Revisiting March 2016

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Oswald Rose Campbell ‘Christmas in the bush: An Australian homestead’ 1870s

Some March highlights.

It’s all a devilish plot…

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Neil

Did you know that the republicans (nothing to do with DT-rump, but rather those wanting to de-Queen Oz) have seized control of the Mint? Witness what I found in my change yesterday:

50cThe incredible shrinking Queen, outdone by a Merino ram! Surely disrespectful, if not treasonous! But of course what it really represents is the 50th anniversary of our decimal currency. Not one of their better designs, though, in my opinion, but probably not an unsubtle symbolic dethroning of Elizabeth II.

Related: Australia’s 50 cent coin ‘likely to undergo redesign’.

Here’s another fertile field of devilish plots, for some anyway. Climate change! Comedian Ben McLeay writes – but the first part is quite straight:

With a level of willful ignorance so powerful that you could almost respect it, the NSW Liberals yesterday formally requested that the federal government conduct a series of debates around the science of climate change, indicating that they either want to get publicly embarrassed, or that they haven’t been doing a lot of reading lately.

It’s hard to imagine that there’s a vast global conspiracy being acted out by the overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists (97% agree it’s getting hot and by jove, the humans did it) and what their aims could possibly be other than maybe trying to stop us all from dying of Fucked Up Planet Disease, but as Green Day once famously said in their hit song Warning: question everything.

Just because the body of evidence suggests something to be the case doesn’t make it so. Let’s examine some things that we’ve been foolishly taking for granted only because there has been no reason to suggest that we shouldn’t….

A starting point for those NSW Libs might be the Eureka Award winning Skeptical Science….

Just noting in passing that the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2016 is surreal.

They can’t POSSIBLY elect T. Rump, can they?

Posted on March 12, 2016 by Neil

Finding a new planet to live on might then become a real option.

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Splendid but depressing piece by Paul McGeough this morning:

After 12 years in the business of winnowing truth from falsehood, Factchecker.org claims that Trump is utterly in a league of his own – “he stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong”.

Trump had the nerve to demand an apology from the fact checkers who debunked the “US Muslims celebrate 9/11” lie.

Usually, Factchecker.org honours the lie of the year. But such was Trump’s performance in 2015 that, for the first time, they recognised the liar above any particularly egregious untruth, bestowing on Trump the title King of Whoppers.

One of the more memorable descriptions of the Trump style of political speech came from commentator George Will – “think of a drunk with a bullhorn, reading aloud James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake underwater”.

See also Thomas Frank, Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here’s why.

The man is an insult clown who has systematically gone down the list of American ethnic groups and offended them each in turn. He wants to deport millions upon millions of undocumented immigrants. He wants to bar Muslims from visiting the United States. He admires various foreign strongmen and dictators, and has even retweeted a quote from Mussolini. This gold-plated buffoon has in turn drawn the enthusiastic endorsement of leading racists from across the spectrum of intolerance, a gorgeous mosaic of haters, each of them quivering excitedly at the prospect of getting a real, honest-to-god bigot in the White House…

Stories marveling at the stupidity of Trump voters are published nearly every day. Articles that accuse Trump’s followers of being bigots have appeared by the hundreds, if not the thousands. Conservatives have written them; liberals have written them; impartial professionals have written them. The headline of a recent Huffington Post column announced, bluntly, that “Trump Won Super Tuesday Because America is Racist.” A New York Times reporter proved that Trump’s followers were bigots by coordinating a map of Trump support with a map of racist Google searches. Everyone knows it: Trump’s followers’ passions are nothing more than the ignorant blurtings of the white American id, driven to madness by the presence of a black man in the White House. The Trump movement is a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race-hate. Its partisans are not only incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending…

Now, I have no special reason to doubt the suspicion that Donald Trump is a racist. Either he is one, or (as the comedian John Oliver puts it) he is pretending to be one, which amounts to the same thing.

But there is another way to interpret the Trump phenomenon. A map of his support may coordinate with racist Google searches, but it coordinates even better with deindustrialization and despair, with the zones of economic misery that 30 years of Washington’s free-market consensus have brought the rest of America…

Update:

See Jim Belshaw’s Sunday Essay – Trump, Sanders and fascism in the US. See also Australian-born US resident Michael J Bayly:

On Friday, the threat of violent clashes forced Trump to cancel a Chicago rally.

The scenes in Chicago followed several weeks of violence at Trump rallies, in which protesters and journalists have been punched, tackled and hustled out of venues, raising concerns about security leading into the November 8 presidential election to replace Democratic President Barack Obama. The disturbances continued on Saturday at a Trump rally in Dayton, Ohio, where Secret Service officers scrambled to surround the candidate after a man rushed the stage.

This evening at The Wild Reed I share a compilation of progressive perspectives that seek to both describe and explain the deeply disturbing rise of Donald Trump…

See also The Mad World of You Know Who on WIN/9 last night.

No words today

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Neil

Except these.

Brussels: At least 31 people have been killed and hundreds injured in coordinated attacks on Brussels Airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital early on Tuesday, triggering security alerts across Europe and a manhunt for at least one suspect.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred four days after Brussels police captured the prime surviving suspect in the Islamic State attacks on Paris, which killed 130 people in November…

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The good refugees

Posted on March 25, 2016 by Neil

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“The Good Samaritan,” artwork by Dinah Roe Kendall, age 82, Sheffield, England.

This story seemed most appropriate to share today, especially given the overwhelming nature of recent stories from Europe. I found it lurking on page 13 of today’s print Sydney Morning Herald, but apparently it has been around for a few days. This version is from the UK Daily Telegraph.

A leading member of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party has thanked two Syrian refugees who came to the aid of another party member after he was seriously injured in a car crash.

Stefan Jagsch, 29, a candidate for the NPD in upcoming local elections, was seriously injured last week after he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree in the town of Büdingen.

Two vans carrying about 16 refugees stopped at the scene – and two Syrian men came to Jagsch’s aid, pulling him from the wreckage and providing first aid treatent while they waited for an ambulance.

They had reportedly left the scene by the time police arrived.

Regional NPD official Jean Christoph Fiedler praised the refugees for performing “a very good, humane act”, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reports…

Jagsch, writing on his Facebook page on Tuesday this week, stressed that he was unconscious at the time of the rescue, so couldn’t confirm or deny that the people who came to his assistance were Syrians.

However, he did give thanks to “all the people who were on the spot to help me.” …

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