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A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life 

The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.

Abstract

Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.


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Bob Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man

Gerard Henderson has some well-informed comments below.  I had some involvement with the DLP back in the '60s so was well aware of Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria. I certainly watched his TV broadcasts. But I am surprised that Henderson fails to mention that Santamaria was a devout Catholic under considerable influence from Melbourne's redoubtable and long-serving Archbishop Daniel Mannix.

His anti-Communism was  heroic at a time when the CPA was still influental in the unions and he was undoubtedly instrumental in defeating the Communist unionists.  But on the other hand he often quoted the bumbling economic thinking of Leftist intellectuals like Felix Rohatyn.

I concluded that it was only the atheism of the Soviets that drove Santamaria.  He was a Catholic first and last and that was all.  If the Soviets had been tolerant of religion, I think it is pretty clear that he would have been a cheerful democratic Leftist.  The 1891 encyclical "De rerum novarum" was after all fairly sympathetic to Leftism as long as it was not Communist.

So Santamaria was in fact consistent --  a consistent "De rerum novarum" Catholic.  He was certainly influential but he was no conservative.  One should remember that Catholics were overwhelmingly Labor Party supporters in those days.  The ALP was "their" party.

Menzies was the first to disrupt that attachment by giving Federal financial assistance to Catholic schools, something that still continues and is now something of a "third rail" in Australian politics -- as ALP leader Mark Latham found out


B­A Santamaria did not encourage conservative Catholics to join the Liberal Party. At the time of his death, the two Liberal MPs who were most in agreement with Bob Santamaria’s philosophy were Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews.

In 1994, Abbott asked Santamaria for a reference for use in his preselection for the Sydney seat of Warringah. During an interview on May 8 2000, Abbott recalled the occasion: “I asked Santa for a reference for my preselection. And Santa said to me: ‘I don’t think it will do you any good’. And I said to him: ‘Well, let me be the judge of that’. He said: ‘Well, let me think about it and come back to you’. And he came back to me about 24 hours later and said: ‘Look, Tony, I just don’t think I can do it’. And I said: ‘How come?’ And he said: ‘I just don’t think at my time in life I really should be writing references for people in Liberal Party pre­selections’.”

Abbott concluded his recall: “Anyway, I said: ‘I don’t agree with you, Bob, but it’s your call’.

“And then, of course, I won the preselection. And I think there was a slight sense of disappointment that I had disproven his deep conviction that someone who was very publicly a Catholic — as opposed to simply, quietly and unobtrusively a Catholic — could get anywhere inside the Liberal Party. I think he always regarded me as a bit of a jarring figure in his intellectual and social landscape because I was a public Catholic and still it didn’t appear to be stopping me from going places inside the Liberal Party.”

Andrews had a not dissimilar experience. Unlike Abbott, he had not been involved with Santamaria’s National Civic Council, which commenced in the late 1930s-early 1940s as an organisation called the Movement.

Andrews first met Santamaria when, as a residential student at Newman College at Melbourne University, he and a group of friends decided to establish an Archbishop Daniel Mannix Lecture — and asked Santamaria to deliver the inaugural oration in October 1977.

Over the next decade or so, Andrews met Santamaria on about 10 occasions. There were also irregular telephone conversations.

Andrews was not a long-term Liberal Party member before contesting the Melbourne seat of Menzies. Before deciding to enter the preselection ballot, he visited Santamaria at his office. Andrews recalled that the NCC president was not at all encouraging and seemed to exhibit a negative attitude to party politics in general — and to the Liberal Party in particular. Andrews commented that if Santamaria were intent on influencing Liberal MPs, he would have expected to receive invitations to NCC board lunches — along with regular telephone calls — once he became a parliamentarian. This did not happen.

On the Saturday after his death, The Weekend Australian reported that Santamaria had grown so disillusioned with the Liberals after they lost in 1993 that he spent much of the remainder of the year trying to organise a new pro-­family and anti-economic reform political party.

The Santamaria family placed a 40-year embargo on the Santamaria Papers when they were given to the State Library of Victoria in 2006. However, Patrick Morgan (see facing page) was given an exemption to this embargo when preparing his two-­volume edited collection of Santamaria’s letters and documents, Your Most Obedient Servant and Running the Show, published by Melbourne Uni­versity Press in 2007 and 2008.

Morgan’s research indicates that in late 1992, Santamaria formed a group comprising Malcolm Fraser and academics Robert Manne and John Carroll. The aim was to establish a new political grouping, which was protectionist and interventionist, to be headed by Fraser. This is confirmed in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, which Fraser co-authored with Margaret Simons.

At the time, Fraser had been out of office for almost a decade and neither Manne nor Carroll had any experience in mainstream politics. This initiative suffered the same fate as all of Santamaria’s ­attempts to establish a third party to take on the Liberal and Labor parties in the 1980s and 1990s — that is, failure.

Santamaria was fond of quoting the saying that “anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intelligentsia”.

In 2012 and 2013, David Marr wrote biographical monographs on Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell respectively. Both are tinged with the anti-Catholic sectarianism of a born-again atheist and are long on secular sneering, in the Marr way.

Marr attempts to make much of the alleged Santamaria-Pell-Abbott axis. But his case is always overstated and frequently confused — particularly with respect to the Democratic Labor Party which, with the support of Santamaria, broke away from the Australian Labor Party at the Labor split in the mid-1950s.

In The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell, Marr wrote, with ­reference to Santamaria’s state ­funeral: “Pell’s oldest political loyalties were to the DLP, but when the party collapsed Santamaria had directed his followers to cross the bridge to the Liberals. It was not altogether comfortable for either party, so it mattered a great deal for Santamaria’s people when (John) Howard reconciled with the old man at the very end.”

The fact is that when the DLP collapsed in the second half of the 1970s, Santamaria did not direct his followers to “cross the bridge” to the Liberal Party. If this had been the case, then Abbott — as a follower of Santamaria in the late 1970s and the early 1980s — might have joined the Liberal Party at that time. He didn’t.

In 2012, the Melbourne-based researcher Geoffrey Browne was given access to correspondence that passed between Santamaria and Abbott in the late 1980s. It seems that the State Library of Victoria made an error with respect to the 40-year embargo that applies to this vast collection. Browne passed the material to the historians Ross Fitzgerald and Stephen Holt, who reported the exchange in The Weekend Australian on October 13-14, 2012.

Marr read only the newspaper report; I have been able to obtain a copy of the entire correspondence. According to Marr, Santamaria gave Abbott his political bearings. But Santamaria merely advised Abbott not to flirt with the NSW Labor Party, which was dominated by the ALP’s right wing in the state. Santamaria restated his decades-long hostility to the NSW Labor Right. In spite of this, he provided no encouragement for Abbott to join the Liberal Party.

The correspondence went as follows: In April 1987, at a meeting, Santamaria offered Abbott a job in Melbourne working for the Council for the National Interest. The CNI was one of the many front organisations created by Santamaria. Its focus was defence and foreign policy, but its creation was part of his plan to construct a new political party.

At the time, Abbott had just quit as a Catholic seminarian (a trainee priest). He told Santamaria in a letter dated April 21, 1987 that he needed to build a career and was inclined to accept a job offer to become a journalist working for The Bulletin. He politely rejected Santamaria’s proposal.

On December 8, 1987, Abbott again wrote to Santamaria — shortly after returning from the NCC’s national conference. In a thoughtful, but blunt letter, Abbott told Santamaria that his current political strategy was not working.

Abbott wrote: “To change society one must work in it, share the priorities and fears, cares and concerns of the ‘common herd’, make the compromises that life requires, be wrong, get blood on one’s hands — but at least, be in it. Are we? In 1954, the Movement dominated a major party [the ALP]. In 1969, the Movement had some significant parliamentary influence [through the DLP]. In 1980, the Movement controlled four big unions. Today, we run the AFA [Australian Family Association] and are the main force behind an as yet embryonic lobby group, the CNI. The CNI and AFA are worthy works. But they are essentially waiting in the wings of politics on the off-chance that someone might ask them to dance.”

Interpreting the Abbott-Santamaria letters during an appearance on the ABC’s program The Drum on March 23, 2013, Marr claimed that Santamaria said the following to Abbott: “No [not the Labor Party] — the Liberal Party. Yes, there are many, many risible and ridiculous things about the Liberal Party. But it’s the Liberal Party, now, Tony.”

This is a complete invention — as Abbott’s contemporary writings make clear. Soon after their correspondence, Abbott wrote a profile on Santamaria for The Weekend Australian, which was published on December 30-31, 1989 to mark the collapse of Soviet communism.

It was a broadly sympathetic assessment, but some critical points were made. Abbott commented that “the difference between Santamaria and more mainstream economic commentators is that Santamaria has predicted 30 (rather than just 20) of the last five crises”. Clearly, Abbott understood Santamaria’s crisis mentality.

During the interview on which the profile was based, Santamaria restated the position that he had never stood for political office because he did not think he would be very good at politics owing to “an inability to compromise”. Abbott asks the following question about Santamaria: “Has he not entered the political fray without ever putting his ideas to the electoral test; has he not asked lesser men to undertake the task he would not do himself?”

It is a significant query — which reflects Abbott’s commitment to mainstream politics and explains why he had rejected Santamaria’s offer to devote himself fulltime to the Movement in its final manifestation as the NCC.

How, then, to explain the relationship between Abbott and Santamaria? To a Catholic, anti-communist political activist on a university campus in the 1960s and 1970s, Santamaria had considerable appeal. He was a charismatic speaker and a first-class TV performer on his weekly program, Point of View. He was also a compelling writer.

As a person born in September 1945, I found Santamaria compelling when I first met him in early 1965. So did Abbott, who was born in November 1957 and first met Santamaria around 1978. So did many anti-communist Catholic men and women of our generation. It’s just that the closer you got to Santamaria, the more likely you were to disagree with him over tactics.

I made a public critique of the Movement at the NCC’s national convention in October 1974, when I was 29. Abbott made a not dissimilar critique in his private letter of December 8, 1987, aged 30. By this time, in both cases it seems, Santamaria’s charisma had faded and the flaws in his way of operating had become more evident.

David Marr’s assessment of Santamaria’s influence on Abbott is facile. In the second edition of Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, Marr writes: “Santamaria’s instinct was always to block Labor. Starving it of the talent of young Tony was a tiny detail in a lifetime of hostility. Abbott was not immediately persuaded to ditch his fundamental allegiance — he voted Labor in that [NSW 1988] state election — but the man he called his ‘philosophical star’ had given him his bearings.”

This theory that a strong-willed person like Abbott — possessed of the drive that makes it possible for someone to become prime minister — had to be given “bearings” by Santamaria is ridiculous. As Michael Duffy makes clear in his book Latham and Abbott, Abbott drifted towards the Liberal Party around 1989 — a party that Santamaria then regarded as “reptilian” in nature. Clearly, Abbott found his own bearings.

Abbott has been surprisingly open about this relationship with Santamaria — despite the fact that he had little to gain from stating his long-ago contacts with the one-time Catholic political operator. Addressing the H R Nicholls Society in March 2001, Abbott described Santamaria as his “first political mentor”.

Abbott elaborated on this in a December 2003 interview with Paul Kelly in The Weekend Australian Magazine: “All the way through student politics at university, I was closely involved with the National Civic Council. I regarded him [Santamaria] as an important presence in my life and an important source of ideas, inspiration, example. To this day, I regard Santa as my earliest political mentor, and with the possible exception of the PM [John Howard], as my greatest mentor.”

In launching the first volume of Patrick Morgan’s edited collection of Santamaria’s papers at the State Library of Victoria in January 2007, Abbott referred to his correspondence with Santamaria in the late 1980s.

He maintained that Santa­maria’s enduring political legacy could be located in the Howard government’s foreign policy and social conservatism. According to Abbott, this showed “that the tide of secular humanism was not as ­irreversible as he [Santamaria] thought”.

Abbott concluded that, “the DLP is alive and well and living inside the Howard government, and Labor’s SDA caucus has a leader who should at least give them a fair hearing. The times may not have suited his [Santamaria’s] more dire predictions but they have been kinder to his values.”

The latter reference was to the backing achieved by Labor’s new leader Kevin Rudd, who received strong support in the caucus from Labor MPs aligned to the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association — the SDA, or “Shoppies”, led by one-time Santamaria associate Joe de Bruyn.

Rudd’s mother, Margaret, was a DLP supporter in the aftermath of the Labor split. Abbott’s line was that Santamaria’s influence lived on not only in the DLP but even, to a lesser extent, in the ALP.

That was Abbott’s generous assessment at a function attended by Santamaria’s extended family. It glossed over the reality that Santamaria never really liked the Liberal Party in general — or the Howard government in particular.

When the second edition of Patrick Morgan’s collection was launched in 2008, it was revealed that in March 1996 — just two years before Santamaria’s death — Santamaria went back to where he had commenced with the Movement some six decades previously. He suggested to the NCC national executive in early 1996 that what was left of the Movement “should begin a new fight for the ‘soul’ of the Labor Party”.

So, in 1996, Santamaria was so disillusioned with the Liberals that he wanted his remaining forces to try their luck in the ALP. By then, however, Santamaria had conceded that his long-time wish to “establish a new political party … was beyond us”. Not before time.

SOURCE

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Is milk bad for you?

EVERYTHING seems to be bad for you if you read enough in the health literature, but milk would seem pretty safe.  "New Scientist" has however just done a big article pointing out various doubts about milk.  They don't however have much in the way of actual scientific evidence against milk.  The one academic journal article they cite is below:

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

Abstract

Objective: To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men.

Participants: Two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61 433 women (39-74 years at baseline 1987-90) and one with 45 339 men (45-79 years at baseline 1997), were administered food frequency questionnaires. The women responded to a second food frequency questionnaire in 1997.

Main outcome measure: Multivariable survival models were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality or fracture.

Results: During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).

Conclusions: High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.

SOURCE

This is very weak evidence of anything, as the authors admit in their final sentence.  Let me spell it out:  The milk-consumption data is from a self-report questionnaire rather than any actual observations or  measurements -- and such data is notoriously subject to social desirability influences, among other distortions.  

There are two possibilities:  1). Sickly people drink a lot of milk in the belief that it is good for them; 2). Sickly people SAY they drink a lot of milk in the belief that they SHOULD do that.  Either way the sickliness probably came first, not the milk drinking.  So sickliness caused milk drinking rather than milk drinking caused sickliness.  It could go either way and we do not know which way. The study, in other words, did not advance our knowledge of the matter at all.  There is still no reason to think that milk is bad for you.

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Avoiding that pesky evolutionary thinking The Left are deeply uncomfortable with evolutionary thinking. It explains too much for their liking. That men and women have evolved to have inborn differences that reflect their role vis a vis children flies in the face their feminist creed that there are no differences between men and women -- for instance. So the blindness to evolution that we see below is no accident. "New Scientist" has always been Left-leaning and their fervour for global warming shows that to be still undimmed. The claim that the high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium is plausible at first sight but neglects the obvious. And the plausibilty fades fast when you look at ALL the evidence -- something Leftists chronically avoid. See the last sentence in the article below. So what is the obvious factor that the writer below is blind to? That those who were infected in subsequent plagues were almost all the descendants of those who did not die the first time around. Those who did not die the first time around had some factor or factors in their makeup that made them resistant to yersinia pestis -- and it is they who survived to reproduce and pass on their resistance. Pure natural selection at work. Fewer people died the second and third times around because they had inherited resistance. They survived because they were the descendants of survivors. Obvious to anyone but a Leftist. Leftist thinking rots your brain The secret of plague’s death toll is out. The high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium. The Black Death killed about 60 per cent of Europe’s population. That’s surprising as recent plague outbreaks weren’t as devastating. “There is a huge difference in mortality rates,” says Sharon DeWitte at the University of South Carolina, even though 14th century and 20th century plagues were caused by the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and its genetics were similar in both outbreaks. DeWitte believes that the high mortality rate in the 14th century may have been the result of a general decline in health. She examined skeletons in London cemeteries from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries and found that more adults under the age of 35 were buried in the 13th century. This suggests that people were dying younger before the Black Death arrived – probably because of famine and an increase in disease burden from other pathogens. “Together with historical data, the picture that emerges is that the population was not doing well,” says DeWitte. But Samuel Cohn, a historian from the University of Glasgow, UK, is not convinced. “The wealthy were also dying in great numbers during the first outbreak of the Black Death [1347-51],” he says, noting that it is unlikely that they were in poor health. SOURCE
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Is the Pope a Fascist?

If we compare him with Fascists of the past, his ideas are clearly Fascist.  Fortunately, however, he has none of their power.  "But how can such a nice guy be a Fascist?" one might ask. In answer to that remember that "Pope" is a version of the Italian word for "father" and that both Mussolini and Hitler were seen as fatherly figures in their times.  Hitler had most Germans convinced that he loved them. And even in the mouth of a holy man bad ideas can be destructive when other people take them seriously.

And the church has always accomodated Fascism.   In 1929 Mussolini and Pope Pius 12th signed the Lateran treaty -- which is  the legal basis for the existence of the Vatican State to this day -- and Pius in fact at one stage called Mussolini "the man sent by Providence".  The treaty recognized Roman Catholicism as the Italian State religion as well as recognizing the Vatican as a sovereign state.  What Mussolini got in exchange was acceptance by the church -- something that was enormously important in the Italy of that time.

It should also be noted that Mussolini's economic system (his "corporate State") was a version of syndicalism  -- having workers, bosses and the party allegedly united in several big happy families --  and syndicalism is precisely what had been recommended in the then recent (1891) "radical" encyclical De rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII.  So that helped enormously to reconcile Mussolini to the church.  Economically, Fascism was more Papal than capitalist (though in the Papal version of syndicalism the church naturally had a bigger role).

Syndicalism was of course a far-Leftist idea (with Sorel as a major prophet) long before it was a Papal one but the Holy Father presented a much more humanized and practical version of it and thus seems in the end to have been more influential than his Leftist rivals.  Mussolini was of course acutely aware of both streams of syndicalist thinking and it was a great convenience to him to be able to present himself as both a modern Leftist and as a supporter of the church.

So that is the Catholic intellectual inheritance, making Frank's ideas not at all outlandish in a Catholic context.  Catholic economic ideas in fact formed the basis of Italian Fascism.  And Frank has built on that foundation using more modern ideas.


In his recent encyclical, Frank has made it clear that he idealizes a simple and definitely non-capitalist rural past. Hitler did the same and the modern-day Green/Left do the same.  So exactly from where did Frank get those ideas?  As well as from Catholic economic thinking, he got them from liberation theology.  Liberation theology is a very Leftist doctrine that is widespread among South American priests and Frank is a South American priest.  So where did South American priests get their ideas?  From the prevailing South American culture.  And South American thinking is typically Fascist.  Latin America has had heaps of Fascist-type dictatorships in the recent history of its governance so that is hardly controversial.  Fascism explains Latin-American poverty.  Fascism is a form of Leftism and Leftism is always economically destructive.

So where did South American Fascism come from?  Initially from Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America.  Bolivar wanted to replace the king of Spain by a South American elite, not by mass democracy.  And to this day the Venezuelan regime describes itself as Bolivarian.  Bolivar and his ideas are far from forgotten.  Bolivar emphasized the importance of a strong ruler and the constitution he wrote aimed to establish a lifelong presidency and an hereditary senate. He explicitly rejected the liberal ideas of the U.S. founders. Fascist enough?  Memories of  a certain Tausend Jahr Reich come to mind. So the Latin American dictators have simply been good Bolivarians.

So that is the mental world that formed Pope Frank as he was growing up in Argentina.  And who is to this day the most influential political figure in Argentina?  Juan Peron, another Fascist and a friend of Mussolini in his day.  And it was of course Peron who gave refuge to many displaced Nazis after WWII.  And what was Peron's appeal?  He claimed to be standing up for the descamisados", the "shirtless ones".  In typical Leftist style he claimed to be an advocate for the poor.

Is Frank's thinking coming into focus yet?  He is actually a pretty good Peronist.  He has brought Argentinian Fascism to the Holy See.  He is certainly no original thinker. Paul Driessen  sets out below how his prescriptions would perpetuate poverty, disease, and premature death in the Third World -- just as they have done in Argentina


The Laudato Si encyclical on climate, sustainability and the environment prepared by and for Pope Francis is often eloquent, always passionate but often encumbered by platitudes, many of them erroneous.

“Man has slapped nature in the face,” and “nature never forgives,” the pontiff declares. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as in the last 200 years.” It isn’t possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society. “Each year thousands of species are being lost,” and “if we destroy creation, it will destroy us.”

The pope believes climate change is largely manmade and driven by a capitalist economic system that exploits the poor. Therefore, he says, we must radically reform the global economy, promote sustainable development and wealth redistribution, and ensure “intergenerational solidarity” with the poor, who must be given their “sacred rights” to labor, lodging and land (the Three L’s).

All of this suggests that, for the most part, Pope Francis probably welcomes statements by his new friends in the United Nations and its climate and sustainability alliance.

One top Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change official bluntly says climate policy is no longer about environmental protection; instead, the next climate summit will negotiate “the distribution of the world’s resources.” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres goes even further. UN bureaucrats, she says, are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the global economic development model.” [emphasis added]

However, statements by other prominent prophets of planetary demise hopefully give the pope pause.

Obama science advisor John Holdren and Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, in their Human Ecology book: “We need to de-develop the United States” and other developed countries, “to bring our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.” We will then address the “ecologically feasible development of the underdeveloped countries.” [emphasis added]

Ehrlich again: “Giving society cheap energy is like giving an idiot child a machine gun.” And most outrageous: The “instant death control” provided by DDT was “responsible for the drastic lowering of death rates” in poor countries; so they need to have a “death rate solution” imposed on them.

Radical environmentalism’s death campaigns do not stop with opposing DDT even as a powerful insect repellant to prevent malaria. They view humans (other than themselves) as consumers, polluters and “a plague upon the Earth” – never as creators, innovators or protectors. They oppose modern fertilizers and biotech foods that feed more people from less land, using less water. And of course they are viscerally against all forms and uses of hydrocarbon energy, which yields far more energy per acre than alternatives.

Reflect on all of this a moment. Unelected, unaccountable UN bureaucrats have given themselves the authority to upend the world economic order and redistribute its wealth and resources – with no evidence that any alternative they might have in mind will bring anything but worse poverty, inequality and death.

Moreover, beyond the dishonest, arrogant and callous attitudes reflected in these outrageous statements, there are countless basic realities that the encyclical and alarmist allies sweep under the rug.

We are trying today to feed, clothe, and provide electricity, jobs, homes, and better health and living standards to six billion more people than lived on our planet 200 years ago. Back then, reliance on human and animal muscle, wood and dung fires, windmills and water wheels, and primitive, backbreaking, dawn-to-dusk farming methods made life nasty, brutish and short for the vast majority of humans.

As a fascinating short video by Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling illustrates, human life expectancy and societal wealth has surged dramatically over these past 200 years. None of this would have been possible without the capitalism, scientific method and hydrocarbon energy that radical, shortsighted activists in the UN, EPA, Big Green, Inc. and Vatican now want to put in history’s dustbin.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels – mostly coal – helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating, often lethal energy and economic poverty. However, 1.3 billion still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity; in Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung.

Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and 4-6 million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and unspoiled food.

Providing energy, food, homes and the Three L’s to middle class and impoverished families cannot happen without nuclear and hydrocarbon energy and numerous raw materials. Thankfully, we still have these resources in abundance, because “our ultimate resource” (our creative intellect) has enabled us to use “fracking” and other technologies to put Earth’s resources to productive use serving humanity.

Little solar panels on huts, subsistence and organic farming, and bird-and-bat-butchering wind turbines have serious cost, reliability and sustainability problems of their own. If Pope Francis truly wants to help the poor, he cannot rely on these “alternatives” or on UN and Big Green ruling elite wannabes. Who are they to decide what is “ecologically feasible,” what living standards people will be “permitted” to enjoy, or how the world should “more fairly” share greater scarcity, poverty and energy deprivation?

We are all obligated to help protect our planet and its people – from real problems, not imaginary ones. Outside the computer modelers’ windows, in The Real World, we are not running out of energy and raw materials. (We’re just not allowed to develop and use them.) The only species going extinct have been birds on islands where humans introduced new predators – and raptors that have been wiped out by giant wind turbines across habitats in California and other locations. Nor are we encountering climate chaos.

No category 3-5 hurricane has struck the USA in a record 9-3/4 years. (Is that blessing due to CO2 and capitalism?) There has been no warming in 19 years, because the sun has gone quiet again. We have not been battered by droughts more frequent or extreme than what humanity experienced many times over the millennia, including those that afflicted biblical Egypt, the Mayas and Anasazi, and Dust Bowl America.

The scientific method brought centuries of planetary and human progress. It requires that we propose and test hypotheses that explain how nature works. If experimental evidence supports a hypothesis, we have a new rule that can guide further health and scientific advances. If the evidence contradicts the hypothesis, we must devise a new premise – or give up on further progress.

But with climate change, a politicized method has gained supremacy. Based on ideology, it ignores real-world evidence and fiercely defends its assumptions and proclamations. Laudato Si places the Catholic Church at risk of surrendering its role as a champion of science and human progress, and returning to the ignominious persecution of Galileo.

Nor does resort to sustainable development provide guidance. Sustainability is largely interchangeable with “dangerous manmade climate change” as a rallying cry for anti-hydrocarbon, wealth redistribution and economic transformation policies. It means whatever particular interests want it to mean and has become yet one more intolerant ideology in college and government circles.

Climate change and sustainability are critical moral issues. Denying people access to abundant, reliable, affordable hydrocarbon energy is not just wrong. It is immoral – and lethal.

It is an unconscionable crime against humanity to implement policies that pretend to protect the world’s energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate and other dangers decades from now – by perpetuating poverty, malnutrition and disease that kill millions of them tomorrow.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine



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Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings. 

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see. 

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.


Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.


 Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children’s scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children’s learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475


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The high cost of Australia’s housing "obsession"

It's an "obsession" that people want a house to live in? 

The stockbroker below is an economic moron.  Negative gearing is normal accounting.  It means that the cost of earning income is deducted before you are taxed on that income.  Any other system would be hugely destructive,  It would mean taxing people on money that they do not have.  There is no "subsidy" involved, just normal cost accounting.

And we read below: "“If someone borrows money to buy residential property, it doesn’t create any jobs,” he said."  How does he think residential property gets built?  By fairies?  The housing industry is in fact a major employer.

The guy is a vivid testimony to the sad state of modern education.  He might make a good hewer of wood and drawer of water but he is a disgrace to his present occupation.  A very low-wattage brain indeed

AUSTRALIA spends 20 times more money on subsidising negatively geared property than funding start-up businesses and this could cost us jobs and our economic future, one senior financial analyst says.

Ivor Ries, a Morgan’s stockbroking firm analyst, said one of the greatest weaknesses in the Australian economy was the lack of investment in infrastructure and early stage businesses.

“We are miles behind places like the US in financing young, growth businesses. We’re pathetic really compared with the US,” he told the ABC this week.

He said about $250 million was available in venture capital for young entrepreneurs each year. This was about 20 times less than what taxpayers spent subsidising investment properties, which do not create jobs.

“We currently give $4 billion a year to investors via the tax system to subsidise people buying negatively geared rental accommodation,” he told news.com.au.

Mr Ries said Australia was basically a country that subsidised nonproductive capital.  “If someone borrows money to buy residential property, it doesn’t create any jobs,” he said.

“We’re giving already well-off people subsidies to buy more property, whereas the country in total spends $250 million a year on venture capital. There’s something wrong with that balance.”

It also meant that Australia was basically “exporting jobs”.

“It just means there will be less jobs here in the longer term. We’re just exporting jobs at the moment,” he said.

The money spent on venture capital was even less than the $1 billion Australians spent buying luxury sports utility vehicles (SUVs) every year. A high proportion of these vehicles will be used as private cars but written off as a business asset, which the taxpayer pays for.

“The reality of life in Australia today is we subsidise people buying high-end SUVs but we don’t give as much to venture capital,” Mr Ries said.

Mr Ries said the tax system should be tilted back towards things that actually created wealth and jobs. He saw at least two businesses a week that had developed some fantastic technology but could not get funding.

“I’ll give them a list of 25 venture capital funds in Australia and I will say to them, ‘Don’t expect to get any money out of them because they are fully committed’ and I think any small business that’s got great new technology, or a great new business idea in Australia at the moment is probably getting that advice from multiple sources around the country,” he told the ABC.

“We just don’t have the capacity to fund these businesses at the moment.”

If Australians did start investing in venture capital at the same rate the US did, spending would jump from $250 million to $4.9 billion a year.

The risk of not doing this could condemn the country to low employment growth and a sticky unemployment rate, which is hovering about 6 per cent.

He said more tax concessions should be made available.  “I think the government needs to make it much more attractive to invest in these things which, by their nature, are much more risky,” he told news.com.au.  “Nine out of 10 of them will fail but the one that succeeds will often be hugely successful.”

SOURCE

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Some reflections about education

I guess lots of people have heard old fogies like me complaining  that education "ain't what it used to be". And of course it is not.  The world of today is different from the past and education must reflect that to some extent.  

A century ago, a "Greekless" person was regarded as not fully educated, for instance.  Even if you were not fluent in ancient Greek, you were expected to know the more famous quotations and be able to at least figure out the bits that you did not know.  These days a knowledge of html is much more important and helpful.  It certainly makes blogging easier.

But good stuff has undoubtedly been lost in today's schools and replaced with blah. Important areas of cultural awareness have been supplanted by lessons about fluid sexual identities and the importance of saving the planet! Not to mention the evils of patriarchy and lies about Hitler being a conservative.

And it takes us old guys to be aware of that.  If you have never been exposed to something you cannot know what you have missed. And to have missed exposure to our great cultural heritage is a great loss indeed.  There is, of course, culture of all sorts. But what I am talking about is areas of enjoyment that have stood the test of time.  And poetry, literature and music are such areas. 

Contrary to what Leftists seem to believe, the world did not begin yesterday.  It's possible that half of all the great minds that have ever existed are alive today -- but what about the other half?  And the traditional role of education was to tell us about that other half

And it is particularly in the area of culture that the other half is important.  Scientists, engineers and philosophers of the past have now mostly been completely superseded.  Isaac Newton, for instance, was brilliant in his day but physics has long gone beyond him in its understanding of the universe.  But cultural contributions are really never superseded.  Monteverdi might have written the Vespro della Beata Vergine 400 years ago but  it is still performed and enjoyed to this day.  And, for religious music, no-one has surpassed J.S. Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750.

And its the same in poetry.  Poets like Coleridge and Tennyson just simply cannot be replaced.  They are sui generis and give particular pleasures that no-one else does.  There are other good poets but to miss out of Tennyson and Coleridge is to miss out on much of the pleasure that poetry can bring.  Tennyson died in 1892. Samuel Taylor Coleridge died in 1834.  And if you like poetry but know nothing of either of those dead white men, you have simply missed out on a great experience.

So I am glad that I went to school when the importance of the culture of the past was still recognized.  In the '50s I went to a totally undistinguished Australian country school but came away from it not only with some knowledge of mathematics, chemistry  and physics but also a knowledge of the great poets, a basic grasp of Latin and Italian -- and a good introduction to the language and literature of Germany.  At age 15 I was even learning to recite and sing Schubert Lieder  in the original German.  And I knew English language poems by Tennyson and others by heart.  And it was also courtesy of my school that, at age 13 or thereabouts, I first heard Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

But most of that will be Greek to young readers today.  They have no idea of how much enjoyment and satisfaction has been hidden from them.

So how come I learnt all that highbrow stuff in a country school half a world away from where it originated?  It was basically because Britain's very prestigious "public" (meaning private!) schools taught that sort of thing.  And because of the acknowledged excellence of such schools, they became a model that everyone wanted to emulate.  I was, in short, taught a curriculum not too different from what I would have got at Eton.

But nowadays everything from the past is wrong in our Left-dominated educational system so Eton traditions are the last thing that a "modern" educator would respect.

And yet the past can be so helpful.  Readers of novels, for instance, always have the problem that you usually have to read a fair bit of a novel before you know whether it is any good.  Without guidance of some sort you cannot know in advance whether a novel is worth reading and you can waste a lot of time on something that in the end gives you nothing.

But classic novels are classics because lots of people have found them good over a long period of time and recommended them to others.  They are the sort of book of which people have long said:  "You MUST read ...".   So knowing which are the classic novels can greatly upgrade the pleasure you get out of reading.

For instance, I greatly enjoyed reading many years ago what some say is only the second novel ever written in English --  "Joseph Andrews" by Fielding. Can anybody who has read that book forget "Madam Slipslop"?  I cannot.  Sometimes a classic novel has great insights but it is always entertaining. And fortunately, you can get a reading list of great novels and enjoy them.

It's not so simple with poetry.  The great pleasure of poetry is not to read it just once but to KNOW it.  And that means to know at least some of it by heart. If you do, you will often recite it, either out loud or just in your head.  And you will enjoy doing that.  But there's the difficulty:  The older you get the harder it is to memorize things.  Anything that needs memorizing basically has to be done when you are young -- preferably at school.  So if you were never taught any of the great classic poems at school, the pleasure of poetry has basically been ripped away from you.  Sorry.  But that's it.  If you want to try yourself out, here is a famous but short poem by Tennyson. It's a lament over the death of his homosexual lover.  The Left seem to think they have invented homosexuality recently.  They have not.

Break, Break, Break

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

Break, break, break,
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
         That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

It's a wonderful and heartfelt poem by a master of the English language.  I learnt it at school.

And then there is music.  Fortunately, the simpler music from the past has been  much revived by the folk music movement -- so remains accessible regardless of your education. It was the folkies who introduced to "Cutty Wren", written over 200 years ago. If you know that song can you ever forget "John the red nose"?  I cannot.

But some of the slightly more complex songs from the past should also be enjoyable to many.  I think particularly of madrigals. They were once taught as part of a good education. In some private schools they still are.  Take Monteverdi's Chiome d' Oro ("Tresses of gold").  It's a love song to a lady with blonde hair! A not unfamiliar idea, though probably politically incorrect these days.  The many ladies who blond their hair these days would sympathize.  A good performance here. It's wonderful.  Monteverdi wrote it around 400 years ago.  Words translated from the Italian  here.

And that brings me to another important cultural element:  languages.  If you learn (say) German at school you will almost certainly never get to the point of being able to have a reasonable conversation in it.  That is not the point.  It is much more likely that you WILL get to the point where you  can make  some fist of reading texts in that language.  And that IS useful.

Translating plain text into English from another language is difficult enough but translating a work of art into English is just about impossible.  The translation will never be as gracious as the original. That came home forcefully to me when I was reading the translation of Chiome d' Oro.  Italian was one of the languages I studied in my schooldays and the translation of Chiome d' Oro is nowhere as magical as the original Italian.  Every Italian would agree with me on that!  You just miss so much if your cultural awareness is limited to English.

All that came back to me recently when Anne asked me "Who is this Goethe fella?".  Johann  Wolfgang von Goethe is of course Germany's most famous and beloved poet.  And seeing that he wrote in the land of music, it is no surprise that his poems have been set to music -- by Hugo Wolf, Franz Schubert and others.  Some of Schubert's most famous Lieder are to texts written by Goethe. So I was able to introduce Anne to Goethe via the Schubert Lieder.

So, for the benefit of anybody reading this who might have an interest in classical music let me link to just two of the songs I found. Let me revisit some things that it has been my great good fortune to enjoy for nearly 60 years.

There is for instance here a good rendition of Gretchen am Spinnrade set by Schubert.  It is a love song.  It is from the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil.  Faust wanted Gretchen so the Devil made her fall frantically and hopelessly  in love with him.  The song tells of her feelings.  A translation from the German:

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.
Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth's smile,
His eyes' power,

And his mouth's
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

And if the song is good, just the music Schubert wrote for it is great too.  There is an incredibly sensitive performance of it for solo piano by a Chinese lady -- Yuja Wang -- here.  What a treasure it is that the East Asians seem to like our classical music even more than we do! If, as seems likely, the Leftists achieve the destruction of our civilization, China will preserve our great cultural treasures.  

And, getting back to Goethe, there is Erlkoenig set by Schubert -- one of the most famous of the Schubert Lieder. A version sung by the young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (a famous German baritone) is here -- with English subtitles.  The story is of an ill child who is having hallucinations while his father is riding frantically to get the child home.  It is very dramatic.

Will the screed above benefit anyone?  Probably not. But I still think it concerns things that should be noted down.

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Adam Goodes isn’t booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock

The controversy over part-Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes continues.  The crowds boo him a lot and the powers that be are trying to stop that.  It has just been handed down from on high that such booing is "racist".

What the wise-heads are ignoring is that Goodes is aggressive, confrontational and a whiner.  He has done a lot to make himself unpopular. He recently did some sort of Aboriginal war dance on the football field, complete with an imaginary spear thrown in the direction of the opposing fans --  Not exactly the "mature discussion about the state of race relations in this country" that his Leftist supporters have called for.

The latest episode in the uproar is here. It seems that he just has to run onto the field now to get booed.  He has made himself an oppositional figure.

MIRANDA DEVINE (below) summed Goodes up pretty well a month ago. I am not sure why she uses British slang but "pillock" translates roughly into American slang as "jerk". Old-fashioned Australians might say "galah".


I’m sorry, but people are not booing Adam Goodes because he’s Aboriginal. They’re booing him because he acts like a pillock from time to time.  And if Sydney Swans CEO Andrew Ireland is genuinely interested in race relations then he shouldn’t cry “racist” with no evidence.

It’s obvious to any footy-lover that the fans boo Goodes because:

1. It’s become a thing;

2. He deliberately taunts opposition fans;

3. He is accused of staging for free kicks, in contravention of the rules of fair play

4. No one has forgotten how he singled out a 13 year old girl in the Collingwood crowd and sicced security onto her after she called him an “ape”;

5. He was rewarded for outing this powerless little girl with the honour of Australian of the Year which he then turned into a grievance pulpit to bag Australia as a racist nation.

Unlike most sports gurus in this town, I loved Goodes’ indigenous war dance last month as the Swans beat Carlton. For one thing, it’s about time we beat the Kiwis and their haka at their own game.

For another, he just did it so well. Bravo, I say. He stole the show.

But he also served it up to the opposition fans, deliberately riling them up. That’s what he does.

So when he gets booed, it’s just the crowd’s natural response to his invitation. It’s a tough game that Goodes started and only he can finish.

But for sports administrators and sanctimonious journalists to denounce the crowds as somehow anti-Aboriginal is the real racism. It’s that sort of patronising victim-pandering that holds Aboriginals down.

If Adam Goodes wants to be a pillock, good for him. He will be booed like any other pillock, no matter what the colour of their skin.

SOURCE

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Notorious Holocaust denier David Irving tells secret rally 'the RAF are war criminals'

Irving's view that the Anglo-American air-raids on Hamburg and Dresden in the closing phases of WWII were a war-crime is not unusual. A wide range of people see it that way.  The raids killed a lot of civilians with little obvious effect or hope of effect on the German war-effort

And Irving is actually a very knowlegeable historian on Germany in the '30s and '40s.  He was the only one able to identify the Kujau "diaries" as a fake from the get-go

Many people have suggested that he is more a provocateur than anything else and I agree with that.  He loves publicity and outraging people -- and his claims have got him heaps of that. He has travelled the world for decades generating controversy wherever he goes. One of his provocations was to have his car painted brown and then declare  the color as "N*gger brown".  He undoubtedly enjoyed the howls over that.  

So I am inclined to think that his minimization of the death camps is mainly a stunt designed to get people to adopt a more critical and hence a hopefully more balanced view of WWII.  And the need for a more balanced view is huge.  Just the claim that Hitler was "right-wing" is a towering lie

Sadly, however, it is only very marginal people who are willing to listen to him.  He does not himself appear to be a member of any extremist group


Convicted Holocaust denier David Irving addressed fascist sympathisers and neo Nazis at a secret meeting in London yesterday.

Irving, a historian who famously lost a libel case after denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers, was the star speaker at an event that attracted an audience of 120 Right-wing sympathisers, including women and teenagers.

Behind closed doors at a four-star hotel in South Kensington, the discredited author gave a speech condemning the Second World War Allied bombing campaign over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe as ‘a war crime’.

Irving’s contentious speech was titled: ‘Saturation Bombing in World War II – who is to blame?’

An invitation to the event, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, states: ‘David Irving is the world’s MOST respected historian, he’s the world’s TOP expert on World War II.’

But he was widely discredited after his high-profile libel trial and being sentenced to three years imprisonment by an Austrian court in 2006 for denying the Holocaust.

The secret meeting will add to concerns that far-Right groups are trying to garner support in London and Europe amid a rise in austerity and Islamic terrorism.

It comes just three months after The Mail on Sunday exposed a similar meeting of far-Right figures from around the world, organised by the same group, who call themselves the London Forum.

Anti-fascist campaigner Gerry Gable condemned Irving’s appearance at the latest in a ‘growing series of closed international far-Right extremist conferences’.

Former Spandau prison worker Abdallah Melaouhi, self-described ‘best friend’ of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, was also a speaker at yesterday’s event.

Also present was Arkadiusz Rzepinski, leader of the Polish nationalist party, NOP, in England.

The invitation told those wishing to attend the meeting to call a mobile number at 8am yesterday. Those who rang were told to meet at South Kensington Tube station at 11am, where they were greeted by retired teacher and known fascist supporter Michael Woodbridge.

They were then led to the four-star Rembrandt Hotel, opposite the Victoria and Albert museum.

Attendees filed into the St James function room, which the group had booked out in a different name, from 11.30am – some wearing tweed and blazers, others in khaki trousers and black T-shirts with the logo of fascists groups including the far-Right Greek group Golden Dawn.

Among the paying attendees were British National Party members and Polish nationalist skinheads wearing camouflage – complete with boots and chains – who filed through the lobby past bemused hotel guests. About 10 women attended and one man brought his teenage daughter.

In 1996, Irving sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin books for defamation after being called a Holocaust denier. Irving lost the very high-profile case, which cost him a reported £2 million.

At the trial the judge said Irving had deliberately misinterpreted and distorted facts. The judge said: ‘It is my conclusion that no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews.’

In parts of Europe Holocaust denial is a criminal offence and in 2006, an Austrian court sentenced Irving to three years in prison after he made speeches denying the Nazis used gas chambers. He later said he had revised some of his views.

The respected historian and broadcaster Andrew Roberts said: ‘It is depressing that such a meeting should take place in the 21st Century. The idea of treating David Irving as a historian at all is absurd.

‘He doesn’t have the right to call himself that. Historians think of him as a Nazi propagandist and they have the backing of the High Court.’

Speaking in German, with translation provided by Irving, Melaouhi told the crowd about his time working as a prison nurse. He attended to Hess between 1982 and 1987 when Hess was held prisoner in Spandau, Germany, for war crimes.

Hess, Hitler’s deputy who during the Second World War was held prisoner after his plane crashed in Scotland in 1941, hanged himself in 1987. Melaouhi claimed Hess was murdered and released a book about him, describing him as ‘a man of great vision, intelligence and compassion’.

In April, we exposed a similar meeting of the London Forum where the star speaker was Spanish self-confessed Nazi Pedro Varela.

He was arrested in Austria for praising Hitler in 1992 and declared to a baying crowd in Madrid on the centenary of the Fuhrer’s birthday: ‘There were never any gas chambers in Auschwitz.’

Also present was America’s leading peddler of revisionism, Mark Weber, 63, director of the right-wing Institute for Historical Review.

Gerry Gable of anti-fascist magazine Searchlight said: ‘This conference is another piece of evidence of a growing series of closed international far-right extremist Conferences.

‘The core movers range from elderly Holocaust deniers to well-educated men and women who are being trained in ideologies of hate and being made ready for potential acts of terrorism.’

SOURCE


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Simplicius



Composed, 1887.  Performed at Zurich Oper in 1999

I hesitated for some time before ordering this Singspiel.  I read the synopsis and was not impressed:  Too complicated and not set in an operetta-type setting.  But the music was by Strauss II so I ordered it.

And I disliked it from the beginning.  The surrealist staging was way outside my liking.  I guess some people find it amusing or interesting but I just found it tedious.  A NYC writer felt the same.  He wrote:

"David Pountney’s production is not attuned to the bulk of the work, which can hardly breathe under the weight of his heavy symbolism and the heavy, enormous sets"

I think Pountney is one of the many directors of stage performances these days who is trying to show how smart HE is rather than how good the work is.  Despicable and boring.  I paid to see the work of Strauss, not the work of Pountney. I will order nothing more if he is part of it

But I kept on watching, all the while keeping an eye on the track numbers.  I have often found that the initial tracks of an operetta DVD are very skippable so I was looking for a point in the show that seemed a good starting point for me.  And I did find one! Track 14, about half of the way through the show.  From that point on it became closer to a normal operetta, even having quite a few laughs.  And the customary two happy couples at the end, of course.  With a lot of cuts to the many slow-moving bits and a naturalistic setting, it could be quite a reasonable operetta.

And the plot was not really as complicated as it appeared to be.  The story is that a soldier killed his brother in a battle of the terrible "30 years" war that raged in Central and Western Europe during the 17th century.  He was so grief-stricken at what he had done that he put his eldest son into a monastery and retired with his little son into the forest to lead the life of a religious hermit.

But the little son eventually grew up and was taken back into society as an ingenue. Meanwhile it transpired that the father and son were of noble birth and were wanted for the purposes of marrying into another noble and rich family.  But nobody knew where the father was and nobody knew who the son was.  So a couple of other claimants emerged wanting to marry the rich bride.

They were discredited, however, and we eventually found out who the son was.  And that simplified everything so that, after a few complications, everybody got married to the spouse of their choice.  Quite a simple plot, basically, and quite in operetta style.

The involvement of Swedes in what was basically a German civil war may seem odd to some but is good history.  Der Schwed did indeed take part. Protestant King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden did  lead his troops South to help the German Protestants, having a considerable influence on the outcome. He could in fact be said to have saved Protestantism in Germany.

I watched the show three times but felt that there was nothing in it that would draw me back to it so I gave the DVD away:  No great arias, no great singing, not much in the way of jokes and repellent staging. It's just not jolly.  But Martina Jancova as Tilly is attractive and acted well, while Piotr Beczala is a classic love-stricken tenor. Some other operettas I have watched innumerable times.  When watching Wienerblut, for instance,  I start laughing long before the punchlines of the jokes arrive.

An excerpt from Simplicius  here -- with subtitles! Judge for yourself.  It's just bombast.


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Does Australia lock up too many blacks?

The wail below is written by a lawyer, not a social scientist -- and shows no knowledge of the people concerned at all.  All he knows is how to look up simple statistics.  When he finds that they look bad what does he do?  Does he ask why?  There's no sign of it.  He just seems to to assume that we are all somehow at fault.  That makes him a good Leftist but also what Australians call a drongo -- very stupid.

So as someone who has written quite a lot in the academic journals on race-relations, sociology and criminology, let me point out what is really going on.

Before the arrival of the white man, Aborigines were well adapted to a stone-age life.  They had been adapting to it for around 50,000 years so the adaptation was extreme. Their visuo-spatial abilities were (and are) simply wonderful.  Such adaptations helped them to capture and eat furry animals. But adaptations favourable to stone-age life are not at all suited to modern Western society.  People originally from the Eurasian continent evolved very differently.  The much larger population there produced innovation -- and that gave us the modern world.

So how are Aborigines disadvantaged in Australia today?  The mother and father of their handicaps is low IQ.  They are the race with the world's second lowest measured IQ (South African bushmen are the lowest). They survived by sharpening their perceptual abilities, not their reasoning abilities -- and basically are therefore very bad at dealing with anything new and complex.

I have known many of them and admire good qualities in them.  They are for instance very polite, unaggressive and tend to have a good sense of humour.  But some of their qualities are good yet also their undoing.  In particular, they have evolved as a sharing culture.  When some hunter succeeded in bringing down a big animal, it was shared around in the assurance that other such fortunate kills by others would also be shared around.  There was  no refrigeration so no other system made sense.  You COULD not keep your kill to yourself.

So, like other native peoples (e.g. the Maori) the concept of private property is just not there in them.  If you want something it seems simply right and just to take it, regardless of a property claim that someone else might have on it.  I have seen it happen.

An Aborigine in fact just CANNOT keep substantial assets to himself.  He must share any windfall, even if that windfall is in fact the proceeds of his own hard work.  So you can see how strongly our concept of theft clashes with Aboriginal instincts.

Then there is the alcohol problem.  We have had perhaps 60,000 years to learn how to handle our booze.  And even then we sometimes do a rather bad job of it.  But Aborigines never had alcohol until the white man came.  So their use of alcohol is often catastrophic and lies behind perhaps the majority of their arrests.

I could say much more but the sad truth is, I think, clear:  Aborigines are just not adapted to the world in which they now find themselves -- so are constantly breaking its rules.  All that we CAN do is to enforces the rules.  If we exempted Aborigines we would produce huge uproar and disruption.  As it is, some judges DO punish Aboriginal infractions more lightly -- but that DOES produce big criticism. Physical abuse of women and children -- sometimes extreme abuse of women and children -- is a big sub-set of Aboriginal crime.  Do we WANT to condone that?

With pitifully simplistic thinking, the drongo below says that better education is needed for Aborigines. Does he have any idea how hard and how unsuccessfully many governments have tried to get Aboriginal children into school?  And how is education going to change attributes built up over thousands of generations anyway?

Everything that could be tried to make Aboriginal behaviour  more adaptive has been tried and has failed  -- from paternalism to giving them maximum autonomy.  You won't undo millennia of evolution just by wishing it. The only thing that has ever had much success is when the missionaries ran Aboriginal settlements.  Aborigines are a very spiritual people so religion does influence them. But bringing the missionaries back would be impossible.  So Aborigines will continue to violate our rules and will continue to be treated like other breakers of the rules -- often by imprisonment

They are locked up often because they often do wrong things.  There is no other reason



The US might be the home of mass incarceration – and it is, with 5 per cent of the world's people, it has a quarter of the world's inmates – but America has nothing on Australia in its enthusiasm for disproportionately locking up black people.

Indigenous Australians are imprisoned at a rate 13 times that of other Australians, according to figures collated by the Productivity Commission. That's not 13 per cent higher, or twice as high, but 13 times the rate, 1300 per cent of the rate for the rest of the population. At any one time, over 2 per cent of the Indigenous population is locked up, which doesn't remotely compare with the figure for the rest of us.

The effect of that proportion of people out of one group over time is almost unfathomable, the disruption to the prisoners' lives, their futures, their families.

It's not as if this is a new problem, but it's a rapidly deteriorating one. In 2000, the Indigenous imprisonment rate was merely 8 times as high. Those where the golden days.

So not only do we jail Indigenous people at a far higher rate than even the US imprisons black men, we're speeding things up, putting a greater proportion away. We're increasing this most self-defeating of gaps.

A particular point of Australian difference is our ability to do it harsher for children. For young people, who are meant to be locked up only as an absolute last resort, Indigenous children are jailed at a rate 24 times that of other children.

When Obama turns his attention to a justice system that seems anything but colour blind, the world listens. When Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, late last year proved Aboriginal incarceration to be every bit the catastrophe he labelled it, Australia scarcely rolled its eyes. Most didn't even notice.

His figures put the difference in rates at 15 times, and found the reoffending rate for children in detention – 58 per cent within 10 years – was higher than the proportion of children who stayed at school until year 12. "We do better at keeping Aboriginal people in prison than in school," Mr Gooda told the ABC.

If most of us continue to ignore this catastrophe, as the country seems determined to do, we will deepen this social disaster. Every year it gets worse, or merely stays the same, or only marginally improves, is another year squandering the potential of an enormous fraction of the Indigenous population and wasting hundreds of millions across the country on unnecessary incarceration.

The Productivity Commission called out four major factors contributing to this shameful reality – education, drugs, child neglect and employment. We need to fix all of them, but surely education is the low-hanging fruit.

Cutting education reforms, like the short-lived Gonski package, is one way to perpetuate the catastrophe. The absence of opportunity leads, for far too many, to the absence of anything but a life hurt by crime – as both victim and perpetrator.

SOURCE

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Facebook REFUSES to shut down 'racist' 'Humans of Sunnybank' group which mimics Asian accents and labels the Brisbane community 'dog meat eaters'

Ethnic self-segregation is a common thing and the Brisbane suburbs of Sunnybank and Sunnybank Hills seem to have been adopted by East Asians, mainly Han Chinese.  And the Asian presence really is amazing at times.  I remember standing in a queue outside a popular Japanese restaurant there with my son -- and noting that my son and I were the only exception in a sea of black hair around us. We were taller than most of them so we could see that sea.

I was actually pleased by that.  Asians are a lot more peaceful and patient than we Anglo-Australians are.  My son and I in fact were not patient.  We decided not to wait and went to another less popular restaurant instead.

And there is no doubt that the food in the area is great value.  My son and I often go to a Japanese fast-food joint there called "Mos burgers".

Because they tend to be exemplary citizens by any standard, there is in general very little hostility to Asians in Australia these days.  There are a lot of them and they fit in seamlessly. Just this morning on an outing I saw a Chinese lady rush up to an  old-Australian lady and give her a big hug.  They were obviously old friends. And I know of no physical attacks on Asians aside from what emanates from our small African sub-population.

The sort of negative comment about Asians that you get from old-Australians is mild criticism and the site objected to below is in that mould.  It is clearly jocular. With their history of persecution elsewhere, it is understandable that the site makes overseas Chinese nervous but all it is likely to lead to is laughs

Far-Leftists like The Matildas of course believe that all Australians (except them?) are deeply racist.  It's an article of faith for them.  But they are just projecting.  They see their own hate-filled personalities in everybody else. It's called, "Judging others by yourself" and is a well-worn fallacy. Every single article on "New Matilda" is full of rage so the hate is there in plain sight

An advocacy group have called on Facebook to take down a ‘xenophobic’ page that they believe perpetuates ‘incorrect stereotypes’ about the Asian community in a Brisbane suburb.

The group Global Asians for Action and Social Change (GAASC) have slammed the ‘Humans of Sunnybank’ page for posting ‘harmful and offensive’ images that ‘insult the English language abilities’ of Asian migrants and ‘falsely’ portray the community as dog meat eaters.

The page, which has amassed 16,000 followers, is loosely based on the popular blog Humans of New York and has published more than 60 images, accompanied by captions that 'crudely mimic' an Asian accent.

GAASC said this is a clear attempt to ‘create an atmosphere of xenophobia’.

‘Unlike the ground breaking Humans of New York which showed faces which build New York as a cosmopolitan destination and shares enriching human interest stories, Humans of Sunnybank instead insults and offends by using various incorrect and offensive stereotypes regarding Asian people, and posts it in a fashion that promotes continued racism,’ GAASC said in a statement.

According to GAASC, Sunnybank is home to almost 3,000 residents of Asian heritage, making up approximately 35 per cent of the region's population.

The page, which predominantly use stock images of Asian people, claims to use 'genuine first-hand interviews' to paint a picture of the culturally diverse suburb- 'one story at a time'.

Others play on the stereotype that Asian people are bad drivers

One posts uses a stock image of seven Asian men squatting in a circle, a common practice in Vietnam.

The caption reads: ‘Wei, Brother Chow, I see you shaking.. You going to give up so easiry? Do the squat is wery important! We no skip the leg day in Sunnybank. Even the white boy can do better than you!’

Another used a stock image of an elderly man who appears to be driving a car.

The caption reads: ‘Before I come Australia, I no learn to use car. So I have 8 try for pass driving test. But my wife even worse, one day she do a 15-point turn to get out from garage. That’s why she only allow to drive Toyota Camry. She go to Market Square a lot, please be careful, don’t crash her.’

Erin Chew, a founder of GAASC, reported the page to Facebook administrators for ‘promoting hate speech’, however it was found the page did not violate Facebook’s community standards.

The posts are written in broken English which Erin Chew said encourages racist stereotyping

Ms Chew said Facebook needs to have a ‘deeper evaluation of its community standards’ if they want to become a ‘more responsible and conscientious global citizen.'

She said the social media giant should understand the difference between allowing free speech and allowing a group to use its platform to racially vilify another.

'I understand about freedom of speech and expression, and I believe in that, but at the same time there has to be a limit when it starts to offend a race or community,' Ms Chew told Daily Mail Australia. 'You can have artistic expression but this is just in poor taste.'

A spokesperson from Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission told Daily Mail Australia that some of the material that features on the 'Humans of Sunnybank' Facebook group would be considered vilification under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

'The Act states that a person must not, by a public act, incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of the person or members of the group.'

She said anyone who believes they have been subjected to 'unlawful vilification' can lodge a formal complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

'They would need to provide the identity of the person who they allege has vilified them, rather than just naming the Facebook page. This can sometimes be difficult.'

She said the only other alternative is to continue lobbying Facebook to have the page shut down.

GAASC have started a change.org petition demanding Facebook to remove the page from its site.

Ms Chew said she plans to lodge a formal complaint with Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland and the Australian Human Rights Commission on Friday.

Daily Mail Australia contacted Facebook and the administrators of 'Humans of Sunnybank' however neither were available for comment at the time of publication.

SOURCE


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PROPHECIES OF DOOM

A lot of commentators are predicting economic disaster for Australia as a result of reduced demand from China for Australia's iron ore and coal.  See e.g. here.  But Australia is a diverse modern economy that has long survived ups and downs in commodity income because of the way recurrent drought affects agricultural and pastoral earnings -- so it has a lot of irons in the fire and customarily survives such fluctuations without much overall distress.  Below are five good news stories about the Australian economy

Good economic indicators for Australia despite drought and the mining decline

But care needed with assumptions about growth

Australian policymakers may need to adjust their idea of the country's ideal growth rate to account for a slowdown in population growth and other demographic changes, according to Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens.

Mr Stevens told diners at the Anika Foundation lunch in Sydney that better-than-expected unemployment rates and signs that business confidence had picked up over the last 12 months suggested Australia might need to rethink its definition of trend growth, from the 3 to 3.25 per cent "we have assumed for many years".

Growth in gross domestic product comes from expansion in one or all of productivity, population and participation in the workforce.

Australia's aging population and slowing immigration or birth rate means two of these factors could be under pressure. According to some estimates, the number of people in Australia rose almost 400,000 in 2013 and 360,000 last year but only 160,000 so far this year.

Elaborating on one of the central themes of the minutes of the RBA's July board meeting, released on Tuesday, Mr Stevens said the bank had been surprised by the underlying stability of the unemployment rate which, at 6 per cent, is unchanged from a year ago.

He suggested the better-than-expected set of labour market outcomes could be the result of statistical discrepancies, slower population growth, wage restraint or more economic activity than suggested by official data.

"Some or all of [these] possibilities may be at work," he said.

"Time will tell which ones, but a few observations may be worthwhile at this point.

"First, the economy is making the adjustments required, even if it is a bit slower than we would ideally have liked.

"Second, if the slow growth of wages has in fact been a significant saver of jobs, that would appear to indicate a degree of labour market flexibility in operation.

"Third, to the extent that the data are hinting that our assumptions about trend growth may need to be revisited, that will be worth some discussion," the RBA governor said.

Mr Steven said it "need not be the case" that GDP growth per head would be any lower if the slowdown was the result mainly of more sluggish population growth.

However, he added:  "If there are assumptions about absolute growth rates embedded in business or fiscal strategies, or retirement income plans, they would need to be re-examined."

Mr Stevens said the bank's two cuts to the cash rate this year appeared to be working to stimulate activity in non-mining industries. However, he again warned of the limits of monetary policy and reiterated that while a further cut was still "on the table", the RBA was loath to move too quickly.

He said the 24-hour media cycle and abundance of high-frequency data, surveys and "obscure indicators" had placed policy-makers under increasing pressure to "respond to events and to deviations of economic performance from what had been anticipated". 

"The risk . . . is that this process can lead to a mindset in which policymakers end up responding to quite short-term phenomena, using instruments that take quite some time to have their full effect, including effects that might actually turn out to be adverse," Mr Stevens said.

"This is relevant to our situation.

"A period of somewhat disappointing, even if hardly disastrous, economic growth outcomes, and inflation that has been well contained, has seen interest rates decline to very low levels.

"The question of whether they might be reduced further remains, as I have said before, on the table."


How Australia's drought is boosting beef exports

Australia's dry spell and a strengthening El Nino are proving a boon for US hamburger lovers.

Queensland's most widespread drought ever is sending a near record number of cattle to feedlots as ranchers cull cows at the fastest pace in more than three decades. That's boosting beef exports to an all-time high, including a more than 70 per cent surge in shipments to the US, government data show. Most of that is destined to become burgers.

The US last year overtook Japan as Australia's most important beef export market, while a prolonged drought through Texas saw a four-year slide in American beef output. Supply there will stay constrained even as the herd rebounds from a six-decade low, because it takes about 20 months before cattle are big enough for slaughter. That's seen companies including Chipotle Mexican Grill turn to our shores for beef.

"Feedlots have been pretty much full for the last 12 months," said Paul Deane, an analyst at ANZ Banking Group in Melbourne. "It's been profitable to have cattle on feed here in Australia and process them and sell into the US market."

About 70 per cent of Australian beef shipped to the US is so-called manufacturing beef, used to make hamburgers. Importers include McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, and Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee. Chipotle said last year it was sourcing some grass-fed beef from Australia to meet demand, citing the US herd dropping to a 60-year low.

Hamburger chain Carl's Jr. earlier this year started selling an all-natural burger in the US made with Australian beef. The meat is from free-range cattle that are grass fed and not given antibiotics, according to its chief executive, Andy Puzder.

Australia is the top supplier of beef and veal to the US, accounting for 37 per cent of imports last year, US Department of Agriculture data show. Purchases of Australian beef surged 65 per cent in the first five months of 2015 from a year earlier, the data show.


Tourism could be the new mining boom for Australia, says casino boss

Tourists can get experience of an English-speaking country without jetlag. Australia is in  roughly the same time zone as East Asia (Japan, China etc.)

Tourism could replace mining as the driver of the Australian economy as new attractions and a plunging dollar increase the country's appeal for Asian visitors.

After his company won the bid to develop part of Brisbane's waterfront into a huge casino and resort complex, Echo Entertainment boss Matt Bekier said on Tuesday that Australia could be seeing the beginning of a tourism boom.

"This is going to be the next mining boom," the Echo chief executive said. "If we look in Asia in terms of the aspiration of where people want to go to, Australia stands out as No 1 in terms of aspiration and desire to go to. But we're about number 14 of the places they actually go to, there's a huge opportunity."

China is Australia's fastest growing tourism market with 918,000 visitors in 2014 - a rise of 21.7% - and second only to New Zealand. Chinese visitors were, however, the biggest spenders in Australia, splurging $5.7bn in 2014, up 19% on the previous year.

The continuing fall in the Aussie dollar, which some experts believe could fall to around US60 cents, is likely to help Bekier's prediction by making tourists' money go further.

The US dollar strengthened again overnight on Monday after James Bullard, who sits on the US Federal Reserve's rate-setting committee, said a rate rise was likely in September.

Combined with the falling price of key commodities such as iron ore, gold and oil, his comments put more pressure on the Aussie which lost ground on Tuesday to sit at US73.51c in afternoon trading.

The minutes of the July meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia also kept the downward momentum on the currency when they were published on Tuesday.

The bank said the Aussie's drop against the US dollar to six-year lows was not boosting the economy as expected.

"Further depreciation seemed both likely and necessary," the RBA said. However, it noted noted signs of continued improvement in the jobs market, and said inflation remains well contained.

Bekier said Echo, which beat James Packer's Crown Resorts to the Brisbane prize, would be moving its headquarters and 300 staff to the city to oversee the new project.

The Queen's Wharf waterfront precinct includes five hotels, three residential towers, 50 bars and restaurants, a grand ballroom, a cinema and new footbridge to across the river to South Bank.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the project would attract millions of tourists annually.  "The flow-on effects will be felt for decades to come," she added.

Tourism Australia managing director, John O'Sullivan, said that Australia was entering an important economic cycle where its service sectors would play an increasingly important role in driving the country's future success and sustainability.

"With international tourism to Australia continuing to grow to record levels continued investment in new product, including integrated resorts, as well as existing tourism product is critical to ensure we are able to cater to the growing number of visitors," he said.

"Ensuring we have a diverse range of product and experiences to meet the rapid growth and needs of this market in particular will become all the more important," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Construction on the Brisbane project is set to begin in 2017.


A graphite bonanza for Australia?

Australian companies are searching high and low for new graphite deposits, and their hunt is seeing old mines reopen from Port Lincoln to northern Sweden.

Graphite is an important industrial material, used in batteries, laptops, lubricants, construction materials, medicine and, of course, pencils.

Its derivative, graphene, is just a single atom thick, 150 times stronger than steel and more conductive than silicon or copper.

Many of graphene's future applications have not yet made it out of the lab, but some, like its use as an additive to plastics and cement, are already being commercialised.

Graphene has received glowing media attention since its discovery in 2004, but as junior miners rush into the market and talk up their discoveries, some are beginning to question whether the hype matches the reality.

But it is not deterring those companies in the game, with a view to commercialising Australia's ample supplies of graphite.....

The only mine actually producing graphite for the market at the moment lay dormant for many years before Christopher Darby and his Valence Industries team saw its potential.

The Uley site, outside of Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, has played an important role in the city's past, and is now supplying high-tech manufacturers both in Australian and abroad with graphite.

Valence recently brought a new customer on board, adding to its list of customers using the company's graphite in batteries, medical applications and a range of materials.

With no open market for graphite, success is dependent on these companies being able to mine the ore and sell as well.

"You really have to understand why a customer needs to use it in that application, and work with them to deliver it in a way that is most effective for them," Darby said.

Valence also 'value-adds' to its graphite in South Australia, raising the purity of the ore it mines to exact specifications before offering it customers.

"You have to prove and qualify your production from your own facility," Mr Darby said.

"That means not only do you have to go through exploration and construction of your plant, you have to deliver production from that plant to the customers, and qualify it before they will really commit to long-term sales.

"That creates a drain on cash, and you need to be able to fill that gap to get you through to filling the pipeline of production."


Big spike in underground water exactly where it is most needed

Outback Australia has always relied heavily on bore water

Experimental NASA satellites from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) continue to provide accurate measurements of Australian groundwater.

Data collected over time indicated water levels of the Great Artesian Basin were declining, but it is not the same story for Central Australia's Amadeus Basin.

Professor Alfredo Huate, from the University of Technology Sydney, said the groundwater measurements were a great outcome, but that it all happened by accident.

Mr Huate said people figured out that the weight of water and in particular groundwater was being sensed by the satellite.

He said the find was significant because getting information on water levels across an entire basin was previously very difficult.

"It's hard to get an idea of how the groundwater might be changing and quite tedious to do so because you would need a lot of bores," he said. "With a satellite you get continuous information."

Mr Huate's colleague, Professor Derek Eamus, wrote recently on the ABC's Drum website about the data from the GRACE satellite indicating that water levels in the Great Artesian Basin were declining.

But Mr Huate said the satellite data indicates the same cannot be said for Central Australia's Amadeus basin. "From 2002 until 2008 there was a statistically significant decline in the groundwater," he said.

"But in 2009 and until the end of 2011 the total water has almost doubled from what it was before the satellite went up in 2002.  "It's a tremendous spike in total water now available."

Mr Huate said that water from Central Australia's extreme wet events was not going to get used by plants or evaporate and would therefore replenish the groundwater table.

"It's definitely a good idea to make use of the data sets for [exploratory and developmental purposes]," he said.

NASA, said Mr Huate, are about to launch new satellites that will be more accurate and were specifically designed to measure groundwater.