Paris Massacre, the Background & Climate Change Tipping Point. December 2015

 

images-3
World War 1 Christmas.  The Infojustice Journal

CHRISTMAS 2015.  MAN’S LAUGHTER or MAN SLAUGHTER? (Lord Thomas Babington Macauley, 1800 -1859)

CONTENTS

Back Ground to the Paris Massacre

Advance toward 1984 via the Spanish Civil War

Prequel to Paris Climate Conference

The Hurricane of Climate Change

Rural Bliss

 

 

Background to the November Paris Massacre

An article in Social Europe has placed the November Paris massacre into context, ‘The Paris Attack, the people are made to pay for disastrous Government policies’ (17 November, 2015), author Dr Mehmet Ugar, Professor of Economics, Greenwich University, London, is instructive. The paper was prompted by recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Ankara and Beirut.

The political elite of the Western World and despotic Middle East acolytes are closing ranks due to the growing realisation that Western Governments have been instrumental in the the rise of Islamic State due to the illegal support provided to the Taliban in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation and culminating in the current bombing in Syria of Islamic State forces. Bombing by Britain and Germany in WW2 did not achieve the objective of breaking the spirit of the people, it built up a strong will to survive and an intense hatred of the enemy.

Ordinary people are now asking questions on national security risk and its relation to Government support provided to various militias and partial warfare against the Islamic State. To call the Islamic State a ‘death cult’  trivialises the situation and does not promote understanding of the issues. This phenomenon  has erupted since Western powers intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq (Mission Accomplished!!), Libya and Syria. Despite religious rhetoric, Al Qaeda and Islamic State grew from the political misadventures forced on the Middle East by Western Governments. The terrorism and terrorist threats now endured by Western nations (as an unintended consequence) has been created from the death and destruction, the power vacuum and the supply of weapons facilitated by the West.

The images of Mission Accomplished’ (May 2003) – fantasy,  and a destroyed Russian war plane over Syria (November 2015) – reality, encapsulates Western policy in the Middle East.

 

Victory Speech, President Bush.
Mission Accomplished (fantasy) in Iraq. President Bush on USS Abraham Lincoln off California coast. May 2003. (AP photo, Scott Applewhite)

 

Destroyed Russian Warplane
Russian warplane shot down by Turkish fighters near Syrian-Turkish border (reality), November 2015. (BBC Europe)

The back ground to this current situation was the formation of a unipolar world following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This generated a push for market dominance by America and the embryonic European Union. The resulting policy was for a ‘democratisation’ of the Islamic Middle East to produce vast new markets for Western industry (economic colonialism). History has shown this policy to be an abject failure.  Likewise, when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, Western industry moved in slavering over the vast new markets (the Russian people).This was also a disappointment except for the luxury car manufacturers and legal/financial advisors.  As an aside ,economists are advising the West that it must develop markets in Africa if Capitalism is to thrive. Here the West is already on the ‘back foot’ due to an aggressive investment policy by China. Looking back at the history of European Empires, the prime mover for expansion was commerce swiftly followed by military force.

Our politicians do not remind us it was the United States who armed the Taliban to enable them to fight  the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, the Taliban then diverted American funds away from the failed state of Afghanistan. The invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s produced numerous Sunni fighters who formed Al Qaeda in Iraq and created the nucleus for the Islamic State militias in 2006. These groups recruited Sunnis who had lost their jobs and livelihoods under the occupation by American, Australian and other NATO – ISAF members (International Security Assistance Force). From this canvas, the West has created a dangerous Lemaean Hydra.

With the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, arms depots were looted and sent to Syria via Turkey, a NATO ally. It was the hope of the West this ordinance  would be used by militias to topple the Syrian President,  Assad. This policy was doomed since Syria is Russia’s only Middle Eastern ally, and Russia would obviously protect its Syrian naval base.

The reaction of Western Governments to the Paris massacre is not reassuring:

  • There is a security reflex action after the event which severely restricts the movement of people- the authorities must be seen to be doing something! As if on cue, at the Griffith lecture on the 2nd  December,  journalist Peter Gresta  stated Western Governments are becoming more repressive, are providing more ‘spin’ and journalists lives, are being made more difficult. Globally, millions in the Christian world are being ‘terrorised’ by tens of thousands from the Islamic world. Why?
  • Western Governments have failed to acknowledge any hand in the catastrophes in Libya, Syria and Iraq through their support of illegal armed militias. Western Governments outcry over the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Islamic State lack credibility since they are the source of the problem.
  • To heighten population anxiety, Western Governments  have not distinguished between political (in house ) terrorism and terrorist (Islamic State ) terrorism. There are examples of political terrorism in Turkey and the war against the Kurds who are battling Islamic State. The West has not challenged Turkey on this as it is regarded as a NATO partner with geopolitical and business advantages.

It is extraordinary that the G20 Summit has just been held in Turkey, despite the fact that the Government did not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist organisation until recently. Add to this the media restrictions and the state of emergency with the Kurds. Quite obviously, Turkey is important to NATO.  Again, extraordinarily, it has recently come to light there is an illegal oil trade between Turkey and Islamic State (Dr Alexy Moraviev, Curtain University). Credence has been given to this assertion by an ABC News Flash which statedTurkey had shot down the Russian warplane as it was disrupting the oil trade with Islamic State. In early December, CNN also announced the Russian warplane had been shot down to protect the oil trade with Islamic State. On RN Breakfast (3 December), a Terrorist Finance expert (DML Associates, Virginia) indicated Islamic State has an approximate income of $1.5 million  a day from oil fields under its control in Syria and Iraq. Regularly, oil tankers cross the border into Turkey.  The Assad Government also purchases oil from Islamic State.

Western policy has produced a twin-pronged terrorist recruitment problem:

  • The  numbers of the original disaffected Sunnis with military background are being reinforced by Iraqis and Syrians whose families have been destroyed by Western bombing, thereby generating a hatred for Western culture. From this will flow a desire to revenge their own dead and maimed families.
  • Young Sunni men and women in Europe, America and Australia  are open to radicalisation because Governments have not pursued active assimilation. As immigrants, these people feel marginalised and consider they do not have a future.

The announcement that America is to permit Special Forces to operate in Syria has the makings of a macabre Gilbert and Sullivan operetta:

  • Russian troops are in Syria protecting President Assad, a naval base and a military airfield. The troops are bombing Syrian militias who wish to depose Assad and have an interest in neutralising Islamic State just as Russia has concerns for discontent in its own Islamic underbelly.
  • Simultaneously, American forces will be in Syria to destroy the Islamic State and support freedom fighters whose objective is to remove Assad.
  • Both Powers (which include Royal Australian Air Force) are bombing military targets which will involve ‘collateral’ damage.
  • Also under this scenario Russians and Americans are on either side of a firing line.

In conclusion, ordinary citizens will continue to suffer from disastrous Western policies: there will be Government spin and less democratic freedom while  authoritarian regimes will be supported for commercial or strategic reasons. Take home message – always look behind the news. The general public is provided with an ‘approved’ version, not necessarily the unvarnished truth. Peter Gresta’s advice was to be skeptical  of all public information.

 

Advance toward 1984 via the 1936 Spanish Civil War

It is possible the ghost of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) now hovers over Syria. The antagonists in Spain were the ‘Right’ army (military and landowners) and the ‘Left’ army (battalions of workers). Fascist Germany and Italy supported the Right and the Soviet Union supported the Left. Historical comments show both Germany and Russia used the war to test and experiment with new techniques of mechanised warfare.

Enter the Syrian crisis onto the world stage: on the Left is Russia supporting a despotic Assad while on the Right are members of the   North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Both are engaging Islamic State but Russia is also fighting militias who wish to overthrow Assad while NATO members support and arm the militias –  a dark Gilbert and Sullivan travesty.  Both Russia and NATO forces  are using these hostilities to test precision bombing and other armaments. The disaster that is now Syria has been a ‘Godsend’ to the industrial-military complex which relishes increased sales and the opportunity to test the effectiveness of new weapons on humans.

Enter 1984 in the guise of 2016. George Orwell was a visionary. The current geopolitical situation appears as a progression toward ‘1984’ which is a fiction but current global trends are a concern. Orwell conceived eternal conflict between three global power blocks. There was no victor only shifting alliances to ensure no one power  block became dominant. The waring entities were:

  • Oceania comprising North America, South America, Britain, Southern Africa and Australia.
  • Eurasia comprising Russia and Western Europe.
  • Eastasia comprising China and East Asia.
  • Disputed comprising Central  Africa, India and South East Asia.

 

 

 

1984 World
The World of 1984 as envisaged by Orwell (Map 109, We Come From the Future)

The map is a fiction but it is inescapable that the world is verging towards three power blocks, China, Russia and North America. The current global situation appears to be that:

  • China is a rising military power which is increasing its grip over East Asia. Its foreign investment policy in Africa is vigorous.
  • Russia is flexing naval muscles in the Pacific and is causing NATO angst over Ukraine and Monte Negro and is sending shivers into the Baltic States.
  • The United States is on a shaky ‘pivot to Asia’, and appears to have no counter to China’s policy in the South China Sea. There is a quiet but serious struggle for influence with Russia over Syria.
  • It is important Australia clings tightly to ANZUS; it is not impossible that this continent might also become an Orwellian ‘Disputed Territory’ only valued for its mineral wealth. Is it possible Eastasia has already netted a 99-year lease on the port of Darwin?

The prognosis for 2016 is that current geopolitical trends will consolidate – some in the South China Sea are already set in concrete.

 

Prequel to the Paris Climate Conference

The world has moved from the benign Holocene climate to the benighted Anthropocene (Human Age) that brings fire, flood, hurricane, drought and species extinction. The bottom line of the PCC appears to be that, on present carbon dioxide equivalent pollution, global temperature in fifty years will rise to 2.7*C above baseline – catastrophe. To limit temperature to 2*C will still be a disaster while limiting to 1.5*C will be a calamity that might be managed. The entrails of the Conference have been spread across the planet, no further comment is warranted here.

Apparently, not given prominence was the nexus between global warming and ecological disaster, geopolitical hegemony and Capitalism that drives global commerce and global warming. Comment published by The Guardian (3 September) is relevant:

  • current Capitalism is an impediment to solving climate change,
  • successful Capitalism depends on perpetual economic growth, -this is no longer possible,
  • there is an inherent contradiction between Capitalism and environmental sustainability,
  • Capitalism requires inexhaustible natural resources and increasing production, markets, consumption and waste disposal,
  • neoliberal economic policy has failed; Governments must become more prescriptive and enact restrictive laws,
  • ecological rehabilitation, recycling and greenhouse gas reduction must proceed in lockstep.

 

Cause of Global warming
Capitalism – the cause of Global Warming.
(thewalrus.ca)

 

The cause of Global Warming People
The driver of Global Warming – Consumer Lifestyle.
(The Guardian, Sarah Lee)

A recent publication by E Colbert (2014), ‘Can Climate Change cure Capitalism? This makes for sombre reading:

  • global corporations have become to big too fail,
  • corporations distain civil society- commercial drivers are growth and profit, not the condition of the host country,
  • global corporations operate outside the law and are degrading natural capital,
  • global corporations are generating resentment around the world.

Enter now competitive hegemony and its corrosive addition to global warming. The Monthly Review (2009) published the paper by Dr J Forster, Sociology Department, Oregon University,  “A Failed System – The World Crisis of Capitalism and Globalisation and its effect on China”. In this sombre review, the spectre of  ‘1984’ (George Orwell) is emerging in a destabilised global community. There are three consuming problems:

  • A global financial crisis teetering towards stagflation or deflation. Society living under Capitalism is suffering income inequality and an inability to maintain employment equilibrium. The Achilles’ Heel of Capitalistic production is that it depends on the consuming power of society. The destabilisation of the MiddleEast, the implosion of the Soviet Union and slow African development has not produced the anticipated markets required necessary for a Capitalistic hegemonic power block to survive.
  • An ecological collapse may be a greater threat than a financial collapse. With global temperature around 0.9*C above pre-industrial levels, ecological disasters are sweeping the planet, namely deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, ocean acidification, water shortage, species extinction, industrial and human pollution, polar ice loss and cancerous urban growth.
  • There is increasing imperial global instability originating in a struggle for hegemony and natural resources. Perhaps ‘winning hearts and minds’ has now been replaced by ‘bomb the bastards’ or ‘lock them up’. The cult of Capitalism, by its nature, is ‘imperial’. The ‘centre’ controls the process while the ‘periphery’ provides natural resources and the markets. Originally, both China and Russia were dependant satellites of Western Capitalism; now this is changing as new power blocks are rising to challenge American hegemony.

Capitalism and its impact on the Global Community. The concentration of power (economic, financial, communication, industrial, military) is intrinsic to capitalism as a global system since the world economy was based on wealth accumulation at the ‘centre’.

The Capitalistic world is most stable when there is a single hegemonic power, i.e. Britain in 19th century and America in 20th century. The rise of China is precipitating hegemonic instability and the  the financial system is verging toward crisis. The rise of China and Russia constitute a tectonic geopolitical shift in the Capitalistic system and this can precipitate ecological disaster as military activity ramps up. With decline in power of the United States relative to China, the United States has sought to gain resources and political dominance by establishing military bases round the globe. America regards China as its ultimate major competitor and views with concern its active roll in African resource development. It also has concern for a China-Iran alliance –  to counter this America has a pact with India.  Although the United States and China have strong trade ties the rise of China and the relative decline of United States influence is generating a tense relationship. Current flash points are the  military activity in the South China Sea and the ‘string of pearls’ maritime bases (including Darwin) terminating in the oil rich Persian Gulf.

For Capitalism to flourish wealth must be maintained at the ‘centre’ which was ‘The City’ (London) and ‘Wall Street (New York). The financial centre of gravity is moving eastward across Eurasia towards China.  America now worries about the strength of its dollar. To remain relevant as an economic power, America must maintain its trade settlement and reserve currency status. Currently China is seeking to globalise the renminbi to trade financing capacity and become a currency of last resort. Ultimate international acceptance would weaken United States financial influence. Currently China holds over $600 billion of US Treasury debt: if America devalued, China would regard this as a hostile act of expropriation. The other horn of this dilemma is if China moves away from the dollar this could destabilise the United States and the world economic order.

In the 21st century, classic geopolitical Capitalist theory requires the control of the rim lands of Eurasia, this is in line with American ‘Pivot to Asia’ to ensure economic and military dominance.

Capitalism (production and consumption) is the principal cause of global warning. It is regarded as a failed system by economic experts for several reasons:

  • There  is a threat of global deflation worse than in the 1930s,
  • Ecological disasters due to industrial/economic activity threaten the planet,
  • Neoliberal Capitalism is now discredited,
  • America has attempted to regain hegemony by a ‘War on Terror’
  • At the time of the Global Financial Crisis, the banking industry was bailed out by $4400 billion while the climate change program only netted $13 billion.

Martin Wolf, Chief Economist, (Financial Times Oct. 2015) is concerned the global economic system could break down as in the 1930s. This situation is partly due to the policy of mercantilist countries (China, Germany, Japan) running a large surplus, with insufficient internal demand –  there was a policy of dumping on distressed markets.

Capitalism has been in a long term crisis which has resulted in depression economics as a general global situation. Among ‘democratic’ populations there is now a perception that industrial Capitalism and consumerism are responsible for global warming and ecological disasters. Concurrent with this realisation is the rise of three competing power blocks, America (Oceania), Russia (Eurasia) and China (Eastasia). Collegial cooperation, to ensure global warming objectives, will be more difficult to maintain due to their competing quest for hegemony and resources.

Final Comment. The international community has to surmount several issues if global warming reduction is to become reality:

  • vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • sequester carbon in sinks, soils, forests, geological formations
  • commence massive recycle programs
  •  reduce product choice in consumerism
  • create a new form of Capitalism based on less consumerism
  • encourage ecologically friendly industries with commensurate returns on investment

Scientific advice is that it will take several decades for current greenhouse gases to work through the system: climatic conditions will continue to deteriorate before improving. Complicating progress will be the three global powers battling for supremacy.

 

The Hurricane of Climate Change

Behind the glitz, carols and incantations of Christmas it has been despair and devastation for millions. The disasters below all encompass the ‘Festive Season’ – on their own an unfortunate occurrence, globally a portent as clear as the ‘Star over Bethlehem’. According to NOAA, globally 2015 was the hottest year to date with the Pacific and Indian Oceans being the warmest ever. Australia’s BOM reports the warmest year for Sydney. The cartoon again illustrates that the lifestyle of Anthropocene mankind is coming back to bite it.

 

Cause of Global warming
Earth responds to its Rape and Pillage
(thewalrus.ca)

A partial picture across the ‘Festive Season’:

  • Australia: flooding south of Darwin, bush fire along the Great Ocean Road, the Kurnell tornado, the South Australian heatwave.
  • Argentina-Paraquay-Brazil-Uruquay: worst floods in fifty years, over 150,000 flee to safety.
  • North America: extensive bush fires in California, floods in Missouri, tornados and blizzards inTexas and New Mexico.
  • England: severe flooding in north and central regions, over 2,000 homes affected.
  • Philippines: typhoon Melor affects over 700,000 people.
  • Ethiopia: drought and famine, over 350,000 children severely undernourished.
  • India: worst floods for over 100 years in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Vatican: ongoing corruption and sleaze trial! (ABC RN Breakfast, 30 December)

 

Rural Bliss

Despite dire warnings of a dry El Nińo weather event, November/December rainfall was seven inches, dams are full, creeks are flowing. For an El Nińo the Southern Oscillation Index is inconsistent –  falling from minus 18 (av.) Sept/Oct to minus 6 (av.) Nov/Dec. Moisture laden winds from the Indian Ocean and East Coast lows are providing unexpected rain. With the Indian and Pacific Oceans’ sea surface temperatures abnormally high the SOI has been driven lower but the El Nińo is still causing havoc in South America and southern Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Violence, Radicalisation, Multiculturalism, Elephants in the Room. November 2015.

Elephants in the Room
Elephants in the Room
(ngm.nationalgeographic.com
Brent Sturton)

Elephants in the Room

The Paris Massacre – Guerilla Warfare

Terrorism v Tourism

Harbingers of Climate Change or Coincidence

Pyrrhic Victory

 

 

THE ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM

Preamble

  • During recent months, Australians have been exposed to and shaken by activities that are widely reported but the fundamental  causes are clearly not discussed and thus remain ‘elephants in the room’. In most situations the common denominator is innate human  behaviour. The activities  with problems for government are domestic (male) violence (5.8%), radicalism (0.03%) and multiculturalism (1.9%) of the population. The following will hopefully broaden the discussion. (Reference – % of population)
  • 5.8% – Women and Safety Survey, ABS, 2005
  • 0.03% – Professor Riaz, University of South Australia
  • 1.9% – Pew Research Institute, Washington

 

Domestic (Male) Violence

Despite its prevalence there appears to have been little discussion on the nature of domestic violence perpetrators. Comment below only applies to Australians of Caucasian origin (The Second People). This is a society where moral and probity values are weakening and where partnering or cohabitation is replacing marriage. The National Crime Vctimisation Survey (2005) reported that between 1979 and 1987, 65%  of crimes on women were committed by boyfriends or ex-husbands where as only 9% were committed by husbands. It was also determined that aggression was twice as violent among cohabiters as it was among married couples. A fundamental problem is that male cohabiters are prone to seek variation while cohabiting females regard the activity as a prelude to marriage. (Domestic violence in marriage versus cohabitational relationships, Citizen Link, June 2010). A factor apparently not considered is the relationship between male violence and the propensity to watch pornography and X-rated violent movies. This must be clarified.

A News Flash on ABC RN mentioned the increasing prevalence  of binge drinking among white middle-class young women. It is a recognised fact that there are social problems among young single mothers in Australia who end up cohabiting with several male partners – domestic violence can then occur. A recent report on child abuse, ‘Australian Statistics on Domestic Violence’, did not differentiate between married and informal relationships but it is an inescapable fact that news bulletins include stories of male cohabiters harming children. (Taking sex differences seriously, Encounter Books, Roads, 2004.)

Family Violence
Family Violence and Destruction of Childhood (123RF)

The human is an omnivorous mammal only ‘recently’ controlled by social custom. In nature, it is a fact that male primates and carnivorous animals will perpetrate lethal violence on off-spring not their own. Have cohabiting male humans totally lost their primal urges? Domestic violence  could be reduced if there was a return to more responsible living. This is not possible in our permissive society. This is  the elephant in the room.

 

Radicalisation

A month after a Police employee was shot dead by a Muslim youth in Western Sydney, the NSW Government has announced a deradicalisation program directed primarily at young Muslims ‘at risk’. The $47 million package is designed to identify and fight violent extremism. About $15 million will fund teams of experts who  will, with cooperation of school staff, seek to identify and ‘detoxify’ young radicals. The Prime Minister has essentially defined the tenor of the program by a public statement that called for rooting out of evil, punishing wrong doers and applying forceful law. Persons of interest will be as young as fourteen.

State Power
Premier Baird and NSW Police Chief Skipione  announcing the program.         (Photo Nic Walker.)

The policy seeks to determine the immediate cause of radicalisation but there appears to be little effort in seeking out the deeper issues that make the young mind susceptible in the first place. This is an elephant the Government has difficulty with. The deeper issues were spelt out in my October blog where experts indicated that Muslim youth needs to anticipate a life of hope and fulfilment. Currently there is a feeling of exclusion and poor job prospects – these young people do not feel part of Australian society. The current approach of requiring teachers to report signs of ‘radicalism’ is likely to be counter productive and will tend to encourage community resentment according to a Federal Government counter terrorism expert, Andrew Zammit, University of Melbourne.

Muslim Demonstration.
Muslim Demonstrators and Police, Hyde Park. (The Australian, October 2015, Simon Bullard.)

Throughout history no ruling elite has been able to destroy the human spirit when ideology is combined with a religious faith. Conviction is not destroyed by punishment or incarceration,  it is merely driven underground. How many times has the phrase  winning ‘hearts and minds’ been uttered in the last century. Examples of survival against persecution where the human spirit prevailed against force:

  • Rome, persecution of Christians
  • China, persecution of Falon Gong
  • Turkey, genocidal activities against the Kurds
  • Europe, Catholic and Protestant warfare

The ‘elephant in the room’ is a combination of the Australian Government being unable to sustain a multicultural policy that engenders a sense of belonging and fulfilment among young people, and unable to combat a vocal rump of Australians who are openly hostile to Muslims.

 

Multiculturism

Australia has not yet buried the backlog of prejudice from its Colonial and early Federation past: the multicultural policy is starting to show rents and tears in the fabric as intolerant factions organise anti-Muslim demonstrations. It should not be forgotten that this continent was rediscovered by Afghan Muslim cameleers as well as explorers and graziers.

Australia is now facing a cultural shift as Muslims from the Middle East make their home in Australia – they are here to stay. To place  the  second great Islamic migration in perspective, the Pew Research Institute has compiled  information on the Muslim component of European countries.

CountryYearPercent YearPercent (est.)
Britain20112.520308.2
France201111.0203010.0
Germany20105.020307.1
Denmark20104.120305.6
Australia20111.920302.8

According  to a Morgan poll, requested by the Q Society (an anti Islamist group) and published in Front Page, New York (Nov. 2013), which indicates Australians have unfavourable views on Muslims, the summarised results are:

  • 70% are not better off because of Islam
  • 53% want full-face covering banned
  • 85% think Islam and terrorism are related
  • 96% want Christmas, Easter and ANZAC to remain unchanged

By comparison, the results of a Social Cohesion Survey (Oct. 2015) by the Scanlon Foundation and Monash University also record a negative attitude to Muslims. Results show 5% of respondents have a negative attitude to Christian and Buddhist faiths but 25% show negative attitude towards the Muslim faith. Around 85% considered multiculturalism good for Australia but, on the basis of the survey, Muslims would not have been included.

Among Caucasian Australians, there is a growing concern the Muslim population is increasing too rapidly. The Pew Research Institute has estimated that between 2010 and 2030 the Muslim population will increase by 80% but the non Muslim (mainly Caucasian Australians) will only increase by 18%, i.e. Muslim numbers will increase from 399,000 (1.9%) to 800,000  (2.8%). Growth is expected to slow after 2030. By 2100 the Institute estimates the Muslim population will be 6.5% .

The problem for Australia is that immigrants from the Middle East are totally different from Greeks and Italians (1950s) and the Vietnamese (1960s). The former were Christians and the latter Buddhists; both rapidly merged into the ‘bull dust’. The Middle Eastern immigrants, mainly from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, are very publicly devout Muslims, it is this obvious outward manifestation that Australians find disconcerting. Doubly disconcerting is the Pew Institute estimate that by 2050 the Australian population will be 31% professed Christian and 30% devout Muslim. This illustrates drift by Australians away from  their Christian roots.

Chullora Mosque
Chullora Mosque
Knowledge is Light, Worship is Worship
Funded by King Fahd, Saudi Arabia

Comments by Professor Michael Humphrey, Sydney University, and Professor Riaz Hassan, University of South Australia, confirm the plight of Muslims in Australia. Muslims do suffer from their non-white status and social marginalisation. The practice of fasting, veiling and praying  are a challenge to conformity in the public space. Muslim wages tend to be lower than the national average, only 5%  earn over $1,000  a week compared with the national average of 11%.  Muslims are over represented in NSW jails being 9% of the prisoners  but less than 3% of the population. Professor Hassan makes the point that of approximately 500,000 Muslims only 150 have been radicalised (less than 0.03%). Australia apparently has more anti-terrorism laws than any other country.

Comment

As Islamic influence increases in Australia, there will be push-back by Caucasian Australians (The Second People!). The situation in Europe provides a sense of the future events in Australia. Multiculturism, as conceived in Australia, never envisaged a competing faith in a Christian country. Competing faiths seldom exist in harmony within the same national boundary. This is the ‘elephant in the room’ for the Government to manage.

 

THE PARIS MASSACRE – GUERRILLA WARFARE

Islamic State Guerrillas
Islamic State Guerrillas
(news.yahoo.com}

Why France? France has the highest proportion (11%) of Muslims in Europe. It is well known that many Muslims born after 9/11 have not been assimilated into the French community; they feel rejected and marginalised – a fertile breeding ground for subversion.

The Islamic State prosecutes guerrilla war against the West as well as Arab communities. Guerrilla warfare has several consequences:

  • it ties down many more defenders than attackers
  • it is  more costly for the defenders than the attackers
  • the guerrillas will frequently find support and safety within the community under attack
  • guerrillas can obtain their objective, if not immediately, then as time goes by
  • it is not easy to stamp out guerrilla activity by harsh retaliation since ideological resolve is bolstered by unquenchable faith.

Examples of guerrilla warfare are:

  • Malaya – The Emergency – unusually this Chinese fighting force was virtually destroyed
  • Afghanistan – The Taliban – this force has revived after American withdrawal
  • Vietnam – Communist Insurgency – guerrillas prevailed and Americans were forced to withdraw
  • Gaza – Hezbollah – long running battles with Israel
  • South Africa – African National Congress – ultimately gained political power
  • Ireland – Home Rule- Irish won independence from Britain

None of the above closely reflect war with the Islamic State in terms of political objective. In this situation there are two guerrilla variants: first, the hardline fighters in Syria and Iraq and those who have returned; second, the young Muslims – the ‘fertile ground’ – comprising those with empty and marginalised lives in France, Australia, elsewhere in Europe and America. A young French woman, after the massacre on 14 November, wept into the microphone “What has happened to us?” What has happened is the unthinking neglect by the French Government resulting in the lost ‘hearts and minds’ of a large section of the Muslim population. Australia is in the same predicament. In a comment on ABC RN (16 Nov.) Senator Marise Payne, Minister of Defence, is the first politician who (to my knowledge) has used the term ‘hearts and minds’. Until France can provide an inclusive sense of domicile for young Muslims, a fertile ground for insurrection will grow and strengthen. Raising the drawbridge and lowering the portcullis will achieve little since the home grown enemy is within. The same applies to Australia.

Whether the Islamic State is destroyed is up to the military and the politicians but, as in the Malayan Emergency, it would need to be total. Currently Western powers are in Austria discussing a negotiated political settlement, as with many negotiated settlements following guerrilla warfare all parties sit at the ‘table’. Would Islamic State have a seat at the ‘table’?

Following the Paris bombings on the 13th November the Australian Prime Minister addressed Parliament on the 24th November. There appeared to be an ‘elephant in the room’ omission.  For Australia the future ‘enemy within’ (leaving out those adult fighters who wish to return) will be the disaffected and  marginalised children of appreciative Muslim immigrants. The speech alluded to “young minds need assistance” but the problem may be the Australian people  might lack the enthusiasm to fully win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of young Muslims  and provide them with a rich and rewarding future. Young minds are susceptible to radicalisation because what is on offer is more attractive than their long term future in the suburbs  of Australian cities.

 

TERRORISM V TOURISM

Sharmel el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh holiday hotels, Red Sea. (shutterstosck.com)

Following the downing of a Russian airliner, an ABC RN comment caught my ear. Russia was sending 44 aircraft to pick up  about 11,000  stranded holiday makers and Britain was sending 14. This was a major airlift. The holiday capacity of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea is boggling – there are 62,000 rooms (minimum 124,000 guests) – and is responsible for 33% of Egyptian tourist trade. Small  wonder there is such reluctance to attribute the disaster to terrorism.

 

HARBINGERS of CLIMATE CHANGE or COINCIDENCE

A juxtaposition of natural events could be considered coincidence or there could be a more sinister interpretation. How relevant is the information below to the imminent Paris Conference on Global Warming? The apparently unrelated events are:

  • Another case of meningitis encephalitis caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri has been identified. This parasite thrives in fresh water. North-west Queensland graziers have been instructed to chlorinate all water from lakes, dams, creeks and bores prior to domestic consumption.
Naegleria fowleri
Naegleria fowleri, a waterborne amoeba parasite.

 

Contaminated bore water. (Marc Smith)
Water probably contaminated by Naegleria fowleri, north-west Queensland.(Marc Smith)
  • The BOM has announced the Sydney minimum winter temperatures are the highest ever recorded.
  • South-eastern Australia for the past six months has been under the influence of an El Niño. The sea surface temperature in the central Pacific, at 2.4 *C above the average, is the highest ever recorded. The Southern Oscillation Index, a measure of the intensity of the El Niño at minus 21.3 for October, is among some of the lowest recorded. (Qld. Gov. Dept. of Science.)
  • For a large area of south-eastern Australia which should be experiencing hot dry El Niño conditions, the region is having unusual widespread heavy rain from Southern Ocean ‘lows’ that are bringing rain from the south east, that is, the Tasman Sea. This is unexpected.

Individually these events are unusual but combined, over a common time frame, there could be a sinister significance.

 

PYRRHIC VICTORY

It is incredible that a month after the announcement on the 99-year lease of Port Darwin to Chinese interests the Labor Party has, at last,  raised the matter of due diligence with the Government. This is an amazing situation. The Secretary of Defence, Denis Richardson, has mentioned Government is maintaining a watching brief but the silence on informed comment is deafening.

Darwin Port is well placed to service the planned multi-million dollar oil and gas activity in the Arafura and Timor Seas. Prior to the Port acquisition the Landridge Group acquired a 31% controlling interest in  Westside Corporation for $178 million (Aust. Bus. Review, July 2014), coal seam LNG will be exported to China through Gladstone. Is Darwin about to become and oil and gas hub controlled by foreign investors?

 

 

 

 

Xenophobic Australia & Islam in Australia. OCTOBER 2015

 

The Author
The Author, Winter Antarctic Vortex, Circular Quay, Sydney.,2015

The Clash of Cultures

Xenophobic Australia

The Prime Minister is Sacked.  Long Live the Prime Minister

A Pyrrhic Victory?

Rural Bliss

 

The Clash of Cultures

The assassination of a NSW Police employee by a 15 year old Muslim youth has promoted verbal heat and smoke but not much light. Except for the Prime Minister, politicians have indulged in platitudes while experts have contributed to an intellectual discussion on the emerging problem,  the ‘radicalisation’ of Australian youth. This contribution will summarise Government knee jerk reaction, reasoned comment by specialists and a wrap-up discussion.

Initial Government reaction is to consider more restrictive anti-terrorist legislation (control orders and 28 day detention) and an exhortation to schools, mothers and clerics to do more to identify incipient ‘radicalism’.

Not in my Name
Young Muslims against Jihad (telegraph.com.uk)

Informed comment has been made by several including:

  • Fergal Davis, Director, Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW
  • Charlie Winter, Senior Researcher, Quilliam Foundation, UK
  • Brett Walker, SC. Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Canberra
  • Ahmed Fahour, CEO, Australia Post

Fergal Davis  (The World today, 13 Oct 2015) considers it is a mistake for Government to enact more laws. Current laws , if used intelligently, are adequate. The UK experience is that ‘control orders’ are not a very useful investigatory tool. The problem is that the Government must be seen to be doing ‘something’. In the UK ‘control orders’ had a chilling effect on investigations and inhibited ready cooperation with the local community. The UK is now rolling back some of its anti-terror laws. In the UK, the 28 day detention is no longer used and detention without charge is limited to 14 days. In Australia,  an increase in anti-terror legislation will require more resources and this will be difficult. Davis thought Government policy should not be tougher – just a lot smarter. He is concerned the extension of ‘control orders’ will antagonise the community and make it less cooperative.

Charlie Winter is an expert on Transnational Jihadism and is advisor to the UK Parliament and the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, Washington. His major concern is that Muslim youth must be given a life of hope and fulfilment; currently there is a sense of exclusion and poor job prospects.

Brett Walker SC considered that tough new laws will be counter productive and that extending the reach of ‘control orders’ will produce resentment in the local community.

Ahmed Fahour  The Australian Government made Fahour Special Envoy  to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation whose objective is to safeguard  the interest of Muslims by encouraging peace and harmony. His concern is that Muslim youth require improved opportunity and a greater sense of belonging to Australia.

By contrast, Prime Minister Turnbull has come out with a strong exhortation to root out evil, punish wrong doers and respond to threats that challenge authority with forceful law. A polarised situation.

Comment  Australian authorities are calling on schools, mothers and clerics to be the front line to identify ‘radicalising’ behaviour. Behind this facade the Government has a monumental problem it is reluctant to expose. Adult immigrants, arriving in Australia from the Arab world, appreciate the opportunity to start a new life and they work to improve their situation. Their young children, however, grow up under an Islamic tradition and gradually become aware of their marginalised condition and an inability to participate in Australia’s nominally Christian democracy. Academics and experts have alluded to this problem, the adjective ‘hopeless’ being expressed. For Australia to confront this problem, it will require a policy of ‘inclusiveness’ into a Western society. Ed Husic, Western Sydney Federal MP (ABC RN, 15 Oct 2015) made the prescient comment that fertile ground must be available for ‘radicalisation’ to take root. This is the ‘elephant herd’ in our community but the Government is refusing to openly discuss it.

The Jerusalem Post (13 Oct 2015) has reported a spate of attacks on Jews by Palestinians. Among the killers were two boys of 13 and 17  years. They had nothing to lose by taking up weapons.  Comment was made on the ‘hopeless’ situation  that many Palestinians believe they are in. For Australia, are young citizens being ‘radicalised’ because they have a perception that their prospects within Australian society are hopeless – an understanding that seeps into them from a young age? Amidst all the political rhetoric there appears to be no serious endeavour to understand why young people are being ‘radicalised’.

A factor, not given publicity but possibly relevant  in the ‘radicalisation’ mix, is that the vast majority of Muslims in Australia are Sunni (Islam in Australia, 2015). The civil war in Syria pits Assad Alawites (Shia) against the Sunni majority. The Sunni ISIS phenomena, in part, owes its origin to the chaos in Syria and the power vacuum in Iraq. It is not lost on better-informed Australian Sunni citizens that Australia has done nothing to reduce the genocide by Assad. With Russian entry  into this theatre an opportunity has been lost.

The Sequel  Within two weeks of the assassination of the police employee, the Australian Prime Minister arranged a Canberra conference on ‘Radicalisation’; delegates appeared to be only police and bureaucrats. A communiqué afterwards appeared to deal only with identification and suppression of radicalism. It did not appear to consider “fertile ground” and the opinions expressed by Davis, Winter, Walker, Fahour, Husic and others. It may be that Australia has only the choice of two options:

  1. A legal forceful approach
  2. Address issues relating to ‘fertile ground’

Obviously a combination of these two is the only acceptable option. Banning Islam would destroy the reputation of a multi-cultural Australia.

Footnote  According to the 2011 Census there are 476,291 Muslims in Australia (2.2% of the population and almost 50% are under 24 years old. ( House of Representatives, Social Policy, March 2007). Kevin Andrews, former Minister of Immigration and Defence, in an updated statement (SBS, 24 Feb 2014) warned that Australia should have a serious discussion on the growth of the Muslim population.

 

Xenophobic Australia

In recent months Australia has witnessed demonstrations by fringe collectives against Muslim immigrants. Heavy-handed Government action might drive them underground but, as in Europe, they will not be silenced. These groups also require ‘deradicalisation’.
Some details below:

  • Australian Defence League  This group is based on the English Defence League. There are alleged to be thousands of Facebook users. The League obtains spiritual nourishment from the Q Society associated with the radical Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. The leader of the ADL is a believed to be Mr R Cerminara (ABC News 24/12/2014). The membership appears to be undistinguished. It has been revealed that RAN crew employed on Operation Sovereign  are members and supporters of the Australian Defence League. (newmatilda.com 29/1/2014)
  • Reclaim Australia  This is alleged to be an inclusive collective of nationalities and faiths making a stand against racial extremism. This body seeks patriotic Australians who wish to protect the Australian ‘way of life’. The objective is to is to reclaim lost rights and resist a declining Christian dominance diluted by multiculturalism. The leader is Mr D Nilliah. (SBS, 8/10/2015) The membership is sometimes audible but undistinguished.
  • United Patriotic Front   A nation wide movement opposing Left Wing ideology and the spread of Islam. It is an offshoot from Reclaim Australia. Apparently there are several leaders but at the apex is a Mr S Burgess. Members may be vocal but undistinguished.
Fringe Party Supporter
Right Wing Party Member (herald sun.com)
  • The Australian Liberal Alliance  Mr Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP and leader of the ‘Party for Freedom’ in Holland with 12% of the democratic vote, has assisted in the formation of the Australian Liberty Alliance Party. The objective of both parties is to stop the spread of Islam in Holland and Australia. Three candidates, Bernard Gaynor, Kirralee Smith, Debbie Robinson, (all educated) will stand for Senate positions at the next election. This party will differ from its Australian counterparts in that membership will tend to be more intellectually distinguished.
ALA, Senate candidates
Australian Liberal Alliance Senate candidates. (ABC, Glynn Jones)

Comment  With the exception of the Australian Liberal Alliance, membership of these organisations appears to be more xenophobic than intellectual, however, they are able to interest and co-opt rowdy supporters. Culminating activity this month was in Bendigo objecting to mosque construction. The Government must recognise this situation is another deradicalisation and education problem. My July Blog alluded to this problem of the radicalising of electorates. Australia is never far behind Western Europe.

 

The Prime Minister is sacked. Long live the Prime Minister

Soon after the demise of Prime Minister Abbott, the Director of the Australian Liberal Party, Brian Loughnane, opined that Mr Abbott could have won the next election. Loughnane has missed the point. Abbott was sacked because attributes necessary to run a positive export-oriented economy were lacking. The Directors ( Members of Parliament) considered a competent CEO, not a ‘talented’ individual, was required. This was a hardheaded decision based on non-performance and a lack of confidence in leadership qualities. Until politicians make appointments based on competence, not talent, Australia will languish as a viable democracy. 

 

A Pyrrhic Victory?

Th 99 year lease for the port of Darwin granted to Landbridge, owned by Chinese billionaire Ye Cheng, is riveting news. Consideration is $506 million for an 80% interest. The agreement requires $200 million  on capital works over the next 25 years with $35 million to be expended by 2020. The plan is to create a massive entrepôt for Northern Australia. Defence officials in Canberra are discussing security implications and the Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute is reported to be wary. (World Today, 15 Oct 2015) To ensure access to the port, the Australian Defence Department has a fifteen year agreement in place. Both American and Australian naval sources indicate the port is not suitable for modern requirements. The Government has therefore approved an $18 million construction budget for a military barge facility for giant amphibious ships near Darwin.

Strangely, the NT Chief Minister (NT News, 16 October) has refused to say if lease arrangements were discussed with the US marines based in Darwin. The port facilities are vitally important to their current activities. No comment from Washington has been sighted. Each year the US navy carries out multinational military exercises and hosts foreign warships in the port. One of the corner stones of the US ‘pivot to Asia’ and cooperation with Australia is based out of Darwin. Back tracking, the Ghan railway to Darwin was completed by Haliburton, a major contracting group for the US military. It is part of a military strategy that would not have considered a Chinese presence. Dr Bateman, University of Wollongong, has made comment that China has acquired an interest in ports from the South China Sea, across the Indian Ocean to the Gulf States for commercial reasons. Historically, commercial shipping is always followed by naval protection. Darwin will now be pendant to the Chinese ‘string of pearls’.

Darwin Port
Darwin Wharves (NT Times)

Some hanging questions:

  • Will Chinese military personnel or equipment be based at the port?
  • What protocols will be required of Australian and American warships to enter a privately owned harbour?
  • Under international maritime law, does any vessel have the right to enter a privately owned port within designated sea lanes?
  • Considering the implication of ANZUS and potential tension with China, what are scenario alternatives?
  • Fifty years hence, will this arrangement be considered the precursor to an antipodean Hong Kong?
USS Larsen
USS Larsen on patrol (Reuters. US Navy)

In late October a United States navy guided missile destroyer, USS Larsen,  cruised within 12 miles of the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea. This action has deliberately escalated tension between China and America.  Are there implications for the port of Darwin? (www.theblaze.com and ABC News)

 

Rural Bliss

Drought
Drought

Over 80% of Queensland remains in an extended drought. El Niño is now increasing its grip on south eastern Australia.
May animal suffering be rare and short.

–––ooo–––

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2015 CURRENT AFFAIRS FLASHPOINTS

Arriving in European Waters
Asylum  Seekers arriving in European Waters (Indian Express)

Asylum seekers are persons made in God’s image and are worthy of respect and dignity. (Genesis 1:26,28)

Democracy means Government by discussion, but is only effective if you can stop people talking. (Clement  Attlee,1957)

 

The Great Migrations (John Hayward, 2008, Quercus.)

The Politics of Failing Democracy

The Prime Minister is sacked. Long live the Prime Minister.

Rural Bliss and the Winds  of Climate Change

 

The Great Migrations

Since mankind migrated “Out of Africa” more than 100,000 years ago, small bands, tribal groups and populations have been driven out of their homelands by war or famine.  Their fate has either been absorption into a host culture or they have forged their own culture onto resisting indigenous inhabitants.

To place the current migration “Out of Africa” and “Out of the Middle East” into context, I have referred to John Haywood’s tome – The Great Migrations.  The decade 2010-2020 will be a critical one for western Christendom; its very foundations and future culture are to be tested.  Examples of significant migrations in the 19th and 20th centuries are instructive:w

  • The Boer Great Trek in southern Africa between 1835-1840.  The Boers were driven north to form the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, in all some 25,000 were involved.
  • The Trail of Tears – North America.  Between 1830-1840 over 100,000 Red Indians were forced off their lands by the United States Government to make way for new settlers.
  • Indian Migration in the British Empire between 1834-1947.  Movements of indentured Indian labour following the abolition of slavery, in millions were – Malaya 1.75, Burma 1.16, Ceylon 2.3, Africa 0.19.  During the partition of India in 1947, some 6.5 million Hindus fled from Pakistan and around 7 million Muslims fled from India.
  • The Armenian Genocide and Migration.  Over 80,000 Armenians fled to the United States following Turkish genocide between 1894-1896.  Another great wave of migration followed the 1915-1922  Ottoman slaughter of some 1.4 million Armenians.
  • Second World War and Aftermath – 1939-1972.  Europe was unstable for many years after WWII.  Nazi Germany had conscripted millions of Eastern Europeans into their war effort while millions of Ukrainian Slavs were displaced.  Finally, when the Soviet armies advanced over Europe  millions of Slavs and Eastern Europeans fled westward, never to return to their homes.
  • In 1989,  the Civil War in Greece generated by Russian ambition created 700,000 Greek refugees.
  • From the 1950s onwards, thousands of West Indians, Indians and Pakistanis migrated to Britain.  Germany encouraged thousands of Turkish “guest workers” and France encouraged the migration of thousands of Africans.  All these immigrant movements are now leading to increasing civil tension.
  • In 1994, the Ruanda civil war between Hutu and Tutsi, resulted in 1.75 million refugees destabilising much of Central Africa.

In volume and complexity, the current refugee/asylum seeker assault on Western Europe is on a par with the great people movements after WWII.  However, there is one fundamental difference– the vast majority are Muslim which will have a long term effect on the Christian character of Europe.

The basic facts on the current waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East are provided by Amnesty International (4 Sept. 2015).  Currently there are around 4 million displaced Syrians.  Over 95% are supported in camps (in millions):  in Lebanon – 1.2; Jordan – 0.65; Turkey – 1.9; Egypt – 0.13; Iraq – 0.25.  Also, within Iraq there are 3 million internally displaced persons (IDP). The UNHCR (18 June, 2015) states 219,000 Mediterranean crossings have been undertaken.

Since the commencement of the refugee crisis following American Middle East ‘adventures’, only 104,000 resettlement places have been offered globally while over 400,000 Syrians require immediate resettlement.  According to The Guardian (30 July 2015), Germany is expecting 450,000 refugees in 2015 and so far this year, 180,000 have applied for asylum.

 

Boat Arrivals to Europe
Boat arrivals (‘000s), Jan-June 2015 (UNHCR-Graph 3a)

Amnesty International (September 2015) has noted telling trends in international refugee acceptance:

  • The Gulf States, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait refuse to accept refugees.
  • Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea refuse to accept refugees.
  • Germany will resettle 350,000 in 2015 (75% of EU total), a later figure of 800,000 has been quoted. The German decision may prove to be farsighted as this intake will provide labour for future German industry.
  • Germany and Sweden have received 47% (of EU intake) of Syrian refugees between 2011 and July 2015.
  •  Remaining EU countries have pledged 8,700 resettlement places – 0.2% of Syrian refugees.
  • Australia has committed to resettle 12,000 refugees.

For Western Europe and the United Nations, the great international problem is to impose stability and rule of law, not democracy, on rogue states that are exporting refugees.  Resettled adult refugees will become good industrious citizens, however, young marginalised offspring will become a next generation problem – trawling grounds for a future terrorist organisation.  Penultimately, where in the world do two totally different faiths peacefully co-exist inside the same national boundary?

 

Overloaded Vehicle
Overloaded vehicle leaving  Central African Republic. (Humanconcern.org)

Hidden from the radar of the chattering classes is the continuing refugee  tragedy in central Africa. The Central African Republic is embroiled in the old chestnut  of the Christian-Muslim antagonism. Since December 2013 more than 930,000 have been displaced and have fled to Cameroon, Chad, Congo and Democratic Congo Republic (UNHCR Operation Profile, CAR, January, 2015).

An ultimate looming threat is that climate change may cause further instability in the Sahal and the Middle East.  There is a long term rocky road ahead.

The mega picture is that by end of 2014 there were 59.5 million people forcibly displaced from their homes  and are now asylum seekers, refugees and IDPs. In 2014 13.9 million people became newly displaced and the situation is worsening (UNHCR, Worldwide Displacement, 18 June, 2015).

In 1961, Bertrand Russell wrote ‘Has Man a Future?’ This was followed up  by ‘Civilised Man’s Eight Deadly Sins’ written by Konrad Lorenz in 1974. The question must be asked but will not be answered – has the United Nations lost the ability to save humanity from itself?

The Politics of Failing Democracy

The Western Democracies may be witnessing the rise of a totally modern unstable democratic system.  The current democratic model has probably reached a tipping point where now perhaps over 50% of the “western” populations are feeling economic and social pain.

The first of the new political leaders are Jeremy Corben – Labour, UK and Bernie Sanders, Democrate Presidential aspirant, USA.

Corben was elected leader due to his appeal to the bottom half of Britain’s economic pile.  His appeal to the masses is, in part, based on ending austerity, imposing rent controls and nationalising rail and power.

Sanders has sent a clear message that he wishes to halt the 40 year decline in the American middle class, decrease the gap between the very rich and everyone else, provide a living wage and distance politics from the billionaire class. It has been reported that the American dream is fading, housing is becoming unaffordable in Australia for young home-buyers and workers can no longer afford to live in London. These numbers are increasing.

Within the western democracies whole industries, driven by the wealthy, fleece the poor with payday loans and hire purchase/leasing agreements. On Social Europe website Dr. Simon Hix, London School of Economics (17 Sept., 2015) has provided informed insight into the relevance  of Jeremy Corben. He has mobilised young people and the expanding lower income population, key issues of the deprived have been clearly annunciated and he has mobilised the latent aversion towards the political establishment. In short, he has tapped into the anger of rising inequality. Politicians in Australia and America should commence some serious introspection.

 

A New Dawn
A New Dawn-At Last
Advance Australia Fair (Image-3)

Much has been made of five Australian Prime Ministers in five years. Reasons have been advanced for this merry-go-round. A contributory factor may be the electorate is becoming increasingly angry with irrefutable  evidence  of rising inequality that is difficult to annunciate in political terms and banal reporting.

Within democratic systems today, politicians should be well aware that home owners voting for stable government may well be  verging towards a minority  while the disaffected and those suffering economic stress, deprivation and fading aspirations are in the ascendent.   The days of the cosy Government-Capital relationship are coming to an end.  The political-economic model spawned by the Industrial Revolution is losing relevance.

The Prime Minister is sacked. Long live the Prime Minister.

The verbiage associated with the demise of Prime Minister Abbott and the ascension of Prime Minister Turnbull is nauseating. When the Chief Executive of a major corporate under performs  he/she is sacked with minimum fanfare before inflicting further damage on the company.

The Protagonists
The Protagonists at Question Time (AAP, Sam Mooy)

When the Chief Executive of Australia Com. is removed for under performance, the ether is filled with epithets on loyalty, disloyalty, merit, talent, back stabbing and the spoils of power, while the term ‘brutal’ resounds as if from a many headed hydra. Australia needs competent executives focused on results not numbers.

In reality the process was a crass exhibition of cabals seeking power (for the most honourable public motives) while discredited cabals sought to retain power, prestige and entitlements irrespective of poor performance. A nightly press unable to discuss serious issues facing Australia and a salacious audience ensures low standards. Australia cannot be a great democracy unless the level of debate is raised.

In the last days of September, Mr Abbott proved he is only a politician and unfit for the position of CEO Australia Com. He spoke of his lost chance of winning the next election; despite poor polls, he did not speak of increasing Australia’s export income or of running a profitable Australia, concepts critical to the wellbeing of Australians. He is condemned by his own words.

 

Rural Bliss and the Winds of Climate Change

The bull bar and winch wrere stolen from my truck while parked at Scone railway station. Police and garage mechanics have expressed total amazement at this act of vandalism- fortunately an insurance job. To rub salt into my insurance company claims                                        it has been established the hail storm last month so damaged the iron roof and the weather side of the house that both will have to be replaced.

The hail storm in the Murrurundi locality has produced damage running into hundreds of thousands of dollars – hail stones were the size of cricket balls. What is concerning is that storm cells producing  large hail are very violent. A few days ago the Central Coast suffered a devastating hailstorm, so heavy t looked like snow. All this and it is not yet the summer thunder storm season. At some stage we all will experience a very serious  weather problem.

 

Central Coast Hail Storm
Central Coast Hail Storm. (17 Sept.2015.
dailytelegraph.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST 2015 Current Affairs Flashpoints

Commodore Perry with Japanese dignitaries
Commodore Perry with Japanese dignitaries.(Library of Congress/Wikimedia)

War is nothing but a continuation of politics by other means. (Karl von Clausewitz, 1780 – 1831)

I sometimes sense the World is changing to fast for its inhabitants.(Elizabeth 11, 1997)

VJ Day 70 Years On
Aboriginal Constitutional Recognition                                                                                  Shares versus Bonds – a Red Alert                                                                        The Hurricane of Climate Change                                                                   Rural Bliss

VJ Day 70 Years On
Around the Pacific Rim nations remember VJ (Victory in Japan) Day, 14th August, 1945, when Japan surrendered  to Allied Forces.

The antagonism to the United States and other Western Powers originated in the 1850s when Commodore Perry  of the US navy forced Japan to sign trade treaties. This destroyed Japanese self respect and generated a deep resentment. The Japanese government was also terrified the nation would suffer the same humiliation as China that flowed from Western aggression, the Opium Wars  and the annexation of Hong Kong.

After the Russians drove the Japanese out of Siberia in 1918, the ruling elite turned eyes towards South East Asia for rubber, oil, iron and other minerals well before the start of WW2. It was an aggressive expansive nationalism fuelled by the realisation that without an Empire (like Western democracies) it could never become a world power.

By the 1920s, Japan was in a desperate  economic situation with the population on the verge of revolt. The Great Depression of the early 1930s hit Japan hard as the vast silk trade with the United States collapsed. Japanese  leaders considered the way to resolve economic problems was to acquire South East Asian colonies similar to Western European empires. The Emperor Hirohito was rendered impotent by his sabre rattling military.  During this period Japan invaded Manchuria, Mongolia and Korea to secure raw materials. The League of Nations expostulated and Japan withdrew its membership.

In 193, the United States restricted the supply of oil and metals which drove Japan to contemplate the energy supplies of Indonesia.  In194, the United Stated imposed a total oil embargo on Japan – a desperate situation.Thus Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1942. Japan’s fatal mistake was the failure to destroy the Naval Base and sink the remaining three aircraft carriers. The rest is history.

In the words of a Japanese military commander “We have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve”.                 (www.quora.com/japanesenationalism)

Casualties (thousands) | WW2 | Asia and Pacific Rim
NationKilledWoundedPrisoners Civilians
Australia9.514.021.70
USA111.6253.121.60
China4 million3 million018 million
Japan1.7 million94 41.4393.0

The atomic bombs were not the prime reason for Japanese surrender. On the day Nagasaki was destroyed, the Russians with a 1.8 million man army attacked Manchuria and smashed the Japanese army. The Japanese feared the Soviets more than the Americans.   (Tsuyoshi Hasigawa,  Associated Press,  August 2014)

Aboriginal Constitutional Recognition                                                                 The Government has rubbed iodine into festering news by the decision not to financially support Aboriginal gatherings to discuss an amendment to the Australian constitution. The given reason is that there is no wish to see discussions degenerate to a ‘log of claims’. This opinion is an insult to the Aboriginal leadership and denigrates the tenor of anticipated discussion. The Government now appears to be softening and Aboriginal forums may be facilitated. It is still the Government’s objective to closely manage the deliberations by bringing the two principal relevant ethnic strands to the same table for a disinterested exchange of ideas. For legal precision, the term ‘Aboriginal’ requires clarification.

A  word on definitions relevant to settlement in new lands:                    **custodian – a person who has responsibility for taking care of or protecting  something                                                                                                         **occupier – a person residing on or using property as if the owner       **inhabitant – a person who lives in or occupies a place.

In any migration, a person will become an inhabitant and subsequently will become an occupier and possibly a custodian. For the purpose of legal clarity, any addition to the Constitution should recognise Aborigines as the first ‘inhabitants of the land’ now known as Australia.

The First Aboriginal Footprint on the great South land.
The ‘first’ Aboriginal footprint on the Great South Land

In 2014 on ABC News, Celeste Liddle, National Tertiary Education Union, opined  Australia is clearly not ready to vote for constitutional change and the electorate was clearly against the terms ‘sovereignty’ and ‘treaty’, both potential mine fields.

To place this constitutional discussion in perspective, Australia is compared with other Anglo-Saxon immigrant nations with minority indigenous populations (as %): Australia 2.5%, Canada 3.5%, United States 1.6% and New Zealand 18%.  America has over 300 treaties with Indian tribal groups and New Zealand is quite different from Canada and Australia.

Canada recognises the rights of first peoples in the constitution  and has negotiated treaties with aboriginal groups that provide for dwelling rights, hunting and food production (but only on a scale prior to European settlement). However, rights are not absolute under Canadian law.  The Government has retained the right to enter treaty lands, following consultation, for the purpose of economic development, power generation and environmental protection. In small areas, where local self-government has been granted, this has become a knotty problem. (Aboriginal Rights, Canadian Encyclopaedia, Bell and Henderson, 2015).

There are elements in the Australian Aboriginal community that favour a treaty as well as constitutional change. It is important that recognition be given that Aborigines were the first inhabitants of Australia, but to enhance the cause beyond that of other ethnic groups in the nation to have the potential to cause community tension.

The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island People (2012) has recommended that the Constitution be amended as follows:                 —-Remove Sect. 25. Banning of voting on racial grounds.                                  
—-Remove Sect. 25xxvi. Ban racial discrimination laws.                                                 —-Add Sect. 116A. Ban race discrimination.                                                             —-Add Sect. 127A. Recognise the first Aboriginal languages. (The implication of this Section  must be carefully considered. If the ‘first inhabitants ‘are recognised, then ipso facto, the language is also recognised).

The stated benefits, according to the Committee  to a Constitution change, would be a redress of a previous exclusion, increasing feeling of self worth and trust would be encouraged between communities. The context of future discussions would change for the better. In this latter point,the term “discussion” requires definition.                                                                       
A suggested wording that would closely link first inhabitants to later immigrants in a common cause might resemble “It is recognised the first Aboriginal inhabitants and their descendants  have been joined by later immigrants to jointly populate Australia.”

Shares versus Bonds –   a Red Alert                                                                       –For those in employment and for those at the rear end of the gravy train, humanity has lived through an extraordinary epoch. For the past thirty years, leaving aside the Chinese phenomenon, there has been an imperceptible decline in economic activity in the Capitalistic West,  which has lead to an irregular decline in interest rates and a slow exodus in equities. Concurrently, there has been a steady increase in bond market activity that has enabled Western governments to fund their obligations as income tax receipts decrease. Currently, interests rates are the lowest on record, which has facilitated in a three decade long bond rally.

Western World Interest Rates. %
Switzerland(0.75)Britain0.5
Singapore(0.75)EMU0.75
Japan0.00Canada1.0
America0.25Australia2.0

Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, has warned that interest rates could rise in 2015 with the caveat that economic activity must improve. Any increase will cause angst in the bond markets.

Janet Yellen pondering interest rates?
Janet Yellen pondering interests rates? (Intelligent Investor)

Perusal of interest rates proves the Industrial West is suffering a decline in economic activity. During this period capital has moved into the bond markets at the expense of equities. Currently, bond markets are overvalued, particularly with an interest rate rise in the offing. Bond prices are much higher than they have been for many years: yields are low but are still ahead of Government rates. (See table). Few people remember the bond markets in the ’70s and ’90s when large financial losses were incurred. There is an approaching ‘crunch’ as the Fed considers a rise in interest rates driven by an indication that  American economic activity is improving.

As interest rates rise, bond holders will scramble to sell their bonds before discounts reduce value, although yields will increase. This will encourage a shift into equities. The rise in the American interest rate will be the first in nine years. In May 2015, Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway, commented that long term bond rates are very overvalued. (Intelligent Investor)

For distressed Australian investors, there will be a double whammy  for those holding bonds and property when interest rates rise. Bonds will fall in value, interest rates on bank loans will rise and equity in property will fall as the real estate bubble  deflates.

Return Comparison, Australian Assets
Return % pa to 2012
(ABS, Thompson Reuters, AMP Capital)
5 years 10 years
Shares(1.8) 9.1
Bonds8.36.4
Property3.3 5.3

Even more, pundits are warning that  Australia is facing a recession in 2015. The RBA has lowered growth forecast to 2.75 % and  unemployment may exceed 6.4 %, the highest for over a decade. Terms of trade are estimated to fall to 3.9 % in 2015. ((Business Insider and Executive Committee of Australian Business Economics, November 2014)

Based on the above,he Government catch-cry should not only be jobs-jobs-jobs but exports-exports-exports.

The Hurricane of Climate Change                                                                                   The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced global temperatures for July were the hottest on record. To put this in perspective, below are the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Control (IPCC) carbon dioxide and temperature limits necessary to prevent a global climate catastrophe.

Carbon Dioxide  Critical Level  400 ppm                                                                * Pre-industrial Level (1880)——–270-280 ppm                                               * Current Level————————400 ppm                                                          * Rate of Increase———————1.9  ppm/year                                               (NASA Institute of Space Studies)                                                                             *Level by 2050 est.——————–460 ppm

Carbon Dioxide additions
Fossil Fuel and Cement Carbon Dioxide additions to atmosphere in Giga Tonnes. 2015 levels now 400 ppm (CDIAC/GCP/Friedlingstein)

Temperature 
Critical Level 2
*C above 1880 temperature.                      
* Pre-industrial Level————–Base Line (BL)                                               * Current Temperature————0.85*C above BL                                          
* Rate of Increase (2013-14)—–0.116
*C/decade (NOAA)                      
* Level by 2050 est.—————-1.26*C

Global Temperature Increase.
Global Temperature Increase from 1880 to 2015. (Paul Horn, Inside Climate News)

A leading climate scientist, Dr Mann (NOAA), opined in Scientific American (March 2014) that the critical 2*C could be reached by the mid 2030s,  based on current fossil fuel consumption.

The critical issue is carbon dioxide emissions. If temperature is to remain below 2*C above pre-industrial levels, then it is estimated green house gas emissions will have to be reduced by 80-90% by 2050.  (J Morgan, Director, World Resources Institute) This will require a seismic shift in the rate of increase  in the use of non- renewable energy. The critical 2*C was originally proposed by Dr. Nordhaus (Yale University) in the mid-1970s as an accommodation between science and political reality. A paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, considers the Climate Change Meeting in Paris in December 2015 will be unable to keep temperatures below the 2*C level.

A NOAA study released in June 2015, has confirmed the rate of global warming is increasing. Their  findings summarised:                          *1950-1999 —-0.113*C/ decade                                                                               *1998-2012—-0.086*C/decade                                                                                *2013-2014—-0.116*C/decade

The period 1998-2012 did not signify a hiatus in global warming –  it was the oceans operating as a heat sink.

Concluding Comment

1— 2006.  A Stern Commission quote “It was obvious that 2*C was far beyond any danger limit definition”.

2— 2008. International Energy Agency quote “It is obvious 2*C is catastrophically dangerous as is 1.5*C,  while 1*C  is the danger limit. (By 2050, the temperature will be 1.26*C on current  estimate.)

3— 2014. IPCC 5th Assessment quote “2*C is intolerably dangerous due to projected multiple disastrous to catastrophic impacts on human populations”.

Considering the foregoing, the current global disruptive weather events can only intensify since carbon dioxide levels exceed 400 ppm and global temperature is pushing towards the critical 1*C and rising.

Rural Bliss                                                                           
On Sunday, 23rd August, the Upper Hunter region was hit by the most violent storm cell recorded in the region since 1948. On the farm, 52 mm of rain fell in a couple of hours followed by a devastating hail storm with hail stones the size of tennis balls. Such was the intensity in the district, that solar panels and roof tiles were smashed and a young calf suffered a broken back. On my property, the hail fractured a water pipe and over 20,000 litres of potable water was lost. The storm surge in the creek threw the solar pump two meters up the river bank. This was the severest storm since my arrival  fifteen years ago.

This storm originated in the Indian Ocean. It created wide spread rain and hail in central New South Wales, a cyclonic storm cell in the Central West and floods along the South Coast hinterland.

July 2015 Current Affairs Flash Points

National Parties in Europe
THE CLASH OF CULTURES   EUROPEAN NATIONAL PARTIES  as percentage of electorate with immigration concerns. (Economist, Social Europe)

Contents

The Clash of Cultures
The Winds of Climate Change
The Eurozone Underbelly
Indonesia,  A Power Stirs
Rural Bliss
Towards the Final Hour

We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love one another.  (Clash of Cultures)
Thoughts on various subjects. Jonathon Swift, 1711.

I said “It is most extraordinary weather for this time of year”. He replied “Ah, it isn’t this time of year at all”.  (The Winds of Climate Change)
Oliver St. John Gogarty. 1878-1957.

The Clash of Cultures
—-The ‘Reclaim Australia’ demonstrations round Australia in mid-July were predictable and are a distant reflection  of more violent events in Europe. The local demonstrations were a sinister mix of Cooee, Mateship and Advance Australia Fair.
—-For several years Europe has been  unsettled by increasing tension and friction between Islamic immigrants and Caucasian  ‘Christian’ inhabitants. Throughout Europe nationalistic parties have formed to voice concern over a perceived threat  to national identity by minorities with a different faith. Twelve European nations have been fractured by aggressive Patriotic political parties whose distilled concerns are:
*  feel threatened by Islam
*  fear a loss of national identity
*  fear a decline in conservative Christian culture.
—-These  National parties have gained additional popular  support due to the depressing economic conditions (GDP growth <1%), high unemployment and an uncertain future. Electoral support in eight European democracies varies between 13% and 26% while two National parties are represented in the European Parliament.The principal driver to this phenomenon is religion, not ethnicity. The critical question is whether completely different faiths and their associated culture can coexist under a democracy (Europe News).
—-On a historical basis a common thread in Western culture in the first decades of the 20th Century  was anti-Semitism. Economic and social conditions for the masses before and after the First World War were terrible. After the War the British Government promised  ‘a land fit for heroes’, it totally was not for the Europeans.  One hundred years later in the 21st century Western culture is suffering similar conditions therefore a rising Islamophobia is not unexpected. Recently the political heads of France, Germany and Italy have endeavoured  to calm national unrest without success.
—-Australia is in a difficult situation. For decades the Government has extolled the success of multiculturalism which was based on ethnic  not religious integration. To maintain this policy it must consider the concerns  of ‘Reclaim Australia’ which are natural while simultaneously allaying the fears of Australian Islamic society. An added complication is that our Muslim neighbour, Indonesia, will be keenly observing how Australia handles the threat of rising nationalism and simultaneously ensuring a peaceful domicile for its Muslim citizens. Russia was forceful when its citizens  in the Baltic States and Central Asia were under pressure  after the disintegration of the  Soviet Union.
—-“Reclaim Australia” is not an aberration, it has common cause with compatriots in Europe. It cannot be disbanded  by political pressure, the concerns of its supporters and sympathisers will have to be addressed.
—-So too today, a hundred years later, Western Europe including Australia is struggling under poor economic conditions, unemployment and uncertainty. Religion and associated customs are again magnified and have been exacerbated by Western democracies waging war, for what ever reason, on Islamic cultures in the Middle East for almost a generation. Propaganda by Western governments  have had the unintended consequence of encouraging  an unfavourable perception of Islam. This is an intractable problem which can only be partially solved by an improvement in national economies and the political leaders providing a more certain future for its citizens.
—-A philosophical question, can two mutually exclusive faiths peacefully coexist in a demoracy if one is a perceived as a threat  by the other?

The Winds of Climate Change

Antarctic Vortex, July '15
Cold air and snow precipitation.
( BOM, Australia)

—-RN Breakfast, 17 July, has aired another climate change warning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced that 2014 was  a year of multiple records, globally the hottest, average sea level the highest, sea surface temperatures the warmest and the Arctic sea ice area the smallest. All the  major indicators  are rushing towards Hades while in Australia the political elite indulge in petty pedestrian politics.
—-A Polar vortex is currently sweeping over south-east Australia to the delight of the winter sports industry, so far unheard is an informed comment on its significance. Hearsay is this is the coldest regional event for over 50 years with snow within cooee of the Tropic of Capricorn. It was only a few months ago that a northern  Polar vortex swept over the United States dumping snow on 48 of the 50 American States. What does this mean?
—-The Antarctic Polar vortex is a 200 km/hr super cold wind circling the remnants of the ozone hole round the Antarctic continent. Normally this wind delivers rain to the Roaring Forties that nourishes southern Australia. Global warming is shrinking the diameter of the vortex  thus  dragging rain away from Australia and so worsening the usual drought cycles.
—- The current cold air from the vortex  over south-east Australia is due to global warming. There is an increasing temperature differential  between the equatorial and polar regions, this causes a distortion of the southern hemisphere jet stream which permits vortex air to migrate north  to dump snow and cold rain over south-east Australia (National Climate Centre, Canberra). The long term significance of this weather event for Australia could be profound but there has been a deafening silence of informed comment.

The Eurozone Underbelly

Greek Tragedy
Athens in the shadow of its past glory. The debt crisis.

—-Ffinancial convulsions that have consumed Europe, Greece and Greek communities round the world, however there is a larger canvas on which a more worrying picture is  emerging. The attached table derived from The  Economist World Debt Summary compares  Eurozone members and includes  Australia and its south-east Asian competitor and trading partner, South Korea. The table grades from the weaker to the more robust economies.

Country———-Public Debt——–Debt/person————2015
Population–M——-% GDP————–$US–‘000——–*Bud Bal> %
Greece——-11———177——————-22—————-(2.4)
Portugal—–10———153——————-27—————-(8.8)
Italy———-61———122——————-38—————-(3.0)
Britain——-64———101——————-43—————-(3.0)
America—321———-90——————–34—————-(2.5)
Spain——–47———-88——————–23—————-(4.5)
Germany—81———-85——————–34—————-(0.8)
Australia—24———-27——————–16—————-(1.4)
S Korea—–51———-27———————7—————-+0.8
*Budget Balance %

—-From the table it is clear Greece and Portugal are in a parlous financial situation. A principal difference is that Portugal plans to repay a $14 billion bail-out loan to the IMF while Greece has been unable to meet a $1.7 billion interest payment to the IMF. Portugal has maintained an onerous austerity program while Greece has failed. Within the EU there is a worry, however, that Portugal and possibly Italy may eventually default as the financial data is not encouraging (P. Wise, EU Economy). In contrast the more stable stronger economies are characterised by lower public debt and healthier Budget Balances.
—-Although Greece is responsible for only 2% of EU GDP Europe is riven by a divisive convergence, Germany requires Greece to remain in the Union for economic reasons (which have now been questioned) while France requires Greece to remain in the fold for political reasons. By mid-July the EU granted a further $80 billion bail-out for the third time but this is no solution to the problem!!
—–The larger picture is that five members of the EU (Ireland, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Greece) have been provided with financial packages from the ECB and the IMF. Spain as one of the largest economies in Europe has been of particular concern, since the GFC in 2008 it has received cash injections of over $US 200 billion. Spanish austerity measures and increasing competitiveness have improved the situation but its budget deficit is a concern. A major cause of Euro Zone problems was that the introduction of the euro was not accompanied by a common fiscal system. The statement by Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, that he ‘will do whatever it takes to preserve the euro’ may come to haunt him.
—-Despite the dire warnings of the Australian Government it is clear that within the OECD orbit (table above) Australia’s financial position is better than most, however, this is unsustainable unless Australia massively increases its exports.

Indonesia, a Power Stirs.

Twelve new submarines planned.
Plans for twelve new submarines. (S Kygsman, theaustralian.com.au)

—-In this Asian century America has announced it is expanding military cooperation with Indonesia, since this nation’s islands are washed by the South China Sea this is an understandable move. Indonesia is planning to establish a military base in this region as the rise of China can no longer be considered peaceful. Indonesia has already crossed verbal swords with China due to its claim on the Indonesian island of Natuna.
—-Australia is now facing the reality of an expanding military power as its closest nation. There is a relative shift in wealth and power away from Australia toward Indonesia and it is incumbent on Australia to manage this transition and remain on good terms with its near northern Islamic neighbour. PriceWaterhouseCoopershave estimated that by 2050 Indonesia will possess a GDP three times that of Australia. The Indonesian population is around 250 million, ten times that of Australia. Crucially the size of an economy is determined by the number of workers and their output. When Indonesia reduces corruption and improves it politics it will be well on its way to becoming a power house providing its 5% growth rate can be maintained.
—-Despite Australia being a country of immigrants its current immigration policy may ‘come back to bite it’. History can be instructive but never quite repeats itself. The Afrikaans nation went into decline because it was a minority group that wished to retain its national purity. Bearing in mind Australia’s high labour costs, its reliance on natural resources and its lack of a population critical mass Australia will be unable to match Indonesia’s GDP growth.
—-The point of this discussion is that Indonesia has indicated it requires its armed forces to be superior to its neighbours including Australia. As Indonesia grows in power it will become more involved in Asian and international affairs as, in relative terms, Australia’s military influence and GDP decreases (Strategic and Defence Studies, Canberra). Although over 50% of Indonesian military equipment is over thirty years old it pushing ahead with its military expansion. The objective is to build a modern military force by 2024 comprising 180 jet fighters, 300 warships and 12 submarines. This will be a three phase project, the first phase was completed in 2014 (Straits Times, 2015).
—-A historical flash back to 2014 provides a snapshot of comparative military might along with that of Japan and China:
Nation———Australia—–Indonesia—-Japan——-China
Personnel——57,000——-0.3 m———-0.23 m—–2.3 m
Tanks————-149———-0————–880——–6550
Aircraft———-109———96————–340——=1970
Large Ships——12———30—————-52———–80
Submarines——6———-13—————-16———–65
( Institute for Strategic Studies, News.com.au, February, 2014)
—-It behoves Australia to cultivate a more cooperative demeanour with Indonesia as perforce Indonesia’s enemy from the north will be Australia’s.
—-The Arafura and Timor seas that separate Australia and Indonesia represents an immense cultural, religious and social divide that will require a sea change in Australia’s foreign policy approach, an attitude that smacks of hubris will have to go. The 250 million citizens can no longer be taken for granted and Australia’s foreign aid can have no real effect on future growth and may be rejected as charity. The fantasy that “Indonesia has no better friend than Australia” will, to Australia’s relief, hopefully be replaced by “Australia has no better friend than Indonesia”.
—-Once again — History and change happen. There are those among us who wish this was not so.

Rural Bliss
—-Incensed, the mare, Maggie, galloped to the water trough scattering several calves wetting their noses. With Maggie drinking the calves closed in behind jumping and shaking their heads as if laughing.

Towards the Final Hour
—-Armageddon?

Quo Vadis Homo sapiens
The rise of Artificial Intelligence. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Quo Vadis Homo sapiens. The future Hamlet?
“Alas poor Yorick, I have destroyed my Creator”

—-Over one thousand scientists and engineers sent an open letter to the United Nations requesting it ban the production of autonomous warfare systems, that is artificial intelligence killing machines. The letter originated in Buenos Aires in late July at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. Signatures include those of intellectual giants of our species, namely Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Noam Chomsky and Steve Wozniak. The letter mentioned three weapons revolutions, guns (past), nuclear (present) and artificial intelligence (now upon us).
—-The future is murky. Two powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, consummated the the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) in 1972 which limited the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Now some forty-five years later how much more difficult will it be when technically advanced rising powers, China and Iran, also require a place at the top table. There are two other complications; Britain, Israel and Norway already deploy missiles and drones that can attack targets without direct human control (New york Times, November 2014). Secondly this technology is not difficult to master and the concern is rogue nations or terrorist groups could manufacture their own artificial intelligence weapons.
—-According to Steven Hawking “full artificial intelligence in weapons could spell the end of the human race”. Homo sapiens–Quo Vadis?

JUNE 2015 Current Affairs Flash Points

US and Iraqi Military
US Army advisors training Iraqi soldiers.
(Khalid Mohammed/AP)

We are giving classes on the will to fight. (Sgt. Maj. D J.)

Laudato Si, mi’ Signore. (Pope Francis)
Praise be to you, my Lord.

CONTENTS
The Winds of Climate Change
Terms of Trade and a Red Alert
Clash of Cultures
Social Inequality and Housing
The Galapagos Syndrome and Amazing Grace
Rural Bliss
Towards the Final Hour

The Winds of Climate Change.

Pope Francis-Ency
Laudato Si.
The care of our Common Home.
[Reuters/Gampiero Sposito)
—Pope Francis has jolted, invigorated and annoyed his vast global flock by his Encyclical on the ‘Care of our Common Home”. His Holiness did not mince words as the approximate rendition illustrates. The Pope spoke of looming environmental ruin that could be heard as a cry from the earth and a cry from the poor. There was almost an order to stop environmental degradation and a command that influential individuals cease obstructionist attitudes. The Pope was sufficiently moved to say the World is becoming a vast pile of filth and the planet was on a fast track to disaster.
—It is timely to mention the book, ‘How Societies choose to Fail or Survive’ by Professor Diamond, UCLA. Since the beginning of time, mankind has created societies that have prospered and then, due to stupidity that resulted in catastrophic environmental degradation, have destroyed their culture in spite of clear warning signs. Retracing faltering footsteps along eons of history examples of self destruction are the early communities in Mesopotamia, the Norsemen of Greenland, the destruction of Polynesian communities in the Pacific Ocean, the American Anasazi who destroyed their fragile landscape, the Maya civilisation which collapsed due to destruction of forests, food shortage and fighting over resources.

Today’s mankind is destroying the Amazon and South-East Asian forests, global fish stocks are dwindling, the ‘bad lands’ of China and North America are with us, and increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is hastening the melting of the Greenland, the Antarctic and Arctic ice caps. It is a little appreciated fact the Mediterranean littoral was denuded of forests due to the Persian, Greek and Roman ship building activity; the only vegetation that grew on the degraded landscape was olive trees.
—In Australia there is now a classic example of an Australian Authority pursuing a policy mentioned by Professor Diamond that will knowingly lead to Environmental Collapse. The Murray Darling Basin has released a Plan that has used 140 years of climate records but has made no projections for climate change. Modelling by the Australian Water Association has shown that a 10% reduction in rainfall could result in a 60% reduction in available water in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Furthermore, the Authority has announced a plan to release 3200 giga litres into the river system by 2024 while, concurrently within the system, swamp lands and river bank forests are degrading. The original figure was 4000 gl. The Goyder Institute has indicated the release is insufficient to ensure adequate flushing of salt out of the drainage system. The summation of dryer conditions, over allocation and salination will degrade the land. Fifty years hence??? The back drop is that 70% of Australia’s arable land supporting 40% of Australian farms depend on this water supply. The Authority is administering a $10 billion budget and appears to be following the Government line that Climate Change is not a critical issue.
—Once again Australia has been exposed for its tardy attitude to climate change. Rear Admiral Morrisey, the UK Climate Change envoi, is in Australia conveying the message to the Abbott Government that Britain and the United States would like Australia to take a more responsible attitude to Climate Change Security Strategy – that is, to plan for wild weather events and population instability as living conditions and food shortages worsen. No doubt America would almost certainly have one eye cocked on the security of its military establishments in Australia.
—-Another Government policy exposure. A new player has erupted onto the climate change scene, the Australian Climate Round Table. The members include the Business Council, the Climate Institute, ACOSS, Energy Supply Association and the Aluminium Council. Their demand is for a bipartisan policy must be framed and reiterating the Government is not doing enough to limit global temperature rise below 2*C. Remember the warning of Climate Analytics, Berlin, mentioned in my May blog.
Pakistan Heat Wave Far more concerning than the 800 deaths and around 8,000 in hospital (CNN) is the trend revealed by the records of the Pakistan Meteorological Department since 1938. The data shows the number of population conurbations with temperatures over 45*C and over 50*C. The trend is very concerning
——Time Range————45*C to 50*C————plus 50*C
——-1938-1999—————–5————————–2
——-2000-2015—————-22————————18
These are consistent with Australian weather disasters mentioned in my January blog; it is also a wake up call for a need for Homeland Security Forces.

Pakistan Heat Wave
People in Lahore Canal.
(The Guardian)

Terms of Trade and a Red Alert.
—By extraordinary coincidence on the same day, JP Morgan Bank and the Treasurer used the term ‘disaster. and ‘a tremendous set of numbers’ for the same announcement on the Australian economy. JP Morgan spoke of the Terms of Trade deficit of $4 billion as the worst in the past 45 years. On the flip side of the announcement the Treasurer referred to the growth figure of 0.93% for the March quarter, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 2.3%, this will not solve the youth unemployment problem and is even lower than the projected trend of 2.5%.
—Over the past year there has been a poor growth trend and this is down on the 2.8% growth for the 12 months ending June 2014. The trend in GDP per capita has also declined from 1.2% to June 2014 to only 0.7% to June 2015. These low growth rates illustrate the weakness in the economy. The only time the growth rate has been lower in the past 40 years was in the 1991 recession and during the GFC in 2007-08.
—It would have been disastrous for the Australian economy if the verbal eruption by Mr Forrest of Fortesque had been supported by the Government. The current high tonnage of low priced iron ore exports are vital in reducing Australia’s adverse Terms of Trade. At this stage the only two drivers of the Australian economy are finance and mining, both construction and manufacturing are a drag on GDP growth. (ABS 5206.0)
—The bottom line problem is the falling national economic demand (which the budget incentive of the $20,000 small business write-off hoped to address) combined with low wages growth results in decreasing competitiveness. In the March quarter the GDP per hour worked has fallen, in the past year productivity has only increased by 0.9%. (ABS 5206.0)
—Red Alert. There has been more than passing comment on the decline of Australian living standards. The quarterly growth figures, far from being ‘a tremendous set of numbers’, do in fact reflect a weak local demand in the economy and declining exports. The relatively high dollar is not helping our export industries. Somehow, productivity growth has to increase if living standards are not to fall. As if to drive this point home, Christine Lagarde, MD of the IMF, has requested the Fed not to raise interest rates in the United States but to keep them at historic lows. Forecast growth in the US for 2015 is only 2.5%. This low number does not auger well for Australia as the dollar will tend to be kept artificially high relative to a weak Greenback. This is not good for Australian exports or for the corrosive effects of the Terms of Trade.

Clash of Cultures.
—There is belated realisation the Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham is posing a serious threat to the Middle East and the Western World. There are shades of the First World War to this situation since it was a perception that ‘it would all be over by Christmas’- the initial advance by ISIS was treated in much the same way. Now, after a year of air strikes by the US military and its allies, the rout of the Iraqi army and the insertion of Western advisors to assist the mainly Shia Iraq military in an attempt to subdue the Sunni Islamic State the West convened conferences in Europe, America and Australia to ‘barn storm’ for ideas to defeat ISIS.
—Since last year’s assertion that American air power will ‘degrade and destroy’ the US jugganought air strikes have not stopped IS expansion. The allies are concerned that IS might obtain surface to air missiles which could affect deployment of American air power. It is also understandable there is a reluctance by the West to commit its own ground forces as close fighting would involve unimaginable savagery. It would be a nightmare if Western military personnel were captured. Current ground forces are Iranian Shia militias who might fill an Iraq power vacuum and the Peshmerga Kurds, who are fighting for their dream of an independent Kurdistan, Turkey willing. Sunni Saudi Arabia would probably enter the mix to counter Iranian theological expansion.
—According to the think tank Conflict Armament Research, London, IS is obtaining arms from twenty-one countries including Russia, China, Sudan and Bulgaria, plus vast amounts of American ordinance left behind by retreating Iraqis have fallen into IS hands. Cost to America according to the New York Times (April 2015) is around $30 billion. The American military has announced a setback in training Iraqi soldiers; the objective was to train 24,000 men but only 7,000 have volunteered. Another 450 American troops have been approved for service in Iraq as trainers to augment the 3,550 already there. Hawks in the Pentagon and Congress are now pushing for thousands of American military to join the fight but there is little public support for this measure. (The Guardian, Washington, 16 June)
—It is against this back drop Australia has organised two conferences on terrorism emanating from Islamic State ideology. The first in Canberra in May addressing ‘Safe Guarding Australia’ dealt with three principal topics:
**Targeting and Extermination
**Surveillance and Cyber Techniques
**Revenue and Funding of IS activity
Of the 29 speakers only two appeared to peripherally allude to an understanding of ideology and offering an alternative to radicalisation.
The second conference in June dealt with “How to counter Violent Extremism’. Twenty four countries participated and the thrust of discussions was early intervention and rehabilitation. The five key topics coagulated into a single sentence became one of recognition and reduction of threats to young people, ensuring educational support and ensure national and international cooperation. Nowhere in the final communiqué was the specific issue addressed of providing young people with a vision for their future within a just and fair society. This is one crux of the matter and it is in this matter that the Australian Government has a difficulty.
—Australia as a multicultural society must ensure an equal opportunity for all. If some are less equal (for whatever reason) they should be offered a more attractive future than that offered by ISIS. It was difficult to discern a plan by which radicalisation was to be prevented. The Australian Government,s proposed treatment of young Moslem citizens might slow down radicalism but will create tension and resentment in our multicultural society. Such a policy could create a sullen group of citizens unless policy can turn lives round to produce a vision and purpose in a civil society. This is a very real government problem amid current rising social and financial inequality.

Social Inequality and Housing.
—The cost of affordable housing is a problem for many large cities round the world. Twenty-five years ago (early 1990s) teachers, police, nurses etc. were being squeezed out of the London housing market – there was much disquiet on how far essential service people had to travel to work. The writing was on the wall for Australian politicians but there was a lack of perception. Now too, essential service personnel are finding it increasingly difficult to live in Sydney without financial assistance. Population growth and slow State government land release, disturbingly low interest rates, combined with vexatious negative gearing have created the perfect storm. This is not of Chinese doing, this is an internal Australian matter. Housing prices are now exacerbating inequality in Australia.
—Australia’s place in a United Nations survey on the ratio (rounded) of average income of the richest and poorest 10% of populations (GINI Index) which I have recast for OECD, ASEAN and BRICS, clearly shows Australia is facing problems.
-OECD———————ASEAN———————BRICS
Germany———-7——-Japan————-5——-India————9
France———–9——-Indonesia———8——-Australia——-13
Canada———–9——-S Korea———–8——-Russia———-13
N Zealand——-12——-Australia——–13——-China———–22
Australia——-13——-Hong Kong——–18——-South Africa—-33
Britain———14——-Singapore——–18——-Brazil———-41
America———16——-Malaysia———22
(Human Development Report 2009 UNDP)
This data is six years old but anecdotal evidence is that conditions are worsening.
—Clearly, for America the Great American Dream appears to be just that. Australia is not far behind while from the data Brazil and South Africa have reached a plateau of obscene inequality with Malaysia not far behind. Mexico at GINI 22 (illustrated) also has a problem.

Mexico Housing.
Mexico, poverty and wealth..(Kieran Corcoran,Daily Mail,2014

—Professor Krugman, (Princeton and London School of Economics), is worried that the 21st century has become the Age of Diminishing Expectations. Conclusions from his studies, reveals there is a similarity in the concentration of global wealth and assets between the Great Depression (1931) and post the GFC (2015). In both Europe and America there is a weakness of demand while among the Middle Class there is a rising debt level. The concentration of wealth at the top has resulted in bad political policy due to a commonality of narrow private advantage.
—Returning to Australia, the desire for upward mobility has lead to rising debt levels as parents endeavour to relocate in areas of good education. Low interest rates due to sluggish economic activity has led to a serious rise in domestic debt. So long as the Reserve Bank rate remains round 2%, economic conditions cannot improve. Somehow Australia must generate rising export income. To slam home Australia’s place in the inequality table Oxfam has reported that over the past 25 years the top 10% have increased income by 50% while for the bottom 10% has risen by only 25%.

The Galapagos Syndrome and Amazing Grace
—-This syndrome is defined as the isolated developement branch of a globally available product – Homo sapiens among life on earth is unique.
—-Two interrelated events at the end of June concentrate the mind on the nature of mankind. Killings in Tunisia, Kuwait and France and the rendition of Amazing Grace by President Obama in response to killings in America reflect a global problem that, in recent times, has been repeated almost ad infinitum. The former occurred under an Islamic influence while the latter was a cri de coeur to a Christian deity. Squarely in the middle between the two cultures sit global political and commercial systems that are inherently divisive. Despite egalitarian rhetoric the rich become richer and the poor become relatively poorer. (Currently there are reports 119 billionaires reside in London}.
—-The great psychological dilemma of our time is to admit that either Homo sapiens is a flawed species that cannot rise above its innate desires, or that the species is capable of reform through the United Nations, Governments and the Faiths. There are very few decades left before the prophetic words of Gilding, Diamond and Bertrand Russell are no longer in the future.

Rural Bliss
—Bird song, a green sward and seven black calves facing inward in a small circle, a perfect bovine coven. An extraordinary sight, I did not have a camera.

Towards the Final Hour
—Each Sunday I listen or watch Songs of Praise – it does my spirit good to witness people of faith. Without spirituality we are no longer human. In the real world we hear ‘Allah the Merciful’ and ‘In God we Trust’ not uncommonly as a prelude to war. Both major faiths endeavour to overpopulate the world, one by multiple wives and the other by non-contraception. Souls in heaven not bodies on earth should be the watch word. If men and women of the ‘cloth’ truly came together they could virtually eliminate the ‘clash of cultures, but they cannot due to the innate competition between the strands of Homo sapiens that originated ‘out of Africa’ and not in the ‘Garden of Eden’.

MAY 2015

VICTORY IN EUROPE (VE) DAY, 8th MAY 1945. GAZA, Australian casualties. Commonwealth War Graves.
(Source, The Conversation, Matt Hardy, Deakin University)

The soul destroying humiliation of living in lands only valued for their oil.
(Graeme Wood, Atlantic Magazine)

The 2*C temperature limit defines a ‘warning line’ not a ‘guard rail’.
Climate Analytics, Berlin.

Contents.
Victory in Europe (VE) Day
Clash of Cultures
The Winds of Climate Change
The Budget, Macro-economics, Climate Change plus a RED ALERT
Fortress Australia and the ANZUS Treaty
A Power Stirs
Chinese Investment in Australia
Rural Bliss

Victory in Europe(VE) Day 8th May 1945.
LEST WE FORGET-but we do.
(Peter Carlin, Poets Corner)
Australian War dead, 40,400 in European, African and Middle Eastern theatres.
(secondworldwar/history/statistics)

Clash of Cultures
There is a growing awareness that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (IS) is more than blood crazed fighters or a ‘death cult’. Top management is controlled by educated Arabs that include medical, scientific and management cadres. There are Ba’athist military officers who served under Saddam Hussein. Many were hardened in the US Camp Bucca military prison in Iraq. It was in this prison that the seeds of IS were germinated within the mix of violent ideological extremists and former Ba’athist military officers ( SG Group Intel Briefs).
IS is quite unlike al-Qaeda, IS requires territory to remain legitimate and it has developed a top down structure to control and administer its territories. The movement has a medieval religious ethos with a commitment to return civilisation to a 7th century legal culture.
Although many Muslims reject IS it would be wrong for the West to deny it is a religious organisation with a theology that must be understood by the West. The theology is based on the original perfection of the Quran and reinterpretation constitutes apostasy. Such belief requires that IS is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people.
The strength and attraction of IS is based on a bitter accumulation of grievance generated from history over the past century, that is since the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Grievances include the partition of the Middle East by the West, the resulting bad governance supported by the West, the shifting social mores and the soul destroying humiliation of living in lands only valued for their oil. In the background is the lingering primal memory of the great Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates and associated culture.
The IS ranks are strongly infused with Islamic vigour and there is no shortage of male and female volunteers from Europe, United States, Indonesia, and Australia. The IS propaganda machine generates enthusiasm but no deviation from the sacred texts of the Quran. Slavery and other atrocities are spelt out within the holy texts, e.g. Sura 70:29-30; Quran 8:12.
Denouncing IS can be counter productive if the teachings of the Quran are questioned. The West is facing a faith based ideological problem that is reinforced by an entrenched political and sociological problem that has been imposed on the Middle East by a Capitalistic West. Until the memory of imposed bad governance following WW1 and the humiliating memory of a people and lands only valued for oil is expunged a “Cause” will remain. Contained by the West with the support of both Shia and Sunni moderates the IS will possibly ‘bleed’ to death. This will not be quick as an ideology must be turned around. There is a risk the Islamic State and al-Quaeda may discover a common cause and this will increase the threat (What IS really wants. Atlantic Magazine, 2015).
The Australian government has not spelt out how ‘deradicalisation’ of IS volunteers will be attained. Under IS social media pressure potential recruits become idealists and espouse an ideology that seeks the past purity and glory of Islam, this provides an objective and sense of purpose. The Australian government will have to enthuse young Muslim minds with a sense of purpose and a replacement ideology. Punishment and vilification will be counter productive, remember Camp Bucca.
Giving young minds a new sense of direction will be difficult and it cannot be achieved by repression or force, again remember Camp Bucca.
Both Russia and China have offered only the most tentative cooperation with America and neither are involved on the ground. Russia is well aware of its unstable Muslim underbelly while China’s north-west region is a hotbed of Sunni Uighur independence ferment. Both regions have provided volunteers for the IS militia.

The Winds of Climate Change.
Two intertwined global warming trends have been reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) on carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and the rise of sea surface temperatures round Australia and the Antarctic.
For the first time the global average carbon dioxide levels have exceeded 400 ppm and green house gases are rising by more than 2 ppm per year. NOOA calculates that cutting fossil fuel emissions by 80% would only slow down the rise above 400 ppm but, of course, this is politically impossible.
From ice core data the 400 ppm concentration is the highest for the past 650,000 years. Around 1750 global CO2 emissions were about 11 million tonnes per year while in 2009 emissions were in the region of 32 billion tonnes ( Climate Analytics, Berlin).
The UN Convention on Climate Change has just issued an alert that “the world is in a new danger zone’ and tipping points for the following might become irreversible : drought, sea level rise, acidic oceans, loss of Arctic sea ice, melting of Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, methane release from permafrost and dengy fever.
Concurrent with rising greenhouse gas levels it was announced sea surface temperatures have risen by 0.7*C with warmer areas, up to 2*C higher, in north-western and east Australian waters. These warmer condition have generated a spate of cyclones over north Queensland waters and unusually strong East Coast lows along the south-eastern Australian coast line. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has recently forecast another El Nino for south-east Australia, in conjunction with the Queensland drought (see map) this is worrying news.

The Budget, Macro-economics and Climate plus a RED ALERT
It is not often the celestial bodies moon, earth and sun are in syzygy alignment (yoked together, Greek), less often does a budget, macro-economics and climate change align in this most unfortunate manner. Two item in the May budget, the small business stimulus and the proposed funding assistance to develop Northern Australia infrastructure are both facing economic and climate headwinds.
The stimulus to small business of instant asset write down of up to $20,000 per item must be rationalised against Australia’s historically low interest rate of 2% and the appreciation of the $A against the $US, the Reserve Bank has hinted the rate may be further reduced. The Australian economy is flat lining, capital inflow has dried up and capital will tend to flee. The budget objective is to generate expenditure and promote youth employment. The tax reduction of 1-5% is derisory i.e. a $150 deduction in a $10,000 taxable income. In the following budget talk back comment a recurring theme was that $20,000 was far short for many business upgrade or replacement costs. It was the Canadian experience where economic stimulation resulted in increased productivity but not appreciable increased employment.

Queensland's current plus three year drought
Queensland’s current plus three year drought

The budget is to encourage infrastructure funding for Northern Australia-laudible. There is mounting evidence that climate change will progressively adversely affect the north. Rolling forecasts on the back of recent past and future weather disasters should be locked into development plans, the implications of 400 ppm, and increasing, atmospheric carbon dioxide must be understood. Currently 80% of Queensland is drought declared with the 31 month rainfall deficiency the lowest on record (Map above. Source BOM, Australia), the Northern Territory has also suffered a below average 2014-15 wet season. One swallow maketh not a summer, neither does a few bad years prove fundamental climate change however the Abbott government must back infrastructure expenditure with a rolling climate trend analysis, without this information there is a risk of creating a failed ‘food bowl for Asia”.
RED ALERT. What the Government did not tell Australians when the budget (dominated by the end of the mining ‘boom’) was being dissembled is the disturbing decline in national capital investment-hence the strident attempt to generate capital expenditure and employment in the small business sector. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show capital expenditure figures fell by 4.7% for the quarter ending March 2015 as the budget was under preparation.
As mining investment came off the boil the hoped for rebound in manufacturing and investment services has not happened and these sectors are also declining. Manufacturing has fallen by 30% in the past 15 months and services by 20% in the past 18 months.
These are serious trends, forward estimates for 2015-16 are 25% below those for 2014-15. Westpac has indicated the Reserve Bank may be forced to reduce interest rates below 2%. ” Good for home buyers”, despite encouraging comment by the Treasurer this epizeuxis ‘Nope! Nope! Nope!’ by the Prime Minister would for once be appropriate. The cranials in our society will be wondering if Australia is about to join the exclusive ‘Sputtering Economies Club’ lead by Europe and America.

Fortress Australia and the ANZUS Treaty
The March blog noted the United States had quietly moved its Caribbean communication base to Western Australia. Not so quiet has been the proposed transfer of military bases to other locations including Australia. At a high level meeting in Washington it was announced a fleet of B1 bombers are to be rotated in Australia. These are supersonic long range aircraft with a payload of eighty 500 pound bombs.
There followed an immediate Australian political hubbub resulting twenty four hours later in a bemusing Pentagon statement there had been an ‘official miss-spoke’ and ‘there are no plans for B1 bombers to be rotated as of now but the United States intends to increase the rotation of of B52 bombers, fighters and refuelling tankers. Marine numbers on rotation to Darwin will also be increased.
The ‘miss-spoke’ cannot be a figment but probably reflects back room strategic discussions in the Pentagon. The American ‘pivot’ to Asia will certainly involve increased military hardware based in the Australasian region. Australia’s cooperation and support in the roll out of the ‘pivot’ policy is important to America. (RN AM and Late Line, 16 May). The Australian language matched the contorted phraseology of the Pentagon. The Prime Minister’s response approximately ‘the US does not have any plans to bring those aircraft to Australia’. This statement is heavy with the unstated and is not a rejection of the idea.
The cause of this political verbal minefield is the increasing Chinese military grip on disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Chinese activities have been described as terra farming or geo-engineering (Prof. H White, Strategic and Defence Studies, ANU). Strings of coral atolls are being constructed into air strips capable of accommodating heavy military aircraft. This work is proceeding some 800 km from the Chinese coast and about 200 km from the Philippines. The United States have been reluctant to directly challenge Chinese activity in these disputed waters but now this problem has to be addressed. Its relationship with South-East Asian allies is at stake. Also in the mix are extensive areas of sea bed oil and gas deposits in this region.
China is not only flexing its muscles in a show of strength but its international trade is dependent on maintaining sea route safety in the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits. Chinese maritime power through a ‘string of pearls’ policy has developed or investigated naval base options in Pakistan, Seychelles, Mauritius and Myanmar. China has already conducted naval exercises with Iran in the Persian Gulf. All this to protect China’s oil imports, 55% of which originate in the Persian Gulf, pass through the Malacca Strait and into the South China Sea.
A seasoned commentator stated ‘China is slicing its way salami like to a leadership role in Asia’. Apparently incompatible with current bellicose behaviour in the South China Sea its initiative in setting up the Asia Infrastructure and Development Bank is the obverse side of the same coin. Already a dilemma for Australian foreign policy has arisen, Australia acceded to the Chinese request to join while America wanted Australia to remain outside this economic coven.
There is a deja vu with this B1 ‘bombshell’ and the salami slicing progress of the United States in creating an Australian military outpost. Back in the sixties there was initial unease over the construction of the Pine Gap communications facility, then further unease when an American general in Darwin let slip that Haliburton, an American arms contractor associated with Dick Cheney former Vice President, had completed the Alice Springs-Darwin railway. Critics stated there would never be enough traffic to justify its construction, at some stage it could play a vital role in moving heavy military assets and supplies towards northern front lines. Then there was diverse comment several years back on the rotation of American marines in Darwin. The recent relocation of the Caribbean communication facility to Western Australia appears to have occurred under the radar. Now there is to be a rotation escalation of B52 bombers, fighters and refuelling tankers based at Tindall air base, south of Darwin. Additional marines will be rotated from the Darwin base. Perhaps the B1 bombers were intended to be a high flying decoy!!!
Ultimately Australia will have to make a decision to go with our biggest trading partner, China, or go with our biggest ally, America. If Australia is forced to make a decision the ramification will be vast.
Sixty-five years ago Australia was reluctantly involved in another great decision when Winston Churchill had to make the judgement whether Great Britain should join the European Union or support the Empire. It chose Europe and forced Australia into the trading arms of the very recent enemy Japan and its potential bete noir, China. Will Australia’s great Federation fear yet come to roost?
The big picture is that History does happen and Empires do rise and fall.

A Power Stirs.
While eyes and armaments are directed towards the South China Sea the rising giant, Indonesia, is stirring by gaining economic and military strength, the IMF is forecasting an approaching sea change. Within ten years Indonesia is slated to have attained air superiority over Australia. What then of American marine and air bases in Northern Australia?
By 2020 the IMF estimates Indonesia will be the world’s 16th largest economy (GDP $1.3 trillion), Australia will be at 14th ($1.49 trillion). In purchasing power Indonesia will be three times that of Australia.
Translating this into air superiority there are looming implications for Australia and the ANZUS Treaty. America will supply Strike Fighters to Australia and Russia will supply Sukhoi Fighters to Indonesia, cost and capability compared:
*American Fighter $230 million x 100 = $23 billion, missile cost $1.1-1.7 million each, software superiority for now. Australia may not take the full 100 fighters.
*Russian Fighter $100 million x 180 = $18 billion, missile cost $0.57 million each, flies two miles higher, longer range and faster than the American fighter.
It is estimated China, Japan, and Indonesia will have military superiority exceeding that of Australia in about a decade this is against a perception the United States is projecting less power than previously. (Source: Weekend Australian, 23-24 May.) The years of ‘turning back the boats’ may be numbered and in the future let us hope ‘Australia has no greater friend than Indonesia!’.

Chinese investment in Australia
The Rockhampton Beef Exposition has drawn large crowds, among them are are at least 350 prospective Chinese importers of Australian beef which include representatives of the Xiangyu Group who are planing to invest between $300-$500 million over the next five to eight years in integrated grazing, feed lot and abattoir enterprises. The driving force is ‘an obligation to make a contribution to the Australian beef industry’: code for ensuring a stable beef supply for China. The recent purchase of the Glenrock cattle station (March blog) in the Upper Hunter for #45 million provides weight to interest at Rockhampton.
In tandem, the Chinese investment in housing in Australia is attaining new levels. Investment for year ending June 2013 was $5.4 billion and for 2014 was $8.7 billion, at an estimated cost of $2 million per dwelling this is 4,600 dwellings in the Sydney/Melbourne region. Credit Suisse estimates $60 billion will be invested in new Chinese housing in the next six years, this is equivalent to 25,000 new units at $2.5 million each. It is reported that Melbourne and Sydney have higher valuations than London,New York and Tokyo.

Rural Bliss
Not only do Cabbages and Kings have a use by date so too does farm machinery and rural domestics. The past few months has witnessed a rolling snowball of mechanical and electrical failures necessitating repairs and replacements that has pushed expenditure to haemorrhage flows.
Recalcitrant and failed equipment includes the waterhole high pressure pump, blocked reticulation lines, domestic water pump, ride-on mower, push mower, computer, electric drill, quod motor bike, electric iron, toaster, television and, shiver my timbers, the electric blanket. Hither too among the 21st century plasticised comestibles the old faithful 1985 Hoover washing machine that has regularly thundered round the laundry has,alas, become incontinent, it too must go!

APRIL 2015

Easter 2015
I am innocent of the blood of this Person. (Mathew 27.24)

ANZAC Day 2015
His wild heart beats with painful sobs
His strained hands clench an ice cold rifle
His aching jaws grip a hot parched tongue
His wild eyes search unconsciously
He cannot shriek. (Herbert Read, 1915)

Easter 2015.
This Easter there was a stark reminder of a modern day Pontius Pilate washing his hands before the Australian multitude and intoning “I am innocent of the blood of this Person. (Mathew 27.24)
In a Perth hospital a young Iranian refugee, Saeed Hassanloo, lay dying. He is on a hunger strike, he has been in detention for four and a half years, he is a Christian. His application for a visa was rejected and he is to be deported to Shia Iran. He claims he will be tortured or killed because of his faith.
The Minister for Immigration, Mr Dutton, has indicated to the Press he is unable to assist this refugee now that his application has failed. Like Pontius Pilate, Mr Dutton is washing his hands of this professed Christian. Some two thousand years later The Minister, like the Governor of Judea, intends to hand this man over to the (Iranian) mob for some form of crucifixion. So ends the Easter message.
It is by curious chance Mrs J Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister, was in Iran discussing the the repatriation of Iranian refugees. On Saturday Extra it was disconcerting to hear Mathew Brown, ABC Correspondent, discussing the forcible repatriation of Iranian refugees which requires them to be ‘drugged and cuffed’ prior to boarding the aircraft.
In the months before Easter, Christian Europe has witnessed a plethora of nationalistic gatherings demonstrating on the dilution of ‘national’ character by a decades long influx of migrants with their attendant Islamic faith. Western governments are endeavouring to hose down this widening concern. Despite the ‘tyranny of distance’ concern has now reached Australian shores. Supporters for multiculturalism and for ‘Reclaim Australia’ have faced off across police lines. The situation is exacerbated by a birth rate below replacement in the Christian West jostling with a higher birth rate of the Moslem immigrants, it is an inexorable trend line with a cross over point some decades ahead.
The world is no stranger to mass migrations and from these history shows there are two possible outcomes. Migrants will possess a similar faith to the host country and will assimilate or the migrants or colonists will impose their faith, law and culture on the original inhabitants. Turning back the pages of history show different faiths tend to have a fractious coexistence when sharing the same tribal or national space when cultural stability or dominance is threatened. The ‘blood lands’ of Europe do not lightly wear this appellation.
Further, on Saturday Extra and germane to the above was a discussion on Australian academics in south-east Asian universities, from this followed comments on how these Asian nations do not dilute their national characteristics by immigration. In this regard Australia, United States and Canada have a comparable policies of accepting immigrants, because it is to this process they owe their existence.

Outback Degradation
From the Mount Lofty Ranges, brooding over Adelaide to Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsular, where Flinders and Baudin exchanged compliments, the pasture lands are parched blighted grey dying stubble over which token sheep or horses slowly move. Scattered vineyards in autumn undress rustle in the wind. It has been a long hot summer, in keeping with the Mediterranean climate. On a flight from Sydney to Adelaide, across the sweeping dry plains of NSW and SA to the Gulf of Saint Vincent, it is indeed a wide brown land virtually devoid of visible surface water. The flight generated the question ‘by how much has the carrying capacity of the land decreased since first European settlement?’ A lot!
Unfortunately, unless there is change in land use, the trend ‘towards a final hour’ is apparent. Trawling through the Range Lands Journal 2012 (G M McKeon), the Australian Natural Resources Atlas, the NSW State Environment Report 2000 and an Australian Academy of Science publication has unearthed disturbing information.
Since the 1890s there have been nine major prolonged droughts over eastern and central Australia. Soil scientists have have reached four principal conclusions:
* drought on its own does not cause degradation,
* persistent over-grazing is doing irreparable harm,
* European grasses are destroying natural pasture resistance and promoting woody weeds,
* fertilisers are causing degradation and soil erosion.
Following drought, pasture recovery requires above average extended rainfall with low grazing pressure. An increasing problem for the Australian pastoral industry is that improved cattle breeding ensures cattle remain on drought stricken pasture longer. A no win situation. A final conclusion is that the cattle industry is facing a major management problem at a time of degrading pasture, higher input costs, declining income and worsening climatic conditions. Degradation accelerants are:
* Soil Salinity is one of the most serious issues facing NSW agriculture. Salinity degradation has increased from 4000 ha in 1982 to 370,000 ha in 2000. It has been estimated that by 2050 60% (480,000 sq km) of NSW will be salt affected. Major salinity drivers are: clearance of native vegetation and the decline in soil nutrients particularly in wheat areas due to the application of inappropriate fertiliser. Irrigated land in the Murray Basin is also witnessing rising salinity.
* Soil Acidification is on the increase due to application of nitrogen and sulphur fertilisers which causes nitrate leaching, loss of nitrogen and removal of alkaline material which renders soil acid. Some 4% of soils were affected in 1987 but by 2000 it is estimated 7% of NSW soils may be affected. To slow down acidification, around 1.5 million tonnes of lime are required each year, but this is insufficient to halt the degradation. Forgone income in 2003 was estimated as $378 million.
* Soil Erosion. A 1987 survey indicated 38% of NSW pastoral and arable land is degraded by water and wind erosion and mass movement. The State of Environment Report 2006 concluded that in the past century erosion rates have increased by up to one hundred times.
Towards a Final Hour. Degradation trends are proven, unless there is a fundamental change in agricultural management, the area of usable pastoral and arable land will continue to decrease. The Final Hour might seamlessly merge into Gilding’s forecast of the mid-century ‘Great Disruption’.

End of Mission Afghanistan.
This was no Victory Parade. This was a Welcome Home March for the military who had served in Afghanistan in Australia’s longest war. The raw statistics over the twelve year war were 30,000 troops served, 41 died in action, 262 were seriously injured and around 10% (3000) suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Four Victoria Crosses were awarded. Cost to the tax payer is around $7.5 billion.
Australia entered the war under the ANZUS Treaty soon after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, New York The objective was to destroy al Qaida which had master-minded the attack. The Australian force was part of the coalition, the NATO lead International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). During the war Australian troops were involved in several missions, initially to support the United States and finally to train Afghan forces to maintain their own national security. Australian strategy in Afghanistan was often contradictory and vacillating due to:
* politicians having a poor grasp of military strategic issues
* the Australian force was a niche operation with in the large American effort resulting in friction
* there was only a critical assessment of Australia’s role with rising casualties in 2005.
( MacArthur Foundation Security Project)
Afghanistan in 2014 is very different to that of 2001. Al Qaida is a spent force but the Taliban, although weakened, is endeavouring to re-establish a political presence. The country is a fragile functioning democracy, regional control is not absolute and corruption is endemic. However, terrorist groups are no longer rampant and social services have improved. ISAF forces have left a country with a potential for development but if this falters it may become Afghanistan’s nemesis.
Following the exit strategy controlled by the United States, the Australian Government will have difficulty defining to the Australian people what Australia achieved in Afghanistan. A tangible benefit is that Australia now has a military core capable of operating in challenging political and physical conditions.
Setting aside the political and military legacy, the enduring domestic issue is PTSD among returned service personnel. This is a largely unrecognised blight in our Australian community. Sitting couch potato-like, comfortably watching pointless violent bloodless television, many of our citizens can acquire no sense of a slow agonising death or the horrific injury of children or adults, endured or witnessed by those in the armed forces. Television is there for entertainment or ratings, education is a lesser third.

ANZAC Day 2015
ANZAC Day quite rightly commemorates the bravery, suffering and sacrifice of Australian forces at Gallipoli but at the same time the concentration of Government orchestrated influence does a disservice to those Australians who served on the Western Front and other later conflicts where carnage or the carnage rate was even greater. Four battles, among many, soon after Gallipoli are significant, namely:
* 1915 Gallipoli———–26,663 casualties over nine months (awm.gov.au/encyclopedia)
* 1916 Fromelles———–5533 casualties in one night (awm.gov.au/wartime)
* 1917 Passchendaele——-38,000 casualties over three months (awm.gov.au/military-event)
* 1917 Polygon Wood——–5770 casualties over two days (awm.gov.au/event)
* 1918 Villers-Bretonneux–2400 casualties in one night (ww1westernfront.gov.au/villers-bretonneux).
Gallipoli The terrible conditions are in the public arena; it is however sad that a popular image of this campaign is Simpson and his donkey that sanitises the horrors of war.
Fromelles. This offensive has been described by senior officers as a “tactical abortion and a bloody holocaust”. After the failed attack, an eye witness records Australians writhing in agony in a nomans land covered in pieces of human meat.
Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres). The “intensity and horrendous conditions” moved a military officer to say, “this offensive symbolised the great loss,tragedy and futility of this war”. Five Australian divisions were involved. From this carnage sprouted ‘Flanders Fields where poppies grow’.
Polygon Wood. Amid seas of mud, 10,000 Australian troops of the 5th Division retook this position from the Germans.
Villers-Bretonneux (Amiens). The 5th Division took this position. It was a significant victory and crucial to ending the war. The Commander was General Sir John Monash who was instrumental in changing British military tactics.
The selection of Gallipoli as a focus for national ethos and commemoration is understandable, but illogical. The “birth” of Australian ethos could have equally occurred at Passchendaele which was a far more terrible event. Perhaps Gallipoli is an easier assimilable focus than the more defuse Western Front. This is regrettable as it ensures Australian youth has a myopic view of Australian contribution and sacrifice in the First World War and later wars. Somehow the Government must bring to the public mind a better understanding of Australia’s military history. With the effluxion of time and the passing of generations, historical fact will become garnished by myth. At some stage Gallipoli will have to share its pre-eminent position with military events of perceived greater moment.
In the welter of Gallipoli remembrance there appears to be a Government inspired culture of silence on the sacrifice and achievements of Australian troops in the Second World War. The raw numbers are:
* 17,500 casualties in the Pacific theatre (wikipedia.org/militaryhistoryofaustralia)
* 2,650 deaths on the Thai-Burma railway (anzacday.org.au/history/ww2)
* 40,600 deaths in Europe and North Africa (secondworldwarhistory.com/ww2)
Again, why the silence?
Australian military history represents an interesting triumvirate of endeavour, a partial compilation illustrates the point:
* First. The support of British Empire and the ANZUS Treaty well beyond our borders, e.g. Boer War, Western Front, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.
* Second. Missions and Peace-keeping in Timor Solomon Islands, Cyprus, Sumatra etc.
* Third. Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Malaya etc. This third group is significant as fighting in this theatre was actually involved in the defence of Australian borders. Australia was very nearly invaded by Japanese forces but Australians hear almost nothing on Australian victories and sacrifice in the defence of the Commonwealth of Australia. Why not? This is a fraught question.
A dark development may be unfolding. Hitherto, for one hundred years, the Turkish government has encouraged a secular society. By culture and tradition, Turkey follows Islam. Voices are now raised that favour a jihadist approach to the war with Australia. If momentum grows the nature of ANZAC services could be profoundly affected in Turkey. It has not been lost on Moslem intellectuals that Australia frequently calls on the Christian God when memorialising the Gallipoli campaign. Clearly Allah must also become involved.
I commemorated ANZAC Day at Pearl Beach, a small seaside village on the Central Coast. It was a day of quiet reflection. The pomp of National marches and the camaraderie is necessary however for people all over Australia – it is a peoples’ day. Letters on display to and from the Front contain deep emotions and longings that, if reflected in our own society today, would make it a kinder gentler society.

Rural Bliss
The face of the Upper Hunter and contiguous rural regions have transformed into an almost emerald landscape. Rainfall for the month reached 92 mm (over 3.5 inches) but it is still not sufficient to fill dams or make the local rivers run. Towards the end of April, a savage East Coast low battered and flooded coastal areas north and south of Sydney. To the Winds of Climate Change (January blog) can be added this latest weather disaster. Deaths. floods and wind damage have stretched Emergency Services.

The Drug Trade
There are four issues swirling round the events in Bali:
* ‘Saving face’ in Asian cultures is important. The megaphone diplomacy employed by the Australian Government gave no option to the Indonesian President but to maintain his Government policy. A back-down in the face of increasing pressure became unthinkable.
* The Australian Prime Minister has ‘lost face’ by his constant carping, one quiet phone call would have been sufficient. It is reported the President no longer accepts calls from the Prime Minister. The remainder of the Australian Government term will require bridge building. Australia needs Indonesia rather than visa versa.
* Throughout this sorry saga there has been a murky silence on the role of the Australian Federal Police. Their informant action has been expensive, has pushed diplomacy beyond accepted norms, has probably put trade at risk and polarised the community. The Federal Police owe the Australian public an explanation.
* As a fallout the Australian public should now see a ferocious policy on drug use in Australia. Such a policy should reflect the implacable opposition to the death penalty and an even more determined effort to reduce drug use in Australia. Anything less and sincerity might be questioned.
In this tense international situation Condorcet’s eulogy on the death of Benjamin Franklin comes to mind.
“He pardoned the present for the sake of the future.”

MARCH 2015

The Death Cult. Prime Minister Abbott.

In education there should be no class distinction. Analects of Confucius

The Winds of Climate Change 1
North America has experienced another Polar Vortex, a sustained blast of freezing air and snow from the Arctic. Historically these weather events occurred every twenty years. In quick succession in 2009-10, 2013, 2014 and 2015 these events portend climate rather than weather. This year snow has fallen in 48 of the 50 American states, Hawaii and Florida were spared. The situation was so dire that the Government ensured buses round the country with engines running all night provided shelter to thousands of homeless who would have frozen to death in temperatures down to -26*C.
The physics of these events is the Polar Vortex flowing round the Arctic Circle curves into lower latitudes. This is caused by the increased melting of Arctic ice as the sun heats the exposed water, moisture laden air rises to form feedstock for the violent Vortex blizzards which travel south displacing the more temperate Jet Stream. North America, Europe and Asia in recent times have all suffered unusual cold spells. As cold air roars out of the Arctic warm moisture laden air flows north to become feedstock for the violent snowstorms. Historically the Polar Vortex has been strong and kept the cold weather circulating round the polar region, this circulation system is weakening and the occasional Vortex is now increasingly looking like climate.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Australia, listening to reports on the aftermath of cyclones Marcia (Cat.5) and Lam (Cat.4) a disturbing number of rural food producers are starting to give up after being flattened by three cyclone disasters in four years. Issues swirling round these disasters are leading to expanding mental health problems. Concurrently and related to increasingly violent weather events there have been over 1000 separate bush fires in Western Australia in what has been described as the hottest summer on record.
Reports of people giving up could be a growing global trend, is this a thin edge of the social wedge that gives weight to Gilding’s statement “The future is upon us”? Those entrusted with Homeland Security must be viewing trends with apprehension.

The Cockpit that is Europe.
Until Australia merges ethnically and culturally closer into South-East Asia it should remain very aware of developments in Europe. Caucasian Australians should be viewing with concern a growing crisis in Europe, a flash point that has its origins in European history. It is a situation shaped by the past and a disturbing present. After the Second World War and following the formation of the Common Market and later the European Union citizens were given to believe there would be a permanent state of prosperity. Put into collective amnesia was the fact that over 100 million people had been killed between 1914 and 1945.
After the Second World War the US Marshall Plan and the projection of unity was supposed to submerge the old animosities between France and Germany and between Britain and France. Since the late 1940s there has been a disturbing loss of sovereignty with power shared solely between Moscow and Washington. This situation lead to a declining vitality among European nations even as the Common Market formed to be followed later by the European Union, this was followed by the decline of the Soviet Union and the birth of a menacing bear, the Russian Federation. This loss of sovereignty and the lack of competition between Europeans left a dissatisfied nationalism manifest in the rise of right wing nationalist political parties across Europe.
Europe has a long lived fracture line extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, this is the ‘blood lands’ of Europe, it is where the ‘Border Lands to Europe’ are situated some 400 miles from the sea, it is where orthodox Slavic Christianity and orthoprax Islam inter-finger with the Catholic and Protestant West. The current flash point is Ukraine whose national anthem is ‘Shche ne Umeria’, ‘Ukraine has not yet Died’.
The European international situation has degenerated to where Europe is not wealthy but Germany is wealthy, this nation has reached the unsustainable position where it exports 50% of its GDP, compared to an impecunious Europe. Intra-European markets have virtually closed down but what Germany needs is a free trade zone and it now has to look to South-East Asian markets and here there are huge problems.
German unemployment is only 5% and this is destabilising when compared to Greece 26%, Spain 24% and Italy 22%, although Greece only accounts for 2% of the European economy a measure of Euro instability can be judged by a concern for a Greek default. Populations in Europe are becoming increasingly reactionary and it is a German nightmare should countries in the Euro zone erect trade barriers
It has been mooted that Europe is in this ‘slough of despond’ because of the existence of the European Union. The Union destroyed competition between nations and levelled the playing field until it became a morass in which all became bogged in mediocrity. If Europe had kept only to the Common Market all would have been a lot better. Europe is a small continent comprised of some fifty sovereign entities, it was friction at the borders that created healthy competition. Neighbourley malice has been largely submerged by fifty years of growth, now malice and right wing nationalism is returning. Europe has slumbered on ignoring deep structural problems, national, economic and cultural, now these triplets are waking up after a long sleep. Ideas for this article have been derived from ‘The Future of Europe’ by Dr George Friedman, Stratfor.

Indonesia has no better friend than Australia.
; A map of south-east Asia showing the ASEAN Community is instructive, Australia is missing. The three pillars of the Community are socio-cultural, political and economic, these are laudable and it would appear Australia has much to offer. In assessing Australia’s place as an adjacent non member of the Community three exclusion factors are important, ethnicity, religion and an inherited GDP per head. Australia can never become a member of this Community in its present form due to these exclusion factors, GDP per head for ASEAN is $4,300 (The Economist) while for Australia it is $67,000 (World Bank). Historically and politically it is quite different but in time with Asian immigration and fecundity this will change.
In the unsustainable world of the 21st century Australia will become more isolated and perforce Australia and New Zealand will be drawn closer together under a defence pact with a potentially unenthusiastic America. Australian policy makers must hope America will continue to use Australia as a barracks for a fighting force, a naval base for refits, R&R and a military communications facility, in this context it is of interest to note that the communications base in the Caribbean has been quietly moved to Western Australia. Australia is included as a marginal outlier in the OECD ratings and a peripheral observer to NATO. Unfortunately the way the economy is declining it could loose its place in the G20.
Australia has two great opportunities to counter this potential isolation and to become central to South East Asian affairs. Its secondary and tertiary education standards are widely admired, Australia should now be training quality teaching staff and expanding existing schools and preparing to build new ones for a coming influx of Asian students. The second opportunity will be to contribute impressively to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership initiated by China. This will provide for Australian construction companies, engineers and research institutions to be at the forefront of infrastructure projects.
What has all this to do with the recent proximate quote by Prime Minister Abbott “Indonesia has no better friend than Australia, we will stand by you and help you in times of need”! Drilling into this statement it unwittingly reeks of superiority and an ex-Empire mentality. This turn of phrase would never be used between two equals.It is a statement that gives the impression it does not recognise the ruling elite and intelligentsia of the ASEAN Community are on a par or more astute than equivalent Australians. While Australian foreign aid appears well meaning it is not lost on many in Cambodia, Malaya, Nauru, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea that Australian aid may be associated with refugee issues.
With the exception of Thailand all other members of the Community have living memories of colonialism, Australia is tainted with this tar brush as it is a successful coloniser in another’s land and has inherited a standard of living that has its roots in Empire. Religion is another great differentiate, Australian Christian faith has virtually nothing in common with Islam or Buddhism.

The Winds of Climate Change 2
Following on from January blog cyclone Pam over Vanuatu and cyclone Olwyn over Carnarvon, WA, are both associated with similar physical characteristics. Cyclone Pam was the strongest ever recorded in this portion of the Western Pacific, it was classified as category 5 moving towards an unclassified 6, wind was gusting over 200 mph (320 kmph). According to the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, USA, the sea surface temperatures were 2*C warmer and moisture content was 10-20% greater than normal for this time of year. Likewise the sea surface temperature of the north-west coast of Western Australia was also 2*C above normal. In 2011 the Carnarvon region suffered devastating damage to its banana crops, it is the same again in 2015. Similarly with the banana industry in north Queensland in recent years, for how much longer can citizens climb out of the financial and physical debris and start again?

Fault Lines between Cultures
The Death Cult, what a ridiculous phrase! Is this absence of understanding on the part of the Australian Prime Minister or is it a deliberate attempt to mislead Australians as to the causes of this phenonomen? In either case it is unprofessional.
The Sunni Islamic State was conceived as a response to Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite (a corrupt off-shoot of Shi’ite belief) regime slaughter of Sunni Syrians, it was a response to a dreadful civil war in which the Christian West refused to become involved. The Islamic State is following an interpretation of the Qur’an and hadith of the Prophet. Considering the Enlightenment has not reached Islam there is a similarity to Catholic and Protestant massacres in the Middle Ages. That Islamic State has erupted in Syria and Iraq is not unexpected since both countries were controlled by essentially Shi’ite administrations that persecuted the Sunni majority.The movement must be tamed and its ideology redirected, Australians must be given more than jingoistic phrases to gain community understanding.
The term ‘radicalising of Moslem youth’ by third parties is only part of the problem. It would be more correct to suggest Australia is, in part, a contributor to the radicalisation. The French Government has recognised its responsibility and is looking at an integration program. Despite the back slapping hoo-ha of Australian multiculturalists it is likely many young Moslems cannot see a vision for their own future within a Caucasian society indifferent to their needs and aspirations, there is no manly challenge for them. The average Moslem is more religious than the average Christian so they may be enthused to take up arms in the name of Allah and right the wrongs imposed on Sunni by Shia.
That the Australian Government suggests this is not a religious problem is incorrect, it will mainly be Sunni who volunteer for the Islamic State, Shia Moslems have other concerns. This problem is a spiritual issue highly charged with emotion, it cannot be remedied by the dead hand of terrorist legislation. Surveillance and police raids will have some success but it will not purge the thoughts of thousands of young Sunni Moslems who are aware. The Romans tried to destroy Christian belief in the coliseum and failed
There are two related factors, for centuries young men have flocked to war, it is in the nature of young men to want excitement, derring-do and glory, that reality might be different is not a deterrent. The second factor is that young Moslems must be provided with a sense of purpose and satisfaction in their lives, this is even more urgent considering unemployment levels in Australia. Indonesia is concerned at the number of its youth attempting to join Islamic State, the population is 99% Sunni. This is significant as it suggests that the motive is primarily to join jihad. This fact is relevant for Australia’s approach to the problem since it can be inferred that discontent with life in the Australian community is of lesser moment than also a desire for jihad. This is a belief issue and will be hard to change while in the embrace of Sunni Islam. The Prime Minister must realise this is a religious problem.
Turning round young minds will take a long time but a suggested start is to initiate a modified Duke of Edinburgh award scheme that challenges bodies and minds and concurrently introduce current affairs-cum-politics sessions into schools, both would be a compulsory part of the curriculum. Enhanced training/ employment opportunities should be established in popular Moslem residential areas. The Government will have to lead this charge using open minded young Moslems who speak the language of their peers, ageing Imams are not the answer.
Any program will be costly for the Australian taxpayer but that is the cost of open ended multiculturalism where minority faiths are involved.

Education and Employment
The ABS produced informative figures of educational achievement in 2009 on the working age population of 10.15 million and its educational standards (rounded) are:
Post Graduates <1%, Bachelor 23%, Diploma 15%, Certificate 1-4 35%, Unskilled 26%. (410.2 Australian Social Trends, September, 2010) The Sydney Morning Herald (6/10/14) joined the chorus and reported on the serious STEM (science, technology, maths, science) study decline. Working on a post graduate estimate of <1% this means Australia is is producing less than 10,000 STEM graduates each year while the majority will be studying 'soft' subjects, on these numbers Australian future high tech industrial development will tend to stall. The Q&A show on the 16th March dealt with Education and Unemployment. Canada has a similarity to Australia, it was also reliant on natural resources but has revitalised its industrial capacity, the painful surprise was that as GDP increased so did unemployment. Modern industrialisation is now driven by computers and automation not factory labour. This outcome has special relevance for the 25 to 30 percent of the labour force (subject to adjustment for 2015) that is Unskilled. While it is important that students live with dignity and that HEX fees are not an intolerable burden the critical requirement is for Australia to raise standards and numbers of STEM teaching staff at schools and universities Commencing with Whitlam in the early 1970s Australia developed an egalitarian education system to ensure youth would have the opportunity to reach their potential. Now the Australian public must be made aware it is the upper echelon of the work force together with capital that will produce employment and industrialisation for the bulk of Australians. Meaningful employment will have to be generated for a probably increasing Unskilled group. To give these ideas substance more resources will be required to identify and and extend young minds to ensure what ever their 'class' they will have the opportunity to embrace STEM material. With in these same schools with the above arrangement classes can be organised to cater for those with aptitudes and aspirations towards trades and diplomas, this is 'streaming' but in an increasingly competitive world people may have to amend cherished opinions. Chinese Hegemony – A rising International Oligarch.
The confusing comments on the benefits of the proposed 49% leaseing arrangements of ‘poles and wires’ to a ?Chinese investor days out from a NSW State election generated a search for trends in Chinese industrial investment in Australia. Activity is from a low base but rising, if the trend continues by mid-century Chinese foreign investment will be considerable as will also be an increasing Asian demographic within Australian society. Individually investment trends may not be significant but the cumulative influence will become clearer because many of the commercial activities will be directly controlled by State organisations directed by Chinese government policy.
Data was gathered for Chinese investment activities in real estate, natural resources, agribusiness and electricity distribution, gross figures are:
* between 2006-2012 investments were $46.9 billion (US)
mining $36.9, gas $8.9, renewables $0.2, agribusiness $0.9
* for 2013 investment was $5.4 bn
* for 2013 Australian global share of investments was 10.8%
* since 2008 Chinese global expenditure on mineral/petroleum assets was $175 bn
REAL ESTATE.
The state controlled Sino Ocean Land Company is building huge (40 floor) blocks of flats in Melbourne and possibly Sydney, expenditure in 2013 was nearly $6 billion.
NATURAL RESOURCES. A surprising condition of the recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China is that mines are specifically excluded from Australia’s strategic assets, China considers Australian raw materials are vital to its economy. Current major projects are the Curtis and Browse gas fields, lithium, alumina, Karratha iron ore mine, several coal mines in the Hunter valley, two coal projects in the Galilee basin and the Watermark coal project, Gunnadah, for which the Shenhua Group paid $300 million for the right to explore. The recent acquisition of the lithium resource south of Perth by the Chengdu Tianqi Group and the China Investments Corporation is significant. This is reported as the largest spodumene (lithium aluminium silicate) deposit in the world, 70% of production will go to China for electric car batteries.
AGRIBUSINESS. In the period 2011-2012 Chinese investment was $980 million for logistics facilities and sugar, cotton, crop and wine producers, a recent acquisition has been 50 dairy farms in Victoria. Breaking news, Chinese interests have purchased Glenrock cattle station in the Hunter Valley for $45 million. Prime beef production will now be directed towards the Chinese market.
ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION. The State Grid Corporation of China has purchased a controlling interest in the South Australian and Victorian networks.Should the Liberals win the NSW State election on the 28th March 49% of the State’s ‘poles and wires’ might be acquired by Chinese State interests. Thus for south-eastern Australia including the Australian Capital Territory power distribution could be controlled by an overseas Communist state. What other capital in a Western democracy is in this situation?
CONCLUSION. Chinese investment in Australia is frequently arranged through State controlled organisations. The investment is in critical industries, if prosecuted over time aggregate foreign control will become significant, the beneficiary being the Chinese market. The caveat is that to develop Australia foreign investment is essential. The Economist has predicted that in 2015 the outbound foreign investment by China will exceed inbound foreign investment
(Reference. Australian Business Review, August 2013. Financial Services,February,2015)

Rural Bliss.
A dry summer has morphed into a dry autumn. Graziers in a wide area of New South Wales are being forced to sell all but a few breeding cows. Dams are drying up and creek water has disappeared into gravels. The country is too dry to sustain pasture and to damp to sustain cactus. This is the twilight world of purgatory for many on the land.