Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Toss a coin on Australian interest rate decision

The Owl’s market election indicator cannot pick which way the Reserve Bank board members will vote this afternoon on official interest rates.
march indicator
And my opinion? I am as confused as the rest of the punters.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Explaining electoral gerrymanders

2-03-2015 gerrymandering
  • This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see – Gerrymandering — drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party — is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above — adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend — and wonder no more.
  • Protecting Fragile Retirement Nest Eggs - A new study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers has found that financial advisers seeking higher fees and commissions drain $17 billion a year from retirement accounts by steering savers into high-cost products and strategies rather than comparable lower-cost ones. The report has rocked the financial services industry — not because it is news but because the industry sees it, correctly, as a forceful statement of the Obama administration’s determination to do something about the problem.
  • Australia’s top 20 greenhouse gas emitters
  • Food Waste Grows With the Middle Class
  • That ugly fruit and veg –  EndFoodWaste.org believes at least 20% of all produce is wasted just because of it’s size, shape, color, or appearance.
  • Despicable Us –  Maybe those of us who write about politics and campaigns should adopt a bristly uniform of hair shirts, so that we’re constantly atoning for our sins. Maybe we should wear targets, the better for our critics to take aim at us. Oh, how we’re hated.
  • Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?
  • Brazil – In a quagmire: Latin America’s erstwhile star is in its worst mess since the early 1990s

Harassment of Jews worldwide reaches a seven-year high

religion
  • Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities – Worldwide, social hostilities involving religion declined somewhat in 2013 after reaching a six-year peak the previous year, but roughly a quarter of the world’s countries are still grappling with high levels of religious hostilities within their borders, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion.The new study finds that the share of countries with high or very high levels of social hostilities involving religiondropped from 33% in 2012 to 27% in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. These types of hostilities run the gamut from vandalism of religious property and desecration of sacred texts to violent assaults resulting in deaths and injuries.By contrast, the share of countries with high or very highgovernment restrictions on religion stayed roughly the same from 2012 to 2013. The share of countries in this category was 27% in 2013, compared with 29% in 2012. Government restrictions on religion include efforts to control religious groups and individuals in a variety of ways, ranging from registration requirements to discriminatory policies and outright bans on certain faiths.
    Looking at the overall level of restrictions – whether resulting from government policies or from hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups – the study finds that restrictions on religion were high or very high in 39% of countries. Because some of these countries (like China and India) are very populous, about 5.5 billion people (77% of the world’s population) were living in countries with a high or very high overall level of restrictions on religion in 2013, up from 76% in 2012 and 68% as of 2007.
harassmentAs in previous years, Christians and Muslims – who together make up more than half of the global population – faced harassment in the largest number of countries. Christians were harassed, either by government or social groups, in 102 of the 198 countries included in the study (52%), while Muslims were harassed in 99 countries (50%).
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed. In 2013, harassment of Jews, either by government or social groups, was found in 77 countries (39%) – a seven-year high. Jews are much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments. In Europe, for example, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries (76%).
  • South Korean court decriminalises adultery – South Korea’s top court has ruled that adultery is no longer a crime, revoking a 1953 law under which cheating spouses could be jailed for up to two years. South Korea was one of only three Asian countries to criminalise infidelity – about 5,500 people have been convicted since 2008.
2-03-2015 brains
  • Shake it off? Not so easy for people with depression, new brain research suggests – Rejected by a person you like? Just “shake it off” and move on, as music star Taylor Swift says. But while that might work for many people, it may not be so easy for those with untreated depression, a new brain study finds. The pain of social rejection lasts longer for them — and their brain cells release less of a natural pain and stress-reducing chemical called natural opioids, researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Tony Abbott’s personal intervention with Indonesian President fails?

executions

This morning’s Jakarta Post holds out lit

Farewelling Mr Spock today and Tony Abbott on Tuesday?

farewellmrspock
That’s how 7News saw things this morning. It pretty much sums up the attitude of most of the media. Notable exceptions were the two biggest selling Murdoch tabloids and the ABC.
The socialist leaning ABC? Yes the ABC website preferred Mr Spock and a Russian murder. For the PM it was a straight report on meetings in New Zealand.
The Melbourne Herald Sunalso  was very low key on page seven while the Sydney Tele relegated its coverage to page nine with:
tele
Up in Brisbane The Courier Mail brought out the egg eater to whip the leadership speculation along.
courier mail (1)Laurie Oakes had his column elevated to page one, where soe people might actually notice it, rather than being hidden in the boring opinion pages as in the other tabloids. Laurie’s message?
Uncertainty about whether a leadership coup would help or hurt the NSW Coalition could be a key factor if Abbott earns another reprieve.
That is all it would be. The last couple of weeks have provided strong evidence for those believing Abbott cannot change his style. The constant flow of damaging leaks and leadership gossip have left no doubt that efforts to undermine him will continue and promises of time to turn things around were hollow.
The Fairfax tabloids went searching desperately for a different leadership angle.
the age (1)smh
Not much in the story that I could see.
The main story in the Oz was a balanced attempt to look forward.
australian
TONY Abbott will seek backbench approval for a recovery plan for his government, including a likely move within days to dump the Medicare co-payment, as he stares down attempts to panic Liberal MPs into another leadership showdown.
The Prime Minister’s fightback strategy will be to refocus the budget, cement his national security credentials and show he is listening to the concerns of the Liberal partyroom.
Conscious of consulting his colleagues, Mr Abbott wants to discuss options with MPs before any decisions are finalised, but he is considering making a health policy statement to quell concerns about the future of Medicare. He also plans to take announcements on a further troop commitment in Iraq to the partyroom.
Paul Kelly was looking forward in another direction.
THE terrible risk for the Liberals is that they destroy Tony Abbott as PM yet undermine Malcolm Turnbull as the next PM. The media frenzy of the past 36 hours, based on aggressive briefings, shows this danger.
At The Guardian they could barely contain their excitement.
guardianAnd The Saturday Paper was not going to be out done in the sacking stakes.
saturday paper

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The political speculator's diary: Backing Malcolm Turnbull

The political speculator's diary: Backing Malcolm Turnbull: For Tony Abbott it's just going from bad to worse. I cannot see how he will keep his Liberal Party leadership. I'm suggesting what ...