Better-Management Newsletter

Written by  John Rofe of Auckland, New Zealand, Better-Management Newsletters keep you up to date with vital world issues.  John has extensive knowledge and experience in finance, economics, energy and history;  his speciality is company turnarounds.

Scroll down to read the latest editions.  Scroll to the end for links to previous editions.

Better-Management Newsletter 26 May

 More EU smoke and mirrors / China – ditto / Tayyip Erdogan thinks Germany is stupid / Renewable Energy, some progress / Earth’s surface not so stable / The crooked US banks and DOJ / Water, water not everywhere / Chinese puzzles

More EU smoke and mirrors

 The ECB is starting another form of QE…Mario Draghi will do whatever it takes.  Perhaps negative interest rates aren’t low enough?

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecb-policy-credit-exclusive-idUSKCN0YG14H

The IMF is still demanding that the EU writes off some of Greece’s debt, yet they still hold out.  Meantime, as Greece kowtows further with new austerity legislation, they are to get some debt relief for now…from Seeking Alpha…

In an agreement announced early Wednesday, Greece won additional pledges of debt relief, but nothing substantial until 2018 at the earliest, and only then if it continues to carry out the painful reforms it agreed to over the weekend. Eurozone finance ministers and the IMF also gave a green light for the next round of aid for Athens, including €10.3B in fresh loans, starting with a €7.5B installment in the second half of June. Greek bond yields slid to six-month lows following the announcement.”

But will it change anything?

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36376836

So the IMF reserves their position…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36382973

China – ditto

Meanwhile the currency wars drift onwards…from Seeking Alpha…

The People’s Bank of China lowered the yuan’s reference rate by 0.3% to 6.5693 per dollar overnight, marking the currency’s weakest level against the greenback since March 2011. The move could increase tensions between China and its trading partners, as recent strength in the dollar and yen make exports from those countries less competitive globally.”

And just a couple of items from the “Daily Reckoning”…

” A couple of recent articles have again highlighted just how fragile our economic and financial system is:

I predict that the current level of household net worth is not sustainable. I believe that some unforeseeable event will prick the bubble, perhaps this year. The result will be recession which will, unfortunately, be accompanied by more misguided monetary and fiscal policies. I call this monetary and fiscal policy insanity: Keep doing the same thing and expect a different result! I would love to be wrong, but I doubt I will be.

— Dr Daniel Thornton, 12 May 2016

It is neither possible nor necessary to force economic growing by levering up…

Trees cannot grow to the sky. High leverage will inevitably bring about high risks, which could lead to a systemic financial crisis, negative economic growth and even wipe out ordinary people’s savings…  

China’s economic performance will not be U-shaped and definitely not V-shaped. It will be L-shaped…’

— China’s official newspaper, The People’s Daily, 12 May 2016

More and more people seem to agree with my estimation of a 55% probability that bad stuff will happen this year.

Also…

“As the UK Daily Telegraph recently stated:

China’s debt is approaching $30 trillion. The fresh credit alone created since 2007 is greater than the outstanding liabilities of the US, Japanese, German, and Indian commercial banking systems combined.’ “

I am getting bored with sending out bad economic news…today I feel bad about the lives of the people in Venezuela as they sell down all their gold so some of the privileged can get access to food…and so on, and so on.

All that I am concerned about is what will happen later this year and try to take precautions so I lose as little as possible.

Meantime…for the old folks…you cannot get paid a pension if the pension funds don’t get interest or dividends on their investments…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3977038-coming-fed-induced-pension-bust?source=email_macro_view_eco_3_19&ifp=0

The need to keep pension funds from collapsing is the best reason for a Fed interest rates hike in June.

Tayyip Erdogan thinks Germany is stupid

Tayyip Erdogan is right, but does he think the EU is stupid? From Seeking Alpha…

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to scrap a refugee deal with the European Union just 24 hours after he met Germany’s Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a U.N. conference in Istanbul. What went wrong? Erdogan feels the EU isn’t keeping its word on financial aid and shouldn’t constantly impose criteria in return for pledged visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.”

Donald Trump has done many of the things presidents get kicked out for, so we need to wonder how come he is still in the race?  You have to wonder when looking at this, whether any aspiring candidate would be clean enough to deal with the level of scrutiny that candidates for POTUS get  (Editor’s note: Obama certainly was not scrutinized)…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/25/exclusive-donald-trump-signed-off-deal-designed-to-deprive-us-of/

But will the Donald be any different to the likes of the folk working for Mr Obama? (Another Editor’s note: it depends whether he does most of what he says now – or gets assassinated for similar reasons to JFK.)

http://thecrux.com/the-scandal-in-washington-no-one-is-talking-about/

Norfolk Island is revolting…but don’t worry, it is only against the Aussies…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-36376219

Renewable Energy, some progress

 This is just for your information and should not be construed as investment advice…if you want that, talk to your own investment adviser.

There are two possibly market disruptive technologies that I am following and occasionally report on.  The first is the mythological EESU, being developed by EEStor Corporation and its 71.3% owned subsidiary  (TMX:ESU.V), which could revolutionise electrical energy storage and provide for a logical transition away from fossil fuels if it works.

Before their work and news flow recommences, we are waiting to hear how EEStor got on with its latest capital raising.

The second is the hydrogen technologies being used and developed by Eden Energy Ltd (ASX:EDE).  They have just completed a capital raising for the production facility increases for “Edencrete”.  The details are attached herewith….

http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20160523/pdf/437dv2bbqq0xrm.pdf

FYI, we own shares in both.  I am not buying or selling shares in either company and regard both as speculative and high risk with high risk of loss.

For anyone who is interested in Eden’s potential to disrupt the structural concrete market, this is the current position on trialling their addition of carbon nano-tubes and fibres to concrete….replacing the use of rebar and steel reinforcing…

http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20160516/pdf/4378c1jtvyrd40.pdf

The Eden process for splitting natural gas into carbon nano-tubes and hydrogen is patented and likely the nano-tubes, when trialled with various polymers as well as concrete, to be a game changer for structural materials.  Certainly the process could be market disruptive for hydrogen (use in fuel cells) because hydrogen effectively becomes a fully funded by-product of splitting the methane.

 Earth’s surface not so stable

https://www.youtube.com/embed/iEPW_P7GVB8

This explains why I am rather fixated with such things as sun spots, CMEs, the proximity of the earth to the sun and the incidents of volcanism…

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/40-volcanoes-are-erupting-right-now-as-the-crust-of-the-earth-becomes-increasingly-unstable

Michael Snyder is about as fundamental a Christian as one can find…but that does not mean the information in this link is wrong.

Unfortunately, this is a subject where everyone has a theory and all theories are dogmatically held, but there are three points I am concerned about.

  1. Humans will never be able to cool the climate.  Too many uncontrollable fires, conflicts and “accidents”.  85% of our energy comes from the three fossil fuels and currently we have no alternatives to their use.
  2. Any action to try to control CO2 emissions is certain assist crashing the global economy.
  3. While the IPCC mob are far better funded, there appears to be just as many eminent scientists who are sceptics.  The supposed ‘97% scientists consensus’ was a fraudulent report.

The crooked US banks and DOJ

 Several years ago I was surprised to hear that Arthur Andersen won their court battle against the US Department Of Justice.  It was a Pyrrhic victory because they had already been destroyed by the DOJ and their various offices and resources sold off to third parties.  The US Government wins cases by demanding money with menaces and mostly they win, because a couple of billion dollars settlement is often a better result than being destroyed like Arthur Andersen.

Although Bank of America hadn’t done anything wrong, they were forced to take over the bankrupt Countrywide Bank without due diligence during the GFC and the failing company probably had.  But they argued the toss and eventually got a win on appeal.  Perhaps the DOJ could take them to the Supreme Court…

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/05/24/409717.htm

Who is the worst villain?  The DOJ which uses theft as a cynical means of depriving defendants of the ability to defend themselves, or the banksters.  In this case I had hoped the DOJ would win.

 Both Brent and WTI prices are hovering around USD50/bbl on COMEX.  But Shell don’t expect good times, any time soon…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-25/shell-cuts-2-200-more-jobs-to-withstand-lower-for-longer-oil

This means to me that there are a number of conventional oil companies moving back into profit.

It won’t affect the fate of many others in tar sands and shale plays, who need much higher prices.

Meanwhile, is Elon Musk trying to “put lipstick on a pig” with his superb EVs?  The fatal flaw of a Tesla car is the battery.  Lithium-ion is not a mass market energy storage dielectric for cars.  His business will fail because he has linked the success of Tesla to the construction of the battery giga-factory…which relies on lithium-ion.  Aside from that he is trying to run too far and too fast…

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-24/tesla-compared-enron-ponzi-scheme-scathing-new-research-report

If oil was an infinite resource, then Enron may have survived.  If the battery was good enough, then Tesla may survive.  But I reckon it isn’t and Tesla won’t. Even so, its a case where I hope I will be proven wrong.  Elon is one of the few true business heroes.

Meanwhile, geopolitical issues play on the oil markets…particularly in the USA…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3977118-cushing-draws-800k-barrels-oil-markets-daily?source=email_macro_view_com_4_15&ifp=0

 Iran will have an increasing role with natural gas production…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3977759-iranian-sanctions-repealed-focus-natural-gas

Water, water not everywhere

 The penny is sinking in for Californian farmers.  There was once a time when it was all regarded as desert.  But then aquifers were tapped and irrigation from rivers was diverted….now these are playing out.

http://www.wired.com/2016/05/thanks-el-nino-californias-drought-probably-forever

China’s Southern neighbours must be getting really scared…from Sinocism…

Dropping Tibet, Fighting  Gravity-Diverting Tibetan Waters Into The Canal To The Deep North | Rukor The three Tibet water diversion routes can be built as three separate projects, over a long period if need be, but the official website of the project insists they must be done in a certain order. First, and at a high altitude, is the Yalong River Water Diversion Line, requiring a tunnel 131 kms long. The project promoters state: “Bayankala Mountain lies between Huanghe River and Changjiang River. The elevation of the bed of the Huanghe [Yellow] River is higher than that of the correspondent section of Changjiang [Yangtze] by 80-450 m. It is necessary for the water transfer project that a high dam will be constructed for damming water or some pumping stations be set up for lifting water, and some long tunnels will be driven through Bayankala Mountain. Two methods of water diversion, flowing by gravity and by pumping were considered. But for each of them, a high dam in height of 200 m or so will have to be constructed and some long tunnels over 100 km in length to be driven.” This remains the primary obstacle, greatly increasing cost. It is the reason China is now emphasizing “big reservoirs.”  // this is post #1 in a series of 8 blog posts on Tibetan rivers”

Chinese puzzles

 China is running to catch up with innovation…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-0192822d-14f1-432b-bd25-92eab6466362

After establishing precious metals exchanges in the last few years, China wants to dominate all commodity price setting…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-25/new-york-london-on-notice-as-china-targets-commodities-pricing

Bad debts are rising for the banks…who stay in denial…from Sinocism…

Commercial Debt Dodgers Pressure China’s Banks-Caixin Bankers nationwide are rushing to call loans issued to state-owned and private companies to avoid a rising tide of debt dodging that’s not only legal but often supported by the government. Some companies in the past year have frustrated creditors by declaring bankruptcy, while companies in the steel manufacturing and coal mining industries have used asset restructuring projects to avoid debt obligations. “Many companies are using bankruptcy and asset restructuring as measures to skip out on bank loan repayments,” said a source at a bank who asked not to be named.”

The solution is easy, just spend like there is no tomorrow…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3977292-chart-day-chinas-office-building-frenzy-goes-ballistic-4x-2-years?source=email_macro_view_rea_est_0_26&ifp=0

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Better-Management Newsletter 22 May

 Refugee crises / G7 and currency wars? / Pension Plans go belly up / Oil oscillations / Which way for energy? / The Pacific Ring of Fire

 Refugee crises

 The refugee crisis is about to spark into life again in Southern Europe with the deal with Turkey pretty much on the rocks…. and refugees starting to flood North from Libya, Morocco and elsewhere in North Africa…from Seeking Alpha…

Two months after the EU’s controversial deal with Turkey came into effect, still no refugees have been deported from Greece under terms of the new pact. “No asylum seeker will be sent back under the EU-Turkey agreement if, in their individual case, Turkey cannot be considered a safe third or first country of asylum,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said. The program’s slow start risks undermining the migrant deterrent emphasized in the agreement signed in March.”

Far more concerning is the situation in the South China Sea.  China is preparing its military to protect its newly constructed islands.  Meantime the USA is negotiating with Vietnam to base strategic military assets in Vietnam for the first time since the Vietnam war.  This will be a “wow!” moment.

If we add to this the proximity of a verdict from the UN on the complaint over the breach of UNCLOS in the South and East China Seas, and the statements by senior Chinese officials who are already saying they will reject any verdict against their interests.

So one must ask… “Will it be war?”  This may require careful handling, given Chinese media sabre-rattling of late.

This may be why Xi Jinping has taken charge of the armed forces.  So he can control events.  I am quite concerned at the escalating rhetoric on Chinese media about the aggressive posturing of the USA and other claimants to the islands in dispute.  If the court case is against China, Xi Jinping may be painted into a corner by his media….but of course a month ago they made all media bosses accountable to the Chinese Communist Party.

G7 and currency wars?

G7 is meeting..will this be just another talk fest?  Certainly central banks are low on ammunition and deflation is hitting almost everywhere…from Seeking Alpha…

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 are gathering in Japan for a two-day meeting that will discuss a broad range of global risks. Among them: swings in oil prices, world growth, Brexit, cybersecurity, tax evasion, monetary policy and financial regulation. A surging yen is also pushing Washington and Tokyo into a standoff over currency intervention, and U.S. officials hope to convince the latter to temper its threats regarding a yen devaluation.”

Will currency wars continue?  I suppose so…

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-g7-japan-idUSKCN0YB0DQ

The warnings of impending global financial disaster continue to flow…

https://www.caseyresearch.com/cm/urgent-warning-to-every-american-with-a-bank-account-presentation

Meanwhile Russia goes on its own charm offensive…

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-asean-idUSKCN0YB14P?il=0

Harry S. Dent ( a US fund manager with a great track record) reckons that China will be the catalyst for the next big bust on the global markets.  I can see the bubble he talks about, but still cannot see the pin that will pop it….

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3976382-easily-become-worst-urban-crisis-history?source=email_macro_view_top_articles_2_2&ifp=0

Then there is this article which may present a plan to break out of deflation – can’t see it myself – but who knows, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel …

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3976358-secret-fed-plan-buy-gold?source=email_macro_view_gol_pre_met_0_12&ifp=0

Pension plans go belly up

 The advent of negative interest rates and low interest rates (everywhere else)  spells disaster for those who thought their retirement was going to be covered by the annuities from savings.

The problem when you retire is that you lose the ability to recover from any losses.  Resilience goes with your last day on the job, and  together with it goes company car, perks, medical insurance etc.

For those with pensions?

In the USA, they persisted longer than elsewhere with the defined benefit plans.  That means, plans where it doesn’t matter how much money the plan has or is getting in, the retirees still get what the scheme has said they will be entitled to.  At least, that is until the scheme you are in goes bust.  Those schemes are running into trouble one after another….unless the plans are government guaranteed, even major corporations cannot prop them up in the face of the retirement of baby boomers on the one hand and lousy or negative investment returns on the other.  Would you pay into a scheme that is already going bust? This is just a case in point…

http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/20/retirement/central-states-pension-fund/

In Australasia, unless you are very privileged to have a government guaranteed defined benefit plan, you will likely be in a defined contribution plan, where you get out only what you put in….rather the annual income from your plan investments.

If you are young, I have some bad news for you..

Don’t think for a moment that your thrift will make you much better off than the folk who save nothing.   I get to witness numerous statutory declarations by people pulling out of pension funds.  For young folk it is often because they need the money to buy their first house.  For older people it is always due to hardship (nearly always).  When we get to middle or older age, health and family crises often mean we cannot earn in our later years, or we lose money to some fraud or other.  The proportion of middle or high income folk who are stiffed by outright fraud or failing investments is extremely high.  In later life, losses can never be recouped. That drops us into the lap of whatever government support is going, along with the folk who drank, took drugs or were long term unemployed.

It is impossible to believe that with such a high proportion of the voting public unable to pay their way in later life, the government will not look after them.

So the key issue is to ensure you have your house paid off before that circumstance of retirement or incapacity arises.  At least that gives you shelter.

I suppose our own personal experiences resonate.  Our income from investments is now 25% of what it was when we retired, and falling due to reduced payouts as well as losses.  If/when interest rates go negative, we will need to be on our toes.  But that is likely to be the time when gold and silver come back into play.  Who will want to hold money in banks then?

Oil oscillations

 Two of the highest cost areas for producing oil are in North America and were responsible on their own for the oil glut that emerged in mid 2015.  Blaming OPEX is just BS.  The oil sands were on a long term growth path in Canada and the shale oil Ponzi scheme, funded by Wall Street hype did the rest.  Now many shale companies are going broke, followed by some of the oil sands producers.  But while both have a low EROEI  (oil sands, 6-8:1 and shale 15-25:1) oil sands have a much higher initial capital cost so the oil sands companies are less affected by insolvency.

The disaster at Fort McMurray was already there before the fires wiped out 20% of properties and trashed the infrastructure….but happening in the face of low oil prices and extremely low demand, how will Fort McMurray cope?

http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/05/13/Fort-McMurray-Slow-Burn/

There can be little doubt that in an energy scarce world, these locked in oil resources will be harnessed, but with a long winter of depression arguably on its way, recovery may take quite a while as demand takes a further hit.  Meanwhile the fire fighters are gaining ground… from Seeking Alpha…

Firefighters are making some progress against the wildfire in the Fort McMurray region of northern Alberta as rain and a shift in winds pushed it away from communities and oil sands facilities. The blaze, which hit the area in early May, has forced the evacuation of more than 8,000 oil sands workers and prolonged a shutdown that has cut Canadian oil output by a million barrels a day.”

The Alberta fires have hopped the fence and burning in Saskatchewan.  This new fire province is home to the highest value uranium mines and also the gold and other precious metals.  But fortunately still sparsely populated.

As far as oil prices go, the rebalancing of supply and demand that everyone is drawing attention to, is now being offset by other negative trends in the economy.  It appears pretty much like what occurred during the last years of whale oil…spikes up and spikes down.  Now even investment gurus like Buffett and Munger are nonplussed.  They own BNSF railways that haul lots of shale oil for which few pipelines exist, so they must be at least scratching their heads over it as their locos and rolling stock now stand idle…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3976684-charlie-munger-major-flip-flop-long-term-oil-prices?source=email_macro_view_top_articles_1_1&ifp=0

Which way for energy?

 Nuclear fission power has proven fraught with risk, and accidents do happen.  Waste is an abiding problem as it must be stored for thousands of years.  Nuclear fission is proving elusive and I suspect the developments will grind to a halt once an energy storage system with both the voltage and energy density promised by the mythological EESU arrive.  The EESU has the virtues of both capacitors and batteries and seemingly, none of the drawbacks.

The ITER fusion project has gone cap in hand back to the joint venture partner governments because USD20 billion has been spent and they have little to show for it….

https://www.inverse.com/article/15974-the-search-is-on-for-cheap-nuclear-fusion

I reckon that by end May we will know whether EEStor has been able to raise the money they need from their private share placement to fund negotiations for joint ventures with the major high voltage capacitor manufacturers using their existing CMBT;  and to trial some new polymers for the appropriate polarisation to align with CMBT energy forces in layers of the energy storage EESU.

Are they close?  I really have no idea.  If the HV capacitor developments work OK, we will have shares of some value.  If the energy storage EESU can hold its charge for long enough then we will be on a winner.  The higher the energy density and duration of charge, the bigger the winner would be.

The Pacific Ring of Fire

Two more earthquakes of scale happened in Ecuador yesterday and one more volcano tee’ing off today.  Is this a trend, and if so, what is causing it? …

http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/36349702

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Previous Better-Management Newsletters

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

  • Better-Management Newsletter – 27 Feb 2015 – The new cold war heats up / Putin “…smacks of genocide” / “Cover their eyes, kick-the-can and hope..” / Historic alliances subordinate to US Presidential politics / Superannuation in the Antipodes
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 26 Feb 2015 – Greece: temporary reprieve / Ukraine stand-off / The implausible Fed / Cutback in drilling rigs / Obama stymies Keystone again / Restraints on militant Islam / When solar energy fails / How good are batteries? / Will new batteries succeed? / Zenn/EESU looks promising
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 23 Feb 2015 – All this money printing / Gold and silver / Threat from Russia / Winners had access to oil / Resource sustainability / Misleading resource estimates
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 22 Feb 2015 – Ukraine deteriorates / Remember past starvation of millions of Ukrainians / Russia breaches British air space / Greece: keep the party going / Democracy no longer exists in Europe / Potential to collapse the global financial system
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 19 Feb 2015 – Greek “Trojan Horse” / Ukraine rebels ‘disobey’ ceasefire / Has Putin miscalculated??
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 18 Feb 2015 – Dynamic equilibrium – Population growth/drop?  A new paradigm?  “Shale is not even remotely economically viable” – Extreme fluctuations stimulate extreme over-corrections
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 17 Feb 2015 – Business 101 for Germany.  The world hasn’t learnt either.  Middle East holy war.  The angst is peoples against peoples.  Hold the culpable people to account.  Has China hit the skids?  Peakists v. Cornucopians.  Low-hanging fruit/oil.  
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 16 February 2015 – $26 Trillion ‘game of chicken’.  Ukraine ceasefire??  There are signs of growth about.  A slowdown in demand.  Baltic Dry shipping index plummets.  “Money for nothing and chicks for free”. Our master resource…oil.  EIA have never got any forecast right.  Debt works very badly if the economy is contracting.
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 3 February 2015 – The Twin Tower trigger…. and the horrors it triggered.  The error of America’s ways.  BRICS and the SCO grow stronger.  A financial meltdown??  Natural Gas in the USA. Oil trend – up or down?  Bitcoin currency – what next? Zenn – a turning point?  What is happening in Russia?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 1 February 2015  Oil price bottoming?  Culture of opting out.  Be nice to nerds.  Economists lost the plot.  Greece was bullied for aeons.  Substitute credit for real growth.  ‘Business as Usual’ RIP.  Where to from here?

January 2015

  • Better-Management Newsletter – 27 January 2015 – Greece mandate – for what?  Germany prepares.  Ex KGB Putin playing Good Cop?  Will Russia crash? Oil to stay below USD45/bbl?  Shale industry will be suspect.  How is Bitcoin travelling? An escape to the Antipodes?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 25 January 2015 – Nothing useful has emerged from Davos.  Another liquidity crisis?  “Economists are stupid”.  Few scientists focus on energy storage.   Negative returns on new oil wells. Economists and bankers’ solutions: print money to goose GDP.  Politicians are pawns to big business?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 23 January 2015 – Nanotechnology.  King Abdullah dead.  Super Mario’s QE.  Last throw of the EU dice?  Russia’s WW3 Game-plan -oil.  China’s Mr Li at Davos.  China’s central bank injects $8Bn
  • John’s Newsletter – 21 January 2015 – Swissie repercussions.  America’s own Berlin Wall collapsing.  Europe in trouble – the EU could soon be toast.  Gold still glisters. Oil – future in peril. Obama lying about oil. We need a new vision of the economy. After the big crash.  The realities of history.
  • John’s Newsletter – 18 January 2015 – Swiss Franc drama. Oil price to fall further? Shale oil Ponzi. Population growth – and green illogic.
  • John’s Newsletter – 17 January 2015 – Swiss Franc drama.  Oil price to fall further?  Shale oil Ponzi.  Population growth – and green illogic.
  • John’s Newsletter – 16 January 2015 – Oil (as usual).  China – a mixed bag.  Can technology save us?
  • John’s Newsletter – 15 January 2015 – Oil (as usual).  China – a mixed bag.  Can technology save us?
  • John’s Newsletter – 12 January 2015 – New GM EV.  Terrorism – not new. Turkey – formerly sectarian.  Oil prices and the financial markets.  Gold – limits to growth.  US stock markets – manipulated highs.
  • John’s Newsletter – 10 January 2015 – Electric car uptake accelerates. Je suis Hebden. EU’s unpayable debt – ditto China? Sri Lanka – new President. The Keystone fiasco.
  • John’s Newsletter – 8 January 2015 – Investment in 2015 – tricky.  EU: German deflation, Greek exit?  All stock markets peaked – except US.  China, Russia – odd bed-fellows.  Middle East powder keg.  Love Tesla.  Oil chaos, commodities slide.
  • John’s Newsletter – 6 January 2015 – 2014: growth tanking, falling currencies, irrational exuberance, ISIS and Ikhwani, the maths of oil, covert plans of the Saudis and US.
  • John’s Newsletter – 3 January 2015 – The climate change con. Justice, US-style. War criminals who led the US. Mario Draghi gets desperate. Government services shrink in line with income.
  • John’s Newsletter – 1 January 2015 – More ‘must-read’ books.  Escalation of the US/EU/OECD v BRICS/SEO differences.  Ominous oil prices defy rationale.
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Another ‘must-read’ article.

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The impact of immigration on Auckland NZ housing and infrastructure

The impact of immigration on Auckland NZ housing and infrastructure  By John Rofe, 26 May 2016

Background

During the last 20 years the number of immigrants from Asia has swelled.  This has been assisted in part by the commercialisation and privatisation of sections of the education system.  The increased numbers have led to increased visibility and also an increased share of both the residency of, and home ownership in numerous Auckland suburbs.

“Family reunification” provisions in legislation allow for parents to be brought into New Zealand under certain circumstances.  But the arrangements give preference to those persons who have only one child.  This ignores the fact that we now support numerous elderly immigrants from countries where superannuation is unknown and/or no reciprocity exits.  China has no social welfare worthy of note, let alone superannuation.

Under the family size restrictions in China, this means that most if not all Chinese students arriving in New Zealand and moving on to “permanent residency” status and then an NZ Passport, are eligible to apply.  Often a young couple will import both sets of parents.

This is not the same for most other ethnicities and nationalities.  It is this circumstance the large pool of elderly immigrants gives enhanced visibility to Chinese immigration, rather than racism.  Indeed, it could be that the elderly immigrants of Chinese origin receive an extraordinary advantage solely because of that…and I will elaborate fully on this in due course.

Auckland – to the best of my knowledge has never had negative immigration…well not since WW2.  This is because, while far less than 40% of people leaving NZ come from Auckland, far more than 60% of immigrants settle here.

Asians settling in Auckland in excess of 75% of the total

 Also arguably, the proportion of Asians that settle in Auckland would be in excess of 75% of the total.  Of the total immigrants – other than those recruited to attend educational institutions –  a small number arrive as refugees and have little impact on housing and infrastructure after assimilation.

There has never been a time since WW2 when growth in infrastructure has not been a major issue for Auckland and it has often been impeded or frustrated by national politicians from both major parties. (ie. remember Robbie’s rapid rail)

Some immigrants arrive from places like South Africa and Zimbabwe, where changing political systems make migration desirable.  Although they also have an impact on demand for housing etc, they often tend to be of European descent and therefore “don’t stand out” to other citizens.  Similarly those who migrate here from Europe or USA tend to have arrived either as wealthy people looking for a “bolt hole” or as people looking to enjoy “our way of life” – or rather their perception of it.

Many are Kiwis are now returning home after an OE or due to changed economic circumstances in their country of origin.

All in all there are now some 65,000 net migrants each year of whom most will chose to settle in Auckland.  In all, by 2030 the New Zealand population may be over 5 million and the Auckland population over 2 million – ratcheted up by the preference of immigrants for Auckland.

Try getting onto a hospital waiting list

The burden on Auckland is largely being left to Aucklanders to foot the bill for infrastructure and transport growth; and to tolerate declining amenity values from a range of things from revised zoning to stretched health services.  Try actually getting onto a hospital waiting list!  (The length of waiting lists and duration of delay are less significant and criteria are determined by edicts from Wellington instead of doctors)

After 20 years of debilitating growth, Aucklanders are questioning the logic of what is happening and the focus is falling on Chinese because of their visibility at auctions as the successful bidders… and as landlords (based on both numbers of properties let and the lesser standards of maintenance they apply to many rental houses).  Further, the elderly parents are visible in the streets of many middle class suburbs, perhaps exercising, perhaps as child minders for children and as attendees at health clinics and passengers on bus, train and ferry.  A few Chinese elderly are now starting to spill over into retirement villages and state rental units.

Government does not accept the reality

With eyes wide shut, Government does not appear to accept the reality of this situation.  One may suppose some of the reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Immigrant students are actively recruited to swell school rolls and add to the economy. Without them, the sector would suffer hardship and many education providers would become insolvent due to falling rolls versus fixed costs.
  2. Immigrant money bids up the housing market, providing a wealth effect for all homeowners as well as stimulating the construction industry.
  3. The immigrant’s money provides for extra business capital.
  4. New skills and language competencies are being imported. The Christchurch rebuild could not have happened without skilled immigrant labour.
  5. A high proportion of those who come to study in New Zealand stay on as permanent residents – eventually NZ citizens,  and commit their labour and wealth to integrating into society…doing so in a highly effective way.

Government ministers and MPs with Auckland electorates will appreciate the work load that comes with dealing with immigration issues.  If any had travelled on their own buses, trains or ferries during the day, they would also have seen the legions of elderly Chinese and wondered who is paying for their care – but obviously they do not.

Indicative numbers can be easily sourced by looking at any area.

40% of homes owned by Chinese immigrants

In the writer’s street and immediate vicinity, 40% of homes are owned by Chinese immigrants (of which about 50% are absentee landlords). 20% are owned by immigrants of Indian ethnicity and 40% by kiwis.  In the street immediately parallel 50% of houses opposite ours are owned or occupied by people of Indian ethnicity, 40% European and 10% Chinese.  This has not occurred in a hurry but over about 25 years.  Auckland’s growth has been exponential and successive governments have pandered to various business interests.  At first it was English workers, then it was Pacific Islanders to fill the factories, then when manufacturing was outsourced to Asia, then Asians.

Ignorance of the ethnicity of children on school rolls probably accounts for some national politicians’ being unaware of the impact of immigration yet the headline immigration statistics should have sufficed.

Also, China has a limit of US$50,000 on funds that can be taken offshore.  So it is from that alone that government could presume a low impact on buying from Chinese immigrants.

Plausible deniability

Unfortunately, despite the ease with which one can label the revelation of the realities affecting Auckland as “racism”, National Party politicians have seemingly pushed the envelope of plausible deniability a little bit too far.

How did all the Chinese owning so much property come to own it, if they did not buy it?  Certainly the latest stats don’t provide an answer.  Just more of the stuff that belongs on dairy farm paddocks perhaps?

National politicians want the Auckland ratepayers to ignore the evidence of their eyes on who owns the neighbourhood’s houses and to ignore the expanding council debt and rates hikes which have recently been, and in the future will be needed to fund the breakneck rate of growth required to meet demand.

The sheer numbers of the elderly Chinese immigrants, qualifying now each year for National Superannuation and Community Services Card benefits, can only be ignored for so long.  The backlog of elderly immigrants waiting out their 10 years – usually living with their children and often looking after their grandchildren in the meantime – will doubtless continue to grow.

Politicians expect voters to ignore the numerous and repeated reports in international media (that I have seen many of) that house prices are being grossly inflated in London, New York, LA, Sydney, Brisbane, Vancouver, Melbourne etc by Chinese buyers, many of whom are now known to be absentee property owners.  If it happens there, why not here?

Perhaps Mr Key does not read the international press on such matters, or discuss with the Australian Prime Minister, the Australian public’s concerns about back door entry of New Zealand’s Asian immigrants into Australia?  Yet we know it is an issue there too.

The downside

The downside of current immigration policies is:

  1. The Auckland housing build cannot possibly match the current ongoing exponential rate of growth in immigration.
  2. Auckland is approaching gridlock and Government ministers point their finger at failures within Auckland Council, rather than accepting the responsibility for the policies that exacerbate demand.
  3. The burden on the health and welfare sectors in Auckland from elderly immigrants is large but also growing exponentially.
  4. Most Chinese students did not select New Zealand as their choice of study or career prospects. So the drift to Australia and elsewhere, once they have NZ Passports, is understandable.  Now NZ is regarded as the back door for entry to Australia.  More elderly are going to be left in Auckland to the care of the state as a result.
  5. Prudential financial regulations are hurting first home buyers and this will not get easier for them. Not only are elderly existing Auckland residents leaving town, but so are young productive workers.
  6. Now the RBNZ has selectively stated (and categorically done so) that the vast bulk of young indigenous first home buyers cannot be allowed raise enough bank finance to enter the Auckland housing market. To hedge against default risks.
  7. The hundreds of homeless beggars on the streets or families living in cars are indigenous New Zealanders with Pakeha, Maori and Pacific whakapapa. Auckland even has no homeless shelter.  Yet we want to shelter the world?

The recent so-called official stats provided for a period when many Chinese had been put on hold to register for IRD numbers, bear no relationship to the reality on the ground – although in Parnell, Herne Bay and Remuera they may do so.

How did this happen? And will things improve?

We live in a country that like in many OECD countries, employs private sector experts to consult on law.  Whether it is banking, justice, tax or immigration, this gives them a competitive advantage because they can then go and advise their clients how to get around the laws.  The revolving door between government and private sector should mean that this is no surprise to the Mandarins of Wellington.  Yet they continually presume that their law is robust.  It is no different with immigration.

There has been a confluence of circumstances.  It is wrong to ascribe blame to immigrants because New Zealand policy is deficient – and has been for the last 20 years.  The fact that people see something as being to their advantage is what every migrant would have considered since the coming of our ancestors to these shores.  They effectively enter into a contract to come here under the umbrella of existing politics, mores and regulations as they are affected by them.

Sure the Chinese have the extraordinary advantage of a “One Child” policy… so I can describe how things work for them.  They are the only ethnic group for whom I believe reasonably accurate details of a uniform process have been provided to me.  But I must reinforce the fact that all immigrants are advantaged by New Zealand policy frameworks that were originally targeted at attracting people to replace those young folks who left our shores.

The upside of those policies never really helped Auckland deal with growth but the downside has adversely affected Auckland.

An urgent review is needed so the disproportionate demand-side issues affecting Auckland can be addressed .

Disclaimer:  I can only go on the detail of what a couple of young Chinese have carefully explained to me and this is not the sort of subject that one citizen may question another on.  So while the information is probably very accurate, it may prove not applicable in some individual instances.  It certainly requires official verification…

  1. Choice of country. It is well known in (at least) some Chinese cities that New Zealand is an excellent place to retire to, and, after a qualifying period of ten years up to age 65yrs, the older adults can universally expect full generous retirement allowances from the New Zealand government, equal to those received by the wider NZ population who have been paying taxes all their working lives.  There are emigration consultancies in China who are fully aware of the rules and are known to advise prospective travellers to leave funds in China, or park them with children if they wish to qualify for a Community Services card and gain access to government housing.  So the choice of country of destination for study is usually made by the parents of children who come to study in New Zealand.
  2. The parents often first visit as a tourist, to spy out the lie of the land.
  3. If there is any reticence over the probability of success for their child getting citizenship, they are emphatically reassured by the recruiters for NZ educational institutions that they can expect a smooth path to citizenship if they choose to come, learn and stay in NZ. They are kept advised of changes to NZ requirements for “family reunification” rules and criteria by their local emigration adviser.
  4. After a period of residency and study, students typically get a Permanent Resident endorsement in their overseas passport and this is able to be used to sponsor their parents to visit. Then later they may apply for a NZ Passport.
  5. If the child wishes to go overseas, they may still honour their obligations to import their parents into New Zealand and sometimes leave New Zealand to work overseas, even before their parents are eventually granted their own NZ Passport.
  6. Houses in Auckland are routinely bought by impecunious Chinese students for substantial sums on behalf of their parents. However I am also told other house ownership structures are used for both asset concealment (here and there) and so that the parent has sufficient funds to qualify for access under “family reunification”.
  7. As Premier Xi Jinping tightens controls over the Chinese media (which is now accountable direct to the CCP), fraud, unauthorised money flows etc.; the attractiveness of NZ increases.  But will Chinese regulations actually reduce numbers?  That remains unknown.
  8. In 2015, it is openly reported that over US$750 billion left China in unauthorised money flows, much inflating the property values in the capital cities within selected OECD countries. I have seen reports from analysts who suggest that the informal/unauthorised sums exported may fall to around /below US$500 billion in 2016, depending on Chinese policy and controls.  I think we can presume safely that plenty of this money hits our shores!  Even so, there are now signs of reduced Chinese buying in Australia and London.

Internationally, the phenomenon of Chinese buying is driven by the perceived need to extract money from within the totalitarian society and place it in a secure offshore location.  The phenomenon is credited with property bubbles in those key cities.  The huge inflows of Chinese money may be partly to blame, but as property prices have risen, the central banks have been dropping interest rates to unprecedented lows.

The reason for reduction of interest rates elsewhere, was to stimulate consumer demand and overcome economic stagnation, which is not apparent at the same level in New Zealand.  Yet the RBNZ is slowly reducing interest rates as deflation also becomes an enduring issue for us.

2017 will be different for reasons I won’t go into here.  But new restrictions on the availability of funds for young Kiwis to buy their first house, when the immigrant flood is yet unchecked, will prove more divisive than it appears already.

Supply side efforts are simply not enough

In any review of immigration policy, it will be impractical and I suppose illegal, to target different ethnicities within legislative changes, so the Government must face up to dealing with applications from all aspiring immigrants.  Supply side efforts are simply not enough and have already failed Auckland.

So far, the National Government has left everything to Local Government or to fiscal control measures under the RBNZ.  This is a cop out.  Neither can cope.  Nor should the interest of young New Zealanders be abandoned just because the task is difficult.  Perhaps the New Zealand Government can be embarrassed into taking a proactive stance and not hanging out to dry the Auckland Council, its ratepayers and aspiring first home buyers?

This short essay is not about criticising Chinese immigrants (who, not only have done nothing wrong, but also are proving to be excellent citizens), it is about recognising the unintended consequences and shortfalls of existing Government policy and rectifying it.

Meantime, the “hated/despised JAFAs” have been joined by another sub class within NZ society, called the JAARs (Just Another Auckland Refugee).  We Aucklanders all know young and old friends and family members who have relocated elsewhere and therefore inflated property values in Hamilton and Tauranga….and further afield.  It isn’t just congestion or the cost of rates and utilities that drives people out of Auckland, but a collapse of income from savings and investments that forces older people out.

Bullying Auckland into accepting worse zoning, transport, amenity and environmental conditions is definitely not the way forward.

It is a hard road to tread, but we do elect and expect Government to tread it.

Meantime how many of the 1 million new Chinese tourists  Prime Minister Key is to recruit to tour NZ will actually join our numbers permanently? Like the UK….

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/12/the-gap-between-official-migrant-figures-and-the-truth-is-as-wid/

Supply-side tinkering will not cut it.  But then, nor will knee-jerk reactions on the demand-side issues help.  I argue the immigration status quo is not tenable.

The introduction of family reunification only for immigrants from countries where there is superannuation and reciprocity would be a good start (other than for refugees and distressed persons of course).

It seems time for a comprehensive review of immigration rules.

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Why Islam needs a reformation

Why Islam needs a reformation  By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Wall Street Journal, 21 March 2015

Editor’s note: this article is repeated because of its relevancy, and Ms Ali’s triumphal tour of Australia, where she is running verbal rings around the various Islamophobes and left-wing apologist applying her knowledge and practical proposals.

“ISLAM’S borders are bloody,” wrote the late US political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70 per cent of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims.

In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks worldwide. The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims.

By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence — including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics — are Muslims themselves.

Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself.

For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.

When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world.

What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam.

Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offences, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honour or to the honour of Islam itself.

It is not just al-Qa’ida and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice.

It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labelled as blasphemy and punishable by death.

It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime”.

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.

It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.

Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland cliches about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice.

We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

As it turns out, the West has some experience with this sort of reformist project. It is precisely what took place in Judaism and Christianity over the centuries, as both traditions gradually consigned the violent passages of their own sacred texts to the past.

Many parts of the Bible and the Talmud reflect patriarchal norms, and both also contain many stories of harsh human and divine retribution. As President Barack Obama said in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last month, “Remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

Yet today, because their faiths went through a long, meaningful process of Reformation and Enlightenment, the vast majority of Jews and Christians have come to dismiss religious scripture that urges intolerance or violence.

There are literalist fringes in both religions, but they are true fringes. Regrettably, in Islam, it is the other way around: It is those seeking religious reform who are the fringe element.

Any serious discussion of Islam must begin with its core creed, which is based on the Koran (the words said to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed) and the hadith (the accompanying works that detail Mohammed’s life and words).

Despite some sectarian differences, this creed unites all Muslims. All, without exception, know by heart these words: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is His messenger.” This is the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.

The Shahada might seem to be a declaration of belief no different from any other. But the reality is that the Shahada is both a religious and a political symbol.

In the early days of Islam, when Mohammed was going from door to door in Mecca trying to persuade the polytheists to abandon their idols of worship, he was inviting them to accept that there was no god but Allah and that he was Allah’s messenger.

After 10 years of trying this kind of persuasion, however, he and his small band of believers went to Medina, and from that moment, Mohammed’s mission took on a political dimension.

Unbelievers were still invited to submit to Allah, but after Medina, they were attacked if they refused. If defeated, they were given the option to convert or to die. (Jews and Christians could retain their faith if they submitted to paying a special tax.)

No symbol represents the soul of Islam more than the Shahada. But today there is a contest within Islam for the ownership of that symbol. Who owns the Shahada? Is it those Muslims who want to emphasise Mohammed’s years in Mecca or those who are inspired by his conquests after Medina? On this basis, I believe that we can distinguish three different groups of Muslims.

The first group is the most problematic. These are the fundamentalists who, when they say the Shahada, mean: “We must live by the strict letter of our creed.”

They envision a regimen based on Shariah, Islamic religious law. They argue for an Islam largely or completely unchanged from its original seventh-century version. What is more, they take it as a requirement of their faith that they impose it on everyone else.

I shall call them Medina Muslims, in that they see the forcible imposition of Shariah as their religious duty. They aim not just to obey Mohammed’s teaching but also to emulate his warlike conduct after his move to Medina. Even if they do not themselves engage in violence, they do not hesitate to condone it.

It is Medina Muslims who call Jews and Christians “pigs and monkeys”. It is Medina Muslims who prescribe death for the crime of apostasy, death by stoning for adultery and hanging for homosexuality. It is Medina Muslims who put women in burqas and beat them if they leave their homes alone or if they are improperly veiled.

The second group — and the clear majority throughout the Muslim world — consists of Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but are not inclined to practice violence.

I call them Mecca Muslims. Like devout Christians or Jews who attend religious services every day and abide by religious rules in what they eat and wear, Mecca Muslims focus on religious observance. I was born in Somalia and raised as a Mecca Muslim. So were the majority of Muslims from Casablanca to Jakarta.

Yet the Mecca Muslims have a problem: Their religious beliefs exist in an uneasy tension with modernity — the complex of economic, cultural and political innovations that not only reshaped the Western world but also dramatically transformed the developing world as the West exported it.

The rational, secular and individualistic values of modernity are fundamentally corrosive of traditional societies, especially hierarchies based on gender, age and inherited status.

Trapped between two worlds of belief and experience, these Muslims are engaged in a daily struggle to adhere to Islam in the context of a society that challenges their values and beliefs at every turn.

Many are able to resolve this tension only by withdrawing into self-enclosed (and increasingly self-governing) enclaves. This is called cocooning, a practice whereby Muslim immigrants attempt to wall off outside influences, permitting only an Islamic education for their children and disengaging from the wider non-Muslim community.

It is my hope to engage this second group of Muslims — those closer to Mecca than to Medina — in a dialogue about the meaning and practice of their faith.

I recognise that these Muslims are not likely to heed a call for doctrinal reformation from someone they regard as an apostate and infidel.

But they may reconsider if I can persuade them to think of me not as an apostate but as a heretic: one of a growing number of people born into Islam who have sought to think critically about the faith we were raised in. It is with this third group — only a few of whom have left Islam altogether — that I would now identify myself.

These are the Muslim dissidents. A few of us have been forced by experience to conclude that we could not continue to be believers; yet we remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. The majority of dissidents are reforming believers — among them clerics who have come to realise that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.

How many Muslims belong to each group? Ed Husain of the US Council on Foreign Relations estimates that only 3 per cent of the world’s Muslims understand Islam in the militant terms I associate with Mohammed’s time in Medina.

But out of well over 1.6 billion believers, or 23 per cent of the globe’s population, that 48 million seems to be more than enough. (I would put the number significantly higher, based on survey data on attitudes toward Shariah in Muslim countries.)

In any case, regardless of the numbers, it is the Medina Muslims who have captured the world’s attention on the airwaves, over social media, in far too many mosques and, of course, on the battlefield.

The Medina Muslims pose a threat not just to non-Muslims. They also undermine the position of those Mecca Muslims attempting to lead a quiet life in their cultural cocoons throughout the Western world. But those under the greatest threat are the dissidents and reformers within Islam, who face ostracism and rejection, who must brave all manner of insults, who must deal with the death threats — or face death itself.

For the world at large, the only viable strategy for containing the threat posed by the Medina Muslims is to side with the dissidents and reformers and to help them to do two things: first, identify and repudiate those parts of Mohammed’s legacy that summon Muslims to intolerance and war, and second, persuade the great majority of believers — the Mecca Muslims — to accept this change.

Islam is at a crossroads. Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion.

To some extent — not least because of widespread revulsion at the atrocities of Islamic State, al-Qa’ida and the rest — this process has already begun. But it needs leadership from the dissidents, and they in turn stand no chance without support from the West.

What needs to happen for us to defeat the extremists for good? Economic, political, judicial and military tools have been proposed and some of them deployed. But I believe that these will have little effect unless Islam itself is reformed.

Such a reformation has been called for repeatedly at least since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent abolition of the caliphate. But I would like to specify precisely what needs to be reformed.

I have identified five precepts central to Islam that have made it resistant to historical change and adaptation. Only when the harmfulness of these ideas are recognised and they are repudiated will a true Muslim Reformation have been achieved.

Here are the five areas that require amendment:

  1. Mohammed’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Koran.

Mohammed should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Koran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Koran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Koran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

  1. The supremacy of life after death.

The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

  1. Sharia, the vast body of religious legislation.

Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

  1. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.

There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

  1. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.

Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

I know that this argument will make many Muslims uncomfortable. Some are bound to be offended by my proposed amendments. Others will contend that I am not qualified to discuss these complex issues of theology and law. I am also afraid — genuinely afraid — that it will make a few Muslims even more eager to silence me.

But this is not a work of theology. It is more in the nature of a public intervention in the debate about the future of Islam. The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here. If my proposal for reform helps to spark a serious discussion of these issues among Muslims themselves, I will consider it a success.

Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism — violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe”.

At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.

For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates.

Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.

But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out. We cannot remain on the sidelines, as though the outcome has nothing to do with us.

For if the Medina Muslims win and the hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, the rest of the world too will pay an enormous price — not only in blood spilled but also in freedom lost.

This essay is adapted from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, to be published on Tuesday by HarperCollins (which, like The Australian, is owned by News Corporation). Her previous books include Infidel and Nomad: From Islam to America, A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilisations. Originally from Somalia, she is a former member of the Dutch parliament and is now resident in the US.

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Russia’s Palmyra concert reveals what the West lacks

Russia’s Palmyra concert reveals what the West lacks  By Tim Black, editor of spiked review, 14 May 2016

In the war on ISIS, only Russia is acting as if there’s something worth fighting for.

A camera pans round the half-full Roman amphitheatre in Palmyra. The audience, children among them, look on, unsmilingly, as men with guns patrol their allotted sections. And then the video cuts to the main event: a line of Syrian soldiers are on their knees facing out from the stage, while, behind them, a line of teenage gunmen wait to plant bullets in the back of the soldiers’ heads. The scene is set for the final act. And as the young executioners perform their dismal duty, a large ISIS flag, draped across the the back of the Ancient stage, barely moves in the breeze.

But that was then. ISIS’s 10-month occupation of Palmyra was brought to an end in March when Syrian government forces backed by the Russian military reclaimed it. Now, a very different event has been filmed.

This time, a camera pans round the packed Roman amphitheatre. The audience consisting of Russian ministers, soldiers and an army of journalists, look on, rapt, as the security forces keep watch out of sight. And then, the main event: Bach’s chaconne for solo violin from Partita No2; the quadrille for cello from Shchedrin’s Not Love Alone; Prokofiev’s first symphony… And, as the orchestra from St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre performs the concert of a lifetime, the sound of the ongoing artillery bombardment of ISIS lines less than 10 miles away is drowned out, if only for a few minutes.

As a New York Times journalist admitted, ‘the concert was simply, starkly beautiful, and unfolded as the late afternoon sun faded over the ruins’. In just 30 sublime minutes, it managed to do what the West has failed to do since ISIS pranced on to the global stage two years ago: Russia produced a piece of propaganda to rival ISIS’s tweeted and blogged barbarism; it allowed a glimpse of the civilisation that it might just be worth fighting for – a sight, amid the ruins of antiquity, of the heights to which humanity can soar. In itself, it was majestic; in context, awe-inspiring.

The West’s response: witless cynicism

Yet in the West, the response to the concert has been marked not by awe, but by witless cynicism. It’s as if Western media and politicians are incapable of seeing anything but Russian PR, anything but a shameless attempt to dress up real politik in the garb of high culture. They see only shallow motives, not deep conviction. Those performing were doing so not because of what it meant, it’s suggested, but because of who they knew. So reports tell us that the featured soloist, cellist Sergei Roldugin, is ‘a close friend’ of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and that the conductor, Valery Gergiev, is ‘a Kremlin favourite’. (Reports make little-to-no mention of the fact that Roldugin is also a world-renowned musician, or that Gergiev is a favourite in plenty of other places, too, having been the principal conductor for the London Symphony Orchestra and the director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.) As far as Western media were concerned, ‘[the concert’s] purpose was to assert Russia’s unapologetic might and disdain for Western opinion’. It was no more than, as the Telegraph put it, ‘a bold propaganda stunt’.

Propaganda? Of course, it was propaganda. No one doubts that Russia staged the concert to propagate a certain idea of itself, to endow its largely decisive role in the conflict so far with a grander sense of mission. It wanted to assert itself as the defender not just of a particular regime, or a particular piece of territory, but of something more, too, of something that transcended this particular conflict – as the defender of Western civilisation.

Putin has been positioning Russia as such for a few years now, ‘defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation’, as he put it in 2014, largely in opposition to the West’s right-on, rainbow-hued culture war against Eastern Europe. Not that Russia is now the embodiment of the best of Western civilisation. To the gay-friendly, feminist and now transgendered intolerance of the West, Putin’s regime has responded with the traditional, often religious, intolerance of the past. It’s fair to say that Putin’s Russia tends to honour Western Enlightenment values, such as freedom of speech, in the breach rather than the observance.

It took commitment and conviction

But the Palmyra concert was not just a shallow pose. It took commitment and conviction; the commitment to pull off the concert, and the conviction that doing so meant something, that performing works by Prokofiev or Bach a few miles away from the frontline in the war against ISIS was worth the risk. Just think about the risk for a moment: a whole orchestra, from the stand-up basses, cellos and other instruments to the musicians themselves, were ferried into a venue that a few weeks ago was being used as an executioner’s stage, and, even now, from which it was still possible to hear the sounds of an artillery bombardment a few miles away. It was propaganda, but that doesn’t mean that what was being propagated was worthless. After all, Russia was prepared to stage a classical-music concert in a warzone to do so.

And that’s why the cynical response of Western pundits and politicians has been so telling. For despite their high-flown blather about the mortal threat posed by ISIS, they can’t conceive of anything about Western civilisation worth the risks Russia took. As they see it, the concert could only have been motivated by something rather less admirable, be it Putin’s vanity, Russian self-aggrandisement or, as UK defence secretary Philip Hammond concluded, something darker. ‘It was a tasteless attempt to distract attention from the continued suffering of millions of Syrians’, suggested Hammond. ‘It shows that there are no depths to which the [Russian] regime will not sink.’

Russia has emerged as the force most likely to roll ISIS back

In Hammond’s inability to see the performance as anything other than a subterfuge, one catches sight of something: the reason why Western nations have been unwilling and unable to take the fight to ISIS. The reason, that is, why Russia has emerged as the force most likely to roll ISIS back. Western states don’t lack the means to fight; they lack a sense of what it is they’re fighting for. To Russian ears, a concert in Palmyra resounds with the strains of a long tradition of cultural achievement; to Western ears, it only rings hollow. That’s why Europe and America’s war on ISIS has been so two-faced, with fist-pumping rhetoric about battling ISIS as this ‘imminent threat to every interest we have’ on one side, and, on the other, shady deals with ISIS-facilitating states such as Turkey or Saudi Arabia, and a deep-seated unwillingness to commit troops on the ground. The military capacity’s there, but the bottle’s gone. All talk and no military fatigues. We at spiked have long noted the nihilism of ISIS, but its wellspring lies in the West itself, in its disavowal of its long-held values and principles, its abandonment of its traditions and heritage, and, now, in its dismissal of an orchestral concert in the ruins of an ancient city.

Tim Black is editor of the spiked review.

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Posted in Must-Read Articles | Comments Off on Another ‘must-read’ article.

Creeping dangers from the ‘left’ and PC pundits

PC, the acronym for ‘politically correct’ and even worse, is insidiously insinuating the Progressive’s program of state nanny control, welfare, collectivism, bureaucracy and even Marxism on an unsuspecting population.

Scroll down for more articles…..

How to raise boys and avoid PC nonsense

How to raise boys and avoid PC nonsense  By Julian Tomlinson, Regional Editor in Chief, News Ltd., 26 May 2016

“But surely balance can be achieved by nurturing boys’ instincts while also teaching them restraint, self-control, refinement and, above all, respect.”

WE need to start rethinking how we raise boys.

As society has evolved, there is a clear trend towards teaching men and boys that even the most positive of masculine traits are bad.

Of course, this evolution has been extremely beneficial.

No longer do we have duels to the death over points of honour, or men raping and pillaging at will or at the whims of despotic kings.

But while the stereotypical male traits of violence and aggression are thankfully repressed today, the pendulum has swung even further to repress other instincts such as assertiveness, competitiveness, risk-taking, strong leadership and decisiveness.

All traits that helped the human race survive and flourish for millennia.

Of course women exhibit the same behaviours but today let’s just deal with men.

The move towards gender equality tells men to be more in touch with their feminine side, while telling women to act more like men.

Men are constantly told that sensitivity is more valuable than brawn, that meekness is better than boldness, and that revelling in and exploiting the natural advantages of being male isn’t fair.

Pursuits such as hunting, combat sports and even football draw shudders and eye rolls from some quarters more than admiration.

Boys who pretend to be heroic soldiers and use sticks as guns are suspended from schools.

There’s no more “bullrush” or “red rover” at school, even climbing and any sort of boisterous play is banned.

More social commentators are encouraging parents to see if their sons would prefer to play with dolls rather than trucks.

In other words, being a man is OK, but acting like one shouldn’t be encouraged.

The ability to hunt and butcher a wild animal is becoming not only a dying art but a despised one.

Locker room banter among men – possibly the most effective character-building environment imaginable – is discouraged and boys are told to run to the teacher, government or Mum and

Dad if they feel offended rather than make a witty comeback.

Movements such as Scouts that teaches boys life skills, teamwork, basic bushcraft and social graces are waning in popularity.

Even our military places more emphasis on tolerance and not causing offence than aggression, stoicism and uncompromisingly tough leadership.

Also throw into the mix that a man’s naturally higher sex drive tells him to approach women.

But there are news stories and opinion pieces every day about “creeps”, “weirdos” and “stalkers” whose only crime – when it all boils down – is that they were just trying to get a date.

Giving an innocent – or even a blatantly flirtatious – compliment to a woman can land a man in hot water.

Men are inherently programmed to seek out healthy, good-looking women of child-bearing age – and this programming is so powerful that it carries on well into old age.

But a man who follows the primal imperative to place value on these things is shamed by modern media.

So boys are growing up with natural urges that they are constantly being told are undesirable.

They are confused. But while society is increasingly saying being overtly masculine is bad, women are also saying: “Where are the real men?”

This trend towards “neomasculinity” forces boys – and society – to place less value on strength and bravado and take all steps not to do anything that someone might criticise.

But surely balance can be achieved by nurturing boys’ instincts while also teaching them restraint, self-control, refinement and, above all, respect.

Boys in ancient Sparta underwent at least 10 years of brutal, bloody, murderous training to become the world’s most feared warriors.

But acceptance into Spartan society also depended on mastering poetry, music, athletics and public speaking, and having respect for women and authority.

True warrior poets.

The historical record appears to paint them as the ideal mix of unashamed masculinity and refinement.

At the very least, they prove that healthy masculinity is distinct from boorish mindlessness, and that it can coexist with a refined society.

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The Greens, sirens of socialism

The Greens, sirens of socialism  By Nic Cater, The Australian, 3 May 2016

The release of the Greens economic policy inspires nostalgia for the days when greenies spent their days hugging turtles and lungfish. What’s an unbuilt dam or three compared with bulldozing the entire economy?

Today they campaign for a compassionate, caring and fairer society, which is code for taxing, spending and taxing some more.

“To make society more equal we need to pay more tax, starting at the top,” Greens economic spokesman Adam Bandt declared last week, adding the Greens were opposed to any form of tax cuts.

Thatcher: “You eventually run out of other people’s money”

The problem with socialism, Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Bandt is determined to prove her wrong. Once this generation has been squeezed dry, he’ll move on to the next one by borrowing money it will have to repay one day.

“It’s time to stop treating debt as a four-letter word,” Bandt said. “It’s not whether the budget is in deficit or surplus that matters, it’s the sustainability and justification for the budget position.”

While Scott Morrison loses sleep over the difficulty of containing debt, Bandt wants to borrow even more to fund what he calls “the next Apollo project — making Australia a renewable energy superpower”. Commonwealth net debt is forecast to peak at 18.5 per cent of gross domestic product in the year after next. Bandt wants to increase it to 25 per cent, arguing that “there’s no point in having a triple A rating if you don’t use it”.

Well sort of. Australia retains its privileged ratings status only because it has refrained from borrowing wildly in the manner Bandt suggests. Bandt should heed Lewis Carroll’s warning against chasing white rabbits down holes: “Down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

He also should consider the plight of Ireland, where in 2007 the gross national debt was 25 per cent of GDP. Then came the global ­financial crisis, ending a housing boom, pushing the country into recession and forcing a run on the banks. In 2013, gross debt hit 124 per cent of GDP.

This kind of fiscal fruitiness

If this kind of fiscal fruitiness is part of the mainstream progressive policy Richard Di Natale promised when he became Greens leader a year ago, then we clearly are in trouble. The Greens may be small in number but greenish thinking is pervasive among the professional classes, not least among the opinion formers at the ABC.

If Labor regains power, it almost certainly will be in company with the Greens, formal or informal. Wise heads in the ALP regard the 2013 Gillard-Brown pact as a disaster for the Labor brand but, if anything, the two parties have moved closer philosophically in the intervening years.

United on a policy of tax and spend

The two are now united on a policy of tax and spend; both regard wealth and income inequality as our greatest contemporary moral challenge; and both are committed to gigantic government subsidies to realise their dream of a nation powered by the sun and wind.

Neither party is much concerned with creating wealth but both are consumed with its redistribution. They share the same utopian dream of equality, a society in which there is equal reward for the adventurous and the timid, the industrious and the indolent, and the prudent and the profligate.

All this makes perfect sense to those who live off the public purse within 10km of the CBD.

For those in economic sectors that are obliged to make a profit, however, the modern progressive mindset is utterly perplexing.

“The distinction between the industrious and the idle”

Australians have never been comfortable with the politics of envy. The steady rise in affluence in postwar Australia thwarted the Old Left’s attempts to raise proletarian class consciousness. “There is only one great and honourable class distinction in Australia,” Robert Menzies told an audience in Melbourne in 1962, “and that’s the distinction between the industrious and the idle.”

There’s a certain irony in that the Greens should be leading the ­attacks on the rich since their voters inhabit some of Australia’s wealthiest suburbs. The median income of a family with children in Bandt’s electorate of Melbourne, for example, was $3015 a week in 2011, a third more than the national average. If the levellers’ dream of equality were ever fulfilled their incomes would fall by $700 a week.

But of course the inner-urban compassion-mongers want no such thing.

Their real aim is not the relief of poverty but pumping up the government services that many of them are employed to provide. They want more middle-class welfare in the form of childcare, free health and schools.

The core vote from those who draw a living from the public purse

For Labor and the Greens to advocate bigger government spending is politically understandable, since the core vote for both parties comes from those who draw a living from the public purse.

Yet there is a vindictive edge to the demonisation of the wealthy. Bashing the rich is no longer about revenue raising; it has become an end in itself. Last week the Greens announced that the temporary deficit levy imposed on high-income earners would stay. On top of that they will impose an extra 5 per cent tax on anyone earning a seven-figure annual salary, a so-called Buffett tax.

Ostensibly, this policy is needed to find money to fund schools and hospitals. But even on the Greens’ figures the revenue is paltry — a mere $4 billion across four years. It is barely enough to pay for the interest on the current debt for four months, let alone the extra $100bn or so we’d be servicing if the Greens get their way.

It betrays the Greens as sirens of socialism

One senior commentator last week described the Greens’ policy announcement as a “push towards the political centre ground”. Hardly. Rather, it betrays the Greens as sirens of socialism luring Labor ever further towards the Left.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

===========================

Leftists for the EU, the radical wing of the oligarchy

Leftists for the EU, the radical wing of the oligarchy  By Brendon O”Neill, Spiked Online, 23 April 2016

The left’s journey from democracy to technocracy is complete

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has thrown many things into sharp relief. It has made more visible the fraying of the Tory Party that has been brewing for a few decades now. It has demonstrated that the politics of fear is everywhere, being peddled by both the Leave and Stay campaigns, and even being openly celebrated by one pro-EU columnist on the basis that ‘fear alone has a purity you can trust’. But most strikingly, the referendum campaign has confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people. In throwing its weight behind the Stay campaign, having historically been suspicious of the EU, the left has completed its journey from demanding democracy to supporting technocracy.

The radical wing of the oligarchy

This is what has been most graphically exposed by the referendum: the hollowness of the British left’s pretensions of radicalism. For we now know that, for all their angst about the bedroom tax and nostalgic marches against ‘TORY SCUM’, left-wing politicians and activists are in favour of the status quo. They’re in favour of preserving the machinery of government in Brussels, a machinery that is as aloof and creaking as it’s possible for a ruling institution to be. These are radicals for the status quo, agitators for the ruling regime, the radical wing of the oligarchy. Whatever happens as a result of this referendum, the left’s reputation will not recover. Its history of fighting for suffrage and the right of people both to consent to and control the institutions that govern them is now just that — history, a thing of the past, now jettisoned.

The turnaround in the left’s attitude to the EU has been extraordinary. Being anti-Brussels is now considered a right-wing thing, or even a xenophobic thing, but that wasn’t always the case. Influential Labourites and trade unionists agitated against emerging European institutions in the 1970s and 80s. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voted against Britain staying in the Common Market in the 1975 referendum, later slammed the EU for its ‘gross abuse of human rights and natural resources’, and voted against various EU treaties as an MP. Yet now he’s campaigning to stay in. In 1983, the actual Labour manifesto proposed getting out of Brussels. The late Tony Benn, hero of leftish Labourites, continually agitated against the EU, describing it as a usurper of the British people’s popular sovereignty. Few people seem to realise what a massive about-face it is for Labourites and radical leftish commentators now to encourage people to vote to stay in this institution that Benn said turns ordinary people into ‘slaves to Rome’.

The left has sold out both its own democratic principles

As recently as last year, following Brussels’ imperious treatment of Greece, British leftists had a flashback to their earlier Euroscepticism. A Guardian columnist said, ‘The left must now campaign to leave the EU’. Yet now, having seemingly got over the EU’s anti-democratic pummelling of the Greek people’s wishes, its imposition of technocracy in Italy, its blackmail-fuelled enforcement of austerity in Ireland, and its non-stop hounding of the elected governments of Eastern Europe for being insufficiently liberal, the British left has decided we must stay in the EU after all. The willingness of the left to sell out both its own democratic principles and also the various peoples of Europe who have been treated like children by the Brussels machine is shocking, even for those of us who’ve long lost faith in the left. With friends like this, the masses of Europe don’t need any more enemies.

The left’s craven cuddling-up to the institutions of the EU is best captured in the figure of Yanis Varoufakis, who was the Greek finance minister when that nation was being hammered by Brussels. Varoufakis now says we Brits must vote to stay, because if the EU disintegrates there will be an ‘inexorable slide toward catastrophe’, potentially giving rise to neo-fascism. And the left accuses the right of playing the fear card on the EU? Varoufakis chastises ‘Eastern European governments [that are] openly stating their opposition to the principle of solidarity’ — by which he means these elected governments are expressing disdain for some of Brussels’ diktats. For a man who has felt the flames of Brussels’ fury to tell off Eastern Europeans for being anti-Brussels is pretty awful.

Distrust and disdain for the living, breathing practice of democracy

The thing driving these radicals for oligarchy is distrust and even disdain for the living, breathing practice of democracy. The further removed the left becomes from ordinary people, the more it sees aloof institutions or cliques of experts as the best guarantors of progressive change. The story of the modern left is one of utter disappointment with the little people. It is creeped out by the masses, whose passions and interests it simply does not understand. Where the left is increasingly identitarian, anti-growth, eco-obsessed and sneering about modernity, ordinary people remain stubbornly interested in jobs, growth, making ends meet, having more and more stuff, and seeing people as people rather than as identities. This chasm between the left and everyday people explains the left’s move towards being pro-state, pro-welfarism, pro-expertise and pro-Brussels: it doesn’t trust Us, and so it turns to Them, to try to secure a few social reforms.

It’s the end of an era

Those who considered themselves left, or progressive, were once at the forefront of demanding greater suffrage and greater political clout for the man (and woman) in the street. Now, leftists implicitly defend the curbing of popular sovereignty through campaigning to preserve the institutions of the EU. Some claim they want to reform the EU, and make it more democratic. But anti-democracy is built into the very heart of this institution: it has moulded itself precisely around the desire of national elites to dodge discussion with their own electorates in favour of getting politics done more ‘efficiently’. You can no more democratise the vast Byzantine EU than you could democratise a monarchy. In 1789, today’s compromising, public-fearing left would likely have said: ‘Wait! Let’s not overthrow the Bourbon dynasty — let’s reform it from within.’

Should sovereignty rest with people?

Sometimes politics throws up pressing questions about society, about the shape of the future, questions that demand of us courage and daring and a willingness to take risks. Sure, a referendum on the EU is not at all comparable to a revolution, but it is posing a profound question: should sovereignty rest with people, and be popular and direct, or should it be pooled into institutions largely beyond people’s reach? The left has said ‘the latter’, and in the process has sold out its one remaining principle. spiked says ‘the former’, because we still cleave to the radical idea fought for by the Levellers, the Chartists and other progressive movements: that people should have real, meaningful and regular say about the political direction of their nations and their lives.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked

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A new authoritarianism has descended

A new authoritarianism has descended  By Neil Brown, The Spectator, 11 April 2016

A new authoritarianism has descended

There now seems to be a list of official beliefs we are allowed to hold and no others; decided for us by the new establishment that has taken hold in government and the media, especially but not only in Fairfax, the ABC and SBS where there is now a uniformly censorious tone that colours everything.

The very idea that you might hold a different opinion from the approved one is, to use the word that is now creeping into our discourse, ‘unacceptable’ and if you dare express it, what you get in reply is not a counter argument but a demand for an apology, the more humiliating and grovelling the better.

Behind the threats and intimidation

You will also be forced to resign from whatever post you occupy. And behind the threats and intimidation lurks the spectre of the thought police to enforce the approved view of what is acceptable and what is not. The advocate of unapproved views these days is simply bludgeoned into submission.

It is unacceptable that you might have a different opinion from the establishment on climate change, same-sex marriage, adoption by same sex couples, illegal refugees, abortion, the republic, the family, the sexual agenda in schools, foreign aid, religious freedom, government spending, freedom of speech, Israel, Islam and any proposal for changing the constitution.

You will be branded as a social leper

As views other than the official ones are unacceptable, what is also unacceptable is that you should be allowed to express them. Indeed, you run a terrible risk these days, not that you will have to defend your case on its merits, but that you will be branded as a social leper, shunned, stopped from holding a public meeting or setting foot inside a university, blacklisted, abused and ridiculed simply because you hold a personal view different from the official one that has been sanctified by the new establishment.

Were Voltaire alive he would find it easier to say: ‘I disagree with everything you say and will fight to the death to stop you saying it.’

An hysterical crescendo

The new authoritarianism has found a very fertile field in the denigration of Tony Abbott which has now reached an hysterical crescendo. He represents a separate strain of opinion from the mush that passes for policy in the Liberal party today and consequently must be stopped and silenced, not by logic, but by ridicule and abuse. He was probably doomed from the start by putting forward the uncomfortable truth in the 2014 budget that the country was living beyond its means and that surgery was needed before we went bankrupt.

Given that the new establishment depends on government spending and handouts, it was inevitable that the budget would be unacceptable and Abbott with it. But by that time, it was known Abbott also had a real commitment to socially conservative positions that bind the society together, contributing to its stability. So he was doubly cursed and totally unacceptable. As the Age put it (before the staff went on strike and Fairfax shares went up), Abbott could not be allowed to stay in office and had to be ‘checked’. Eventually this led to his removal, but now, he has to be silenced, his legacy degraded and, if that does not work, forced to leave the parliament altogether.

The PM belittles his predecessor’s achievement

The most egregious example of this practice is the recent attempt by the PM to belittle his predecessor’s achievement in stopping the boats bringing illegal migrants into this country. Turnbull’s argument is that the boats were stopped, not under Abbott, but Howard. For Turnbull, the crazy excesses of Rudd/Gillard that allowed people smugglers back into business and Tony Abbott’s successful response just did not happen.

This is little better than the whiting-out of any inconvenient facts by Turnbull that might diminish his own wondrous lustre. Worse, you would think that Turnbull would have at least an ounce of feeling that here was a policy of which Abbott was justly proud and would allow him this one tick of approval. But no, the zeitgeist is that Abbott and all his works are bad and Turnbull has to deliver the cruellest cut of all.

Guilty of the unacceptable sin of loyalty

Abbott’s supporters, guilty of the unacceptable sin of loyalty, are now condemned and abused as malcontents, subversives and troglodytes; forget about the arguments, just abuse the advocate. I hope they speak out more, because they contribute to the robust debate of ideas, whether you like their opinions or not.

Then we have seen the unedifying spectacle of the Liberal Party itself promoting the line that Abbott should not stand again for election, campaign in the election, speak at conferences or even write articles. You would think that any political party with a former leader who had brought it back from disintegration and got it into government would show gratitude, welcome his experience and invite him to contribute to the debate.

A party now with no sense of tradition or respect

Instead, we see a party, now with no sense of tradition or respect, full of midgets who sold their souls for the exalted post of assistant minister or parliamentary secretary, and wailing like a Greek chorus, trying to destroy him.

No-one seems prepared to say it, but such an attitude is mean, ungenerous and, above all, foolish, for it cuts the party off from the conservative point of view that Abbott represents and many people want to see promoted. Worse still, it shows how the new authoritarianism is eating away at the free exchange of ideas that used to be one of the Liberal party’s – and the country’s – great strengths.

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Previous articles

 

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Economic Poker

Key parts of the world’s financial affairs have been hi-jacked by self-serving financial organisations, bureaucracies, country leaders and individuals.

Criminal Bankers Threaten Entire World Economy

 Criminal Bankers Threaten Entire World Economy  By Greg Hunter, USAWatchdog.com, 25 May 2016

Helen Davis Chaitman was the lead attorney representing the victims of the $65 billion Bernie Madoff scam. Madoff had help form JP Morgan Chase Bank, and what she found out was stunning.  Chaitman explains, “JP Morgan Chase was the subject of a criminal complaint . . . it was charged with a criminal violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, which is a felony violation.  JP Morgan Chase disgorged a small percentage of the profits it made on the Madoff relationship, and the government called it quits.  Nobody was fired.  Nobody disgorged bonuses, they just went on doing other crimes.”

Chaitman, who wrote a book called “JP Madoff,” documented that JP Morgan Chase paid nearly $36 billion in fines for various crimes just in the last four years. Chaitman says all the big banks are basically criminal organizations, and “all of them regularly engage in fraud.” Chaitman also says, “I could have written this book about HSBC, Bank of America or Citi Group.  All the banks, and the government encourages them to do this, all of the banks have been operating like criminal enterprises. . . . The bankers have become such criminals it threatens the entire world economy.”

A key component in the Madoff fraud was Madoff never bought securities for his victims even though he claimed he did. The client statements were bogus, and Chaitman says JP Morgan Chase knew about the fraud for years.  Chaitman contends, “Madoff had a group of people, a small group of people, who were grossly over compensated, who would just make up the statements after the fact.  They had no securities.  They had no stocks.  They just had pieces of paper saying they had stocks. . . . Madoff never bought the stocks.  He just kept all the money, and in fact, that’s why JP Morgan liked him as a customer. He kept on deposit billions of dollars, and JP Morgan Chase was free to use that money for its own purposes.”

Why no jail time for the management at JP Morgan Chase for a slam dunk criminal fraud? Chaitman says, “We have a President who doesn’t believe criminal bankers belong in jail, and he appointed an attorney general, Eric Holder, who had this nonsensical rationalization that the banks were too big to put in jail.  In other words, JP Morgan Chase, America’s biggest bank, who does business with 50% of American households, and 80% of fortune 500 companies, should keep all the criminal bankers because we would not be able to operate without them.”

Chaitman says JP Morgan Chase alone has paid fines for multiple crimes and frauds. Chaitman explains, “They have admitted to violating the foreign exchange rules.  They pled guilty to a felony with respect to that. . . . They have defrauded veterans.  They have defrauded credit card holders.  They have defrauded homeowners.  There is no group of customers they won’t defraud if they can enhance their profits.  Yes, in the last four years alone, they have disgorged $36 billion as settlements of charges brought with respect to all these violations.”

Chaitman says the $36 billion in fines is just a fraction of the profit JP Morgan Chase is making by committing various frauds. Chaitman says, “If you look at their financial statements, they are generating huge profits.  That’s why everyone loves Jamie Dimon, but a lot of people loved Carlo Gambino too.  (Dimon reportedly has a net worth of $1 billion.)

Chaitman contends the big banks are like mobsters. Chaitman says, “There is no question about it.  They operate illegally because they can generate huge profits by doing so.  They go from one crime to another, and when they get caught committing one crime, nobody gets fired.  Nobody disgorges bonuses.  They just take those people and put them in a new area where they haven’t yet been prosecuted.”

What will happen to the customers of the big banks in the next financial meltdown? Chaitman warns, “The customers will be destroyed, and if the banks still have enough money to buy Washington, the government will protect them just like it has since 2008.”

Chaitman is appealing two rulings in Florida and New York for victims of the Madoff fraud. She continues to try to get money back for victims from JP Morgan Chase.  You can keep up with Helen and the Madoff scandal by going to JPMadoff.com. There is also a book buying link on the home page.

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Keynes must die so the economy may live

Keynes must die so the economy may live  By Llewellyn Rockwell, 24 May 2014

In 2012, Barack Obama warned that the United States would fall into a depression if Ron Paul’s plan to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget were enacted.

Wait, I beg your pardon. It wasn’t Obama who warned that budget cuts would lead to a depression.

It was Mitt Romney.

Romney went on to become the nominee of the self-described free-market party.

An ideological rout is complete when both sides of respectable opinion take its basic ideas for granted. That’s how complete the Keynesian victory has been.

In fact, Keynesianism had swept the boards a decade before Romney was even born.

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, the seminal treatise by John Maynard Keynes, appeared during the Great Depression, a time when a great many people were beginning to doubt the merits and resilience of capitalism. It was a work of economic theory, but its boosters insisted that it also offered practical answers to urgent, contemporary questions like: how had the Depression occurred, and why was it lasting so long?

The answer to both questions, according to Keynes and his followers, was the same: not enough government intervention.

Now as Murray N. Rothbard showed in his 1963 book America’s Great Depression, and as Lionel Robbins and others had written at the time, the Depression had certainly not been caused by too little government intervention. It was caused by the world’s government-privileged central banks, and it was prolonged by the various quack remedies that governments kept trotting out.

But that wasn’t a thesis governments were eager to hear. Government officials were rather more attracted to the message Keynes was sending them: the free market can lead to depressions, and prosperity requires more government spending and intervention.

Let’s say a brief word about the book that launched this ideological revolution. If I may put it kindly, the General Theory was not the kind of text one might expect to sweep the boards.

Paul Samuelson, who went on to become one of the most notable American popularizers of Keynesianism, admitted in a candid moment that when he first read the book, he “did not at all understand what it was about.” “I think I am giving away no secrets,” he went on, “when I solemnly aver – upon the basis of vivid personal recollection – that no one else in Cambridge, Massachusetts, really knew what it was all about for some twelve to eighteen months after publication.”

The General Theory, he said,

is a badly written book, poorly organized; any layman who, beguiled by the author’s previous reputation bought the book, was cheated of his five shillings. It is not well suited for classroom use. It is arrogant, bad-tempered, polemical, and not overly generous in its acknowledgments. It abounds in mares’ nests and confusions.… In short, it is a work of genius.

Murray N. Rothbard, who after the death of Ludwig von Mises was considered the dean of the Austrian School of economics, wrote several major economic critiques of Keynes, along with a lengthy and revealing biographical essay about the man. The first of these critiques came in the form of an essay written when Murray was just 21 years old: “Spotlight on Keynesian Economics.” The second appeared in his 1962 treatise Man, Economy and State, and the third as a chapter in his book For a New Liberty.

Murray minced no words, referring to Keynesianism as “the most successful and pernicious hoax in the history of economic thought.” “All of the Keynesian thinking,” he added, “is a tissue of distortions, fallacies, and drastically unrealistic assumptions.”

Beyond the problems with the Keynesian system were the unfortunate traits of Keynes himself. I will let Murray describe them to you:

The first was his overweening egotism, which assured him that he could handle all intellectual problems quickly and accurately and led him to scorn any general principles that might curb his unbridled ego. The second was his strong sense that he was born into, and destined to be a leader of, Great Britain’s ruling elite….

 

The third element was his deep hatred and contempt for the values and virtues of the bourgeoisie, for conventional morality, for savings and thrift, and for the basic institutions of family life.

While a student at Cambridge University, Keynes belonged to an exclusive and secretive group called the Apostles. This membership fed his egotism and his contempt for others. He wrote in a private letter, “Is it monomania – this colossal moral superiority that we feel? I get the feeling that most of the rest [of the world outside the Apostles] never see anything at all – too stupid or too wicked.”

As a young man, Keynes and his friends became what he himself described as “immoralists.” In a 1938 paper called “My Early Beliefs,” he wrote:

We entirely repudiated a personal liability on us to obey general rules. We claimed the right to judge every individual case on its merits, and the wisdom to do so successfully. This was a very important part of our faith, violently and aggressively held, and for the outer world it was our most obvious and dangerous characteristic. We repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom. We were, that is to say, in the strict sense of the term, immoralists.

Keynes was 55 years old when he delivered that paper. And even at that advanced stage of his life he could affirm that immoralism is “still my religion under the surface.… I remain and always will remain an immoralist.”

In economics, Keynes exhibited the same kind of approach he had taken toward philosophy and life in general. “I am afraid of ‘principle,’” he told a parliamentary committee in 1930. That, of course, is the attitude of anyone who craves influence and the exercise of power; principle would only get in the way of these things.

Thus, Keynes supported free trade, then turned on a dime in 1931 and became a protectionist, then during World War II favored free trade again. As Murray puts it, “Never did any soul-searching or even hesitation hobble his lightning-fast changes.”

The General Theory broke down the world’s population into several groups, each with its own characteristics. Here Keynes was able to vent his lifelong hatreds.

First, there was the great mass of consumers, dumb and robotic, whose consumption decisions were fixed and determined by outside forces, such that Keynes could reduce them to a “consumption function.”

Then there was a subset of consumers, the bourgeois savers, whom Keynes especially despised. In the past, such people had been praised for their thrift, which made possible the investment that raised living standards. But the Keynesian system severed the link between savings and investment, claiming that the two had nothing to do with each other.  Savings were, in fact, a drag on the system, Keynes said, and could generate recessions and depressions.

Thus, did Keynes dethrone the bourgeoisie and their traditional claim to moral respectability. Thrift was foolishness, not wisdom.

The third group was the investors. Here Keynes was somewhat more favorable. The activities of these people could not be reduced to a mathematical function. They were dynamic and free. Unfortunately, they were also given to wild, irrational swings in behavior and outlook. These irrational swings set the economy on a roller coaster.

And now we arrive at a fourth and final group. This group is supremely rational, economically knowledgeable, and indispensable to economic stability. This group can override the foolish decisions of the others and keep the economy from falling into depressions or inflationary excess.

You probably won’t be shocked to learn that the far-seeing wizards who comprise Keynes’s fourth group are government officials.

To understand exactly what Keynes expected government officials to do, let’s say a brief word about the economic system Keynes developed in the General Theory. His primary claim is that the market economy is given to a chronic state of underemployment of resources. If it is not to descend into and remain mired in depression, it requires the wise supervision and interventions of the political class.

Again, we may safely reject the possibility that the political classes of the Western world embraced Keynesianism because politicians had made a profound study of the works of Keynes. To the contrary, Keynesianism appealed to two overriding motivations of government officials: their need to appear indispensable, and their urge to wield power. Keynesianism dangled these ideas before the political class, who in turn responded like salivating dogs. There wasn’t anything more romantic or dignified to it than that, I am sorry to report.

By the early 1970s, however, Keynesian economics had suffered a devastating blow. Or, to adopt Murray’s more colorful phrase, it had become “dead from the neck up.”

Keynesianism could not account for the stagflation, or inflationary recession, that the U.S. experienced in the ’70s.

It was supposed to be the role of the Keynesian planners to steer the economy in such a way as to avoid the twin threats of an overheating, inflationary economy and an underperforming, depressed economy. During a boom, Keynesian planners were to “sop up excess purchasing power” by raising taxes and taking spending out of the economy. During a depression, Keynesians were to lower taxes and increase government spending in order to inject spending into the economy.

But in an inflationary recession, this entire approach had to be thrown out. The inflationary part meant spending had to be reduced, but the recession part meant spending had to be increased. How, Murray asked, could the Keynesian planners do both at once?

They couldn’t, of course, which is why Keynesianism began to wane in the 1970s, though it has made an unwelcome comeback since the 2008 financial crisis.

Murray had dismantled the Keynesian system on a more fundamental level in Man, Economy, and State. He showed that the relationships between large economic aggregates that Keynesians posited, and which were essential to their system, did not hold after all. And he exploded the major concepts employed in the Keynesian analysis: the consumption function, the multiplier, and the accelerator, for starters.

Now, why does any of this matter today?

The errors of Keynes have empowered sociopathic political classes all over the world and deprived the world of the economic progress we would otherwise have enjoyed.

Japan is a great example of Keynesian devastation: the Nikkei 225, which hit 38,500 in 1990, has never managed to reach even half that level since. A quarter century ago the index of industrial production in Japan was at 96.8; after 25 years of aggressive Keynesian policy that gave Japan the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world, the index of industrial production is…still 96.8.

The United States, meanwhile, has had sixteen years of fiscal stimulus or preposterously low-interest rates, all of which Keynesians have cheered. The result? Two million fewer breadwinner jobs than when Bill Clinton left office.

No amount of stimulus ever seems to be quite enough. And when the stimulus fails, the blinkered Keynesian establishment can only think to double down, never to question the policy itself.

But there is an alternative, and it’s the one Murray N. Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises championed: the Austrian School of economics  and its analysis of the pure market economy.

Against the entire edifice of establishment opinion, the Mises Institute stands as a rebuke. To the dissidents, to the intellectually curious, to those inclined to be skeptical of so-called experts who have brought us nothing but ruin, the Mises Institute has been a beacon.

We have trained an entire generation of Austrian scholars, journalists, and financial professionals. We put in the hard work so that when a catastrophe like the 2008 crisis occurred, an Austrian response was ready.

But with your help, we can do so much more. The Keynesians are pretending they have everything under control, but we know that’s a fantasy. An even greater opportunity than 2008 awaits us, and we want to help guide public opinion and train a cadre of bright young scholars for that day. With your help, we can, at last, awaken from the Keynesian nightmare.

As the Korean translator of an Austrian text put it, “Keynes must die so the economy may live.” With your help, we can hasten that glorious day.

========================

In praise of the gold standard

In praise of the gold standard  Via The Mises Institute, 16 May 2016

From The Quotable Mises, Ludwig von Mises’s best nine quotes on gold and the gold standard:

  1. Every nation, whether rich or poor, powerful or feeble, can at any hour once again adopt the gold standard.
  2. The gold standard has one tremendous virtue: the quantity of the money supply, under the gold standard, is independent of the policies of governments and political parties. This is its advantage. It is a form of protection against spendthrift governments.
  3. The gold standard alone makes the determination of money’s purchasing power independent of the ambitions and machinations of governments, of dictators, of political parties, and of pressure groups. The gold standard alone is what the nineteenth-century freedom-loving leaders (who championed representative government, civil liberties, and prosperity for all) called “sound money.”
  4. Men have chosen the precious metals gold and silver for the money service on account of their mineralogical, physical, and chemical features. The use of money in a market economy is a praxeologically necessary fact. That gold — and not something else — is used as money is merely a historical fact and as such cannot be conceived by catallactics.
  5. All those intent upon sabotaging the evolution toward welfare, peace, freedom, and democracy loathed the gold standard, and not only on account of its economic significance. In their eyes the gold standard was the labarum, the symbol, of all those doctrines and policies they wanted to destroy.
  6. The return to gold does not depend on the fulfillment of some material condition. It is an ideological problem. It presupposes only one thing: the abandonment of the illusion that increasing the quantity of money creates prosperity.
  7. The gold standard did not collapse. Governments abolished it in order to pave the way for inflation. The whole grim apparatus of oppression and coercion — policemen, customs guards, penal courts, prisons, in some countries even executioners — had to be put into action in order to destroy the gold standard. Solemn pledges were broken, retroactive laws were promulgated, provisions of constitutions and bills of rights were openly defied. And hosts of servile writers praised what the governments had done and hailed the dawn of the fiat-money millennium.
  8. The classical or orthodox gold standard alone is a truly effective check on the power of the government to inflate the currency. Without such a check all other constitutional safeguards can be rendered vain.
  9. The gold standard was the world standard of the age of capitalism, increasing welfare, liberty, and democracy, both political and economic. In the eyes of the free traders its main eminence was precisely the fact that it was an international standard as required by international trade and the transactions of the international money and capital market. It was the medium of exchange by means of which Western industrialism and Western capital had borne Western civilization into the remotest parts of the earth’s surface, everywhere destroying the fetters of age-old prejudices and superstitions, sowing the seeds of new life and new well-being, freeing minds and souls, and creating riches unheard of before. It accompanied the triumphal unprecedented progress of Western liberalism ready to unite all nations into a community of free nations peacefully cooperating with one another.

==============================

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Posted in World finance: when will the bubble burst? | Comments Off on Economic Poker

Rise and Fall of the US Empire

The US is the dominant world power.  But it is failing, for similar reasons the Roman Empire failed.  Read the following articles to understand why.

Scroll down to read the most recent articles.  Links to previous many articles  follow.

How the Pentagon punishes whistle-blowers

How the Pentagon punishes whistle-blowers  By Mark Hertsguaard, 23 May 2016

By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did. He leaked top-secret documents revealing that the National Security Agency was spying on hundreds of millions of people across the world, collecting the phone calls and emails of virtually everyone on Earth who used a mobile phone or the internet. When this newspaper began publishing the NSA documents in June 2013, it ignited a fierce political debate that continues to this day – about government surveillance, but also about the morality, legality and civic value of whistleblowing.

But if you want to know why Snowden did it, and the way he did it, you have to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed US whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed.

Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance programme were largely ignored.

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“The government spent many years trying to break me, and the more I resisted, the nastier they got,” Drake told me.

Drake’s story has since been told – and in fact, it had a profound impact on Snowden, who told an interviewer in 2015 that: “It’s fair to say that if there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there wouldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.”

But there is another man whose story has never been told before, who is speaking out publicly for the first time here. His name is John Crane, and he was a senior official in the Department of Defense who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake – until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well.

His testimony reveals a crucial new chapter in the Snowden story – and Crane’s failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations.

During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.

The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself. Snowden was unaware of the hidden machinations inside the Pentagon that undid Drake, but the outcome of those machinations – Drake’s arrest, indictment and persecution – sent an unmistakable message: raising concerns within the system promised doom.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian this week. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.”

Snowden saw what had happened to Drake and other whistleblowers like him. The key to Snowden’s effectiveness, according to Thomas Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), was that he practised “civil disobedience” rather than “lawful” whistleblowing. (GAP, a non-profit group in Washington, DC, that defends whistleblowers, has represented Snowden, Drake and Crane.)

“None of the lawful whistle-blowers who tried to expose the government’s warrantless surveillance – and Drake was far from the only one who tried – had any success,” Devine told me. “They came forward and made their charges, but the government just said, ‘They’re lying, they’re paranoid, we’re not doing those things.’ And the whistle-blowers couldn’t prove their case because the government had classified all the evidence. Whereas Snowden took the evidence with him, so when the government issued its usual denials, he could produce document after document showing that they were lying. That is civil disobedience whistleblowing.”

The sad reality is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake

Edward Snowden

Crane, a solidly built Virginia resident with flecks of grey in a neatly trimmed chinstrap beard, understood Snowden’s decision to break the rules – but lamented it. “Someone like Snowden should not have felt the need to harm himself just to do the right thing,” he told me.

Crane’s testimony is not simply a clue to Snowden’s motivations and methods: if his allegations are confirmed in court, they could put current and former senior Pentagon officials in jail. (Official investigations are quietly under way.)

But Crane’s account has even larger ramifications: it repudiates the position on Snowden taken by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – who both maintain that Snowden should have raised his concerns through official channels because US whistle-blower law would have protected him.

From loyal NSA contractor to whistle-blower

He was politically conservative, a gun owner, a geek – and the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. In this exclusive extract from his new book, Luke Harding looks at Edward Snowden’s journey from patriot to America’s most wanted

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By the time Snowden went public in 2013, Crane had spent years fighting a losing battle inside the Pentagon to provide whistleblowers the legal protections to which they were entitled. He took his responsibilities so seriously, and clashed with his superiors so often, that he carried copies of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the US constitution in his breast pocket and pulled them out during office conflicts.

Crane’s attorneys at GAP – who were used to working with all types of government and corporate whistle-blowers – were baffled by him: in their experience, most senior government officials cared little for whistle-blowers’ rights. So what motivated Crane to keep fighting for the rights of whistle-blowers inside the Pentagon, even as his superiors grew increasingly hostile and eventually forced him to resign?

To hear Crane tell it, the courage to stand up and fight runs in his family. He never forgot the story he heard as a child, about his own grandfather, a German army officer who once faced down Adolf Hitler at gunpoint – on the night the future Fuhrer first tried to take over Germany.

A former press aide to Republican members of Congress, John Crane was hired by the Inspector General’s office of the Department of Defense in 1988. Within US government agencies, an inspector general serves as a kind of judge and police chief. The IG, as the inspector general is known, is charged with making sure a given agency is operating according to the law – obeying rules and regulations, spending money as authorised by Congress. “In the IG’s office, we were the guys with the white hats,” Crane said.

By 2004 Crane had been promoted to assistant inspector general. At the age of 48, his responsibilities included supervising the whistle-blower unit at the Department of Defense, as well as handling all whistle-blower allegations arising from the department’s two million employees (by far the largest workforce in the US government), in some cases including allegations originating in the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

By this time, Thomas Drake had proceeded well down the path that would eventually connect him with Crane. Drake’s first day as a fully fledged employee of the National Security Agency was 11 September 2001. Although the NSA would balloon in size and budget as the US responded to the September 11 attacks, the agency already ranked as the largest, most lavishly funded spy organisation on Earth. Created in 1952, the NSA was the government’s code-breaker and all-hearing global “ear”. The NSA intercepted the communications of foreign governments and individuals and translated this raw intelligence into information usable by the CIA, the FBI and kindred government agencies.

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Drake, a father of five, had worked for the NSA for 12 years as a private-sector contractor. Now, as a staff member proper, he reported directly to the NSA’s third highest ranking official, Maureen Baginski; she headed the NSA’s largest division, the Signals Intelligence Directorate, which was responsible for the interception of phone calls and other communications.

Tall, sombre, intense, Drake was a championship chess player in high school whose gift for mathematics, computers and languages made him a natural for foreign eavesdropping and the cryptographic and linguistic skills it required. During the cold war, he worked for air force intelligence, monitoring the communications of East Germany’s infamous secret police, the Stasi.

Within weeks of the September 11 attacks, Drake was assigned to prepare the NSA’s postmortem on the disaster. Congress, the news media and the public were demanding answers: what had gone wrong at the NSA and other federal agencies to allow Osama bin Laden’s operatives to conduct such a devastating attack?

As Drake interviewed NSA colleagues and scoured the agency’s records, he came across information that horrified him. It appeared that the NSA – even before September 11 – had secretly revised its scope of operations to expand its powers.

Since its inception, the NSA had been strictly forbidden from eavesdropping on domestic communications. Drake’s investigation persuaded him that the NSA was now violating this restriction by collecting information on communications within as well as outside of the United States. And it was doing so without obtaining legally required court orders.

A straight arrow since high school – he once gave the police the names of classmates he suspected of selling pot – Drake told me he felt compelled to act. “I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” he explained.

To Drake, the President’s Surveillance Program, as it was known inside the George W Bush administration, recalled the mindset of the Stasi. “You don’t spend year after year listening to a police state without being affected, you just don’t,” he told me. “I remember saying to myself, ‘Wow, I don’t want this to happen in our country!’ How could you live in a society where you always have to be looking over your shoulders, not knowing who you could trust, even in your own family?”

A straight arrow since high school – Drake once gave the police the names of classmates he suspected of selling pot

Drake’s descent into a nightmare of persecution at the hands of his own government began innocently. Having uncovered evidence of apparently illegal behaviour, he did what his military training and US whistle-blower law instructed: he reported the information up the chain of command. Beginning in early 2002, he shared his concerns first with a small number of high-ranking NSA officials, then with the appropriate members of Congress and staff at the oversight committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Drake spent countless hours in these sessions but eventually came to the conclusion that no one in a position of authority wanted to hear what he was saying. When he told his boss, Baginski, that the NSA’s expanded surveillance following 9/11 seemed legally dubious, she reportedly told him to drop the issue: the White House had ruled otherwise.

John Crane first heard about Thomas Drake when Crane and his colleagues at the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General received a whistle-blower complaint in September 2002. The complaint alleged that the NSA was backing an approach to electronic surveillance that was both financially and constitutionally irresponsible. The complaint was signed by three former NSA officials, William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis, and a former senior Congressional staffer, Diane Roark. Drake also endorsed the complaint – but because he, unlike the other four, had not yet retired from government service, he asked that his name be kept anonymous, even in a document that was supposed to be treated confidentially within the government.

Binney, Wiebe, Loomis and Roark shared Drake’s concerns about the constitutional implications of warrantless mass surveillance, but their complaint focused on two other issues.

Drake eventually came to the conclusion that no one in a position of authority wanted to hear what he was saying

The first was financial. The whistle-blowers contended that the NSA’s surveillance programme, codenamed Trailblazer, was a shameful waste of $3.8 billion – it had been more effective at channelling taxpayer dollars to corporate contractors than at protecting the homeland.

Second, the whistle-blowers warned that Trailblazer actually made the US less secure. They acknowledged that Trailblazer had vastly expanded the amount of electronic communications NSA collected. But this avalanche of raw data was too much – it left NSA’s analysts struggling to distinguish the vital from the trivial and thus liable to miss key clues.

Drake had discovered a shocking example while researching his postmortem report on the September 11 attacks. Months beforehand, the NSA had come into possession of a telephone number in San Diego that was used by two of the hijackers who later crashed planes into the World Trade Center. But the NSA did not act on this finding.

As Drake later told the NSA expert James Bamford, the NSA intercepted seven phone calls between this San Diego phone number and an al-Qaida “safe house” in Yemen. Drake found a record of the seven calls buried in an NSA database.

US officials had long known that the Yemen safe house was the operational hub through which Bin Laden, from a cave in Afghanistan, ordered attacks. Seven phone calls to such a hub from the same phone number was obviously suspicious. Yet the NSA took no action – the information had apparently been overlooked.

The NSA whistle-blowers first sent their complaint to the inspector general of the NSA, who ruled against them. So they went up the bureaucratic ladder, filing the complaint with the Department of Defense inspector general. There, Crane and his staff “substantially affirmed” the complaint – in other words, their own investigation concluded that the NSA whistle-blowers’ charges were probably on target.

In the course of their investigation, Crane and his colleagues in the inspector general’s office also affirmed the whistle-blowers’ allegation that the Bush administration’s surveillance programme violated the fourth amendment of the US constitution by collecting Americans’ phone and internet communications without a warrant. “We were concerned about these constitutional issues even before we investigated their complaint,” Crane told me. “We had received other whistle-blower filings that flagged the issue.”

In line with standard procedure, these investigative findings were relayed to the House and Senate committees overseeing the NSA – and this helped nudge Congress to end funding for the Trailblazer programme. But for the NSA whistle-blowers, this apparent victory was the beginning of a dark saga that would change their lives for ever.

The Bush administration’s mass surveillance efforts were partly exposed in December 2005, when the New York Times published a front page article by reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, which revealed that the NSA was monitoring international phone calls and emails of some people in the US without obtaining warrants.

Eight years later, that story would be dwarfed by Snowden’s revelations. But at the time, the Bush White House was furious – and they were determined to find and punish whoever had leaked the details to the New York Times.

According to Crane, his superiors inside the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office were eager to help. Henry Shelley, the general counsel – the office’s top lawyer – urged that the IG office should tell the FBI agents investigating the Times leak about Drake and the other NSA whistle-blowers.

After all, the NSA whistle-blowers’ recent complaint had objected to the same surveillance practices described in the Times article – which made them logical suspects in the leak. Crane objected strenuously. Informing anyone – much less FBI investigators – of a whistle-blower’s name was illegal.

After debating the matter at a formal meeting in the personal office of the inspector general, Shelley and Crane continued arguing in the hallway outside. “I reached into my breast pocket and pulled out my copy of the Whistleblower Protection Act,” Crane recalled. “I was concerned that Henry was violating the law. Our voices weren’t raised, but the conversation was, I would say, very intense and agitated. Henry [replied] that he was the general counsel, the general counsel was in charge of handling things with the Justice Department and he would do things his way.”

Henry Shelley declined my repeated requests for an interview. In an email, he told me, “I am confident when this matter is fully resolved no wrongdoing on my behalf will be identified.”

There the disagreement between Crane and Shelley stalled. Or so it seemed until 18 months later. On the morning of 26 July, 2007, FBI agents with guns drawn stormed the houses of Binney, Wiebe, Loomis and Roark. Binney was towelling off after a shower when agents accosted him; he and his wife suddenly found themselves with guns aimed directly between their eyes, the retired NSA man recalled.

Crane smelled a rat. The investigation that his staff had conducted into the whistle-blowers’ complaint had been highly classified: very few people could have known their names, and they would have been inside the IG’s office. After the raids, Crane confronted Shelley and demanded to know whether the IG’s office had given the names to the FBI. Shelley refused to discuss the matter, Crane says.

The battle soon escalated. Four months later, FBI agents stormed Drake’s house in an early morning raid, as his family watched in shock.

After Drake was indicted in 2010, his lawyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents related to the investigation Crane’s office had conducted into the claims of the NSA whistleblowers. According to Crane, he was ordered by his superiors in the IG’s office to delay releasing any documents – which could have exonerated Drake – until after the trial, which was expected to take place later in 2010.

Crane alleges that he was ordered to do so by Shelley and Lynne Halbrooks – who had recently been named the principal deputy inspector general (in other words, the second-highest ranking official in the IG’s office). Crane protested but lost this skirmish as well. (Halbrooks did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.)

In December 2010, nearly five years after the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office had apparently given Drake’s name to FBI investigators, Drake’s lawyers filed a complaint with the inspector general, alleging that Drake had been punished in retaliation for his whistleblowing. According to their complaint, the crimes Drake had been charged with were “based in part, or entirely, on information that Mr Drake provided to the [Pentagon] IG” during its investigation of the NSA whistle-blowers.

Crane was at once alarmed and revolted. The complaint from Drake’s lawyers seemed to confirm his suspicion that someone in the IG’s office had illegally fingered Drake to the FBI. Worse, the indictment filed against Drake had unmistakable similarities to the confidential testimony Drake had given to Crane’s staff – suggesting that someone in the IG’s office had not simply given Drake’s name to the FBI, but shared his entire testimony, an utter violation of law.

Drake’s complaint demanded investigation, Crane told Halbrooks. But Halbrooks, joined by Shelley, allegedly rejected Crane’s demand. She added that Crane wasn’t being a “good team player” and if he didn’t shape up, she would make life difficult for him.

But there was even worse to come. As Drake’s trial approached in the spring of 2011, Crane knew that the law required the IG’s office to answer the retaliation complaint filed by Drake’s lawyers. But, Crane says, Shelley now informed him it would be impossible to respond – because the relevant documents had been destroyed. Lower level staff “fucked up”, Crane said Shelley told him: they had shredded the documents in a supposedly routine purge of the IG’s vast stores of confidential material.

Crane could not believe his ears. “I told Henry that destruction of documents under such circumstances was, as he knew, a very serious matter and could lead to the inspector general being accused of obstructing a criminal investigation.” Shelley replied, according to Crane, that it didn’t have to be a problem if everyone was a good team player.

On 15 February, 2011, Shelley and Halbrooks sent the judge in the Drake case a letter that repeated the excuse given to Crane: the requested documents had been destroyed, by mistake, during a routine purge. This routine purge, the letter assured Judge Richard D Bennett, took place before Drake was indicted.

“Lynne and Henry had frozen me out by then, so I had no input into their letter to Judge Bennett,” Crane said. “So they ended up lying to a judge in a criminal case, which of course is a crime.”

With Drake adamantly resisting prosecutors’ pressure to make a plea deal – “I won’t bargain with the truth,” he declared – the government eventually withdrew most of its charges against him. Afterwards, the judge blasted the government’s conduct. It was “extraordinary”, he said, that the government barged into Drake’s home, indicted him, but then dropped the case on the eve of trial as if it wasn’t a big deal after all. “I find that unconscionable,” Bennett added. “Unconscionable. It is at the very root of what this country was founded on … It was one of the most fundamental things in the bill of rights, that this country was not to be exposed to people knocking on the door with government authority and coming into their homes.”

When John Crane put his career on the line by standing up for legal treatment of Pentagon whistleblowers, he was following a moral code laid down 80 years before by his German grandfather. Crane grew up in suburban Virginia, but he spent nearly every summer in Germany with his mother’s extended family. During these summer sojourns, Crane heard countless times about the moment when his grandfather confronted Hitler. His mother and his grandmother both told the story, and the moral never changed. “One must always try to do the right thing, even when there are risks,” Crane recalled being instructed. “And should someone do the right thing, there can of course be consequences.”

Crane’s grandfather was days shy of turning 40 on the night of Hitler’s “Beer Hall Putsch”, 8 November, 1923. Plotting to overthrow the Weimar Republic, Hitler and 600 armed members of his fledgling Nazi party surrounded a beer hall in Munich where the governor of Bavaria, Gustav von Kahr, was addressing a large crowd. The rebels burst into the hall, hoping to kidnap Von Kahr and march on Berlin. After his men unveiled a machine gun hidden in the upstairs gallery, Hitler fired his pistol into the air and shouted, “The national revolution has begun!”

During summer sojourns, Crane heard countless times about the moment when his grandfather confronted Hitler

Crane’s grandfather, Günther Rüdel, was in the hall as part of his military duties, Rüdel recalled in an eight-page, single-spaced, typewritten affidavit that provides a minute-by-minute eyewitness account of the putsch. (Rüdel was later a government witness in the trial that sentenced Hitler to five years in prison, though he was not called to testify.)

The son of a prominent German general, Rüdel had served with distinction in the first world war, earning two Iron Crosses. By 1923, he was serving as chief political aide to General Otto von Lossow, the German army’s highest official in Bavaria. As such, Rüdel was the chief liaison between Von Lossow and Von Kahr and privy to the two men’s many dealings with Hitler. Suspecting that Hitler and his followers were planning a coup, Lossow and Rüdel had forced their way into the beer hall to monitor developments. The head of Bavaria’s state police, Hans Ritter von Seisser, was also there, accompanied by a bodyguard. Rüdel was standing with Lossow and Von Seisser when armed men burst into the hall, with Hitler in the lead.

“Hitler, with pistol held high, escorted on right and left by armed men, his tunic stained with beer, stormed through the hall towards the podium,” Rüdel wrote in his affidavit. “When he was directly in front of us, police chief Von Seisser’s adjutant gripped [but did not unsheath] his sword. Hitler immediately aimed his pistol at the man’s chest. I shouted, ‘Mr Hitler, in this way you will never liberate Germany.’ Hitler hesitated, lowered his pistol and pushed his way between us to the podium.”

In the surrounding chaos, Hitler’s men tried to force Von Kahr, Lossow and Von Seisser to join the coup, but their uprising soon fizzled. A few days later, Hitler was arrested and charged with treason. He served a year in jail, where he wrote his autobiography, Mein Kampf.

“We are now becoming a police state,” Diane Roark said in a 2014 television interview. Referring to herself and the other NSA whistle-blowers, she added, “We are the canaries in the coal mine. We never did anything wrong. All we did was oppose this programme. And for that, they just ran over us.”

 “They’re saying, ‘We’re doing this to protect you,’” Roark’s fellow whistle-blower William Binney told me. “I will tell you that that’s exactly what the Nazis said in Special Order 48 in 1933 – we’re doing this to protect you. And that’s how they got rid of all of their political opponents.”

These are strong statements – comparing the actions of the US government to Nazi Germany, warning of an emerging “police state” – so it’s worth remembering who made them. The NSA whistleblowers were not leftwing peace nuts. They had spent their professional lives inside the US intelligence apparatus – devoted, they thought, to the protection of the homeland and defence of the constitution.

They were political conservatives, highly educated, respectful of evidence, careful with words. And they were saying, on the basis of personal experience, that the US government was being run by people who were willing to break the law and bend the state’s awesome powers to their own ends. They were saying that laws and technologies had secretly been put in place that threatened to overturn the democratic governance Americans took for granted and shrink their liberties to a vanishing point. And they were saying that something needed to be done about all this before it was too late.

In Washington, top government officials and politicians still insist that the true villain is Edward Snowden. Former CIA director James Woolsey has called for Snowden to be “hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted”.

Democrats are less bloodthirsty, but no more forgiving. President Obama and Hillary Clinton argue that Snowden broke the law when he should have trusted it. “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower,” Clinton said in the first Democratic presidential debate last October. “He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”

Tell that to Thomas Drake. Tell it, for that matter, to John Crane.

Halbrooks forced Crane to resign his post in January 2013. After leaving the Pentagon, Crane made his way to the Government Accountability Project, where the erstwhile protector of whistleblowers became a whistleblower himself.

Crane filed a complaint against Shelley and Halbrooks, detailing many more alleged misdeeds than reported in this article. The Office of Special Counsel, the US agency charged with investigating such matters, concluded in March of 2016 that there was a “substantial likelihood” that Crane’s accusations were well-founded. The OSC’s choice of the term “substantial likelihood” was telling. It could have ruled there was merely a “reasonable belief” Crane’s charges were true, in which case no further action would have been required. By finding instead that there was a “substantial likelihood”, the OSC triggered a process that legally required secretary of defense Ashton Carter to organise a fresh investigation of Crane’s allegations. Because no federal agency is allowed to investigate itself, that inquiry is being conducted by the Justice Department.

Incredible as it may sound, Crane aims to get his old job back. His attorney, Devine, thinks that is a fantasy. In Devine’s view, the problems facing whistle-blowers are systemic – and the system does not forgive, especially someone who has exposed the system’s corruption as devastatingly as Crane has done.

To Crane, however, it is a simple matter of right and wrong. It was not he who broke the law; it was his superiors. Therefore it is not he who should pay the price but they.

“I just want to see the system work properly,” he says. “I know the system can fail – world war two, Nazi Germany – but I also know that you need to do what is right. Because the government is so powerful, you need to have it run efficiently and honestly and according to the law.”

“What are the odds the system will work properly in your case?” I asked Crane.

“I’m not giving you odds,” he replies with a chuckle. “This is just something that I have to do.”

This article is adapted from Mark Hertsgaard’s new book, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden (Hot Books/Skyhorse)

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Ron Paul assesses the current US fiasco

Ron Paul assesses the current US fiasco  From Zerohedge, 21 April 2016

Ron Paul offers his detailed assessment of the 2016 presidential campaign this far. This is no candidate play-by-play, but a look at the strong undercurrents in society that are driving the debate. The people are very angry. But why? And what should be done about it?

 Full Speech (via RonPaulLibertyReport.com)

THE MIDDLE-CLASS RAGE, FEAR AND ANGER

The middle class, which as defined by politicians now includes almost everyone, is angry, fearful, and filled with rage. When politicians address this group it’s frequently defined as “populism,” of which there are many varieties. Whether liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, or authoritarians, when the people become restless and angry, demanding change, the politicians pay attention. This reflects a need to appeal to the masses, and a populist message is well received. But there is never real agreement on the analysis and suggested solutions to the problems. Instead, scapegoats are easily found. Economic understanding is not of high priority, and demagoguery is a useful tool for politically mobilizing the “victims.” Since there are real reasons given for the conditions that exist, competition arises among those who want to take charge of the crisis and benefit politically. This only increases the anxiety and anger of the people, who see themselves as victims of an unfair system.

Until the political economic crisis became readily apparent, most politicians were unaware of the rapidly increasing distortions in wealth distribution. The dangers are conveniently ignored because most people live for the short term. If one is doing well financially, even though the system is financed with the whole country living beyond its means, worrying about preparing for a rainy day seems like wasted energy. However the payment is now coming due, and because few plan or understand it, any threat to benefits – both earned and unearned – creates great anxiety. Fear of being squeezed out of a share of the benefits that come with government intervention becomes the driving force for the whole country. The one group that seems the least worried about current conditions is the “one percent” who are financially secure by living off the special interest financial system. This does not include the wealthy who are financially rewarded for providing products and services that consumers choose to buy.

But even the one percent who benefit from government programs and the monetary system are concerned that the current uprising will interfere with their privileged position.

The size, determination, and anger of the current populist uprising is signaling that huge changes are coming both politically and economically. This generates a competitive blame-game when politicians get involved and try to benefit from the chaos. Republicans blame the Democrats and the Democrats blame the Republicans for the problems. It’s never an issue of philosophy but rather partisanship, personalities, or simply blaming poor management. False perceptions are commonplace as a consequence of government-controlled education that steers people away from the sad realities of economic planning that the people have blindly accepted for many decades.

The fear and anger are only increased by the combination of a failed but never-questioned economic policy, and the demagogues, either ignorant or malicious, who provide magical promises to erase the injustices that are clearly visible.

Though the nature of the breakdown is an economic issue caused by excessive government, those suffering – and the politicians who claim they can restore prosperity – demand more government intervention in our lives and in the economy.

The entitlement mentality is now seen as a fundamental right even though it depends on government use of force to transfer wealth from one group to another. The liberal mantra has always been that the use of force backed up by guns is legitimate and moral. This is accepted as being morally superior to voluntarism for helping the poor. The irony is that it’s precisely this philosophy that impoverishes the middle class, increases the poverty of the poor, and provides the unearned benefits of the crony capitalists who were the recipients of the great bailout in 2009.

We are witnessing the end of an era, but since denial and ignorance prevails few are aware of it. The current special interest entitlement system is on its last legs, but the recipients and the political power brokers believe a change in leadership is all that is needed. It’s not the system that’s at fault, they argue, it’s only better management that is required. It is readily apparent that the failure of this approach is leading to more fear and anger.

Too often the anger is thought to be a partisan issue. The claim is either that it’s all President Obama’s fault or George W. Bush’s fault – yet both parties have followed the same false philosophy of interventionism in both domestic Keynesianism and international empire-building, putting them both at fault.

The people searching for answers conclude the government constantly lies to them. It’s easy to see the system rewarding those who control political power. Concern and understanding the inequities in wealth distribution are not authentic. Ignorance prevails even for the well-intentioned, which results in a deadly erosion of middle class wealth. Debt and deficits are not a serious concern, and both parties continue the endless wasteful spending that only aggravates the pervasive economic inequities that drive the people’s fears.

Most Americans, now more than ever, have become aware of the terrible conditions the Federal Reserve has caused by its policies that result in ever more distortions in the transfer of wealth to the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Many people remain apathetic as to the details of Federal Reserve policy, but others recognize that the Fed is the financier of the welfare state and the endless wars that consume wealth. Our ability to issue the reserve currency of the world gives us a free ride for unlimited spending, debt, and borrowing.

Middle class anger results because the evidence is now available that the system is failing and the politicians offer only vague platitudes and rash promises that few citizens believe. The factions that compete for government benefits become more competitive and angry as they see the financial pie shrinking and the ability of government to deliver on their promises failing.

When benefits, seen as entitlements, shrink, the recipients become fearful and angry and demand political action. This means more handouts, whether it’s for the rich or poor, without any understanding as to why the system is failing. The demagogues, who are aware of the problem, are quick to use this discord to gain greater political power while ignoring the true nature of the problem and the changes needed.

It’s easy for presidential candidates to respond to legitimate concerns that have prompted the anger and fear. But if there is little understanding of the true nature of the problem and the proposed solutions, this won’t help to quiet the disgruntled electorate. The groups that claim they are being mistreated more than others will continue to be varied and increasing in numbers.

Slogans and clichés, though they have been helpful to the politicians in the past, will not be believed and will only increase the anger. This leads the candidates to compete to be the most authoritarian in their promises to take care of everybody’s demands.

The problems have been developing for almost 100 years. Progressivism, which was accepted in the early part of the 20th century, cannot be reversed by any single election. Vague political promises to patch up the system currently being used will no longer suffice.

Real wages and the standard of living of the average American family have dropped in the 21st century and are almost where they were back in 1971 – the year we completely abandoned the gold standard. The ongoing crisis is deeply structural and not a management problem. Those who still spout the idea that stopping waste, fraud, and abuse in order to finance the perpetual demands of the people without a major overhaul of our political and economic system have no credibility and the people know it. Too many remain convinced that debt is not a problem and more debt and more monetary inflation is what is needed to restore economic growth. The masses have been taught and conditioned to believe that unlimited government spending and debt is the solution and not a cause of the crisis.

But, it is a problem. As long as our politicians and the American people remain in denial, the problems will get much worse, the anger will accelerate, and violence in our cities will increase.

The current ongoing destruction of the middle class and the anger it causes are the big issues we face. Economic conditions are the overriding issue, but the least understood. Most Americans are aware that the politicians are in over their heads and are not providing any sensible answers to the dilemma. Believing that a left or right wing noisy demagogue will save us is wishful thinking.

Ignorance of economics has allowed years of excessive spending, but that is coming to an end. The entitlement mentality claims it’s a strictly moral issue for the government to take care of people in need. A combination of bad economic policy and confused morality has created the conditions that are threatening us today – not only in the US but worldwide as well.

We must wake up and realize that much of the wealth the average American has enjoyed for decades has been an illusion, built on debt and a bizarre form of money. But the payment is now coming due and no one wants to accept the obvious: we are unable to pay for our extravagant spending on domestic welfare to both the rich and poor, while maintaining an unaffordable world empire. The result has only been anger. There is no understanding that market forces are now required and that the debt must be liquidated in order to restore economic growth to the system.

The question of who must pay is a major political and economic one. Currently the middle class is aware of a major problem, but doesn’t have the foggiest understanding as to the causes or the solutions. So far the penalty has fallen on the shoulders of the middle class with a loss of good jobs, inflation, and a lot lower standard of living – something the government is unwilling to acknowledge. The fact that there’s a lack of understanding of economic policy contributes to the growing socio-economic crisis and the fear and anger that continue to worsen.

The politicians are scurrying around searching for those they can blame for the crisis. Actual answers from the candidates are secondary to who achieves the political power to distribute a shrinking economic pie.

WHO’S TO BLAME?

Who gets blamed depends solely on the political persuasion of the accuser. If it comes from a leftist politician it’s always free markets, profits, not enough government transfer payments to the poor, not enough government spending, and of course, greed – regardless of how one’s money was earned. The solution is always to raise taxes.

If it comes from a right or populist politicians, it’s immigrants, China’s unfair trade and currency policies, threats of terrorism, Mexico border policies, and an urgent need to sacrifice liberty for safety, xenophobia, or not enough militarism. Too often the blame is couched only in partisan terms – it’s the Democrats fault; it’s the Republicans fault; or it’s all Obama’s fault or George W. Bush’s fault. Philosophic views are not important, only effective demagoguery is.

Too often it leads to a desire for a tyrannical type of government, coming from both the far left and the far right, that makes rash promises as to the ease with which the problems will be solved. We’re constantly being told that what we need is a new tougher boss who will get things done, without knowing exactly what policies will be pursued.

It’s easy to find scapegoats – either racially motivated or based on faulty economic thinking. Little blame is placed at the door of the Federal Reserve’s ridiculous monetary policy, which has been so destructive. Negative interest rates are not topics in the presidential debates or the campaigns. Simply, one side blames economic downturn on the free market and another side blames the lack of tariffs and too much labor competition. Political changes are much easier to bring about by placing blame than by getting people to understand the true cause of our economic problems. The sad part is, it’s the economic explanation of poverty and the unfair distribution of wealth that is the issue that drives all political rhetoric while searching for scapegoats. The answers are out there, but we have a long way to go to convince the citizens and the leadership in this country who claim that more government is the solution.

The fear of ISIS is used to justify the dangerous foreign policy we follow – a policy that has significantly contributed to the economic crisis, with trillions of dollars spent in recent decades on unwise militarism. Blaming foreign terrorism for our economic and debt crisis may have been a goal of Osama bin Laden, but only we can take the responsibility for the spending excesses for which we are now being forced to pay.

There’s been little disagreement among the candidates that sacrificing personal liberty under today’s circumstances is required to provide security. It’s easy for the politicians to blame too much liberty – both economic and civil – as the problem. There should be little doubt that our crisis does not come from too much freedom, yet this issue is of no concern for the candidates.

Some blame the crisis on inefficiency in government management and claim that ridding the system of waste, fraud, and abuse will be enough to solve our fiscal problems and control the deficits. Therefore nothing needs to be cut, or so they say. There’s no recognition that government by its very nature is based on theft, threat of violence, and control by the privileged few.

Blaming various social groups instead of flawed policies is a frequent exercise. Racial distinctions are convenient for gaining a special benefit and are the source of social and economic friction. There’s no incentive to objectively see cause-and-effect in the problems that generate fear and anger. This makes it very difficult to unemotionally solve the injustices that our system of government planning has generated.

Equal justice under the law is constantly being abused. It’s easy to blame racism for all the problems while ignoring the war on drugs and true causes of poverty, which are the major contributing factors to our dilemma.

The authoritarians cannot resist blaming free markets and sound money for our economic ills and they never make an effort to distinguish between free markets and crony capitalism in their accusations. Ignorance and a desire to increase the role of government in our everyday life provide a convenient argument for a bigger and more intrusive government. Today even declared socialists are well received with their promises of unlimited “free stuff.”

The defenders of central economic planning, a powerful central bank, sacrificing liberty for security, and foreign interventionism to maintain an empire will never blame themselves for their contributions to the crisis. Therefore, expect anger and fear to accelerate. Do not expect the 2016 election to enlighten the people or the politicians.

Big government enthusiasts are always looking outward and for others to blame. But without some introspection it is guaranteed that the social friction now building will get worse. False blame creates bad solutions.

Terrorism is a real threat. The consensus of both Republicans and Democrats is that the only cause is “radical Islam.” Any other suggestion elicits charges of un-Americanism and a willingness to ignore danger. It is suggested that any support for those who seek a peaceful resolution to international problems are unpatriotic and endangering our country. Claiming our foreign policy of occupation and preemptive war significantly contributes to the danger of terrorism is unthinkable, but suggesting that we carpet bomb countries in the Middle East draws loud cheers. This is hardly a setting for making our country safe from terrorism. Blaming others for our failed policy of maintaining a world empire while never looking at our own shortcomings is acceptable to most Republicans and Democrats.

Not only do the demagogues blame others for our foreign policy failings, they also blame others for our weak economy. The threat of terrorism, that we helped to create, is also used to justify our government’s attack on civil liberties here at home. The politicians never assume responsibility for our out-of-control budgets since neither party truly believes that deficits are a serious problem. In fact, both sides cooperate in spending and ignoring the deficits because both sides want to increase spending. Sometimes it’s for domestic welfare and other times the spending is for “rebuilding” the military; most of the time they want both.

The most significant economic problems we face today – the $210 trillion of unfunded liabilities, the $19 trillion national debt, along with our overblown foreign debt – are dealt with by ignoring them as the platitudes and excuses flow.

The financial markets will eventually make it clear that the debt has become the most significant issue. It’s crucial that proper blame is placed on the spenders and Keynesian apologists who argue it’s not a problem. Without proper blame, understanding how to achieve economic growth is impossible. The people are justified in being fearful and angry because the magnitude of the crisis is becoming more evident every day, and they no longer believe what the leaders of the country have been telling them. Wishful thinking for a political savior to rise up and rescue us is just that: wishful thinking.

Lack of knowledge and understanding of the crisis has ignited hatred between the factions seeking to take charge, escape blame, and satisfy the demands of the current victims. As the truth of the seriousness of our crisis becomes more apparent, only a few are reassured that there is a politician who has an answer. It has been suggested that the description of what we’re facing is that one party is a party of “know nothings” and the other is a party that knows all the “wrong things.”

REAL ISSUES IGNORED

Since there has been a lot of blame and no understanding, no serious solutions have been offered. The big problem is that in spite of different rhetoric coming from the two parties, there’s little difference in fundamental political and economic beliefs. With the dramatic personal charges being made by the candidates, the important issues are avoided. This must be on purpose. Since no one has answers, it’s best not to draw attention to their ignorance and to the total failure of both political parties to solve the problems.

The issues avoided are numerous, including especially the debt and the $210 trillion of unfunded liabilities. And even as our as our economy steadily weakens, no serious debate occurs. When the subject comes up it’s for narrow political reasons and no solutions are offered. It’s abundantly clear that to both sides, debt is not of enough concern to actually lead them to entertain the idea that spending should be reduced. That would be bad politics. Both sides support “rebuilding the military” by increasing military spending. Though there is no real threat, we continue to spend about as much as everyone else put together. Domestic welfare spending is treated the same way. Some will continue to claim that cutting waste, fraud, and abuse will provide the funds necessary to continue our spendthrift ways. That’s been talked about for decades to appease the people, without success. There are far too many “debt danger deniers” in Washington to expect spending limitations to emerge.

The US can still borrow from foreign sources since we are the issuer of the world’s reserve currency. Reality declares that this will come to an end – and soon if we yield to the temptation of placing exorbitant tariffs on our trading partners and starting a trade war.

For us to continue our spendthrift ways, it will require the Federal Reserve to monetize the debt at an accelerating rate without loss of confidence in the dollar. In the campaign there’s no talk of getting rid of our central bank, as Andrew Jackson did in 1833. Today the authoritarian big spenders on both sides are totally dependent on the Fed in the short run to constantly create massive amounts of new money out of thin air. Yet it’s the middle class that suffers the most from this policy. No one is talking about how the Fed created the crisis, nor do they realize what lies ahead for us as a consequence.

The ignorance regarding monetary policy makes it impossible to understand the problems of recessions, depressions, inflation, huge debt, massive mal-investments, unfair distribution of wealth between rich and poor, and how the cost of excessive government gets dumped on the middle class and increases the poverty rate. A lack of desire to help is not the problem. The problem is the politicians’ ignorance of the business cycle and their obsession with resisting corrections of the mistakes that are a natural consequence of interest rate manipulation by the Fed. One can only imagine the mistakes that will evolve from negative interest rates! The only saving grace will be that market forces will eventually overwhelm and the needed correction will come, but unfortunately with a lot more pain and suffering.

So far the only solutions that are offered are more of the same policies that have created this current crisis – a crisis that has generated anger and class warfare, more spending, more debt, more taxes, more regulations, and more warfare. This will lead to a lot less freedom for everyone. Without understanding the problem, anger will continue to build and will result in greater violent confrontations.

The systematic attack on our privacy, private property rights, and other civil liberties is not an issue getting any significant attention in the 2016 election. The politicians don’t talk about it because they have chosen to ignore it. It’s just not a serious problem from their perspective. Too many people have come to accept the principle that safety and security are far more important than worrying about personal liberty. The 9/11 attacks and a hyped-up fear of ISIS have pushed this false idea that sacrificing liberty for security is necessary. The American people for a long time have been accepting this principle and have come to believe that it’s a fair trade-off.

The sad consequence of our foreign policy of interventionism, which has been supported by both Democrat and Republican politicians, has drawn no significant debate in 2016. The only argument has been over management style. No one makes the case for rejecting the notion that we have a moral duty to be the policeman of the world. Our military presence in over 130 countries is of little concern to the candidates. The burden of a $1 trillion per year military budget has elicited no warning that this spending is excessive and a tremendous economic burden to our economy.

The contest unfortunately is to see who can sound the toughest and most jingoistic regarding dealing with the al-Qaeda and ISIS. This has led to the xenophobic targeting of Islam and refusing to even consider that our bipartisan foreign policy of preemptive war, occupation, and sanctions is a contributing factor in stirring the hatred that indeed makes us all less safe.

Logic should tell us that continuing the same policy that has stirred up hate and retaliation, that serves as a recruiting tool for the radical jihadists, will only put us in greater danger. The financial burden, the attacks by our own government on our civil liberties, and the greater threat to our national security are all related to our radical interventionist foreign policy, which has been endorsed by both Republican and Democrats for decades.

There’s been no concern expressed about the collapse of the current Keynesian economic system. This huge financial and social event will significantly increase the fear and anger the American people are already experiencing. Therefore there is no reason to expect any positive changes as a consequence of this year’s election, regardless of who wins the presidency. Unrealistic promises and blaming various scapegoats for our problems will only result in more anger and violence. A better understanding of the problems we face is vital if we expect to preserve both liberty and prosperity.

Failing to recognize the significance of a major era ending is compounded by the lack of concern and ignorance regarding the “deep state” or the shadow government. This is the unidentifiable special interest groups and individuals who are actually in control of our government – regardless of whether the Republicans or Democrats are nominally in charge. If the American people understood this, they would realize that elections mean little more than pacifying the electorate with the false belief that the people actually have a say in the affairs of state.

Great concerns about the threat of al-Qaeda and ISIS help direct attention away from the real crimes committed within our borders, like the ill-conceived war on drugs and a justice system out of control. Asset forfeiture is ignored as a serious problem and is strongly supported by law enforcement agencies.

The original Constitution listed essentially six federal crimes. Today there are 4500 federal crimes on the books and over 400,000 regulations – most written illegally by the executive branch – and we hear nothing about this horrendous legal problem. Our courts do not provide equal justice, which justly infuriates the victims of this system of injustice. Militarization of the police and police brutality are out-of-control, yet the recipients of stolen goods known as “government benefits” have no compunction in demanding the use of violence to get what they have been taught they have a right to have. The result is that inner city violence is not going to be reduced with this election.

As the economic crisis worsens and the cities explode, with different factions competing for the handouts, there will be calls for military force and initiating martial law. This is a non-issue in the current political debate and without understanding the significance of this problem will not be recognized. It will only get worse. Most of the candidates have indicated that they would use whatever military force is needed to quell domestic unrest regardless of the Constitution.

If there’s a discussion of danger within the United States, the demagogues will say the threat comes from ISIS and is the reason they demand an increase in military spending. They remain in denial that our presence in the Middle East is precisely why there’s a threat here. Unfortunately the worse the conditions get here at home, the greater will be the demand for a more authoritarian leader to take charge and solve the problems they don’t understand. The campaign of 2016 will not bring about any significant improvement in the problems that precipitated the anger and generated our political and financial crisis that they have ignored.

THE ANSWER

A philosophic revolution is required. The American electorate is very angry and is demanding changes. Though the anger is justified, the exact cause and correction for it is poorly understood. Economic conditions are a driving force but are not recognized as such. There is no realization that the cataclysmic events that will be associated with an end to the current era require revolutionary changes in our economic and political thinking.

Since the problems are poorly understood it was guaranteed that a blame game by all concerned – the politicians, the voters, the victims, and the political parties – would result. Scapegoats are found and blamed – guilty or not. All this prompts a variety of answers with wild promises made by socialists and crony capitalists. Demagogues with magic solutions are everywhere to be found.

Ignorance, along with a struggle for power by those who claim they have the answers, ignores the actual causes of the social divide that are not readily apparent in the current election.  Some are pleased with this lack of discussion since it could identify those responsible for the mess and the failed ideas that need to be rejected.

A serious discussion about the role of government is needed in order to redirect the failed course upon which we find ourselves. Different types of governments reflect the degree to which the people choose to live in a free society. The form of government that was proposed by the Founders is no longer recognizable. This fact explains the conditions that have generated the anger and fear that is prevalent today. Nobody likes to hear it, but the answers are not available to us unless we change the people’s attitudes about the role the government should play in our lives, the economy, and in the world.

The only real answer to a failed interventionist/authoritarian system is to replace it with a system of nonintervention and voluntarism. It has to be based on the moral principle of liberty and non-aggression permitting all things peaceful. The false moral principle of government-directed “humanitarianism” must be intellectually refuted as a false God.

Utilitarianism and pragmatism are code words for avoiding all viewpoints held by those who love liberty and only want to be left alone. Unregulated non-violent voluntarism is rejected as not being beneficial to the “common good.” It is argued that government-mandated equality is superior to any desire for individualism and self-reliance.

Utilitarianism, pragmatism, and economic planning go together, which always leads to dependency and corruption of economic and political power. Sadly the result is that only the powerful and wealthy special interests thrive. A society that condones even a small amount of authoritarianism is compromised by rejecting the basic tenants of liberty. The system then grows like a cancer until that society is destroyed, which we are now in the process of doing to ourselves.

When virtue becomes a government mandate, it makes it impossible for individuals to achieve it, which further destroys the social and economic order. Instead the result is: taxes to force people to be charitable; torture to protect the state; drug wars to improve behavior; elimination of privacy to protect government secrecy; thousands of laws and regulations to monitor our every action, all of which are performed in a non-virtuous manner. Only when efforts to improve oneself and others are done in a voluntary and nonviolent manner does it represent virtue. Government efforts, whether it’s to improve one’s personal behavior, legislate economic fairness, or direct the affairs of other countries only serves to inhibit virtue. This leads to society’s collapse, along with war and poverty. For liberty to work society must have a virtuous people who reject the use of all aggressive force, especially when it’s used by government in the name of humanitarianism.

Even the 400,000 federal regulations and the 4500 federal laws cannot save a system of mandates that violates the moral standards that are vital to a moral society. Free markets are superior to government economic planning. Government rules on personal behavior cannot instill moral standards. Bombs, sanctions, and occupations of other countries cannot make the world safe or more prosperous.

All these efforts result in the loss of liberty. Under these conditions a republic cannot exist. The system will always fail and the people will suffer. The solution will then have to be in the form of a revolution, hopefully peaceful, and with the insistence on recognizing the natural right to life and liberty.

The worse the conditions get the louder the demagogues’ promises become. Competition between demagogues produces sharp rebuttals, and supporters of different candidates become overtly competitive and violence is threatened. With no understanding of the cause of the problems, arguments over solutions will vary. Since real evaluations and authentic solutions are absent it only incites more anger.

Since the 2016 election distracts from the real issues, the correct solutions will not be believable. The system is broken and not fixable. Attempts to do so only lead to frustration that further divides the people. Under these conditions the guilty don’t want to hear the truth and deny it if they do.

Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and John Kariakou are despised for telling the truth and are more likely to be punished than those who were criminally negligent.

H.L. Mencken had it right: “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself,” and come to recognize that, “the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.” But will the campaign of 2016 answer these concerns?  Remember that while living in an empire of lies, pursuing truth is considered treasonous.

Simple anger is not equivalent to understanding the predictable evil of authoritarian government. It’s the fear of losing the immoral benefits along with corrupt government that stirs their anger. The failure of the current system reveals the lies, the senseless wars, and the disdain for the people’s rights to life liberty, and property that generates the anger now being expressed by the masses.

If the people continue to deny that government by its very nature throughout the ages has been notoriously inept, immoral, and corrupt, a solution is not possible. The only result will be a new government based on the same immoral principles. Nothing positive will occur. Basic moral principles of liberty, self-reliance, and strict limits on government power, are required if progress for peace and prosperity is to be achieved.

This type of government cannot exist without a philosophical revolution regarding the proper role of government in a moral society. The election of 2016 will not guide us in that direction. It doesn’t even deal with the crucial issues of our time, and certainly not with the moral principles underpinning a free society. The conflict between candidates and parties is superficial and personal – without substance. The 2016 election will change nothing. It’s a great distraction from the policies that have delivered the current crisis to us. This is done on purpose since there is general agreement in both parties on the major issues and it’s not to their advantage for the people to understand this.

The major issues that both parties and their candidates agree upon include: the central bank’s monetary policy; welfarism; federal government involvement in education and medicine; the drug war; privacy abuse; preemptive war; foreign interventionism; and the US as the policeman of the world with increased spending for the military.

The 2016 election won’t make any difference in any of these areas. The American people continue to be deceived into believing elections are serious affairs that affect our future. The Deep State will remain in charge regardless of the outcome and few will even be aware of the invisible fist that rules over us.

The whole process is a charade and no policy of substance is debated. The election will turn out like all the rest. The momentum toward bigger and more intrusive government will continue. The process distracts from what is really going on; sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes just out of wishful thinking; sometimes on purpose. The process has everyone looking in all the wrong places for the answers. The answers can only be found in an intellectual revolution that refutes the authoritarians who sanction government-directed aggression in all areas of society. What we need is to define and endorse the proper role of government in a free society. There is no serious talk in the campaign of the crucial issues that need corrected if we expect to escape from the mess we’re in.

Following are a few of those concerns that should be addressed. 

There is:

  • No talk of liberty and its moral foundation;
  • No talk of how conservatives and liberal authoritarians are equally harmful;
  • No challenge to the entitlement mentality;
  • No challenge to the bipartisan support for empire;
  • No challenge to the unsustainable debt accumulation;
  • No challenge to government secrecy and the government’s violation of the people’s privacy;
  • No concern for the violation of private property rights;
  • No understanding of how our foreign policy endangers our security;
  • No understanding of how free markets regulate economic activity for the purpose of serving the consumers;
  • No concern for government aggression in controlling habits, people’s bodies, thoughts, economic choices, prices, or wages;
  • No condemnation of the current doctrine of preemptive war;
  • No concern for our participation in worldwide organizations that cede political power to the elites at the expense of national sovereignty;
  • No mention of why sanctions are a prelude to war;
  • No demands that the insane war on drugs be ended;
  • No understanding that personality clashes and name-calling is a substitute for dealing with the issues;
  • No awareness of the need for a philosophic answer to our crisis.

When it’s discovered that excessive government interference in voluntary and peaceful activities is the culprit, it will become clear that the solution can only come by successfully presenting the case for liberty. It will follow that reining in the government will be a necessity – not an option.

The awakening will arrive when we face a total societal breakdown – once it’s realized that the accumulation of massive debt is unsustainable and the dollar suffers the consequences, which will negatively affect all Americans and many throughout the world. But it also provides an opportunity to open the door to a free society. Without the cost of war and welfare in a new system that accepts the moral principle of free markets, sound money, private property, and voluntary contracts, prosperity and peace will break out.

The limited role for government in a republic is to provide equal justice for all, including the protection of life, liberty, and property. It becomes destructive when governments overreach and instead become the greatest threat to liberty and justice – something from which we are suffering today.

Sadly these issues will not cross the minds of the leaders of either major political party at this time in our history. But they will when an upcoming generation of young people, enthusiastic about the cause of liberty and with a growing awareness of the problems, concludes that:

LIBERTY IS THE ANSWER!

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How The American Neoconservatives Destroyed Mankind’s Hopes For Peace

How The American Neoconservatives Destroyed Mankind’s Hopes For Peace  By Paul Craig Roberts, Zerohedge, 20 April 2016

When Ronald Reagan turned his back on the neoconservatives, fired them, and had some of them prosecuted, his administration was free of their evil influence, and President Reagan negotiated the end of the Cold War with Soviet President Gorbachev. The military/security complex, the CIA, and the neocons were very much against ending the Cold War as their budgets, power, and ideology were threatened by the prospect of peace between the two nuclear superpowers.

I know about this, because I was part of it. I helped Reagan create the economic base for bringing the threat of a new arms race to a failing Soviet economy in order to pressure the Soviets into agreement to end the Cold War, and I was appointed to a secret presidential committee with subpeona power over the CIA. The secret committee was authorized by President Reagan to evaluate the CIA’s claim that the Soviets would prevail in an arms race. The secret committee concluded that this was the CIA’s way of perpetuting the Cold War and the CIA’s importance.

The George H. W. Bush administration and its Secretary of State James Baker kept Reagan’s promises to Gorbachev and achieved the reunification of Germany with promises that NATO would not move one inch to the East.

The corrupt Clintons, for whom the accumulation of riches seems to be their main purpose in life, violated the assurances given by the United States that had ended the Cold War. The two puppet presidents—George W. Bush and Obama—who followed the Clintons lost control of the US government to the neocons, who promptly restarted the Cold War, believing in their hubris and arrogance that History has chosen the US to exercise hegemony over the world.

Thus was mankind’s chance for peace lost along with America’s leadership of the world. Under neocon influence, the United States government threw away its soft power and its ability to lead the world into a harmonious existance over which American influence would have prevailed.

Instead the neocons threatened the world with coercion and violence, attacking eight countries and fomenting “color revolutions” in former Soviet republics.

The consequence of this crazed insanity was to create an economic and military strategic alliance between Russia and China. Without the neocons’ arrogant policy, this alliance would not exist. It was a decade ago that I began writing about the strategic alliance between Russia and China that is a response to the neocon claim of US world hegemony. http://www.rense.com/general77/tus.htm

The strategic alliance between Russia and China is militarily and economically too strong for Washington. China controls the production of the products of many of America’s leading corporations, such as Apple. China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. China can, if the government wishes, cause a massive increase in the American money supply by dumping its trillions of dollars of US financial assets.

To prevent a collapse of US Treasury prices, the Federal Reserve would have to create trillions of new dollars in order to purchase the dumped financial instruments. The rest of the world would see another expansion of dollars without an expansion of real US output and become skeptical of the US dollar. If the world abandoned the US dollar, the US government could no longer pay its bills.

Europe is dependent on Russian energy. Russia can cut off this energy. There are no alternatives in the short-run, and perhaps not in the long run. If Russia shuts off the energy, Germany industry shuts down. Europeans freeze to death in the winter. Despite these facts, the neocons have forced Europe to impose economic sanctions on Russia. What if Russia responded in kind?

NATO, as US military authorities admit, has no chance of invading Russia or withstanding a Russian attack on NATO. NATO is a cover for Washington’s war crimes. It can provide no other service.

Thanks to the greed of US corporations that boosted their profits by offshoring their production to China, China is modernized many decades before the neocons thought possible. China’s military forces are modernized with Russian weapons technology. New Chinese missiles make the vaunted US Navy and its aircraft carriers obsolete.

The neocons boast how they have surrounded Russia, but it is America that is surrounded by Russia and China, thanks to the incompetent leadership that the US has had beginning with the Clintons. Judging from Killary’s support in the current presidential primaries, many voters seem determined to perpetuate incompetent leadership.

Despite being surrounded, the neocons are pressing for war with Russia which means also with China. If Killary Clinton makes it to the White House, we could get the neocon’s war.

The neocons have flocked to the support of Killary. She is their person. Watch the feminized women of America put Killary in office. Keep in mind that Congress gave its power to start wars to the president.

The United States does not have a highly intelligent or well informed population. The US owes its 20th century dominance to World War I and World War II which destroyed more capable countries and peoples. America became a superpower because of the self-destruction of other countries.

Despite neocon denials that their hubris has created a powerful alliance against the US, a professor at the US Navy War College stresses the reality of the Russian-Chinese strategic alliance. http://sputniknews.com/world/20160414/1037981155/russia-china-cooperation.html Last August a joint Russian-Chinese sea and air exercise took place in the Sea of Japan, making it clear to America’s Japanese vassal that it was defenceless if Russia and China so decided.

The Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu said that the joint exercise illustrates the partnership between the two powers and its stabilizing effect on that part of the world.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Russian-Chinese relations are able to resist any international crises.

The only achievements of the American neoconservatives are to destroy in war crimes millions of peoples in eight countries and to send the remnant populations fleeing into Europe as refugees, thus undermining the American puppet governments there, and to set back the chances of world peace and American leadership by creating a powerful strategic alliance between Russia and China.

This boils down to extraordinary failure. It is time to hold the neoconservatives accountable, not elect another puppet for them to manipulate.

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2016, the year US citizens learnt elections are rigged

2016, the year US citizens learnt elections are rigged  By Nick Bernabe, 14 April 2016

“Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. senators and congress members.”

– Former President Jimmy Carter

The 2016 election has been a wild ride, with two insurgent grassroots campaigns literally giving the political establishment a run for its money. But as the events of this presidential primary season play out, it’s becoming clear the U.S. election — and even more so, the presidential race — is a big scam being perpetrated on the American people.

The US is an oligarchy

Events from the last week have exposed the system as an illusion of choice and a farce. They have reinforced at least one study showing the U.S. is an oligarchy rather than a democratic republic.

The Wyoming democratic caucus took place on Saturday, purportedly to allow voters to have their voices heard in the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders lost the Wyoming caucus by winning it with a 12 percent margin.

Wait, what?

How does one lose by winning 56 percent of the votes? This happens when the political process is, according to the New York Post, “rigged” by superdelegates. The Post summed up this “strange” phenomenon:

“[U]nder the Democratic Party’s oddball delegate system, Sanders’ winning streak — he has won seven out of the past eight contests — counts for little.

 “In fact, despite his win, he splits Wyoming’s 14 pledged delegates 7 to 7 under the caucus calculus.

 “Clinton, meanwhile, also gets the state’s four superdelegates — who had already pledged their allegiance to her in January. So despite ‘losing,’ she triumphs 11-7 in the delegate tally.”

Even media pundits on MSNBC openly called the process rigged.

The superdelegate process is complicated, as we’ve noted before, but they have one essential function: to prevent candidates like Bernie Sanders from winning the Democratic nomination.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz explaining superdelegates:

Adding insult to injury, even when Sanders does win states (despite Hillary’s advantage in superdelegates), the media can be reliably counted on to discount Sanders’s wins as nothing more than prolonging the electoral process, which will inevitably elect the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton. This pervasive commentary continues despite the fact Sanders only trails her by several hundred pledged delegates.

Meanwhile, according to the same media, the non-establishment Trump campaign is threatened every time Ted Cruz beats him — even though Trump leads by a larger percentage of pledged delegates than Clinton does. When Clinton loses, it doesn’t matter because she already has the nomination locked up. When Trump loses, his campaign is in big trouble. Starting to see the problem with the media coverage?

A troubling pattern emerges

When you examine these media narratives, a troubling pattern emerges that goes beyond the political establishment’s self-interest. You begin to see that American corporate media also functions as an arm of the political machine, protecting establishment candidates while attacking — or dismissing — candidates who seem non-establishment.

This brings us to the events that transpired during the Republican nomination process in Colorado on Saturday. The Republican Party of Colorado didn’t even bother letting people vote before using arcane rules to strip the democratic process of its democracy. According to the Denver Post:

“Colorado GOP leaders canceled the party’s presidential straw poll in August to avoid binding its delegates to a candidate who may not survive until the Republican National Convention in July.

 “Instead, Republicans selected national delegates through the caucus process, a move that put the election of national delegates in the hands of party insiders and activists — leaving roughly 90 percent of the more than 1 million Republican voters on the sidelines.”

All delegates “awarded” to Ted Cruz

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s non-establishment campaign walked away with zero delegates. They were all “awarded” to Ted Cruz.

“How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger — totally unfair!” Trump said on Twitter. “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!”

 In an interview on Monday, Trump was even more frank. “The system is rigged, it’s crooked,” he said.

The Colorado GOP didn’t even bother hiding its intentions, tweeting — then quickly removing — what was possibly the most honest insight into the back-door dealing so far this election season:

What we are witnessing — for the first time on a large scale — is the political establishment’s true role in selecting the president of the United States. The illusion of choice has become apparent. The establishment anoints their two picks for president, and the country proceeds to argue vehemently over the two candidates they are spoon-fed. This dynamic is reminiscent of a prophetic 1998 quote from philosopher Noam Chomsky:

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

The illusion of choice

Ahh, the illusion of choice. Sure, in reality there are third party candidates who should be given a fair shake, but in our mainstream media-augmented reality, third parties do not exist. They aren’t mentioned. They aren’t even included in presidential debates. This is another way the media stifles healthy debate, stamps out dissenting opinions, and preserves the status-quo.

We The People don’t choose our presidents; they are hand-picked by a powerful group of political party insiders — parties that have long since sold out to the highest bidders. What we have on our hands in America is a rigged oligarchy, and that’s not a conspiracy theory — it’s fact. Now, however, millions of Americans are becoming aware of it thanks to the populist campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. America’s elections are controlled by a big club, but unfortunately, “you ain’t in it!”

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Cairns Port Development

Cairns Port development can be expedited

This post presents a chronology of issues and events relating to Cairns Port development. Scroll down for more background and sections 1 – 7.

The Cairns Post editorial, 17 May, noted the state government’s record of blatantly ignoring the results of it’s own consultation.  ‘First there was the public hearing regarding dredging the Trinity Inlet…Business people presented a great case to have Cairns included as a “port of significance” that would allow large-scale dredging…They were so successful that the people  hearing the arguments recommended the Government include Cairns on that list. ‘  The result?  The Labor State Government kowtowed to the Greens and ignored the recommendation of it’s own committee.  So much for democracy!  (Click on editorial graphic to expand).

CP Editorial, 170516

The following article in the Cairns Post, 6 May, written by Queensland State Treasurer’s about Cairns Port deepening, comprised a mix of facts and misleading information (click on graphic to expand).  A letter published on 7 May explains some of the more egregious points: State Treasurer Curtis Pitt writes ‘Still room to move in the inlet’ (6/05).    The most worrying aspect is that readers may think this is a reasonable assessment.  Just a few of the shortfalls are noted below.  Pitt states the Ports North proposal included ‘land-based options around $365m’.  He formed this view based on the DRAFT EIS, ignoring the correct process to await public submissions, one of which explained the costs were grossly exaggerated, ignored optimum technology solutions, and should cost less than $250m.  Pitt explains simulations have enabled a few of the large cruise ships to berth at the CBD cruise terminal. He does not mention that the majority will still have to anchor off Yorkeys Knob.  Pitt wrote ‘we’ve seen a good environmental and economic outcome..’, but does not mention the many cargo ships that arrive and depart half full because the channel is too shallow, resulting in far higher costs.  Pitt notes Ports North ‘will also be allowed to remove … up to 150,000 cubic metres in any four-year period.’ That rate would take 120 years to deepen and widen the channel as proposed.’

Cairns Post Curtis Pitt opinion piece 8 May

Cairns Post’s InvestCairns magazine, April 2016, Loss of Cruise Control, include several quotes from ‘renowned economist Bill Cummings’ such as “While small to medium-sized cruise ships can be home-ported in Cairns, the city will only fully realise its potential to become a cruise shipping h um if deepening and channel widening takes place – something that will also result in efficiencies for Cairns as a cargo and naval port.”

Invest Cairns magazine 200416

A letter from Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s Chief of Staff, John Humphreys (Qld Treasurer reply 120416), 12 April included: ‘Far North Queensland Ports Corporation Limited (Ports North) requested an extension to the EIS deadline to allow it further time to review target vessel sizes and channel improvements options, include the latest survey and field information on revised channel designs, undertake simulations to verify the size of cruise ships and access of reduced  upgrade channel and a tidal window analysis. This request was approved by the Coordinator-General in December 2015 and the project lapse date has been extended to 30 June 2017.’ 

A letter published in the Cairns Post, 5 April, summed up the current impasse: ‘I refer to the Cairns Post story “Make Aquis Happen – Stop mucking around’ (26/03). A Cairns business leader is warning Queensland Government to stop playing politics with … Aquis”.  Then on page 23 “Cairns a jobless hotspot – Cairns was still 2.1% above the state average.” (7/3)  I also recall the article “HMAS Cairns major expansion to make it key northern defence base.  The confidential documents, obtained by The Cairns Post, reveal a new role for the city that includes dredging the inlet and expanding the base to accommodate 3000 personnel in an estimated $2 billion boon to the local economy.”  Since then, it has been a deafening silence.  Also, a recent report sent to the Premier and ministers explained how the reasons given for delaying Cairns Port development have been overcome.  The report (see www.better-management.org) recommended the State government should expedite completion of a “shovel-ready” project plan.  The total inaction suggests the rumours after the State election that the Greens did a deal with Labor to prevent large-scale projects in Cairns were true.   Sorry Cairns, you’ve been dudded by your Governments.’  Note: The report can be downloaded from Cairns Port Development Report to Ministers.  The report includes: ‘An independent group of specialists should be contracted as soon as possible to deliver a ‘shovel-ready’ plan to complete the port development, including a full benefit-cost analysis. Suggested terms of reference for this assignment are at Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115.

 An article in the Cairns Post, 7 March, noted: ‘TOP-level documents reveal plans to triple the size of HMAS Cairns as northern Australia’s key strategic naval base. The confidential documents, obtained by The Cairns Post, reveal a new role for the city that includes dredging the inlet and expanding the base to accommodate 3000 personnel in an estimated $2 billion boon to the local economy.’  See http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/hmas-cairns-major-expansion-to-make-it-key-northern-defence-base/news-story/975d9b137efb74d8479f7588ef4f2a27 . Also John MacKenzie discussed the issue with former head of the Australian Army Lieutenant General John Grey: http://www.4ca.com.au/mornings/50986-will-the-feds-force-the-dredging-project-to-happen.

CPDI presentation to Coordinator General – Cairns Port Development Inc. made a presentation to the  Queensland State Coordinator General from a high-level suite near the Trinity Inlet on 8 December 2015.  The venue allowed the presenters to point out the CoG the major developments in Cairns that had been achieved over half a century using spoil dredged from the inlet.  The presentation described the many issues relating to the proposed port development proposal, including several errors in the Ports North draft EIS such as the exaggerated costs.  The major benefits the Cairns Region would gain following the proposed development were explained, together with tables showing the calculations.  The Power Point presentation can be downloaded from: CPD Inc. Presentation to the Coordinator General, update.

The Cairns Post Editorial, 22 January, heading Public input just ignored, compared the  Labor State Government’s parliamentary hearing concerning the reduced nightclub opening hours with the previous hearings regarding the Cairns port “priority port” status.  In both instances, it is clear the supposed ‘consultation’ was a sham.  Even when the government’s own priority port committee recommended, without dissent, that Cairns should have priority port status, the Labor masters in Brisbane ignored their committee’s recommendation; an expensive con more worthy of a communist state.    The Editorial concludes: ‘To invite guidance from the public is fair and right, to then ignore it is the height of hubris and conceit – something the Queensland electorate has shown contempt for.’  The complete editorial below makes compelling reading:

1-CP Editorial 220116,2

A letter from Peter Campion, Tolga, in The Cairns Post, 2 January, summarises the current deplorable status: ‘Doctor Fanny Douvere, the marine program coordinator at UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, does not expect the Abbot Point port expansion to hurt the Great Barrier Reef.  Yet here in Cairns, the State Labor Government, using dodgy legislation and its fully-owned company Ports North, is continuing to delay the much-needed improvement of our port.  Our local “environmental experts” at CAFNEC help the ALP’s anti-Cairns cause by spreading blatant falsehoods about our port, including that dredging it will kill the Reef.  Science has proven our anti-port minority wrong at every step and now even UNESCO agrees dredging is not a problem.  For Far North Queensland to be truly sustainable, we need our port to be fully functional.  It’s now clear that to return our port to full efficiency we need to expose CAFNEC’s propaganda and to dump the ALP at the next election.’  Note: responding to a letter criticising this letter (09/01), Campion replied (CP letter 07/01): ‘(The writer) has  been conned by CAFNEC and the anti-Cairns ALP and seems unaware of local history’, followed by supporting evidence. 

The Cairns Post Editorial, 1 January 2016: Tourism the way ahead…..With such a bright outlook for a tourism-related economic boost, it is timely for our city leaders to consider adopting a stronger stance on dredging Trinity inlet to allow larger cruise ships to dock. As the Australian dollar stays relatively low, more and more foreigners will add Australia to their travel lists, and the Far North and Great Barrier Reef are highly likely to be on the itinerary. In light of UNESCO’s tacit approval of recently announced wholesale dredging of the Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen, surely that opens the door for the same in Cairns.  Dredging opponents and federal and state government have used UNESCO’s threat to downgrade the Reef’s status as a reason to ban large-scale dredging in the inlet.  But the world environmental watch dog barely gave a whimper after the Abbot Point dredging plan was revealed.  As the inlet’s Environmental Impact process drags on, Abbot Point has now made itself a compelling precedent….

An ABC Rural article noted Dr Fanny Douvere, marine program coordinator at the World Heritage Centre and involved in the recent UNESCO decision not to list the reef as ‘in danger’, said: ‘Port expansion is not an issue if it is managed well’.  http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-24/unesco-not-worried-by-reef-ports/7052924?WT.mc_id=newsmail. This article gives the lie to many related statements from Federal and State Governments and other ‘green’ organisations.

An article was published in  the Cairns Post business section, 23 November:  ‘Benefits of dredging impossible to ignore’:

Cairns Post article, 23,12,15,

The article above followed the Cairns Post article by Nick Dalton, 19/12/15: Call to get big ships into port, reproduced below with additional comments in Italics:

Treasurer and acting State Development Minister Curtis Pitt has instructed Ports North to focus on ways to increase the size of ships entering the city’s port.

  The Government has granted the authority an 18-month extension to an environmental impact statement. The final Terms of Reference for the Cairns Shipping Development Project were released by the Coordinator General in September 2012. Ports North announced they had commissioned consultants ARUP to complete the EIS in April 2013. Ports North stated the draft EIS report would be provided in May 2014, then a delay to September 2014. Ports North said changed conditions required further work and had delayed the report. In fact, the Terms of Reference had not changed, and the ‘changed conditions’, ie government ruling against dumping dredge spoil at sea, required far less work rather than more as the TOR always required assessment of options to place dredging spoil on land. The draft EIS was finally released in April 2015.   Rather than waiting for submissions and a final EIS (a key requirement of the CoG’s assessment process), Mr Pitt announced ‘on the basis of the draft EIS, the government had decided against the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging’ – he later explained the $365m cost calculated in the draft EIS was unacceptably high. A submission to the CoG demonstrated the draft EIS had grossly exaggerated the project costs (Submission to Coordinator General.)

  While full-scale dredging has been ruled out, Mr Pitt said dredging the mouth or approach channel to the Trinity Inlet shipping waterway and the swing basin was expected to be included in the EIS.   Rather than ‘expected’, the EIS TOR required this inclusion.

  Wholesale dredging has been ruled out on the grounds of cost (estimated at $100m) and a ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Marine Park. The terms ‘full-scale’ and ‘wholesale’ dredging have not been defined, so are meaningless. Again, the draft EIS described options for on-land placement of spoil, albeit at a grossly exaggerated cost.

  The dredging was to allow larger ships, particularly cruise liners, to navigate the channel.

  The Government wants the port to look at dredging parts of the channel and the swing basin so bigger ships can enter and turn around. This is precisely what the draft EIS was directed to do.

  The Cairns Shipping Development Project is able to proceed under the transitional arrangements as part of the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 passed in the November 12 Parliament sitting. So the Sustainably Port Development Act 2015 was a complete red herring as far as Cairns Port is concerned – a massive distraction from the main event.

  “The scope of the project includes capital dredging of the swing basins and Trinity Inlet and deepening of the approach channel to the port”, Mr Pitt said. Mr Pitt said previously the Reef 2050 report, on which the agreement signed by Federal Minister Greg Hunt with UNESCO is based, precludes ‘capital dredging’ in Cairns Port, which Mr Pitt said the Cairns Shipping Development Project would require. In fact, the Reef 2050 report states ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.(Reef 2050 plan excerpts.) The Cairns Shipping Development project requires ‘maintenance dredging, defined as ‘to maintain the safe and effective ongoing operation of a port facility’.

  Mr Pitt said the Coordinator-General had allowed Ports North until June 30 2017 to re-submit an EIS for the project. Ports North contracted their consultants in April 2013 to produce a draft EIS report that covers everything Mr Pitt says he wants. The draft EIS did not adequately cover two key requirements of the TOR: ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project’. AndThe indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.’ Competent specialists could complete these two requirements in a few months if they were directed to do so. An extension of 18 months, when there has already been a delay of more than 12 months, is completely unnecessary, and can only be deliberate procrastination.

  “Granting this extension gives Ports North more time to develop a project that is economically and environmentally sustainable for the expansion of Cairns Port”, he said. Nothing additional to the requirements of the original EIS TOR has been requested. It must therefore be concluded that Mr Pitt’s announcements can only be a deliberate means of delaying the port deepening and subsequent benefits to the Cairns Region even longer.

   “We can strike a balance that protects the environment and supports economic development, jobs and future trade growth.” This is exactly what the CoG’s TOR for the EIS required.

   Perhaps, as The Cairns Post Editorial, 3 September, noted: ‘The decision by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham to consign Cairns’ port to second-tier status should [has] cause[d] outrage throughout the Far North.’

   The editorial Cairns Post editorial, EIS backflip a big query, 220815 explains the main problem: ‘If the revised EIS suddenly comes back with a favourable opinion of increased dredging, surely this raises suggestions the government is advising its consultants what outcome they should find rather than merely letting the science do the talking.’  Not only the ‘science’, but assessing and describing in more detail the major benefits the Cairns Region will gain after the port deepening has been completed (See Cummings Economics submission Cummings Economics submission).

 It is highly unlikely that the Government will direct Ports North to produce a full plan for deepening the port that would be necessary for logical related decisions to be made, and so most unlikely Ports North will direct their consultants to produce such a plan. This plan should be produced by a new group of independent consultants as soon as possible, including a full benefit-cost analysis based on best-practice methods. Terms of Reference for such an assignment have been drafted: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115

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A summary of the Cairns Port deepening saga

  • Cairns Region will gain major benefits from port deepening, estimated at $5 billion over 25 years, including business growth and many job opportunities.  See Cummings Economics submission.
  • Australia’s long-established defence programs need Cairns Port naval base as a fully-operational strategic port for regional and coastal operations.
  • Spoil from major dredging programs will not be discharged offshore in future, irrespective of scientific reports.  Why? Because government agreements and public perceptions and reactions preclude this.

…… HERE’S HOW

  • Dredging spoil has been put on land to develop Cairns city and its economy for many decades, and can be again – e.g. Portsmith.
  • But Ports North’s draft EIS exaggerated the cost of putting spoil on land. See Submission to Coordinator General.
  • So a new report is needed ASAP to present the most cost-effective plan and quantify the resulting benefits.
  • Government dredging decisions, including those following negotiations with UNESCO, have been based on the Reef 2050 report, which states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.Reef 2050 plan excerpts.
  • Port deepening: is NOT for a ‘new channel’; it IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed.

…… AND IF PORT DEEPENING IS NOT EXPEDITED?

  • The whole Cairns Region will suffer major economic, business and job losses, and Australia will not have a strategic port’ in the far north.
  • The miniscule coven of green/Labor extremists will have won their covert battle to impose their anti-growth ideology on the Cairns Region.
  • The State Labor Government can expect to lose the four local seats at the next election if the LNP demonstrate credible support for expediting port deepening.
  • Cairns Region Councillors that don’t support expediting port deepening can expect to be replaced at the election next year by Councillors that do.

SO WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN NOW? ‘PLAN B’?

  • Qld State Treasurer Curtis Pitt was reported in the Cairns Post on 15 May saying.  “What we’ve said is that Ports North, as the proponent, can go back, recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal.’
  • Dr Anthony Lynham, Qld Minister for State Development said on 11 November  ‘The (Ports North draft) EIS proposal is respected by the government as being in place before this (the Port Sustainability Bill)….The Bill has nothing to do with the EIS….The Coordinator General (who controls the EIS process) is independent but has to abide by the government policy but on decisions such as extending EISs, he is independent…..I can’t tell him what to do….Maintenance dredging is for maintaining the existing channel.  It is not for widening channels….Unfortunately the strategic designation (instead of the Bill’s category of Priority Port) doesn’t come under UNESCO or the Bill.  That would be quite difficult to throw in another category now after all the negotiation with UNESCO.’ 
  • BUT…recall the Reef 2050 report, which formed the basis for Federal Minister Greg Hunt’s negotiations with UNESCO states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.’  The Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015, Schedule 1 subsequently modified the Reef 2050 definition to: ‘Capital dredging – (a)  means dredging or enlarging a channel, basin, port, berth or other similar thing; or’……. (b) does not include dredging to maintain the safe and effective ongoing operation of a port facility.
  • Surely ‘effective ongoing operation of a port facility’ includes the ability for large cruise, cargo and naval ships to use the port?
  • The Ports North proposal was submitted well before the Bill, and the EIS deadline has been extended to the end of March 2016.  Minister Lynham said it is up to the CoG as to whether this deadline is extended, noting the only time an extension was not granted after a reasonable request was when the EIS was not completed after 7 years and the company had ‘folded’.
  • The State Government has given Ports North another $350,000 (on top of the previous $5.1m) for its consultants to review the draft EIS – presumably expecting different conclusions.
  • The latest technologies and methodologies should underpin the modified draft EIS, and result in different conclusions, including far lower costs (see Submission to Coordinator General).
  • The modified draft EIS could satisfy all requirements: lower cost dredging of the existing channel and all spoil put on land rather than at sea (thus complying with the Reef 2050 report, although possibly a problem with the Bill’s modified definition); meeting environmental requirements; complying with Federal Minister Greg Hunt’s agreement with UNESCO to not de-list the reef; meeting Australia’s naval strategic requirements; and last but not least, enabling the Cairns Region to benefit from the major economic benefits when the next stage of port deepening is completed.

How to ensure Ports North’s modified draft EIS results in expediting the requisite port deepening ASAP?

  • In a nutshell, the Coordinator General needs to ensure Ports North interpret the EIS Terms of Reference (TOR) correctly so the modified draft EIS provide:  ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project’; and ‘The indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.’  (See Cairns Shipping Development EIS TOR Nov 2012.)
  • The CoG may also decide to revise the TOR if he decides ‘there are significant changes to the project concept or design, or significant new issues emerge during the preparation of the EIS,’ which arguably is the case with this proposal (See http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/terms-of-reference.html.) 
  • These points were not covered adequately in the current draft EIS.  The approach suggested in the following document would  ensure the modified draft EIS provides all the information necessary for the relevant authorities to decide to expedite the port deepening: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115

======================

Recent progress and events

The Cairns Post, 18 November article noted: SUPPORTERS of dredging Trinity Inlet will meet the state’s Co-ordinator General and lobby Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure deepening and widening activities suffer no further setbacks.  Dredging restrictions are in place after the state’s Sustainable Ports Development Bill passed with bipartisan support on Friday…. The State Opposition has defended its stance in voting against exempting Cairns and Mourilyan from restrictions.  “The two major parties’ collusion has put the Port of Cairns back 50 years.” …. Cairns Port Development Inc. spokeswoman, Emma Thirkell, said members would lobby federal politicians to place greater weight on scientific evidence supporting dredging, its lack of impact on the Reef and the positives for business that dredging offered.  “Agreement is in place for us to meet the Co-ordinator General and we hope to update Cairns Regional Councillors on the present situation and the possible repercussions of this bill,” she said.   See full article at: http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cairns-port-development-inc-takes-trinity-inlet-dredging-proposal-to-federal-politicians/story-fnjpusyw-1227612935494

Cairns Post articles, 4 and 5 November, spell out the State Government’s latest restriction on dredging limits for Cairns Port.  At 150,000 cubic metres in 4 years, this would mean completing the 4.5 million cubic metres proposed to deepen the channel in 120 years.  Weirdly, Advance Cairns CEO is quoted saying this: “provides for the ability for the port to grow as our city grows”.  This is in line with the Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce submission to the Coordinator General regarding the Ports North draft EIS, which states: ‘We believe that the Cairns Port will need to continue to incrementally develop the inlet and associated port infrastructure to support the growth of the regional economy.’  Over 120 years?  Listen to John MacKenzie discussing this conundrum with Peter Senior on 4CA radio talkback.  Several other callers raised similar points with John, including a member of Cairns Chamber complaining that members had not been consulted, and she totally disagreed with the stance, as presented in today’s update ‘A workable solution for Cairns.  We have some very exciting news to share with you…’:

 28 October, 4CA Talkback: Federal Senator Warren Entsch discussed with Peter Senior the overall port deepening issue; in particular the point noted above that the proposed port deepening is defined as ‘maintenance dredging’ in the authoritative Reef 2050 report, as such is allowed and should go ahead – if only the local State Members would support what is clearly in the best interests of the Cairns Region.  This is essential listening:

22 October.  Senators Ian Macdonald and Bob Katter talked with John Mackenzie on 4CA Talkback about deepening Cairns Port to enable large naval, cruise and cargo ships to use the port and facilities.  Both Senators noted deepening is essential, should be expedited, and will bring major benefits to FNQ.  Naval access is also an essential Australian defence requirement.  Senator Macdonald said: “The Qld Government really has to ignore the minority greens groups who will make up any story to stop any sort of development in Cairns or anywhere else and get some sensible advice…”. Everyone should listen carefully to these comments:

A letter from Dr Anthony Lynham MP, Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, 16 October 2015 stated: ‘The government will not divert from elements of the Bill which form part of our Reef 2050 plan… However, any future development must be consistent with the government’s commitment to protect the GBRWHA and its ban on sea based disposal of port related capital dredge material.’  See Minister Lynham letter 161015.   As noted above, the Reef 2050 report states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas(see Reef 2050 plan excerpts.) Given that the proposed port deepening: is NOT for a ‘new channel’; and IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed, it seems the Minister is approving port deepening as further maintenance dredging, particularly if the dredging spoil is disposed of on land.

6 October, the second cruise ship anchored at Yorkeys Knob in so many weeks is unable to get passengers ashore for trips – passengers express great disappointment; Cairns reputation sullied; tour companies lose big $$$$$.

1 October, new Chairman of Ports North announced by State Labor Government Minister.  Cairns Post article heading ‘Chairman confident of port progress’ only aligns with recent State actions if ‘progress’ means towards boutique port status. Noted on Facebook: Yes, another Labor stooge. If Labor wasn’t sure he’d follow their directives, he wouldn’t have been appointed. The sorry fact is, Government funds many activities in Cairns, and directs these operations through their well-paid bureaucrats that also mostly lean to the green/Left. What an unholy alliance! Labor’s recent decisions prove they intend financing Townsville expansion and downgrading Cairns Port to boutique status, irrespective of contrary evidence. If Cairns Port deepening supporters continue to play by the Brisbane-controlled Labor rules, we’ll lose – for sure. Go figure…

18 September: the Ports Sustainability Bill has been postponed.

The Cairns Port Development Inc. petition signature sheets were handed to the Queensland Parliament at 7.28 AM on 15 September.  The 4,099 written signatures plus the 2,017 online signatures totalled  6,116 – one of the largest petitions ever from the Cairns region.

As a reminder, the petition reads:  TO: The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland.    Queensland citizens draw to the attention of the House the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 does not include the ports of Cairns and Mourilyan as priority ports. If capital dredging is discontinued, new larger passenger, naval and cargo ships will not be able to enter the ports. The estimated earnings foregone may be more than $5Bn over the next 25 years, compounding the record high youth unemployment rates.  Your petitioners request the House to amend the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 to include the ports of Cairns and Mourilyan as ‘priority ports’ allowing the ports to carry out vital capital works dredging NOW and always. We also request that an independent project be commissioned to assess and recommend the lowest cost environmentally acceptable dredging solution. Revitalize our economy, restore confidence and save many businesses from the brink of bankruptcy.

Six months out from the local government election, Cairns lawyer Jim Brooks on Friday announced the arrival of his Connect Cairns team in front of supporters, including Cairns MP Rob Pyne.  Brooks, Pyne and CAFNEC are joining forces to oppose deepening the Port and stymie the huge economic benefits the Cairns region would gain.

The Cairns Post 3  Sept. noted: ‘Minister shuns committee report into developing Port of Cairns’ and ‘A WIDE-reaching inquiry by a Queensland parliamentary committee has found that excluding the Port of Cairns as a priority port would have a “detrimental impact” on the growth of the region and have negative impacts on employment and tourism, and on business.  ‘However ‘Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, who dismissed the committee’s findings just hours after they were released.  “I appreciate the committee’s consideration of the Bill and their report will be considered in full and in detail,” he said in a statement.  “However, the Government will not divert from elements of the Bill which form part of our Reef 2050 plan.’              http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/minister-shuns-committee-report-into-developing-port-of-cairns/story-fnjpusdv-1227509909212

The Cairns Post Editorial, 3 September, noted: ‘The decision by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham to consign Cairns’ port to second-tier status should cause outrage throughout the Far North….The good doctor rejected this (Committee Report unanimous) recommendation and bowed to the threats of a foreign environmental body (UNESCO) over the pleas of Cairns’ top business groups’ (http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/opinion/second-tier-status-for-cairns-port-is-a-disgrace/story-fnjpuwl3-1227509793053).

An allied issue is flagged in the Cairns Post editorial, 27 August, ‘THE State Government must act immediately or we can all watch the Aquis ship and its bounty sail out of the (undredged) Trinity Inlet….the stench of bureaucracy-induced failure… If the Fungs walk away from Cairns, heads should roll in the halls of state parliament.’ CP Editorial re Aquis 270815.

The Cairns Port Development Inc. advertisement appeared in the Cairns Post again on Thursday 27 August  DON’T SINK OUR PORT petition advertisement.

The Cairns Post article, 22 August, ‘New look at dredging – Ports North told to come up with revised proposal’ can be read at: http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cairns-port-dredging-plan-back-on-the-cards-in-state-government-rethink/story-fnjpusyw-1227493667126.  The editorial Cairns Post editorial, EIS backflip a big query, 220815 explains the main problem: ‘If the revised EIS suddenly comes back with a favourable opinion of increased dredging, surely this raises suggestions the government is advising its consultants what outcome they should find rather than merely letting the science do the talking.’  Until a new independent assignment is completed (see below) the project will be stalled, along with realising the $25 billion of benefits forecast over 25 years.

Terms of reference for a new assignment to produce a Cairns Port Deepening Plan respond to Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s requests to:  ‘recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal’; and put another option ‘on the table.’   This plan would provide essential information to enable State and local governments, Cairns business leaders and the Cairns community to understand fully and make informed decisions on deepening and widening the Trinity Inlet and basin.  Terms of reference for this assignment have been prepared: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115.  Any related decisions made before this or a similar project is completed, including public disclosure, are likely based on conjecture and/or ideology.

Cairns Post 4 August, article by State Treasurer Curtis Pitt: ‘Where we differ from the previous government is that its proposal for capital dredging in Trinity Inlet never stacked up on any measure and couldn’t proceed – the volume of dredge spoil and costs over $360 million were uneconomic….The EIS is a live process and will be used as a vehicle to put in an overarching plan for expansion works.’  The $360M has been shown to be very and deliberately exaggerated, and surely ‘expansion works’ does not suggest the proposed vital major port deepening project?

Cairns Post, 1 August: ‘Independent Member for Cook Billy Gordon and Katter’s Australian Party MPs Shane Knuth and Rob Katter have revealed to The Cairns Post they would move an amendment to the Government’s Bill that would designate Cairns and Mourilyan ports as “priority ports”.‘  The newspaper’s very supportive editorial includes: ‘The fact that the government even wants to limit coastal development in Queensland at all should be fought tooth and nail’. (Click on article to enlarge). http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/queensland-mps-unite-against-bill-which-could-sink-cairns-port/story-fnjpusyw-1227465438442

Cairns Post Editorial 010815

The  Ports Bill Committee public hearing at Cairns, 29 July, was a great success for supporters of dredging the Trinity Inlet and basin as far as conveying our message to the Committee and emphasising the width and depth of Cairns’ public support.  But will it be effective?  The Cairns Post front page heading DON’T SINK OUR PORT, editorial, cartoon and double-page spread describe overwhelming support, demanding major changes to the Ports Bill, and action from Federal and State Governments to expedite the dredging.  Failure will lead to Cairns’ economy slowly sinking.  http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/state-government-urged-to-rethink-ports-bill-for-far-north/story-fnjpusdv-1227462332057 .  The numerous calls to John MacKenzie’s 4CA Talkback were equally supportive.

Cairns Post poll, 24 July: ‘Do you support increased dredging of Trinity Inlet’.  Result in Monday 27th edition: YES 73%.

Friends of the Port of Cairns is now Cairns Port Development Inc. (Incorporation #IA55117).  A media release CPD media release 280715 includes a summary of Cummings Economics’ presentation, on behalf of CPD, to the public hearing of the Ports Bill Committee in Cairns 29 JulyThe presentation is at CPD Presentation to Ports Bill Committee, 290715.

Friends of the Port of Cairns submission to the Qld Coordinator General responded to the Ports North draft Environment Impact Report (EIS): Submission to Coordinator General The submission summary concludes:We request the Coordinator General recommend to the Government that a more comprehensive study be undertaken of placement options in consultation with the Cairns community with a view to developing a lower cost and environmentally acceptable solution to enable the project to proceed as soon as possible.’

Cummings Economics submission to the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 on behalf of the Friends of the Port of Cairns supports the continuing development of the Port of Cairns. Details of the many major benefits that will result from dredging the Trinity Inlet are presented.  http://www.cummings.net.au/pdf/reports/J2865_IPNRC_SustainablePortsDevelopmentBill2015.pdf 

Cummings Economics submission to the Qld Coordinator General, Cummings Economics submission, presents a compelling case for the dredging.  Conservative calculations of the benefits to Cairns total $1.35 billion NPV – $5 bn in cash terms over 25 years, or at least $200 million each year.  Who is stalling these benefits?

Adam Gowlett, Branch President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia talked with John MacKenzie on 4CA radio talkback, 21st August, explaining how the Qld State Labor Government is short-changing Cairns in favour of the South East, and Townsville in particular where $65m has just been allocated to dredge and expand their port plus more major expenditure: http://www.4ca.com.au/mornings/49013-macca-adam-gowlett-on-government-stimulus.

Friends of the Port of Cairns Facebook page is at: https://www.facebook.com/PortofCairns

Local developer Ken Frost’s submission presents an exciting approach for Cairns long-term needs –  EIS submission KF

A brief submission from Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce equivocates, noting Ports North will need to be able to continue to undertake incremental development projects…’ : Cairns Chamber, Advance Cairns submission.

The current status of the East Trinity property is described in an article in The Cairns Post, 20 June: East Trinity, not a wetland, just a mess, CP article 200615

East Trinity for future urban growth and more vital benefits for Cairns were described in an article in the Cairns Post, 6 June (click on picture below to expand). 

Dredging Tinity to build a new city

Radio 4CA July 23, 2015. John MacKenzie speaks with Peter Senior from Cairns Port Development Inc. and Tim Nicholls MP for Clayfield and shadow minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Small Business and Trade 23rd July 2015 about progressing the dredging of Cairns Harbour. https://www.facebook.com/messages/1059953612

Talkback host John MacKenzie discussed Friends of the Port of Cairns’ submission with Peter Senior on 3 June:

Ports North $5 million draft EIS can be downloaded in sections from: .  Click here to see the draft EIS Executive Summary.

East Trinity’s history is described in this article, from page 25:   A Sustainable East Trinity

================================

More post contents

  1. Update
  2. Another option: a phased approach
  3. Articles and letters in the Cairns Post
  4. John MacKenzie’s radio talkback show
  5. TV News
  6. Background and history
  7. Other related documents

Introduction

An aerial photograph of East Trinity, Trinity Inlet and the Cairns CBD in 1942 is shown below, with points of interest flagged (click on graphic to expand).  Note the area some ‘greens’ insist should be ‘restored’ to wetlands never was wetlands – it was saltpan, grassland and woodland.

1942 aerial photo of Cairns

…. and this is a recent photo of the Southern end of the East Trinity property.  Note the dead Melaleuca trees as a result of flooding by sea water – which CSIRO strongly recommended against.

East Trinity now, dead maleleucas

The next 7 sections explain the convoluted steps that resulted in the current dismaying situation.

1. Update

For the latest in the long-running saga concerning dredging the Trinity Inlet at Cairns and reclamation at East Trinity, check the Facebook site, Friends of the Port of Cairns – https://www.facebook.com/PortofCairns. 

The Facebook site includes a petition you may want to send to the Coordinator General:  http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-port-of-cairns.html – it only takes a couple of minutes to read, then send if you agree.  As at 4 June, 1,298 have ‘liked’ the site, and 170 almost-all local people have sent the petition.

Check this Post for more background information and proposals.

———————————————-.

The Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Environmental Impact Statement report was released on Saturday 18 April.  State Government  Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced that, on the basis of the DRAFT EIS, the government had decided against the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging.   Listening to callers on radio talkback shows, the overwhelming overall reaction is extreme dismay. 

Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne added to the dismay, as described in the Cairns Post Editorial, 25 April (see full text in Section 3):  Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician…  Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, cargo vessels and navy ships to Cairns and provided a $1.3 billion boost to the economy… He really starts off badly by describing business as the “big end of town” and then his Facebook rant continues with “your unsustainable, unfunded and illogical ‘capital dredge proposal’ will not fly…”.

Cairns Post article, 27 April (full text is in section 3) included: Industry group Cruise Down Under is urging the Government to consider the economic benefits of dredging of about $1.3 billion.  CDU general manager Jill Abel said a study showed cruise ships injected $12.6 million into the city’s economy in 2013-14.  Ms Abel said.  “… Cairns is a must-see destination from a passenger perspective, and integral to the eastern seaboard itineraries.” 

Cairns Post, 30 April, article (see details in section 3): BARRON River MP Craig Crawford has broken political ranks to back the dredging of Trinity Inlet.

This post suggests a practical and cost-effective way to avoid dumping the dredging spoil at sea as well as reclaiming the degraded State-owned area at East Trinity.  Many related issues are discussed, media coverage is presented and relevant background is explained.

The report, Dredging and East Trinity opportunities 081214, presents a proposal to dredge Cairns Trinity Inlet channel; and reclaim the State-owned degraded East Trinity property; and gain major short and long-term benefits for Cairns community and businesses……AT NO NET COST to taxpayers.  Imagine a residential suburb at East Trinity:

 ET with suburb, small

2. Another option: a phased approach

Note: This section has not been updated since the draft EIS was released.  Some of the assumptions and figures used in the draft EIS are in serious doubt, as are some of the conclusions.  It is expected that further checking by different specialist engineers will identify substantially different conclusions that may be more in line with the proposal outlined in the Phase 1 proposal described below. 

Another variation on Phase 1 (call it Phase 1b) could be, if both the State and Federal Governments are persuaded to allow capital dredge to be placed offshore (currently very unlikely), then the State could sell their 944 ha property at East Trinity to pay all dredging costs, with the proviso that the developer must resolve the current pollution problems on parts of this property.

Responding to comments by the previous State Member for Parliament, Gavin King, that East Trinity could not be developed for many years until the dredged spoil has settled, an alternative option is now presented.

Pending release of the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) report, it was stated that ‘500 hectares’ of East Trinity land will be required to place the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil.  Given the fact that the State-owned property at East Trinity is 943.6 ha, the residual 443.6 ha of property could be available for development immediately, noting 168 ha of this part is raised, affording grand views across the inlet to the CBD and hills beyond.

The original report has been updated to include a Phase 1 where half of the residual 443.6 ha is sold to one or more developers for a nominal sum, on the condition that the developer(s) pay all the costs of dredging, spoil treatment and associated costs, which the original report estimated at $125m.  However, as it is understood the Ports North EIS estimates these costs as between $200m and $250m, a midway figure of $225m is assumed.   The changes to the original report are shown in red.  An alternative with the same effect would be for the state to sell the land outright and use the proceeds to pay for the dredging and spoil treatment.  Phase 1 is estimated to produce a profit of $7m, although more land could be available which could enable the level of profit to be increased.  The updated report can be downloaded from Dredging and East Trinity opportunities, phased, 230115.

Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

The Federal Government’s Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, released on 21 March 2015, includes the intention to: ‘mandate the beneficial reuse of port-related capital dredge spoil, such as land reclamation in port development areas, or disposal on land where it is environmentally safe to do so; [and] to establish a maintenance dredging framework which identifies future dredging requirements, ascertains appropriate environmental windows to avoid coral spawning and protect seagrass, and examines opportunities for beneficial reuse of dredge material or on-land disposal where it is environmentally safe to do so.’  Unfortunately the report becomes suspect when it introduces climate change alarmist ‘PC’ phrases such as ‘ocean acidification’, which are not included in the ‘glossary of commonly used terms’ and is an oxymoron anyway – all oceans are alkaline (PH about 8.1); it is physical impossibility for oceans to become acid, i.e. less than neutrality, about PH 7.  Recent government dredging decisions have been based on the Reef 2050 report, which states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.’  Port deepening: is NOT a ‘new channel’; it IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed.  See Reef 2050 plan excerpts.

During an interview by John MacKenzie with Federal MP Warren Entsch on John’s Talkback show, 18 March 2015, Warren described his proposals for the dredging and East Trinity which are identical to the proposal in the Phase 1 report.    Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has applauded the government’s move to ban the dumping of any capital dredge spoil in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters, but says it shouldn’t be news to Ports North in regards to their Port of Cairns dredge proposal.

Warren Entsch: “dredging critical for growth”

An article in Dredging News Online, 20 March, noted: ‘Entsch says land-based disposal  “dredging critical for growth”.  “I congratulate Environment Minister Greg Hunt for this decision, it’s something that I’ve been arguing for forever – even in regards to maintenance dredging going into the waters,” Mr Entsch said.  “I’ve always said that we have an obvious opportunity on East Trinity, it’s the perfect site for disposing of the dredge spoil.  “It provides us with an opportunity to bring the next stage of the development of Cairns closer to the CBD by developing a site that is only five minutes across the water.”  Mr Entsch said he couldn’t see why the option hasn’t already been factored in by Ports North.  “Greg Hunt has indicated for a long time that his preferred option for disposal is on land, and I have certainly conveyed this message to Ports North with every meeting I have had with them. So I don’t see any reasons why there would be delays as they have already considered a number of land-based options.”  Mr Entsch said it was critical that the dredging of Trinity Inlet take place. “Just look at the expansion of the cruise ship industry, which has been phenomenal. One of the large cruise companies is looking at Cairns as a home base, but that may never happen without dredging.  “While undoubtedly a land-based option will be more expensive, what needs to be factored in is the environmental benefits of taking the pressure off hill slopes as our city grows, and the economic benefits of reducing ribbon development as we head south past Gordonvale.  “Originally the plan was for 25,000 people at East Trinity, this can be expanded further to the adjoining land west of the Yarrabah road, allowing a significant increase in our population base. It also gives us a genuine second access to Cairns and would significantly improve connectivity between the Yarrabah community and the city.”  Mr Entsch said he understood that it would be several years before any dredge spoil at the site would have settled enough to be developed. “However there’s an opportunity to develop the adjoining areas in the meantime, and encourage private investment,” he said. “The end result is that it would significantly expand capacity close to our CBD and contain the city to a much smaller footprint.  “There’s been more than enough time for EIS to be assessed. I’d urge the new Queensland government to release it as soon as possible, so that the Cairns community can talk about the options.”

Achieving a failed promise at no cost to the taxpayer

One would imagine that achieving a failed promise made by the previous LNP Government at no cost to the taxpayer would be viewed very favourably by the new State Treasurer, Curtis Pitt (who has inherited a very serious budget deficit) as well as the new MP for Cairns, Rob Pyne.  Regrettably, complications arising from current charges relating to the State Government member for Cook, Billy Gordon, may delay the long-awaited release of the EIS report for public viewing.

Why the delay?

Consider the statement by The Honourable David Crisafulli MP, Ex Queensland State Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government  on John MacKenzie’s talkback radio 23rd January, a week before the State election:

…We do need to find a way to get that dredging done.  Now, there has been every roadblock put up that could possibly happen….. (details and context below).

Note: the Liberal National Party (LNP) was swept from power in a rout at the Queensland State election on 31 January 2015, to be replaced by Labor (ALP)  in a coalition with an  independent member and Katter party members.  To date, in addressing the dredging EIS, the four local Cairns region Labor candidates said only that they will await the EIS release before making any related decisions.   It may be relevant that the Labor Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, is the local Mulgrave  member and won his seat comfortably.  So, back to all in limbo, but with different people in charge!  It may also be relevant that the previous Cairns Member, Gavin King, who consistently spoke in almost sycophantic support of Ports North’s plans, lost his seat in a landslide.

Surely the general public has a right to know exactly what these ‘roadblocks’ noted by David Crisafulli are; not just hinting at dark secrets that sound more like a conspiracy.   Hopefully all will be revealed shortly by the new Labor Government and its four local members.

Who gains by delaying the EIS?

  • It would probably be quicker and easier for Ports North to dump the dredged spoil in the proposed extended area at the end of the Trinity Inlet Channel (if some-one else pays).  However, this is at odds with the Labor State Government’s view as well as Federal Government and the previous LNP State Government views and directives.
  • Both the Cairns Regional Council and all those involved in the sudden recent announcement of the  major residential development at Mount Peter would likely be very averse to competition from another residential development a few kilometres away at East Trinity.
  • Last year (2014) the CRC Mayor, Bob Manning, expressed his belief that the spoil should be placed at sea, and that the State-owned land at East Trinity should not be involved in the dredging project at this time.

There is a general rule that invariably assists resolution that first came to prominence in All the President’s Men (1976), Deep Throat: ‘Just follow the money trail.’  The three points above give rise to further questions:

  • Who are the ‘road-blockers’ that David Crisafulli (see above) refers to?
  • Exactly what ‘roadblocks’ would detractors be likely to put up?
  • Are there significant connections between the un-named ‘road-blockers’?
  • How much would genuine competition from an additional residential development  improve related outcomes for future residents?
  • What will a Labor Queensland State Government do, given that three local members are now Labor (the fourth, Billy Gordon is now independent but likely to align with Labor), including the likely Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, who has the residual of the previous Labor Government’s massive budget deficit to tackle?  Note: It is the Coordinator General’s role to assess the EIS, but it seems likely that the outcome will now be influenced by Labor’s plans and may be less influenced by current ‘road-blocks’ (see John MacKenzie’s talkback radio 23 January, below). 
  • Will new Cairns State Member, Rob Pyne, be able to fulfil his intention to expedite release of the EIS (see article in Cairns Post, 3 January, below)?

 “It’s just unaffordable …”

Gavin King, previous Member of Parliament for the Queensland state seat of Cairns, commented on the TV7 news on 15 August: “It’s just unaffordable, certainly in the short-term.  Unless either the private sector or the Feds come across with some dollars.” 

Both proposals (see links above  to download the reports)  respond to Gavin King’s comment:  The private sector could  ‘come across’ with all the costs for the dredging by buying the dredging spoil, a valuable resource, as part of the overall development of East Trinity.  Unless there are material errors in the reports assessments, they both demonstrate the dredging:

  • Could be ‘affordable’;
  • Could be achieved at no net cost to taxpayers;
  • Could avoiding widespread concerns about dumping huge amounts of spoil near the Great  Barrier Reef; and
  • Would make a major contribution to Cairn’s economy including allowing large cruise and other ships to enter Cairns port.

3. Articles and letters in the Cairns Post

15 May

TWO senior State Government ministers are not ruling out developing the Port of Cairns, including dredging.  Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt and State Development Minister Anthony Lynham are calling on Ports North to re-examine their Environmental Impact Statement on dredging Trinity Inlet shipping channel.  Dredging has been ruled out on economic and environmental grounds by the government, with sea dredge spoil dumping estimated to cost $100 million and land based $365 million.  “What we’ve said is that this EIS doesn’t rule out future port development, what it does is say the options that are on the table … are not viable options,” Mr Pitt said.  “What we’ve said is that Ports North, as the proponent can go back, recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal.  CONDITIONS: State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said any dredging of Trinity Inlet would have to include land-based spoil disposal at Ports North’s cost.  “It could mean that they need to change focus from being on large cruise shipping to ensure they can look at a suite of works that may need to happen in terms of future port expansion.”  He said that might include expanding the Reef Fleet terminal, a barge ramp or a wharf expansion.  Dr Lyneham said any dredging would have to include land-based spoil disposal at Ports North’s cost.  The Cairns Regional Council has called on the government to defer a final decision on channel dredging and to re-examine the proposal.  Ports North declined to comment.  Royal Caribbean International commercial director Sean Treacy, who was in Cairns yesterday preparing for the visit of the giant Legend of the Seas cruise ship next month, would not be drawn on the dredging issue.  He said the company would continue to work with governments and ports on the best way for their ships to visit.  Mr Treacy said the practise of using tender boats to transport passengers to shore at Yorkeys Knob was common for the company throughout the world.

14 May

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor: Mr Hitchcock’s letter, 9-5, stated ‘Peter Senior’s opinion piece (2-5) is very misleading’.  This letter responds to some points in his letter.  Far from being misleading, I have provided credible evidence for every point I made in my opinion piece.  Warren Entsch, in his article also on 9-5, congratulated me for my ‘very considered contribution’.

Mr Hitchcock is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.  For instance, a 1942 photo on Warren Entsch’s office wall shows the East Trinity site, far from being ‘largely rehabilitated wetlands’, was mainly salt-pans and grasslands, similar to Portsmith. 

Mr Hitchcock had attended last December’s meeting of the local Volunteer Fire Brigade, he would have heard the overwhelming support for the dredging and East Trinity reclamation – except, of course, from the CAFNEC attendee.

If Mr Hitchcock and his colleagues had not strong-armed Peter Beattie’s government into cancelling the approval for the proposed world-class Royal Reef Resort at East Trinity, which included resolving all pollution problems, then Beattie’s Government would not have had to pay $10m of tax-payers money to NatWest Bank, plus the continuing maintenance costs.

6 May

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor: ‘For the Queensland Government and Ports North not to reconsider immediately their policy decision not to dredge Trinity Inlet and allow continuing expansion of the Port and the economic development of our City defies all logic.  Overwhelming evidence in the draft EIS giving scientific advice that an alternative off shore dump site is suitable and would not be damaging to the Great Barrier Reef and the environment.  Alternatively the EIS preferred site for on shore disposal area, a section of the 10 sq km East Trinity freehold property owned by the State Government, must be given greater consideration.  This is more important following the reported statements from the highly qualified Engineer and Consultant, Peter Senior published on Saturday last where he detailed the potential revenue to the State from development of that property could cover the entire cost of the dredging operation and secure a future suburban growth area for the City only one km from the CBD.’

2 May

An article in the Cairns Post was heavily edited from the submitted copy.   The article below shows words as-published in black, with the words edited out in red:

The Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Environmental Impact Statement draft report (EIS) was released on Saturday 18 April.

  State Government Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced that, on the basis of the draft EIS, the state government had decided against approving the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging.

  The overwhelming reaction of numerous callers on Cairns’ radio talkback was extreme dismay and disillusionment.

  Most Cairns people are now thoroughly confused.   Little wonder as there are so many conflicting views and reports.

  This article presents a summary of the main factors relating to the proposed dredging and draft EIS, then proposes a way forward.

  The economic analysis presented in the draft EIS report indicates the dredging project has a very strong benefit-cost ratio, with additional income benefits to Cairns over 25 years estimated in present values, with future benefits discounted at 7% per annum, totalling $1.3 Billion.

  The $4.2m draft EIS is just that: a ‘draft’.  Proper process requires a draft EIS to be published, inviting submissions to the Coordinator General’s office for consideration, then a final EIS.  The Coordinator General then required by law to send[s] a recommendation to the government.  No final EIS exists, so presumably the Government has not received the recommendation.  What then is the government’s decision based on?  Many articles in main stream media focus on alarmist reports and views.  For example, TV7 local news often shows a video with brown water around a dredge.

  This video, provided and paid for by ‘green’ organisations, clearly suggests pollution.

  The major objectors to the proposed dredging comprise four broad groupings:

  • People who believe the scaremongering, many of whom genuinely care about the environment, some with almost religious fervour;
  • A few shrill extreme environmentalists who are anti-development (recall their attempts to prevent Skyrail);
  • Unelected organisations with other agendas such as the UN, WWF and Greenpeace (UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres said: “We are setting ourselves the task.. to change the [world’s] economic development model”);
  • Several government departments such as GBRMPA (GBRMPA’s alarmist GBR 2014 report largely blamed climate change for their dire forecasts concerning the Great Barrier Reef,  mentioning ‘climate change’ 365 times).

  The draft EIS estimates off-shore sea disposal would cost about $100m.  [Some] Reports based on scientific evidence conclude disposal near shore would not be harmful or environmentally damaging.

  The EIS Terms of Reference includes: ‘Provide descriptions of all feasible alternative land-based spoil disposal.’  And ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project.’

  The report selects the 964.3 ha state-owned East Trinity site as the preferred option for land-based spoil disposal.  Most of that area was in continual agricultural production since the first survey in 1894.

  CSR purchased the property in 1971 and expanded it by constructing a bund wall, then re-contouring the area into productive cane fields. [But when] Cane production [became] was uneconomical, so the land was sold to developers.

  The report notes ‘In the early 1990s a proposal to develop a satellite city on the site attracted community attention, but failed to gain approval. In 2000, the Queensland Government purchased the site.’  More accurately, the Royal Reef Resort proposal for this site was approved in 1995.

  But the Labor State government succumbed to persuasion from green pressure-groups and overrode the approval.

  The developer went into receivership.  National Westminster Bank commenced legal action against the State, resulting in a $10m out-of-court settlement.

  The draft EIS assesses placing spoil on 518 ha of low land at East Trinity.

  This area is highly degraded, costing about $500,000 for annual maintenance that has failed to fix the degradation.

  CSIRO advice to cover this area with spoil was ignored.  The report’s benefit-cost of developing this 518 ha concludes development would be uneconomical.

  The whole site comprises 518 ha plus partly-raised 428 ha.  The latter could be developed immediately, but the report ignores this option.

  Applying figures from the report to developing the 428 ha area indicates sufficient profit to pay for all the dredging and treatment costs, leaving the 518 ha to be developed later.  The report also ignores related benefits such as providing work for Yarrabah people, and funding potential tourist trails on adjacent wetlands.

  It seems the State and Federal governments is unlikely to be convinced that evidence-based science concludes responsible near-shore dumping of spoil would not be detrimental to the reef – political factors appear to outweigh evidence.

  Cairns now urgently needs a credible and visionary leader to assemble a well-respected team to develop as soon as possible a new proposal to achieve the many benefits to Cairns that will accrue when the dredging is completed.

  Optimising port operations and tourist potential is critical to Cairns’ future.  Surely an option that meets environmental standards and is self-funding, or requires minor taxpayer funding, would be acclaimed by our state government?

30 April

Crawford backs dredging on Trinity Inlet. BARRON River MP Craig Crawford has broken political ranks to back the dredging of Trinity Inlet. He says the widening and deepening of the channel to accommodate larger cruise ships may not happen in the short term, but needs to happen eventually – as long as the Queensland Government has the money to fund it. “I would like to see it happen. What’s restricting us at the moment is certainly the finances for it,’’ he said. The Palaszczuk Government dumped the Cairns Shipping Development Project about two weeks ago, saying there was no economic or environmental case for it. The draft environmental impact statement for the project stated the minimum cost would be $100 million, but only if the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil was dumped offshore. It would cost an estimated $365 million for land-based disposal options. The LNP had committed $40 million for the project. Mr Crawford believed the dredging of the port could still go ahead, if more research was done on the income generation associated with the cruise industry. “The projection for cruising in Cairns is certainly good, pushing out into 2025, that sort of thing,’’ he said. “We don’t have to do this thing this year, and we certainly don’t have to do this sort of thing next year. “This is not a situation right now where if we don’t dredge the inlet right now, we’re going to miss the boat totally on these sorts of things. “We’ve got a window, so in time, hopefully we can get what we need. At the moment, the restriction is money.” He said he had faith the Labor Cabinet had made the right decision to knock back the proposal. “Coming into the campaign with this government, there was a lot of election commitments given by all sides and a lot of discussion with all groups about financial management and debt reduction and all things like that,’’ he said. “Now we’ve got a Treasurer who’s working on that and obviously trying to make sound financial decisions. “Throwing $365 million at dredging the inlet tomorrow probably wouldn’t be one of his best financial decisions. So I trust him in that, but I do want to see this done at some point in the future, when it’s right.” Treasurer and Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt said since the EIS was announced, he’d made it clear alternative proposals for port expansion and other initiatives to support the cruise ship industry in Cairns may be considered. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates invited Mr Crawford to contact the centre to be told about the potential environmental impact of the dredging.

 27  April

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning responds to Rob Pyne’s dredging Facebook rant. Share.  FIGHTING WORDS: Cairns mayor Bob Manning has hit back at a dredging social media spray by Cairns MP Rob Pyne, urging residents to respond to the released EIS in the hopes people power will put it back on the agenda.  CAIRNS mayor Bob Manning has hit back at a dredging social media spray by Cairns MP Rob Pyne, urging residents to respond to the released draft EIS in the hopes people power will put it back on the agenda.  Last week Mr Pyne took to Facebook to slam the “big end of town” and vow the project “will not happen”.  He later stood by the comments and said health and education services should take priority.  But Mr Manning took a swipe back, warning such statements could be unpopular with the electorate.  “When you get involved in any form of political life people will judge you,” he said.  “The saying is the public always gets it right and in three years they will make their decision.”  Mr Manning has already called for the $40 million slated for the project to remain in Cairns.  But Mr Pyne said yesterday he was unaware the money was even available.  “Is there $40 million? If there is of course I want it spent in Cairns,” he said.  “But if there is $40 million I want it spent on a special school, I want it spent on a unit for brain injuries.”  Last week Mr Pyne took to Facebook to slam the “big end of town” and vow the project “will not happen”. The public have been given until June 1 to respond to the EIS and Mr Manning said it was vital people were aware of its conclusions.  He said he would never support anything that put the Great Barrier Reef or rainforest in jeopardy and believed the study affirmed neither were in trouble.  Industry group Cruise Down Under is urging the Government to consider the economic benefits of dredging of about $1.3 billion.  CDU general manager Jill Abel said a study showed cruise ships injected $12.6 million into the city’s economy in 2013-14.  “Here is an industry that wants to bring tourists and their spending to Far North Queensland in large numbers,” Ms Abel said.  “Having recently returned from our key international trade event, Cruise Shipping Miami, the message is very clear that Cairns is a must-see destination from a passenger perspective, and integral to the eastern seaboard itineraries.”

25 April

Rob Pyne’s rant against business is unfounded.  Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician.  CAIRNS MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician.  The ALP member has been elected to represent everyone in the community – to single out a sector that employs tens of thousands of workers is foolish, if not naive and inflammatory. Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, cargo vessels and navy ships to Cairns and provided a $1.3 billion boost to the economy as well as lucrative taxes and other government fees this administration desperately needs. The Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Advance Cairns have called for the original $40 million promised for the work to be quarantined and even be used for a smaller dredging project.  But Mr Pyne wants none of that.  He prefers the money to be spent on health, something that is needed, but an area that does not create as many new jobs or generate money.  He really starts off badly by describing business as the “big end of town” and then his Facebook rant continues with “your unsustainable, unfunded and illogical ‘capital dredge proposal’ will not fly. It does not stack up and it will not happen”.  He then goes on to say that he is only interested in improved health, education, training, disability, community and sporting opportunities for the “ordinary people” of Cairns.  Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, but Cairns MP Rob Pyne believes it will only suit “the big end of town”. Mr Pyne singles out “Tories” (conservatives) and says he will only deal with health board chairman and conservative Bob Norman.  The post also contains a photo of a man lighting a cigar with an American banknote.  Mr Pyne’s criticism is sure to alienate a large section of the community and appears to show he is not concerned about business, the sector which employs the most people in his electorate and produces the billions of dollars needed to keep the economy humming.  It’s no secret that the city’s economy continues to struggle and still needs a major project such as Aquis or the Aspial towers to start as soon as possible.  Fortunately his colleague, Mulgrave MP and State Treasurer Curtis Pitt, has a far better grasp of what makes this city tick and will achieve a lot more than Mr Pyne’s list of priorities.  At least our business leaders have shown the sense not to react to his surge of illogical rage.

20 April

LNP spent $4.2 million on failed Cairns Trinity Inlet dredge study. DREDGE DIFFICULTY: A huge amount of money was spent on finding out dredging Trinity Inlet is not feasible. TAXPAYERS forked out $4.2 million for a study which strongly found against the dredging of Trinity Inlet. [Editor’s note: these first two paragraphs are totally incorrect.] The State Opposition’s infrastructure spokesman Tim Nicholls yesterday revealed how much the Newman government contributed to the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which was knocked back by Labor on Friday. The long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the widening and deepening of the city’s shipping channel was released on Friday, showing there was no environmental nor economic case for the project. The 3000-page report stated the minimum cost of the project would be $100 million – but only if the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil was dumped offshore. Both parties have committed to preventing dredge spoil from being dumping within Great Barrier Reef waters. The LNP promised $40 million towards the project in 2012 as an election commitment. In a statement yesterday, Mr Nicholls said it was disappointing the Palaszczuk Government was “pandering to the Greens” with no thought or plan on how it would open up tourism or boost the economy and jobs in the Far North. “The money spent on this project is an investment in the future of Cairns and unfortunately the Treasurer has dismissed this project too quickly without looking at all the options or considering funding partnerships with the private sector,’’ he said. The former Queensland treasurer said with the ever-increasing size of new cruise ships, it was essential the port was positioned to respond. “Dredging Trinity Inlet would have provided access for larger cruise ships, boosting economic and tourism benefits for the region,’’ he said. “It is now on Labor to detail what their plan is to bolster and support industry, tourism and create jobs in Cairns.” He said the report was not released before the election as the Co-ordinator-General had to take into account the changing Federal Government position on dredge spoil dumping. His spokeswoman did not respond when asked if the LNP would still push for the dredging of Trinity Inlet. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates said the project was never necessary, never environmentally responsible, and did not represent a good use of taxpayers’ money. “The fact is that there is no need to expand the port for larger cruise ships, which continue to visit Cairns transporting passengers to shore at Yorkeys Knob,’’ he said. “We have welcomed the State and Federal governments’ commitment to put a stop to new dredge spoil dumping offshore in the Great Barrier Reef marine park. “This ban should be extended to all World Heritage areas to address dumping elsewhere in Queensland.” He said while the Government had ruled out funding the project and released the EIS for legal reasons, it was still important for people to have their say on the project.

JCU Trinity Inlet dredge report tells of damage. RULED OUT: Increased dredging of Trinity Inlet to allow larger cruise ships to dock in Cairns has been quashed by a number of sources. An independent study into the economic benefits of cruise shipping has revealed the industry would be of little-to-no benefit in Cairns. The findings have been released after an unrelated State Government review rejected a plan to grant extra dredging permits for Trinity Inlet to allow “mega” cruise liners to dock in Cairns. James Cook University’s report into the economic opportunities and risk of cruise tourism in Cairns, which will be released today, concludes that even if every person onboard a major cruise liner made a day trip to the reef or Kuranda, the net benefit for local companies would be negligible. The $10,000 study was commissioned by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). “The price of a shore excursion purchased onboard is typically marked up between 70 per cent to 200 per cent, with less than half that amount paid to excursion operators,” the report states. “The swift arrival and departure of high volumes of cruise passengers can put pressure on local tourism capacities, degrade the natural resources upon which they depend, and lower the overall level of tourist satisfaction.” The report states the average spend of an international cruise passenger in Cairns is about $200 a day, 66 per cent higher than domestic tourists. It comes just days after the Palaszczuk government released a 3000-page scientific report showing that dredging the inlet would do untold environmental damage. AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the report showed dredging was not necessary for the Cairns tourism economy to access the benefits of the cruise industry. “Dredging … could result in serious damage to the environment – which is the reason people want to come here in the first place,’’ she said. Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews, who read the government’s EIS yesterday, said there was no consideration of the impact of ships not being able to offload passengers at the current facilities at Yorkeys Knob due to bad weather. “The researcher has not spoken to any of the cruise lines,’’ he said. “Their information is taken from annual reports, they acknowledge that some of their data cannot be verified.” Ports North chairman Brett Moller said dredging could only proceed if it was fully funded by government and “the Queensland Government has indicated that it will not be funding the project.” Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Deb Hancock still backed expansion of Trinity Inlet to attract larger vessels. “While the Government’s decision is not to proceed with the port expansion project, the allocated funds should be used to develop portside or other infrastructure for our future economic development.”

18  April

Trinity Inlet dredging canned after Environmental Impact Statement raises issues.  CAIRNS’ potential as a mega-cruise ship and navy hub is sunk after the State Government used environmental and financial factors to stop the required dredging of Trinity Inlet.  The move is sure to anger business leaders hoping for more cruise passengers in Cairns. Treasurer Curtis Pitt yesterday released the long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement which he said showed there was no case in favour of dredging. “The $40 million the Newman Government committed to the project in 2012 was politically cynical and misleading because it was never enough to make the project viable,” he said. “The proposal, which includes dumping dredge spoil at sea, would cost more than $100 million and the land-based dumping options about $365 million.” Releasing the document is a legislative requirement but the Newman administration refused to make it public prior to the January election. LACKING BENEFIT: Treasurer Curtis Pitt yesterday released the long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement into dredging Trinity Inlet, which he said showed there was no case in favour of dredging. Mr Pitt said he wanted Queenslanders to have an accurate understanding of the economic costs and environmental impacts of dredging. “This EIS highlights the Newman government’s reckless disregard for the one of Queensland’s most valuable assets, the Great Barrier Reef,” he said. “It was never fully funded and anyone who looks at the proposal and its environmental and economic impacts can see why the government is not proceeding with it. “The Palaszczuk Government opposes the recommended option in the draft EIS to dump dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.” Ports North had proposed to widen and deepen the Port of Cairns channel in Trinity Inlet to allow the future expansion of the HMAS Cairns naval base and accommodate mega-class cruise ships. Great Barrier Reef Minister Steven Miles accused the LNP of having “complete disdain for Queensland’s environment” and putting election pledges ahead of sound economic policy. “We’re not going to waste $40 million subsidising a dredging project which has now been exposed as environmentally and economically unsustainable,” he said. “The money the LNP wanted to waste on this unviable project would be far better spent on frontline services or job-generating projects, including initiatives in Far North Queensland.” HOPES DASHED: Ports North had proposed to widen and deepen the Port of Cairns channel in Trinity Inlet to allow the future expansion of the HMAS Cairns naval base and accommodate mega-class cruise ships. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE Source: News Corp Australia. The Great Barrier Reef supports about 70,000 full time jobs and contributes $5.7 billion a year to the Australian economy. State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said on that basis alone the dredging proposal had no merit. “When people look at the EIS they will see why the only option is to discontinue the project,” he said. “That’s why the government, in line with its election commitment, has decided to withdraw the money allocated by the Newman government. “The Great Barrier Reef needs to be protected not only as a unique natural wonder, but also because of its economic importance.” Copies of the EIS will be available at the Cairns City Library from April 20 to June 1. Electronic copies can be ordered by phoning 4052 3888. To lodge a submission on the draft plan, click here.

23 March

A Letter to the Editor in the Cairns Post 20 March: The article ‘Port EIS release delayed – Labor tardiness questioned’ (18-03) is very worrying.    The Cairns Post is to be congratulated for requesting a copy of the draft EIS under the Right to Information laws, subsequently denied by the Coordinator General.  The department says there is an “intrinsic responsibility” to not disclose this multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded EIS.    Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne notes this denial is “undemocratic”.  The delay and denial are also disgraceful and completely unacceptable.    It appears that a tiff between Ports North and the Coordinator General has somehow managed to delay progressing this project and the major economic benefits it will bring to Cairns.    The question must be asked: who is running our government?  A few unelected bureaucrats, or our elected representatives?  Hopefully this denial will be a catalyst to force immediate progress of this vital project.

 20 March

An article in the Cairns Post 20 March: Cairns Post article 200315

19 March

An article in the Cairns Post 19 March: A REPORT into the potential dredging of Cairns Port is expected to be publicly released “within weeks”. Cairns MP Rob Pyne has spoken with Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham about the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which has been locked away by the government since late last year. The Minister’s department blocked the release of the taxpayer-funded document after it was requested under Right To Information laws by the Cairns Post. Mr Pyne said Dr Lynham gave him an undertaking the 3000-page report would be released publicly after an upcoming Cabinet meeting. He could not say, however, how soon that would be, instead saying he would be “disappointed” if it was any longer than the next two months. “All I can say is it’ll be tabled over coming weeks and discussed by Cabinet, and then made public,’’ he said. Mr Pyne had previously questioned the department’s transparency but said the latest development had restored his faith in the Labor ­Government. He said the Far Northern community needed the report to inform the debate about whether Trinity Inlet should be widened and deepened to attract larger cruise ships to the region. “We need to look at the report and look at whether it actually stacks up,’’ he said. “I think the report will tell us if such expenditure would be supported or such an investment would stack up, in terms of benefits to the Cairns ­community. “It will, very importantly, look at any environmental costs as well.” Ports North submitted the EIS to the Queensland Coordinator-General and the Federal Government’s Department of Environment late last year. The Newman administration didn’t allow the document’s release before the January election. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre director Angelika Ziehrl welcomed the EIS finally being made public. “CAFNEC is looking forward to this finally being released so the public and CAFNEC can comb through it,’’ she said. Green groups have raised concerns the large quantity of sediment generated by dredging could impact the marine environment.

18 March

Two Cairns Post articles, 18 March: Cairns MP Rob Pyne questions government decision to block port study from public release.  THE transparency of the Queensland Government has been questioned by one of its own Labor MPs after it blocked the release of the ­report into the proposed dredging of Cairns Port. The Department of State Development has denied The Cairns Post’s request under Right to Information laws for a copy of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Cairns Shipping Development Project.  The long-awaited report was due to be released for public comment late last year but is still under consideration by the Co-ordinator General.  The department says there is an “intrinsic responsibility” to not disclose the taxpayer-funded EIS, which the Co-ordinator General needs to be satisfied adequately covers the terms of reference.  “The information was ­received in circumstances which would make it unacceptable conduct for the ­receiver to disclose the information in a way the giver has not authorised,’’ a departmental officer wrote.  Once the Co-ordinator ­approves the EIS, it will be ­released for public and state government advisory agency consultation for six weeks.  The Newman Government committed to fully funding the EIS as part of its $40 million investment in the project.  Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne said for the department to deny the document’s release under RTI was “undemocratic.”  “These things need to be transparent and the document should be released for people to talk about,’’ he said.  Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews said it was in the ­region’s best interests to see the report, to have a way forward for the dredging project.  The Office of the Co-ordinator General did not respond to questions about when the report would be released.

Future in the balance.  Far Northern leaders are adamant the region’s economic future hinges on a plan to develop the Cairns Port.  The Cairns shipping Development Project promises to inject $634  million of 25 years into the local economy and create more jobs by dredging the Trinity Inlet to accommodate large cruise ships.  But complete bans on sea dumping proposed by the state and federal government could jeopardize the project.  Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said a land site must be found for dredge spoil, no matter what the cost.  Cairns Mayor Bob Manning was confident port development and a healthy reef could co-exist. “It’s inevitable that our region is going to grow and it’s inevitable the port will need to grow”, he said.

11 March

Cairns Post article, 11 March: ‘New bid to release Inlet EIS.  The time for talking about releasing the Trinity Inlet Environmental Impact Study into dredging is over, according to Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews.  And Cairns MP Rob Pyne agrees.  Both have been in discussions for release of the document which is stuck in the Coordinator General’s office.  “As an organisation we have been calling on government to release the EIS and get on with it,” Mr Matthews said.  “We asked for that in our early engagement with government and in my first meeting with Rob, so we expect that will be forthcoming.”  Mr Pyne has been applying what political pressure he can and insists he won’t be stone-walled.  “I wrote, emailed and phoned requesting its release last month and I’ll do that again today,” Mr Pyne said.  “Some people have foregone conclusions about what they want to see happen in the inlet, but I want the EIS released so those people who are thoughtful can read it and base their opinions on something that has rigorous content.”  Ports North submitted the EIS to the Queensland Coordinator General and the Federal Government’s Department of environment in November last year.  The Newman administration didn’t allow the document’s release before the January election.  The new Labour Government is yet to make a move on the document.’

9 March

A letter in the Cairns Post on 9 March noted: ‘Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has stated that strategic assets will be retained, but ‘assets such as unused land and vacant buildings will go under the hammer.’  Perhaps Ms Trad includes the 946.3 ha (that’s nearly 10 square kilometres) State-owned unused land at East Trinity?  The proceeds from this sale could well pay all the costs of dredging the Trinity Inlet Channel as well as providing land to place the dredging spoil.  It appears that only about 500 ha will be required for the spoil, so there is ample land left to sell to developers to pay for the dredging.  Perhaps this is what Jackie Trad is flagging?’

 27 February

Cairns Post article, 27 February:  Still no word on Cairns port Environmental Impact Statement. The release of a long-awaited study into the dredging of Cairns’ port has been further stalled by the new Queensland Government. It’s now been five months since the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Cairns Shipping Development Project was last expected to be made public. The state’s Co-ordinator General has now delayed the report’s release, citing the Palaszczuk Government’s policy on dredging within the Great Barrier Reef marine park needs to be taken into account. Prior to the state election, the ALP committed to preventing dredge spoil associated with the project being dumped within the marine park. A Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning spokesman said the 3000-page document would not be released at this stage. “The implications of the new State Government’s policy statements and position on the project need to be taken into account,’’ he said. “In particular, the Co-ordinator General is seeking the advice of the proponent on how it intends to meet the government’s commitment of no sea-disposal.” Cairns MP Rob Pyne, who previously vowed to make the report public, said he would continue to push for the study’s release. “As we speak I’ve emailed the minister requesting its release and awaiting reply,’’ he said. “How can you have an intelligent public discussion if this information isn’t made public?” Widening and deepening of Trinity Inlet will allow the city to accommodate larger cruise vessels in its main channel. Ports North has proposed to remove 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge material from the inlet and deposit it either at sea or on land. One of the sites under consideration for dumping the sediment is inside the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, Steven Miles, said the Co-ordinator General was assessing if the EIS was “adequate and suitable” for public release. “The Government was elected on a platform of protecting the Great Barrier Reef, which I know is important to many Cairns residents and the Cairns economy,’’ he said. “Consequently, the Government will not support any proposal that involves the dumping of dredge spoil offshore. “I would expect that the Ports North EIS has included a land-based disposal option (Editor’s note: assessment of land-based options is a requirement of the EIS Terms of Reference – see below). “When the EIS is released for public comment my department will assess the project and provide advice to the Co-ordinator-General.” Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates said the project should be shelved.

3 February

An article in the Cairns Post, 3 February:  CAIRNS MP Rob Pyne has vowed to publicly release a study into the dredging of Trinity Inlet – as long as he has the power to.  The former Cairns Regional councillor has cemented Labor’s commitment to preventing 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil associated with the Cairns Shipping Development project from being disposed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  Mr Pyne also said if his party formed government he would endeavour to publicly release the long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement – which despite being completed late last year, has yet to see the light of day.  “If I have the power to make it public, I will make it public,’’ he said.  “The public paid for (the report).”  He said his opinion of the project, to widen and deepen the city’s main shipping channel, was that it still “needed to stack up”.  Ports North has proposed to remove dredge material from the inlet and deposit it either at sea or on land.  Sites under consideration for dumping of the material include East Trinity, Admiralty Island, on cane land in southern Cairns near the inlet, along the Esplanade and near the Cairns Airport.  Five offshore sites were also under consideration, including areas within the marine park.  Queensland’s former Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney late last week blamed Ports North for the delay in releasing the project’s EIS, which was initially expected to happen in September.  In a brief statement yesterday, Ports North chairman Brett Moller said the authority had submitted the draft EIS to the Queensland Co-ordinator General last year.

30 January 2015

An article in the Cairns Post, 28 January:  ‘DEPUTY Premier Jeff Seeney has blamed Ports North for the delay in releasing a study into the potential dredging of Trinity Inlet.  The Environmental Impact Statement, which will determine whether the deepening and widening of Cairns’ port should proceed, has still not been made public by the government.  The draft EIS for the project, which involves the removal and disposal of 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the channel, was initially expected to be released in September after being submitted to the Co-ordinator General.  Mr Seeney, who visited the Tableland yesterday on the election trail, told The Cairns Post he did not know when the EIS would be released.  The Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning said Ports North had not yet addressed Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s new regulations to ban dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef marine park.  “The Federal Minister took a decision in relation to offshore disposal,’’ he said.  “So we had to go back to the proponents and say, well the Federal Minister has said this is the situation and you have to address that situation in your application.”  He said the EIS did not need to be rewritten, only one particular section of the report.  “That section of the EIS that deals with the disposal of the material now needs to look at other disposal options, be it further out to sea or on land or whatever,’’ he said.  He could not say when the report would be completed or released.  Ports North refused to answer questions yesterday about whether it had resubmitted its EIS, and what – if anything – it needed to change in the report to address the Federal Government’s new regulations.’

28 January 2015

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor, 28 January, noted: ‘Dear Editor, ‘Resort project promised all help Newman can give’ (24-01).  Good one, Premier!  Most Cairns people are very frustrated about yet another delay of the dredging EIS.  The LNP will lose many votes if they tell us nothing before the election except that we’ll just have keep waiting.  Most Cairns people support ruling out dumping spoil at sea.  In any case there is a much better alternative: pump the spoil on to the lower 500 ha of the State-owned property at East Trinity, and sell some of the residual 446 ha to pay for the dredging and treatment costs.   This will also enable fixing the pollution there, as recommended by the CSIRO.’ 

‘How about two more promises, Premier?  Commit to supporting pumping the dredging spoil on to the State-owned property at East Trinity if the final EIS recommends this, and repeat your previous promise to fund up to $90 million dollars if necessary.’

12 January 2015

An article in the Cairns Post, 12 January, noted: Business leaders blast delay in vital dredging report.  A DECISION to delay the release of the long awaited Environmental Impact Statement for the dredging of Trinity Inlet to widen and deepen the shipping channel has been savaged by two leading business groups in Cairns. Advance Cairns and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce have blasted the State ­Government for holding back its release until after the ­January 31 election. Originally it was earmarked for a September release last year but has been dogged by hold-ups. Dredging of the channel was an LNP election promise in 2012 with $40 million pledged towards the cost. At issue is whether to dump the spoil at sea, which is cheaper, or on land. Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the Co-ordinator General was currently considering the Trinity Inlet EIS. “As the Co-ordinator General adheres to caretaker conventions, the EIS will not be released during the election campaign,” he said. Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said the delay was frustrating. “While we appreciate the assessment process and the conventions of a caretaker government, it is disappointing to see that the only key election promise for Cairns made by the government prior to the previous election has yet to be fulfilled,” he said. “We have no entertainment precinct, no shipping development. Is the government serious about growth and prosperity in the north? “And if so, then let’s see a clear commitment and action to deliver major infrastructure projects for our region.” Chamber chief executive Deb Hancock said the decision was “very disappointing”. “It’s very convenient to hide behind the conventions of a caretaker government,” she said. Ms Hancock said the ­government would have known when the election was to be called and “made a conscious decision not to release the information”. “It was an election promise (in 2012) and they have failed the community,” she said. “We would like to hear how the LNP government will continue economic growth, particularly in the shipping area.” She said the LNP had three years to honour the promise, which included a $40 million funding commitment. “They have taken no action with regard to implementation and even to make a decision,” Ms Hancock said. Tourism Tropical North Queensland declined to ­comment.’

6 January 2015

Another article in the Cairns Post, 6 January, noted: ‘THE Queensland Government has been urged to release a study into the potential dredging of Cairns Port before the State election is called (Editor’s note: the election was called for 31st January later that same morning), or shelve the project completely.  The draft EIS for the project, which involves the removal and disposal of 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the channel, was initially expected to be released in September (Editor’s note: the first release date promised was May 2014, then September, then ‘the end of the 2014’ – after missing all 3 promises, no date has been announced since). In a statement yesterday, however, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the report was still being assessed by the Co-ordinator General. “The EIS process is rigorous, thorough and undertaken without political interference,’’ he said. Before the 2012 election, the Newman Government committed to dredging Trinity Inlet so larger cruise liners could enter and dock at the Port of Cairns. Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews said the LNP had yet to honour its commitment. “I think it’s beyond the time,” he said. “If it can’t go, it can’t happen, then let’s say it can’t happen and let’s get on with it. “The dragging on of this whole process causes a lot of confusion.” ‘

6 November 2014

Another article in the Cairns Post (6-11-14) was very supportive of expediting dredging the Trinity Inlet.  The article covering the visiting National Geographic MV Orion, with about 100 passengers disembarking, noted: ‘One of the world’s leading adventure travel companies is willing to bring more of its fleet to Cairns if the city’s shipping channel development goes ahead. ….. Australian business development director, Jeremy Lindblad, said if Trinity Inlet could be widened and deepened the company would look at bringing more of its vessels to Cairns.’

11 November 2014

Another article in the Cairns Post (11-11-14) reported: ‘Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler vows to stop dredge spoil dumping on Great Barrier Reef off Cairns.  FEDERAL Labor has committed to preventing dredge spoil from entering Great Barrier Reef waters if the Cairns ­Shipping Development project goes ahead.  The ALP announced yesterday, if re-elected, it would impose a ban on capital dredge spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  The Federal Opposition’s environment spokesman Mark Butler, in Cairns yesterday with his Queensland counterpart Jackie Trad, said 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil associated with the widening and deepening of Trinity Inlet could only be dumped onshore.’

15  November 2014

More from the Cairns Post, 15  November: Secrecy shrouds Cairns Inlet dredge report  release.  …. Despite the office of Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt being uncertain about whether dredge material from the channel expansion was included in a proposed ban, Mr Entsch said there was clarity on the policy. “We can be absolutely definitive that there is a new position on dredge spoil disposal,” Mr Entsch said. “Any new proposals will be subject to this and the Federal Government is currently setting out the legal frameworks and legislative instruments to accompany it. “We can be crystal clear on this….In addition, I’ve spoken to Minister Hunt about it many times and he is well aware that I am vehemently opposed to water-based disposal – it will happen over my dead body.” ’

 23 April 2014

Another Cairns Post article, 23 April, spelt out The Federal Government’s thinking, preceding Labor environment spokesman, Mark Butler’s, similar announcement above:  ‘Five million cubic metres of dredging spoil is unlikely to be dumped at sea if a port development in Cairns goes ahead.    Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday met with Ports North to discuss the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which proposed to widen and deepen the shipping channel at Trinity Inlet for so-called mega-class ships.    “The overwhelming preference if anything were to happen in Cairns is for land-based disposal.” Mr Hunt said.  He backed Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who continues to advocate for spoil to be dumped at East Trinity near Yarrabah.  Mr Entsch said: “I absolutely think it’s critical that we go ahead and do this,  I believe the most appropriate site is …the degraded NatWest (land at East Trinity) and it can be done in an appropriate way, which actually will strengthen Cairns in many ways.” 

Cairns Post G20 magazine, September 2014

The Cairns Post G20 magazine, WORLD OF INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, reproduced the double-page photo with the superimposed new residential area at East Trinity, as above, on pages 52-53 in an article describing a future vision of Cairns:

Cairns Post G20 magazine     Cairns Post, Cairns G20 magazine

An inside source revealed that the authors of this article were ‘strongly ticked off’ for including this photograph, and were directed to remove this and associated photos from the newspaper’s library.  The source did not know who made the initial complaint, or why Cairns Post reacted this way, but it is interesting to speculate when considering the ‘road-blocks’ noted above.

4. John MacKenzie’s radio talkback show

4 May

A 22-minute interview with Peter Senior can be listened to at Note: if necessary, copy the address and paste into your internet link box.

20 April

John MacKenzie kicked off over two hours of non-stop discussion on the State Government’s decision to turn down the dredging proposal with an interview with Cairns Regional Council Mayer Bob Manning.  Bob explained at length how this was a shocking and altogether wrong decision for many reasons.  Bob noted that all ‘the science’ showed there would be no problems if the proposed dredging spoil was placed in the proposed area at the North East end of the Trinity Inlet.  A later caller added that internationally-recognised reef experts, Dr Walter Starck and Professor Bob Carter, endorsed this view, noting all the inner areas between the land and reef already have some one metre of spoil at the bottom of the shallow sea from centuries of sediment drained for the land.   Other callers noted: the $365m cost stated in the draft EIS was excessively high, and ignored the potential for selling some or all of the excess State-owned land at East Trinity to pay for the dredging and treatment costs.  Several references were made to the two proposals linked at the start of this post.  Every caller presented additional information in dismay, and in some instances, disgust, that the State Government had made this decision before even waiting for submissions on the DRAFT EIS report.  The overall view was that Cairns leaders and the general public must make their views known to the State Representatives to dissuade them from this fundamentally wrong decision.  The following day’s show continued the theme for nearly two hours as well.

20 March

During an interview by John MacKenzie with Federal MP Warren Entsch on John’s Talkback show, 18 March 2015, Warren described his proposals for the dredging and East Trinity which are identical to the proposal in the Phase 1 report.

23 January 2015

The Honourable David Crisafulli MP, Queensland State Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government said:  ‘…We do need to find a way to get that dredging done.  Now, there has been every roadblock put up that could possibly happen…..  My role in the next Government will be work with blokes like Trout, like King, like Kempton to strike a balance for our part of the world.’

Would David, had he still been Minister, have succeeded in changing Gavin King’s views,  as quoted below?  And how will the new Cairns Member, Rob Pyne address these points now Gavin King is no longer in a position to ‘road-block’?

  • ‘It would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed’ – thousands of other reclamations started development within a few years, including Portsmith and Trinity Park.
  • ‘It’s just unaffordable, certainly in the short-term…’ – Gavin continues to ignore the potential for revenue gains from development.
  • ‘A bridge would be required’ – not necessary, noting it is faster to drive from East Trinity to the CBD in rush-hour than from Palm Cover.
  • ‘The change by Federal Government regarding dumping spoil at sea caused Ports North to carry out considerably more assessments which had caused the delay’ – Not so; the final Terms of Reference were released in November 2013 requiring all land-based options to be fully assessed.  This was 4 months before Ports North let the EIS contract to ARUP.
  • Portsmith reclamation: ‘That was a century ago’ Portsmith reclamation was completed in the late 70s; many of the current buildings were completed in the 80s.

20 January 2015

A conversation between Queensland State Minister for the Environment,  Andrew Powell, and Michael Trout, Member for Barron River and Peter Senior covered the following points:

  1. Peter asked why Gavin King had said it would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed, then noting there was ample land currently available for development that would not be required for spoil placement, further noting such development could pay for all the costs of dredging and spoil treatment.  Andrew said they were aware of such options but it was necessary to wait for the EIS report.
  2. Peter asked why the EIS report was delayed so much past it’s original promise of May 2014, given the Terms of Reference had not changed since the original TOR published in November 2013, requiring full evaluation of all land-based options.  Responses from Andrew and Michael did not really address the question, noting again the need to await the Coordinator General’s completion of the EIS assessment.

15 January 2015

A conversation between Gavin King and Peter Senior covered the following points:

  1. Gavin said it would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed.  Peter noted that ‘only’ about 500 ha of the 946.3 ha of State-owned land at East Trinity was apparently required to place the spoil.  So the other 446.3 ha could potentially be available for development immediately, including the 168 ha of raised land at the North East end.
  2. Gavin said a bridge would be required.  Peter noted this was costed by GHD in the late 90s at $400m, so about $800m could be realistic now.  But a bridge is not needed, noting it takes longer to drive from Palm Cove to the CBD in the rush hour now than it takes to drive in from East Trinity.  A small, regular fast passenger ferry from East Trinity across the 1 Km of water to the Pier marina would probably attract considerable numbers of residents for work and pleasure.
  3. Gavin twice said that the change by Federal Government regarding dumping spoil at sea had caused Ports North to carry out considerable more assessments which had caused the delay.  Peter pointed out that the project Terms of Reference had not changed after the November 2013 update that was the basis for the ARUP contract.  Full assessment of all potential land options were a requirement of the original terms of reference, so nothing has changed.
  4. Gavin said Peter should talk with Ports North, as he had previously offered to arrange.  At that point, John MacKenzie terminated the discussion due to shortage of time.  Peter had been about to tell Gavin that Norm Whitney and he had three long meetings: first on 18/o4/13 with the Mayor and executives from Ports North; then 3/9/13 with Ports North executives plus ARUP consultants; then a month later with the ARUP environmental consultant at East Trinity; then 3/6/14 Peter met with the Mayor to discuss progress – we agreed, politely, to disagree on most points.   Ports North clearly indicated at the three meetings they considered on-land disposal would be a far more costly option with no benefit.
  5. An earlier conversation on this talkback show between Gavin and ‘Bill’ concerned the issue of Portsmith having been successfully reclaimed.  Gavin said this was ‘a century ago’.  In fact filling at Portsmith was mainly carried out during 1960’s and completed in late 1970’s.  Buildings at Portsmith, especially around Aumuller street and Redden Street, were constructed mainly during 1980’s.

5. TV7 News

During an interview on the TV7 Bold Report on 16  November, the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party stated: ‘I have been involved in some detailed discussions about the Great Barrier Reef and Australia is committing to world best practise in the conservation and preservation of the Great Barrier Reef, and last week we ann0unced there would be no dumping of capital dredge waste in the marine park’.  How much clearer can the Federal Government be?

6. Background and history

The report at  Dredging and East Trinity opportunities 081214 presents details and several photographs that tell the story of East  Trinity.  Then you will be able to compare this proposal with the Ports North EIS report when it is released by the Coordinator General. 

Ports North originally stated the EIS report would be presented to the Coordinator General last May, some 8 months ago.  Release to the general public would be authorised by the Coordinator General at a later date, expected to be announced in the Cairns Post.  Further information is noted below in.

Terms of Reference for the EIS

The Coordinator General’s Terms of Reference for the EIS report include the requirement for Ports North to present:

  •  An outline of the alternative options considered and reasons for selecting the proposed development option.
  • Detail the criteria used to determine the alternatives and provide sufficient detail to convey why certain options or courses of action are preferred and why others are rejected.
  • Provide descriptions of all feasible alternative land-based spoil disposal.
  • Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project.
  • The indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.

The EIS should therefore include full responses to the five points above with regard to the East Trinity option without the need for further extensive investigation. 

Ports North initially stated the report would be delivered in May 2014.  Later the delivery date was stated as September 2014.  In an article in the Cairns Post, 9 August 2014, Brett Moller, chairman of Ports North, wrote: ‘After 18 months of studies, the project EIS is due for submission to government later this year’.  A later statement from Ports North noted an ‘October’ completion.  On  6 November Chairman Moller told John MacKenzie on his radio show the report would completed ‘by the end of this year’.  The report will be available for public release when the Coordinator-General’s office authorise this.

Options East Trinity

Other approaches could be suited to the East Trinity property such as a large marina, residential and commercial properties, and a large resort with a golf course, as was proposed then approved by Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie’s government in 1995 (this proposal is described at the end of this post).  Imagine the now-familar depiction of the amazing Aquis resort superimposed on the graphic below:

East Trinity with marina 290714, cropped

The issues were captured brilliantly in a cartoon in the Cairns Post, 16 August 2014:

Cairns Post cartoon, 160814

Cruise ships

Cairns is a small idyllic city on the North-East coast of tropical Queensland.  The Great Barrier Reef, rain forest and glorious tropical weather are just three features that attract visitors from across Australia and the rest of the world.

Many cruise ships visit Cairns, docking at the cruise terminal adjacent to the central area with its many restaurants, entertainment facilities and the lagoon by the marina.  Larger cruise ships have to anchor a few kilometres North of Cairns off Yorkeys Knob.  Passengers come ashore in tenders.  A Channel 7 TV News item on 28 November 2012 interviewed several passengers who were dismayed at the long boat trip to get ashore, then the lack of welcome, unlike other ports they visited that have music, gifts of flowers and shelter.  Queensland State MP, Gavin King, suggested putting up a welcome sign. It was dismaying to hear a cruise director from the Celebrity Solstice, visiting Yorkeys Knob on 4 December 2012, tell me: ‘It’s like a dead city; no welcome, no taxis for my passengers…’. 

Almost 2 years later, on 19 November 2014, the Cairns Post announced the ‘Yorkeys Knob’s newly upgraded $2.2m cruise liner facilities will host its first cruise this morning.  Passengers from luxury P&O vessel Pacific Dawn are expected to arrive ashore at Half Moon Bay Marina from 9.30 this morning.  A two-year joint venture between Ports North, Yorkeys Knob Boating Club and the State Government, the upgraded facilities include a reconfigured car park with a large covered area, an improved jetty, resurfacing and lengthening of the boat ramp and a new floating walkway.’  A temporary shade tent was again erected on the nearly-sealed area for waiting passengers.

Proposal to dredge the channel

Ports North propose to dredge the Trinity Inlet channel to provide sufficient depth of water for all except the largest mega-cruise ships to navigate the channel and dock at the central cruise terminal – clearly a major advantage for cruise passengers, and certain to attract more cruise ships.  This dredging project has many implications and potential major benefits in addition to attracting more cruise ships.  The downside is that Ports North plan to dump the massive amount of spoil – 5+ million cubic metres initially plus ongoing maintenance – from the dredging in an extended area near the Great Barrier Reef (click on diagram of Cazalys Stadium for clearer definition). 

It is important to note that, whilst most local public opinion is against dumping this spoil at sea, and State and Federal legislation currently prevents ‘capital’ dredging spoil being dumped at sea, many credible technical explanations and assessments have demonstrated that such dumping at sea would not harm the reef providing it is done in a controlled manner.  Much of the negativity about dumping dredging spoil at sea has been stirred up by both extreme environmentalists and organisations, including some government departments, that have been seduced by bodies such a the UN that promote very dubious and ideological aims.  The key factors are explained well in an article by Professor Bob Carter, The Australian, 29-12-14: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/great-barrier-reef-a-shore-thing-muddied-by-misconceptions/story-e6frg6zo-1227168703706

What 5+ million cubic metres looks like

5m M3

Submissions

The Queensland Coordinator-General issued draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the dredging project assessment; submissions were invited so anyone could comment on the draft TOR.  The deadline was 29 October 2012. One submission presented can be viewed at Submission for Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Terms of Reference, Peter Senior, 291012. This submission canvasses the key issues and presents several suggestions, in particular noting that dredging spoil could be used as a valuable resource for several land-based projects such as bulk-fill to assist fixing the environmental disaster at East Trinity.

Revised Terms of Reference

It was very gratifying that the Coordinator-General’s  considerably revised Terms of Reference document included a well-balanced approach that requires rigorous assessment of a range of land-based solutions for the use of Trinity Inlet dredging spoil.

On 25 September 2012, the Queensland Government declared the project as a “significant project for which an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required”, following the submission of an Initial Advice Statement.  The Queensland Coordinator-General is managing the State’s assessment process and Terms of Reference (TOR) for the project are available at www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/cairns-shipping-development-project.

Ports North provided a submission to the Federal Government to determine if the project is a controlled action, which means it has to be assessed for environmental impacts under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  The project was declared a “controlled action” on 5 October 2012 and will therefore require the preparation of an EIS that addresses Federal Government guidelines.  Information on the Federal EIS process and guidelines can be found on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website www.environment.gov.au

The Cairns Regional Council’s 12th December 2012 meeting considered the Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, a succinct and relevant paper which includes requests for submissions by 14th December:

http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/66639/12dec12_ordinary_cl1.pdf

‘Deputation’ to the Cairns Regional Council

A ‘Deputation’ to the Cairns Regional Council was planned to be presented to the full Council on 27 February 2013.  This was cancelled hours before the scheduled start time because several people felt strongly that the presentation would be counter-productive at that time.  Here is the Power Point presentation that was planned for the deputation: Trinity Inlet dredging proposal (2.8 MB).

Ports North announced on 22 April 2013: The Cairns Shipping Development Project took another step forward today announcing Arup in partnership with BMT WBM as the Lead Consultants who will work with Ports North to deliver a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to meet the requirements of both the State and Commonwealth Governments.’  As at 3 September 2013 the consultants were making good progress towards completion of the draft EIS report.

Many Cairns local business people and community members look forward with great interest to reading what the report has to say, and what the Queensland Co-ordinator General’s departmental response is, regarding the EIS terms of reference points (as listed above).

Meeting the consultants

A meeting with Ports North and their consultants on 3 September 2013 demonstrated  the consultants were on track to prepare a draft EIS report for Ports North to make available for public consultation starting in May 2014.  At this meeting, the following points were re-iterated:

It is likely the lowest direct cost of the total dredging project will be to dump the spoil in an extended area by the current dumping area.  This solution also appears to fulfil the Ports North objectives.  A primary concern remains that there may be major benefits for the Cairns community, economy and environment through managing this massive amount of dredging spoil as a valuable resource that could contribute towards several important on-land projects – ‘may be’ because no significant investigation or cost-benefit studies have ever been undertaken in the past to address this issue.  

Also the EIS appears to extend well outside the formal role and objectives of Ports North, and moves towards a much wider mandate.  To this extent Ports North is in a difficult position in determining just how far they are required to go outside the Port’s mandate to fulfil the EIS. Recalling that the most obvious location to place the dredging spoils is over the environmentally-devastated East Trinity area, two close neighbours of that area, Brigadier Mansford and Norm Whitney, noted that, under the management of QASSIT (Queensland Acid Sulphate Soil Investigation Team) and other government bodies, this area has become a major health and environmental hazard. For instance, destruction of an entire new forest of melaleucas – a 2013 photo:

 East Trinity ruined, 2013 

Yet landowners face stiff penalties for such vandalism. A range of signs, community concern, media articles and reports such as the SKM’s ‘Improved Dredge Material Management for the Great Barrier Reef Region’ suggest dumping dredging spoil at sea off the Queensland coast has a very limited life. 

The 1988 aerial photo

The 1988 aerial photo below shows a light-brown area, lower-left where the developers purchased dredging spoil from the harbour board to test the effect of placing spoil on the land.  It is recorded that the trial was successful.  It is instructive to compare this area now with satellite photos on Google Earth

East Tinity property 1988 prior to purchase by State

LNP’s quarterly magazine, Dialogue

The Liberal National Party’s quarterly magazine, Dialogue, has an article (pages 24 – 27) in Issue 6 describing the history of the East Trinity property: LNP Dialogue magazine, A Sustainable East Trinity, that concludes: ‘Wise decision-makers, unafraid of disinformation from a very small but vocal minority, need to act now. The environmental catastrophe at East Trinity can be resolved and the property made available for the City’s future growth. The land, and potentially another four square kilometres, could become an urban residential development area very close to the CBD, as advocated by town planners. A bonus would be that valuable agricultural land presently earmarked for residential development would remain productive, extending the viability of the sugar industry and the associated jobs.  Surely that is a win-win for the environment as well as most Cairns stakeholders.’

The fundamental issue is this: is it better for the Cairns community to place this massive amount of spoil in an extended area close to the Great Barrier Reef, with possible attendant dangers, or to manage  this spoil as a potentially valuable resource that may enable the large East Trinity area – only 2 kilometres from Cairns’ CBD – to be reclaimed and become part of Cairns future development.  The EIS report is required to address this issue.

Earlier letters to the Cairns Post

A letter published in the Cairns Post on 17 February 2014 posed the question: ‘The dredged material need not be an off-shore disposal problem.  Instead this valuable resource could enable creation of  more land of a similar size to Portsmith only 2 kilometres from the CBD.  Our city’s forefathers chose to create Portsmith using dredging spoil from Trinity Inlet. Will our current city leaders be as wise?’

Another letter in the Cairns Post on March 11 2014, written by Brigadier Mansford addressed the issue of short-term expediency over long-term planning and benefits: ‘If the impending report on dredging Cairns Port advises that dumping at sea is safe, then do it as an interim measure.  However, given the long-term needs for continued expansion of port facilities it would be stupid to consider it a permanant solution.  The region’s future should not be determined by controversial and questionable treatment costs.  Government must pursue and determine innovative and economical methods to use the spoil on degraded land and convert it into assets that will contain future infrastructure, abundant green open space and environmental corridors on the very perimeter of the CBD that any city would envy.  The past history of reclaiming many areas of degraded land in Cairns should be part of the research to determine fact from fiction.  We need to be more positive.  It’s time to roll up our sleeves and find ways to do what we can and must do, as opposed to assuming it’s all too difficult.’

Meeting the consultants, 31 October 2013

Stepping back a few months, a meeting on 31 October 2013 with one of the consultants at a property adjacent to the Queensland State-owned East Trinity area in question demonstrated at that stage the consultants had minimal knowledge of the current and past status and events that lead up to the state of this ‘disaster area’.  Several previous reports about the area were passed on to the consultant, together with detailed explanations of related past events.

CAFNEC public meeting

The Cairns Post published an article on 5 April 2014 noting the draft EIS report is now expected in September rather than May.   (Click on graphic below to enlarge).  Much of the article describes the  views of the local miniscule extreme environmental group, CAFNEC, who organised an event on Sunday 6 April protesting dumping dredging spoil ‘near out reef’ (as several banners read)  Other banners and  T-Shirts had messages including:

    • Don’t stop our fishing
    • Our reef is already sick
    • i-care about our environment – www/acfonline/org.au
    • Save the Turtles
    • Save the Great Barrier Reef
    • Dump on Abbott, not our reef
    • Big Coal is killing Nemo
    • Sea Shepherd Australia
    • Fish are my friends

CAFNEC’s views for many years have been consistently against any development (recall they were strongly against the superb and world-acclaimed Skyrail project).  Their argument against dumping spoil at sea is quite widely supported by Cairns’ locals.  Their other argument concerns the dredging spoil ‘…so the obvious solution of using it as fill for building really isn’t an option in this case because of the nature of the sediment’.  They fail to point out that the real issue is the cost of treating and compaction, which of course CAFNEC do not address, nor how this spoil from the same area was successfully used over many decades to cover then develop much of Portsmith.  Note too there have been major advances in spoil management technology and equipment for preloading and compacting since Portsmith was created, including for the forthcoming Abbotts Point project. Perhaps CAFNEC’s ‘obvious solution’ is indeed both practical, economic and would provide a range of  major benefits for most Cairns residents and businesses.  Ports North chairman Brett Moller sensibly noted: ‘Ports North are not prejudging the outcome of the EIS in relation to the relocation of dredge material ….‘. That was, of course, before the 11 month delay – and counting…..

  More research CP 050414

4,000 ha is available…

A potentially overriding aspect of the issue of where to place the dredging spoil was summarized in a letter published in the Cairns Post on 12 April 2014: ‘Several recent letters and articles raise concerns about future housing and rental affordability if the huge Aquis development goes ahead.  For instance ‘Affordability key to fate of Aquis’ (10-04).  Perhaps it’s time to dust off proposals from the 1990s to develop housing on land at East Trinity?  There are over 4,000 hectares of land largely wasted at East Trinity that could become available for residential development.  This land could provide housing for at least 60,000 people, would avoid using other valuable agricultural land further South and fulfils modern town planners’ recommendations for urban development to be close to the CBD.  This option to accommodate Cairn’s certain population growth appears to have much merit.  Perhaps Cairns Regional Council have this on their drawing boards as one of several options for assessment?’

Ruling on land-based disposal

A further update of the Federal Government’s thinking was spelt out in a Cairns Post article, 23 April 2014:  ‘Five million cubic metres of dredging spoil is unlikely to be dumped at sea if a port development in Cairns goes ahead.    Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday met with Ports North to discuss the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which proposed to widen and deepen the shipping channel at Trinity Inlet for so-called mega-class ships.    “The overwhelming preference if anything were to happen in Cairns is for land-based disposal.” Mr Hunt said.  He backed Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who continues to advocate for spoil to be dumped at East Trinity near Yarrabah.  Mr Entsch said: “I absolutely think it’s critical that we go ahead and do this,  I believe the most appropriate site is …the degraded NatWest (land at East Trinity) and it can be done in an appropriate way, which actually will strengthen Cairns in many ways.” 

The deadline for the project’s environmental impact statement was extended to September to allow for further water-quality studies.  Earlier this month, hundreds of residents rallied in Cairns to protest port developments near the Great Barrier Roof, including the Trinity Inlet proposal. 

Legal personality for the reef

The Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland is campaigning to grant the reef a legal personality so it can be defended in court.  It was prompted by a Great Barrier Roof Marine Park Authority decision to allow three million cubic metres of dredging spoil to be dumped in the marine park as part of the Abbot Point coal port expansion, north of Bowen.  An online petition for a referendum to award the reef legal rights has attracted more than 600 signatures.  Mr Hunt yesterday dismissed the campaign: “The reef already has a legal personality, the GBRMPA is there to represent the reef, it defines the area of the reef, it does a tremendous job.  “The GBRMPA is an independent executive agency, it is one of the world’s leading marine park agencies, if not the world’s leading marine park agency,” he said.’

These views were reinforced in a Cairns Post article, Committee fears for Reef, 24 July 2014: ‘Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, however, said both he and Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s preferred disposal site was on-land. “Greg Hunt had already made it publicly clear that he wants the dredging on land,” he said. “I have made is very publicly clear that I want it on land, at East Trinity. It won’t be a blow-in from Tasmania who will influence a decision to have it there.” He said depositing the dredge spoil at East Trinity would also provide land for the city’s future population growth.’

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7. Other related documents

Plan for the Royal Reef resort

The plan that was prevented when Peter Beattie’s Labor government withdrew its approval to appease environmental activists, resulting in Cairns losing what would have been a fine development, and paying the National Westminster bank what is rumoured to have been many millions of dollars to avoid being sued.  The Royal Reef AIS and EIS reports (respectively 1992 and 1995), two exceptionally comprehensive 40 mm thick reports produced by a team of specialists led by Brannock Humphreys, Town Planning Consultants, describe the proposal in detail.  Section 10.0 CONCLUSIONS notes: ‘There will be no  major detrimental impacts to the environment as a result of the  proposed development which has been modified to be generally in accordance with the Trinity Inlet Management Plan.’  A selection of diagrams from the report are below: a hotel and beach, a plan of the whole resort and a location plan.

Royal Reef hotel and beach

Royal Reef layout

Royal Reef site boundary 2

Government documents relating to the project are available at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/cairns-shipping-development-project.html

A vision for Cairns

It seems The Cairns Post is the only ‘leader’ pushing a vision for Cairns on a range of issues including many articles describing the manifest benefits that would result from dredging the Trinity Inlet.  One example was published in the Cairns Post in May 2012:  Cairns Post front page 08-05-12  Cairns Post follow-on 08-05-12.  Hopefully Cairns’ civic leaders will take up the challenge soon.

Labor Premier Beattie turns a blind eye

It also seems no-one showed former Labor Premier Peter Beattie all the evidence that had been provided to his departments, or informed the Cairns City/Regional Council on related matters.  A letter from Peter Beattie dated 4 February 1999 included: “In relation to the acid sulphate and sewerage issues you raise, this Government has seen no evidence which would indicate there is an acid sulphate problem at East Trinity, while matters pertaining to solid waste disposal are primarily the responsibility of the Cairns City Council and, as such, should be raised directly with this authority.”

 

A history of East Trinity:  History of East Trinity, letter, 180607

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The Rise and Fall of Europe

European countries ruled the world for centuries.  Since WWII the fall from grace has accelerated.  Two videos about the pending Brexit vote in Britain sum up much of the sorry saga: Brexit The Movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYqzcqDtL3k and UKIP leader, Nigel Farage’s video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HXL5hRgqDQ

The EU is truly ‘Europhobic’

The EU is truly ‘Europhobic’  By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 14 May 2016

The pro-Brussels side is a hotbed of prejudice against Europe’s peoples.

One of the great mysteries of modern politics is how the pro-EU lobby gets away with depicting anti-EU people as xenophobes.

This isn’t to say there’s no anti-foreigner sentiment in Brussels-sceptic circles. Of course there is. One of the biggest bugbears for those of us who are against the EU for democratic and universalist reasons — because we want more democratic accountability within nations and more genuine solidarity between nations — is that we sometimes find ourselves rubbing shoulders with anti-EU types who just don’t like Romanians or still don’t trust the Germans.

Xenophobia

But when it comes to xenophobia — in the sense of distrusting people from other countries, fearing how they think and behave, and dreading the impact they will have on our society — the anti-EU side doesn’t have a patch on the pro-EU side.

The ‘phobia’ suffix is used too much today, usually to pathologise a political or moral viewpoint. In the EU debate the term is ‘Europhobia’. This slur is used by pro-Brussels people to depict anyone who is opposed to current European integration as suffering from an irrational fear of the continent and its inhabitants. According to the Collins English Dictionary, Europhobia is a ‘dislike for or hostility to Europe, Europeans or the European Union’.

The first problem with this is how a political position — opposition to the EU, an institution — is lumped together with a prejudiced outlook: hostility to Europeans. The second is that genuine hostility towards Europeans emanates far more from the pro-EU side than it does from the anti-EU side. You want to see ‘Europhobia’? Look to those who support the EU.

The outlook of Brussels bureaucrats and their supporters in the media drips with contempt for the peoples of Europe. Consider their fuming response to every electorate that has rejected an EU treaty. In 2005, when French and Dutch voters said No to the EU Constitution, an MEP described them as ‘an odd bunch of racists, xenophobes, nationalists… and the generally pissed off’. Then EC president Jose Manuel Barroso said these people, these plebs, were beholden to ‘demagoguery’, bewitched by ‘populist trends’. They can’t think intelligently, those French and Dutch. When the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 they were likened to fascists. A ‘mixture of social decline and fear’ has made them unhinged and ‘opened the door to fascism’, said one MEP. Those Irish — can’t trust ’em.

Or consider the response to last month’s Dutch referendum, when 64 per cent of voters said No to a Ukraine-EU treaty. The pro-EU set was furious. The Dutch referendum ‘is a joke’, sneered EU Observer; the Dutch government should ‘ignore the results… altogether’. An Observer columnist invited ‘connoisseurs of the grotesque’ to behold how the referendum brought together extremists in ‘a clammy embrace’. Grotesque, clammy, ridiculous — this is how Dutch voters were discussed.

‘What a ridiculous mob. Ignore it.’

Some pro-EU observers mocked the fact that turnout in the referendum was 32 per cent. ‘What a ridiculous mob. Ignore it.’ And yet they hail the European Parliament as a paragon of democracy even though turnout in Britain for the last Euro-elections was 35 per cent. A few years back it was 24 per cent. To these voter-fearing elitists, tiny turnouts are cool when voters say the ‘right’ thing, but a grotesque charade when they get it ‘wrong’.

The pro-EU side hasn’t only defamed the French, Dutch and Irish as simple-minded. It has also presented the Greeks as fiscally untrustworthy and lazy in comparison with northern Europeans, the xenophobic narrative that fuelled the EU’s overriding of Greek sovereignty. It has painted Eastern Europeans as prejudiced and backward in comparison with us Westerners, hence why Brussels bureaucrats must lecture elected governments in the east to rewrite constitutions, change their judicial systems, and basically stop being such despicable people.

And its fear of Russia has reached epidemic proportions. See how pro-EU types responded yesterday to Boris Johnson’s sensible remark that the EU helped to stoke the conflict in Ukraine. They accused him of being a ‘Putin apologist’ and not appreciating how awful Russia is. They fear the idiot voters in their own nations, the lazy or racist inhabitants of other European nations, and the spectre of Evil Russia. They make paranoid Little Englanders look rational.

The pro-EU side’s fundamental fear of the peoples of Europe is summed up in its view of the EU as effectively a lid on our hysteria, keeping in check our vile passions. This is why the pro-EU side plays the fear card — because it genuinely fears that, without the EU, European peoples will become beholden to fascism and give in to chaos. If the EU disintegrates there will be an ‘inexorable slide toward catastrophe’, says Yanis Varoufakis. Without the EU, ‘the continent’s extremists could be our future’, says one columnist. The decay of the EU would nurture ‘the rise of the far right across the continent’, says another.

The anti-EU side is xenophobic? It’s the pro-EU side that brands French, Dutch and Irish people ‘odd’, depicts Greeks as untrustworthy, spreads fear about Eastern Europeans, and views people across Europe as needing bureaucracy to keep their inner fascist under control. The way pro-EU elitists talk about anti-EU people — as being fearful, anti-foreigner and hiding from the world in their own backyard — would be better said of them. They’re Little Europeans, pseudo-Europeans, hiding in Brussels from what they view as Europe’s ugly passions and even uglier people. They’re more paranoid than any anti-EU person I’ve met.

EU: institutionalised distrust of the peoples of Europe

This is fundamentally what the EU represents: institutionalised distrust of the peoples of Europe. Its mission is to remove political and moral decision-making from the national electorates of Europe because it doesn’t trust them; it installed technocratic governments or financial regimes in Greece, Italy and Ireland because it doesn’t trust those people; it fearmongers about prejudice in Eastern Europe because it doesn’t trust anyone east of Vienna. If, as the dictionary says, Europhobia is ‘dislike for or hostility to Europe and Europeans’, then the EU is the citadel of Europhobia; it is the institutionalisation of Europhobia.

And that is why those of us who love Europe, who trust European peoples to determine their affairs better than any suit in Brussels could, and who want to offer solidarity rather than sermons to our European brothers and sisters, should wholly reject the EU. The optimistic, humanistic thing for true Europeans to do is to call for the dismantling of all EU institutions, so that the peoples of Europe might make decisions for themselves, and work together as they see fit.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked.

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Brussels attacks: Europe is at war

Brussels attacks, Europe is at war  By Tom Steinfort, The Australian, 24 March 2016

If the Brussels Airport bombings took place two days earlier, chances are I wouldn’t be writing this.

At that exact time of morning at those exact check in counters just 48 hours earlier, my cameraman and I were preparing for a flight to Greece.

I look at the footage now of the obliterated desks there, and can only just vaguely make out where we were standing — it’s a spot burned black, covered in mangled metal, clouded by smoke.

On the day we travelled we walked past young families excitedly preparing for a family holiday, and I distinctly remember seeing a couple of Irish lads that had clearly enjoyed a big weekend sampling many Belgian beers.

They were all people having the time of the lives … and exactly the kind of people who lost their lives in the attacks last night.

The hallmark of terrorists in Europe

It has become the hallmark of terrorists in Europe these last few months to kill people who are enjoying going about their daily lives — think back to the locations hit in the Paris attacks by Islamic State last November: a football game, a concert, bars and restaurants.

And nowhere is the warped mentality of Islamic extremism more prevalent in Europe right now than in Brussels.

The Paris attacks were conceived and coordinated out of the Belgian capital, which is a city that’s seen more than 50 terrorism suspects arrested this year alone.

And it’s one of those police operations last week that seems to have inadvertently set off a dramatic and disastrous chain of events.

Last Tuesday French and Belgian authorities conducted what they thought at the time was a relatively run of the mill raid at a house in the south of Brussels.

Molenbeek and Forest, the epicentre of Islamic extremism in Europe

The suburbs of Molenbeek and Forest are now recognised as pretty much the epicentre of Islamic extremism in Europe.

The areas have been described by some as ghettos and I can tell you from visiting there a number of times, they’re certainly not welcoming places.

Last week I had abuse hurled at me as I walked down a street, and witnessed a German reporter get rammed by a car.

In various raids in recent weeks, they’ve discovered bombs, AK47s, grenades and Islamic State flags … you don’t keep an arsenal like that in your backyard unless you’ve got some pretty evil intentions.

But back to that raid last Tuesday that began this week of mayhem — police thought the occupant there had loose links to Islamic extremists, but when they arrived they came under a hail of gunfire from a number of men armed with automatic weapons — four police officers were wounded, one suspect shot dead, two arrested, and two more men escaped out a back window.

It wasn’t until two days later that it was revealed one of those who escaped the property was Salah Abdeslam — a kingpin of the Paris terror attacks who’s been the most wanted man in Europe for the last four months.

After having next to no leads since November, detectives suddenly went into overdrive — surveillance operations were put in place across Brussels, and lo and behold a suspicious pizza order to the suburb of Molenbeek was the final clue police needed to raid an innocuous looking apartment there.

Once again gunshots and explosions rang out in the south of Brussels, and after 126 days on the run, police finally got their man … Salah Abdeslam was shot in the leg, but captured alive.

This was celebrated by authorities in both Belgium and France, but the achievement also came with a warning — it was quite possible that the arrest of such a revered figure in Islamic State circles could lead to reprisal attacks by his deranged associates.

And so it was that coordinated attacks were carried out less than a week later, striking Brussels Airport, and killing dozens more in a separate bomb blast on the city’s Metro system.

There is another theory for these attacks that is also very plausible: Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer said a few days ago that his client was cooperating with police questioning, so his cowardly cohorts may well have thought they’d better strike quickly before they too were arrested.

Whatever the motive, it’s an outcome that is becoming all too familiar for increasingly fearful Europeans.

For the third time in a week I’ve arrived in Brussels to see the streets being patrolled by army tanks and soldiers everywhere with their fingers poised on their triggers.

French President Francois Hollande: “Europe is at war”

It’s a big statement, but standing here right now, I think French President Francois Hollande is right when he declared, “Europe is at war”.

Tom Steinfort is Channel Nine’s chief correspondent for Europe, Africa & Middle East.

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Europe’s civilisation death wish

Europe’s civilisation death wish  By Mark Christian, The Australian, 13 February 2016

Australians should feel unashamed about our immigration policies and instead fight the growth of identity politics and the undermining of free speech.

That’s the message of provoc­ative Canadian commentator Mark Steyn, who tomorrow begins an Australian speaking tour sponsored by the Institute of Public ­Affairs.

Free speech is at the heart of Steyn’s message

He is surprised that the controversial section 18c of our Racial Discrimination Act is still standing when his own country successfully repealed the equivalent parts of its Human Rights Act in 2013.

“Free peoples are losing the habit of free speech,” he says. “They’re taught, not really just at university but in fact from kindergarten, that there is a correct view of certain subjects and that incorrect views are distressing. The last two generations raised in the Western world, they don’t do that thing, the apocryphal Voltaire line, ‘I disagree with what you say but I’ll fight to the death for you to.’ They’ll fight to the death for you not to be allowed to say it.”

The consequences can be disturbing. “People can actually lose the spirit of liberty and once you’ve lost that there are not a lot of easy paths back,” he cautions.

Steyn says the initial reluctance of politicians and much of the media to acknowledge, let alone discuss frankly, events in ­Cologne on New Year’s Eve or the growing problem of sexual assault in Sweden did nothing to preserve social cohesion but instead widened a democratic deficit between governments and the governed over the tide of asylum-seekers sweeping across Europe.

“Free speech is like being a little bit pregnant”

“Free speech is like being a little bit pregnant,” he says. “You can’t be a little bit free speech.”

He talks of meeting people fleeing the Balkans as a journalist covering the wars that accompanied the disintegration of Yugoslavia. “In Europe the whole migrant thing is basically open mockery of the whole idea of refugees,” he says.

Steyn says EU leaders need to speak frankly about the forces now pulling people to the continent and how they are different.

He points to Africa. “People now have cell phones,” Steyn says. They can see what’s going on in the world. Even as recently as the 1980s their glimpse of life in the West came from re-runs of Dallas.

It’s a different world now

“It’s a different world now. They can see in real time their cousin who got on a boat from Libya and wound up in Italy and walked over to Sweden. They’re seeing in real time the kind of life their cousin is living. What percentage of North Africa has to decide ‘We’d quite like to move to Europe’ for there to be no ­Europe?”

As a result, Steyn sees nothing wrong with Australia’s asylum-seeker policies. “Australia does what every country used to do until the 1960s. It reserves the right to pick and choose who it admits to within its borders.” He adds: “In effect, everyone in Australia is Donald Trump.”

But Steyn points to the different recent experiences of asylum-seeker flows of Europe and Australia. “Europe is basically as near to Africa as Australia is to ­Indonesia,” he says, describing the EU’s approach as “the equivalent of Australia telling everyone in ­Indonesia, ‘See you in Darwin on Tuesday’.”

Consequences of the uncontrolled flows of people

Steyn is blunt on the potential consequences of the uncontrolled flows of people. “If you lose control of your border you don’t have a country,” he says. In this environment, he is particularly concerned about the impact of identity politics and ­diversity policies that play on differences. He points to his experiences in the Balkans. “Once people start to think of tribal identities, you end up with tribal politics,” he warns. “It doesn’t matter if the tribe is Bosnians or Croats or whether its transgender and lesbians versus straight white males.”

Steyn jokes about “the Stanley Gibbons stamp collection approach to diversity” but says it is a trap that can cause ­divisions in wealthy, comfortable and largely homogenous societies, be they in Europe or our own.

“I raise my kids in New Hampshire which is 99.99999 per cent white,” he says. “I think there’s rumoured to be three black guys somewhere in the southern part of the state and two Hispanics. That’s it for New Hampshire.

“It gets kind of boring and people think wouldn’t it be nice to have bit of this and a bit of that. We live here and we’ve got all these people called Smith and Jones and all the rest of it. It would be much more interesting if we can have a bit more diversity. So look. There’s that nice gay couple who have moved into No 28 Victoria Gardens. And — ooh, aren’t we lucky now? There’s a nice fire-breathing imam who has moved into No 30.

“They can all meet. The fire-breathing imam can make conversation with the nice gay couple over the garden fence as they do on a Sunday afternoon.”

Turned diversity thing into a civilisational death wish

Then the joking ends. “The situation they’re now realising in Europe is that when you’re so boundlessly tolerant that you tolerate the avowedly intolerant then you basically have turned that whole kind of Stanley Gibbons diversity thing into a civilisational death wish,” Steyn says.

He warns against embracing the self-loathing that comes with the increasingly common use of concepts such as privilege and entitlement to delineate societal goodies and baddies — witting or not. “The minute you start using these things like privilege, what you’re doing is incentivising the most reductive kind of identity group politics,” Steyn says.

Here, he specifically references 18c and “what groups you can claim to be a member of” so before the law “what matters is not that you are a citizen like any other” but which “groups you have a purchase on”.

Then Steyn the joker takes over, riffing off the old story about Cromwell’s portrait painter and the wart to illustrate the folly of the feelings of guilt that rack the bien-pensants of the West.

“Nowhere is perfect,” he says, “but if you have basically a heroic national narrative as Australia does, there’s something psychologically unhealthy in obsessing on the warts to the exclusion of all else. What’s happening now is you say, well, we haven’t got enough warts.” Warming to his theme, he casts about for new sources of shame. “What a pity we haven’t got Hispanics,” he says. “That would give us a whole new wart, a whole great new oozing pustule sac in the middle of our forehead we could all feel bad about.

“That’s the craziness here. It’s Cromwell to the nth degree. ‘Don’t paint me warts and all. Just paint my warts and if I don’t have enough warts, add a few to my face. The more warts the better. That’s what we want. We want more warts!’ ”

Bookings at ipa.org.au

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Could energy be free?

Modern society growth is proportional to available energy, so the availability of cost-effective energy for everyone is clearly critical.  This post presents a range of issues with regard to the science, views and potential for free energy and so-called renewable energy.

Scroll down to see additional articles at the end of the post.

Could energy be free?

Could energy be free A selection of several articles and videos on the subject, 10 May 2016

This article presents a range of issues with regard to the potential for free energy.

Introduction

Modern society growth is proportional to available energy, so the availability of cost-effective energy for everyone is clearly critical.  This post presents a range of issues with regard to the science, views and potential for free energy and so-called renewable energy.

Of the seven largest markets in the world, namely, energy, agriculture, telecom, auto, chemicals, packaged foods, and pharma, the energy market surpasses all others by a minimum margin of $3.3 trillion dollars per year. The growing demand for energy drives market size projections to $10.4 trillion per year by 2020, helping energy maintain its dominant position in the world markets.   The 2013 world GDP was USD75.59, so energy comprised about 15%.

Several organisations are working hard to develop low-cost devices that could provide almost-free energy that potentially could destroy or replace most of the current energy industry.  Question: how do you think energy industry leaders are reacting?  Read banker J P Morgan’s reaction to Nicola Tesla’s inventions below, and view Thomas Bearden’s videos, also below.

However, the most of the official scientific views of ‘free energy’, Tesla’s demonstrations, zero point energy and the like are dismissive.   But then, recall everyone ‘knew’ the sun went around the earth, and peptic ulcers were caused by stress and acidity – until 2 doctors, who had been scoffed at for 20 years – proved these ulcers were caused by bacteria, and won Nobel prizes.  Scientific has an alarming history of ‘getting it wrong’. As Einstein said, it only takes one person to prove I’m wrong’.

Caveat

The reader is advised that most of what is presented in this section is very different from what he/she is likely to have been taught, read and viewed. Rather than scoffing, which is a natural reaction, it would be better to maintain an open mind and consider the degree that past information on this and allied subjects may have been manipulated for entirely different ends.

The subject of ‘free energy’ is best introduced and put into context by the Sirius project. Dr Carol Rosin interviews Dr Steve Greer to discuss an update on Sirius Disclosure (34 mins intro, implementation at 77 mins, ends 94 mins) – audio interview http://americanfreedomradio.com/listen_live.html

Interview with Dr Carol Rosin: Von Braun’s legacy – 34 min 2013 YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?=gP8ftWzFYI4&list=PLnrEt2fIdZ0aBgPuVF0C_T559Y

Tom Bearden

 Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bearden, US Army, PhD explains how energy can be extracted from the ‘zero points field’, the ‘dipole’ effect and how and why this form of free energy has been buried by various black government, financial and industrial operations as well as the scientific community and non-availability of patents for ‘perpetual motion machines’. Recorded around 2002, but similarly valid in 2016. The main difference is that ‘money-printing’ has extended his forecasted deadline – 47 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wleifp3Fbe0

Thomas article:  Clean Electrical Energy from the Active Vacuum 2002   http://www.cheniere.org/articles/clean%20electrical.htm

A 6-minutes video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKFEmMotPNo, and a longer 50 min video that explains the article including many associated factors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJY8XqFnAyg&ebc=ANyPxKoiO2_L3WFfQZyyXFBfL8GqxZ_cFZPrZTreDPlVY5OmjBo2cSRCdlSWUGDYCAqgVu8dBTQJ5uNoF6tJPFEI-PTeWJ4Vow

History of free energy, suppression, economic cartels in energy preventing free energy, assassination etc.  and how it works – over-unity power systems, Lt Colonel Thomas Bearden (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsJybtR9YlM 47 minutes) – his website: http://www.cheniere.org/ – note quotes.  This is an old video ~2003 – predicts world will be into mass war in 2007/08 or sooner if new energy generation is prevented – his logic remains, but the various institutions, cartels etc. have managed to delay free energy for another decade since. Dr. Eugene Mallove RIP

Description of zero point energy by Dr Hal Puthoff – (watch Dr Mallove 3 videos at the end of first video, linked after the first video)

Perpetual motion machine?

Science skeptic and writer, Martin Gardner has called claims of such zero-point-energy-based systems, “as hopeless as past efforts to build perpetual motion machines.”  Perpetual motion machine refers to technical designs of machines that can operate indefinitely, optionally with additional output of excessive energy, without any cited input source of energy, which is in violation of the laws of thermodynamics. Formally, technical designs that claim to harness zero-point energy would not fall into this category because zero-point energy is claimed as the input source of energy’.  The issue is, then, what the are boundaries that comprise the overall system in which the energy resides.

A full explanation of progress in the zero energy science: ‘As to whether zero-point energy may become a source of usable energy, this is considered extremely unlikely by most physicists, and none of the claimed devices are taken seriously by the mainstream science community. Nevertheless, SED interpretation of the Bohr orbit (above) does suggest a way whereby energy might be extracted. Based upon this a patent has been issued and experiments have been underway at the University of Colorado (U.S. Patent 7,379,286).’  NB mainstream science ‘knew’ the sun goes around the earth, and stomach ulcers were caused by excess acid. http://www.calphysics.org/zpe.html

Nikola Tesla

 A Device to Harness Free Cosmic Energy Claimed by Nikola Tesla: “This new power for the driving of the world’s machinery will be derived from the energy which operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is everywhere present in unlimited quantities.” It is not clear how or whether this related directly to zero-point energy.  It is fully documented that banker J P Morgan believed it would work and preclude his profiting from selling energy; he sabotaged Tesla’s progress and stole Tesla’s patents.  Acknowledged as the greatest inventor ever, as a result, Tesla died a pauper.  http://www.nuenergy.org/nikola-tesla-radiant-energy-system/

Dr Steven Greer

 Steven Greer, re new/free energy/ET etc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL7uFTKUK_U

The potential for ‘free energy’ is discussed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy – Utilization Controversy section.  Zero-point energy, also called quantum vacuum zero-point energy, is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical physical system may have; it is the energy of its ground state Despite the scientific stance to typically discount the claims, numerous articles and books have been published addressing and discussing the potential of tapping zero-point-energy from the quantum vacuum or elsewhere. See 44 references with links.

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Inherit the Wind (and not much else)

Inherit the Wind (and not much else)  By David Archibald, Quadrant Online, 8 Feb 2015

 The RET Scheme, a monstrous mis-allocation of resources, continues to make Australia poorer for no good reason.  Those who concocted and voted for it seem determined to hobble the nation’s prospects while slipping some $5 billion every year into the pockets of rent-seeking saboteurs

One Senate inquiry is addressing Australia’s drift towards a fuel crisis, a sin of omission on the part of the Rudd/Gillard government and the current Liberal one.  Another Senate inquiry is investigating a sin of commission that started under John Howard’s watch and continues to this day, namely the proliferation of wind turbines under the RET Scheme.

Submissions to the latter inquiry are online here.  I commend submission Number Five by your humble correspondent. It is reproduced below:

No electric power producer would take power from a wind turbine operation if they had the choice.  All the wind turbines in Australia have been forced upon the power companies that take their output.

Why do we have wind turbines?

So the question has to be asked, why do we have wind turbines in the first place?

Wind turbines are commonly considered to produce renewable energy.  This is distinct from energy sources that are once-through and thus finite. The rationale for renewable energy is that its use reduces the consumption of fossil fuels by substitution.  The rationale for that, in turn, is that fossil fuels contribute to the warming of the atmosphere through the greenhouse effect.  This last rationale goes to the source of the wind turbine problem.  So it is apposite to examine that claim.

While climate change is real in that the climate is always changing, and the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is real, the effect at the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is minuscule.

The greenhouse gasses keep the planet 30°C warmer than it would otherwise be if they weren’t in the atmosphere.  So the average temperature of the planet’s surface is 15°C instead of -15°C. Of that effect, 80% is provided by water vapour, 10% by carbon dioxide and methane, ozone and so on make up the remaining 10%.  So the warming provided by carbon dioxide is three degrees.

The pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 286 parts per million. Let’s round that up to 300 parts per million to make the maths easier. You could be forgiven for thinking that if 300 parts per million produces three degrees of warming, the relationship is that every one hundred parts per million produces a degree of warming. We are adding two parts per million to the atmosphere each year, which is 100 parts per million every 50 years and, at that rate, the world would heat up at a fair clip.

The relationship is logarithmic

But the relationship isn’t arithmetic, it is logarithmic. The  University of Chicago has an online program called Modtran which allows you to put in an assumed atmospheric  carbon dioxide  content and it will  tell you how  much  atmospheric  heating that produces. It turns out that the first 20 parts per million produces half of the heating effect to date. The effect rapidly drops away as the carbon dioxide concentration increases.

By the time we get to the current level in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the heating effect is only 0.1°C per one hundred parts per million. At that rate, the temperature of the atmosphere might rise by 0.2°C every one hundred years.

The total atmospheric heating from carbon dioxide to date is of the order of 0.1°C.  By the time humanity has dug up all the rocks we can economically burn, and burnt them, the total heating effect from carbon dioxide might be of the order of 0.4°C. This would take a couple of centuries.  A rise of this magnitude would be lost in the noise of the climate system.  This agrees with observations which have not found any signature from carbon dioxide-related heating in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide level is dangerously low

The carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere is  actually  dangerously  low,  not  dangerously  high.   During the glacial periods of our current ice age, the level got as low as 180 parts per million.  Plant growth shuts down at 150 parts per million. Several times in the last three million years, life above sea level came within 30 parts per million of extinction due to a lack of carbon dioxide. The more humanity can increase the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the safer life on Earth will be.

Further to all that, belief in global warming from carbon dioxide requires a number of underlying assumptions.  One of these is that the feedback loop of increased heating from carbon dioxide causes more water vapour to be held in the atmosphere which in turns causes more heating, a runaway effect.  And that this feedback effect only starts from the pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – not a higher level or a lower level, but exactly at the pre-industrial level.

Some estimates of the heating effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide are as high as 6.0°C for a doubling of the concentration from the pre-industrial level.  For this to be true, atmospheric heating of at least 2.0°C should have been seen to date. In the real world, there has been a temperature rise of 0.3°C in the last 35 years, as measured by satellites.  This is well short of what is predicted by global warming theory as practiced by the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and others.

This is also a far more plausible reason for the warming of the planet during the current Modern Warm Period which followed the ending of the Little Ice Age in 1900.  The energy that keeps the Earth from looking like Pluto comes from the Sun and the level and make-up of that energy does change. The Sun was more active in the second half of the 20th century than it had been in the previous 8,000 years.  As shown by the geomagnetic Aa Index, the Sun started getting more active in the mid-19th century and the world’s glaciers began retreating at about the same time.

It is entirely rational to think that a more active Sun would result in a warmer Earth, and this is borne out by empirical observation. To wit, the increased Antarctic sea ice cover observed during the satellite period.

Arctic sea ice extent retreated for the last 20 years of the 20th century.  That is compatible with global warming for any reason.  At the same time, Antarctic sea extent increased by an amount similar to the Arctic sea ice loss. This is not possible if we accept that global warming is due to carbon dioxide.  It also means that global warming due to carbon dioxide did not cause the bulk of the warming in the rest of the planet because carbon dioxide’s effect was overwhelmed in Antarctica by some other force.

Increase in Antarctic sea ice extent

The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent is entirely consistent with increased global temperatures due to high solar activity, as explained by Henrik Svensmark’s theory, which holds that high solar activity produces a lower neutron flux in the lower troposphere from intergalactic cosmic radiation, in turn providing fewer nucleation sites for cloud droplet formation and, thus, less cloud cover. Sunnier skies over Antarctica in turn mean that more solar radiation is reflected by high-albedo snow and ice instead of being absorbed in the cloud cover.  Thus Antarctica has cooled.

The rest of the world has enjoyed the best climatic conditions, and thus agricultural growing conditions, since the 13th century.  But what the Sun gives it can also take away.  Solar physicists have been warning for over a decade  that the Sun is entering a prolonged period of low activity similar to that of the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1710. Most recently, Livingstone and Penn have predicted a maximum amplitude for the next solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, of 7.  By comparison, the previous solar cycle, Solar Cycle 23, had a maximum amplitude of 120.

The longest temperature record on the planet is the Central England Temperature Record from 1659.  Using the solar-based forecasting model developed by Dr David Evans and the Livingstone and Penn estimate of Solar Cycle 25 amplitude of 7, a prediction can be made of the effect on the Central England Temperature out to 2040.  The reduction in solar activity now being observed will result in temperatures returning to the levels of the mid-19th century at best, with the possibility of revisiting the lows of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Peak summer temperatures may not change much but the length of the growing season will shorten at both ends, playing havoc with crop yields.

The notion of global warming

The notion of global warming has resulted in an enormous mis-allocation of resources in some Western societies, but we can be thankful for one thing.  If it had not been for the outrageous prostitution of science in the global warming cause, then the field of climate would not have attracted the attention that has determined what is actually happening to the Earth’s climate.  Humanity would otherwise be sleepwalking into the severe cold period in train.

As demonstrated above, there is no moral basis for Australian society’s investment in wind turbines if the purpose of that investment is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through a form of renewable energy.  Global warming due to carbon dioxide is of no consequence and the world is cooling anyway.

Wind turbines

WIND TURBINES may lack a moral purpose, but might there be some other good involved?  Let’s examine the claim that wind turbines provide renewable energy, thus reducing our depletion of finite energy resources.

Wind turbines are made using energy from coal at about 4 cents per kWh and provide energy thought to cost of the order of 10 cents per kWh.  In effect, they are machines for taking cheap, stable and reliable energy from coal and giving it back in the form of an intermittent and unpredictable dribble at more than twice the price.

That is one thing.  But what stops wind turbines from being renewable is that the making of wind turbines can’t be powered using energy from the wind turbines themselves! If power from wind turbines costing 10 cents per kWh was used to make more wind turbines, then the wind turbines so produced would make power at something like 25 cents per kWh.  The cost would compound away and any society that attempted to run itself on wind energy would collapse. Wind energy as a component of a power system relies upon transfer of energy at its inception from another source.  It is not renewable energy.  It is no consolation that solar power from photovoltaic panels is much worse in this respect.

That wind energy is renewable energy is the second lie on which the RET scheme is based, the first being that renewable energy is a palliative against global warming.

There is not much more that needs to be said. The RET Scheme is a monstrous misallocation of the nation’s resources and continues to make the Australian people poorer for no good reason.  Those who concocted it and voted for it have sold the Australian people into the servitude and oppression of rent-seekers to the tune of $5 billion per annum. The science and economics it is based on are no better than voodoo and witchcraft.  The wind turbines scattered around the Australian countryside are a physical manifestation of the infestation of the body politic by the self-loathing, millenarian cult of global warming.

The RET Scheme draws resources from better schemes

Unfortunately, the RET Scheme and its ilk have drawn resources from the development of energy sources that would power Australia cheaply, efficiently and with enough of a return on energy invested to maintain Australia’s high standard of living into the next millennium.

The same kind of intense interest from the wider scientific community that determined what is really happening with climate has also determined that the optimum nuclear technology for society to adopt is the thorium molten salt reactor.  Any middle-ranking industrial power, such as Australia, could develop this technology, and should do so.

Much time and treasure has been lost chasing the phantom menace of global warming.  The sooner the RET Scheme is put to rest, the sooner that the nation’s efforts can be properly directed towards our security and welfare in developing the best possible energy source if the nation is to survive and prosper.

David Archibald is a visiting fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC where his research interest is strategic energy policy.  The Institute is a graduate school for US security agencies, State Department and Department of Defense. He has published several books and a number of papers on climate science.  He has lectured on climate science in both US Senate and Congressional hearing rooms. His most recent book is Twilight of Abundance (Regnery, 2014)

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Energy plan puts public service before public good

by Alan Moran, Director, Deregulation, Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) March 14, 2014

THE energy white paper under preparation proclaims that government has a role in the energy industry. But it is one that is best limited to controlling natural monopoly elements within the industry. It is certainly not to provide some blueprint for the future.

A history of public ownership

Energy has an ongoing history of public ownership, at least in part stemming from misplaced notions that it is a natural monopoly and a necessity requiring government interventions. The outcome has been deleterious and has been compounded by a determination of governments to use the industry to accommodate its social, environmental and industry policies. This has transformed an inherently low-cost industry into one that now has among the world’s highest prices.

A worrying feature of the review is a prominent role given to the supposed need to maintain analytical capability within the government. This appears to be a priority to protect departmental personnel jobs that sits badly with the market-driven industry the white paper claims to be championing. The priority may be partly due to an excessive number of goals that the white paper’s “issues paper” specifies. These encompass supplying and using energy:

  • To put downward costs of business and households.
  • To grow exports.
  • To promote low emissions energy technologies.
  • To encourage the more efficient use of energy.

Whatever may be said of the first two of these stated goals, the third and fourth are in conflict and have spawned the egregious interventions in energy policy that have created a need for a white paper. The fourth also adopts the discredited hubris: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

Markets develop from the interactions of consumers with businesses, which seek to sell their goods, access inputs and reduce risks. Government’s role is to allow these processes to be pursued and to uphold the law.

A plethora of goals

Rather than a plethora of goals, the white paper should have a single focus: to allow the market to bring about efficient production of energy with interventions limited to addressing natural monopoly situations. Anything beyond that will perpetuate the weaknesses presently evident.

Energy is a vital factor in the direct wellbeing of consumers.

More important still for Australia, it is a key component of economic development. Our minerals and agricultural processing industries are natural fits to the resource endowment that ­Aust­ralia has and cheap energy is both part of that endowment and crucial to its development.

Irresponsible government actions

Irresponsible government actions have impaired the value of our energy resources. This can be seen in four key areas:

  • Retaining ownership of energy businesses in networks where such ownership is verifiably inefficient and always likely to remain so.
  • Placing taxes and regulatory imposts on energy suppliers to force them into costly measures in pursuit of government-determined efficiency, consumer consultation and greenhouse-re­­­d­­uc­­­­ing measures.
  • Impeding access to land for gas exploration and development.
  • Suppressing prices to certain customer groups, thereby weakening incentives to supply and maintain industry resilience.

Policies to rectify these impairments often entail government action, which are the cause of the problems in the first place.

In the past, as with the post-­Hilmer competition policy ­pay­ments, governments were re­warded (and occasionally punished) with regard to an agreed set of principles.

But the use of government to combat government deficiencies is oxymoronic.

Indeed, if a previous commonwealth government had attempted more forcefully to exert pressure on states to promote a goal it favoured, energy saving measures, the outcome would have been even more perverse than that which has eventuated.

The white paper’s aforementioned issues paper continues to promote market interventions in many places associated with green energy and energy efficiency.

It also has to be said that providing incentives for governments to do things that are in the interests of their own consumers is logically questionable.

A useful starting point

A useful starting point for policy, in line with the government’s deregulation initiative, is to announce the early sun-setting of all regulatory measures and discriminatory charges and taxes on energy supplies at the commonwealth level. This would be accompanied by an invitation to state governments to adopt similar programs. In the absence of such a measure the best that can be hoped for is to have the process unveil costs of poor decisions in the past as counsel for future decision-makers.

 

Posted in Energy Management | 3 Comments

Environmentalism: some good, some dangerous

The modern environmental, or ‘green’, movement has shifted from overt care for the environment towards economic damage and covert promotion of more sinister agendas.    

Scroll down to read the most recent articles; links to previous articles follow.

How climate and environmental propaganda works

How climate and environmental propaganda works  By Paul Driesson, Townhall, 3 May

Have you ever wondered how the LA Times, Associated Press, Weather Channel and your local media always seem to present similar one-sided stories on climate change, fossil fuels, renewable energy and other environmental issues? How their assertions become “common knowledge,” like the following?

Global temperatures are the hottest ever recorded. Melting ice caps are raising seas to dangerous levels. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts have never been more frequent or destructive. Planet Earth is at a tipping point because of carbon dioxide emissions. Fracking is poisoning our air, water and climate. 97 percent of scientists agree. A clean renewable energy future is just around the corner.

A coordinated process or alliance of ideological compatriots

It’s as if a chain of command, carefully coordinated process or alliance of ideological compatriots was operating behind the scenes to propagate these fables. This time, conspiracy theorists have gotten it right.

A major player in this process and alliance is one that most citizens and even businessmen and politicians have never heard of. InsideClimate News (ICN) has been called “highly influential,” a “pioneer of nonprofit advocacy journalism,” the recipient of “prestigious awards” for “high-impact investigative stories” on important environmental issues.

The Washington Free BeaconNational Review and Energy in Depth offer detailed and far less charitable analyses. Less friendly observers, they note, call ICN a “mouthpiece” for extreme environmentalist groups, because it is run by and out of a deep-green public relations consultancy (Science First) and is funded almost exclusively by wealthy foundations that share its and the PR firm’s anti-fossil fuel, pro-renewable energy, Bigger Government agenda. ICN was founded by David Sasoon, a true believer in catastrophic manmade climate change who wants to do all he can “to usher in the clean energy economy.”

Its approach is “advocacy,” not fairness, accuracy or balance

Even praise from its supporters underscores the dark side of this “influential” force in eco-journalism. Its approach is “advocacy,” not fairness, accuracy or balance. Its goal is to drive a monolithic, hard-line, environmentalist narrative and political agenda, with no suggestion that other perspectives can even exist.

Some of its awards come from an organization that has itself become politicized and too closely allied with Big Green views and organizations: the Society of Environmental Journalists. They increasingly operate too much as mutual admiration societies and support groups, say outside observers.

ICN and its Science First alter ego received their 2007 startup grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where Sasoon once worked as a consultant. They now derive the bulk of their funding from the RBF, NEO Philanthropy (aka, Public Interest Projects), Marlisa Foundation and Park Foundation. These and other sugar daddies are covered in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 350.org, and many other anti-coal, anti-drilling, anti-fracking, anti-Keystone pressure groups that together form the $10-billion-a-year US environmentalist industry.

The “dangerous manmade climate change” meme

ICN has active partnerships with the LA Times, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Bloomberg News and other media organizations that help coordinate and disperse stories. The Times promotes the “dangerous manmade climate change” meme and refuses to print letters that reflect skeptical views.

The Associated Press has likewise become a reliable purveyor of manmade climate chaos stories. The Weather Channel and ICN teamed up in 2014 on a series of “investigative reports” that claimed hydraulic fracturing was causing serious environmental and human health problems in Texas.

The partners team up and coordinate to “have one group write on an issue, another quote them or link to them, and so on,” Media Research Center VP Dan Gainor explains. “It keeps going until they create this perception that there’s real concern over an issue, and it bubbles up to top liberal sites like Huffington Post, and from there into the traditional media,” which itself is too predisposed to the green narrative.

The foundations “have incorporated ostensibly dispassionate news outlets into their grant-making portfolios,” says the Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay, “creating what some describe as self-sustaining environmentalist echo chambers.”

In reality it is loud but small Astroturf activism

They make it look like widespread public concern and spontaneous grassroots action – when in reality it is loud but small Astroturf activism, orchestrated by the ICN brigade and the foundations behind it.

InsideClimate News now brags about its involvement in the extensive collusion among the leftist foundations, environmental pressure groups and state attorneys general that are devising, coordinating and advancing AG prosecutions of ExxonMobil and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for alleged “racketeering” and “fraud,” to hold them “legally accountable for climate change denial.”

The efforts “stretch back at least to 2012,” ICN notes, when a meeting was held in California to develop legal strategies. In late 2015, letters from several Democrat members of Congress called for investigating and prosecuting climate skeptics; the letters cited independent journalism “investigations by the Los Angeles Timesand InsideClimate News” to back up their request.

However, the intrepid investigators had conducted no investigation. They simply parroted and amplified “research” from a group of activist professors and students at the Columbia School of Journalism – without disclosing who had funded the CSJ studies.

George Soros’s Open Society Foundations et al

It was George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, along with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Foundation, Energy Foundation, Lorana Sullivan Foundation and Tellus Mater Foundation – all of which virulently oppose hydrocarbon production and actively promote climate change alarmism.

Emails subpoenaed by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute later revealed that many of the same environmentalist groups and lawyers met again in January 2016 at a secret meeting in the Rockefeller Family Fund’s Manhattan offices. Yet another secret meeting was held in March 2016, between climate activists and state attorneys general – hours before the AGs announced that they were launching a series of RICO and other prosecutions of “climate skeptic” companies and think tanks.

The success of this campaign thus far, says ICN, has persuaded the activists to “step up efforts to pressure more attorneys general to investigate [more climate crisis skeptics] and sway public opinion, using op-eds, social media and rope-line questioning of [Republican] presidential candidates at campaign stops.”

Collusion among activists, foundations and attorneys general

This collusion among activists, foundations and attorneys general seeks to silence, bankrupt and defund organizations that challenge their catechism of climate cataclysm. These conspirators want to deprive us of our constitutional rights to speak out on the exaggerated and fabricated science, coordinated echo- chamber news stories, and pressure group-driven policies that impair our livelihoods, living standards, health, welfare and environmental quality. But we will not be intimidated or silenced.

As CFACT’s new Climate Hustle movie demonstrates, plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide has not replaced the powerful natural forces that have always driven Earth’s temperature, climate and weather.

The problem is not climate change. It is policies imposed in the name of preventing climate change.

That’s why Climate Crisis, Inc. already wants to silence and jail us. Just imagine how much they’ll be foaming at the mouth after millions go to ClimateHustle.com and buy tickets for the May 2 one-night-only extravaganza in hundreds of theaters across the United States.

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How Greens kill off industry by stealth

How Greens kill off industry by stealth  By Alan Oxley, Quadrant Online, 31 March 2016

Until they are stopped, the Greens will use regulatory stealth to stymie growth and throttle industries they want to see brought down. The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act is one of their nastiest and handiest tools, so why hasn’t the Coalition done away with it?

While there has probably never been a stronger sentiment in the Liberal National Party (LNP) government that environmental policy is off the rails, little has been done in its two years in office to repeal or amend the raft of legal constraints which now purport to protect the environment. Reversal of excessive restrictions on agricultural chemicals levels is about all the LNP Government has achieved.

On the policy front, provisions to promote renewable energy were introduced and justified as a less costly way – than imposition of a carbon tax – to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. There was no international legal obligation to do this.  Restrictions imposed by Labor on access to water in the Murray Darling basin, where agricultural production has shrunk, also remain unaddressed.

The activists have a far more formidable strategy

Following LNP backbench agitation, a parliamentary enquiry into tax exemption privileges of environmental groups is underway.  While backers think it will help curb green rorts (why should Greenpeace have that privilege when part of its modus operandi is to damage property and assets?) it does not strike at the heart of the problem.  The activists have a far more formidable strategy.  That has to be tackled.

They and the Greens   have perceived something which parliamentarians in the mainstream parties disregard, some wilfully, but most by default.  The formal duty of parliamentarians is to legislate.  Under the Constitution the Senate is supposed to be a house of review.  In practice it isn’t.   Regulations are rarely scrutinized.   It’s a Greens hunting ground.

As well, wily politicians can and do slip new laws into Parliament and delay the tabling of regulations. Sometimes regulations are never produced.  Both sides of politics have done this.  The regulations are all-important. They define how laws are to be interpreted. The Greens know this.

They love regulation

They love regulation. It can be used to create legal hurdles to delay and increase the costs of projects to which they object.  They also understand the most powerful environmental tool is to arm a regulator with the widest discretion to rule compliance. It sits alongside vague law. The looser its terms, the wider is the scope for the regulator to rule.

They work relentlessly to put this broad scope into law where they can.  The Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, for example, gives the Environment Minister very wide discretion.  This is little understood.  Policies can be rejected if the Minister considers there is a “risk” for which no criteria are set.  No wonder WWF rate it the best environmental regulation in the world.

Yet even that looks half reasonable when set against what is possibly the most ridiculous piece of supposedly environmental legislation ever adopted by Parliament.  This is the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act. It makes it an offence to import a timber product unless the importer has records demonstrating laborious and costly efforts to ascertain in the country of origin if the product is not or does not contain illegally logged timber.  Yet there is no record illegal timber has ever entered Australia.

The Department of Agriculture, which produced the equivalent of 600 pages of information for importers to digest how to comply with the new law, has proudly associated Australia with EU and US policies to restrict expansion of production of food in forested areas.  The US and the EU are substantial importers of timber.  Even then the best estimate (guess) how much of their imports is illegally sourced is 9%. In comparison, Australia is a small timber importer. A threat by it to block imports will have no impact. It simply makes Australia a choir boy in a US/EU strategy concocted by anti-forestry activists. Furthermore, the EU and US campaign is having little effect.  After spending 300 million euros over 12 years, the EU program is still not operational. Three EU members are not implementing it. Auditors recently recommended its suspension.

The morality of this campaign is disturbing.  WWF has made clear it aims to halt forestry around the world to limit further conversion of forest to produce food. The case is baseless.

Forestry is an important industry in many developing countries.  Ample forest is available to accommodate commercial forestry, expand production of food crops and practice conservation.  Yet WWF’s ecological mantra is that expanding farmland, like mining, depletes natural resources so fast they cannot be replenished. It contends this has to stop. The numbers are imagined. The grim reality is that most illegal land clearing is by the landless poor. The nasty, unspoken, inhuman message for developing countries which need to expand food production is ‘let them starve’.

The Labor Government let Australia get sucked in

The Labor Government let Australia get sucked into this impractical, costly and inhumane strategy.  Protectionists cheerfully swung in behind.  Australia’s paper industry, lead by Kimberly Clark, saw this as a strategy to impede imports of cheaper paper imports from Asia.  Its partner in arms is the CFMEU, which covers Kimberley Clark’s paper business. They formed an alliance with the Greens, Greenpeace and WWF (and for good measure, IKEA and Bunnings) in this campaign.

Under Green and union pressure, the former Labor government introduced the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.  It ignored an assessment by the Centre for International Economics that the cost of compliance considerably exceeded the small value of illegal procured-timber imports, assuming there were any.  There is no evidence there were.

Labor delayed submitting the all-important regulations to enact this law to Parliament until after the last session of Senate Estimates in its last year of office. Little wonder. Australian small timber and wood products businesses estimated the cost of complying with this nonsensical law at $340 million dollars a year. Agriculture officials also secured a waiver from the then Finance Minister, Senator Wong, of the standing obligation to undertake a cost benefit analysis of the Act and related regulations.

For reasons never explained, Senator Colbeck, as the new Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, disregarded LNP party room decisions to alter the regulations and protected the Green and Labor Act.  These regulations were never formally scrutinized.

The Greens regularly show how dopey people can be ensnared by green tape.  For several years, the Green Building Council, goaded on by environmentalists, rated timber in buildings as environmentally unfriendly compared to concrete (everyone went along with this) until it was pointed out production of concrete created many more  emissions of greenhouse gases than sustainably harvested timber.  A properly managed forest can be a carbon sink.  Environmentalists did not want to know that.  State forestry authorities were supine enough to let that pass.  This year the Green Building Council finally OK’d use of timber in large buildings.

Josh Frydenberg, then Parliamentary Secretary to the PM for Deregulation, shook the cage and finally secured agreement the Act and regulations would be reviewed by consultants.  They were (and found unjustifiably onerous), but Senator Richard Colbeck sat on the report for nearly a year, until he was finally replaced by Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Water, who is now trying to clean up this absurd regulatory morass.

A Contender for Australia’s Worst Law

In October, 2013, Quadrant published an article by me on the Act – “A Contender for Australia’s Worst Law”.  While many agree it is (Gavin Griffith QC considered it unconstitutional), the Act is still law awaiting implementation. Here is the irony.  This is not a large scale issue in the ordinary order of events.  It will certainly not rate among the issues that will shape Australian politics in the next five months.  There are much more important things on the table.

Yet even that assessment shows up the hole in the wall through which the Greens so effectively and consistently crawl.  Until the mainstream parties take their responsibility to ensure laws and regulations are sound and resist those that aren’t, the Greens will continue to use regulatory stealth to create laws and rules which will stymie growth and throttle industries they want to see brought down.

The line needs to be drawn in the sand with the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and its regulations.  If it is not, Coalition governments will continue to find themselves allowing environmental laws which restrict growth and perpetuate poverty, instead of serving as tools to deliver practical environmental outcomes.

Alan Oxley is Principal of ITS Global, consultants on global issues.

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Are Environmentalism and Global Warming Effectively Religious Socialism?

Are Environmentalism and Global Warming Effectively Religious Socialism  By Dr. Tim Ball, 23 February 2016

An interesting pattern developed early in the official involvement in global warming. If a person challenged the claim that humans were causing global warming (AGW), it was assumed they were on the political right. If you supported AGW, then you were on the left. This categorization is not related to the science, but to the political nature of the science involved. This occurred in two major parts. The original objective of those using global warming for their political agenda and the marginalizing of those who questioned the science by linking them to industries and their wealthy owners. The author believes the evidence shows that human CO2 is not causing AGW, that the hypothesis is not proved. This article is not written to pick political sides. Rather, it is an attempt to help understand the battles waged and the confusion this created for the public, the politicians, the media, and a majority of scientists.

The world needed the new paradigm of environmentalism

The problem is that a few grabbed it for a political agenda. They used it as a vehicle to take the moral high ground, to claim only they cared about the environment. They argued that everyone else was guilty of environmental destruction because of their avarice and wasteful ways. The debate about global warming is a subset of environmentalism that was also hijacked using the same themes.

At the first Heartland Conference in New York in 2004 Vaclav Klaus twice Prime Minister of the Czech Republic was the keynote speaker. His opening remark that we have just gone through 70 years of communism so why the hell would you want to go back to that brought a standing ovation. It supports the fact that environmentalism and AGW is a political agenda pushed by extremely wealthy and powerful left wing people most of who made their money exploiting the environment. The psychology of that is beyond the discussion here, but consider the hypocrisy of George Soros, Maurice Strong, Bill Gates, the Rockefeller’s, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ted Turner among many others.

Maurice Strong described himself as “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology”.

This description appears to apply to them all.

The confusion for the public that wealthy people are also socialists is similar to that about another person. Most people think Adolf Hitler was a right wing fascist, but he was a socialist who also promoted a form of environmentalism. The word “Nazi” stands for National Socialism.

Collectively, most of these wealthy socialists acted through their privileged group called the Club of Rome. The Club was formed in 1968 at David Rockefeller’s estate in Bellagio, Italy. In their 1994 book The First Global Revolution Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider wrote.

“The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

List of enemies is designed to unite people

They claim the list of enemies is designed to unite people. In fact, it is needed to overcome what they see as the divisiveness of nation-states and to justify the establishment of one-world government or global socialism. They believe that global warming is a global problem that national governments cannot resolve. The changed behavior they want is for all to become socialists.

 They finally settled on global warming as the environmental issue best suited for their goal. Of course, the plan was just the beginning. One of my favorite cartoons from the New Yorker showed Moses on the mountain with the Ten Commandments. The caption read “Great idea, who is going to fund it?” Global warming and the identification of human produced CO2 as the problem suited all the political, financial, and pseudo-religious controls a socialist group could desire.

The Kyoto Protocol was presented as a solution to the problem of human-caused global warming. Those who created the Protocol also created the problem. Through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) they produced the science required to support their claim. It is a well-thought out, well-planned, classic circular argument. One of the early examples occurred in the book Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment co-authored by Paul and Anne Ehrlich and President Obama’s current Science Advisor John Holdren. While discussing the non-existent problem of overpopulation they wrote,

Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.

 The question is who “concluded that compulsory population-control” could be sustained? The answer is the authors did. The next question is who decides “if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society?” Again, it is the authors. So, they claim there is a problem, then they decide when it is severe enough to warrant complete suspension of legal controls against such totalitarianism.

More succinctly, they created the problem, created the proof of the problem, then offered the solution. This is what was done with the AGW claim. They assumed, incorrectly, that a CO2 increase causes a temperature increase. They then provided proof by programming computer models in which a CO2 increase caused a temperature increase. They ran the model(s) by doubling CO2, ceteris paribus. The results showed a temperature increase, which proved their claim. Now they could use CO2 as the lever for all their political objectives incorporated into the Kyoto Protocol. Science became the basis of blind faith.

Kyoto offered a penance

In Kyoto, nations who developed their economies and became wealthy using CO2 were to pay for their sins by giving money to nations who suffered. It was a penance. Catholics paid penance for their sins which included a delay in their entrance to heaven. In the medieval Catholic church, you could buy Indulgences to bypass the punishment. Carbon Credits became the modern equivalent, and Al Gore was the equivalent of The Pardoner selling Indulgences as celebrated in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. With Indulgences and Carbon Credits there was no reduction in the sins. In fact, they encouraged more sins because you simply bought a pass – a get-out-of jail-free card.

Kyoto provided the political basis for the agenda. It was a classic redistribution of wealth that is the goal of a socialist government. Money from successful developed nations was given to less successful developing nations. To collect and redistribute the money required a government that overarched all nation-states. A single world government that managed a world banking system was the ideal. Temporarily the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund would suffice.

Kyoto provided the basis for the financial agenda. Money needed to fund the single world government was a global carbon tax. Many notable people, like Ralph Nader, claimed the tax was the best solution to stop climate change. Funding was part of the plan for the 2009 Copenhagen Conference of the Parties 15 (COP15). The COP can only act on the science provided by the IPCC. Apparently somebody knew the political agenda was based on false science and exposed it by leaking emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). This worked because the scientists controlling the IPCC worked at, or with, the CRU. They controlled key chapters in IPCC Reports, including the instrumental data, the paleoclimate data, and the computer models. They also ensured their presence on the most influential document, the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The Wegman Report that examined the dispute over the ‘hockey stick’ produced in the 2001 Report recognized the incestuous relationships of the research when they wrote,

Recommendation 1. Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.

The leaked information delayed the political process, but it was only temporary. The following year at COP16 in Durban they produced the replacement program called the Green Climate Fund (GCF). It was approved at COP21 in Paris in December 2015.

UN paralleled a left wing or socialist government

The process and method of setting up the AGW hypothesis through the UN paralleled those required to form a left wing or socialist government. It automatically identified those scientists who questioned the hypothesis as at least sympathetic to capitalism – guilt by association. It is part of today’s view that if you are not with me, you must be against me. Over the years, a few scientists told me they agreed with the skeptics but would not say so publicly because they were socialists.

Vaclav Klaus was one of the few world political leaders to identify what was going on. He recognized that global warming was a subset of environmentalism. He recognized that it was a blind faith belief system based on no evidence or, at best, manufactured evidence. In his book Blue Planet in Green Shackles, he wrote,

“It should be clear by now to everyone that activist environmentalism (or environmental activism) is becoming a general ideology about humans, about their freedom, about the relationship between the individual and the state, and about the manipulation of people under the guise of a “noble” idea. It is not an honest pursuit of “sustainable development,” a matter of elementary environmental protection, or a search for rational mechanisms designed to achieve a healthy environment. Yet things do occur that make you shake your head and remind yourself that you live neither in Joseph Stalin’s Communist era, nor in the Orwellian utopia of 1984.”

The pattern of identifying those skeptical about the AGW hypothesis as right wing was an inevitable result of the political objective.

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Links to previous articles:

 

Posted in Environmental battles | 1 Comment

Government for the Silent Majority

The KiS report – “Keep it Simple” – Government for the silent majority.

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF file: KiS full report 100316  The report summary and table of contents are provided below.

The KiS  report describes an Australian government the ‘silent majority’ of voters would likely have elected – if they had the choice.

Why?  Because because it would benefit them far, far more than any recent governments which have evolved since federation over a century ago.  Many would say most if not all aspects of government have gone downhill ever since.  Like a corporation that is failing badly, the Australian Government needs a fundamental restructure – a ‘root and branch’ rebuild based on the needs of 2016 and the future.

The report includes assessments of, and proposed solutions to, key factors voters expect their governments to lead and manage appropriately on their behalf such as: finance, debt, defence, environment, law and order, energy availability, pollution regulations, immigration, taxation, healthcare, recreational drugs, education, infrastructure and related planning approaches.

Please note this report was written nearly 5 years ago and is in dire need of updating in some areas.  However, the substantive points remain valid, and the overall proposed solution will not change significantly in the update.  A few areas such as the system for taxation will be modified, as will aspects of foreign relationships.

Whilst the report is focused on the Australian government, much of the report could be applied to most governments in democratic countries.

It is suggested too that an article by Ron Paul in the section Rise and Fall of the US Empire is complementary, and very worthwhile reading – http://better-management.org/?p=2526.  Ron Paul, a US Senator who ran for the presidency on three occasions, presents a unique perspective based on fundamental principles and an in-depth assessment of the US governance.  His details can be viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul

 About the author: Peter Senior CV March 2016 – email: petersenior42@gmail.com

The report Table of Contents, then the Summary, are below:

KiS Report – Table of Contents

1Summary

2.  Introduction
2.01  There are glimmers of hope
2.02  Check the roadmap first

3.  Issues Influencing KiS Government
3.01  Democracy evolution
3.02  The modern nation-state
3.03  Cargo Cult mentality
3.04  Immigration
3.05  Freedom of speech
3.06  Trade unions, labour laws and productivity
3.07  Standards, regulations and intrusion
3.08  ‘Carbon pollution’ v. weather
3.09  The ‘green mafia’
3.10  Water management
3.11  Energy management
3.12  Global governance
3.13  NGO influence
3.14  Bureaucracy and convoluted government management
3.15  Levels of government

3.16  Justice
3.17  Economics and financial management
3.18  The modern politician
3.19  Human imperfections and differences

4.  KiS Issue Summary

5.  KiS Philosophy

6.  KiS Vision for Australia

7.  KiS Management
7.01  Management 101 delivers optimum results
7.02  A starting point to improve on

8.  KiS Government Organisation
8.01  KiS national government objective
8.02  KiS national government law process
8.03  National Government structure
8.04  Two levels of government
8.05  Democracy

9.  KiS Government management
9.01  Criminal Justice
9.02  National and local service fees
9.03  Excise tax and royalties
9.04  Financial management
9.05  Commercial and financial oversight
9.06  Citizenship and Visas
9.07  Infrastructure and the environment
9.08  Labour laws and productivity
9.09  Welfare
9.10  Retirement
9.11  Health
9.12  Education

10.  Implementing KiS Government
10.01  Transition plan
10.02  KiS government activities and resources
10.03  Planning and plans
10.04  International agreements and foreign aid
10.05  Asset ownership
10.06  Process and regulation simplification
10.07  Culture and values tests
10.08  Guardian group and freedom of speech
10.09  Communicating KiS changes

11.  Would the Silent Majority Vote for KiS?
11.01  Are the silent majority of Australian voters sufficiently fed up?
11.02  Boiling frog syndrome
11.03  An about-turn by politicians as well as the silent majority?

Appendices
A.  Australian immigration history
B.  The Greens’ agenda
C.   ‘Carbon Pollution’ in the UK
D.  The Silent Majority (1):  Australian divorce
E.  The Silent Majority (2):  ‘I’m tired’ (US)
F.  The Silent Majority (3):  What good people do
G. ‘The Australian Government beat me to it’

KiS Report Summary

Surveys, ‘pub-talk’ and media comment indicate that most Australians are very dissatisfied with their Government.  Few voters believe that current political parties can fix the plethora of problems which arise from the government itself – and politicians tend to exacerbate problems rather than fixing them.

Voter frustrations include: excessive governmental intrusion and bureaucracy; financial regulator failures; abysmal government management of risk, building, health, water, energy and immigration; ineffective criminal justice; ‘carbon pollution’ taxes and waste; the ‘green mafia’; variability of freedom of speech; covert influence from some NGOs; inadequate employment laws; and the regularity of politicians’ breaking of promises.

No democratic government in the world is widely viewed as very successful, so there is no ideal model to copy.  The complexity of government and the depth of related problems are too entrenched for incremental improvements to be effective.  A keep-it-simple policy could provide the best solution.  KiS is a completely different way of democratic government, starting with a ‘clean slate’ and applying the best management practices.  Key components of a KiS government would include:

  • Recognition that competent and diligent governmental staff are often thwarted by excessive complexity and by covert agendas of power brokers and ideologues.
  • Government structure comprises two levels: national and local.  States have figurehead roles only.  Local governments have wider roles including health and education boards.
  • House of Representatives and Senate member numbers are reduced to a total of 100.  Members demonstrate excellent competencies and comply with fiduciary duties of care.
  • All taxes are replaced by ‘flat rate service fees’ introduced over 3 years: 20% on individual incomes and 10% on business expenditure.  Compliance is simple.
  • Businesses such as mining companies using natural resources pay economic rents which enable fair profits and encourage investment and growth, including overseas investment.
  • Recreational drugs are not illegal.  Excise duties are charged on alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs at rates that cover all related costs with rigorous auditing and penalties.
  • Government processes, systems and regulations are reviewed using ‘clean slate’ methods that optimise efficiency and effectiveness, and, if necessary, are modified or replaced.
  • All government departments have audited plans that conform to guidelines reflecting best practices, and which include preparation for such contingencies as catastrophic weather.
  • The criminal justice system focuses first on full compensation of all victims’ losses and all related judicial costs, then on the rehabilitation of criminals.  When appropriate and possible, custodial sentences consist of home detention – prison is a last resort.
  • Government asset ownership is retained only if no better alternative be available.
  • Commercial and financial oversight is strengthened to ensure that GFC-type greed and excesses are not repeated.  Net government debt is eliminated as soon as practical.
  • All government funding relating to ‘carbon pollution’ ceases.  Related actions are reviewed after rigorous assessments and recommendations from a Royal Commission.
  • Immigrant assessments are completed and decisions made within three months.  Immigrants sign contracts agreeing to abide by Australian law and to support Australian culture and values.  Major transgressors are evicted from Australia.
  • A Guardian group investigates concerns about covert influence and behaviour.
  • Implementation is gradual over several years; each step builds on the last success.

KiS solutions focus on the concerns and wishes of the ‘silent majority’ of voters — the antithesis of political power-brokers, ideologues and rent-seekers.  KiS proposals are not intended to be definitive; rather they provide a basis for improvements and further reforms.

Are the ‘silent majority’ of voters so fed up with existing governments that they would vote for radical change such as KiS?  Would sufficient candidates with the requisite competence and credibility stand for KiS and promote it, or would an existing political party adopt KiS policies if it became clear a growing movement of voters demand change?  Failure to implement radical change soon will result in Australian politics and government descending even further into complexity, intrusion and waste with little hope of real reform.

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How to indoctrinate the ‘sheeples’

Most people refuse to believe shocking news, even in the face of clear evidence.  Francis Shure explains why.

“My government couldn’t possibly do that – no way!”

Frances’ focus is on the Twin Towers tragedy on 9 September 2001 (911), and the disbelief most people display when presented with the awful evidence that the ‘official’ version is riddled with anomalies.

However, in varying degrees the rationale explained by Frances can be applied to explain people’s reactions to many things they do not want to hear, for any number of reasons.  You may or may not be interested in the facts – highly disturbing as they are – about the horrendous 911 events.  But you certainly will benefit from a better understanding of why people may reject your clear and lucid explanations.

Francis Shure adds several relevant points starting at the 42 minute mark in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddz2mw2vaEg

The first article is presented below; there are links to 19 more parts at the end of this post, the latest concerning sociopaths.  Frances has written a book comprising all articles and more.

A parallel approach is labelled ‘social engineering’ that has been described for over half a century including books such as Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders.  This video provides a more up-to-date explanation: http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2016/03/elites-use-social-engineering-tactics-and-food-war-in-grocery-stores-to-destroy-us-social-engineers-more-dangerous-than-terrorist-cells-picture-video-3313552.html

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Why people reject bad news

Title: Why Do Good People Become Silent – or Worse – About 9/11?

Part 1: Preface and Introduction

© by Frances T. Shure, 2013

Editor’s Note:  Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?” The resulting essay, to be presented here as a series, is comprised of a synthesis of reports on academic research as well as clinical observations.

Ms. Shure’s analysis begins with recognition of the observation made by the psychology professionals interviewed in the documentary “9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out” by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, who cite our human tendencies toward denial in order to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance. Indeed, resistance to information that substantially challenges our worldview is the rule rather than the exception, Ms. Shure explains.  This is so because fear is the emotion that underlies most of the negative reactions toward 9/11 skeptics’ information. Ms. Shure addresses the many types of fear that are involved, and how they tie into the “sacred myth” of American exceptionalism.

Through the lenses of anthropology and social psychology, Ms. Shure focuses on diffusion of innovations; obeying and believing authority; doublethink; cognitive dissonance; conformity; groupthink; terror management theory; systems justification theory; signal detection theory; and prior knowledge of state crimes against democracy and deep politics. Through the lens of clinical psychology, Ms. Shure explores viewpoints described in the sections on learned helplessness; the abuse syndrome; dissociation; and excessive identification with the United States government. Two sections on brain research provide astonishing insights into our human nature.

Finally, the sections entitled “American Exceptionalism,” “Governmental Manipulation and the ‘Big Lie,’” and Those Who Lack Conscience and Empathy” contain valuable information from an amalgam of the disciplines of history, social psychology, clinical psychology, and brain research.  The final sections address how we can communicate about 9/11 evidence more effectively, and our human need for awareness and healing.  Ms. Shure concludes by quoting poet Langston Hughes in an inspiring epilogue, which asks: “Is America Possible?”

This month’s installment begins with Ms. Shure’s Preface and Introduction. Succeeding segments will continue the journey that explores contributions of Western psychology in answering the pressing question, “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—about 9/11?”

Preface

The following essay is not meant to persuade anyone of the theory that elements within our government were responsible for the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001. Rather, this paper is addressed primarily to the 45% of Americans1—and those people in other parts of the world—who already believe a new investigation is needed, as well as those who simply have had their doubts about the official account of 9/11 but have not explored the issue further.  This paper is also addressed to psychology professionals and social scientists who may wish to consider the question in the title in greater depth.

Furthermore, this essay should be helpful to anyone who encounters resistance to any paradigm-shifting idea about which he or she may be communicating, since the same dynamics and research would apply in all such cases.

This work was not crafted entirely alone. I am grateful to the Writing Team of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth who suggested I write an article in the first place—thus the seed was planted. Once the seed began germinating, it was nurtured by substantial suggestions from Marti Hopper, Ph.D., Sheila Fabricant Linn, M.Div., Dennis Linn, M.Div., Daniel K. Sage, Ph.D., Dorothy Lorig, M.A., Earl Staelin, J.D., Joseph Lam, Gregg Roberts, John Freedom, C.E.H.P., Danielle Duperret, Ph.D., Paul Rea, Ph.D., Tim Gale, Sonia Skakich-Scrima, M.A., and by the care taken by proofreaders Nancy Hall and Dennis McMahon. I am profoundly indebted and grateful for their enthusiastic help.

In addition, this work could not have been written without contributions from the people named and quoted in the document. I have drawn from wherever I found research, credible observations, or inspiration that seemed to apply. I hope others will become inspired to add to this synthesis of research and observation to further help answer the question, “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?”

Introduction

“If what you are saying is true, I don’t want to know!” exclaimed a young male visitor at our 9/11 Truth booth at the Denver People’s Fair. He was referring to the evidence of controlled demolition of the three World Trade Center (WTC) skyscrapers on September 11, 2001.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because if what you are saying is true, I would become very negative. Psychologically, I would go downhill.”

With gratitude, I responded “Thank you!”

Surprised, he asked, “Why are you thanking me?”

“Because it’s rare to hear such raw truth. Thank you for being so honest.”

Softened by our exchange, the young man chatted with me a while longer before taking his leave. I have never forgotten him; he has likely never forgotten me. We both felt it. Paradoxically, deep truth had been shared.

Forceful resistance from our listeners

We who work to educate the public about 9/11, and about false flag operations,2 are puzzled by the often forceful resistance from our listeners. Yet, many of us in the 9/11 Truth Movement also once vigorously resisted this challenging evidence. We have our own stories to document this. What drives those negative reactions?

Before continuing, I would like to clarify that people who continue to resist the evidence that indicates 9/11 was a false flag operation are no more mentally healthy or unhealthy than those of us who question the official account. Both groups consist of folks who span the mental health spectrum.

No need to pathologize

So, there is no need to pathologize those who currently do not see what is now so clear to us, just as those of us in the 9/11 Truth Movement should not be dismissed and maligned as “conspiracy theorists”—the latter being an obvious defense and a not so obvious offense.3

The psychology professionals interviewed in the documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth clearly speak about our human tendencies toward denial in order to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance. They speak compassionately about all of us. There is no sophisticated name-calling (diagnosing) as can sometimes be popular among the members of this profession. This is indeed refreshing.

In this spirit, and in the spirit of beginning a conversation—for we humans are complicated creatures—I will share my thinking as to why some of us defend ourselves from information that is troubling.

Vigorous resistance to paradigm shifts

History tells us that to determine reality, even scientists, whom we stereotypically view as objectively and open-mindedly looking at data, rather than at belief, often vigorously resist paradigm shifts. Gregor Mendel’s experiments and resulting theory of genetic inheritance, for example, was resisted by scientists from the time of its announcement in 1865, and was only rediscovered in 1900 by three other European scientists. Resistance to information that substantially challenges our worldview, we find, is the rule rather than the exception.4 Fortunately, change does occur, consensus reality does shift, sometimes rapidly, sometimes excruciatingly slowly.

To reiterate what I said in the film 9/11: Experts Speak Out, fear is the emotion that underlies most of the negative reactions toward 9/11 skeptics’ information: fear of receiving information that will turn our world upside down, fear of being overwhelmed by our own emotions, fear of psychological deterioration, fear our life will have to change, fear we’ll discover that the world is not a safe place, fear that our reputation will be tarnished or that we’ll lose our jobs, fear of being shunned or banished by friends and family, and fear of looking like a fool because we bought the official account so thoroughly.

This last reason may be true especially for intellectuals who often identify strongly with their intellect. None of us, however, like to feel bamboozled, as this often threatens our very identity and brings us very close to feeling betrayed.  Carl Sagan noted:

Carl Sagan

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.5

 Social psychologist and scholar Laurie Manwell tells us that one of her professors said that he could sum up human behavior with this statement: “People liked to be liked, they like to be right, and they like to be free—in that order.” Thus, most people will give up their need to be right or free if their need to be liked is threatened.6 Why is this?

The fear of banishment is surely among the greatest fears we humans harbor, albeit often unconsciously.  We are social creatures. We need others in order to survive, and we need to have a sense of belonging. To have some sense of wholeness and well-being, we need to feel connected to others, to love and to be loved. This is the reason that ridicule and shaming are such potent strategies used—consciously or unconsciously—to censor those with views that diverge from a culture’s sacred mythology.

A “sacred myth”

A “sacred myth” is a special story, found in every culture, whether true, untrue, or partially true, that tells us who we are and why we are doing what we are doing.8

What is our American sacred myth? It goes something like this:

We are a truly exceptional nation with exceptional forefathers. We rebelled against tyranny and established a democratic republic, a model that the world has largely accepted and imitated. Our country is the purveyor of democracy and freedom around the world and our interventions in other countries are benevolent actions. On September 11, 2001, we were caught off-guard when al Qaeda terrorists in a sneak attack, similar to that at Pearl Harbor, succeeded in flying commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the most significant wound to our homeland to date. However, true to the American spirit, we immediately rose to the challenge to militarily smite the world of terrorists who hate us because of our freedoms. This is why we have an unending Global War on Terror.
 

Fear of severe repercussions

If we can set aside this belief in our sacred myth, look at the evidence, and recognize that 9/11 was a false flag operation, then we may also fear severe repercussions from corrupt authorities if we should speak out. As one person told me, “I appreciate everything you all are doing with this 9/11 issue, but I hope you understand, I have children; I can’t get involved with this.”

Fear is an integral part of the human condition; and yet, if we are committed to psycho-spiritual growth, we do not let fear dictate what we do—or do not do. We can be aware of the fear while not letting it rule our lives.

False flag?

Most of us were traumatized9 by watching the horrifying destruction of the Twin Towers, knowing there were thousands of our fellow humans beings killed in that moment. Some of us were again deeply shaken when we discovered evidence indicating that 9/11 might be a false flag operation.

Why do some of us embrace the evidence and its implications and get active, while others feel powerless in the face of this evidence or react with apathy? And why do others get defensive and stay defensive—sometimes vehemently? Why, indeed, upon hearing the evidence that contradicts the official account of 9/11, do good people become silent, or worse?

Intellectually contorted measures

What is the difference? How, for example, can some people watch World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC7)10 implode and collapse into its own footprint and not see what is right in front of them—even when they know about its free fall acceleration and the other characteristics of controlled demolition?  These people may feel compelled to intensify their resistance with intellectually contorted measures to convince themselves and others that this was not controlled demolition. Others will content themselves with shaming anyone who wants to investigate the 9/11 evidence that contradicts the official sacred myth.

There is a worldview that is being seriously challenged. What is it? In essence, it was described well by words from a journalist whom I met at a street action: “I am aware that our government does bad things, but not this! Not those towers! They would not be that evil.”

Government is supposed to protect us

So we assume our government—which is supposed to protect us but sometimes does bad things—would never commit acts this heinous. A man said to me during a public presentation, “I find your statement that our government orchestrated 9/11 very disturbing and offensive.”  “I believe I said the evidence trail leads to elements within our government, not the government,” I replied.  He retorted, with great seriousness, “It makes no difference. There is no way you can state this that is going to make me feel any better!”

Many of us unconsciously relate to our governmental leaders as parental figures on whom we project our (often unmet) needs for a protective parent. We even agree culturally to the term “our founding fathers.”

Disciplines that belong to our Western culture

The disciplines of Western psychology and anthropology have much to offer toward understanding human behavior, but we must remember that these disciplines, as impressive as they are, are ultimately disciplines that belong to our Western culture only.  In the East and in some tribal societies, for example, people may use the philosophy of the transmigration of souls to explain human behavior; and the Sufis, the mystical branch of Islam, use the nine personality types of the Enneagram to explain our disparate human propensities.

Remember the proverbial five blind men, each touching one part of an elephant? Each man draws a conclusion as to what the object is, depending on which part he is touching. The result?  Five partial and laughably inaccurate descriptions of reality.

The more lenses we look through, therefore, the greater is our capacity to see a clearer—a more dimensional—picture of our human tendencies. Nonetheless, within the overlapping viewpoints of the rich disciplines of Western psychology, anthropology, brain research, and history, we can find several lenses that shed much light on the conundrum of why information that contradicts our worldview is so difficult for us to receive.

The next sections

Through the lenses of anthropology and social psychology we will find helpful information in the sections below entitled Diffusion of Innovations; Obeying and Believing Authority; Doublethink; Cognitive Dissonance; Conformity; Groupthink; Terror Management Theory; Systems Justification Theory; Signal Detection Theory; and Prior Knowledge of State Crimes Against Democracy and Deep Politics.

Through the lens of clinical psychology we will explore viewpoints described in the sections on Learned Helplessness; The Abuse Syndrome; Dissociation; and Excessive Identification with the U.S.A.

The two sections on Brain Research provide us with astonishing insights into our human nature.  Finally, the sections entitled American Exceptionalism; Governmental Manipulation and the Big Lie; and Those Who Lack Conscience and Empathy, contain valuable information from an amalgam of the disciplines of history, social psychology, clinical psychology, and brain research.

Let me emphasize that this paper will be a synthesis of reports on academic research as well as clinical observations. None of the sections will fall neatly into one category or another, but they will overlap each other, as any rich and complicated subject will tend to do.

Let’s begin our journey with an anthropological study…

Note: scroll to the end for links  to the next sections………

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1 “Zogby Poll Finds Over 70 Million Voting Age Americans Support New 9/11 Investigation,” http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20060522022041421; and “Less Than Half of Americans Satisfied with 9/11 Investigations,” http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Less_than_half_of_Americans_satisfied_0523.html.

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag_operation. 3 Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America (University of Texas Press, 2013). DeHaven-Smith analyzes the history of the development of the derogatory nature of the term “conspiracy theory,” tracing it to a CIA propaganda campaign to discredit doubters of the Warren Commission’s report. In this light, the use of this pejorative term can also rightly be seen as an offensive tactic to shame, and thus censor, those who question official governmental accounts.

4 Earl Staelin, J.D., “Resistance to Scientific Innovation: Its Causes and How to Overcome It,” a paper delivered at the Intercept 2001 Conference, July 6–9, 2001, Laughlin, Nevada, sponsored by the Kronia Group. A further insight from Earl Staelin is that most of us also experience psychological inertia when presented with a new theory that we firmly believe is not true, and we must be convinced that it is worth our time to be open to the new theory.
Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2012).
See also http://www.scribd.com/doc/13481854/Resistance-by-Scientists-to-Scientific-Discovery-Barber-1961.

5 Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Random House Publishing Group, 1996).

6 From Laurie Manwell’s presentation at the Toronto Hearings, Ryerson University, 2011:   This is personal observation and interpretation, but is supported by human historical accounts. See that even sages of long ago were warned to heed their words in the second paragraph of this article: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0003_0_01976.html; also see .

8 David Ray Griffin, Ph.D., “9/11: The Myth and the Reality,” http://www.amazon.com/9-11-The-Myth-Reality/dp/B000O0YV7O and http://davidraygriffin.com/articles/911-the-myth-and-the-reality/.

9 In this context “trauma” is defined as extreme upset or having one’s internal resources overwhelmed, at least temporarily.

10 “Solving the Mystery of WTC7,” (with Ed Asner):  .

Links to published parts:

Nov. 2013: Part 1 – Preface and Introduction: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/821-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-.html

Dec. 2013: Part 2 – Diffusion of Innovations: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/827-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911.html

January, 2014: Part 3 – Obeying and Believing Authority: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/841-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911.html

February, 2014: Part 4 – Doublethink: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/856-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911.html

March, 2014: Part 5 – Denial and Cognitive Dissonance: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/865-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-part-5-denial-and-cognitive-dissonance.html

 April, 2014: Part 6 – Conformity:  http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/876-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-part-6-conformity.html

May, 2014: Part 7—Groupthink: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/889-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-part-7-groupthink.html

June, 2014: Part 8—Brain Research, Part 1—Beliefs:  http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/897-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911.html

August, 2014: Part 9—Brain Research, Part 2—Morality:  http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/909-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-part-9-brain-research-part-ii-moral-psychology.html

October, 2014: Part 10: Terror management Theory, and Part 11: Systems Justification Theory:  http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/918-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-part10-11.html

Part 12: Signal Detection Theory  http://www1.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/925-why-do-good-people-become-silent-or-worse-about-911-part12.html

Part 13: Prior Knowledge of State Crimes Against Democracy and Deep Politics  http://www1.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/930-why-do-good-people-become-silentor-worseabout-911-pt13.html

Part 14: Learned Helplessness  http://www.ae911truth.org/news/196-news-media-events-fran-shure-part-14.html

Part 15: The Abuse Syndrome.  http://www.ae911truth.org/news/211-news-media-events-fran-shure-part-15.html – Also at Part 15, The Abuse Syndrome

Part 16: Dissociation:  http://www.ae911truth.org/news/214-news-media-events-fran-shure-part-16.html – Also at Part 16 Dissociation

Part 17: The False Self and Excessive Identification with the U.S.A. http://www.ae911truth.org/news/216-news-media-events-fran-shure-part-17.html

Part 18: American Exceptionalism and Nationalist Faith http://www.ae911truth.org/news/220-news-media-events-fran-shure-part-18.html

Part 19: Government Manipulation and the Big Lie  http://www.ae911truth.org/news/238-news-media-events-shure-part-19-government-manipulation-and-the-big-lie.html

Part 20: Those Who Lack Conscience and empathy  http://www.ae911truth.org/news/246-news-media-events-shure-part-20-conscience-empathy.html

Posted in Communication | Comments Off on How to indoctrinate the ‘sheeples’

‘Must-read’ book reviews

This post reviews books that add substantially to the understanding of business, economics, politics and what may happen in the future.

  • The Death of Money, James Rickards  
  • American Betrayal, Diana West
  • From Third World to First, Lee Kuan Yew
  • Lee Kuan Yew by Graham Allison

The Death of Money

The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System.  8 April 2014.  By James Rickards.

James Rickards, author of the other best seller, Currency Wars, has gone even further in The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System, in telling it like it is (and will be, so prepare yourself!). Jim’s all-facts, straightforward approach is peppered with just enough analogy and anecdotal wit to make sophisticated economic/mathematical/political concepts understandable to the (educated) layperson. His clarification techniques serve the book well by making sure the content never gets watered down or condescending. For anyone interested in knowing what is going on behind the scenes, how the dollar is being systematically devalued by The Fed (and why), what a rigged sham our banking system is, and how things are likely to play out in the very near future, read The Death of Money!

American Betrayal

The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character by Diana West (May 28, 2013).  Diana West’s newest book “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on our Nations Character” is a highly researched, blockbuster of a story taking 356 pages to tell with 29 pages of notes.  Whilst not directly about ‘management’, this book is packed with information that any successful manager should understand, in particular regarding communications (propaganda?)  and planning.  It’s the most thought-provoking, worrying, disillusioning book I’ve ever read.  I’ve attached a couple of reviews of the book from Amazon.com. American Betrayal, Diana West, May 2013. Reviews  that give you a glimpse of what it’s about.  John, of John’s Newsletter fame, noted: ‘American Betrayal explains what many already know about the creation of the soviet monster by the FDR administration, stacked with communist spies and the author of the cold war from as early as 1942.  How FDR’s lackeys could give the USSR the atomic bomb via Lend Lease is fascinating and unfortunately true.  It is clear that powerhouse though she may be, America has been ungovernable since the outset…Just too big, too complex and too full of leaks and confused ideologies.  America is now, as a reaction, on the road to becoming a police state.  Folk who have read the book  called “The Open Society and Its Enemies” by Karl Popper will understand how the USA came to this pretty pickle and the realities behind this scandalous state of affairs.  Horrific though her anecdotes are, I have seen independent corroboration elsewhere of Diana’s central themes and accept them as factual – when asserted as such.  This book is too disturbing for general consumption.’

From Third World to First

The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 by Lee Kuan Yew  (Oct 3, 2000).  Note:  although older, it is useful to read this book before the Grand Master’s Insights book, below. Some comments on the Amazon website: Lee Kwan Yew had a clear vision, set himself clear goals…. Above all, what led to his success is his execution skills…. Although Singapore is a free market economy, its philosophy concerning workers and employees are caring and genuine, unlike in the United States….His views regarding leadership and a wide range of management issues are profound….. Read this book to be inspired.

Lee Kuan Yew

The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison et al., 1 Feb. 2013.  Some comments on the Amazon website: Lee excels in pithy evaluations of regional and national strengths and weaknesses. At his best, the man is a cross between Confucius and Machiavelli. (Washington Times)……..”I found myself engrossed this week by the calm, incisive wisdom of one of the few living statesmen in the world who can actually be called visionary. The wisdom is in a book, “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World,” a gathering of Mr. Lee’s interviews, speeches and writings…He is now 89, a great friend of America, and his comments on the U.S. are pertinent to many of the debates in which we’re enmeshed.” — Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.

 

Posted in Must-Read Articles | Comments Off on ‘Must-read’ book reviews

Which ‘New World Order’?

What is the ‘New World Order’, or NWO?  Main stream media describe it as conspiracy theory; some weblogs describe scary scenarios.  This post examines a range of views.

Scan down to read the latest articles.  Links to many more articles are at the end of this post.

When Disclosure Serves Secrecy

When Disclosure Serves Secrecy  By Steven M. Greer M.D. 1999

Ending the secrecy surrounding the UFO/ET subject is a laudable goal. It is long overdue. It would transform the world in ways both simple and profound.

And yet it is fraught with danger.

The covert projects which have been running UFO related programs for nearly 60 years are not interested in a disclosure which upsets their apple cart. They want such a disclosure to transform their apple cart into a freight train. And they potentially have the power and connections to do it.

There are multiple scenarios attending the disclosure of the UFO subject- and not all of them have the best interests of humanity at heart. Elsewhere, in the new bookExtraterrestrial Contact: The Evidence and Implications I write about the kind of disclosure the world needs. An honest one. An open one. One which replaces secrecy with democracy. A disclosure which is peaceful, scientific and hopeful.

But then there is the disclosure the powers that be would like to see: Manipulated. Calculated to consolidate power and engender fear. Configured in such a way that chaos and a deepening need for Big Brother is carefully inculcated into the masses.

We have seen the plans and it is not a pretty picture.

I write this as a warning. A warning that the wolves in sheep clothes are very cunning indeed. And have almost limitless resources. Most who work with them do not even know they are wolves. Indeed, it is likely that many of the wolves have been convinced that they are sheep.

The UFO matter is not so much a mystery as a matter deliberately obfuscated and mystified. Confusion and a lack of clarity serves the larger covert goal of keeping it off the long-range radar of society while power and plans are consolidated quietly. And the one thing more dangerous to society than all this secrecy is a planned, contrived disclosure run by the keepers of the secrets.

For years such plans have been made – to be unfurled at just the right time. During a time of great expectation. Of social confusion. Perhaps of millennial madness?

I have personally met with a number of people who are very involved with such plans. I do not speculate here. Be aware: The disclosure of UFO reality is being planned very carefully. It will assiduously follow a scheme to spin the subject in just the right way – the only way which will further redound to the glory and power of the secret-keepers. It will be a false disclosure – one born out of the age-old bane of human existence: selfishness and greed. Greed for power. Greed for control. Greed for domination.

We must be mature and informed on such matters. Only a vigilant and informed public can see through such deceit – and correct it should such a plan be unfurled. Every citizen needs to know that great good can come from the truth being known. But the mature citizen must also recognize that the ‘truth’ can be spun and spun again – until the goals of those who crave secret and overt power are met.

Consider: One scenario for disclosure is that the UFO and Extraterrestrial subject is acknowledged in a way which is scientific and hopeful. Excessive secrecy which lacks executive branch and congressional oversight is ended. Humanity begins to entertain open contact with other civilizations, with peaceful engagement as the goal. Technologies which are currently suppressed are allowed to be disseminated: Pollution ends. An economy of abundance and social justice is firmly established. Global environmental destruction and mind-numbing world poverty become a faint memory. Zero-point based energy devices transform the world. Electro-gravitic devices permit above ground travel without paving over the world’s precious fertile farm land. As an ET once told Colonel Philip Corso, “Its a new world, if you can take it…”. This is the disclosure which we are working for.

But the disclosure envisioned above could have happened in 1950. It did not – Why? For such a disclosure would lead to the total transformation of the status quo. Centralized energy systems would be obsolete. Oil would be useful only for lubricants and synthetics. The geo-political order of today would be a thing forgotten: Every country and people on Earth would have such a high degree of progress and advancement that all nations would have a seat at the global table. Power would need to be shared. Peaceful acknowledgment of life from elsewhere would make the Earth seem like the very small, organic homeland which it is. The vast trillion dollar global military – industrial sector would be reigned in. And a universal spirituality might dawn…

But remember, there are hugely powerful interests who dread this scenario. For them, it is the end of the world as they know it. The end of centralized, elite power. The end of a controlled geo-political order which today leaves nearly 90% of the people of Earth barely one step out of the stone age. And they do not wish to share the power they wield.

Now, let me describe the ‘disclosure’ which would make these covert control programs happy. This is the false or contrived ‘disclosure’ which has only one clear goal: The further consolidation of their power and their paradigm. It has to do with fear, not love. With war, not peace. With division and conflict, not unity. It is the dominant paradigm – but it is slipping away slowly. And a carefully orchestrated disclosure of the ‘facts’ of the UFO and ET subject could secure their power. This is the disclosure which is to be dreaded. This is the disclosure to watch out for. This is the disclosure which is already occurring.

My meetings over the past 9 years with covert operatives who have worked on UFO related programs have introduced me to some characters right out of a spy novel – and then some. Whether in private high tech industry, at the Pentagon or at a midnight meeting in a private mansion, a theme has emerged. It is one of immense, though currently hidden, power. It transcends government as we know it (at this point the government of ‘We the people…’ has been made irrelevant on this issue). And the theme has two main strands – the eventual covert militarization of the ET subject and a weird covert religious strain which can only be viewed as bizarre.

Here, we find some very strange bed-fellows indeed. War mongers and militarists in cahoots with industrialists who share a certain bizarre eschatological bent: A dark view of the future, featuring an extraterrestrial Armageddon – or at least the threat of it. Such a theme supports retrograde and fanatical religious causes as well as deeply covert military-industrial plans to expand the arms race into space.

In fact, the big players in the so-called ‘civilian UFO community’ are tied into such beliefs and agendas. It strains credulity, I admit, but here is what we have found by penetrating these operations.

From a military-industrial perspective, the disclosure of choice is one which frames the UFO/ET issue in a threatening manner. If a threat from space can be established (as President Reagan liked to say) then the entire world can be united around the need to fight such a threat. This would ensure trillion dollar plus military – industrial spending well into the next century, and beyond. If you think the cold war was costly, wait until you see the price tag for this ‘protection’ from the ‘threats’ in space: The trillions spent on the cold war will look like a blue light special.

Retrograde and fanatical religious groups, similarly, have great vested interests in fulfilling the promise of Armageddon. An eschatological paradigm, well enshrined in the belief systems of those running covert UFO projects, is supported by the portrayal of a cosmic conflict in the heavens. Voila! We have the necessity of spinning the UFO/ET issue in the evil invading aliens (translates in religious terms as demons) direction. Indeed, this has already been accomplished, courtesy of the ‘civilian UFO community’ and the tabloid media (swhich at this point is virtually all media…).

Additionally, there is a subtext which can only be viewed as thinly veiled racism. You will note that part of the ‘new myth’ regarding UFOs involves the ‘good ETs’ , which invariably are described as ‘Pleidians’ who are ‘handsome’ white, blue-eyed Aryan appearing types. Naturally, those ‘evil, bad ETs’ are darker, shorter, look funny and smell funny. Please. Such clap-trap would have us trade age-old human racism for an extraterrestrial variety. This nonsense and propaganda could only make Hitler proud.

In one lengthy meeting with a multi-billionaire, I was told that he gave great support to UFO activities which propel the so-called ‘alien abduction’ subject into public awareness because he wanted humanity to unite around fighting this ‘alien threat’. Later, this very influential figure informed me that he believed these demonic ETs were the cause of every setback in human history since Adam and Eve. Sound familiar?

Military interests, which are heavily involved in covert projects which hoax ET events, such as human military- related abductions, have a shared goal of demonizing the UFO/ET phenomenon. Doing so lays the foundations for the fear and dread necessary for an organized opposition to all things ET. And this subserves the longterm need to provide a rationale for an expanding global military even should world peace emerge. In fact, under this scenario, ‘world peace’, or strictly speaking peace on Earth, could be secured by the world uniting, eventually, against the ‘threat from space’ referred to by resident Reagan. (By the way, personally I believe Reagan was the victim of disinformation specialists who surrounded him and who manipulated him into the statements he made on this subject.)

Under this scenario, currently being gamed and ‘disclosed’ courtesy of the trial balloon UFO ‘community’, we would get peace on Earth – in exchange for interplanetary conflict. One step forward, ten steps back. Wonderful.

Such a false and contrived ‘disclosure of the truth’ regarding UFOs and ETs would, then, subserve agendas held by powerful covert interests in both the military-industrial sector and those of a strange collection of religious fanatics, who pine for Armageddon — and the sooner the better.

Lest the reader think such a strange amalgam of militarists and cult-like religious interests are unlikely, remember the weird views of the Third Reich. Or more recently, the views of one US Department of the Interior cabinet secretary during the Reagan years named James Watt. It was he who, not knowing a microphone was still on and recording his comments, stated in the 1980s that we did not need to worry about all these environmental problems since Armageddon was coming soon and the world would be destroyed anyway…This bizarre view, held by a man who shaped and applied policy for the Interior Department of the US Government, was later reported in the general media. At the time a comical footnote perhaps. But what does it say about the degree to which such beliefs may be shaping covert UFO policy — and specifically disclosure plans? We have found that such views — bizarre as they may seem to most — are heavily represented in covert policy development on the UFO subject.

And most disconcerting of all: This strange mixture of military cosmic saber-rattling and bizarre religious beliefs are the dominant forces shaping both the ‘civilian UFO community’ and the planned eventual ‘spin’ on UFO disclosure. Let the buyer beware.

To the rational and intellectual, such views seem ridiculous. Why, you might ask, would anyone want a cosmic war in space, an Armageddon and the destruction of the Earth? To comprehend this, you have to get inside the head of people who hold such beliefs – people like James Watt. In his case, why worry about a little bit of deforestation, air pollution and areas of dead oceans if the entire world is going to be destroyed in a couple of years anyway?

But the thinking goes further than this. Because such fanatical thinking has within it the concept that as a result of the Armageddon we will see the return of Christ- and with it the good people’s salvation. Now, people are free to believe what they want. But what we have found is a deliberate influencing of covert policy on UFOs by such beliefs. Some of these people want Armageddon – and they want it ASAP.

Strictly speaking, the militarists and war-mongers, itching to ‘kick some alien butt’ as it was said in the movie Independence Day, may actually only want a pretext to justify their existence and get the world to eventually spend huge sums of money on a perceived (if contrived) threat from space.

But in some cases – high up on the food chain of the covert entity running UFO secrecy – the two views meet. A place where militarism and eschatology merge. Where Star Wars and Armageddon join.

In tracing the history of both the UFO civilian community and the covert policy-making group concerned with UFOs, we have found a growing penetration of the latter into the former. So much so that at this point there are projects which ostensibly are innocent civilian initiatives but which in reality are totally controlled and financed by ‘cut-outs’ from ultra-secret projects.

Moreover, our careful penetration of such projects yielded the disturbing finding that deep-cover black project operatives are working closely with alleged civilian researchers, journalists and UFO glitterati. CIA and military intelligence operatives are working with civilian ‘think tank’ heads, alongside very wealthy business people who are eschatologists, and being advised by ‘civilian’ technologists and scientists – who are themselves proponents of bizarre religious belief systems involving the end of the world and ETs…

Thus, the new ‘chosen ones’ have been assembled. They are planning your disclosure on the UFO/ET subject. They are owned by the money whores and power brokers doing the bidding of the secret entity which runs UFO projects to begin with. And it all looks like a civilian initiative. So innocent. So well-intended. So ‘scientific’. And by the way, the sky is falling courtesy of ET and we need your money and your souls to defend against it.

Do not be deceived. You need to be awake to the darker scenarios which some would like to thrust upon the world. And you need to know that there are alternatives. If a ‘disclosure’ is unleashed on the world which is xenophobic, militaristic and terrifying, know that it comes from the spinmeisters of secrecy- regardless of how respectable the person or group may appear to be.

And remember: Part of this disclosure plan involves the use of UFO look-alike devices made by humans in an attack on Earth or military assets of Earth. This would be a well-orchestrated use of advanced human technologies to hoax an ET attack- all for the purpose of disclosing the truth with the desired military-oriented spin. In such a scenario, most of humanity will be deceived into believing the threat from space has arrived – and that we must fight it at all costs. This is nothing more than long-term social security for the military-industrial complex. There must be people who can expose this fraud.

But why should we wait for these darker scenarios to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world?

Here is another idea: Why don’t ‘we the people’ unite and launch a disclosure which resembles the first one described above. An honest one. One which leads to peace, not war. To a sustainable and beautiful world, free of pollution and brimming with abundance, of all types. One which reaches out into the unknown, instead of firing particle beam weapons into the darkness of space.

Additionally, we welcome those who can come forward with first hand knowledge of the machinations referred to in this paper and who wish to expose such madness to contact us. The one thing the darkness of secrecy cannot tolerate is a spotlight shining right on it. And the more of us holding the light, the better.

Evil steps in when good people do nothing. This is a lesson taught through thousands of years of human history. We stand at the beginning of a new time, and a new world awaits us. But we must embrace it, and help create it. For if we are passive, others will have their way- at least in the short run.

Steven M. Greer M.D.

– See more at: http://www.siriusdisclosure.com/cseti-papers/when-disclosure-serves-secrecy/#sthash.8tCJCQsp.dpuf

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Editor’s note: for those interesting in considering more on this subject, further reading and videos are available at:

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The UN’s “new universal agenda” for humanity

The UN’s “new universal agenda” for humanity  By Michael Snyder, Zerohedge, 20 October 20105

The global elite have never been closer to their goal of a united world.  Thanks to a series of interlocking treaties and international agreements, the governance of this planet is increasingly becoming globalized and centralized, but most people don’t seem alarmed by this at all.  In the past 30 days, we have seen some of the biggest steps toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion that we have ever witnessed, but these events have sparked very little public discussion or debate.  So please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up about this before it is too late.

From September 25th to September 27th, the United Nations launched a “new universal agenda” for humanity.  Those are not my words, they actually come directly out of the core document for this new agenda.  The Pope traveled to New York City to give the address that kicked off this conference, thus giving his considerable endorsement to this new plan.  Virtually every nation on the entire planet willingly signed up for the 17 goals that are included in this plan, but this stunning turn of events made very few international headlines.

Turn our planet into some kind of “utopia”

The United Nations is promising that if we all work together that we can turn our planet into some kind of “utopia”, but the truth is that all of this talk about “unity” masks a very insidious agenda.  The following comes from a recent piece by Paul McGuire, the author of a groundbreaking new book entitled “The Babylon Code”

The UN is not asking permission, but issuing a command that the entire planet will commit to 17 sustainable development goals and 169 sustainable development targets designed to radically transform our world by 2030. The UN 2030 plan promoted by the Pope will advance Agenda 21 on steroids.

 Through a controlled media the mass populations will be told that this is all about saving the environment and “ending poverty.” But that is not the true agenda of Agenda 21. The true agenda of Agenda 21 is to establish a global government, global economic system, and global religion. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke of “a dream of a world of peace and dignity for all” this is no different than when the Communists promised the people a “workers paradise.”

“The 2030 Agenda rebranded “the global goals”

For the general population, “the 2030 Agenda” has been rebranded as “the global goals”.  On September 26th, some of the biggest names in the music world (including Beyonce) promoted these new “global goals” at the “Global Citizen Festival” that was held in Central Park.  And you can watch a YouTube video where some of the most famous names on the entire planet urge all of us to get behind these new “global goals” right here.

None of this is by accident.  We are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” that belong to a “global community”.  Decades ago, most Americans would have been up in arms over something like this.  But now most people just seem to accept these changes passively.  Very powerful secret societies and international organizations have been moving us in this direction for a very long time, and most Americans simply have no idea what is happening.  Here is more from Paul McGuire

The United Nations is a de facto global government and does not rule by the “consent of the governed.” The United Nations is a global government to which American politicians of both parties have surrendered our Constitutional rights. If you look at the Republican Presidential debates you see the vast majority of those running are “bought men and women.” They are there to do the bidding of their true masters, the international banking families and their interlocking secret societies. If a candidate has a different set of beliefs than the “Orwellian group think” which constitutes domestic and foreign policy, he is allowed to go only so far.

 Who are these powerful elite groups and the secret societies that run them? As we extensively document in our new book, The Babylon Code, co-authored by this author and Troy Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist, there exists a very real network of semi-secretive and secret groups. Groups like The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Nations, Club of Rome, The Bilderberg Group, and others control presidents, prime ministers, media networks, politicians, CEO’s, and entire nations. You will almost never hear any substantive analysis by the media, which is controlled by these groups nor of attempts at holding them accountable by governments around the world.

International trade agreements

Another way that our planet is being “united” is through the use of international trade agreements.

The ultimate goal is for the entire world to become a “single market” with uniform laws, rules and regulations.  But as we merge our economy with the rest of the globe, the United States has been losing tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs as the monolithic corporations that now dominate our economy shift production to areas where labor is much cheaper.  This is absolutely destroying the middle class, but very few people seem to care.

Negotiations for one of the biggest international trade treaties that the world has ever seen recently concluded.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as “Obamatrade”, would represent a giant step toward a truly unified global economy.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

We have just witnessed one of the most significant steps toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been completed, and if approved it will create the largest trading bloc on the planet.  But this is not just a trade agreement.  In this treaty, Barack Obama has thrown in all sorts of things that he never would have been able to get through Congress otherwise.  And once this treaty is approved, it will be exceedingly difficult to ever make changes to it.  So essentially what is happening is that the Obama agenda is being permanently locked in for 40 percent of the global economy.

 The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam all intend to sign on to this insidious plan.  Collectively, these nations have a total population of about 800 million people and a combined GDP of approximately 28 trillion dollars.

And do you want to know who pushed really hard to give Obama fast track negotiating authority so that these negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion?

It was the traitorous Republican leadership in Congress.  They did everything that they could to pave the way for Obamatrade.

A one world religion

We are also seeing some stunning moves in the direction of a one world religion.

In recent years, you may have noticed that it has become very trendy to say that all religions are just different paths to the same God.  In fact, many prominent religious leaders are now openly proclaiming that the two biggest faiths on the entire planet, Christianity and Islam, worship the exact same deity.

For example, just consider what the Pope is saying publicly on this matter.  The following is an extended excerpt from one of my recent articles on End of the American Dream…

What Pope Francis had to say at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan has received very little coverage by the mainstream media, but it was exceedingly significant.  The following is how he began his address

I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca.

In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.

He did not choose those words by accident.  In Islam, Allah is known as “the all-merciful one”.  If you doubt this, just do a Google search.

And this is not the first time Pope Francis has used such language.  For instance, the following comes from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting as Pope…

I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.

 The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs.

Pope Francis clearly believes that Christians and Muslims worship the exact same God.  And so that helps to explain why he authorized “Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran” at the Vatican for the first time ever back in 2014.

What is happening is undeniable.

Steamrolling toward a one world government

We are steamrolling toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion.

Of course we will not get there overnight.  It is going to take some time, and there are going to be quite a few bumps along the way.  In fact, I believe that our planet will experience an extreme amount of chaos before we actually get there.

But every major crisis will be used as an excuse to advance this agenda.  Virtually every solution that the elite offer us will involve more globalization and more centralization.  We will be told that all of our problems will be solved if humanity will just come together in unity.

For some, the goal of a “united planet” where we are all working together to eradicate things like poverty, war and disease makes all the sense in the world.

For others, a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion would simply mean setting the stage for “one world tyranny”.

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The UN 2030 September agenda for THEIR NWO

The UN 2030 September agenda for THEIR NWO  From Zerohedge 5 September 2015

Did you know that the UN is planning to launch a “new universal agenda” for humanity in September 2015?  That phrase does not come from me – it is actually right in the very first paragraph of the official document that every UN member nation will formally approve at a conference later this month.  The entire planet is going to be committing to work toward 17 sustainable development goals and 169 specific sustainable development targets, and yet there has been almost a total media blackout about this here in the United States. 

The UN document promises that this plan will “transform our world for the better by 2030“, and yet very few Americans have even heard of the 2030 Agenda at this point.  Instead, most of us seem to be totally obsessed with the latest celebrity gossip or the latest nasty insults that our puppet politicians have been throwing around at one another.  It absolutely amazes me that more people cannot understand that Agenda 2030 is a really, really big deal.  When will people finally start waking up?

Taking Agenda 21 to an entirely new level

As I discussed in a previous article, the 2030 Agenda is taking the principles and goals laid out in Agenda 21 to an entirely new level.  Agenda 21 was primarily focused on the environment, but the 2030 Agenda addresses virtually all areas of human activity.  It truly is a blueprint for global governance.

And later this month, nearly every nation on the entire planet is going to be signing up for this new agenda.  The general population of the planet is going to be told that this agenda is “voluntary” and that it is all about “ending poverty” and “fighting climate change”, but that is not the full story.  Unfortunately, there is so much positive spin around this plan that most people will not be able to see through it.  Just check out an excerpt from a piece that was published on the official UN website yesterday…

The United Nations General Assembly today approved a resolution sending the draft ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ to Member States for adoption later this month, bringing the international community “to the cusp of decisions that can help realize the… dream of a world of peace and dignity for all,” according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

 “Today is the start of a new era. We have travelled a long way together to reach this turning point,” declared Mr. Ban, recounting the path the international community has taken over the 15 years since the adoption of the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards crafting a set of new, post-2015 sustainability goals that will aim to ensure the long-term well-being of our planet and its people.

 With world leaders expected to adopt the text at a 25-27 September summit in New York, the UN chief said Agenda 2030 aims high, seeking to put people at the centre of development; foster human well-being, prosperity, peace and justice on a healthy planet and pursue respect for the human rights of all people and gender equality.

“Dream of a world of peace and dignity for all”?

Who doesn’t “dream of a world of peace and dignity for all”?

They make it all sound so wonderful and non-threatening.

They make it sound like we are about to enter a global utopia in which poverty and inequality will finally be eradicated.  This is from the preamble of the official 2030 Agenda document

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognise that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan.

 We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.

As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda.

If it is a “universal agenda”, then where does that leave those that do not want to be part of it?

How will they assure that “no one will be left behind” if there are some nations or groups that are not willing to go along with their plan?

17 Sustainable Development Goals

The heart of the 2030 Agenda is a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals…

Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*

Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Once again, many of those sound quite good.

But what do many of those buzzwords actually mean to the elite?

What does “sustainable development” actually mean?

For instance, what does “sustainable development” actually mean, and how does the UN plan to ensure that it will be achieved globally?

This is something that was discussed in a recent WND article

But what is “sustainable development?”

Patrick Wood, an economist and author of “Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation,” says it’s clear the U.N. and its supporters see sustainable development as more than just the way to a cleaner environment. They see it as the vehicle for creating a long-sought new international economic order, or “New World Order.”

 Wood’s new book traces the modern technocracy movement to Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Rockefeller and the Trilateral Commission in the early 1970s.

Centrally plan and regulate everything we do

 And Wood is quite correct.  The environment is a perfect vehicle for the elite to use to bring in their version of utopia, because just about every possible form of human activity affects the environment in some way.  Ultimately, they hope to centrally plan and strictly regulate virtually everything that we do, and we will be told that it is necessary to “save the planet”.

And they will never come out and openly call it a “New World Order” because “sustainable development” sounds so much nicer and is so much more acceptable to the general population.

Needless to say, there wouldn’t be much room for individual liberty, freedom or good, old-fashioned capitalism in the world that the elite are trying to set up.  In fact, the U.N.’s number one sustainable development official has essentially publicly admitted this

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history,” Figueres, who heads up the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters in February.

 “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution,” Figueres said.

They plan to “intentionally transform the economic development model”?

And so what will this new system look like?

How will they achieve this “utopia”?

How will they achieve this “utopia” that they are promising us?

Sadly, they are just selling the same lies that have been sold to people for thousands of years.  Paul McGuire, the co-author of a new book entitled “The Babylon Code: Solving the Bible’s Greatest End-Times Mystery“, commented on this recently…

Deep inside every man and woman is the longing for a far better world, a world without war, disease, death, and pain. Our present world is a cruel world in which every life ends in death. From the beginning of time Mankind has sought to use science and technology to create a perfect world, what some would call Utopia or Paradise. As the Human Race began to organize itself, a Scientific or Technocratic Elite rose to power by promising the masses that they could build this perfect world. Ancient Babylon represented the first historical attempt to build paradise on earth.

In ancient times, Babylon was the very first attempt to create a type of “global government”, and ever since then the global elite have been trying to recreate what Babylon started.

The promise is always the same – the elite swear that they have finally figured out how to create a perfect society without poverty or war.  But in the end all of these attempts at utopia always end up degenerating into extreme forms of tyranny.

On September 25th, the Pope is traveling to New York to give the opening address at the conference where the 2030 Agenda will be launched.  He will be urging all of humanity to support what the UN is trying to do.  There are countless millions that implicitly trust the Pope, and they will buy what he is selling hook, line and sinker.

Don’t be fooled – the 2030 Agenda is a blueprint for a New World Order.  Just read the document for yourself, and imagine what our world would actually look like if they have their way.

They want to fundamentally transform our planet, and the freedom that you are enjoying today is simply not acceptable.  To the elite, giving people freedom and liberty is dangerous because they believe it hurts the environment and causes societal chaos.  According to their way of thinking, the only way to have the kind of harmonious utopia that they are shooting for is to tightly regulate and control what everyone is thinking, saying and doing.  Their solutions always involve more central planning and more control in their own hands.

So what do you think?

Should we hand the global elite that kind of power and control?

If not, then we all need to start speaking out about this insidious agenda while we still can.

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The Pope joins the UN in wanting to control the world

The Pope joins the UN in wanting to control the world  By Michael Snyder, Zerohedge, 21 June

Pope Francis says that global warming is a fact and that a new global political authority is necessary in order to save humanity from utter disaster.  The new encyclical that was scheduled to be released on Thursday has been leaked, and it is being reported that this new global political authority that Pope Francis envisions would be in charge of “the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”.

The funny thing is that this sounds very much in line with the new sustainable development agenda that is going to be launched at the United Nations in September.

Agenda 21 on steroids

This radical new agenda is already being called “Agenda 21 on steroids” because it goes so much farther than Agenda 21 ever did.  The new UN agenda does not just address the environment – it also addresses issues such as poverty, agriculture, education and gender equality.  It is essentially a blueprint for governing the entire planet, and that sounds very much like what Pope Francis also wants.  In fact, Pope Francis is going to give the speech that kicks off the UN conference in September where this new sustainable agenda will be launched.  For some reason, this Pope has decided to make the fight against climate change the central pillar of his papacy, and he is working very hard to unite as much of humanity as possible to get behind that effort.

It is not an accident that this new encyclical is coming out now.  An article from the Guardian even states that the release was intended “to have maximum public impact” prior to the Pope’s major speech at the UN in September…

The rare encyclical, called “Laudato Sii”, or “Praised Be”, has been timed to have maximum public impact ahead of the pope’s meeting with Barack Obama and his address to the US Congress and the UN general assembly in September.

 It is also intended to improve the prospect of a strong new UN global agreement to cut climate emissions. By adding a moral dimension to the well-rehearsed scientific arguments, Francis hopes to raise the ambition of countries above their own self-interest to secure a strong deal in a crucial climate summit in Paris in November.

Much of the encyclical is not that surprising.  But what is raising eyebrows is the Pope’s call for a new global political authority.  Here is more from the Guardian

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

 A kind of super-UN to deal

 Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.

What is even more alarming is who will be on the stage with the Pope when this encyclical is formally released.    John Schellnhuber is a German professor that has some very radical views on climate change.  For instance, he believes that our planet is overpopulated by at least six billion people

Said the planet is overpopulated by at least six billion people

Professor John Schellnhuber has been chosen as a speaker for the Vatican’s rolling out of a Papal document on climate change. He’s the professor who previously said the planet is overpopulated by at least six billion people. Now, the Vatican is giving him a platform which many expect will result in an official Church declaration in support of radical depopulation in the name of “climate science.”

And Schellnhuber also happens to believe that we need a new global political authority.  If he had his way, there would be an “Earth Constitution”, a “Global Council” directly elected by the people of the planet, and a “Planetary Court” that would be above all other courts on the globe.  The following is an excerpt from a very disturbing piece that he authored

Let me conclude this short contribution with a daydream about those key institutions that could bring about a sophisticated – and therefore more appropriate – version of the conventional “world government” notion. Global democracy might be organized around three core activities, namely (i) an Earth Constitution; (ii) a Global Council; and (iii) a Planetary Court. I cannot discuss these institutions in any detail here, but I would like to indicate at least that:

 – the Earth Constitution would transcend the UN Charter and identify those first principles guiding humanity in its quest for freedom, dignity, security and sustainability;

 – the Global Council would be an assembly of individuals elected directly by all people on Earth, where eligibility should be not constrained by geographical, religious, or cultural quotas; and

 – the Planetary Court would be a transnational legal body open to appeals from everybody, especially with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution.

Does the Pope want something similar?

It is quite telling that Schellnhuber was invited to stand with the Pope as this major encyclical is released to the world.  Did Schellnhuber play a role in drafting it?  Has he been advising the Pope on these matters?  Does the Pope share his vision of the future?

And does the Pope share Schellnhuber’s belief that our planet is currently overpopulated by six billion people?  If so, how would the Pope solve that “problem”?

Without a doubt, most of those that make up the “global elite” would love to see the number of people on earth decline precipitously.  This is something that I covered in my previous article entitled “46 Population Control Quotes That Show How Badly The Elite Want To Wipe Us All Out“.  Of course the Pope is not going to publicly advocate for getting rid of six billion people, but clearly he is extremely concerned about the impact that all of us are having on this planet.

The funny thing is that the earth is not even warming

In fact, there has been no sign of global warming at all for the past ten years

Over the years the government and the scientific community have largely stood their ground when it comes to climate change. They’ve been adamant in their assertion that the planet is gradually warming due to human activity, and that we all need to do our part to stop climate change. However, the data provided by the scientific community doesn’t always jibe with their claims.

 At least, that seems to be the case with the data coming out of NOAA’s climate monitoring stations. They have a series of 114 stations across all 50 states, which is known as the US Climate Reference Network. For the past 10 years they’ve shown no sign of global warming. In fact, there’s been a very slight cooling in temperatures across the US.

But at this point, most of the world has bought into the propaganda.  In most industrialized nations, a solid majority of the population actually believes that climate change is the greatest threat that humanity currently faces.

More power in their hands

And since just about all forms of human activity produce “carbon emissions” or affect the environment in some way, it gives control freaks that dream of global government a good excuse to grab more power.  They will always say that it is about “saving humanity” or “saving the planet”, but ultimately everything that they are trying to accomplish would mean more power in their hands.

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Sleepwalking into a loss of sovereignty

Sleepwalking into a loss of sovereignty  By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 8 June 2015

The one thing that is settled in climate science is that if you deviate from the officially sanctioned scripture, you will be severely dealt with.

Take the University of Western Australia’s withdrawal of its offer to establish the Australian Consensus Centre because it failed to conform to global-warming orthodoxy. The founder, Bjorn Lomborg, accepts the basic tenet of man’s role in global warming but differs on how to respond. In the totalitarian world of eco-catastrophism, competing views must be silenced.

Surely this bullying is wearing thin

For nearly 50 years we have been assailed with dud predictions of man-made climate disasters — first cooling, then warming.

It was always problematic that a trace gas which represents 39/1000ths of one per cent of the atmosphere could be the dominant driver of climate, and no surprise, after 18½ years of stasis, that more than 95 per cent of the IPCC’s climate models we have long been assured prove global warming’s link to CO2 emissions are in error.

Scientists from the University of NSW dutifully explain, “This is not a modelling failure, this is just a fact of life in dealing with complex systems”… “It’s clear that the overall modelled surface warming over the course of more than a century is off by only a small margin.”

Their projections against reality not even close

Well not according to American climate scientist and IPCC expert reviewer Don Easterbrook. He says: “When we check their projections against what actually happened, they’re not even close.” IPCC lead author Hans von Storch observes: “So far no one has been able to provide a compelling case (for the model failures).”

And the goalposts keep shifting. If the heat can’t be found in the atmosphere, it must be hiding in the deep ocean. When historical temperature and sea level records don’t comply, they are homogenised.

It’s on such weak evidence that the World Bank and the United Nations expect “more developed” countries to abandon fossil fuels and spend a staggering $89 trillion over 15 years combating climate change. (World GWP is $74 trillion). Does anyone doubt such a massive wealth transfer and the power to redistribute it would change the existing world order? No wonder “big oil” is urgently seeking a place at the UN table.

The climate change movement has become the rallying point for millions of environmental activists who push their alarmist predictions into every home and parliament on the planet. They teach in schools and universities the consequences of inaction. They promote the serious ethical, moral and governance obligations imposed by our membership of the global community.

A “centralised transformation”

All this, according to executive secretary to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, falls into what she calls a “centralised transformation”. She openly declares the shortcomings of democracy and the benefits of communism in fighting global warming. She likes regimented societies and central intervention, not free-market capitalism.

Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times’s chief foreign affairs commentator, in a December 2008 op-ed piece wrote: “So it seems everything is in place. For the first time since homo sapiens began to doodle on cave walls, there is an argument, an opportunity and a means, to make serious steps towards a world government. A world government would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws. The European Union has already set up a continental government of 27 countries which could be a model.”

Indeed, but a growing number of Europeans, including Britons, now regret not listening to warnings about ceding their national sovereignty to unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels when the Common Market was first proposed.

Only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse

Green politics have long had close ties to the UN. The IPCC employs members of Greenpeace and WWF. UN Environment Program founder Maurice Strong, a lifelong Marxist, challenged the 1992 Rio Earth Summit: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” He said the Earth Summit would play an important role in reforming and strengthening the UN as the centrepiece of the emerging system of global governance. “Our concepts of ballot box democracy may have to be modified,” he said.

Figueres shares Strong’s Malthusian views, saying: “We are already exceeding the planet’s carrying capacity.” But is this, like climate predictions, also exaggerated? According to the Karolinska Institute’s Professor of Health, Hans Rosling, “fast population growth is coming to an end. Unprecedented in human history, the average fertility rate has halved.”

While world population growth will continue until 2050, the number of people in extreme poverty has fallen from two billion in 1980 to just over one billion today. Rosling believes “for the first time ever, the evidence suggests it is now possible for the last billion to also get out of the misery of extreme poverty in the next few decades.” He should have added, subject to free-market capitalism and access to cheap energy.

Big government and powerful, ambitious and unaccountable bureaucrats

Figueres’s approach is entirely consistent with the Rio Earth Summit’s Agenda 21 where the UN, through environmentalism and wealth redistribution, seeks to call the shots. Her intentions may be good but she believes in big government and powerful, ambitious and unaccountable bureaucrats like herself. As the FT’s Rachman says, at the UN everything is in place for that. There’s no conspiracy here, it’s transparent.

So before we laugh off the prospect of global government based in Geneva and sleepwalk into surrendering more of our national sovereignty in Paris, we should wake up.

Having just commemorated the centenary of the Gallipoli landing and the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, it would be irresponsible to be so casual with our individual liberties and our children’s economic future.

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Western culture is failing

The West needs to beat Islamism on the battlefield of ideas

The West needs to beat Islamism on the battlefield of ideas  By Frank Furedi, Spiked Online, 30 December 2015

This was the year when a growing section of the public began to regard the threat of homegrown terrorism as far more real than at any time since 9/11. In Europe, the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January stoked initial fears about the rising terror threat. These were heightened when two people were shot dead by an Islamist in Copenhagen, Denmark in mid-February. And the slaughter of 30 British tourists on holiday in Tunisia showed that jihadis viewed any kaffir as a target. But it was the scale of the murderous attack in Paris on 13 November that really frightened Europeans. For Americans, the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, a few weeks after the Paris attacks, proved equally terrifying.

In the global scheme of things, a relatively small number of terrorist incidents in Europe and the US do not add up to a significant threat to society’s way of life. But what makes them appear more menacing is that they seem to be linked to a wider global jihadist struggle making headway on the battlefields of Afghanistan, north Africa, Libya, Iraq and Syria. Western intervention on these battlefields has proved singularly ineffective. The only forces that have succeeded in containing and, on occasion, overwhelming ISIS have been the highly committed Kurdish militias and Iranian-led fighters in Iraq.

The situation on the battlefield of ideas is, if anything, of even greater concern. The willingness of thousands of young Western Muslims to travel to Syria and risk their lives for the radical jihadist cause shows how influential ISIS has become. Think of that photo of the three British Muslim teenage girls, clutching their bags as they prepared to board their flight on their way to Syria. This image captures something Western governments and societies are reluctant to acknowledge: namely, that many normal and idealistic Muslim teenagers are drawn towards a cultural outlook that loathes Western society and its values.

Losing the battle of ideas

What is truly significant about the high-profile terrorist incidents in Paris is the reaction of sections of the Muslim community. No doubt many Muslims were horrified by the massacres committed in the name of Islam. But some Muslim youths were more ambivalent.

This was clear in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings. In many of Paris’s banlieues, there was little mourning for the victims. Numerous teachers in France reported that some immigrant children expressed deeply hostile sentiments towards the terrorists’ victims. Others said some children refused to believe the official version of events. And many French teachers were at a loss to know how to react when many Muslim children refused to respect the minute’s silence for the dead.

The reaction of many young Muslim schoolchildren to the Charlie Hebdo incident is quite consistent with the research into public attitudes towards ISIS. A poll of over 2,000 British adults, conducted by ICM in July, showed that nine per cent of respondents viewed ISIS in a positive light; three per cent held a ‘very favourable view’ of ISIS; and six per cent held a ‘somewhat positive view’. Despite the numerous atrocities reported in the media, the proportion of those with a positive view of ISIS has increased by two percentage points since last year.

Public-opinion polls are always difficult to interpret. But what the ICM poll suggests is that a significant minority of British Muslims may be sympathetic to some of ISIS’s ideals. The majority of those are likely to be passive sympathisers with no desire to journey to Syria. However, what their sympathies signify is that radical jihadist ideas have gained a foothold in British society. At the very least, the poll suggests a sizeable group of British Muslims expresses its everyday frustrations with the world, and particularly the West, through a favourable attitude towards ISIS.

Elsewhere, researchers investigating support in France and Spain for ISIS reported:

‘Among young people in the hovels and grim housing projects of the Paris banlieues, we found fairly wide tolerance or support for ISIS’s values, and even for the brutal actions carried out in their name. In Spain, among a large population sample, we found little willingness to fight in order to defend democratic values against onslaught.’

At present, the willingness actively to fight for ISIS is confined to a tiny minority. But the fact that there is a significant body of passive support is ominous.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the way 9/11 is now perceived and understood by many sections of European society. Many members of Muslim communities readily believe 9/11 conspiracy theories, especially the idea that it was all a Jewish plot. Claims about the world made by the Islamic State and other similar groups exercise a far greater influence today than they did three or four years ago. There are now far more people living in Europe who silently applaud or approve of an event like the Paris attacks.

The growing influence of radical Islamic sentiments is paralleled by a growing moral and political disorientation within European public life. European society is finding it very difficult to respond to what has now become a war against its way of life. This is especially clear in education, where numerous teachers have said how tough it is to discuss such ‘controversial’ subjects as 9/11 or the Holocaust in the classroom. Some teachers avoid these topics altogether.

Both France and Britain are failing to socialise a significant section of young people. Many of these youngsters embrace an Islamist counter-narrative that calls into question Western Enlightenment values and celebrates jihadist identity politics. One of the aims of the Paris attacks is to turn these anti-Western sentiments into a more active force in European society.

For a minority of young people, radical jihadism provides an outlet for their idealism. It also offers a coherent and edgy identity, a variant of the ‘cool’ narrative used by other online subcultures. The behaviour of young people who are attracted to jihadist websites is not all that different to the numerous non-Muslim Westerners who visit nihilistic websites and become fascinated by destructive themes and images. It just so happens that the destructive images and themes on jihadist websites are also linked to a destructive political cause.

Perils of multi-moralism

Why are so many young Muslims hostile to the society into which they were born? Many blame anti-Muslim prejudice, economic deprivation or the conflict in the Middle East. It may well be the case that such issues have caused bitterness in Muslim communities. But Muslims are not the only group to have experienced prejudice or economic deprivation. One distinctive feature of European Muslim subcultures is that they are relatively self-sufficient and have a strong impulse to maintain a clear boundary between themselves and others.

Sociological research shows that the way that members of a subculture talk to one another and the views they hold are often different to the outlook of the rest of society. That is true for radical Muslims, as it is for other groups. Muslim subcultures possess their own pool of knowledge – that is, ideas and sentiments that are distinct to such cultures. Unfortunately, distinctive, culturally defined pools of knowledge create a fertile terrain for the construction and circulation of disturbing views and rumours. In such circumstances, rumours about a Jewish or American conspiracy can swiftly mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. Worse still, such ‘facts’ and beliefs are rarely tested in the wider public sphere and can therefore turn into deeply ingrained prejudices.

The absence of debate about the sensitive issues that divide Muslim subcultures from other sections of society is, in part, an inadvertent consequence of the policies of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has failed to develop a moral and cultural outlook to which all sections of society can sign up. Instead it has encouraged cultural segmentation where, in effect, we now have a system of multi-values: numerous values existing side by side, none of them being properly discussed or challenged. That is why the image of a beheading can appear to some as an inspiration and to others as unspeakably horrendous. Such morally polarised reactions to the same event are the outcome of a society in which cultural segmentation prevails.

Years of lost opportunities

At first sight, it is difficult to account for the growing influence of radical jihadist sentiments among young Muslims living in Western societies. In the aftermath of the 2001 riots in Oldham, in the north west of England, I talked to Muslim students about their impression of life in Britain. Most of them spoke in a language that conveyed a strong sense of bitterness and, in some cases, hatred. In the early 2000s, however, their response was couched in a language of disappointment and disillusionment. Their criticism was not directed at ‘manmade law’ or democracy, but at the failure of society to live up to its promises.

Since 2001, the attitudes of some young Muslims towards their society have hardened and altered in character. Some no longer want society to accommodate their grievances; they want to inhabit a different moral universe. There are many reasons for this radical shift in attitude. For many Muslims, the military and terrorist success of jihadist forces has been emboldening. Stories about how an individual or a couple of ‘fighters’ – such as the Boston bombers – terrified the US appeal to some young men and women in search of a hero.

However, the most powerful driver of jihadist influence in the West is the culture of victimhood. In recent decades, the victim has acquired a quasi-sacred status. Competitive claims-making about victimisation has become widespread. Little wonder, then, that one of the most powerful themes promoted in radical jihadist propaganda is the representation of Islam as the universal victim of Western aggression. Jihadists frame virtually every dimension of local and global misfortune afflicting Muslims as the outcome of a permanent war waged by Western crusaders.

The jihadist media present Muslims as eternal victims. From this standpoint, any behaviour that does not accord with the worldview of jihadist political theology can be represented as an act of victimisation – an insult to Islam. In such circumstances, the reaction to a provocation is legitimised both by jihadist ideology and the Western cult of the victim. Even ISIS’s claim to recover Islam’s golden age is shot through, as Edward Said put it, with the ‘sanctimonious piety of historical or cultural victimhood’. Arguably, the jihadists travelling to Syria are as much a product of contemporary Western global culture, within which victimhood is sanctified, as they are of traditional Islam.

However, jihadists are not simply reacting against the Western way of life. In recent years, the likes of ISIS have appealed to the idealism of many young people. What Westerners perceive as a barbaric, medieval institution, some young people perceive as a movement that offers them a sense of purpose and meaning. That the Caliphate is now perceived in such positive light by some young Muslims is an indictment of the inability of Western society to inspire people with its own vision of the world.

Until now, Western governments, the media and intellectuals have more or less opted out of the battle of ideas. Efforts at preventing radicalisation have proved singularly ineffective because they are by definition reactive. What is required is not a reaction to the latest threat, but a moral and intellectual assertion of values that are worth fighting for.

That is the real challenge facing secular democracies: to gain popular support for the values of the Enlightenment and an open society. Western society needs to provide a positive account of itself, and to take its own ideals far more seriously than it does at present. And Western intellectuals, who, at the moment, are conspicuously silent on this matter, need to take their vocation and public role far more seriously. As the experience of the past 15 years shows, it is the failure to advance any vision worth supporting that has helped radical jihadists gain a measure of moral authority over sections of Muslim youth.

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and commentator. His latest book, Power of Reading: Socrates to Twitter, is published by Bloomsbury Continuum.

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The insidious perils of bureaucracy

Articles describing how bureaucracy – and bureaucrats – systematically cause delays and unnecessary expenditure.  ‘Yes Minister’ really was a documentary, not fiction!

I quit, the bureaucrats had beaten me

  I quit, the bureaucrats had beaten me  By Charles Hugh-Smith, 13 August 2015

“For many years, many of my friends and family who have come to my home and experienced my cooking, have told me that I should “open a restaurant”. Of course, I took this with a grain of salt since many people say this exact phrase, to many other people. There are a lot of people who are able to create very delicious meals.

About five years ago, there was a restaurant for sale, not too far from my home and business. I thought about buying the restaurant, but at that time, the economy was not doing well and I wanted to take a wait and see attitude before I committed to anything. Eventually, the restaurant closed down and a different type of business opened up in the space that had been a restaurant. That business went under in the middle of 2014 and I decided it might be time to open a retail food establishment in the space that used to be a restaurant. How hard could it be?

I signed a lease with the property owner for his 1000 square foot space. I contracted with a general contractor and designed the restaurant floor space on a CAD program I have on my office machine.

Having boot-strapped two seven figure companies from the ground up over the past 25 years, I knew all of the permits needed in order to open a regular business. First, I had to have my attorney file for incorporation in my state. Then, I secured my FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) from the IRS, opened a bank account, got my sales and use tax permit (to collect sales taxes) from the State and contacted the person at the state level who is responsible for food establishments at the state level. The department that handles such things is the Nevada Health Department.

I would need to pay additional fees 

The inspector who is responsible for my geographic area (since I live in a sparsely populated county, we don’t have a county health department) at the state level told me that since the space had not been a restaurant for a few years, I would need to pay additional fees the first year and my endeavor would be treated as a “new” retail food establishment. The cost was an additional $500, but that’s just the way it is. The property already had a grease interceptor (1500 gallons), floor drains, a mop sink, air exchanger on the roof and was mostly plumbed. I’ll get back to this later.

I submitted plans to the state contact person and was told that my symbology was not standard for the plumbing and electrical. The suggestion was made that I seek the services of an architect. Very well. I did. I found an architect who has done some restaurants in the area and we got to work. I submitted my floor plan to him, which he said was very detailed and seemed to use the space to its maximum potential. However, he did mention that if I were going to serve one single person as a dine-in customer, I would have to have at least one ADA compliant bathroom. The space had two existing bathrooms that were ADA, but not the latest version. So, those would have to be upgraded. Next, he told me that if I served, in-house, I would need to provide two ADA compliant bathrooms. I was going to remove one of the ADA bathrooms, so I could have more seating, but if I had more seating, I would need two bathrooms. Catch-22.

I would need to expand the hallway

My architect submitted to the state for review and was told that I would need to expand the hallway. That means that the current hallway walls would need to be completely gutted, with plumbing removed and drains moved.

I guess it really did not matter though, since according to the State of Nevada, I was required to have EIGHT (8) sinks in my 1,000 square foot space. I needed two bathroom sinks (which I had), one dirty sink with three wells, clearly labeled “wash, rinse, sanitize”; this sink needed to have two side-boards of not less than 18 inches etc. I also had to have one prep sink, with a wand facet, one dedicated mop sink, two hand wash stations (that could not be near any other sinks) and a bar sink for smoothies. This meant I had to have an extra floor drain put in, while the others needed to be moved. Great. 8 sinks. Cost to bring the plumbing to code and provide engineered drawings and system? $20-25 thousand.

After six revisions to the plans (to make the state happy), I finally gave the plans to a general contractor. He sent it to his electrical and plumbing sub-contractors. They informed the general that due to code issues, they would have to quote an engineered HVAC system that provided balanced air for the replacement needed by the hood exhaust. The hood exhaust would need to be tied into the HVAC, so that my customers would be in an environment that met the state standards for air quality. OK. The plumber also said that I needed a brand new, engineered waste pipe system, one that could only be installed by jack hammering the entire plumbing system, since the state was requiring a detailed drawing of the pipes in the floor, and since it was put in before they had these requirements, they would want it all dug up and put into a plan. Great. Engineered HVAC cost? $40,000 (even though the place seemed to work fine for 25 years with an evaporative cooler and a gas heater).

New EPA compliant transformers

Next, I was told that since I would need a 200 amp electrical service panel (which I knew), the power company would have to replace the transformer on the pole outside, since new construction (the buildings are 30 years old, but hey, it’s a restaurant) requires new EPA compliant transformers. The power company fee alone would be 12-15 thousand dollars. Cost to upgrade electrical to code? $20,000, including power company costs to install EPA approved transformer.

Next, I was told that I would have to have the gas pipe dug up, jack hammered and replaced with a larger diameter gas line. This would be $20,000 or so dollars. The reason is, of course, that the new code requires a minimum pipe diameter for gas; even though I was only going to have one appliance on gas; the range. Everything else is electric.

Keep in mind that all of this was taking time. In point of fact, from the time I signed the lease in late December, until just this past week, I was doing nothing but getting my paperwork ready and trying to comply with government mandates. Essentially, I spent 7 months trying to not only figure out what I needed to do, while I was paying rent and utilities, but I also spent many hours trying to figure out the complexities of what the state required.

Each person has to take a Food Handler Course

For instance: Each food establishment is required to have at least one Food Service Handling Manager. Each person who serves or prepares food has to take a Food Handler Course. The manager course is about 500 dollars, when all is said and done. The food handler course is about half of that. This is an annual fee.

Aside from what I was being required to do for the construction, the state also required the following:

— A complete list of vendors. Said vendors must be USDA certified wholesale food suppliers. No farmer’s markets, supermarket or home grown.

— A complete menu, listing calories of each ready-made product.

— A sample of my labels for prepackaged product showing nutritional data, ingredients, warnings about any allergens (peanut etc).

— My estimate of how many employees I thought I would need (so they can tax me on each employee, annually, something the county does too)

— Certificates for any employees who would be handling food, including any managers. My Federal EIN and my State tax ID.

— Complete plans, contractors, amount of estimated business (so they can PRE TAX me on estimated sales taxes)

The statutes for retail food are about 500 pages thick

It just goes on and one. The law in Nevada is called the Nevada Revised Statutes, or NRS. The statutes for retail food are about 500 pages thick. That’s just the codes that cover food. This does not cover the building, electrical, plumbing and service codes (such as ADA compliance, handicap parking, etc.)

So, I quit. They beat me.

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The Unquenchable Bushfire Bureaucracy

By Roger Underwoord, Quadrant Online, 4 December 2014.

The end of that great Australian institution, the volunteer country fire brigade, is drawing nigh, done in the ignorance of greens, the ambitions of empire-building desk warriors and layer after counterproductive layer of managerialist protocols. Why use a rake when the taxpayers can be billed for a helicopter?

White Overalls Days

I have been reading Geoff Walker’s wonderful little book White Overalls Days. It is a modest, but entertaining collection of yarns about his time as a member of the Lemon Tree Passage Bushfire Brigade in central coastal NSW in the 1980s. Although I enjoyed it, I was left with a feeling of sadness as I turned the last page. Geoff’s story is told light-heartedly, but it is essentially a tragedy. This is because he describes a process that has been replicated all over Australia to the detriment of our society and our environment: the bureaucratisation of bushfire management.

Geoff’s time with the Lemon Tree Passage brigade typifies an unhappy transition. His early days coincided with the times when local volunteers, with local leadership, organised themselves to go about the business of preventing and fighting bushfires and carrying out fuel reduction burning. They did a great job, and they had fun. By the time he gave it away, the locals had become merely a small cog in a large city-based organisation, led in many cases by people with no real bushfire experience, mired in bureaucracy, and beholden to the political influence of environmentalists. The fun had gone out of it, replaced by the grim business of fighting fires of increasing intensity and danger, due to a lack of basic prevention. (Geoff Walker wrote of his time fighting fires and bureaucracy for Quadrant Online in October)

Fuel-reduction burning program

I have been part of a similar transition. I can remember the days (in 1964) when I was a junior forester with the WA Forests Department, working at Dwellingup in the central jarrah forest. We had a big fuel-reduction burning program, and it was well organised and professionally carried out. Every proposed burn had to be inspected and a prescription prepared that laid out the way the burn would be done and the conditions that must apply on the day. The aim was to get a good burn, but to do no damage. Preparing burn prescriptions was one of my jobs, and I used to do about four a day. For each burn I would do a field inspection and then fill in a one-page form. The forms would be handed in to my boss, DFO Frank Campbell, who would check them over, occasionally make an adjustment, and then approve and sign them. The prescriptions were then given to the field staff whose job it was to do the burns on the days when conditions were as prescribed. It became a little more sophisticated after the advent of aerial burning, but not much.

Compare this with the modern system. The last time I looked at the department’s burn prescription form it was 75 pages in length. Every burn requires a mini-management plan. The entire emphasis has changed 180 degrees, from the outcome of getting a burn completed, to the process of doing the prescription. For example, one of the aspects the prescribing officer must consider is a detailed risk analysis, including the political risks of the burn. Each prescription must be sent to head office (via the district and regional office), and up to nine different senior officers must sign off on it before it is approved, including directors who have no practical bushfire experience whatsoever.

First check for endangered plant species

Most laughable of all, it is a requirement that every proposed burn must be checked to see whether endangered plant species are present. If they are, a special application must be prepared and presented to the Minister for the Environment. This is the same minister who has jurisdiction over the department wanting to do the burn, and as he does not know an endangered plant from a cow, he relies on information from the department to make his decision. This is always to approve the burn. Never once has an application for ministerial permission to undertake a fuel reduction burn been rejected. Well, that’s good and sensible (there are no species of plants in the Jarrah forest that are threatened with extinction by a mild-intensity fuel reduction burn), but this is a story about bureaucracy, not good sense.

All in all, the preparation and approval process for one fuel-reduction burn in the Jarrah forest (which might have taken me two hours in 1964), now can take weeks and can involve up to 12 different officers and even the minister. There is no evidence to suggest that the outcome is better burning, but it is certainly less burning. I suspect that the main advantage of the new system, at least from the departmental viewpoint, is that accountability is now spread so thinly that it will be impossible to find anyone to blame if something goes wrong.

Old-fashioned bushfire management

Meanwhile the old-fashioned and economical method of bushfire management (fuel-reduction burning on the one hand, followed by hand attack of fires by crews with rakes, hoses and shovels on the other) are being replaced by modern and obscenely expensive methods, usually involving helicopters.

There was a classic demonstration of this in a recent, mind-bogglingly awful program on bushfires on SBS television. In a scene in the first episode, a fleet of helicopters (I counted four in the air at the one time in one scene) were looking for lightning strikes in the Blue Mountains. A smouldering log is spotted and a team of park rangers are winched down to deal with it. The log, which is about the size of a power pole, is burning at one end. This is cut off with a chainsaw, leaving a smouldering butt piece about the size of a kerosene tin. The head ranger reaches for his walkie-talkie. “Send in The Bucket!” he commands. A moment later a helicopter carrying a few thousand litres of water choppers in and releases the water onto the burning remnant. I estimated that this operation cost several hundred dollars. Back in the day, the offending piece of wood, having been knocked off with a crosscut, would have been buried, using a shovel. Cost: nothing. Presumably modern park rangers are not capable of using a shovel, or are not allowed to under Health and Safety rules, a further example of bureaucracy gone made.

Preventative burning prevented

Everybody knows what is going on. Bushfire brigades are no longer doing the preventative burning that they used to do to minimise bushfire damage in rural communities. They are submerged in a system in which constraints are layered over constraints, where their work is opposed by environmentalists and made more difficult by local Shires. Firefighters no longer go in to deal with a fire edge using rake, hose and shovel – they are instructed to stay out and wait for the fleet of water bombers to arrive. The tiny number of foresters still left in forest districts in the south-west are fuming with frustration as they confront a system that is all about process and nothing about outcome. Local communities are rumbling with discontent.

But the forces at work are inexorable. It’s basically the old power game, the shots now being called by the bureaucrat in his suit or flashy uniform in head office, with the ear of the minister and an eye to political advantage. Meanwhile the boys in the bush in their white overalls, good with a rake and a hose, but without political power or influence, are increasingly losing the faith.

End of the volunteer bushfire brigade

I foretell the end of that great Australian institution, the volunteer bushfire brigade, with its captain, secretary and treasurer, their fire station, their membership drawn from the local community, their admired status and their pride and esprit de corps. They will be bureaucratised out of existence. We will end up with the American system of paid and uniformed firefighters, operating out of the cities or the larger regional centres so as to minimise costs, lacking local knowledge and constrained from preventative burning by environmentalists operating within government departments or shire councils.

This has certainly been the pattern with government bushfire management in WA. District centres have been closed, staff shifted to regional centres, not replaced — or replaced by officers who play no part in bushfire operations. About 20 years ago you would find a large corps of professional foresters and highly experienced field staff in district offices in places such as Dwellingup and Manjimup. Now they are virtual ghost towns. Meanwhile the burning program has declined to about 30% of where it should be, as field staff grapple with the absurd bureaucratic constraints imposed upon them, and dangerous bushfire fuels are now more extensive than ever before in history.

Two tragedies

There are, in fact, two tragedies in all this. First there is the tragedy that an economical  system that worked has been replaced by an expensive one that does not. The second is that the changes have a sort of ghastly momentum to them: everybody can see what is going on, but nobody seems able or willing to do anything about it. The most disastrous changes seem somehow to be irreversible.

Over the years ahead there will be an increase in the number and nastiness of bushfires in southern Australia. Global warming will be offered as the explanation, as well as the excuse. But the truth is different: once effective management and community systems have been dismantled, and the result is a countryside utterly exposed to unstoppable wildfires. We are reaping what has been sown.

Reference: Walker, Geoff (2002): White Overall Days. Newcastle City Printers

Roger Underwood is a retired forester, and is Chairman of The Bushfire Front, a volunteer organisation dedicated to improving the standard of bushfire management in WA.

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A wider perspective of the insidious perils of bureaucracy was described in the Kis report – Government for the Silent Majority.  The full KiS report can be downloaded from the post link in Latest Posts.  But to save the reader time, Section 3.14 is repeated below.

The KiS report – Bureaucracy

 The KiS report – By Peter Senior, 11 May 2011

Bureaucratic Government Management

Most Government Departments become increasingly bureaucratic over time.  The Sir Humphrey Appleby mindset – named after the head of the Civil Service in the brilliant British comedy, Yes Minister – becomes entrenched in many influential government leaders.  Many factors cause this creeping disease that often results in additional and unnecessary costs, delays, poor decisions, excessive intrusion into people’s lives, manipulation of data and generally sub-optimal results.  This section considers just a few indicative examples.

Most government department staff are competent and diligent.  But working within a culture of bureaucracy where leaders regularly demand bureaucratic complexity is enough to defeat even the most sincere staff member trying to promote a better approach – pity these staff.

Administrative costs of 15 home loans: $10 million

An editorial in The Australian provided an insight into the world of bureaucrats:  ‘In the real world, $10 million builds forty large, family homes or 100 comfortable, three-bedroom bungalows.  In the world of Canberra bureaucracy, it merely covers the administrative costs of fifteen home loans’.  An allied example was noted:

The funds set aside to construct and renovate houses in the remote Aboriginal community of Wadeye are going towards administration and company costs.  A leaked draft budget, prepared by the company contracted under the federal government’s Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program to perform the work at Wadeye, allocates $20.642 million for administrative and establishment costs.  According to the government’s published budget for SIHIP, the Wadeye package, which consists of 105 new dwellings, 167 refurbishments and 28 rebuilds, would cost $65.375m, putting the administration and establishment costs at 31.6% of the total budget.  The Coalition’s indigenous affairs spokesman, Nigel Scullion, said this was before the guaranteed profit for the company of up to 20% that was written into the contract and the project management fees of 8% were deducted from the program budget.

National Audit Office report

An Australian National Audit Office report tabled in the federal parliament noted most of the $178 million pledged for 106 projects through the Better Regions program was promised to marginal seats in rural areas.  Only thirty-five projects had been completed by 30 September 2010, nearly three years after approval.  Administration of the scheme had serious shortfalls: one South Australian council was promised $275,000 for a business centre that had already won a similar grant from the former Howard government.  The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government took 10 months to notice that two business centres in Adelaide Hills, each approved for $275,000 in funding, were one and the same.  In four cases, the department did not even know which politician had promised the projects it was funding.  Eight projects were approved even though the department had rejected them from a similar Howard government scheme in 2007, on the grounds they failed a value-for-money test.  The audit report found the incoming Rudd government drew up funding guidelines for the Better Regions program six weeks after it had announced the successful projects, during the election campaign.

Taxation

The objectives of taxation have become confused and opaque

Consider part of a July 2002 address by Michael Carmody, Commissioner of Taxation:

On the subject of complexity of law […] I would love to have simple law to administer.  But I do not believe there is such a silver bullet.  This is because the objective of simple laws has a history of running up against the objective of achieving equity, often reflecting demands for recognition of special cases legitimately raised by industry and others.  The law also necessarily reflects the complexity of the commercial and social environment it operates within.  Let me illustrate.  When the GST was introduced in Australia, it was necessary for the Government to weigh up these competing factors.  We now have in excess of 540 pages of GST legislation but only 95 pages covers the basic rules of the GST.  That is 95 pages cover the basic rules as to when and how GST arises and who is liable to pay it; when and how input tax credits arise and who is entitled to them; how to work out payments and refunds of GST; and when and how the payments and refunds are made.  Most of the remaining pages deal with equity issues (such as food and charities), rules to deal with complex arrangements in certain industries (such as financial services and insurance) and rules to deal with other special circumstances.  The increased use of the tax law as a vehicle to deliver social benefits also adds to the length and complexity of the law.  However, I can’t see too many people prepared to give up entitlements to these benefits in the interests of shortening the Tax Act.

The points made by Carmody represent a very small fraction of a tax system that has evolved into some 16,000 pages of federal tax legislation.  One key problem is that very few, if any, people involved in creating and applying tax law have an incentive to simplify the law:  it is arguable that most have more incentive to make tax law even more complex.  A simple tax system would reduce or remove the incomes of an army of people involved in each step of the convoluted process.  Another basic question is: does Australia still want to apply socialist principles of ‘achieving equity’ through its tax system as well as pandering to special interest groups, often associated with political ‘pork barrelling’?

Health reform

………….is bogged down in squabbles over who will pay

Rohan Mead, Chairman, Business Council Australia stated research conducted by the BCA underlines that health is critical to the prosperity of individuals and for the economy.  Poor health and disability prevent both sufferers and carers from participating fully in education and the workforce.  It drives earlier retirements and leads to more absenteeism and lower productivity.  People are living longer, but with more illness.  Chronic disease costs about $30 billion a year (3% of GDP) in direct costs and lost productivity.  Yet up to one third of this is preventable.  The healthcare sector costs are growing, currently over $113 billion annually, or 9% of GDP, employing some 1.3 million people.

Ensuring efficient allocation of resources within our increasingly capacity-challenged economy, the health sector’s efficiency and effectiveness is vital.  Considerations of efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and achieving value for money are largely lost in political debate about who will pay for health.  Experts estimate that up to 20% of resources used in the health sector are wasted, either through treatment in inappropriate settings, duplication, errors or administrative inefficiency.  This is reinforced by research showing relatively low rates of productivity improvement and claims of innovation being stifled by bureaucratic processes.  Poor morale ensures that too many highly trained health professionals, such as nurses, leave the profession.

Another example reported in February, 2011:  the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency was failing to complete registrations on time.  Some of the 290,000 health practitioners and some physiotherapists and doctors had been forced to stop working.  Dozens of nurse graduates were arriving for their first jobs, but could not start because their registrations were not available.

Australian Defence

……….. challenges Gosplan and Yes Minister

Henry Ergas, a regulatory economist, wrote in The Australian:

[Defence] is a world of central planning without a central planner, as endless committees blur responsibility, ensure there are few penalties for being wrong or rewards for being right, and entrench a culture in which to get along is to go along.  This week’s saga, revolving around the navy’s inability to provide a single amphibious ship, highlights the resulting pathologies.  How can it be that there were ‘insufficient resources to address shortcomings’ in the ships’ maintenance when the department’s 2009-10 annual report says cost reduction targets in maintenance were ‘over-achieved’, that is, exceeded by $200 million?  How is that it has taken since 2006, when “competence in the System Program Office had fallen well below an acceptable level”, to rebuild that competence, especially given the 60% increase in the number of senior Defence staff over the past decade?  Defence spends about $26.8 billion a year, close to 2% of national income, and directly or indirectly employs 1% of our labour force.  The aim of this spending is to be able to defend Australia from attack.  The reality is of frequent bungles.  Baseline defence funding, excluding supplementation for operations, increased by more than 50% in real terms in the decade from 2000/01. The 2007 Defence Management Review concluded that the ‘comparative wealth’ that growing funding has provided Defence ‘undermines respect for cost and efficiency’  With no sensible mechanism for setting spending priorities, it will not take long for the force structure to become unviable.  Averting that outcome requires dramatically better processes for taking defence decisions.

System or systemic failure?

The Queensland Health payroll fiasco is an example of exceptionally poor management even by normal government standards.  An inspection of how this major IT project was undertaken reveals that many of the normal checks and balances for a project of this type were ignored or over-ridden.  For instance, failing to run the new system in parallel with the old system several times until the new system produced correct results, identical to the existing system – the first full ‘test’ was in fact a live run which failed dismally.  By then it was deemed impossible to revert to the old system.  Months later there were still numerous errors with many staff underpaid or not paid at all.  And, to cap it all, the accountable senior managers and politicians (in particular, the Minister) neither resigned nor were sacked.  Another example is the appalling Roof Insulation program managed by government that resulted in massive expense, rorts and several deaths before it was cancelled.

Every government group, project or program involves purchasing, or supply management to use its modern extended name that takes account of the full ‘end-to-end’ process.  The annual total of government purchases of services and products in Australia is over one trillion dollars, depending on exactly what is included as a ‘purchase’.  Stating the blindingly obvious, Australians expect the very best levels of competence and processes to ensure all purchases are optimal.  A review of recent Defence Department purchasing reveals massive waste, the Building the Education Revolution (BER) was riddled with disgraceful management and purchasing, as was the roof insulation program.

Supply-management

Problems in supply-management can include corruption, but fortunately this is quite rare in Australia, although it is a major issue when purchasing from overseas where expectations of kick-backs are often the norm.

Most people involved in government purchasing in Australia are both competent and diligent.  Problems of unsatisfactory purchases usually concern the purchasing processes that have invariably evolved over many decades.  Current purchasing systems such as the commonly used German SAP have become extremely complex; operating the system often becomes an end in itself rather than optimising a particular purchase.  Horror stories abound, such as NASA spending $4,382.50 to purchase thirty-four pencils, and before Federal Reinvention, government processes and red tape were so costly that buying a $6.00 hammer cost the government about $400.00.

Focus on the rear-view mirror

Probably the two areas that create the most complex, bureaucratic and unproductive effort are current historic accounting requirements and accounting for the Goods and Service Tax (GST).  Accounting has become so complex that compliance work is the largest part of most accounting effort.  The great majority of the detail is totally and utterly useless from a productivity and planning viewpoint, except in the occasional case where fraud is detected.  Even with fraud, were it not for the horrendous complexity of accounting systems it is likely that fraud would have been noticed much sooner.  Supply management suffers from similar problems, and in any case accounting for purchases has to obey accounting rules.  The really useful part of accounting (understanding the financial aspects of a business, organisation or government and quantifying strategies and plans) becomes confused with the complexities of historical accounting and the mass (or should that be ‘mess’?) of associated regulations.  These regulations have evolved since double-entry book-keeping was invented (the first written description of double-entry book-keeping seems to be a 1458 manuscript by an Italian, Benedetto Cotrugli).

Accountants’ work mostly historic

Most accountants’ work relates to the past, providing historical records and financial measurement of past performance.  In most cases accountants operate up to sixteen months behind. Much of their work is compliance for which they really are servants of the tax office.  Many of the more capable accountants find compliance work is very tedious and long to branch out into various challenging aspects of planning: cost/benefit analyses, financial modelling, scenario development and more – the really interesting stuff that requires different skills plus more advanced and broader levels of thinking.

Many corporations have fallen into the same trap as government departments and allowed their information technology (IT or computer) departments to introduce ever more complex supply management systems.  Rarely do the additional complexities result in overall savings; the opposite is often revealed if a full audit is carried out.  Government departments rarely carry out full post-project audits, knowing these often reveal failure to produce the savings promised in the proposal preceding the system or system change purchase.

Talking to private company staff who are involved in supplying government departments can elicit comments, often including expletives, about their frustration and annoyance at delays, waste and bureaucracy.  Again, pity the government department staff on the receiving end when they have no choice but to follow official procedures.

The Australian Public Service

…..are the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and Values ignored?

Many issues noted in this report raise questions about the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct and Values:  ‘APS employees are required, under the Code of Conduct, to behave at all times in a way that upholds the APS Values.’  The APS Values include:  ‘The Australian Public Service: has the highest ethical standards; is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public; is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government’s policies and programs.’

Thou shalt support thy Minister

Staff in one government department made no secret of the fact that their key driver was ‘thou shalt support thy Minister at all times’.  Their Minister, a typical career politician with few qualifications and no business or management experience whatsoever, reacted immediately to any media comment about his department.  The Minister simply told his staff to ‘fix’ the problem.  He usually rubber-stamped his department’s budgets (which had already been agreed with Treasury) and had little interest in the department’s plans or performance criteria.

What sort of staff behaviour would you expect in this situation?  It’s difficult to think of any positives, but easy to list numerous negatives.  If a member of staff spots a major problem, they could report it to their manager who is unlikely to want to ‘rock the boat’.  Or he or she could become a ‘whistle blower’?  Most countries’ laws, including Australia’s, provide little protection for ‘whistle blowers’; support often relies on media publicity, but that can be a mixed blessing – recall Dr Patel’s disgrace, at Bundaberg Hospital:  the staggering incompetence and the agonies the courageous nurse, Toni Hoffman, was put through for years after ‘blowing the whistle’.

‘Make-work’

Typically bureaucracy involves ‘make-work’, ensuring rules are not broken, step-by-step processes are followed exactly and an almost total lack of opportunity for innovation.  But as one civil servant commented:  ‘The pay is OK, the only time things get rushed is when the Minister demands a fix for the latest media leak, superannuation is great and job security is even better.  Can’t be bad, eh?’  Perhaps this last point explains why most staff at government call-centers are invariable pleasant, polite and helpful within the limitations of the processes and regulations they are asked about.

Reiterating, most government staff are competent and work hard.  However, with rare exceptions, the overly complex processes that have evolved in government departments over many decades invariably prevent even the best, most capable and most innovative staff from making significant improvements.  The natural order of government appears to be entropy; descending to the maximum degree of complexity.

Some government staff find they can live within such an environment and gain satisfaction from aspects of their work. Others depart out of utter frustration.  Peter’s Principle – everyone gets promoted to their level of incompetence – often prevails.

Bureaucratic flood damage

Jennifer Marohasy is a biologist and adjunct research fellow in the Centre for Plant and Water Science at Central Queensland University.  The following is the beginning and end of a long story she wrote recently:

‘While residents of Wagga Wagga scrambled to save their belongings from rising flood waters there was a rumour circulating that the crisis was exacerbated by bureaucratic incompetence, in particular that Snowy Hydro was releasing environmental flow water into the already flooded Murrumbidgee River.  […] So I sent some more queries back into internet world and all was finally revealed.  A most reliable source and someone who recently attended a meeting with David Harris, the boss of Snowy Hydro, explained that somewhere in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 mega litres of water per day would continue to flow from the Snowy Hydro System, regardless of downstream impacts, because of environmental flow obligations in the Snowy Hydro operating licence.  Yep!  Blowering Dam may be out of control, the water belting out of Burrunjuck, the Central Murray likely to go under again as early as Wednesday, but because of a formal agreement between NSW Office of Water and Snowy Hydro, involving an obligation to South Australia, approximately 500,000 mega litres, equivalent to one Sydney Harbour of water, must be released as soon as possible as environmental flow.

In short, senior bureaucrats have signed off on an agreement, which they are now honouring, which requires environmental flow releases into the already swollen Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.  Of course these men in suits don’t live in the Murray Darling Basin and they would continue to receive a salary, paid into their Sydney bank accounts, regardless of how many extra wheat fields flood and extra homes are destroyed.’

Derivative trading by Snowy Hydro

Subsequently Jennifer added:

What I didn’t know back then, but I do now, is that the formal agreement facilitates derivative trading by Snowy Hydro on the electricity market with the profits flowing to the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian governments.  […]  Indeed it is the ultimate in hypocrisy for Minister Burke to be insisting farmers give back water allocations under the new planning scheme to save the environment, while his corporation wastes water in derivative trading on the electricity market.

The good old days

………… before complexity entangled all

A colleague was head of Works in Papua New Guinea whilst Australia was still involved in PNG’s government (PNG became independent in 1975).  He describes how he managed all Works for a huge and wild area with very basic infrastructure, few staff and no regulations.  He had a small budget and minimal guidance except to provide the essentials (including escorting Queen Elizabeth during two visits).  He asked, ‘why can’t governments do as good a job given their vastly greater resources?’  The answer is simple:  stupendously complex systems, excessive regulations and bureaucracy.

Fortunately, there are examples of government departments being managed well with capable staff delivering efficient services.  These examples provide clues about how to overcome the malaise.  A series of large departments were headed by a career bureaucrat whose natural instincts were to follow sound management practices, including leadership and excellent people-management.  She resisted attempts to bring her into line with more normal government management approaches through sheer force of personality, intellect, delivering the requisite results within budget and stone-walling.  Oh that there were more of her type either already working for government or prepared to shift from private industry.

‘The Australian Government beat me to it.’

Appendix G is a joke distributed on the Internet.  It tells the story of God directing Noah to build an ark within six months before he sends floods to Australia.  When God called six months later, Noah apologized abjectly, describing a long list of bureaucratic delays and complications that had prevented him even starting to build the ark.  ‘So, forgive me, Lord, but it will take at least ten years for me to finish this Ark.’  Suddenly the skies cleared over Australia, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.  Noah looked up in wonder and asked, ‘You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?’  ‘No,’ said the Lord.  ‘The Australian Government beat me to it.’  Biting humour is a trademark of writers and cartoonists used as a means of demonstrating important issues.

It would be unfair and wrong to imply that all government systems and results are failures.  There are numerous examples of successes.  However, examining these successes often uncovers the result of government staff and contractors working outside of the official systems and procedures, applying their own initiative and ‘bending’ rules to enable a better result.  Other successes involve smaller, less complex and less interconnected systems.

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