Testing times for the Government with its plan to hold a nationwide vote on “gay marriage” (or “marriage equality” as it is better termed).

With the Nick “Team” Xenophon votes in Parliament now definitely against the plan, Labor will be extremely unlikely to back the plan, even if there was ever any rarely chance of them doing so. They could, theoretically, still decide to abstain, allowing the Government to escape with a win on the floor of the Senate by default, but their current rhetoric would seem to make that unlikely, and they would be roundly criticised for allowing a measure to pass that they have stated categorically they believe should be scrapped.

Our view is that the Government will still “test” the Parliament with a vote – judging that a defeat in Parliament will be less damaging to their stocks than just giving up on on their manifesto pledge altogether.

The likely breakdown of votes can be seen below, courtesy of The Age’s neat Senate-working-out interactive map, assuming Family First vote in favour of the plebiscite as their last best chance to get the people to reject marriage equality, and we are basing Lambie’s likely vote on the basis of her earlier statements that Australians should have the right to vote in a referendum on gay marriage but she would ‘fight like hell’ against any changes.

 

 

Looking dicey for Turnbull gay marriage vote.

Looking dicey for Turnbull gay marriage vote.

 

Assuming the above scenario works out then it seems virtually impossible for the Government to avoid a free vote on the topic in Parliament as an alternative to the plebiscite, though when that might be is problematical. They could theoretically take a bill to reform the marriage act to the next election, so they can claim a mandate to make the necessary changes if they win again, but that would seem to drag out what has already been a marathon national debate way too far.

There is clearly a mood in the country for change, even though pockets of strong and principled resistance remain. But the case has now been argued endlessly and surely the reform side has won.

As one caller to talkback radio in Melbourne put it last week to the relevant government minister, “For heaven’s sake, just get it done!”

Yes, that was us.

All of which also frees up a staggering $160 million which was going to be wasted on a non-binding vote to be spent on something else, or at the least chucked back into the empty government pot to go towards reducing the deficit. That sweetens the pill for the Government somewhat: umpteen million taxpayers will be pleased.

harred

“Haters gonna hate” goes one of the more popular phrases doing the rounds on the internet currently.

This fascinating – strongly recommended and well-researched – article from the BBC tackles one of the most pressing issues facing modern democracy.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160823-how-modern-life-is-destroying-democracy

It argues that the brutal tribalisation of Western democratic politics – the ever widening gap between left and right that also sees both those “wings” of politics more extreme in reality as well as simply being perceived as such – is partly a function of the way we live now, and perhaps especially interestingly, that the algorithm-driven marginalisation of readers into ever more narrowly targeted discussion groups on social media is a major factor.

In other words, the more time we spend on Facebook, the less we are exposed to competing points of view, and the more rigid we therefore become in our opinions, because we are constantly exerting confirmation bias on ourselves, and receiving it from those who agree with us. What’s more, the stronger the confirmation bias the less likely we are to accept opposing evidence. Even facts don’t make any difference to the opinions we hold.

As we replicate this social media bias into our daily lives with our friends’ groups, the same effect is multiplied.

All of which bodes ill for the institution of democracy. Democracy only survives – only works – when there is a broad, implicitly accepted consensus that disagreement isn’t just healthy, it is actually the oxygen that nourishes democracy. Debate is good. It’s more than good, it’s how wisdom is created. It’s also how agreement is built between competing groups exerting different pressures on the system. With no debate, whichever side is stronger merely overthrows the other, and the other becomes angrier and more likely to resort to non-democratic methods to achieve their desired outcomes.

The number of friendships shattered by the emotions released over “Brexit” must pass into tens of thousands, or more. And it isn’t good enough to say “well, they can’t have been very good friendships to begin with”, because we can observe that many were. But the tensions raised, especially via the debating tactics used, essentially told people that their side were angels and the other side demons. In most cases, of course, that simply wasn’t true.

The current American presidential election has descended into by far the least edifying contest in living memory.

No, Hilary Clinton is not a perfect human being any more than her husband was. Yet neither is she the epitome of evil and illegality that she is accused of being by many on the right. Discussion of her intended program is virtually banished in pursuit of relentless personalised character attacks. Similarly, Trump has said plenty – and done plenty – that warrants forensic analysis, and his character is legitimately under question. Yes despite his strangled syntax and rubbery policy positions, it also cannot be denied that he has tapped into a rich and deep vein of anti-establishment angst that deserves to be heard and understood, lest it spiral beyond the system and into the realm of civil disobedience and worse.

There have already been glimmerings of a rejection of the very notion of civil society in America, to left and right. This is extremely worrying, as the country’s nascent economic recovery is very fragile, and the rest of the world relies on it becoming locked into place. That requires stability.

 

hitler

 

What we need is a return to courtesy. To a willingness to concede that the other side might have a point. Not a mindless dumbing-down style of courtesy that means we tolerate people saying any old nonsense – as we have argued often free speech never was and never should be considered to be absolute.

We need the people to demand courtesy of our political leaders, and we need the people to demand that they operate with transparency, ethics, and respect for their opponents. That they argue the merits of a policy position, and not just the morality or motives of their opponents.

We need, in effect, to demand more of our leaders; we demand they do much more than enthusiastically follow whatever lapse into tribalism we exhibit. A great truism is that ‘We get the politicians we deserve”. So getting better politicians means we have to say, loud and clear, that we want to elevate people who can look beyond stoking the fires of tribalism – yes, even to the point of putting those fires out, and even if they serve an electoral purpose.

They get paid the big bucks. We have a perfect right to expect more than self-serving populism in return.

girl runningA friend writes to Wellthiswhatithink with an encouraging and uplifting story of humanity shining through in a crisis.

Like most countries in the West, Australia has its own concerns about relations with our Muslim community, and concerns about the problems in the Middle East; this little story shows a kinder side of the problem.

“With the Olympics in full swing we recently took the kids to Doncaster Athletics track for practice – watching Usain Bolt had inspired them! – and there were a few people doing laps.

I noticed a little girl (no more than about eight or nine) running around the track on her own.

Suddenly I heard the most horrific screaming coming from the back straight of the track. I turned around and saw the little girl hysterical, screaming and crying and red all over her face then I realised that the poor little thing had lost concentration – the clever folk running the stadium place a metal barrier about four feet of the ground at two different points of the track allegedly to protect the first two lanes – and the kid had run face first into a metal pole.

I ran over to her (shocked that others were just standing there and watching) and her face was really swollen. She was shaking, screaming and had blood pouring out of her mouth, two teeth knocked, blood pouring out all over her face and clothes. The pain and distress must have been terrifying.

With a couple of kids of my own, I knew the most important thing was to calm her down. I told her she was going to be ok and placed my daughter’s shirt to her mouth to stem the bleeding and she basically started to faint as I carried her back towards the main entry looking for her family.

By this stage all my guys were with me and I sent them off to find the parents. By now I was frankly getting very concerned for the child’s safety. Suddenly an ashen faced woman and her equally pale young son came running towards me speaking a language I didn’t recognise. I tried to explain that we would take her to the Community Centre (which I noticed was open and had a small group inside) which was next to the track.

When we got to the Community Centre a group of young Muslim families were having afternoon tea (dressed in their traditional clothing) and they helped take the child from me, and one of the group (who might have been a Doctor, as he certainly seemed to know what he was doing) took charge and they started to help revive the child.

I asked the mother of the little girl what language they spoke and she said, in stumbling, broken English but loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘Hebrew’.

I didn’t say anything more and they continued to stem the blood from the girl and care for her.

The ‘Doctor’ didn’t look up from his work, but he had heard the mother. He just said, very quietly and intently, almost to himself but I knew he was talking to me, ‘We help everyone’  and they continued to do what they could. Nothing else was said and they washed the blood from the child’s face, and I was mightily relieved to see that she was now conscious again, and a lot calmer.

I advised the Mother to take the child straight to the Royal Children’s Hospital and she was so incredibly appreciative – she said thank you in her own way to all the people that helped and took the little girl off to the hospital.

I must say we were all shaken – and covered in blood, also – but it just goes to show that people really are people, whatever their social or racial background, and they will help others in need, and I felt genuinely touched by what I saw.”

We thank Simon so much for sending us this encouraging anecdote. Coming in the week that also saw that heart-rending photograph of the little Syrian boy sitting dazed and bloodied on a chair having been pulled from the rubble of an air strike, it struck us as well worth re-publishing.

If only – if only – we could all always see the human beings – the children – in our stories. Every one of them an individual. Frightened. Hurting. Deserving of our care.

Innocent.

rubble

 

Anyone, anywhere in the world, can donate directly to the Red Cross in Italy via this link https://www.ammado.com/fundraiser/italy-eq/donate

You can donate anonymously, or attach a message, as you wish.

And we urge any readers of ours who can who are in Italy to donate blood. The need is very urgent. Locations in the area are below, or enquire at your nearest hospital.

 

blood donation

 

Facebook has set up their Safety Check feature for people in the area to let friends and family know they are safe.

You can help by sharing this information, too. Please post a link to this blog on your Facebook, Twitter or other feeds. Thank you.

amatriciana-17510_lOne of the two main towns devastated by the quake is the home of the Amatriciana recipe, shortened to Matriciana by some people, a hugely popular pasta dish enjoyed by people the world over.

Sadly, many people killed in the terrible event were actually visiting the area to enjoy a festival of the famed dish of bacon/ham, chilli and tomato.

Here’s one idea: if Amatriciana is one of your favourite dishes, then maybe donate whatever a dish of it would cost you in your local pasta restaurant? That’s what we’ve done.

Our prayers and sadness for the people of this beautiful region.

dichro

We’re biased, of course, as this blog is from Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, but it’s a really interesting article about an utterly beautiful product and we thought it was well worth sharing.

Enjoy!

Click here: http://jenieyolland.com/everything-wanted-know-dichroic-glass/

Includes links to classes where you can come along and learn to work with the glass yourself. Such fun🙂

 

Thanks to Kiss FM we now know that ten popular Melbourne restaurants have been penalised with more than $325,000 in fees for operating filthy; cockroach infested kitchens.

The restaurants were prosecuted in 2015 for reasons ranging from failing to protect food from pests to handling food in an unhealthy manner. The majority were Asian dining ventures.

The biggest fine was given to Post Deng Cafe in Little Bourke Street which was hit with a fine of $50,000 plus they had to pay $3442 in costs.

It is now under new management but in May 2015 it was convicted of ‘’unsafe food handling, failing to take all practicable measures to eradicate and prevent pests, and failing to ensure it was clean enough that “there was no accumulation of food waste, dirt, and grease.”

Other restaurants that have been prosecuted are:

Raramen – Glen Waverley – $19,000 – live cockroaches, flies, rodent faces all found.
Cafe Student Curries and Pizza – Clayton – $67,500 (including costs)- inadequate pest control, poor food storage.
Pabu Grill and Sake – Collingwood – $45,000 – 19 breaches of the Food Act.
La Casareccia Pizza Restaurant (aka Grillers Steak and Ribs, Bubbles Seafood, My Room Service), 653 High St, Thornbury — fined $40,000
Dumpling King, Westfield Doncaster Food Court, Doncaster — fined $25,000
Healthy Noodle, 1905 Dandenong Rd, Clayton — fined $17,000
Dees Kitchen, 19 Pier St, Dromana — fined $15,000
Wendy’s Bakery, 473 Whitehorse Rd, Mitcham — fined $7500
Hills Noodle Shop, 585 Station St, Box Hill — fined $4000

Extra flies with that?

Ironically, we do have a tinge of sympathy for these outlets, whilst being very pleased to see the problems picked up.

When we wuz a yoof, we worked as a cook in a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, holiday camps and on a fruit and veg van doing the rounds of major hotels.

More than once, we failed to duck a full-blown hosing down in one particular kitchen where once a week the head chef would literally take a fire hose to the place, in an attempt to stay the right side of the inspectors. It’s a stressful topic.

In today’s dog-eat-dog world (if you’ll pardon the pun) it’s hard for small restaurants to make a great living – the market is over-supplied, the owners and staff are frequently exhausted, and frankly if we all live one metre from a rat (as we are told we do) and in a warm climate, which we do, it’s damn near impossible to be sure that there are never, ever droppings or a bloody cockroach somewhere.

Yes, yes, we all assume kitchens are dirty places – and some are – but many owners fight a long and often losing battle trying to to the right thing.

Most of us head to Asia and chow down at street stalls and shanty town restaurants where the health standards are … well, less than perfect. And most of us survive, albeit sometimes with an upset tummy for our sins, although that is most likely, frankly, to come from eating salad vegetables washed in unclean water.

BTW, if there’s a couple of guiding rules for eating in Asia, it’s:

  • Don’t eat anything that isn’t piping hot
  • Don’t eat any fruit, vegetables and salad that you haven’t washed yourself.

We once nearly died in Whenghou, but that’s another story.

As for these Melbourne restaurants, we’re sure they’ll pick up their game, and so they should. But some of the fines are swingeing, and these are, when all’s said and done, small businesses. It’s not exactly an incentive to open a small eatery, is it?

Father takes his kids to a theme park before shooting them in the head, and his wife. And himself.

http://time.com/4452939/mark-short-murder-suicide-hershey-park/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

river

Calling all musicians, of all types, everywhere in the world.

Please find below some song lyrics that I just wrote.

This is what you might call a social media experiment. And a cultural experiment.

They’re yours. So long as you put them to music. Use them freely. I want to see what you come up with.

Some dead simple rules to follow:

If you use them, send me a sound file. To steveyolland@yahoo.com, please.

They’re copyright to me, but they’re offered to you to use freely. Just acknowledge where they came from in any public performance, whether online or in any other way.

There is only one proviso to the above.

If you make MONEY out of them, then you split any money you bank with me, 50-50.

Have fun!

 

THE RIVER IN MY HEAD
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
Over the rocks that lie there cracked
It falls, and runs in squalls.
The river in my head
It never stops, it never dries
I think it’s gonna run forever
Till it washes me away
One day
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
It sweeps away the careful bridges
See those snowfalls. See the windfalls.
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
Gonna have to swim for safety
Reach the safety of the walls.
The river in my head
It never stops, it never dries
I think it’s gonna run forever
Till it washes me away
One day
One day
One day

img_3023

An open letter signed by 50 Republican national security experts has warned that nominee Donald Trump “would be the most reckless president” in US history.

The group, which includes the former CIA director Michael Hayden, said Mr Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president.

Many of the signatories had declined to sign a similar note in March.

But in response, Mr Trump said they were part of a “failed Washington elite” looking to hold on to power.

The open letter comes after a number of high-profile Republicans stepped forward to disown the property tycoon.

Mr Trump has broken with years of Republican foreign policy on a number of occasions.

The Republican candidate has questioned whether the US should honour its commitments to Nato, endorsed the use of torture and suggested that South Korea and Japan should arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

“He weakens US moral authority as the leader of the free world,” the letter read. “He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the US Constitution, US laws, and US institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” the letter bluntly states.

In a statement, Mr Trump said the names on the letter were “the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess”.

“We thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place,” he continued. “They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold on to their power and it’s time they are held accountable for their actions.”

Despite Mr Trump’s typically contemptuous dismissal, among those who signed the letter were people of impeccable credentials, such as John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence and later deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who was also a former deputy secretary of state and former president of the World Bank; and two former secretaries of homeland security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff.

The letter echoed similar sentiment shared by some Republican national security officials in March, but the new additions came after Mr Trump encouraged Russia to hack Mrs Clinton’s email server, according to the New York Times.

Mr Trump later said he was “being sarcastic” when he made the remarks about hacking his rival’s emails.

Some of the latest letter’s signatories plan to vote for Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton while others will refuse to vote, but “all agree Trump is not qualified and would be dangerous,” said John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to former Secretary of State Condi Rice who drafted the letter.

The open letter follows a fresh round of Republican defections in the wake of recent controversy surrounding Mr Trump.

Lezlee Westine, a former aide to President George W Bush, announced her support for Mrs Clinton in a statement to the Washington Post on Monday.

Wadi Gaitan, a prominent Latino official and chief spokesman for the Republican party in Florida, announced he would leave the party over Mr Trump’s candidacy.

Trump
Some Republicans remember their heritage:

Dear Members and Alumni,

In every presidential election since 1888, the members and Executive Board of the Harvard Republican Club have gathered to discuss, debate, and eventually endorse the standard-bearer of our party. But for the first time in 128 years, we, the oldest College Republicans chapter in the nation, will not be endorsing the Republican nominee.

Donald Trump holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses –from racist slander to misogynistic taunts– is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel.

If enacted, Donald Trump’s platform would endanger our security both at home and abroad. Domestically, his protectionist trade policies and draconian immigration restrictions would enlarge our federal deficit, raise prices for consumers, and throw our economy back into recession. Trump’s global outlook, steeped in isolationism, is considerably out-of-step with the traditional Republican stance as well. The flippancy with which he is willing to abdicate the United States’ responsibility to lead is alarming. Calling for the US’ withdrawal from NATO and actively endorsing nuclear proliferation, Donald Trump’s foreign policy would wreak havoc on the established world order which has held aggressive foreign powers in check since World War II.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Donald Trump simply does not possess the temperament and character necessary to lead the United States through an increasingly perilous world. The last week should have made obvious to all what has been obvious to most for more than a year. In response to any slight –perceived or real– Donald Trump lashes out viciously and irresponsibly. In Trump’s eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, failing, idiot –and that’s just his “fellow” Republicans.

He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.

Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.

Millions of people across the country are feeling despondent. Their hours have been cut, wages slashed, jobs even shipped overseas. But Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to fix that. He has a plan to exploit that.

Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children. 

President Reagan called on us to maintain this, our shining city on a hill. He called on us to maintain freedom abroad by keeping a strong presence in the world. He called on us to maintain liberty at home by upholding the democratic process and respecting our opponents. He called on us to maintain decency in our hearts by loving our neighbor.

He would be ashamed of Donald Trump. We are too. 

This fall, we will instead focus our efforts on reclaiming the Republican Party from those who have done it considerable harm, campaigning for candidates who will uphold the conservative principles that have defined the Republican Party for generations. We will work to ensure both chambers of Congress remain in Republican hands, continuing to protect against executive overreach regardless of who wins the election this November.

We call on our party’s elected leaders to renounce their support of Donald Trump, and urge our fellow College Republicans to join us in condemning and withholding their endorsement from this dangerous man. The conservative movement in America should not and will not go quietly into the night.

A longtime student of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 

De Tocqueville believed in the United States. Americans are a decent people. We work hard, protect our own, and look out for one another in times of need, regardless of the color of our skin, the God we worship, or our party registration. Donald Trump may not believe in that America, but we do. And that America will never cease to be great.
The Harvard Republican Club

FEEL FREE TO SHARE WIDELY

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 4.22.40 pm

80 Shia Muslims from the minority Hazari sect were killed Saturday and over 300 mutilated by IS in car bomb attacks on their peaceful demonstration in Kabul.

Be interesting to see how it occupies the news cycle in the West over the next couple of days. Or not.

Haven’t heard a word on it anywhere. You?


An INDEPENDENT review, please note.

It is rumoured that the hard heads in the GOP have already given up any hope of Donald Trump winning the Presidential election in November and are casting their minds to 2020 with increasing attention. They were hardly helped by the laughable plagiarism scandal of Donald’ Drumpf’s poor wife reading a speech written for her that was in part lifted holus bolus from a previous Michelle Obama speech – really, who is running this shambles? – but today’s appearance by beaten candidate Ted Cruz was a killer.

Just look at this:

 

We are by no means fans of Cruz. We just honestly don’t think he’s an awfully nice guy, and he’s a few light years to the right of our own opinions. Mind you, it was hard to disagree with any of the platitudes he delivered in this address. And watching a bunch looney-tunes red-necks booing him for sympathising with the child of a dead Dallas policeman was not the most edifying thing we’ve ever seen.

But today the chickens came home to roost as he very obviously did NOT endorse the equally loathsome Trump as the GOP’s candidate, ripping any semblance of party unity to shreds. Hardly surprising when Trump attacked his wife on a very sexist and personal basis during the campaign and also dubbed Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”. Probably a bit much to expect them to kiss and make up, although the managers of the GOP obviously lived in hope. If we had been running this convention we would have given all of Trump’s critics inside the party a week’s free vacation somewhere without Twitter or journalists, but hey, what do we know?

Anyhow, as you can see in the video, he was booed off stage at the Republican National Convention in Oklahoma after failing to endorse newly elected presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Now Cruz has been accused of ‘snubbing’ Trump during his speech, after finishing in second place in the primaries. And while his speech initially began with a standing ovation from the audience, the mood quickly changed after Cruz noticeably neglected Trump from his address.

 

Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican convention. Photo: Getty

“I want to congratulate Donald Trump for winning the nomination last night. And like each of you, I want to see the principles our party believes prevail in November,” Cruz began.

But that was the first and last reference of Trump’s name.

So as he continued, an increasingly restless audience began to realise an endorsement for their leader was not on the cards.

“We want Trump! We want Trump!” fans shouted out over Cruz, as he reminded everyone to vote in November.

 

Cruz was jeered off stage after he failed to endorse Trump. Photo: Getty

“If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience and vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution,” Cruz went on.

The final minutes of his speech were virtually drowned out by booing and chanting, leaving him to simply smile ironically and wave as he made his way off stage.

A reporter for CNN said other members of the Republican party were infuriated by the speech.

“The anger is boiling over. So much so that I am told by a source, who was in a donor suite, when Ted Cruz walked in after he said his speech, the people were so angry at Cruz that they were calling him a disgrace to his face,” reporter Dana Bash said.

 

Donald Trump looked unimpressed as he stood at the back of the arena with his family. Photo: AFP

“A state party chair was yelling at him so angrily that he had to be restrained. That gives you a sense of just how intense the anger is now on the floor.”

And Cruz’s wife Heidi had to be escorted from the audience after her husband was jeered off stage, while US Political media site FiveThirtyEight labelled the speech as a “giant middle finger to Trump”.

During the end of Cruz’s address, Trump appeared at the back of the stadium where he waved to his fans before being seated with his family.

Pass the popcorn. This party is unelectable. Not only will Clinton beat Trump hands down – a remarkable achievement for a women who has been ruthlessly pursued, pilloried and calumnised for years now, and as a result is toxically unpopular with vast swathes of the population – but it’s very likely Republicans will lose seats “up and down the ticket”. Exactly how this will play out nationally is as yet indistinct, but it’s an effect that scares Republican grandees and candidates mightily. They will lose good people, vital if the drift of their party to the wilder outreaches of the political wilderness is to be resisted.

And frankly, more fool them. After years of pandering to the “anti-politics” mob in their own party, (of whom Cruz was a leading light), Republicans have been warned again and again and again that they are converting their once great party into a basket case, and effectively transforming America into a one-party-dominated country that is bitterly – very bitterly – divided between “everyone else” and the beaten down, angry, marginalised white working class, the lower middle class, and the elderly.

The Republicans are eating themselves. It’s going to get uglier before it gets better, if it ever does.

No headphone jack iPhone 7 ‘revealed’

The unverified version of the iPhone 7 on top, compared to a iPhone 6s on the bottom.

A video posted to the Chinese version of Facebook showing what looks to be the new iPhone 7 has backed rumours circulating around the tech world that the new phone will have no headphone jack.

The post, which came to light over the weekend, shows an unidentified Chinese man showing off the phone and comparing it to the iPhone 6s.

Aesthetically both phones look very similar, but there are notable changes such as the headphone jack and a larger camera hole, which suggests a bigger and better camera, too.

The iPhone 7 is rumoured to have 32GB as its entry-level storage capacity, doing away with the cheapest 16GB model, while other online posts suggest the phone will have a bigger 5.5-inch option and a camera with optical zoom.

None of the rumours have been substantiated, and the source of the video is not known.

Anyhow, Apple historically launches the phones in September and makes them available later that month.

So presumably if you want to listen to your music discretely, or watch video on the tram, or whatever, you’re going to need …. what, Bluetooth or wi-fi headsets.

Which will no doubt be sold separately and cost $200. Right.

(West Australian and others)

lecter

THANKS, FACEBOOK. I NEEDED THAT.

Now I get anxious when I look at pictures of babies on Facebook.

I do not understand. I think we should be told.

One minute they’re on the breast. Or gurgling cutely. Rolling on blankies,

eyes bigger than berries.

Next they’re pulling the wings off flies, beating up the kid down the street, and one in umpteen thousand turn into serial killers.

How do you tell? Why one and not the other?

You can’t really “Dislike”. A baby.

Can’t say, “Honest injun’

I reckon you’ve got a little nutter there.”

Don’t like the way he’s staring.

People will be upset. Understandably.

But not in Hawaii. Not so much.

Hardly any at all, in fact.

Must be all the Pina Coladas.

Hard to be all screwed up when a Pina Colada is just a

swim-up bar away.

You’re pretty safe in Hawaii.

Bad in Washington. Way bad.

Everyone has a 0.025% chance of being strangled – strangled, or shot
– most likely.

By a nutter. In Washington.

Maybe it’s the politics. CSPAN is driving all the babies mad
left watching TV, while Mum fixes breakfast.

But you probs won’t be dead by poison. That’s exaggerated.

Agatha Christie is responsible for a lot of misconceptions.

So if you’re sick after the lox and cream cheese bagel

it’s probably just the fish.

The fish has gone bad. Not the baby.

So now you know.

TurnbullOne feature of the Liberal National Coalition’s nail-bitingly close win in the Australian election that deserves comment – especially as the knives are at the very least being sharpened for Mr Turnbull’s back by the right wing in his party, even if they are currently going back in the sheaths for a while – is that the Coalition didn’t just get a bare majority of seats, (or at least that’s how it looks currently, and Labor have now officially conceded defeat) but it also looks increasingly likely that they also won the popular vote.

That fact gives their election (and mandate) added credibility, unlike when then ALP leader Kim Beazley famously won the popular vote (in October 1988) but still lost.

With about 80 per cent of lower house ballots counted the Coalition has received 50.13 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis to Labor’s 49.87 per cent.

What that obscures, of course, is two very important issues: firstly, that the ALP’s primary vote remains rooted in the mid-thirty percents (currently about 35%) putting them a long way behind the popularity of the Coalition, and far from being able to claim to be a natural party of government in any meaningful sense. And secondly that although the Coalition vote fell by about 3.4% (about .4% more than we thought it would) a substantial percentage of that fall went to third parties, and not the ALP.

Apart from a slight uptick for the Liberal’s National Party partners, we also saw increases for the Nick Xenophon Team, various “Christian” parties, and a rat-bag collection of right wing independents, notably the One Nation “party” of Pauline Hanson and the likes of “The Human Headline”, Derryn Hinch, in Victoria, and Jackie Lambie in the Tasmanian Senate, not to mention the libertarian Liberal Democrats in NSW.

Far from being a ringing endorsement of Labor’s strategies and policies, not to mention Bill Shorten’s leadership, the election result actually suggests that the ALP has a great deal of work still to do. For one thing, the Greens will continue snapping away at their heels in inner urban areas (and less obviously in so-called “doctor’s wives” seats) and there are rumours they may yet take the eternally Labor seat of Melbourne Ports from its long-standing ALP member, Michael Danby. This stubborn Green campaign success may well continue to cost Labor key seats at both Federal and State levels, blunting their appearance of recovery at the very least. And despite their best efforts, Labor seem pretty much unable to inspire enthusiasm either for Shorten personally, or for their brand of conservative social democracy.

After all, a swing to the major Opposition party – in a period of worldwide electoral upheaval – of less than two people in a hundred is hardly earth shattering. And at least some of that tiny swing can undoubtedly be accounted for by the factually and morally highly dubious “Mediscare” campaign, which might have produced a tiny increase in Labor votes, but the longer term impact may be that it also painted the party as relentlessly negative and dodgy.

Attempting to sell a “positive programme” at the same time as the most relentlessly pursued negative campaign in recent memory just rang untrue in voters’ ears.

And the Coalition’s subsequent fury over what they perceived as dirty pool will have struck some sort of chord with the wider electorate, if not with ironed-on Labor supporters, especially if the Coalition avoids anything that looks remotely like privatisation of Medicare in the next three years, just as “Kids Overboard” haunted the Coalition ever after, even after it had delivered them victory in 2001. It hung like a dead albatross around the neck of John Howard until he was swept aside by the fresh face of Kevin Rudd in 2007.

The result also reveals how vulnerable Federal parties are to wayward behaviour by their State counterparts, and especially for the Labor Party. There is little doubt that the furore over the State Labor Government’s handling of the Country Fire Authority matter cost Labor seats in Victoria, normally their strongest state.

shortenSo whilst we admire Shorten’s hutzpah in visiting winning Labor seats in the election aftermath, we wouldn’t be entirely certain he is long for this world.

There will be no immediate move to replace him, to be sure, but the hard heads in the ALP – and there are plenty – will be looking at this result very carefully, including both the campaigning role of the Leader, as well as policy development. Anthony Albanese is one of the most loyal lieutenants any party leader could want, and Tanya Plibersek won’t toss her hat into the ring unless she’s sure of victory, but the greasy pole will be beckoning them both. And that’s before we factor in the ambition of a Chris Bowen, and others.

Any stumble by Shorten, any sign that he isn’t continuing to make ground on Turnbull, and pretty damn fast, too, and he’ll be gone.

 

 

 

 

Fascinating new research about how the human mind works.

“Humans have a capacity to imagine scenarios, reflect on them, and embed them into larger narratives,” says evolutionary psychologist Thomas Suddendorf at the University of Queensland in Australia. “There appears to be something fundamentally distinct about human “mental time travel” when compared to the capacities of our closest-surviving animal relatives.”

At it most simple, human beings look ahead and believe they can predict their future. But this ability to forecast our futures, however inaccurately, comes at a price.

“We worry about many things we can do little about, and we can experience persistent anxiety about things that may never eventuate,” says Suddendorf.

 

Animals fear predators for good reason (Credit: Anup Shah/Naturepl.com)

Animals fear their natural predators for good reason (Credit: Anup Shah/Naturepl.com)

 

Most of us overcome these worries easily enough. Humans are different from other animals. As the Current Biology website notes, we have an in-built optimism bias, which gives us a rosier view of the future than is really appropriate.

The ability to anticipate is a hallmark of cognition. Inferences about what will occur in the future are critical to decision making, enabling us to prepare our actions so as to avoid harm and gain reward.

Given the importance of these future projections, one might expect the brain to possess accurate, unbiased foresight.

Humans, however, exhibit a pervasive and surprising bias: when it comes to predicting what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, or fifty years from now, we overestimate the likelihood of positive events, and underestimate the likelihood of negative events.

For example, we underrate our chances of getting divorced, being in a car accident, or suffering from cancer. We also expect to live longer than objective measures would warrant, overestimate our success in the job market, and believe that our children will be especially talented. This optimism bias phenomenon is one of the most consistent, prevalent, and robust behaviour or cognition biases documented in psychology and behavioural economics.

This becomes especially important where death is concerned. As far as studies can establish, we seem to be the only animal able to contemplate, understand and cope with our own mortality.

“One of the realities is that you are going to die.” But humans have an amazing ability to apparently ignore – or at least suppress – this eventuality, which Ajit Varki of the University of California dubs “an evolutionary quirk”.

For example, if animals denied the risks of death as many humans do, zebras or antelopes might knowingly graze near hungry lions. They don’t.

But this is innate optimism appears not to be the case for those with depression, for whom the future often appears very bleak. And in reality, they might well be right, at least to some extent, as they are not affected by the irrational “optimism bias”.

“Clinical psychologists are beginning to recognise and disentangle the important roles aspects of foresight play in our mental health,” says Suddendorf.

Depressed people truly appreciate reality, agrees Varki, who has written extensively about human uniqueness and our ability to deny death.

So why do “healthy” people exhibit optimism bias?

“We need that denial,” says Varki. “Otherwise we might curl up and do nothing.”

And instead of facing the transient nature of life, some us engage in apparently reckless activities such as climbing dangerous mountains, driving cars too fast and taking mind-altering drugs, content in our assumption that we’ll be fine.

So the next time you meet someone suffering from depression, don’t be too quick to dismiss their view of the world. They might just be seeing it more clearly than you.

Which is a depressing thought, eh?

Errorists – Blair, Howard, Bush.

Wear your beliefs. Change the world one shirt at a time.

Those who forget history are fated to repeat it. Don't let people forget. Buy the shirt.

Those who forget history are fated to repeat it. Don’t let people forget. Buy the shirt.

 

Head to http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431250

We also urge you to read the Guardian’s editorial on the Chilcot enquiry. It encapsulates the total betrayal of the West by its then political leadership perfectly.

At least 500,000 dead. At least 1 million displaced. The entire Middle East thrown into chaos. Decades of misery ensured. The rise of ISIS.

Head to http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431250. Wear the shirt. Don’t let people forget.

#iraqreport #iraq #chilcotreport #chilcot #auspol #uk #usa #australia #war #peace

Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly 'over-trained'.

Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly ‘over-trained’.

In yet another example of the rise and rise of “anti-politics politics”, if further evidence were needed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s election guru Antony Green is predicting that hard-right racially-biased Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will finish up with at least three Senate seats – one each from Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.

It’s early days in the Senate count, with a final result weeks away.

Either way, the expanded crossbench – now even more expanded thanks to the Turnbull Government’s decision to hold a Double Dissolution with lower voting thresholds – is set to pose a big headache for the Prime Minister, whomever that turns out to be.

Gathering together a working majority in a Senate with this many disparate groupings looks like a political manager’s nightmare.

Essentially, though, the likely winners break down like this, as far as we can surmise:

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CONSERVATIVE/RIGHT WING

Libera/National Coalition
One Nation
Liberal Democrats (except on Social Issues)
Christian Democrats (especially on Social Issues)
Family First
Derryn Hinch*
Jackie Lambie*

*But capable of springing surprises

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CENTRIST/EVEN HANDED

Nick Xenophon Team

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY LEFT OR LEFT OF CENTRE

Labor
The Greens
Animal Justice
The Sex Party (especially on Social Issues)

This is how Anthony Green suggests it could all break down, courtesy of The Age’s chief political reporter James Massola:

New South Wales: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation senator, 1 don’t know

Victoria: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Derryn Hinch Justice Party, 1 don’t know (“It’s anyone’s guess”, said Green.)

Queensland: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 2 don’t know (“It could be the Coalition, Labor, or the Liberal Democrats.”)

South Australia: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 3 Xenophon Team

Western Australia: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 1 don’t know (“Probably a second Green”)

Tasmania: 4 Coalition, 5 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Jackie Lambie (Independent)

Meanwhile Glenn Druery, the Senate “preference whisperer” who advises minor parties on how to engineer complicated preferences sways, predicted that, at this early stage of counting:

In New South Wales, the 12th and final seat would be won by Nella Hall for Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats or the Liberal Democrats incumbent David Leyonhjelm;

In Victoria, One Nation were presently in the box seat for the 12th spot but “I expect that to change and for that seat to be won by the Animal Justice or The Sex Party”;

In Queensland, the last seat would be won by a Liberal Democrat (Gabe Buckley, a campaigner against the Labor Government’s now rescinded anti-bike VLAD legislation);

In South Australia, the 12th seat could end up as a battle between Family First senator Bob Day and Labor, (although Bob Day thinks he will end up re-elected on One Nation preferences);

In Western Australia, the 12th spot could be a fight between One Nation and the National Party.

A right royal mess, we hear you say, Dear Reader? Well, you wouldn’t get much argument from anyone on that. How any Government will deal with such a fractured Senate is hard to fathom.

 

She's back. Please explain?

She’s back. Please explain?

 

The clear winners from this Senate election are One Nation, The Xenophon Team, and The Greens.

Libertarian David Leyonhjelm getting himself re-elected in NSW, when he was undoubtedly only elected the first time because he headed up the Senate voting sheet and people got him confused with the Liberals, would be quite some achievement.

And a special hat tip to Jackie Lambie in Tasmania, who was originally elected as a Palmer United Party Senator but rapidly split from the mining magnate, and has since carved out a clear role for herself in the Island State’s political pantheon, despite apparently having none of the silky smooth political skills you need to be a winner in the Great Game.

We have to say we rather like Lambie – our fellows in the chardonnay-sipping political elite will be horrified, but it’s true – without agreeing with hardly a single word she says. She is the archetypal “battler” Aussie who calls it as she sees it. She appears afraid of no-one, and determined to speak her mind as she sees fit. We need more such “politicians”.

Meanwhile the other very influential Senator re-elected will be the perfectly loathsome arch-conservative Liberal Corey Bernardi. He will be heavily involved in any move to unseat Malcom Turnbull and reinstall the utterly horrid Tony Abbott, if he isn’t already. Pass the popcorn.

Overshadowed to some extent by the recent furore over Brexit, this Wednesday the long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war will finally be released to public gaze.

blair

Social media comment on Blair has been savage.

Predictions of its contents have varied from assumptions that it will prevent any serious re-examination of the decision by obfuscating on the key facts, to speculation that it’s criticism of British Government behaviours will make very painful reading indeed, both for MPs, MPs advisors, and civil servants.

As the Guardian reports, there is a very strong likelihood that a number of MPs will use the report to conduct a very rare parliamentary process to impeach Tony Blair for his role in launching the war, which would see the former Prime Minister theoretically jailed, but would more likely be an inglorious and embarrassing end to Blair’s public career, and a permanent blight on his legacy. There might well be cross-bench support for such an action, given that Blair is viscerally detested by the left-wing of the Labour Party (and has been criticised by its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for his role in the invasion), the Lib Dems were the only major party (at that time) to oppose the Iraq invasion, and the SNP will take any opportunity to embarrass Labour. A Tory or two might join in just to enhance the embarrassment factor.

What will not be happening, despite being thoroughly warranted in our view, is any appearance by Tony Blair (and George Bush, and John Howard) at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, as the court has ruled that it can only try cases based on the conduct of a conflict, not the decision to go to war itself.

This bizarre circumlocution will see the very real prospect of individual British soldiers and commanders being dragged before the court, but not the men who sent them to Iraq. Perhaps one smart move arising out of all this mess would be to reconsider the role of the court.

The ICC  has begun a preliminary examination of claims of torture and abuse by British soldiers, after receiving a dossier from human rights lawyers acting for alleged Iraqi victims.

In the statement, the office of the prosecutor at the ICC said: “We will take note of the Chilcot report when released in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination work concerning Iraq/UK. A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process aimed at determining whether reasonable basis exist to open an investigation. As already indicated by the office in 2006, the ‘decision by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the court’s jurisdiction’.”

The prosecutor’s office said the ICC was looking at introducing a “crime of aggression” which would cover illegal invasions but that “has not yet crystallised and in any event, will not apply retroactively”.

150813151725-baghdad-blast-exlarge-169

Meanwhile the slaughter generated by the insane decision to invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein with no clear idea of how to replace him or what “success” might look like continues to wreak its toll, as the power vacuum left behind continues to stoke the fires  of internecine hatred in what was always an artificially-constructed country which should have unquestionably been divided into a Kurdish, Sunni and Shia state, with Baghdad as an international city housing a confederated EU-style parliament of sorts.

To add to the approximately 500,000 Iraqis who have died violently since the invasion, a further 125 innocents (including 25 children) were blown to pieces overnight in an IS attack on a Shia community in the Karrada neighbourhood, likely to be in retaliation for the loss of Fallujah to government forces, less than an hour down the road from the capital. At least 147 people were wounded.

As people congregated, shopped and watched soccer matches, the bomb-laden truck plowed into a building housing a coffee shop, stores and a gym. Firefighters rescued wounded and trapped people in adjacent buildings.

ISIS promised an uptick in terror attacks during Ramadan. The Baghdad assault came just days after massacres at a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, and security targets in Yemen. There have also been recent suicide attacks in Jordan at a border crossing near Syria, and suicide attacks in aChristian area of northern Lebanon.

Last month, a gunman shot up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people before he was killed, and an attacker killed a police commander and his partner in France.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Bangladesh and Yemen and there are news reports that ISIS claimed responsibility for the Jordanian attack. Experts believe the group might have conducted the attacks in Turkey and Lebanon.

Omar Mateen, the killer in Orlando, and the attacker in France both pledged allegiance to ISIS.

A second bomb exploded Sunday at an outdoor market in the Shaab neighbourhood of southeastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding five others, police said.

Both Baghdad strikes are a sign of the Sunni-Shiite tension in the Muslim world. Sunni-dominated ISIS claimed it was targeting Shiite neighbourhoods. Karrada and Shaab are predominately Shiite.

Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel, thinks the attacks will worsen and said that is ISIS’ game plan, essentially, to generate instability.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.06.21 am“They are trying to create enough chaos in Iraq itself so that the Iraqi forces will find it very difficult to actually take advantage of the forward momentum they have achieved because of their victory in Fallujah and that is a very serious issue that the al-Abadi administration is going to have to address.”

It’s hard to say “when and where they are going to strike,” he said of ISIS.

“This is a very, very difficult time. It is a very risky time, just because the political fissures are so great within Iraq that they are so easily exploitable by ISIS and its fellow travelers.”

Such attacks, like the one in Baghdad will serve to drive a wedge between the government and the people, in particular the Shiites.

“The wedge was already there and its fairly easy for them to exploit this,” he said.

There is no question, of course, that the divide between Shia and Sunni has been going on for centuries, but what is rarely said is that on occasions in the past both of the major Islamic factions have lived together peaceably for long periods as well. The invasion of Iraq set off a chain reaction of events that has now embroiled almost the entire Middle East in sectarian conflict, as well as seeing major attacks on the West.

One satisfactory response to Chilcott would be a commitment from all political leaders in the West to abjure from military interventionism and adventurism in the future, and for them to concentrate, instead, on the growth of inter-cultural confidence building and civic structures in countries that a struggling with massive problems and the difficulties of transitioning to a post-colonial environment.

Don’t hold your breath. It’s so much simpler to just bomb the shit out of somewhere. And the pretty fireworks look so impressive on TV.