Oct 6, 2018

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it):

7.30 am India’s progressive Supreme Court: the BBC’s Divya Arya reports on the large number of progressive judgements handed down recently before the retirement of its Chief Justice.

7.45am Doing business in Vietnam – seldom discussed, but it’s an emerging tech hub and one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

8.05am Offshore wealth –what is the real effect of the growing army of the world’s mega-rich on ordinary people’s lives, our political institutions and democracy itself? Investigative journalist Oliver Bullough charts why this phenomenon is so difficult to pursue.

8.20am What are the true hallmarks of leadership – with Laura Tingle, the ABC’s 7.30 political correspondent.

8.45am Cook’s Endeavour – a biography of the famous ship Endeavour, recently believed to have been discovered off the US East Coast.

Other commentary

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, bears no hostility towards US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh. “I have always liked him. I have admired his career on the D.C. Circuit. I have spoken warmly of him. I have published him. I have vouched publicly for his character” he writes in The Atlantic. But he says that if he were a senator he would vote against his nomination, not only because of Dr Ford’s testimony, but also because when Kavanagh was appearing before the Senate he made intemperate and unsupported claims about a conspiracy theory against him, a violation of accepted legal standards.

Strange, is it not, that the Government released its quarterly update of Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory on the same day that Justice Hayne released the Interim Report on the financial services royal commission and when the media were obsessed with football finals. The impression you may gain from the Government’s website is that our greenhouse gas emissions are falling – you must dig deep into the document or go to Renew Economy’s summary to see that our emissions have been growing strongly for five years.

Renew Economy also reports on Origin Energy’s assessment that the cost of energy from wind and solar farms is now lower than the marginal cost of coal generation, and the company is moving on from the government’s “base load” model of electricity provision – an evaluation confirmed by the extraordinary success of the big battery installation at Hornsdale in South Australia, an achievement publicised in international media. Key architect of the Paris climate agreement Laurance Tubiana warns that Australia is going against the consensus of the scientific community. “The Australian government, along with all others, needs to listen to the science and the economics, and lead the country towards decarbonisation” she said.

Another French diplomat, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking at Harvard’s Belfer Center, has called on Australia to join in an alliance of “goodwill powers” in order to revive the type of diplomacy that underpinned the Bretton Woods order, an international diplomacy under threat from the governments of countries such as the United States and Russia that favour unilateralism over cooperation.

“Progress ain’t what it used to be” writes Thomas Bollyky Director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, in his Foreign Affairs article Health without wealth. Globally there have been great strides in reducing deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases, even in the poorest countries. But those same countries are starting to see chronic diseases that arise as a consequence of poor housing, poor education, poor infrastructure, and other public investment deficiencies.

“We are better educated than ever but it seems to be assumed that we can’t understand debate, ideas, choices and difference” writes John Kerin in an essay on Australia’s economic history from 1972 to the present day. Kerin came into Parliament in 1972 with the election of the Whitlam Government and served in the Hawke-Keating Government mainly as Minister for Primary Industry and for shorter periods in other economic portfolios, including as Treasurer and Minister for Trade & Overseas Development. (Recently he was awarded an Order of Australia for his services to primary industry.)

How well can one cope living on $39 a day? That’s the basic rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance, which hasn’t been changed since 1994, Jessica Irvine reminds us in an article “I loved the 1990s but I wouldn’t want to be stuck there.” (Since 1994 consumer prices have risen by 84 per cent, and average wages have risen even more.)

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