Rising Seas – Interactive: If All The Ice Melted

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet.

“There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58” (Source: ngm.nationalgeographic.com).

GR:  Just in case you haven’t seen this.

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10 signs the stars are aligning for a climate deal in Paris.

jpratt27

1) Pharrel Williams is going to make the world sing.
2) The Pope is fed up with us slapping nature down.
3) Barack Obama is flexing his muscles with other countries.
4) The Euro diplomats are coming.
5) The people are marching.
6) Solar and wind are flying.
7) The DiCaprio effect.
8) Despite its critics, the UN process did agree a deal in Lima.
9) It’s top of Ban’s list.
10) France is hosting, not Denmark.

theguardian.com

• The Paris climate summit, the 21st Conference of the Parties, will be held from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

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Tony Abbott, horses mid stream and musical chairs

But for the immense damage being perpetrated by Tony Abbott on our country, I’m happy for him to stay on — it will more likely banish the LNP off the Australian political centre stage for decades!

No Place For Sheep

Changing horses mid stream

I’m most interested to see what the LNP do with Prime Minister Tony Abbott come the next federal election. He’s been conspicuously absent in recent state election campaigns, presumably because nobody thinks he can do them any kind of good with his presence. So what on earth will his party do with its leader when we troop off to vote for our country’s next government?

Abbott subjected himself to some self-harm yesterday as he argued his case for the dangers involved in changing leaders during a government’s first term. Citing the epic game of musical chairs played by the ALP government during the Julia Gillard – Kevin Rudd leadership saga, Abbott expressed the opinion that it’s certain death to switch horses mid-stream. His party has the sense to know this, he believes, and so his leadership is secure. The country can go to the dogs and the less well-off can struggle…

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On citizenship and election to high office

oecomuse

In the USA, being born in the USA is a constitutional requirement for standing for the Presidency. Anyone born outside the USA is not eligible to stand. There was once some talk of changing this so that Arnold Schwartzenegger aka the former governator of California, would become eligible to run for president. A sex scandal broke, he disappeared from public life, and so did the debate.

This is a constitutional matter. A legal fact. The political and cultural requirements are different, numerous and complex. For instance, there is no requirement in the constitution that a presidential candidate also be a Christian. But the current political reality is that candidates are compelled to state their adherence to the Christian religion, and end their speeches with ‘God Bless America’. This is so despite the fact that the framers of the American Constitution were determined secularists. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion…

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MONTAIGNE.

MAAMF: an australian music blog

Montaigne - I'm A Fantastic Wreck

Montaigne is the project of Jessica Cerro. You might remember the rather memorable voice too. As Jessica Cerro she was a finalist in that triple j unearthed high comp a while back…and I think did pretty well. Her new track ‘I’m A Fantastic Wreck’ takes a slight unexpected turn though. This is interesting, verging on sophisticated pop music.

The obvious reference point for me is Otouto. That rather precarious percussion takes what could be a little predictable into weird. And weird is what makes this work. There are pop hooks galore, and that big climax at the end makes you feel all the things it’s designed to make you feel, but it’s that slightly off putting nature of Jess’s warm big vocal against the not quite there percussion and the rest of the staccato instrumentation that makes this one. And although it gets into a big ol’ sweeping love song towards…

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The “Budget Crisis”: How Critical Is It?

Is the Treasurer Joe Hockey and the Coalition to be believed? That if the government doesn’t cut public spending as planned in its Budget 2014 announcement, we’re in for a disaster in our economic future?

Well, today, I’ve come across the latest country report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (IMF Country Report 14/51, February 2014), which seems to tell a different story. It gives an overall positive assessment of Australia’s economic standing and outlook. Granted, it highlights some risks, but these are related to decreasing revenues – i.e. less demand for commodities (i.e. mining), the high value of our dollar (damping down export income) and impact of external factors in the global market — not so much on government expenditures, although there is need to pare it down.

As for the budget deficit, the report comments that it went down during the period 2012-2013 (in other words, under Labor’s watch, see below:

5. Fiscal policy. The budget deficit was reduced from 3 percent of GDP to 1½ percent in 2012/13. The previous government’s goal of returning the budget to surplus last year was held back by slower-than-projected output growth and weaker commodity prices. Revenue fell short of projections as the lower terms of trade together with the persistently strong Australian dollar reduced nominal GDP and dented corporate profitability, with company tax revenue coming in around ½ percent of GDP lower than expected. Capital gains and resource rent taxes were also weak. Spending was somewhat higher than anticipated, exceeding plans by 1¼ percent of GDP. 

It wasn’t the “spending like a drunken sailor” that Hockey tells us about Labor. In fact,  note the comment that the surplus predicted by then Treasurer Wayne Swan was thwarted by unexpected external factors that affected the projected gains from trade and exports. It wasn’t a Labor lie or ‘broken promise’

The fiscal situation can improve, and we can reach a surplus without the drastic cuts that the Abbott Government is set on implementing. This chart by the IMF shows how Australia can achieve a slow but steady pace towards fiscal consistency and stability (in other words, get rid of the deficit and gain surplus), without harming the poor, the sick, the aged and other vulnerable sections of society. In fact, the IMF Report suggested:

10. Policy space to manage risks. The floating exchange rate provides a key cushion against such shocks. The RBA has some room to respond, and the rapid and effective monetary transmission mechanism in Australia would allow for a nimble policy response should these risks emerge. But with the policy rate currently low at 2½ percent, the scope for monetary policy to offset shocks is limited and a sharp deterioration in the economic outlook would call for additional policy responses.As discussed below, Australia’s modest public debt level gives the authorities the scope to allow automatic stabilizers to operate in full and to temper the pace of budget deficit reduction when needed.

Note the last phrase “Australia’ modest public debt level” (i.e. we don’t have an overblown budget), “temper the pace of budget deficit reduction when needed” (it does not signify we have a current ‘emergency’, does it?).

Of course, we need to be prudent in public spending. Joe Hockey is correct when he claims Australia cannot carry on spending and the budget deficit has to be addressed. But there is an alternative to drastically cutting social welfare services and allowances in order to balance the budget. What Hockey  refers to as excessive costs in health, education, disability, aged care and pensions (‘social expendituress’ ) in fact only comprises 10.5% of GDP. Compare that to ‘non-social’ spending (e.g. government services, & salaries, defence — I guess, you could also  throw in parliamentary salaries and privileges in there)., which takes the bigger slice of the pie, 14.5% of GDP. There is room to pare down such ‘non-social’ government expenditures (abolishing the purchase of JSFs, for one, and cutting down business subsidies), while maintaining slight increase in  ‘social’ funding, and still achieve a surplus,  as the IMF fiscal consistency chart shows below:

That’s right, readers — there is absolutely no need for panic at this time. And a slow but steady trajectory towards surplus can be managed without the drastic cuts to social welfare benefits, health, education and aged care/pensions.

The other side of the coin has been ignored so far by this government: how to increase productivity and government revenue. How the government can hope to increase tax revenue  by axing 3,000 ATO staff  — the biggest slash among PS departments — confounds all reason. And what about those subsidies and tax breaks business?

This Coalition government simply ‘protesteth too much’ — in Shakespearean lingo — saying something over and over again, to make people believe, but a smart person knows it’s a lie. The hidden agenda is to impose their right-wing, neoliberal approach on our social and economic life: one that is individualistic and geared to the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’.  It gives rise to the notion that if you’re poor, it’s your own bloody fault, so cop it.  But what tends to happen in this free-market scenario  is that it’s the economic and social elite (yes,  including daughters of politicians in power) who ‘survive’ and prosper because they tend to have the advantages of  wealth, good health, better education and opportunities; those less fortunate find it harder, if not impossible, to break out of their poor circumstances and get ahead in life.

Is this the image of a good, a fair Australia?

Reference: International Monetary Fund, 2014. Australia. 2013 Article IV Consultation—Staff Report; Press Release; And Statement by the Executive Director of Australia. IMF Country Report No. 14/51. Washington, DC: IMF. [available online: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr1451.pdf.]

Response to Miranda Devine: False Assumptions About March in March

A recent blog by Miranda Devine in the online version of The Telegraph  came to my attention via one of the March in March Facebook pages. 
http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/mirandadevine/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/angry_lefties_mad_as_a_march_marcher/

Being one who does pay attention to what the ‘other side’ thinks, I had a very good read of it. I was astounded at the many false assumptions made in her piece. So I was compelled to send off a response. Not holding too much hope that my comment will see the light of day on her blog, I reproduce it here in my own space.

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Well done, Miranda — you managed to collect the few negatives from the March in March to make the whole mass of protesters seem evil and sinister.

We were not all lefties (and I really don’t know why lefties=bad, after all, it was the lefties who pushed for decent wages for workers). Many marchers were what you might call ‘ordinary Australians’. Sure there were Labor and Green members, unionists, human rights activists, but there were also those who were protesting for the first time, even former LNP supporters, disturbed at the current government’s display of lack of humanity, its complete disregard of climate change concerns, its backdown on the Gonski reform, its lack of transparency, People marched simply to give voice to their discontent on various issues. Yes, there was some hatred for Abbott expressed in placards, but that was not the intention of organisers, nor was there a multitude of them. The ones you mentioned in your article, I wager, would account for 80% of the total vile placards. The lead organisers did not condone personal abuse and insults, nor personal threats, and before the marches issued a plea to keep all slogans decent. But in a loosely organised, grassroots-oriented movement like March in March, with no real structure and mechanisms for sanctions, one that wholly depended on the will and resources of the people to organise the marches, unsavoury elements were hard to police. It was always hard for organisers to choose between exerting authoritative/dictatorial control and allowing freedom of expression, as you would agree, perhaps, as a plain ‘l’ liberal.

You have the right to criticise what you see as wrong; so do we, marchers. But unlike you, we don’t have the backing of a powerful media outlet to carry our messages across — so we march, as common people, as is our democratic right.

Dear Sydney Morning Herald re March In March

Love your mother

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Dear SMH,

Today my friends and I were flicking through your pages with a regular Monday morning happiness. As per Monday during footy season, we are fairly certain we navigated patiently through a double page spread describing an enthralling Dragons Vs Cowboys match in Wollongong with a quoted 8,345 attendees, but we may be confused with any week from the upcoming 26. Normally it’s quite tedious to scroll through the sports wrap, but we were happy to do so this morning as we reveled in the excitement of turning the pages and that beautiful moment when we would finally land in your heart to read about the mighty March In March. We searched and searched, turned and turned. We soon realized that there was NO mention of the march. Maybe we’d missed it? Was there a feature article insert that may have fallen out? It was a nationwide march…

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