PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 17 November 2019

Fire chiefs and health professionals stand up for action on climate change. Fly ash from coal burning causes major problems in Indonesia. The International Energy Agency identifies the main trends influencing energy supply over the next 20 years.

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A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

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GARETH EVANS. How not to conduct Australian foreign Policy: Suez 1956

Dr Robert Bowker’s new monograph, Australia, Menzies and Suez: Australian Policy-making on the Middle East Before, During and After the Suez Crisis (Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 2019), leaves me in awe of his stamina and capacity to absorb punishment. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. The risk of entrapment by self-fulfilling nuclear prophecy

As rising nuclear threats become harder to ignore, non-nuclear states have responded in one of two ways. The majority have sought to reduce the risks of deliberate or inadvertent nuclear war by doubling down on disarmament efforts, crystallised most eloquently in the Nuclear Ban Treaty adopted in 2017. The treaty has been signed by 79 states and ratified by 33. It will enter into force with 50 ratifications. Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. The New South Wales Fires, the National Party and Climate Change. PART 1

In responding on Monday to the severity of the NSW and QLD fires two senior NP politicians made statements attacking the Greens in a manner that was most intemperate and which has attracted almost universal criticism? But was their underlying motivation genuine concern for those affected by these predictable fires, or a desperate attempt to win back some of the electoral support slowly dripping away from them? Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. The New South Wales Fires, the National Party and Climate Change. PART 2

The intemperate language used by McCormack and Joyce points to the Nationals’ own desperation about their constituency. Equally it has given an opportunity to the prime minister to appear statesman-like and the ALP to remain silent. Both illustrate how politicians regard the attention span of the electorate in regard to worsening environmental conditions.
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TONY SMITH. The short sighted politicians dividing the nation.

The first speeches of most federal and state parliamentarians (MPs) are idealistic. Some MPs stick to these principles. Others do not. An aim commonly stated by MPs is to represent all the people in their electorates, whether they voted for the MP or not. Unfortunately, some MPs abandon this principle thinking there is political advantage in fomenting division. A swag of current Nationals display this unstatesmanlike behaviour.

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GILES PARKINSON. South Australia’s stunning renewable energy transition, and what comes next (Renew Economy 5-11-19)

The eyes of the energy world are upon it, but the renewable energy transition in South Australia is probably one of the misunderstood, misreported and under-appreciated achievements of our time. Continue reading

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JERRY ROBERTS. The Labor Party, religion, sex and that sort of thing

The second greatest disaster for Labor following the May election loss is the daily earbashing from mainstream media dishing out gratuitous advice to the Party on how to change policies and win the next election. Absolutely the greatest disaster is the possibility that people within the Party will listen to this stream of right-wing drivel. Labor has enough trouble digesting its own internal review. Continue reading

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ASSAF SHARON. The Long Paralysis of the Israeli Left (New York Review of Books, 7 November 2019)

The Israeli political system is in a weird stalemate. Two general elections in under six months have so far failed to produce a governing coalition. The sticking point is entirely personal—the fate of Bejamin Netanyahu as he faces multiple criminal indictments. After more than ten years in office, Netanyahu continues to dominate Israeli politics. Continue reading

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DAVID ROWE. Pocketing science but offering thoughts and prayers. (AFR 11.11.2019)

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IAN McAULEY. Reclaiming the ideas of economics: Wealth 

Money can’t buy me love: nor can it buy me wealth Continue reading

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HANS J OHFF. Submarines and how not to defend Australia

The Government’s new submarine project continues to be subjected to serious criticism. I have written on the ill-conceived SEA 1000 project since before the decision was made to award the contract to the French company NAVAL Group Australia (formerly DCNS) in April 2016.  I now argue that we must face up to the underlying issue, which is that the two critical decisions, to buy sub-optimal diesel-electric boats, and to design them for missions off the coast of China, are fundamentally incompatible. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 9 Comments

RICHARD TANTER. Pine Gap history-dogged by censorship and dereliction of duty.

On 1st January this year, the National Archives of Australia published a set of highly redacted Commonwealth cabinet papers dealing with a decision by the National Security Committee of the Howard coalition cabinet in September 1997 to allow the establishment of a Joint Australia-United States Relay Ground Station (RGS) at Pine Gap. Continue reading

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FRANCESCA BEDDIE. The Golden Country, Australia’s Changing Identity.

I follow migration matters closely, so Tim Watt’s survey of the White Australia Policy and subsequent immigration policy was familiar territory. For those who don’t, there is much to recommend in the story he tells and his demonstration of the economic benefits of skilled migration. But his analysis has flaws. Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE. The ALP and the religious right in Australian politics

The religious right is casting a darkening cloud over Australia’s democracy. Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. Irish Reunification-Child of Brexit

Arriving at agreement on a new Irish Constitution following a post-Brexit Border Poll would expose the cracks in Irish identity. There is little public evidence that any government—in the Republic, Northern Ireland, or the UK—has given serious thought to the steps that would need to follow a double yes vote.

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MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. Catholic synodality as a response to the crisis of democracy.

The global crisis of democracy is yet one more challenge for a Church fighting for social justice.

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MICHAEL KEATING. Australia’s Political Fault Lines.

This article takes issue with a recent article by John Menadue which argues that a largely unchallenged and powerful oligarchy is wielding untrammelled political power. Instead, a number of other reasons are proposed as to why our political parties have fragmented, and how that has made the achievement of necessary policy compromises more difficult. Nevertheless, there is a way forward for a progressive party. Continue reading

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MARGARET REYNOLDS. Labor Review ignores Centralised Factional Control!

The ALP Reviewers certainly deserve recognition for facing some of the issues which led to its recent Federal election defeat. The Review Team has put on the record the factors contributing to misunderstanding and failure to capture the public imagination. Recommendations are a welcome start in charting new directions. However, the fundamental issue of factional control is not considered as a major factor in community alienation. Continue reading

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ROSS GITTINS. Confessions of a pet shop galah: a lot of reform backfired (SMH 11.11.2019)

As someone who, back in the day, did his share of being one of Paul Keating’s pet shop galahs – screeching “more micro reform!” every time they saw a pollie – I don’t cease to be embarrassed by the many supposed reforms that turned into stuff-ups. Continue reading

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BOB DOUGLAS. Responding to Greta’s Challenge

“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? …You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.We will not let you get away with this.” These were the words of sixteen-year old Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg as she addressed the United Nations climate conference on 25th September this year. Continue reading

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DEAN BAKER. Mark Zuckerberg is a Rich Jerk (Counter Punch 5-11-19)

Last week, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan had a piece headlined “Why Doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg Get It?” The piece then goes on to document how Facebook has become a medium for spreading lies and nonsense all over the world, that many ill-informed users have come to believe. Continue reading

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J. A. DICK. Political Religion and the Prosperity Gospel

Re-reading a bit of political philosophy, I came across a 1939 quotation by the French philosopher Raymond Aron (1905-1983) who warned of ‘notre époque de religions politiques.’ If Aron were around today, he would have much to wrote about.

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JACK WATERFORD. Labor could fall further yet

Did Morrison win that election? Or did Labor simply blow it? Continue reading

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PETER BAUME. Our current drug policy is insane.

There is, in front of me, a book entitled “Not my family: never my child”.  The title of that book is so right. WE are on the front line. We are affected.  It is OUR families and our children who take these drugs. It is OUR children that suffer and die and cause us grief.  Continue reading

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BOB CARR. Erratic US Pacific policy is leaving Australia stranded (Australian Financial Review 8-11-19)

The Canberra hawks hope that our tough stance on China will encourage US resolve. But that underestimates the flightiness of Donald Trump. Continue reading

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NOEL TURNBULL. The political limbo rock – how low can you go?

One of the best ways to determine how history will judge a politician is not to tot up what they achieved but to try to evaluate the depths they sometimes sank to as they pursued their careers.   Continue reading

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GREGORY CLARK- APEC on the chopping block ( Asia Times November 5, 2019)

For old-time Asia watchers, there was a delicious irony in the way Chile has decided it does not want to be the site of this year’s planned APEC annual meeting. Continue reading

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CÉSAR RODRÍGUEZ GARAVITO. The Solution to the Climate Crisis

Homo sapiens suffers from a cognitive defect in that we have evolved to deal with immediate and concrete threats, but not ones that happen to us slowly over time, like climate change. Those with Asperger’s syndrome see the world differently, and it is interesting to think that the rest of us might have to learn something from people disabled and often mocked. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 4 Comments