Thursday 23rd of October 2014

Recent Comments

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2014-10-22 06:45

 

Siding Spring, Australia’s premier observatory, could be forced to shut down due to light pollution from a series of planned coal seam gas developments in the area, astronomers have warned.

The site of the Australian National University’s observatory, near Coonabarabran in New South Wales, currently benefits from clear, dark skies above it.

This environment allowed the observatory’s powerful SkyMapper telescope to discover the oldest known star, at 13.6bm years old, earlier this year. Siding Spring also gave its name to a comet that had a close shave with Mars on Monday.

But three proposed gasfields around 50km away could render the observatory useless, due to the amount of light the developments will cast into the night’s sky. Astronomers need dark skies in order to pick out stars and other celestial objects in space.

Mining firm Santos plans to tap the area, known as the Gunnedah Basin, for gas. This area includes the Pilliga forest, which has seen exploration met with fierce protests. Test drilling has already taken place in Narrabri.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/21/siding-spring-observatory-threat-coal-seam-gas-light-pollution

Not only the Abbott regime hates sciences, it will help the further destruction of what we had... :

The Siding Spring survey, named after the observatory, was the only program in the southern hemisphere actively searching for potentially hazardous comets, asteroids and meteors before its funding was cut last year.

 

Abbott is an ignoramus Idiot...

 

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-10-21 12:51

 

Tony Abbott received no official briefing from his department or special envoy suggesting they were confident early acoustic noises detected in the search for the missing flight MH370 were from the flight’s black box.

In a Senate hearing on Monday night the Greens leader, Christine Milne, asked how the Australian prime minister came to make a statement suggesting the search had been substantially narrowed and questioned whether he had acted recklessly.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/21/tony-abbott-not-advised-mh370-search-had-found-black-box-senators-told

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Tony Abbott lies... He invent anything, not even plausible, to augment the size of his budgies... Everywhere you turn, Abbott lies. He lies. Unfortunately, this ability has spread to most of the other idiots on his cabinet since they support him. Not only they lie as well, they are also arrogant and destructive, while playing a mugs' game... Cormann being a case in point of arrogance plus, as well as being a liar about the effects of "his" silly budget talk since Joe has been more or less sidelined by his silly comments as well. Bunch of idiots.

 

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-10-20 10:34

 

From The American Conservative

...

If Iran could be the big geopolitical winner in this multi-state conflict, then the U.S. will be the big loser. President Obama (or his successor) will, in the end, undoubtedly have to choose between war to the horizon and committing U.S. ground forces to the conflict. Neither approach is likely to bring the results desired, but those “boots on the ground” will scale up the nature of the ensuing tragedy.

Washington’s post-9/11 fantasy has always been that military power—whether at the level of full-scale invasions or “surgical” drone strikes—can change the geopolitical landscape in predictable ways. In fact, the only certainty is more death. Everything else, as the last 13 years have made clear, is up for grabs, and in ways Washington is guaranteed not to expect.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/seven-worst-case-scenarios-for-iraq/

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One aspect that this article forgot to mention is of course the role played by Saudi Arabia to nurture and promote the strict religious Wahhabism that has been used by ISIL to infest Iraq. As well, a similar role by Qatar and the UAE is not to be discounted... A double-game is being played. Our idiots in charge, Turdy Tony and La Stare Bishop can't see beyond sending boom-booms to play marbles in a game they don't understand. 

It ain't going to be a picnic. There won't be any glory...

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"Ms Bishop said the special forces mission would be to "advise and assist the Iraqi government in building up the capacity of the Iraqi security forces". 

As we know the Yanks spent between $26 billion and $40 billion to "train" the Iraqi army... What La Stare Bishop is planning to do ain't going to do it.. Ridiculous self-importance beyond the joke.

read also: US failure: training platoons of poltroons for billions in cash

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-10-20 06:58

Australia has reached a deal with Baghdad for the deployment of about 200 of its special forces to assist Iraqi troops in their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Baghdad she had met top officials to hammer out a deal allowing Australian commandos who have been waiting in the United Arab Emirates to deploy to Iraq.

"I have finalised an agreement for a legal framework to enable our special forces to be deployed here," Ms Bishop said as she wrapped up a two-day visit.

"It will be a matter for our military to determine when our special forces will be deployed, so it will be an operational matter from now on."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/iraq/5825438

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Talk about double-speak, deceit and reversed shit-promises... Meanwhile the Turks will do nothing to protect the Kurds in Kobane and the Sunnis won't help either... The air is full of double-crosses everywhere... And La Bishop is like a perfume counter attendant selling her SAS scent bottles with the belief they will solve the bad smell under the desert sun... The illusion of doing something is more pernicious than not doing anything. I suppose the Baghdad government decided to give in to La Bishop so she would leave them alone...

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-10-19 17:59

Mr Pyne told Sky News that Senator Cormann was simply making a point about Labor's spending record.

"I think Mathias Cormann used a colourful phrase," he said.

"I have to say it's unusual for Mathias to use a colourful phrase but it's obviously captured the attention of some people."

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said Senator Cormann's comments detracted from issues surrounding the budget.

"I think it is extraordinary that we have a PM who talks about shirtfronting the leader of [another] nation and we now have a Finance Minister who thinks he is Arnold Schwarzenegger," Ms Plibersek said.

"What Mathias Cormann is missing is that this budget hurts vulnerable Australians."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-19/cormann-defends-calling-shorten-an-economic-girlie-man/5825110

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-10-19 17:48

 

Iraq’s Sunnis won’t fight ISIS for the U.S., says NIQASH, a non-profit media organization operating out of Berlin. Without Sunni support, Obama’s war in Iraq cannot succeed. Here’s why.


Negotiations Fail

According to NIQASH, a source at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said there have been secret negotiations between various Sunni Muslim armed factions, via Arab and Iraqi Kurdish intermediaries, for the past three months. At the request of U.S. diplomats and military personnel, Shia officials from the Iraqi government have also met with these groups in Erbil, Kurdistan and Amman, Jordan.

At the same time Gen. John Allen, Obama’s appointed coordinator of U.S. efforts in Iraq, has been trying to contact the Sunni tribal leaders he worked with in Anbar during the previous war’s “Awakening.” “But it was surprising,” a NIQASH source reported, “Most of General Allen’s former allies refused to cooperate with us. And some of them are actually now living outside of Iraq because of the Iraqi government’s policies.”

With some irony, America’s failure to secure the 2006 Awakening caused those Sunnis sympathetic to America’s aims to flee Shia persecution. Those “good guys” are thus not available in 2014 to help out America in the current war.

ISIS and the Sunnis

When ISIS first took control of Sunni areas in western Iraq, anger towards the Shia government in Baghdad caused many to see them as liberators. The Iraqi army, along with paramilitary police from the Interior Ministry, had engaged in a multi-year campaign of beating, imprisoning, and arresting Sunnis, to the point where many felt that Baghdad was occupying, not governing. For the Sunnis and ISIS, the Baghdad government was a common enemy, and a marriage of necessity formed.

Events in Baghdad do little to assuage Sunni fears. A recent report suggests the new Iraqi Prime Minister, almost certainly against America’s wishes, will nominate a Shia Badr Militia leader as Interior Minister. Since the Shias took control of Iraq following the American invasion of 2003, the Interior Ministry, which controls the police and the prisons, has been a prime tool of repression and punishment.

read more: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-sunnis-wont-fight-isis/

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-10-19 08:45

For some of those on the train, it must have been a culture shock being on public transport.

And I know what you may be thinking, but it was not the sight of Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine that made me uncomfortable — although it’s true I normally do find them and their extremist far-right views rather disturbing.

It was actually the guy sitting opposite them who really disturbed me.

It would seem that while the taxpayer pays his wages, the NSW Premier is off filming commercials for News Ltd.

 

read more: http://www.independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/nsw-premier-mike-baird--news-ltd-extra,6993

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-10-19 08:28

Cuba leads fight against Ebola in Africa as west frets about border security


The island nation has sent hundreds of health workers to help control the deadly infection while richer countries worry about their security – instead of heeding UN warnings that vastly increased resources are urgently needed


As the official number of Ebola deaths in west Africa’s crisis topped 4,000 last week – experts say the actual figure is at least twice as high – the UN issued a stark call to arms. Even to simply slow down the rate of infection, the international humanitarian effort would have to increase massively, warned secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

“We need a 20-fold resource mobilisation,” he said. “We need at least a 20-fold surge in assistance – mobile laboratories, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, trained medical personnel, and medevac capacities.”

But big hitters such as China or Brazil, or former colonial powers such France and the UK, have not been stepping up to the plate. Instead, the single biggest medical force on the Ebola frontline has been a small island: Cuba.

That a nation of 11 million people, with a GDP of $6,051 per capita, is leading the effort says much of the international response. A brigade of 165 Cuban health workers arrived in Sierra Leone last week, the first batch of a total of 461. In sharp contrast, western governments have appeared more focused on stopping the epidemic at their borders than actually stemming it in west Africa. The international effort now struggling to keep ahead of the burgeoning cases might have nipped the outbreak in the bud had it come earlier.

André Carrilho, an illustrator whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Vanity Fair, noted the moment when the background hum of Ebola coverage suddenly turned into a shrill panic. Only in August, after two US missionaries caught the disease while working in Liberia and were flown to Atlanta, did the mushrooming crisis come into clear focus for many in the west.

read more http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/12/cuba-leads-fights-against-ebola-africa

by John Richardson on Sat, 2014-10-18 06:11

from Crikey ….

Getting a grasp on the size of multinational tax avoidance is a substantial challenge and depends heavily on your definition. After all, corporate tax avoidance is entirely legal (and arguably a responsibility of management to shareholders); tax evasion is a crime, but the line that separates them can depend on how good your legal representatives are or how indulgent governments are in letting a company get away with minimising its tax obligations.

But some figures can give us a sense of scale. A recent report by the Tax Justice Network and the United Voice union claimed corporate tax avoidance by both local and transnational companies costs Australia $8.4 billion a year in lost revenue - though the biggest offenders were transnationals 21st Century Fox (the standout tax dodger), SingTel, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Westfield. A 2010 United States study suggested the US government lost US$37 billion a year to tax havens. Tax havens were also estimated to cost the Brits 840 million pounds a year. German studies estimated a gap of 60-100 billion euros a year between what companies reported in profits and what broader economic conditions suggested they had earned.

Another way to understand the extent of multinational tax avoidance is to look at the extent of intra-firm trade - that is, international trade between different arms of the same company.

Plainly, not all intra-firm trade is for tax purposes - an iPad designed in California, assembled in China and sold in Australia can't get here any other way. But intra-firm trade is critical to transfer pricing, overwhelmingly the largest mechanism for multinational profit shifting, and it makes up an estimated one-third of all international trade (currently around US$18 trillion dollars a year, excluding services). In some countries, over half of all international trade is intra-firm in nature.

Transfer pricing is at the core of multinational tax avoidance: at its simplest, a subsidiary sells a product produced in a higher-tax jurisdiction to a parent company in a lower-tax jurisdiction for less than market price. Traditionally, extractive industries have been very good at transfer pricing, often because they're able to exploit the poor tax and regulatory frameworks of developing countries, which according to one estimate were losing around $100 billion a year in foregone revenue a decade ago through transfer pricing. The most notorious recent example relates to the Glencore-controlled Mopani Copper company in Zambia, which was accused of selling copper to Glencore at artificially low prices and inflating its own costs. Glencore rejected the claims, but a European Investment Bank report into the claims has been withheld for several years.

Transfer pricing doesn't need to apply to physical goods - it's even easier for intangibles like intellectual property. Apple, for example, is able to avoid billions in taxes in countries like Australia and even its home in the United States by basing its intellectual property in the tax haven of Ireland, from where it charges other arms of Apple inflated prices to use it. IKEA shops around the world pay royalties to a holding company based in another tax haven, the Netherlands. And it's easier still for intra-firm financial transactions - a low tax-based arm charging another arm in a high-tax jurisdiction a higher interest rate, for example. Glencore has been accused of using intra-firm derivatives trading to reduce its British tax liabilities by tens of millions of pounds.

Many countries, including Australia, try to block transfer pricing with tax rules based on "arm's length pricing" principles, which form a key part of the OECD's Model Tax Convention, but that's no panacea. Establishing comparable market prices for all transactions is resource-intensive for governments, and difficult or impossible for intangibles like IP, which form a growing proportion of world trade.

Transfer pricing does rely on tax differentials between jurisdictions, and the ability of multinationals to locate an arm in tax havens, where profits can be maximised. But what exactly is a tax haven isn't clearly defined, and attempts by the G20 and the OECD to blacklist countries as tax havens have foundered -- the current OECD tax haven blacklist is literally empty. Nor are they confined to Caribbean islands or European principalities: Ireland's entire economic model relies on offering very low corporate tax rates, the Netherlands also offers low tax rates and exemptions, which can interact with other jurisdictions' systems to produce even lower tax rates (thus, the "Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich" arrangement, although Ireland has belatedly now closed the Double Irish loophole). And the world's biggest tax haven is Switzerland, where many tax dodgers, including Glencore, are based - although so notorious is Glencore for its tax practices that even its neighbours have taken to sending Glencore's local tax contributions to African and South American charities.

The current G20 strategy, agreed last month at the finance ministers' meeting in Cairns chaired by Treasurer Joe Hockey, focuses on putting in place automatic exchange of tax information -- which sounds wishy-washy but is intended to prevent companies from exploiting jurisdictions' ignorance of what companies are telling them about where profits are earnt, another useful avoidance technique. The G20 and the OECD also have a joint "Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting", which inter alia specifically targets the use of related-party interest payments to avoid tax and the need to tighten tax treaties that can be abused by multinationals.

The biggest impediment, however, remains the reluctance of some large jurisdictions, including the UK, to sacrifice what they regard as aspects of genuine international tax competition rather than tax dodging. The challenges of making international taxation work better are complex, but political will is the greater challenge.

The problem is, in the absence of effective reform, the blatant tax dodging engaged in by the likes of Glencore and Rupert Murdoch corrodes public trust in governments and, ultimately, the domestic tax base itself. Why should the rest of us pay our fair share of tax when multinational corporations are getting away with paying a small fraction of what they should be giving tax authorities?

by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2014-10-17 16:40

 

Morozov expresses skepticism about the popular view that the Internet is helping to democratize authoritarian regimes, arguing that it could also be a powerful tool for engaging in mass surveillancepolitical repression, and spreading nationalist and extremist propaganda. He has also criticized what he calls "The Internet Freedom Agenda" of the US government, finding it naive and even counterproductive to the very goal of promoting democracy through the Web.[9]

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom[edit]

In January 2011, Morozov published his first book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (ISBN 978-1586488741). In addition to exploring the impact of the Internet on authoritarian states, the book investigates the intellectual sources of the growing excitement about the liberating potential of the Internet and links it to the triumphalism that followed the end of the Cold War.[10]Morozov also argues against the ideas of what he calls cyber-utopianism (the inability to see the Internet's 'darker' side, that is, the capabilities for information control and manipulation of new media space) and Internet-centrism (the growing propensity to view all political and social change through the prism of the Internet).[11]

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism[edit]

In March 2013, Morozov published a second book, To Save Everything, Click Here (ISBN 1610391381). Morozov's critique of "technology solutionism," the idea that, as Tim Wu put it, "a little magic dust can fix any problem" is timely and potentially valuable. But Wu, whose own work is severely critiqued by Morozov in To Save Everything,[12] goes on to dismiss Morozov's book as "rife with such bullying and unfair attacks that seem mainly designed to build Morozov’s particular brand of trollism" and "a missed opportunity" to actually discuss the issue.[13] Morozov believes that technology should be debated alongside debates about politics, economics, history, and culture.[14]

About Internet libertarians, Morozov told The New Yorker: "They want to be ‘open,’ they want to be ‘disruptive,’ they want to ‘innovate.’ “The open agenda is, in many ways, the opposite of equality and justice. They think anything that helps you to bypass institutions is, by default, empowering or liberating. You might not be able to pay for health care or your insurance, but if you have an app on your phone that alerts you to the fact that you need to exercise more, or you aren’t eating healthily enough, they think they are solving the problem.”[15]

read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evgeny_Morozov

 

As some recent article in a European newspaper tells us:

 

"We should treat the Silicon Valley with the same suspicion than Wall Street" 

Evgeny Morozov The university condemns the discourse of digital companies that camouflages "a new form of capitalism."


 

 

In your book, you criticize the speech from companies in Silicon Valley, which you call "solutionism." How would you describe in a few sentences, and what threat does it weigh? 

 

The solutionism is the tendency of some players, specifically entrepreneurs and companies in Silicon Valley, to claim that they know how to solve major political and societal issues. This is for example the tendency to rely on applications, devices self-tracking [the act of collecting oneself of personal data on its activities], various sensors increasingly present in our daily lives to solve societal problems. The main danger is that we depend on a few companies to address issues that we used to resolve collectively through the state or other collective actions. 


"We depend on companies to address the issues we used to collectively solve" 

The technologies are not neutrals, they also redefine the problem they are addressing. If you are tackling climate change, for example by following exactly how much energy you consume in your home, if you try to stop the obesity problem by assuming that it is only after bad habits the part of the individual, you get to set aside larger social and political factors. Obesity is not just because people are eating unhealthy foods, it's also because the food companies have too much power, because we do not regulate advertising aimed at children, because in the United States for example, the infrastructure is not designed to promote walking. It is a vast array of factors that are forgotten when one technology is the default tool to guide the actions of an individual.

 

Le Monde