Thursday, 18 September 2014

Replaying the 30s in slow motion and other news and views for Wednesday 17 September

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The winning chances of the Abbott government edge upward

Take notice of the opinion polls and you would think that the Abbott government is going backwards in public support. Look at the evaluation of the markets and you would find the opposite with a modest increase over the last few weeks in the probability of the Coalition being re-elected.
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In Victoria the market’s verdict is tending to coincide with the polls with Labor a firming favourite.
2014-09-17_victorianindicatorCheck out the Owl’s indicators on other events HERE.

A “No” vote in Scotland the favoured prediction

On the eve of the vote in Scotland, a “No” vote has shortened again as the favoured outcome.
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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Germany’s move to sun and wind power and other news and views for Sunday 14 September

The small German island of Heligoland, a popular tourist destination, is undergoing dramatic change as the wind industry takes over. Video Credit By Erik Olsen on Publish Date September 13, 2014.
The small German island of Heligoland, a popular tourist destination, is undergoing dramatic change as the wind industry takes over. Video Credit By Erik Olsen on Publish Date September 13, 2014.
  • Sun and Wind Alter German Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind  -“Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea. They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south.”
  • The journalists who never sleep - “‘Robot writers’ that can interpret data and generate stories are starting to appear in certain business and media sectors.”
  • Power from the people: what privatisation has meant for Britain – “Britain has changed beyond recognition in the past 20 years. A failed government policy must take much of the blame.”
  • Iraq: The Outlaw State – Max Rodenbeck in the New York Review surveys four recently published books on Iraq and notes how a fusion of the homicidal and messianic is not without precedent in Iraq. The use of seemingly gratuitous cruelty as a form of display—as a talisman of godlike power and an advertisement of worldly success—has old roots there. “… the country that is now Iraq—although alas not, perhaps, for much longer in its current shape—is no stranger to the ghoulish and macabre. The Mongols, famously, built pyramids of skulls when they pillaged and razed Baghdad in 1258 and again in 1401. It was in Iraq in the 1920s that Britain introduced newer, cheaper methods for keeping unruly natives under control, such as chemical weapons and aerial “terror” bombings. Saddam Hussein’s three-decade-long Republic of Fear, with its gassing of Kurdish villagers, grotesque tortures, and mass slaughter of dissidents, made the later American jailers of Abu Ghraib look downright amateur.”
  • Sweden election: Social Democrats may regain power
  • Nations Trying to Stop Their Citizens From Going to Middle East to Fight for ISIS – “France wants more power to block its citizens from leaving the country, while Britain is weighing whether to stop more of its citizens from coming home. Tunisia is debating measures to make it a criminal offense to help jihadist fighters travel to Syria and Iraq, while Russia has outlawed enlisting in armed groups that are “contradictory to Russian policy.” The rapid surge of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and its ability to draw fighters from across the globe, have set off alarm bells in capitals worldwide. Countries that rarely see eye to eye are now trying to blunt its recruitment drive.@
  • Wine As Economic Indicator: Do Sales Of $50 Pinots And Merlots Predict Our Economy’s Future?

Miranda Devine finds an anti commo mum to hide her Gillard hatred behind

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Another gem this morning to add to my “Views of Miranda Devine” collection. This time our intrepid Sydney Sunday Terror columnist has found a granny to hide her views of Julia Gillard behind.
Emilia Pastuszka, a “stay at home mum” from Wahroonga, has a remarkably similar life story, that propelled her into the public gallery on Wednesday. Her father was part of Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement. “He was in prison a few times. I lived through it. You had to accept corruption or shut hut up … social socialism is supposed d to be about equality but who’s ever in power is the new bourgeoisie,” Pastuszka said.
In a moment of candour last week, Gillard lamented the lack of a time machine. “If one got to do the whole thing again you would do things differently.” She’s not the only one. “Things would have been different if this evidence had come out 20 years ago,” Emilia says. “Julia Gillard would not have come to government.”

Friday, 12 September 2014

Hastening the death of a newspaper’s influence

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The blatant political partisanship of the Murdoch tabloids is spreading. The Sydney Daily Telegraph led the way with distorted coverage of the Labor Party and the Brisbane Courier Mail joined in last year. And now it’s the turn of Melbourne’s Herald Sun.
The biased prejudice that once was confined to those hysterical columnists Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann has now reached the front page - as in this morning's early edition.
The good news is that the combination of declining readership and the good sense of voters is confirming that tabloid hysteria now just preaches to the converted. A win by Labor in the forthcoming Victorian state election will confirm the approaching death of the political influence of newspapers.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

With employment and unemployment go with the trend and it’s not good

Much ado about nothing today as the pundits try to make sense of the employment and unemployment figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I’m happy to stick with the trend figures for what is always a volatile series. And the trend indicates that economic growth is just enough to stop things getting much worse and that’s about it.
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Perhaps the ABS figures for total hours of paid work give the best indication.
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Over the last year the increase in hours worked is a meagre 0.56% and that is less than the increase in the number of people available to enter the labour force. Clearly it is not a time to be reducing government spending.