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Friday, 14 December

17:37

AFSA 2019 Work Plan! "IndyWatch Feed National"

Strategic Retreat, 12-14 December 2018

The National Committee of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) met for its sixth strategic planning retreat on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, paying our respect to elders past and present.

We recognise the Original Owners and their role in caring for this land for over 60,000 years, their long history of growing food in ethical and ecologically-sound ways, and their careful maintenance of biodiversity before and since Invasion.

We acknowledge the ecological devastation caused by industrial agriculture since European invasion, and commit to ongoing conversations with communities of Indigenous Peoples. We again commit to supporting our members to seek stronger ties to Indigenous communities and work towards a day where everything we do is in connection and mutual accountability with community.

During our meeting, the Committee was delighted to have the support of the legendary Costa Georgiadis of ABC Gardening Australia fame. Members of our team joined Costa on a livestream to discuss AFSAs crowdfunding campaign to publish Farming Democracy, eight stories of small-scale agroecological farmers of how they grow, process, and distribute their produce, including what it costs them and what they ultimately live on in an effort to bring radical transparency to the food system. We are even more delighted to have reached our target this morning, and look forward immensely to printing the book and launching it at AFSAs inaugural Farm Day Out at Jonai Farms on 17 March 2019!

We have developed a plan to continue collecting the stories of the growing number of farmers producing and distributing food in ethical and ecologically-sound ways and publishing them on the AFSA website to show what is not only possible, but happening across Australia and the world.

We are grateful to the Victorian Government for its dedication to working with small-scale agroecological farmers to reform the planning provisions over these past three years in close collaboration with AFSA and our allies. The reforms better reflect the low-risk nature of these farming systems, and we look forward to working further with other states undertaking reform, in particular New South Wales, which is already in progress.

Were also working to refute claims that those of us opposed to intensive livestock agriculture are anti-science and the spurious claims that we can only feed the world with large-scale intensive agriculture systems, and to build an evidence base that i...

17:00

The Weekend Quiz December 15-16, 2018 "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. A national government can run a balanced fiscal position (taxes equal spending) over the economic cycle (peak to peak) as long as it accepts that, after all the spending adjustments are exhausted, their strategy will ensure that households and firms overall spend more than they earn - that is, run down previous savings or accumulate more net debt.



2. A basic understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) would argue that mass unemployment is due to a deficiency in aggregate demand which would then lead one to reject the conclusion that excessive real wage demands by workers can cause such unemployment.



3. A fiscal surplus indicates that the national government is:


...

15:48

Last chance to go solar before credits reduce on 1 Jan 19 Sustainable Living Armidale

The 9th solar power bulk-buy block is currently open for residents, farms and businesses throughout the New England North West region. As at the time of writing, deposits for just over half of the block have been taken. Now is your last chance to purchase and install solar power before the renewable energy credits reduce again on 1 [...] full article 

15:36

Progress from the Start of Save Our Macleay River Sustainable Living Armidale

In 2013, a group of consultants made several recommendations to Government about how to deal with the arsenic contaminated tailings from a processing facility at Urunga. One option presented was to truck 30,000M3 for storing and possibly processing to Hillgrove, on top of the escarpment in the upper Macleay catchment. Many people thought it was crazy [...] full article 

14:35

SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER! Dean at major Sydney university sends bizarre Grinchy message ahead of Christmas break warning staff about hedonism "IndyWatch Feed National"

EXCLUSIVE: Perhaps angling for a starring role as a stingy professor in a b-grade 1980's college flick, a Dean at a major Sydney university has this week sent a bizarre and pompous departing message to his highly trained staff ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, warning them to behave themselves amidst the dangers of unbridled "hedonism". Our publisher, Serkan Ozturk, reports. [READ MORE]

13:41

Religious freedom report: inconsistent, irrelevant and unnecessary "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Philip Ruddock is seen during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

WHAT a fizzer. After sitting on the Ruddock report on religious freedom for six months the best the Government can come up with is to refer all five of the contentious matters to the Australian Law Reform Commission and agree to the other 15 totally innocuous ones.

One might well ask, Why did the government bother? We know the answer. Not because there is any real threat to religious freedom in Australia, but because a few aggrieved conservative Coalition MPs, egged on by the News Corp Sky News echo chamber detested the prospect of marriage equality and wanted to return to the days of discrimination against LGBTI people.

The Ruddock report and the Governments reaction to it has opened a can of worms and opened Pandoras Box, and all sorts of nasties have come out. The reports recommendations (No 5 and 7) included permitting religious schools to discriminate against students, staff and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, (provided the discrimination is founded on precepts of the religion and has been publicised).

The Government flicked that one to the Australian Law Reform Commission.

So we have not moved very far, except to implicitly accept that this discrimination can continue until the commission deals with it.

But some good may come of all this. The worms and contents of Pandoras Box are so bad that they will cause a reaction. Indeed they have already done so.

As this column suggested some weeks ago when some of the recommendations were leaked, this report could easily back-fire on the conservative promoters of precept that people could discriminate under the banner of religion in a way that would otherwise be unlawful.

Australias top legal professional body, the Law Council of Australia, came out very shortly after the release of the report saying that while it welcomed steps to enshrine religious protections, the delicate balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination would be better dealt with in comprehensive national anti-discrimination legislat...

12:30

The End of Australias economic fairy tale "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

I step away from the macroeconomic commentary for one minute and suddenly all the papers are stuck on the same subject. Interest rates.

The past week of financial commentary has been filled with guesstimates of what the Reserve Bank of Australia might do next.

Now, Ill admit, they arent the most interesting subject.

But there I was last week, poolside at a Bali resort, when I discovered it.

It didnt matter which site I flicked too.

They were all talking about the same thing.

It stumped me. Its not often that the financial rags are in sync like that.

Yet here they were, chewing over and over about what might happen.

Slow news day, maybe?

Or, more likely, it had finally dawned on them.

The Aussie economy is not okay.

Central bank out of touch with the market

So why all the fuss?

Gross domestic product data.

Yep. That precious number we get each quarter that tells us how well the Aussie economy is doing.

Or in this case, not doing.

You see, the September data drop showed that our GDP came in at 0.3% for the quarter. Which was half the expected 0.6%.

Taking our annual economic growth rate down to 2.8%.

It fell way short of market expectations.

And when I mean market expectations, I really mean that all the economists surveyed by Bloomberg tipped a median increase of 0.6% for the quarter.

However, the reason why the GDP was a hot topic is because it was a right punch, left hook market beat up.

You see, the June quarter data was 0.9%. So, not only was September one-third of that figure, but all the professional market forecasters got it wrong.

Waaaay wrong.

And the data was all the more topical because of what the Reserve Bank of Australia had said only 24 hours before the data was released.

In a crowded room, the RBA had confidently told the audience they expected our annual economic growth rate would remain at 3.5%.

Well, well, well.

First the economists, now the central bank.

Do you know what this reveals?

It tells us exactly how out of touch with reality the RBA is. And just how clueless the market experts really are.

The problem here is this tells us that industry professionals have completely misread the tone of the market.

That, perhaps, our own central banks statements of monetary policy each mon...

10:28

Australian Amazon worker treated unfairly "IndyWatch Feed National"

This May 2018 video says about itself:

According to Business Insider, who spoke with numerous Amazon warehouse employees, conditions for workers are so bad, they pee in bottles out of fear of getting their pay docked for taking a break. The Resident discusses.

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Australian Amazon worker alleges unfair dismissal

13 December 2018

A worker who was employed by a labour hire firm at Amazons Sydney warehouse has launched legal action alleging that he was unfairly dismissed for joining a trade union and asking management for a greater number of hours per week.

According to an article in the Guardian on Tuesday, the worker, named only as Raj, has initiated a general protections case in the Fair Work Commission, the federal industrial tribunal, demanding reinstatement. An initial hearing, held on November 29, did not resolve the dispute, and the case is likely to come before a federal court next year.

The allegations shed further light on the draconian regime that prevails in warehouses operated by the global retail giant around the world. It follows dozens of reports of workplace injuries and unfair terminations, along with onerous working conditions and poverty-level wages.

According to the Guardian, Raj worked as a forklift driver at Amazons Sydney facility after being hired by Adecco, the labour hire firm that provides the company with the bulk of its workforce.

Raj was reportedly the first employee at the Sydney warehouse to join the SDA [Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association]. Raj, and the union, claim that he was directed by management not to wear an SDA cap and lanyard during work hours....

Thursday, 13 December

09:11

House prices crash by 50%..RBA launches $300 billion bank rescue in outrageous forecast "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/house-prices-crash-by-50-per-cent-rba-launches-300-billion-bank-rescue-in-outrageous-forecast/news-story/dfe04760314817d932f6a82c32fd19b6

The Reserve Bank could be forced to step in with a $300 billion bailout program to rescue Australias banks if the housing credit crunch accelerates into a doom loop that causes property prices crash by 50 per cent, plunging the country into recession.

Thats according to Saxo Banks latest Outrageous Predictions report, which outlines a series of unlikely but underappreciated events that could send shockwaves across financial markets if they were to occur.

This is not an official forecast, its an outrageous forecast that could happen if certain factors were to fall into line, but something we put maybe a 1 per cent probability on, said Sydney-based Saxo Bank market strategist Eleanor Creagh.

Its the first time Australia has featured in the Danish investment banks annual list, which this year includes scenarios like Apple snapping up Tesla for $US520 per share or a solar flare striking earth, wiping out satellites and causing $US2 trillion worth of damage.

The Au...

07:53

University of Sydney removes professor for criticism of war propaganda over Syria Iraq and Palestine. "IndyWatch Feed National"

The University of Sydney has suspended Professor Tim Anderson for showing students an info graphic,  including a Nazi swastika over the Israeli flag. It is nor antisemitic. The purpose was to provide a view on the nature of the Israeli governments ongoing physical attacks on the Palestinians. Tim Anderson  is appealing the suspension.

This has come about in the context, where there is also considerable opposition, to the proposal of the  Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, chaired by former prime minister John Howard, to fund a course in western tradition at the university.

A group of 30 fellow academics in the university has signed an open letter criticising the universitys action and calling for academic freedom.

The suspension of Dr Tim Anderson pending the termination of his employment is an unacceptable act of censorship and a body-blow to academic freedom at the University of Sydney, the letter states.

Put together, the suspension and the proposed new course, indicate a turn towards using the university as a propaganda unit promoting western superiority, justifying western intervention in the rest of the world and the silencing of critics.

Below is Tim Andersons own brief account of what happened to him.

Yesterday [7 December] University of Sydney Provost Stephen Garton suspended me from my position as a senior lecturer and banned me from entering the university. I have worked as an academic at this University for more than 20 years and am appealing the decision to a Review Committee.

This move is the culmination of a series of failed attempts by management to restrict my public comments. I have always rejected such censorship. The latest complaint concerns my advisory analysis of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Examine the graphic below and decide for yourself whether or how this infographic might be offensive.

These complaints, over the last 18 months, have been petty and absurd. In my view they represent an unusually aggressive regime of political censorship, in which no decent university should be involved.

Most of the management complaints have to do with my criticisms of war propaganda against Syria, Iraq and Palestine. I dont accept such censorship.

Stephen Garton has ignored the intellectual freedom rule of the university, which states that academic staff are entitled to express unpopular or controversial views, provided that in...

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