Friday, 6 March 2015

Spanking kids still overwhelmingly acceptable

spanking (1)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

China’s slower growth rate – Australia to feel the pain

  • China Warms Up to ‘Low’ Growth Rate Other Countries Would Kill for – Today, China’s leaders are increasingly aware that what really matters is ensuring adequate employment and growing incomes. That’s particularly true of Li, premier since March 2013, who has a law degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Peking University and who is known as an advocate for more economic reform. The leadership can even afford to miss its GDP target, as arguably it did last year, when the goal was “about 7.5 percent,” as long as Chinese are employed and keep earning more. It’s been working. Last year, Li promised that China would add 10 million urban jobs and then handily beat the target, with 13 million. People’s livelihoods improved, too. … Expect the real pain to be reserved for resource-rich countries such as Australia and Russia. The value of crude oil, steel, and iron ore imports to China is already falling rapidly, a trend likely to continue as China’s property sector and new construction cools.  insect
  • Insectophilia – In Japan, beetles are pets, grasshoppers a delicacy and fireflies are adored. Is the creepy-crawly a Western invention?
the banker
  • Eurozone meltdown: how can it be avoided? – Resolving the eurozone crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing the global economy. Steady global growth cannot resume until a proper solution is found, as nearly all major economies – the US, China and Brazil – are impacted by failure in the common currency area. But, for the past five years, the euro area has lurched from one disaster to another, amid bitter argument over who is to blame and with reform and key initiatives moving at a snail’s pace. [ Free registration required]
While the tropical Pacific Ocean is currently neutral, the odds of an El Niño developing in 2015 has increased. Therefore, the ENSO Tracker status has been raised to El Niño WATCH.
While the tropical Pacific Ocean is currently neutral, the odds of an El Niño developing in 2015 has increased. Therefore, the ENSO Tracker status has been raised to El Niño WATCH.
  • Renewed warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean – The Bureau’s ENSO Tracker has been upgraded to El Niño WATCH. This is due to a combination of warmer-than-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and models showing that further warming is likely in coming months. El Niño WATCH indicates about a 50% chance of El Niño forming in 2015.
  • Mugabe’s New Best Friends in Brussels – Why is Europe suddenly cozying up to Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian kleptocrat?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tony Abbott the flag man

  • Surge in poles: Tony Abbott’s flag count hits a new high – The PM’s latest speech at Parliament House was backed by no fewer than eight Australian flags, marking a steady rise in recent months
  • Cash Today – Student loans are in principle a straightforward business. The government lends students money; after they graduate, they begin repaying it. From the perspective of politicians and the Treasury the advantage of loans over grants is clear: the money isn’t simply given away, it comes back over the lifetime of the loan. Even better, in the national accounts the loans are classified as ‘financial transactions’, not ‘expenditure’, and are excluded from calculations of the deficit.​
  • Saudi Award Goes to Muslim Televangelist Who Harshly Criticizes U.S. – He has publicly declared that “the Jews” control America, that apostates can be killed, that the United States is the world’s “biggest terrorist” and that the Sept. 11 attacks were an “inside job” by President George W. Bush. But last weekend, Dr. Zakir Naik, a prominent Muslim televangelist from India, appeared at an elaborate ceremony at a luxury hotel in Saudi Arabia, where the new monarch, King Salman, gave him one of the country’s highest honors. The award for “service to Islam” highlighted the conflicted position of Saudi Arabia as an American ally that continues to back Islamists who espouse hatred of the West.
  • Iran’s biggest threat to the world isn’t the one Netanyahu will describe today – Netanyahu’s Ahab-like fixation with his white whale—Iran’s nuclear program—draws attention away from the many other ways that the regime in Tehran represents a clear and present danger to the world. He is right that sanctions relief will empower that regime, but it’s hardly a given that the billions of dollars unlocked ($1.6 billion a monthin oil income, by some estimates) will be poured into a clandestine program to build The Bomb. Much more likely, the money will accelerate and amplify the many conventional (as in non-nuclear) programs Iran conducts in the open—supporting despots, exporting terrorism, destabilizing the Middle East. And, yes, threatening Israel.
  • Finland: Speeding millionaire gets 54,000-euro fine – Finland’s speeding fines are linked to income, with penalties calculated on daily earnings, meaning high earners get hit with bigger penalties for breaking the law. So, when businessman Reima Kuisla was caught doing 103km/h (64mph) in an area where the speed limit is 80km/h (50mph), authorities turned to his 2013 tax return, the Iltalehti newspaper reports.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Some thoughts on lobbying and other interesting reads for today

  • A Lobbyist Just for You – And two other solutions to counter corporate influence in Washington.
  • Has the global economy slowed down? – Big macroeconomic changes happen slowly, sometimes they aren’t clearly visible until years later. We may currently be living through a structural change in the global economy as big as any since World War II without fully realising it. The world economy may be becoming less integrated, with one of the important drivers of globalisation swinging into reverse. This week the Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis released its latest estimates of world trade. This widely-followed measure showed that world trade grew by 3.3% in 2014, that’s up from 2.7% in 2013 and 2.1% in 2012 but still well below the long term average of growth of 5%.

Toss a coin on Australian interest rate decision

The Owl’s market election indicator cannot pick which way the Reserve Bank board members will vote this afternoon on official interest rates.
march indicator
And my opinion? I am as confused as the rest of the punters.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Explaining electoral gerrymanders

2-03-2015 gerrymandering
  • This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see – Gerrymandering — drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party — is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above — adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend — and wonder no more.
  • Protecting Fragile Retirement Nest Eggs - A new study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers has found that financial advisers seeking higher fees and commissions drain $17 billion a year from retirement accounts by steering savers into high-cost products and strategies rather than comparable lower-cost ones. The report has rocked the financial services industry — not because it is news but because the industry sees it, correctly, as a forceful statement of the Obama administration’s determination to do something about the problem.
  • Australia’s top 20 greenhouse gas emitters
  • Food Waste Grows With the Middle Class
  • That ugly fruit and veg – believes at least 20% of all produce is wasted just because of it’s size, shape, color, or appearance.
  • Despicable Us –  Maybe those of us who write about politics and campaigns should adopt a bristly uniform of hair shirts, so that we’re constantly atoning for our sins. Maybe we should wear targets, the better for our critics to take aim at us. Oh, how we’re hated.
  • Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?
  • Brazil – In a quagmire: Latin America’s erstwhile star is in its worst mess since the early 1990s

Harassment of Jews worldwide reaches a seven-year high

  • Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities – Worldwide, social hostilities involving religion declined somewhat in 2013 after reaching a six-year peak the previous year, but roughly a quarter of the world’s countries are still grappling with high levels of religious hostilities within their borders, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion.The new study finds that the share of countries with high or very high levels of social hostilities involving religiondropped from 33% in 2012 to 27% in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. These types of hostilities run the gamut from vandalism of religious property and desecration of sacred texts to violent assaults resulting in deaths and injuries.By contrast, the share of countries with high or very highgovernment restrictions on religion stayed roughly the same from 2012 to 2013. The share of countries in this category was 27% in 2013, compared with 29% in 2012. Government restrictions on religion include efforts to control religious groups and individuals in a variety of ways, ranging from registration requirements to discriminatory policies and outright bans on certain faiths.
    Looking at the overall level of restrictions – whether resulting from government policies or from hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups – the study finds that restrictions on religion were high or very high in 39% of countries. Because some of these countries (like China and India) are very populous, about 5.5 billion people (77% of the world’s population) were living in countries with a high or very high overall level of restrictions on religion in 2013, up from 76% in 2012 and 68% as of 2007.
harassmentAs in previous years, Christians and Muslims – who together make up more than half of the global population – faced harassment in the largest number of countries. Christians were harassed, either by government or social groups, in 102 of the 198 countries included in the study (52%), while Muslims were harassed in 99 countries (50%).
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed. In 2013, harassment of Jews, either by government or social groups, was found in 77 countries (39%) – a seven-year high. Jews are much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments. In Europe, for example, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries (76%).
  • South Korean court decriminalises adultery – South Korea’s top court has ruled that adultery is no longer a crime, revoking a 1953 law under which cheating spouses could be jailed for up to two years. South Korea was one of only three Asian countries to criminalise infidelity – about 5,500 people have been convicted since 2008.
2-03-2015 brains
  • Shake it off? Not so easy for people with depression, new brain research suggests – Rejected by a person you like? Just “shake it off” and move on, as music star Taylor Swift says. But while that might work for many people, it may not be so easy for those with untreated depression, a new brain study finds. The pain of social rejection lasts longer for them — and their brain cells release less of a natural pain and stress-reducing chemical called natural opioids, researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.