Top Ten Signs the US is the most Corrupt nation in the World (2018 Edn.) | Informed Comment

Top Ten Signs the US is the most Corrupt nation in the World (2018 Edn.)

So don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

via Top Ten Signs the US is the most Corrupt nation in the World (2018 Edn.) | Informed Comment

Thousands of US Citizens Jailed Over Debts as Small as US$28 | Informed Comment

State Dept Launches ‘Free the Press’ Campaign Same Day DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Jail Reporter

Despite the fact that debtors’ prisons were eliminated from the civil system in the mid-1800’s, hundreds of African-American and people of Latin American descent wind up in prison with U.S. Marshals citing bounced checks, unpaid water bills or student loans as they are carted off to the nearest federal institution.

via Thousands of US Citizens Jailed Over Debts as Small as US$28 | Informed Comment

Trump suggests ‘bonus’ for gun-trained teachers, praises the NRA

President Donald Trump

Washington: President Donald Trump called for paying bonuses to teachers who carry guns in the classroom, embracing a controversial proposal to curb school shootings hours after offering a full-throated endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

Trump told state and local officials gathered at the White House on Thursday to discuss school safety that “you can’t hire enough security guards” and teachers could carry concealed weapons and “nobody would know who they are.” He said that teachers would go through “rigorous training” and could get “a little bit of a bonus.”

via Trump suggests ‘bonus’ for gun-trained teachers, praises the NRA

NRA chief slams anti-gun ‘elites’ after Florida school massacre; Donald Trump continues push to arm teachers – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) has lashed out at gun control advocates, saying Democratic elites are politicising the latest mass school shooting in the United States to try to erode constitutionally guaranteed gun rights.

“Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment [of the constitution] and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

Freedom to shoot (OD)

via NRA chief slams anti-gun ‘elites’ after Florida school massacre; Donald Trump continues push to arm teachers – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Steven Pinker talks Donald Trump, the media, and how the world is better off today than ever before – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

 

Renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker.

But he says the media’s narrow focus on negative anomalies can result in “systematically distorted” views of the world.

Speaking to the ABC’s The World program, Mr Pinker gave his views on Donald Trump, distorted perceptions and the simple arithmetic that proves the world is better than ever before.

News media can ‘systematically distort’ perceptions

“If your impression of the world is driven by journalism, then as long as various evils haven’t gone to zero there’ll always be enough of them to fill the news. And if journalism isn’t accompanied by a bit of historical context, that is not just what’s bad now but how bad it was in the past, and statistical context, namely how many wars? How many terrorist attacks? What is the rate of homicide? Then our intuitions, since they’re driven by images and narratives and anecdotes, can be systematically distorted by the news unless it’s presented in historical and statistical context.

via Steven Pinker talks Donald Trump, the media, and how the world is better off today than ever before – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Ex-top aide agrees to testify in Netanyahu corruption scandal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations in Jerusalem.

Shlomo Filber, the suspended Communications Ministry director and former chief of Mr Netanyahu’s bureau, signed an agreement to become a state witness. He turned on his former boss less than a week after police recommended pressing charges against Mr Netanyahu in two other influence-peddling cases – and a day after news broke that police were investigating whether another long-time Netanyahu associate sought to bribe a judge.

Unfortunately it’s up to the Israeli Attorney General

Promoted by Netanyahu, Israel’s Attorney General Must Now …

Feb 13, 2018 – Promoted by Netanyahu, Israel’s Attorney General Must Now Scrutinize Him. JERUSALEM — Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favored candidate for the country’s top legal job. Now, Mr. Netanyahu’s fate lies in Mr. Mandelblit’s hands.

via Ex-top aide agrees to testify in Netanyahu corruption scandal

Arctic temperatures soar 25 degrees above normal in the dead of winter

Arctic temperatures in February 2018 are averaging well above normal, and peaking up to 25 degrees higher than normal.

While the Eastern United States simmers in some of its warmest February weather ever recorded, the Arctic is also stewing in temperatures 25 degrees above normal.

This latest huge temperature spike in the Arctic is another striking indicator of its rapidly transforming climate.

via Arctic temperatures soar 25 degrees above normal in the dead of winter

Turnbull says Joyce made ‘the right decision’ by quitting

Barnaby Joyce steps down as Deputy Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull says Barnaby Joyce has made “the right decision” to quit his job as the Deputy Prime Minister because he faces difficult personal issues and a new complaint against him.

via Turnbull says Joyce made ‘the right decision’ by quitting

Turnbull is mired in a Barnaby crisis of his own making – and Abbott knows it

Tony Abbott off the mark in arguing against immigration

Abbott’s not problem solving for the nation he’s problem solving for himself and it really ahs more to do with the game of politics rather than anything else. There is nothing here that hasn’t been pioneered by his Murdoch advisers in America like Roger Ailes the creator of Fox News to attention grab and Abbott has turned to the full package to appeal to the One Nation voters and ALP doubters as he did once before in Australias most historic fear campaign on everything in 2008. He is afterall a one trick pony. ( Old Dog)

“some on the right of the political spectrum have invested their faith in a crude form of populism which derives its momentum from explicit and coded attacks on minorities whether defined by sexuality, race or religion.”

via Turnbull is mired in a Barnaby crisis of his own making – and Abbott knows it

Trump’s 0 Bn. Bag of Goodies for the Military-Industrial Complex

ghostriders_hc

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Those words still seem salient today. As Americans experience acute income inequality, the rising cost of a college education, and ongoing deindustrialization in the heartland, the country’s runaway spending continues to rise precipitously. The planned 2019 Pentagon budget is now expected to hit a staggering $716 billion — more than much of the rest of the world’s defense spending combined

via Trump’s 0 Bn. Bag of Goodies for the Military-Industrial Complex

Care for ‘Conversation and Dinner’ With Don Jr.? First Family Access Possible With Purchase of Trump-Branded Apartment in India

Daniel S. Markey, who helped coordinate South Asia policy at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, told the Times that it “is just bizarre” that “the president’s son would be going and shilling the president’s brand at same time Donald Trump is president and is managing strategic and foreign relations with India.”

The Post reports that Trump Jr.’s “unofficial” visit will also include delivering “a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

via Care for ‘Conversation and Dinner’ With Don Jr.? First Family Access Possible With Purchase of Trump-Branded Apartment in India

Donald Trump hosts White House ‘listening session’, says arming teachers could prevent school massacres – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Empathy a needed reminder for the Don 5- “I hear you”

via Donald Trump hosts White House ‘listening session’, says arming teachers could prevent school massacres – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Wayne Swan on retirement, Abbott, Turnbull and right-wing radicalisation

[Former PM] Tony Abbott and a group of extreme right-wing thugs conducted one of the most vicious and destructive scare campaigns in modern history on deficit and debt — which has since doubled and even tripled, in some years … And they have been aided by the Murdoch press, which has acted as a cheer squad and echo chamber.

via Wayne Swan on retirement, Abbott, Turnbull and right-wing radicalisation

Cost of living pushing Australian workers into homelessness | Australia news | The Guardian

Homeless

The number of employed Australians seeking help for homelessness has jumped by almost 30% in three years, sparking concerns that stagnant wage growth and high housing costs are pushing workers to the brink.

The Victorian-based Council to Homeless Persons has released an analysis showing 20,302 employed Australians sought homelessness support in 2016-17, well up from 15,931 in 2013-14.

via Cost of living pushing Australian workers into homelessness | Australia news | The Guardian

The Great Works Of Sharri Markson: Abbott Is Not Pig-Headed. The Greens Are Lunatics. I’m not Biased. – New Matilda

Markson is one of those News Corporation journalists who’s drunk so much company Kool-Aid, its entirely possible she actually believes everything she says, and writes. Which explains this staggering exchange on the Daily Tele earlier today, where entertainment reporter Jonathon Moran engages in a lively discussion with Markson on politics in Canberra, in which Markson tries to school him on ‘bias’.

via The Great Works Of Sharri Markson: Abbott Is Not Pig-Headed. The Greens Are Lunatics. I’m not Biased. – New Matilda

Israel is helping Rwanda rewrite the history of genocide | +972 Magazine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 10, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel, which has supplied numerous despotic regimes with advanced weaponry, is now helping the Rwandan government rewrite the narrative of the 1994 genocide. So much for the lessons of the Holocaust.

via Israel is helping Rwanda rewrite the history of genocide | +972 Magazine

Israeli forces kill two boys in Gaza boundary area | The Electronic Intifada

The shrouded bodies of two boys, wrapped in green flags, lay on stretchers while surrounded by mourners

Salem Muhammad Sabah, 17, and Abdallah Ayman Armelat, 15, were fired on by Israeli soldiers as they approached Gaza’s southeastern boundary with Israel on Saturday night.

Israeli soldiers operate under an apparent shoot-to-kill policy in Gaza’s boundary areas. The exact range of the zone is undeclared but is generally understood to be within 300 meters of the Gaza-Israel boundary.

Israeli forces prevented medical teams from recovering the teens’ bodies until the following morning, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza.

Al Mezan stated that the children “posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury” to soldiers.

Two additional children sustained minor injuries during the same incident.

via Israeli forces kill two boys in Gaza boundary area | The Electronic Intifada

Research Exposes $16 Billion Bottled Water Industry’s Predatory Marketing Practices

Fake News this is Fake

The industry spends billions of dollars per year convincing Americans that bottled water is safer than tap—even though more than two-thirds of the product comes from municipal water sources

via Research Exposes $16 Billion Bottled Water Industry’s Predatory Marketing Practices

Donald Trump denies assaulting Rachel Crooks inside Trump Tower – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Rachel Crooks stares out the corner of her eye at a press conference

Key points:

Rachel Crooks tells The Washington Post Donald Trump forcibly kissed her in an encounter at Trump Tower in 2005
Mr Trump denies the allegations saying he “doesn’t know” and has “never met” Ms Crooks
Ms Crooks is calling for the release of a video tape which allegedly shows the encounter

via Donald Trump denies assaulting Rachel Crooks inside Trump Tower – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Whatever Trump is hiding is hurting all of us now

US authorities have indicted 13 Russian individuals for allegedly meddling in elections by organising pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rallies and social media ads.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behaviour is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system – a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any US president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

via Whatever Trump is hiding is hurting all of us now

How John Howard boosted migration and embraced foreign students, in five charts – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Permanent IntakeChart showing large growth in permanent visas granted annually under Howard.

Student and 457 visas

Chart showing grown in student and 457 visas during the Howard government.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott wants Australia to cut its immigration intake to what it was under the Howard government.

He told an internet radio station on Tuesday afternoon that “we’ve got to get the numbers down, and get them down very significantly”.

Changes in Australia’s immigration sector were significant under Mr Howard, but not because his government kept the permanent intake — now at 190,000 visas per year — low.

However the latter years of Mr Howard’s prime ministership delivered significant increase to net overseas migration as a proportion of the population.
Migration intake
Chart showing large growth in permanent visas granted annually under Howard.

By the time of the 2007 election, his government had doubled the permanent intake.

via How John Howard boosted migration and embraced foreign students, in five charts – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Despite Coal Lobby, Australia to Double Solar Energy in 2018 | Informed Comment

 

Despite Coal Lobby, Australia to Double Solar Energy in 2018

Australia’s march to solar power is a reason for climate optimism because it is happening under adverse circumstances. Australia has a big and important coal industry that spends millions on lobbying and election campaigns, and the Australian government is in its back pocket. They, too, have the fraud of “clean coal” hopes [that is not a thing]. The central government is no friend of renewables. Some state governments are deeply committed to dirty coal as well. Australia has a horrible environmental record and is among the worst carbon polluters per capita.

via Despite Coal Lobby, Australia to Double Solar Energy in 2018 | Informed Comment

The wheels have fallen off | The Monthly

Cory Bernardi on RN Breakfast this morning that he was aware of other ministers having sex with staffers. Paul Keating used to say good policy was good politics. Those were the days.

Apparently MP’s according to MP’s is that they are not bound by any rule other than don’t get caught. Journalists align themselves for information from inside of politics on the understanding that they never publicize or inform the public on the true nature of those that help them in their craft. It seems it’s a very closed industry which makes the public despondant and wise due to the fact that they above all are most aware of their ingnorance. It’s strange that silence is the currency of the elite wealthy corporate and political classes. Andrew Bolt readily attacks those he regards as the left on every singular aspect of their lives and trangressionsthat go back in  years and never accepts the changes that have occurred in their lives. How often have we seen him reveal the past lives of people in the audience of Q&A no quarter given or the rule of privacy there.

“In this ideas vacuum, and apparently timed minutely to the PM’s departure overseas, former prime minister Tony Abbott is grabbing headlines again [$], with a new big idea of winding back Australia’s annual immigration intake to the levels seen in the Howard years, from 190,000 to about 110,000 a year. In typically partisan fashion, Abbott says if the policy outrages the Labor Party, “so much the better”. ” This shows the  impossible problem solving nature of Mr Nope Nope Nope when it comes to politics of Abbott compared to what we once experienced with Bob Hawke and Australia moved forward.

The wheels have fallen off | The Monthly

Comic explainer: how does Islamic finance work?

Interest fuels the financial world. The money sitting in your bank account accrues it, and the credit cards in your wallet charge it. If you ever want money quick, you’re going to being paying a decent amount of interest for having that money now rather than later.

But under Islamic law, interest is explicitly forbidden.

via Comic explainer: how does Islamic finance work?

How We Fight Fascism

that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become.

Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes. Zetkin would have warned us that Donald Trump is not the danger; the danger is the growing social and economic inequality that concentrates wealth in the hands of an oligarchic elite and degrades the lives of citizens.

via How We Fight Fascism

A belated ‘Recognition’ and a ‘new policy’ (Part 2) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

 

As things stand at the present, Australia’s Constitution does not recognise Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ prior occupation and custodianship of their land.

Actually, section 51(xxvi) allows special laws to be passed to the disadvantage of Aboriginal people, and section 25 enables state laws to disqualify people of a particular race from voting at state elections.

An expert panel recommended to remove sections 25 and 51(xxvi) and adopt new sections:

1) Add Section 51 (A) to recognise Aboriginal peoples’ occupation of the land and continuing relationship with lands and water. The section would also pay respect to culture, language and heritage, and state that the government can only make laws to the benefit of Indigenous People.

2) Add Section 116A specifically to prohibit racial discrimination for all Australians. It would forbid any government from discriminating against a person based on race, colour, ethnicity or national origin.

3) Add Section 127 (A) for recognition of languages and to acknowledge and protect the role that languages have in Aboriginal communities.

via A belated ‘Recognition’ and a ‘new policy’ (Part 2) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

“THE BONKING BEETROOT”: Deputy PM and “homewrecker” Barnaby Joyce allegedly may have traded sex for favours with powerful Canberra lobbyist – True Crime News Weekly

Shari Markson from Murdoch’s stable didn’t break the Barney Story but did raise it to political thunder to discredit Malcolm Turnbull our PM

Only after billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave the nod to his News Corp foot soldiers last week to proceed with publishing the truth about some of the scandals surrounding Mr Joyce, did other journalists suddenly somehow discover their reporting mojo and investigative capabilities.

 

Rupert Murdoch
Media mogul and political kingmaker Rupert Murdoch (Commons)

Over the past week, news headlines in Australia have involved almost nothing else apart from the struggles facing Mr Joyce. The headlines have even travelled around the world with media in the USA and UK reporting on Mr Joyce’s troubles and travails. Clearly and obviously this story was in the public interest. But why not in October and November last year when Mr Joyce was facing an important by-election in New England caused by his own ignorance of his citizenship status?

via “THE BONKING BEETROOT”: Deputy PM and “homewrecker” Barnaby Joyce allegedly may have traded sex for favours with powerful Canberra lobbyist – True Crime News Weekly

‘They’re laughing their asses off in Moscow’: Trump on the attack over Russia probe

US President Donald Trump.

West Palm Beach: US President Donald Trump questioned the special counsel’s intensifying Russia probe on Sunday while attacking his own national security adviser, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, Congress, CNN and others in a nine-hour span of tweets that included swearing and grammatical errors.

The Twitter tirade coincided with a trip to Europe during which US officials and lawmakers told foreign policy leaders to ignore the President.

via ‘They’re laughing their asses off in Moscow’: Trump on the attack over Russia probe

Russia indictments present new reality for Trump crying ‘hoax’

 

US President Donald Trump

Since his election, Trump has often privately expressed concern that the charges of Russian meddling undermine the legitimacy of his presidency. He has told associates that if he accepts the premise of Russian meddling, it would call into question the idea that he won the election on his own merits.

In news conferences, on Twitter and at campaign rallies, he has called the Russia investigation “fake news” and has repeatedly predicted that Mueller’s investigation will end without finding much.

via Russia indictments present new reality for Trump crying ‘hoax’

Turnbull’s attack on Emma Alberici’s tax-cut analysis doesn’t add up | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

Treasurer Scott Morrison

When you force the ABC to take down an article that questions your logic you know something is wrong. Since when has Turnbull taken on the role of ABC editor?

On Friday, the ABC took down Alberici’s analysis, citing that it did not conform to the broadcaster’s editorial standards. Frankly, the article – which has been republished on John Menadue’s blog, is not all that different in focus from analyses by Ian Verrender published by the ABC last year, The Age’s Peter Martin and various others, including myself.

Arguing that company tax cuts may not have the impact that the beneficiaries say will result is hardly controversial.

As I noted in January, Moody’s credit rating agency said of the US company tax rate cut from 35% to 21% (compared with a reduction from 30% to 25% proposed here) that “we do not expect corporate tax cuts to lead to a meaningful boost in business investment”.

 

But given most people don’t get excited by business investment (or increased business profits), companies here have followed the lead of their US counterparts, and are saying a tax cut is needed to increase wages.

It’s all a bit of smoke and mirrors.

via Turnbull’s attack on Emma Alberici’s tax-cut analysis doesn’t add up | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

Tony Mansplains Why Malcolm Shouldn’t Malsplain In Public! – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Yes, nobody thought to ask Tones, if criticisms should be kept private, why did he not follow his own advice and call Malcolm directly?

Tony, of couse, may have had a number of reasons.

1)Malcolm never listens to advice from anyone so it would be pointless.
2)Malcolm won’t take phone calls from Tony.
3)Tony knows that hypocrisy is so common that it’s rare that anyone is criticised for it, so this was another great chance to bag Malcolm, thereby reminding people that there was a much better PM recently.

via Tony Mansplains Why Malcolm Shouldn’t Malsplain In Public! – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians strikes at the heart of the meddling matter | US news | The Guardian

After the indictment was released, Trump tweeted: ‘The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!’

What Robert Mueller delivered in Friday’s indictment were the first charges for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. He is getting to the heart of the matter.
Robert Mueller charges 13 Russians with interfering in US election to help Trump
Read more

The special counsel also buried once and for all Donald Trump’s mealy-mouthed obfuscations over whether Russia was responsible for this confidence trick of breathtaking scope and scale. Former CIA director-general Michael Hayden has described it as the political equivalent of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But what Mueller has not yet produced is compelling evidence that demonstrates the president or his campaign knowingly coordinated with Russians to cheat Hillary Clinton out of the election.

via Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians strikes at the heart of the meddling matter | US news | The Guardian

MSNBC Breaks Down Significance Of Russian Indictments | Crooks and Liars

So there was, in this case, unwitting help from Americans and the question that Robert Mueller is investigating is whether there was any witting help to this from members of the trump campaign.

via MSNBC Breaks Down Significance Of Russian Indictments | Crooks and Liars

Fox host falsely claims the deputy attorney general said indicted Russians “didn’t influence the outcome” of the election

via Fox host falsely claims the deputy attorney general said indicted Russians “didn’t influence the outcome” of the election

Trump’s Tweet

Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!

So the Clinton email ivestigation had no effect

Global Warming Is Getting Worse, Fast

 

 

1)Global surface temperatures during the three years from 2014 to 2016 – each hotter than the last – boosted the total level of global warming since 1900 by 25%, according to new research.

2)A separate study has confirmed that heat extremes, too, have outpaced the global average. Maximum temperatures during the hottest heat waves have in the last 30 years risen three times faster – especially in crowded cities that are home to more than 10 million – than average temperatures as a whole.

3)And a third study warns that unless the world’s nations start to reduce carbon emissions, then within the next 17 or 18 years, planetary temperatures will be at least 1.5°C above the world average for most of human history.

And 35 to 41 years from now, these temperatures will have climbed 2°C above the level that held before the Industrial Revolution, and the arrival of fossil fuels as a global energy source.

via Global Warming Is Getting Worse, Fast

Alleged terror attacker denied Turkish visa before coming to Australia

Dutton’s Department

The revelations raise serious questions about why Australia’s Border Force granted Shoma a student’s visa to come to Australia.

A spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Home Affairs earlier said Shoma had been subjected to “all the usual checks” and that no adverse findings were made.

via Alleged terror attacker denied Turkish visa before coming to Australia

Let’s remember the Schoolchildren US & Russian bombs are killing, too

 

Let’s remember the Schoolchildren US & Russian bombs are killing, too

The US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen is keeping two million children out of school (Yemen is a country of 27 million). Worse, schools and schoolchildren have repeatedly been struck from the air by Saudi, UAE, Moroccan and Jordanian pilots using American-supplied planes and bombs, in a campaign backed by Washington and the Pentagon and the United Kingdom. The US military supplies logistics, refueling and targeting advice to the aggressors.

via Let’s remember the Schoolchildren US & Russian bombs are killing, too