Saturday 23rd of August 2014

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 23:22

 

The world's governments first pledged to end extreme poverty during the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996. They committed to reducing the number of undernourished people by half before 2015, which, given the population at the time, meant slashing the poverty headcount by 836 million. Many critics claimed that this goal was inadequate given that, with the right redistributive policies, extreme poverty could be ended much more quickly.

But instead of making the goals more robust, global leaders surreptitiously diluted it. Yale professor and development watchdog Thomas Pogge points out that when the Millennium Declaration was signed, the goal was rewritten as "Millennium Developmental Goal 1" (MDG-1) and was altered to halve the proportion (as opposed to the absolute number) of the world's people living on less than a dollar a day. By shifting the focus to income levels and switching from absolute numbers to proportional ones, the target became much easier to achieve. Given the rate of population growth, the new goal was effectively reduced by 167 million. And that was just the beginning.

After the UN General Assembly adopted MDG-1, the goal was diluted two more times. First, they changed it from halving the proportion of impoverished people in the world to halving the proportion of impoverished people in developing countries, thus taking advantage of an even faster-growing demographic denominator. Second, they moved the baseline of analysis from 2000 back to 1990, thus retroactively including all poverty reduction accomplished by China throughout the 1990s, due in no part whatsoever to the Millennium Campaign.

This statistical sleight-of-hand narrowed the target by a further 324 million. So what started as a goal to reduce the poverty headcount by 836 million has magically become only 345 million - less than half the original number. Having dramatically redefined the goal, the Millennium Campaign can claim that poverty has been halved when in fact it has not. The triumphalist narrative hailing the death of poverty rests on an illusion of deceitful accounting.

 

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/exposing-great-poverty-reductio-201481211590729809.html

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And by the way, I wrote this in the article at top:

There ARE real needs out there, but I know some rich dudes who buy their shirts at St Vinnie... and are counted as a sale to a "poor" person... Why not... 


and today we get the perfect example of what I mean:

 

 

op shop recycling... (by Margie Abbott)

 

"Whether it's for clothing, books, household items or resources as an early childhood educator, op shopping is the first port of call.

"When our daughters were young, and even now as young women who are earning their own income, they quickly realised that the buying power of their money was far greater in an op shop than it was anywhere else."

The scarf she was wearing was a recent purchase from a local northern beaches op shop, she said, and her very first op shop purchase more than 20 years ago (a jacket with a slight Mexican flavour) was still in her wardrobe.





Not only this but a couple of "his" daughters got some mighty preferential treatment in the age of the end of entitlements... Makes you laugh yellow...

 

See also: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/24007

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 23:16

 

"Whether it's for clothing, books, household items or resources as an early childhood educator, op shopping is the first port of call.

"When our daughters were young, and even now as young women who are earning their own income, they quickly realised that the buying power of their money was far greater in an op shop than it was anywhere else."

The scarf she was wearing was a recent purchase from a local northern beaches op shop, she said, and her very first op shop purchase more than 20 years ago (a jacket with a slight Mexican flavour) was still in her wardrobe.



See toon at top...

 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 19:21

 

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today dismissed ongoing speculation that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is, in fact, a cyborg.

HIS COMMENTS were a response to a Sydney Morning Herald report, which quoted an unnamed senior Government minister as saying that Tony Abbott was a cyborg "like the bloody Terminator”.

As I understand it, a cyborg is partially human and part machine," responded Mr Turnbull.

"Well, Mr Abbott is certainly not one of them,” he said.

I have worked with Tony for many years and I can assure you that he is definitely not human; in fact, I doubt there is a single shred of humanity in any part of him.”

In my view, Tony Abbott is 100 per cent robot — no question whatsoever.”

Abbott a completely brainless robot

The Chief Executive of a leading German cybernetic company has supported Mr Turnbull’s assessment.

Dr Hans Bilst, Chief Executive of Torypolitiker Sind Wir, said his company constructed Tony Abbott on consignment for the Liberal Party as part of an ongoing contract.

He said that Mr Abbott was indeed a complete robot.

read more: http://www.independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/malcolm-turnbull-says-tony-abbott-is-not-a-cyborg,3060

 

As the creator of the image at top, I disagree... A full robot would be far more intelligent than Tony Abbott... No-one, not even a machine, can reach the level of idiotic deceit found in this half-cyborg brain... It's more like that of a Dalek with a faulty circuit... "EXTERMINATE... EXTERMINATE..."

 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 17:45

MAINSTREAM, or neoclassical, economics taught at school and in undergraduate university degrees would be funny if it's influence and impact wasn't so serious and severe — and nowhere is this more evident than in its eyes-closed approach to debt and finance.

Neoclassical economics, you see, almost entirely ignores the effect of debt on an economy, assuming it to be a simple transfer – in and out – and therefore having no net impact.

The stupidity of this approach is not only blindingly obvious to any person who has or has ever had a mortgage, but reaches the level of utter absurdity when one recalls the global financial crisis – the one we had just a few years ago – was caused by unsustainable levels of private debt. That's why the United States spent trillions bailing out their banks and why several European countries are now effectively bankrupt. It is also rather astonishing when we consider that repaying public debt has, ostensibly, become the central driver of fiscal policy in Australia under the current Government.

 

read more: http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/why-economics-ignores-debt-the-power-of-big-money,6805

 

See toon at top...

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 17:34

 

The escalating confrontation between Mr. Assad’s forces and ISIS is another indication of just how much the rise of the radical group has erased borders and upended alliances around the region, and the world. President Obama, who has long called for the ouster of Mr. Assad, is facing similar pressure to attack ISIS inside Syria after his top military adviser said the group cannot otherwise be defeated.

With other Syrian-led insurgent groups struggling, ISIS and the Syrian Army increasingly find themselves facing each other across a crucial front line, around the northern city of Aleppo. If they choose to clash head-on, that would transform the complicated three-year battle into a showdown between a powerful jihadist force and Mr. Assad and his allies.

Critics of Mr. Assad have long speculated that he allowed ISIS to thrive because it served as a foil and battled Syrian rebel groups, while validating his government’s claim that it was fighting terrorists. Though analysts say there is no evidence of a formal alliance, they note that the Syrian government benefited in some ways from ISIS, which has focused mainly on trying to establish Islamic rule in the areas it controls, and has fought the Islamist and nationalist insurgents more focused on ousting Mr. Assad.

read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/23/world/middleeast/assad-supporters-weigh-benefits-of-us-strikes-in-syria.html?_r=0

 

See toon at top...

 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 14:18

 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) agreed to pay $3.15 billion to repurchase residential mortgage-backed securities to resolve federal claims tied to the sale of the bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The buyback represents a premium of about $1.2 billion and makes the two U.S.-owned mortgage-finance companies whole on the securities, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the firms’ government overseer, said yesterday in a statement. The cost of the settlement is “substantially covered” by Goldman Sachs’s reserves, the New York-based bank said in a separate statement.

Goldman Sachs is the 15th bank to settle all claims after the FHFA sued 18 firms in 2011 seeking to recoup taxpayer costs from when the U.S. took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. The $1.2 billion cost surpasses Goldman Sachs’s $550 million payment in 2010 to end a Securities and Exchange Commission suit over the marketing of a synthetic collateralized debt obligation dubbed Abacus 2007-AC1.

read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-22/goldman-to-buy-mortgage-debt-for-3-15-billion-to-end-fhfa-probe.html

 

See toon at top...

 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 13:31

 

Men can spy on women in the shower, an extremist cleric has argued in Egypt, prompting outrage from other Islamic scholars.

According to Osama al-Qusi, a Salafist or ultraorthodox preacher, peeping toms can watch a woman wash as long as they are interested in marrying her.

"If you were really honest and wanted to marry that woman, and you were able to hide and watch her in secret, and see the things that she wouldn't usually let you see before marrying her, then it is acceptable as long as your intentions are pure," Qusi said in an online video translated by the al-Arabiya news network.

Qusi's words sparked heavy criticism from those who said he was usingreligion to win attention.

Egypt's minister for religious affairs, Mohamed Mokhtar, condemned the cleric "and his ilk", saying: "Where is the glory and masculinity in watching a woman shower? Would you allow this to happen to your daughter?"

Mokhtar stressed that fatwas, or Islamic edicts, should only be issued by qualified clerics, and denounced Qusi's claims as anathema to Islam.

The minister also confirmed plans to launch a grassroots campaign against both atheists and Islamic extremists

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/22/egyptian-cleric-men-spy-women-shower

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We all know that atheism is the root of all evil... er... Do we? Atheists don't believe in evil, do they?... God and evil are the invention of religious nuts, are they not?... So many questions, so little time... So much extremism in Muslin and Christian religion... and all carrying guns... 

See also: http://ozziesaffa.blogspot.com/2014/06/i-bet-she-regrets-asking-her-question.html

 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 12:49

 

The major political parties came together this week to agree on how dreadful Clive Palmer is. That's pretty funny because they are denouncing their own creation.

It was the main parties that made Clive Palmer a political force. It is the main parties that give him his position controlling the balance of power in the Senate. The main parties also have the option of sidelining him. They can't get him out of Parliament, but they can make him irrelevant. 

Now that it's clear that he's a national problem, they should have a good, hard look at it. It can work for them too.

The Palmer United Party thrived at its first electoral attempt because of the people's despair at the alternatives.

"I think Tony Abbott is a giant wanker," said Rose, a Brisbane woman in her 30s, at an Ipsos Research focus group that I observed during the election campaign last year.

"I think Kevin Rudd is a bigger wanker," rejoined the woman sitting next to her, Nikki, around the same age. "His own party doesn't want to work with him."

Neither leader was liked or appreciated. As John, a Brisbane man in his 40s, put it, the choice was a matter of "who you hate least". 

The Greens were widely regarded as too radical to consider and failed utterly to win a second glance. In the only focus group to mention the party, even the bloke who raised the subject couldn't name the party's leader: "It's some lady", was his best effort. 

The leaders were the ugly tips of a dismal iceberg of cold cynicism. What the people saw was fratricidal Labor with its recurring blur of knives and toxins, a thuggish Coalition with its oppositionist fisticuffs and moronic slogans, and a faceless collective of unhinged Greens fringe-dwellers.



 

 

See toon at top...

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 12:41

 

 

From Ross Gittins (SMH)

 

We know the two great certainties in life are death and taxes, but many thought there was a third: the inexorable rise in consumption of electricity. As the population grew and each of us got a little more prosperous each year, we'd use more power. The mighty electricity industry was built on that certainty.

Except that electricity consumption has been falling for the past four years. To say this has taken the industry by surprise is an understatement. For well over a century – even during the Great Depression – the quantity of electricity used in Australia each year was greater than the year before.

It took the industry and its regulators two or three years to accept the trend was more than just a hiccup on the ever-upward path, which delay probably added to the decline.

There are few aspects of the economy – global or national – where change is more significant, more diverse or more interesting than energy supply and demand – where energy covers coal, gas (conventional and unconventional), petroleum, wind, solar and other renewables. Expect to hear more from me on the topic.

But there are few questions more interesting than exactly why the unthinkable, a fall in electricity consumption, has come about. Short answer: a surprisingly large combination of reasons, although Tony Abbott's crusading against the carbon tax must get some of the credit.



Thanks Ross, for this last bit of what I believe to be a well targeted sarcasm about Tony... Tony Abbott scare about the Carbon Pricing was quite minimal in reducing our consumption... It's only the rich people who as they had to pay the full brunt of the cost without the discount offered to people under a certain income threshold, who complained bitterly about having to pay about $500 a year for carbon pricing.

But as you say, the increase in cost was mostly due to gold plated poles and wires (see toon at top). Thus faced by a reduction of consumption due to factors as mentioned in your article, and increase of infrastructure cost and a fast recovery of these costs (in the past government would amortise this over 10 to 20 years — poles and wire company bank on 2 to 5 years recovery), the price of electricity has more or less doubled in four years...

We also know that Tony has no clue on what the future means in a global warming world since he does not believe in it...

 

See also: http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/july/1404136800/jess-hill/power-corrupts

In the past few years, our electricity prices have doubled. While the media has feasted on the likes of pink batts, Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson, the astonishing story behind these price hikes has been all but ignored. And yet, it may be one of the greatest rorts in Australia’s history.

Since 2009, the electricity networks that own and manage our “poles and wires” have quietly spent $45 billion on the most expensive project this country has ever seen. Allowed to run virtually unchecked, they’ve spent vast sums on infrastructure we don’t need, and have charged it all to us, with an additional fee attached. The spending was approved by a federal regulator, and yet the federal government didn’t even note it until it was well underway.


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-08-23 12:20

 

Japan's prime minister during the Fukushima disaster says Australia should be trying to wean other countries away from nuclear power, not increase exports of uranium.

Naoto Kan, who was prime minister from June 2010 to August 2011, is in Australia to lobby for a greater use of renewable energy sources.

He said the world was moving away from nuclear power and Australia should not get in the way of that.

"Rather than looking at making contributions through exporting and making it more possible for more countries to be relying on nuclear power, all countries including Australia should be making efforts to do what can be done to reduce such dependence on nuclear power," Mr Kan said.

"I hope that Australia can be exporting not uranium or coal for example, but electricity created through renewable sources," he said.

When he was Japanese PM, representing the Democratic Party of Japan, a tsunami caused a nuclear incident in which three nuclear reactors melted down at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and forced widespread evacuations.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-22/move-towards-renewables-former-japanese-pm-tells-australia/5691118

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Please note, RAM92x, that in France the rate of suicide amongst workers in the nuclear industry is about 3 times the national average... I have discussed the nuclear industry many times over on this site, including that NO NUCLEAR POWER STATION anywhere in the world is profitable — most are subsidised by whatever concessions and including the government buying weapon grade plutonium for defence. The cost of dismantling any nuclear power station is prohibitive and all in the same proportion as the necessary clean up in Fukushima...