GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

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

On ABC’s Saturday Extra (from 0730 to 0900 or on their website in case you miss it)

Geraldine Doogue talks with business journalist Michael West about how the banks have been paying penalties to charities and thus receiving tax deductions;

Italian-American economist Mariana Mazzucato – on the importance of the state in driving innovation. On Tuesday evening Ms Mazzucato will be delivering the John Menadue Oration  for the Centre for Policy Development;

On both sides of the Channel, similarities and differences the French and Brits are facing – with Anne McElvoy, British journalist for The Economistand Dominique Moisi, French political scientist;

Why honour matters – a debate with philosophers Raimond Gaita and Tamler Sommers and on the economics of plants with Mark Nesbitt, curator and senior research leader at London’s Kew Gardens.

Other commentary

Why is populism suddenly all the rage?

That’s the title of Matthijs Rooduijn’s article in The Guardian. He suggests that in democracies four developments nurture support for populism: a loss of people’s attachment to traditional political parties, a convergence of “left” and “right” parties leaving a lot of ideological space either side, an economic or social crisis such as perceptions of terrorist threat or of overwhelming influxes of refugees, and the reality or perception of corruption in political and other public institutions.

What does it mean to be a citizen?

Over this year Australians have enjoyed political dramas around Section 44 High Court citizenship cases. But there has been little discussion about just what citizenship is – the rights and obligations of citizenship, how citizenship has been understood historically and in different countries, and how Australians made painfully slow progress from the demeaning status as “British subjects” to that of “Australian citizens”. On the ABC’s Rear Vision Keri Phillips brings together four experts to cover these topics. Just what citizenship entails is far from clear-cut. (29 minutes).

Why has Donald Trump gone quiet?

Australia’s ABC journalists in Washington are wondering why Trump has hardly muttered a word or a tweet since arriving home from the G20. Does it have something to do with Robert Mueller’s investigation? William Rivers Pitt, senior editor at Truthout, leaves us with little doubt. He mentions how Trump’s negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow continued during the election campaign (one of Michael Cohen’s revelations), how Mueller has recommended no prison time for disgraced security adviser Michael Flynn, and how there has been a raid on Deutsche Bank (“the only financial institution outside of Moscow willing to loan Donald Trump money”). Zoe Daniel and Emily Olson may soon find themselves with plenty on which to report.

Global terrorism continues its downwards trend

You didn’t hear it from Christopher Pyne, but globally deaths from terrorism have fallen for the third consecutive year, as revealed in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Terrorism remains concentrated in a west-east band with hot spots in Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Iraq Afghanistan and Pakistan: in these countries conflict and human rights abuses are strongly correlated with terrorism. In more prosperous countries “social alienation, lack of economic opportunity and involvement in an external conflict” are the major correlates, and those with criminal records are most susceptible to recruitment. While the influence of ISIL has waned, there are other threats, and the Institute warns of the growing terrorism threat from far-right individuals and groups.

While the price of renewable energy continues its downward trend

You didn’t hear it from Angus Taylor – that renewable generation reduces wholesale electricity prices. Analysis by Bruce Mountain and colleagues finds that price increases associated with the closure of coal-fired generators in South Australia and Victoria have been more than offset by price reductions attributable to renewable energy.

Making sense of the national accounts

The ABS released the latest quarter’s national accounts on Wednesday, revealing a sluggish 0.3 per cent quarterly growth in GDP. ABC business journalist Stephen Letts has three articles explaining the national accounts. The first, Australia’s economic growth slows rapidly to 2.8pc, presents the broad picture. The second, Aussies ‘squeezed’ as spending and savings evaporate, explains the deadening effect of low wage growth. The third, Retailers still weathering the storm as turnover edges up, dissects retail expenditure. As incomes fall or stagnate people react by cutting back on discretionary expenditure, running down savings or taking on more debt.

Making sense of the Liberal Party

That’s a difficult task, but writing in the Fairfax media John Hewson gives it a go. “The party is now characterised by disunity and disloyalty, by tribalism, not by principle or policy but by personal interests – not even party interests and certainly not the national interest” he writes. To Hewson it seems as if people in the party are standing for office simply to achieve a position as a member of parliament, a minister or prime minister, rather than in pursuit of any policy commitment.

Making sense of 2018

On the ABC’s Late Night Live Phillip Adams brings together Laura Tingle, Peter Hartcher and Clementine Ford to talk through the events and trends of 2018. They share their insights on women in public life (and the backlash from men in power), the ideological conflicts tearing the Liberal party apart, the Trumpism of Australian politics (why has Australia become a magnet for foreign Alt-Right missionaries?), the rise of populism, and the global reach of the Chinese Communist Party. Ford concludes with guarded optimism for 2019, as more people in the community find their voice to stand up against those who cling to power. (54 minutes)

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