BBC Gaza


The Beeb is notorious for underrepresenting anti-establishment views. Read this post today.

Originally posted on :

By Jonathon Shafi

As the crowds began to gather in Buchanan Street to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza, it was clear that the demonstration would be vibrant, diverse and loud. About an hour before the assembly time, you could see groups of people arriving. Young, old, mixed. A group of young women started the chanting in earnest, rallying shoppers to the cause. Speakers from faith organisations, political parties, campaign groups and trade union leaders addressed the huge crowd that had taken the entirety of the top end of Glasgow’s main Saturday thoroughfare, before it set off on a march to the BBC which dominated the city centre in a sea of colour and solidarity.

As we approached the BBC, the pace quickened, and the mega phones cranked up a notch. People, thousands of them, had been enraged by the BBC coverage of the bombing of Gaza. There…

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Tony Abbott and the Lackwitted Legacy | @1RossGittins #auspol #notharrypotter

Ross Gittins at the SMH discusses the economic ramifications of the Coal Coalition’s ideological recalcitrance regarding climate change and inspires me just a little. Read the whole thing, then come back.

Sometimes I fear Australia has decided to go backwards just as the rest of the world has decided to go forwards. Take climate change. If the repeal of the carbon tax gets through the Senate this week there will probably be celebrations in the boardrooms of all the business groups that lobbied so hard for its removal.

But if they imagine the lifting of this supposedly great burden on them and the economy will mean it’s back to business as usual, they’ll soon find out differently.

Fine, anthropogenic climate change is bunk – granted solely for the sake of argument. However, there is a stark and obvious economic reality that you can’t be “skeptical” about: the world economy is shifting towards renewable energy. Rapidly.

Sunlight and wind don’t need to be found, extracted, refined, transported or burned. They also don’t produce toxic emissions, byproducts or waste and aren’t beholden to unpredictable fluctuations in global resource prices – fluctuations which can be caused by anything from localised civil unrest or industrial action to extreme seismological or meteorological events. The infrastructure used to deliver wind and solar energy is becoming cheaper and more efficient. Major economic powers are already committed to significant renewable energy R&D and implementation as well as significant reductions in carbon-heavy energy production. The developing world will soon be able to provide efficient, cheap, clean energy to its citizens in places it was not economically possible to do so before.

All this is of course known to the Coalition and its donors, enablers and ideas-men. The damage they risk doing to our economy (not to mention our environment, regardless of climate change) by bloody-mindedly attempting to delay the inevitable reality of owning a bunch of black shite nobody wants anymore – all the while trying to stymie the competition via carbon-coddling legislation and corporate welfare – is the price we will all pay for their own shortsightedness and obstinate denial. There’s been more than enough time for Australia’s heiresses and billionaires to understand reality and invest (and divest) accordingly; if this government has a lick of common sense it will be wondering if it wants its legacy to boil down to making all of us pay for a stark lack of vision, both on its part and on the part of those who dictate its policy.

ABC’s Four Corners on Abbott’s renewables scam – no wonder they’ve appointed ideologues to gut it #auspol

Last night’s episode of Four Corners (one of Australia’s finest journalistic organs) was both frustrating and heartening: frustrating because our government is ideologically and financially focused on the 19th century business model of dig it, burn it and sell it, to the detriment of the environment, to our domestic renewables market and to our great potential to be a major global player in the next industrial revolution (the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”); heartening because the number of people installing solar arrays in their homes is already over 10% in some states, are in some areas producing more than enough electricity to satisfy requirements and are showing coal-fired power stations to be the inefficient, highly costly and soon-to-be outdated things they are.

Much of the report contrasted the American attitude to renewable energy with that of our government here in Australia. While America is innovating and building large-scale solar farms in its deserts with some towns & communities headed towards total self-sufficiency built on renewable energy (and with Apple designing its next corporate headquarters around total self-sufficiency), Australia’s conservative government is sabotaging investment and research into renewables, sabotaging the Renewable Energy Target, has dismissed its climate commission and is looking to repeal the carbon tax. This is chiefly due to our government being deeply entwined in mining, especially coal, which powers most of our power stations – so deeply entwined that I suspect there’s no easy way out for them (let’s not forget that conservatives and billionaires in this country go hand-in-glove, so expecting a Tory government to suddenly want to wash its hands of coal-dust in favour of free, functionally infinite sunshine and wind is like expecting Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest businesswoman heiress, to start a charity devoted to providing asylum seekers with university education).

Of course, those who own and operate businesses based on fossil-fuel extraction and combustion (and those political parties and governments who both enable and benefit from them) have had perhaps two decades to adjust to a changing energy market and carve out a piece for themselves. Presumably through some combination of denial, myopia and being able to strongarm successive state and federal governments for subsidies, tax breaks and other examples of corporate welfare, they have chosen not to do so. By their own free-market standards (the ones they invoke when, for example, they blame those stricken by poverty or lack of opportunity for their own misfortune) they’ll have noone but themselves to blame if the market leaves them flapping in the breeze – however, as we all know, it’s highly impertinent to point that out. So I won’t.

I will, however, point out that it’s kind of appropriate that people who’ve made themselves obscenely, obesely wealthy by digging holes may well end up in holes of their own making. As demand for their black, dusty gold decreases while its price inflates, people are increasingly looking to the sky. Basic economics dictates that if a consumer can get your product elsewhere for less money or, especially, a different product that does the same thing for nothing, they’ll seek out that product. Coal costs large amounts of money to find, to dig up, to transport to its destination; sunlight falls from the sky daily in large amounts over most of the planet and wind is simply unavoidable. As the technology to harness and store solar and wind energy improves and becomes more common, it will become cheaper. And more people will buy it.

For a final thought, look to the third world – many impoverished and developing nations are blessed with large amounts of sunlight. A solar kit that would power a generous home or two in Australia could provide clean electricity for an entire community in just about any put-upon place on the planet (global charities, I’m sure this kind of thing might already be on your list). Do you think someone in a remote subsistence-farming village in Kenya or Cambodia or a remote Aboriginal community in Australia would care about the profit projections of Clive Palmer or Gina Rinehart if they could, thanks to a simple community-owned solar array, just flick on a light – or an oven, water pump or even a computer for, say, distance education? Solar and wind technology will soon improve to the point of being cheap enough to pay for itself very quickly and is already trivial to transport and install, with the raw materials already available at the location – for free – every day. This will enable previously disenfranchised people to strike from their lists of privations that simplest of things, that most basic of privileges: a light in the dark.

As the rest of the world, developing nations included, embraces cheap, clean power technology, Australia might just be left in the dark itself, with our neighbours, customers and friends looking on, scratching their heads and asking us why weren’t paying attention.

Scott Morrison has just made the boogeyman redundant #auspol

Several children are missing in South Australia after two others were removed from school and placed in immigration detention centres.

Quotes from Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul:

“They’re at the whim of the department.”

“The fact they were snatched out of school is an indication of how (the Department) operates with no concern for the kids involved.

“It’s a general phenomenon at the moment. The department is cancelling visas, bringing people in, sending people back. There is general fear in the community.”

Parents: you may now start terrorising your children into eating their steamed vegetables with the prospect of indefinite detention in a shipping container on a small, hot island where the locals want to kill you and the prison guards can’t stop them.


2 TRILLION globally in fossil subsidies? #auspol #wtf

Two trillion in subsidies worldwide for fossil fuel producers? If that figure’s accurate, then the free market dogma so many conservative smog-baron types usually spout in support of, say, further disenfranchising the poor because it’s not fair that rich people should pay for other peoples’ bad luck or laziness via taxation should also apply to their own industries.

To flamin’ wit: if, even in the midst of an alleged local resources boom, your hole-digging businesses need billions in government subsidies in order to survive then, by your own standards, you’ve either had the bad luck to pick a loser or you’re too lazy or stupid to change your business model – and the rest of us shouldn’t be footing the bill. Not to mention that your lobbying for subsidies (like taxpayer-funded cheap diesel) rings a little hollow when your overfed CEOs not only make as much per year as Luxembourg but also have the spare cash to retain specialist lawyers, accountants and (presumably) some kind of goblin mage to ensure they pay less tax than the bloke who cleans out the shitters.

Renewables – chiefly solar and wind – have been on the rise for two decades and you’ve all had plenty of time to get used to the idea and take a few scoops from your money bins to invest in them. There’s simply no excuse for you to restrict yourself to just digging holes like a top-hatted 19th century industrialist and then expect a round of applause, much less handout after handout – it’s not as if fossil fuel is some fledgling industry with loads of promise that deserves a little public support to get off the starting line.

There’s also absolutely no point whining about renewables and trying to have your pocket-pollies shut them down when, again, there’s been ample time for you to realise in which direction the future of domestic energy lies and invest accordingly. Good lord, some of you have made so much money in the last decade you could’ve bought a chunk of desert and built a solar station in it big enough to power the east coast or enough wind farms to power both Las and Bris Vegas, all the while chuckling to your mates at the Club over how it didn’t cost you a farthing to locate and extract the raw material and gosh would they like to have a gander at your profit margins now.

Meanwhile, as location and extraction of fossil fuels gets more expensive and less efficient (not to mention more environmentally catastrophic – but as if you’d give half a roasted black swan in rhino-foam about that) domestic energy markets are changing and governments worldwide are committing to reducing carbon output and increasing usage of renewables. In the face of such progress and by their own market-worshipping standards, any fossil-burning CEO left stranded and hapless will – by their own standards – only have themselves to blame.



This story details a recent report into government funding of mining at a state/territory level in Australia. Relevant quote:


“The Queensland Government has spent about as much money supporting its mining industry as it’s spent on building new hospitals,” [Dr Richard Denniss, ED of the Australia Institute, which produced the report] observed.

“The Western Australian Government has spent about as much money as it spent on its police force. So, these are enormous sums of money.”

Iron ore is Australia’s biggest export earner, but it doesn’t receive the bulk of mining assistance from state governments.

“There’s no doubt the coal industry is the biggest recipient of tax payer subsidies – both directly and indirectly,” Dr Denniss added.


Naturally, the hole-barons called it Greens propaganda – obviously unaware of the mote in their eye, in the form of the Institute of Public Affairs, the notorious fringe-right ultra-capitalist lobby group headed by Gina Rinehart and Murdoch and which gave a wishlist of free-market wet dreams to the Coalition government, who used it to dictate the bulk of their foreign, domestic and financial policies.

Theologian Chess!

The well-known “Pigeon Chess” simile applies to creationists and their woeful misunderstandings of science and their generally deplorable behaviour: (paraphrased) “They don’t know the rules, they knock the pieces over, they shit all over the board and then they fly home to coo over their victory.”

Inspired by this exchange at WEIT (and countless other examples of theologians redefining their gods out of reach of inquiry [often as they simultaneously try to define them into existence]), I thought that perhaps theologians should have their own (slightly more complex) corollary:

In Theology Chess, the theologian has the entire chessboard to himself and only one piece: God. Whenever the opponent (who has no pieces) asks a question about God, the piece may be moved to a different square in any direction with no restriction on distance. This may be done indefinitely until the questioner gets up and leaves.


EDIT 03/07/2014: commenter thedxman got busy and knocked this up (he earns four hundred billion points):

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What’s going on here?

Originally posted on Draw Something Dad:

If, like me, you’re perhaps not that enamoured of the pictures of kittens and balls of yarn or castles, princesses and ponies that fill most colouring books. My 3.5 year-old daughter, Boodle, has been colouring in little doodles of mine since she could hold a giant egg-chalk in her chubby little fingers and has lately been requesting various scenarios – of course I’m more than happy to oblige. Recently, some friends requested their own custom pages for their own mini-humans and, of course, I was more than happy to oblige them as well. So pleased were they that they suggested I open this service to the public and, presto – last week that’s exactly what I did!

So, if you want something different and a little more fun for your mini-you to perfect with their crayons, I can draw you a page, a strip or series of pages with exactly…

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