Campbell and David Manning put it: “As progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offence to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger.”

This is why students often go after innocent people, and have dramatic reactions to seemingly minute offences — or, as they call, ‘micro-aggressions’.

This outage culture only suppresses debate between the left and right — which is no accident. Students don’t want a debate because debates ‘give a platform’ to ‘dangerous ideas’. They want their opinions to be treated like facts.

Despite my dark depiction of universities, I can assure you: I’m not alone. This isn’t some fringe alt-right rant. If you don’t trust me, trust the over 1400 American professors who have joined Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox academy, an organisation dedicated to improving free speech and viewpoint diversity at universities.

Or trust President Barack Obama, who has also spoken out against political correctness, censorship and the “coddling” of students.

It’s about time we face the facts. We are witnessing the death of universities as they once were, and as they were meant to be.


Islamist extremism: dance with an enemy we dare not name

The Islamist extremists are winning. Victory is unlikely and, in any event, a long way off but their immediate aims are being ach­ieved, if not in the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, then at least in the democracies of Europe and the Western world.

The signs are ominous in Australia, where 15 years after the Bali bombings this is the enemy whose name we are too often too timid to mention. The extremists have us second-guessing the cultural superiority of our Western liberal democratic model and have conjured a collective and misplaced guilt among us about the treatment of Muslims.

From the fundamentalist preachers to the bloodthirsty terrorists, the ultimate goal of Islamist extremists is simple: global Islamic dominance. To achieve it they need to weaken and harm the West, fuel Muslim grievances and assert their cultural power through demographic changes and political influence.

They loathe our tolerance, freedom of expression and plurality, yet skilfully use these Western strengths against us as they subvert our ways by convincing many of us that we are to blame for their atrocities. We can see the Islamist success in shaping this narrative all around us.

The Palestinian cause is used as a constant irritant. Just this month, popular singer Lorde was bullied into cancelling a concert in Israel while no one seems to care that she will sing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Likewise, we saw the UN General Assembly vote by an overwhelming majority to condemn the US for recognising the obvious reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And after I argued last week that Melbourne’s Flinders Street horror was an Islamist terror attack — because that was the motivation cited by the Afghan-Australian attacker — Anglican priest Rod Bower described my comments as “poison” that could “drive fragile psyches over the edge”. See what he did there — it is always our fault.

The success of Islamist propaganda can be seen in the fact after a Muslim man allegedly mowed down 19 people on a Melbourne city street and referred to “mistreatment of Muslims” to explain his actions Victorian police denied there was any evidence of a connection to terrorism. Given this is the season for resolutions, is it too much to ask that we start being forthright about the grave threat of Islamist extremism?

The paradoxes generated by the politically correct virtue-signallers who have taken over our politics, bureaucracies and, it seems, even the upper echelons of our law enforcement agencies are deeply worrying. After the Martin Place siege in Sydney and the Flinders Street attack, police and media downplayed terrorism but talked up mental health issues.

Even ASIO once denied links between terrorism and refugees despite the truth that each contemporary, fatal, Islamist terrorist incident in this country has involved refugees. Unpalatable as they are, we must start with the facts. We are told not to stigmatise mental health issues yet we see it used as an explanation for mass casualty attacks. As bollards go up in our cities are we to believe this is to protect us from the mentally ill or the drug-addicted? Why has this suddenly become a problem?

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to maintain strong links with Muslim communities to foster co-operation. They also want to maintain social cohesion and avoid the divisions between Muslim and non-Muslim people that the extremists seek to accentuate. And we should take care not to overstate the extent of the problem. We are talking about individuals of concern in this country who number only in the hundreds and a pool of people susceptible to radicalisation that may number in the thousands. Still, the dangers are obvious.

Yet obfuscation in public information about terror attacks and police actions can only undermine confidence in law enforcement and create concern about government responses to the extremist threat, therefore creating the conditions for the mistrust the authorities want to avoid.

Besides, it is insulting to Muslim and non-Muslim Australians to deny the realities they can observe. It suggests people cannot deal with facts as they fall. We are intelligent enough to understand the threat of Islamist terrorism and sensible enough not to blame all Muslims for any attacks. Time and again we see that despite self-conscious warnings so-called Islamophobic backlashes never materialise.

Politicians and police are servants of the public and should have a clear bias towards sharing information in a forthright fashion rather than keeping secrets, unless confidentiality is important for operational reasons. Initially ruling out terrorism should not be difficult; if the offender is a non-Muslim and not espousing any religious or political cause then police may be able to announce early on that they do not suspect terrorism.

But if the attack is perpetrated by a Muslim immigrant who specifically cites Muslim griev­ances, the public ought to be told immediately that there are indications of a terrorist motive. Additional qualifiers about other factors and ongoing investigations would be understood but the public deserves to hear as many of the relevant facts as possible. Melbourne’s new loudspeakers will be a waste of time unless someone is prepared to speak into them.

At Martin Place, NSW police delayed action and hoped to wear down Man Haron Monis as they would in a domestic siege situation, rather than treating it as an Islamist terror attack where loss of life was inevitable. Yet while this was unfolding they launched an operation to protect Muslims in public places from a Martin Place-inspired backlash. (Of course the backlash never came; even the “I’ll ride with you” hashtag campaign was based on a fabricated episode.)

When Curtis Cheng was assassinated in an Islamist killing at Parramatta the police hierarchy told the public hours later that there was nothing to suggest terrorism. Yet we soon learned the attacker, dressed in black garb, had yelled “Allahu akbar” at the scene before he was shot dead.

There is a disturbing pattern here of police and politicians bending over backwards to discount terrorism even when there are obvious indications Islamist extremism is the motivation.

Experts have long pointed to the overlap between disaffected, mentally disturbed and even drug-addicted people and the Islamist cause. It is a dangerous cocktail that can self-generate lone-wolf terrorists or be exploited by extremist manipulators.

In the wake of Martin Place, Clive Kessler, emeritus professor at the University of NSW’s school of social sci­ences, wrote how the interception of any future “psychotic loner” attacks could be a matter for mental health and security agencies. “But most such incidents are the work of psychotic, sociopathic, disturbed or even ostensibly normal individuals who fall in with, and whose ideas and perverse impulses mesh them into, small like-minded groups, sometimes even broad social movements,” he said.

Kessler wrote of the importance of serious debate within and about our Muslim communities covering the triumphalist and resentful elements of the faith that are shared by the mainstream but taken to violent ends by the extremists. This is the core of the debate. Unless we intelligently confront reforms needed to undermine the Islamist extremist ideology, all the bollards in the world cannot save us.

Psychiatrist and author Tanveer Ahmed, who comes from a Bangladeshi Muslim background, also has written about the overlap between disaffected individuals — particularly refugees — and Islamist extremism. He points out that attacks do not need to be well organised or sanctioned by groups such as Islamic State or al-Qa’ida to be categorised as terrorism. It is about motivation.

Ahmed has written about how paranoid individuals may project their personal resentments through Islamist ideology. Those who are mentally ill or have criminal backgrounds have a higher risk of adopting extremist and violent practices. “None of these factors make the contribution of Islam and particular interpretations that encourage attacks upon non-Muslims irrelevant,” he explains.

Yet it is the essence of the motivation — the Islamist ideology — that politicians and authorities seem most keen to avoid. They prefer to talk about hardware and firepower — and mental health.

Will the loudspeakers installed in Melbourne’s CBD warn of mental health outbreaks? Are the military weapons of the NSW police to be trained on people who are disturbed and ill?

Or do we need to accept that the Islamist aim of disrupting our society by targeting infidels and innocents cannot be truly defeated until the ideology itself is exposed, confronted and eradicated?


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

Australian Politics 2017-12-30 15:49:00


Tesla’s giant lithium-ion battery in South Australia outperforms Gladstone Power Station

The quick response that a battery offers is useful in some ways but nobody seems to be mentioning that the battey concerned can deliver full capacity for only a matter of minutes.  It is no substitute for a real power source

GLADSTONE Power Station is making news across the world - but probably not in the way it would have preferred.

The 1,680MW coal-fired plant was outpaced by tech billionaire Elon Musk’s giant lithium-ion battery when Victoria’s Loy Yang A3 unit failed early on December 14, The Gladstone Observer reports.

While Gladstone’s number 1 unit was contracted to provide backup power – and did so four seconds later – the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia beat it to the punch by injecting 7.3MW into the national electricity grid just 140 milliseconds after Loy Yang began to trip, according to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator compiled by energy analyst Dylan McConnell.

The speed at which the Tesla-made battery kicked in shocked national energy operators, according to the South Australian Government.

But Gladstone Power Station acting general manager Nigel Warrington said it had to be remembered that Gladstone was capable of generating 16 times as much power as Hornsdale.

“The total output of the Hornsdale battery storage is 70-100MW, whereas Gladstone generates up to 1,680MW, or 16 times more than the battery storage,” Mr Warrington said.

“Hornsdale could not, for example, support the Boyne aluminium smelter with that level of output.”

While the Hornsdale Power Reserve isn’t designed to provide large-scale, base load power - but rather to kick in quickly to stabilise the energy grid - the point is an important one.

It means the success of Mr Musk’s $50 million project - built as a result of a bet he made with the South Australian Government on Twitter - is unlikely to spell the end of Gladstone’s role as a contingency provider of backup power any time soon.

Even Romain Desrousseaux, the deputy chief executive of French renewables company Neoen which operates the Hornsdale battery site, believes it is too early to talk about a 100 per cent renewable energy mix - a sign plants like Gladstone will still have a significant role to play for some time to come.

“You need to be able to bring peaking capacity and firming capacity,” Mr Desrousseaux told the Financial Review.

Mr Warrington said Gladstone was recognised as one of the most responsive coal-fired power stations in Australia in terms of its ramp rate - or its ability to scale up and down quickly.

“We don’t see the move to renewables as an ‘us and them’ argument, it is about working hand in hand and last week was a good example of that,” he said.

NRG would not confirm whether Gladstone Power Station’s number 1 unit - the same unit contracted to provide back-up on the night of the Loy Yang failure - had itself tripped on Tuesday.

“There are no current issues at Gladstone and in fact all six units are operating at high load,” Mr Warrington said yesterday.


'African' thugs linked to Menace to Society gang terrorise family meeting spot 'smashing and destroying' homes and a community centre in Melbourne

A gang of thugs of African appearance have trashed a brand new housing estate's community centre and now use it to take drugs and peddle ice.

Once a tranquil space fro western Melbourne families to congregate, Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit is now a no-go zone. Furniture, windows, and even walls were smashed, rubbish strewn everywhere, and graffiti covered every surface while residents live in fear.

Police make frequent arrests at the park but appear to have little effect in making them leave the area and stop destroying the centre.

The rampaging youths appear to be from numerous gangs, including Menace to Society with its 'MTS' initials tagged on walls around the centre.

Wyndam Police described a disturbing scene last month when they arrived at Ecoville after reports of antisocial behaviour. 'Whilst there conducting a recon of the area, the officers were approached by a large group of youths demanding to know what the police were doing in 'their park', among other pleasantries,' they said.

Police had to radio for backup and two youths were given infringements for behaving in a riotous and offensive manner and a 17-year-old boy charged with resisting arrest.

Residents near the community centre say they are fearful as African teens go on nightly rampages through the area, damaging nearby homes.

'We don't feel safe at all. I want to take my children to the park but it's too dangerous. Gangs show up here all hours of the day and night,' new resident and father-of-two Manish Kinger told the Herald Sun.

Fellow resident Linah Simukai said: 'You don't know what they're capable of doing and that's the scariest part about it.'

Wyndham Local Area Commander Inspector Mary Allison said police continued to patrol the park, make arrests, and issue infringements.

'Property damage, drug activity and anti-social behaviour at the park have been our main concern. The community deserves to feel safe in their local park,' she said.

'Members will continue to patrol the area and anyone found conducting criminal activity will be held to account for their actions.'

MTS is linked to the infamous Apex gang and last week trashed an Airbnb property in Werribee with an out-of-control party.


Victoria Police chief says force ‘not afraid’ to call out African youth violence

A welcome change

VICTORIA Police is not afraid to call out high crime rates among African youth after a spate of violent incidents, according to its acting chief commissioner Shane Patton.

An attempted ambush on officers, a shopping centre cop bashing, an out-of-control house party riot which forced heavily-armed police to retreat and a mass brawl at St Kilda beach have been reportedly linked to youth groups this month.

The police have played down the claims — saying it is too early to confirm whether the incidents or offenders are linked.

However, Mr Patton distanced himself from a local superintendent who downplayed the issue after a violent attack on a sergeant who was trying to arrest an African boy accused of shop­lifting.

“The leaders in the African community readily and openly say they do have issues with a small cohort of African youth who are committing high-end crimes,” Mr Patton told The Australian.

“We acknowledge that, we don’t shy away from that at all. We will target anyone who’s involved in any criminal activity and if that’s African youths, so be it.”

It comes as fresh reports claim that the Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit, in Melbourne’s west, has been turned into a no-go zone by a youth group calling themselves Menace To Society — the same Apex-linked group which was thought to be behind the carnage at a Werribee Airbnb property last week.

The Herald Sun spoke to residents who say the offenders hijacked Tarneit’s community centre and park, going on nightly vandalism sprees, trashing homes, and terrorising families.

However, Mr Patton has previously said Menace to Society are nothing but an “alcohol-affected mob”.

“These people probably are a menace to society in the way that they have conducted themselves,” he told 3AW last week. “But, we have no intelligence to say such a gang exists.

“It’s young people trying to claim some esteem and we shouldn’t be acknowledging that. They’ve performed criminal acts and we’re hunting them down.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville also told The Australian that African-born young men were over-represented in crime statistics and were causing “great harm and fear in the community”. “We are not trying to cover this up,” Ms Neville said. “It has been of significant concern to us and to Victoria Police.

“We’ve had additional investment in the gang squad (and) in intelligence measures in order to try and disrupt their behaviour.”

Officers have, so far, only arrested one teenager in retaliation to the chaotic scenes in Werribee last week.

Heavily-armed riot police were forced to retreat as rooms were trashed, neighbours terrorised and officers pelted with rocks after they rushed to the out of control house party.

Detectives have charged a 15-year-old Kurunjang boy with aggravated burglary, criminal damage and armed robbery.

“Police continue to investigate the criminal damage to the home and anticipate making further arrests while the investigation takes place,” a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said.

“Police will make an application to remand the 15-year-old to appear in court at a later date.”

Police told last week that officers in Melbourne were sent a memo earlier this month saying they are at risk of being lured into ambushes by violent teenagers.

The memo states officers in a patrol car in Tarneit tailing a ­vehicle driven by a boy as young as 13 saw up to 40 teens of African appearance running towards a laneway, the Herald Sun reported.

“Wyndham Crime Investigation Unit sent a circular to all members within their police service area earlier this week following an incident in Tarneit on December 11,” a spokesman for police told

“During the incident police believed the behaviour of the youths at the location may have been a deliberate lure, in order to compromise member safety.” However, he added that the incident was isolated and nobody was injured.

Mr Patton said the problem wasn’t solely a policing issue.  “We continue to work with the African community to try and address the root causes, which isn’t just a policing issue,” he told the Herald Sun.

“It’s about disengagement, it’s about employment, it’s about a whole range of things.”


Average Australian forks out $83 a week to pay the nation's growing welfare bills and government debt

Australians who are gainfully employed spend nearly three hours each week working to pay off the country's welfare commitments, new data from the Treasury has revealed.

More than half of the average worker's taxes will be spent on social security and healthcare. The Daily Telegraph calculated $83 a week of taxable income goes straight to welfare payments.

Of this $83, only $6.30 is given to those on unemployment benefits. The majority - $35 – is spent on aged pensions, $20 goes towards family benefits and $17 is paid out to people receiving disability payments.

A further $20 each week is given to the Defence Force, and $42 goes towards Australia's enviable public healthcare system.

While many of these payments seem reasonable, it may outrage some to learn $9 a week of their taxable income goes towards paying off only the interest on government debt.

Australia's debt has skyrocketed to $531 billion, and is Treasury predictions see the number expected to further rise $684 billion in the next 10 years.

The high debt is a result of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott abolishing the debt ceiling in 2013 – when it was at $300 billion.

Eric Abetz, a Liberal Senator in Tasmania, has called for a new debt ceiling, to cover future generations from a debt they can never pay off.

'More savings need to be made so we don't leave our children with an incapacity to pay for education or hospitals,' he told the Telegraph.

'They are the people who will have to pay off the debt that the current generation of leadership has incurred. They will be paying for the rest of their lives.'


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

Victims of Guatemala’s "model villages"

(AP Photo/Luis Soto)
Moises Gallindo has an interesting story on some of the exhumations taking place in Guatemala. The exhumations are taking place in areas where "model villages" were established by the military. The military built these wartime villages to control the civilian population and to isolate the guerrillas. Not that civilians had a choice, but they were promised health care and other services in addition to "protection" from the guerrillas. They just had to stay in the villages.

Instead, model villages produced more victims. Young victims often died of malnutrition and treatable diseases, including measles.
In 1980 the army formed one of the first model villages in Santa Avelina, located in the heart of Ixil territory in Quiche department. But without access to doctors, a healthy diet and freedom, people began to die.
Exhumations in Santa Avelina started in 2014 and in late November forensic anthropologists handed over the remains of 172 people who perished during the years of military control. Their bones and tattered bits of clothing were re-buried individually by surviving family members after over more than three decades in anonymous mass graves.
Nearly half of the remains from Santa Avelina were children age 12 and younger.

If you fled the army and hid in the hills, you often died of hunger. If you stayed behind in model villages, you apparently died of hunger as well.

Protect the Petrodollar

The second most important story after the catastrophe of climate change is the quite related story of: What is the end game for the Age of Fire and Fossil Fuels?

This is no small question. The incredible energy density of fossil fuels has made possible a huge population that will be fighting over the table scraps as these fuels become more rare and expensive. Just remember, any fuel that is not renewable is by definition running out. The role of fuels like gasoline in the food supply is beyond important. And while activities like freezing food for preservation can powered by solar or wind with a few changes, the idea of a battery-powered tractor or combine is still mostly a fantasy.

Here in USA, the end of the Age of Petroleum promises to especially difficult. We have been a net energy importer since about 1970 and while we sold off the country's industrial crown jewels and some prime real estate to help pay the bills, such actions were but a drop in the bucket compared to the massive oceans of oil we import every day. In 2012, the trade deficit in oil was over $300 billion and while fracking has recently lowered that amount to less than $15 billion in 2016, fracking is a secondary recovery technique designed to extract the last remnants of a depleted oil field. Of course, selling off the industrial crown jewels means that we make less of our needs every year—we now make less than 2% of our shoes for goodness sakes.

But the pain has mostly been rendered invisible because of the agreements USA managed to get agreed to in the 1970s when Richard Nixon closed the gold window. The most important plus the USA got by being the superpower was the agreement that the medium of exchange for the petroleum trade would be the dollar.

But we should remember a few fundamentals about money so we can understand why the petrodollar is so important.

The form money takes seems important to some, but in fact this is the most irrelevant issue (sorry goldbugs). The important question is: What makes money valuable?
  1. Money is valuable if it can be exchanged for something else you want or need. Monetary cranks insist that paper or electronic money should be able to converted into something more intrinsically valuable like gold. Problem is, gold has very little intrinsic value compared to something like oil so the petrodollar is a FAR more stable store of value than gold could ever hope to be.
  2. Money is valuable if you need it to pay off persons who can make your life miserable. As Peter Cooper, the Greenback Party Presidential candidate, would say, "If you can pay your taxes with it, the money is good." Of course, the same can be said for money used to pay off mortgages, etc. Creditors use police powers to enforce their currency rules.
  3. The third way money is made valuable is when it is a monetization of human genius. When Japan's PM Abe tried to drive down the value of the Yen in 2012, he discovered that the factors usually blamed for driving down the value of a currency by the monetary pundits didn't work for the Yen. Turns out that if you can trade Yen for a Lexus (or thousand of other perfectly good examples), by gum it is worth something.
Bitcoins meet none of these criteria. Therefore its value is quite ephemeral. On the other hand, the petrodollar IS backed by force. The big problem is that it isn't easily-bullied pipsqueaks like Iraq or Libya challenging petrodollar supremacy. This time it's Russia and China. And while the Petrodollar is so powerful that it can withstand a bunch of shocks, it also has a bunch of enemies. Bringing down the petrodollar would make much of the world's population very happy. So while it is still powerful and backed by murderous people with insanely destructive weapons, the petrodollar is no longer invulnerable. We should all keep an eye on this story. There isn't a LOT of good writing on this subject but I found three articles worth reading.

Why the Russia Scare? Protect the Petrodollar

gjohnsit, 11/29/2017

Remember when Saddam insisted on selling Iraqi oil in Euros?
Saddam made a profit, but he never lived to spend it.

Remember when Gadhafi planned on selling Libyan oil in a gold-backed currency?
It was mentioned as a reason in Hillary's emails to bomb Libya.

Iran started selling oil in Euros two years ago.
I'm sure that it's just a coincidence that some in Washington are pushing for war with Iran.

Which brings us to the primary threat to the petrodollar today - Russia.

Russia has gone waayyyy past the "crimes" of Iraq, Libya, and Iran.
I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.

This was the point at which the international financial system became explicitly extractive. But it took until 2009, for the first attempt to withdraw from this system to occur. A conference was convened at Yekaterinburg, Russia, by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance comprised Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. U.S. officials asked to attend as observers, but their request was rejected.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking to break free from America’s financial free ride.

...The U.S. plan was to hurt Russia’s economy so much that it would be ripe for regime change (“color revolution”). But the effect was to drive it eastward, away from Western Europe to consolidate its long-term relations with China and Central Asia.
Repeated rounds of international sanctions have failed to cow Russia, and the reason is China.
In a symbolic blow to U.S. global financial hegemony, Russia and China took a small step toward undercutting the domination of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency on Tuesday when Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in domestic currencies.
Russia's deals with China have given it access to the international markets, hard foreign currency and manufactured goods.

That was 2014.

China and Russia (and Iran to a lesser extent) have gotten closer and closer ever since.
Russia and China were considering linking their national payment system, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, as he called for a more balanced global finance structure.

...That would have "good prospects" and "avoid those problems that sometimes arise when you use American payment systems", Medvedev said, mentioning Visa and Mastercard without elaborating.

Russia started to create the Karta Mir system after Western sanctions were imposed on the country in 2014, during the Ukraine crisis. The system is now widely accepted in Russia.

After new U.S. sanctions were imposed, Moscow promised to intensify work to cut dependence on Western payment systems further. Among other things, it wants to create more domestic financial services such as its own ratings agency.
Russia and China did in fact link their payment systems, thus making a huge part of Asia independent of western banks.

This direct currency settlement move by China and Russian, however, is one of the most dynamic game-changing developments since Washington’s Treasury and Wall Street banks came up with the US Dollar system at Bretton Woods in 1944.

It’s not about reducing currency risks in trade between Russia and China. Their trade in own currencies, bypassing the dollar, is already significant since the US sanctioned Russia in 2014—a very foolish move by the Obama Administration Treasury. It’s about creating a vast new alternative reserve currency zone or zones independent of the dollar.

Russia is also forming trade deals with India.

Plus, the war in Syria has brought Russia and Iran into a military alliance, on top of trade deals.

Russia and China, our only mildly-serious military rivals, are increasingly becoming more friendly and more independent of our influence.

The United States is a dying empire, and dying empires tend get paranoid.

And the U.S. should be paranoid about the petrodollar. The U.S. dollar is not in good shape.

The extended policy of zero interest rates plus all the “quantitative easing”, are indications of systemic weakness.

Put all that dry timber together, and then add a spark - the 2016 election - and you have a full-on hysteria.
The petrodollar has lasted for over 41 years, and has been the driving force behind America’s economic, political and military power. It would be ironic, indeed, were the tensions with Russia inadvertently to become the driver of America finally losing its petrodollar card.

China about to knock out petrodollar by trading oil in yuan

14 Dec, 2017

As one of the world’s top energy importers, China has successfully completed its fifth dry run in yuan-backed oil futures contract trading. The step has been already called Beijing’s challenge to the US dollar.

China's launch of 'petro-yuan' in two months sounds death knell for dollar's dominance

According to Bloomberg, which cited a statement from the exchange, 149 members of Shanghai International Energy Exchange traded 647,930 lots in the rehearsal with a total value of 268.2 billion yuan. The system met the listing requirements of crude futures after the exercise, it added.

“This contract has the potential to greatly help China’s push for yuan internationalization,” said Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale in Paris.

She added, however, “its success will hinge critically on the degree of freedom allowed for the capital flows related to the contract.”

A former China division chief at the International Monetary Fund, Eswar Prasad said: “It is not unreasonable to envision a world in which the overwhelming share of commodity contracts, especially for oil, are no longer denominated just in dollars.”

But “the yuan’s role in global finance will ultimately be determined by the degree of commitment of Xi Jinping’s government to economic and financial market reforms.”

Since the 1970s, the global oil trade has almost entirely been conducted in US dollars. The largest energy consumer, China, is interested in having oil contracts in yuan. Beijing plans to introduce its own oil benchmark which will rival Brent or West Texas Intermediate. Analysts say Chinese authorities will need to first convince large oil producers and consumers to use the yuan and invest in the Shanghai benchmark.

The Chinese government announced plans to start a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold earlier this year. The contract will enable the country's trading partners to pay with gold or to convert yuan into gold without the necessity to keep money in Chinese assets or turn it into US dollars.

The new benchmark will reportedly allow exporters, such as Russia, Iran or Venezuela to avoid US sanctions by trading oil in yuan.

In September, Venezuela ditched the greenback for oil payments. Caracas has ordered oil traders to convert crude oil contracts into euro and not to pay or be paid in US dollars anymore. The measure followed the rolling out of sanctions by the United States against the country. more

The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine

"Russia and China ... have concluded that pumping the US military budget by buying US bonds ... is an unsustainable proposition ..."
Pepe Escobar, Dec 23, 2017

The new 55-page “America First” National Security Strategy (NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as “revisionist” powers, “rivals,” and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States.

The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an “attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries.” Still, Beijing qualified it as “reckless” and “irrational.” The Kremlin noted its “imperialist character” and “disregard for a multipolar world.” Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.”

Russia, China and Iran happen to be the three key movers and shakers in the ongoing geopolitical and geo-economic process of Eurasia integration.

The NSS can certainly be regarded as a response to what happened at the BRICS summit in Xiamen last September. Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on “the BRIC countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies,” and stressed the need to “overcome the excessive domination of a limited number of reserve currencies.”

Yes, this is photoshopped, but still very apt - the whole world is wondering what his next move will be ...

That was a clear reference to the US dollar, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total reserve currency around the world and remains the benchmark determining the price of energy and strategic raw materials.

And that brings us to the unnamed secret at the heart of the NSS; the Russia-China “threat” to the US dollar.

The CIPS/SWIFT face-off

The website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) recently announced the establishment of a yuan-ruble payment system, hinting that similar systems regarding other currencies participating in the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will also be in place in the near future.

Crucially, this is not about reducing currency risk; after all Russia and China have increasingly traded bilaterally in their own currencies since the 2014 US-imposed sanctions on Russia. This is about the implementation of a huge, new alternative reserve currency zone, bypassing the US dollar.

The decision follows the establishment by Beijing, in October 2015, of the China International Payments System (CIPS). CIPS has a cooperation agreement with the private, Belgium-based SWIFT international bank clearing system, through which virtually every global transaction must transit.

What matters, in this case, is that Beijing – as well as Moscow – clearly read the writing on the wall when, in 2012, Washington applied pressure on SWIFT; blocked international clearing for every Iranian bank; and froze $100 billion in Iranian assets overseas as well as Tehran’s potential to export oil. In the event that Washington might decide to slap sanctions on China, bank clearing though CIPS works as a de facto sanctions-evading mechanism.

Last March, Russia's central bank opened its first office in Beijing. Moscow is launching its first $1 billion yuan-denominated government bond sale. Moscow has made it very clear it is committed to a long-term strategy to stop using the US dollar as their primary currency in global trade, moving alongside Beijing towards what could be dubbed a post-Bretton Woods exchange system.

Gold is essential in this strategy. Russia, China, India, Brazil & South Africa are all either large producers or consumers of gold – or both. Following what has been extensively discussed in their summits since the early 2010s, the BRICS countries are bound to focus on trading physical gold.

Markets such as COMEX actually trade derivatives on gold, and are backed by an insignificant amount of physical gold. Major BRICS gold producers – especially the Russia-China partnership – plan to be able to exercise extra influence in setting up global gold prices.

The ultimate politically charged dossier
Intractable questions referring to the US dollar as the top reserve currency have been discussed at the highest levels of JP Morgan for at least five years now. There cannot be a more politically charged dossier. The NSS duly sidestepped it.

The current state of play is still all about the petrodollar system; since last year, what used to be a key, “secret” informal deal between the US and the House of Saud, is firmly in the public domain.

Even warriors in the Hindu Kush may now be aware of how oil and virtually all commodities must be traded in US dollars, and how these petrodollars are recycled into US Treasuries. Through this mechanism, Washington has accumulated an astonishing $20 trillion in debt – and counting.

Vast populations all across MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) also learned what happened when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein decided to sell oil in euros, or when Muammar Gaddafi planned to issue a pan-African gold dinar.

But now it’s China who’s entering the fray, following through on plans set up way back in 2012. And the name of the game is oil-futures trading priced in yuan, with the yuan fully convertible into gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong foreign exchange markets.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange and its subsidiary, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) have already run four production environment tests for crude oil futures. Operations were supposed to start at the end of 2017, but even if they start sometime in early 2018, the fundamentals are clear: this triple win (oil/yuan/gold) completely bypasses the US dollar. The era of the petro-yuan is at hand.

Of course, there are questions on how Beijing will technically manage to set up a rival mark to Brent and WTI, or whether China’s capital controls will influence it. Beijing has been quite discreet on the triple win; the petro-yuan was not even mentioned in National Development and Reform Commission documents following the 19th CCP Congress last October.

What’s certain is that the BRICS countries supported the petro-yuan move at their summit in Xiamen, as diplomats confirmed to Asia Times. Venezuela is also on board. It’s crucial to remember that Russia is number two and Venezuela is number seven among the world’s Top Ten oil producers. Considering the pull of China’s economy, they may soon be joined by other producers.

Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale in Paris, goes straight to the point, remarking how “this contract has the potential to greatly help China’s push for yuan internationalization.”

The hidden riches of “belt” and “road”
An extensive report by DBS in Singapore hits most of the right notes linking the internationalization of the yuan with the expansion of BRI.

In 2018, six major BRI projects will be on overdrive; the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the China-Laos railway, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the Hungary-Serbia railway, the Melaka Gateway project in Malaysia, and the upgrading of Gwadar port in Pakistan.

HSBC estimates that BRI as a whole will generate no less than an additional, game-changing $2.5 trillion worth of new trade a year.

It’s important to keep in mind that the “belt” in BRI should be seen as a series of corridors connecting Eastern China with oil/gas-rich regions in Central Asia and the Middle East, while the “roads” soon to be plied by high-speed rail traverse regions filled with – what else - un-mined gold.

A key determinant of the future of the petro-yuan is what the House of Saud will do about it. Should Crown Prince – and inevitable future king – MBS opt to follow Russia’s lead, to dub it as a paradigm shift would be the understatement of the century.

Yuan-denominated gold contracts will be traded not only in Shanghai and Hong Kong but also in Dubai. Saudi Arabia is also considering to issue so-called Panda bonds, after the Emirate of Sharjah is set to take the lead in the Middle East for Chinese interbank bonds.

Of course, the prelude to D-Day will be when the House of Saud officially announces it accepts yuan for at least part of its exports to China.

A follower of the Austrian school of economics correctly asserts that for oil-producing nations, higher oil price in US dollars is not as important as market share: “They are increasingly able to choose in which currencies they want to trade.”

What’s clear is that the House of Saud simply cannot alienate China as one of its top customers; it’s Beijing who will dictate future terms. That may include extra pressure for Chinese participation in Aramco’s IPO. In parallel, Washington would see Riyadh embracing the petro-yuan as the ultimate red line.

An independent European report points to what may be the Chinese trump card: “an authorization to issue treasury bills in yuan by Saudi Arabia,” the creation of a Saudi investment fund, and the acquisition of a 5% share of Aramco.

Nations under US sanctions, such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela, will be among the first to embrace the petro-yuan. Smaller producers such as Angola and Nigeria are already selling oil/gas to China in yuan.

And if you don’t export oil but are part of BRI, such as Pakistan, the least you can do is replace the US dollar in bilateral trade, as Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal is currently evaluating.

A key feature of the geoeconomic heart of the world moving from the West towards Asia is that by the start of the next decade the petro-yuan and trade bypassing the US dollar will be certified facts on the ground across Eurasia.

The NSS for its part promises to preserve “peace through strength.” As Washington currently deploys no less than 291,000 troops in 183 countries and has sent Special Ops to no less than 149 nations in 2017 alone, it’s hard to argue the US is at “peace” – especially when the NSS seeks to channel even more resources to the industrial-military complex.

“Revisionist” Russia and China have committed an unpardonable sin; they have concluded that pumping the US military budget by buying US bonds that allow the US Treasury to finance a multi-trillion dollar deficit without raising interest rates is an unsustainable proposition for the Global South. Their “threat” – under the framework of BRICS as well as the SCO, which includes prospective members Iran and Turkey – is to increasingly settle bilateral and multilateral trade bypassing the US dollar.

It ain’t over till the fat (golden) lady sings. When the beginning of the end of the petrodollar system – established by Kissinger in tandem with the House of Saud way back in 1974 – becomes a fact on the ground, all eyes will be focused on the NSS counterpunch. more

Australian Politics 2017-12-28 15:56:00


Attack on free speech means university is no longer a place to learn life lessons

I did an English degree in the 90s and as far as rites of passage go, it was awesome. It was for the most part, uncomplicated. It was wholly free from a dialogue of victimhood, political correctness and timidity of thought.

Now, as my 17-year-old nephew prepares to go to university in a month or so, I confess to being a little nervous about the environment he and hundreds of thousands of Australian young adults are going into.

For some time at least anecdotally there have been concerns about the erosion of critical thinking at Australia’s universities. The odd opinion piece, like this one, the occasional news report, all hinting at, warning of an odious slide into mental protectionism.

What do I mean by that? Well, campuses have seemingly become overrun by the notion of providing a “safe space” either in word or in deed, where nobody disagrees, nobody is allowed to get offended and truly diverse ideas inevitably die like dogs in the gutter.

Now, let me be clear from the get-go. This is not about curriculum, although that’s one for another day. It is about social engineering and deliberate restriction of free speech.

Research conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs and published at the end of last year in the Weekend Australian paints a clear and frightening picture of just how real this issue is. The IPA conducted an audit and analysis of university policies, procedures and guidelines. It found 81 per cent of Australia’s 42 universities are actively hostile to free speech. Actively hostile. That means the people running these joints are actively trying to restrict intellectual freedom.

At universities. Let that sink in for just a minute.

The IPA also found that 17 per cent go so far as to threaten free speech. It found hundreds of policies, including in one case, a 1600-word “flag policy” (the mind boggles), yet the majority of unis fail to comply with their legislated obligation to have a policy that “upholds free intellectual inquiry”. Only eight universities complied.

It went on to describe an environment in which there have been violent protests against certain speakers, and students instructed not to express their viewpoint. Violent protests.

Apart from violence being, you know, a criminal activity, does that not just scream a lack of intellectual depth? If the best response students have to a differing view is to torch the joint or belt someone with a piece of 4x2, you’re not really talking about our nation’s brightest. What is even more sobering is that the audit found almost all of the regulations and restrictions extend beyond the law itself. Students are more censored, restricted and gagged by their universities than in real life.

It seems the culture behind all of this has been allowed to quietly thrive and spread like lantana on your gran’s back fence because nobody thought they’d ever need to prune it.

I know it’s the habit of every generation to look back and think they did things better. I’m not so foolish nor blinkered to suggest it was perfect, because it wasn’t.

But what it was, was an environment in which we learnt not just in lectures (and let’s be clear, sometimes not even in lectures) but in the day-to-day social navigation around differing views, ideas, cultures and beliefs and the basic life skills that navigation teaches a person.

The reason we should be taking notice of this lies in the black and white numbers of the IPA’s audit. Sure, it backs up a view I’ve held and many of my peers and mates have held for some time, but it’s not about being right, it’s not even about that. It’s about the kind of place a university should be.

It’s about the systematic removal of circumstances in which young people can, through normal, everyday life, develop independent and critical thinking by dealing with people who hold opposing views — even ones most of us might find a tad gauche.

I’m going to go a step further. Learning to deal with offence — rather than the offence itself, is a gift. It’s a life lesson. It teaches you to think for yourself, toss out the garbage, keep what works, listen with an open mind, and respectfully walk away without setting fire to something or calling a lawyer.

And if university isn’t one of the places young people get to learn this, then change is way overdue.


Politically correct Victoria Police insist they DON'T have an African gang problem despite the blight of Apex, an officer being kicked in the face and 100 'South Sudanese' youths trashing an AirBnB

Victoria Police insist they don't have an African gang problem in Melbourne after an officer was kicked in the face at a shopping mall and 100 youths of Sudanese appearance trashed an AirBnB house.

The comments from Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald came after a boy kicked a police officer in the head as he crouched down attempting to arrest a 16-year-old youth for alleged shoplifting on Boxing Day.

The scuffle at Highpoint Shopping Centre, at Maribyrnong in Melbourne's west, was caught on CCTV on Tuesday afternoon.

However, Superintendent Fitzgerald said this latest incident involving African youths was not a sign there was an ethnically-related gang problem, amid a spate of crime linked to Apex gangs.

'We have problems with youth crime across the state and it's not a particular group of youths we are looking into. It's all youths. It's youth crime,' she told reporters.

Superintendent said 'youth crime in general' was to blame - a week after police were pelted with rocks after being called to an AirBnB house at Werribee, in Melbourne's west.

Officers were forced to retreat from the house, trashed inside by a party, when more than 100 youths of primarily South Sudanese appearance turned on them.

Photos taken from inside the house show walls kicked and punched in, mattresses thrown on top of furniture and pepper spray splattered across bedroom curtains.

Neighbours say they were left terrified when youths from the house started roaming the streets, throwing rocks and smashing cars.

Less than a week later, a police officer was kicked in the face as he crouched down trying to arrest a 16-year-old boy for alleged shoplifting at Highpoint Shopping Centre.

The scuffle, which was captured on CCTV, unfolded in front of shocked Boxing Day shoppers before the assailant ran from the centre into the car park.

The senior constable sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital as the youth who assaulted him remained at large. 'It could have been a lot worse and I'm pleased to report he's returned to work today,' Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald told reporters on Wednesday. 'He's got bruising to his eye but is in very good spirits.'

A 16-year-old Flemington boy was arrested over the alleged theft but he was released pending further inquiries.

Police are wanting to speak to a teen who is described as African in appearance and was wearing a white top and black bandana.

In June, at nearby Footscray, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk as a gang of 15 African youths burst into a barber shop and began rioting.

In April, a gang of five Sudanese teenagers allegedly bashed their autistic classmate, in a horrific attack on a bus at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west.

The 17-year-old student was travelling alone to the city centre, when five boys approached him and told him to hand over his mobile phone and new Nike shoes.


'Ongoing erosion of legal rights': Government slammed for ignoring key report for two years

The Turnbull government has been slammed for ignoring a major legal report for more than two years, while continuing to enact laws that erode fundamental rights.

The Law Council of Australia and the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs have urged the new Attorney-General, Christian Porter, to curb what the think tank called "the ongoing erosion of legal rights" in Australia.

In its annual audit of the nation's laws, released to Fairfax Media on Tuesday, the IPA identified another 19 breaches contained in statutes passed this year – taking its count to 324.

And the organisation fingered Treasurer Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and recently-departed attorney-general George Brandis as the ministers behind many of the problematic provisions.

Six new items breached the presumption of innocence, largely impacting employers who are sued under the Fair Work Act, while seven provisions compromised people's right to silence, the IPA found.

One such law, introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, forces a person to answer questions about boats if a biosecurity officer believes they possess relevant information.

IPA research fellow Morgan Begg said the breakdown of basic legal rights "seems to be entrenched in the law-making process" in Australia.


Coalition close to point of no return

The writer is well informed but making prophecies is a mug's game.  Note what happened to prophecies that Trump would never become president

Only a dramatic turn of events is likely to rescue the government and address what appear to be embedded structural problems for the Coalition.

These problems are as deep as they are widespread and are reflected across every state and in key Coalition demographics.

There is little evidence that the government has attempted to address this fundamental problem in any significant way. What it has tried obviously hasn’t worked.

Any hope that 2018 will be a banner year for Malcolm Turnbull, rather than a repeat of the horror year of 2017, rests with his ability and willingness to make meaningful change.

The quarterly analysis of Newspoll, the final instalment of the year, bears this out. The Coalition ends the year in worse shape than it began, trailing Labor on a two-party-preferred split of 54/46.

This will be deeply vexing for Turnbull, who would rightly believe he finished the year well having dealt with same-sex marriage, survived the citizenship crisis by winning two by-elections while claiming the scalp of a Labor senator in controversial circumstances.

None of this has made the slightest bit of difference.

The loss of primary votes in Queensland and NSW is critical. Between them, the two states hold 87 of the 150 seats in the country.

While things are still dire in Western Australia, on the pure numbers, NSW and Queensland would produce a bigger loss on a much smaller swing. And if the apparent internal analysis by the LNP is right, suggesting that the preference flow from One Nation at the Queensland election was at best 50/50 in some seats, then the problems are even more profound.

The latest numbers reveal two disturbing trends for Turnbull. For the first time, Labor is ahead of the Coalition when it comes to voting males. Support among the over 50s is also down 10 points since the July 2016 election.

Nothing could provide more evidence that the Coalition base has jumped overboard and that the theory Turnbull should be chasing a younger demographic is a deeply flawed one.

This is being played out no more intensely than in the regions. Labor’s gains here are significant and would be confounding for the Nationals.

Having started with a 14 per cent deficit at the last election, Labor has lifted six points to be one point ahead of the Coalition.

While Shorten is deeply unpopular more generally, he is only three points behind Turnbull as preferred prime minister in the regions defined as non-capital cities.

The fact that blokes in the country are pissed off shouldn’t be a great surprise. This is where the loss of economic activity in the post mining boom era is felt most keenly. But the size and dimension of the disaffection would be a considerable worry for the government.

The people are cranky and the government, occupied for the past three months with same-sex marriage and determining the genealogy of every MP, is being blamed for it.


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