1. Race is not a thing
Race is a social construct, largely based on culture and language. In biological and genetic terms it simply does not exist. Looking at the genes, scientists simply cannot form racial categories. Angela Saini, of Indian heritage and living in England, has been investigating the issue in her recently published book Superior: The return of race science. See her New Scientist article and in The Guardian Why race science is on the rise again.
In the 19th century there was a common assumption that a hierarchy existed with the European male at the pinnacle. Yet modern science shows that:
- There is no gene that exists in all the members of one racial group and not another. We are all a product of ancient and recent migration.
- It was only towards the end of the 20th century that genetic data revealed that the human variation we see is not a matter of hard types but small and subtle gradations, each local community blending into the next. As much as 95% of the genetic difference in our species sits within the major population groups, not between them. Statistically, this means that, although I look nothing like the white British woman who lives upstairs, it’s possible for me to have more in common genetically with her than with my Indian-born neighbour.
- When we define ourselves by colour, our eyes don’t consider that the genetic variants for light skin are found not only in Europe and east Asia, but also in some of the oldest human societies in Africa.
However, race keeps finding its way back into science:
- William Shockley, the Nobel prize-winning physicist at Stanford University in California who wanted black women in the US to be voluntarily sterilised. Then there was Arthur Jensen, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who claimed that black people had innately lower intelligence levels than white people.
Having written the above, I then heard on ABC RN’s The Science Show author Rose George talk of sending out a call for “black blood”. Is this a scientifically established category? She then tells us that there are actually 37 different blood types. Or 300 if you look more closely. Why stop there? Every human is unique.
So I’m sceptical as to whether ‘black blood’ is a genuine scientific category.
John D has already made reference to ABC chair Ita Buttrose’s statement concerning Australia Federal Police raids on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst and on ABC offices.
AFP officers arrived at 7am at Smethurst’s house, stayed 7 hours and even rummaged through her underwear drawer.
There was a robust exchange between Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton, with Dutton accusing Albo of attacking the federal police officers involved in the raids. Albo:
“I’m targeting you, buddy. I’m targeting you, you’re the government.
“I don’t even know who (the AFP officers) are. I’m on to you.
” I have said it’s outrageous that (journalist) Annika Smethurst’s house was raided by seven police for seven and a half hours. That’s an outrage.”
So, what happened?
Phillip Coorey in the AFR (pay-walled):
On the ABC:
- Similarly, the ABC revealed in 2017 allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012.
Again, the public had every right to know. Had the allegations been aired while troops were still on the ground, it would have increased their risk and arguably posed a national security threat, but not several years after they left.
Why raid the ABC when the alleged leaker, David McBride, had already admitted he handed over the documents?
Coorey says that there was an understanding that a level of discretion would be applied in using these laws, which were designed for extreme cases.
- Until now, Labor has worked with the government on national security in a bipartisan fashion through the backchannels of the Joint Intelligence and Security Committee and, over the past six years, has negotiated the acceptance of more than 300 recommendations.
Labor was always in danger of being wedged on these issues. The well of goodwill may just have run dry.
All the usual free speech warriors are silent.
Laura Tingle says Australia’s national security laws should protect the country, not its politicians in power. She says “a contempt for accountability that has become utterly pervasive in Canberra.”
Remember, current laws allow people to be taken from the streets, locked up and interrogated, and then they are not permitted to tell anyone where they have been.
- First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Tingle suggest it is time for a root and branch re-think.
3. Why the government sacked Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison’s election was superbly timed. Now after the deed is done Karen Middleton in The Saturday Paper tells us that more papers are available showing the true reasons why Morrison was sacked from Tourism Australia in 2006.
He was hired for three years, but terminated more than a year early. No-one has ever said why. Speculation has been that the sacking was the result of a personality clash between Morrison and the Howard Government tourism minister Fran Bailey or differences over her plans to restructure the agency.
It is clear now that it was over the handling of three major contracts:
- The contracts were worth $184 million, and the auditor focused most on the two biggest – those with companies M&C Saatchi for global creative services or advertising campaigns, and Carat for media placement.
The audit report revealed that information had been kept from the board, procurement guidelines breached and private companies engaged before paperwork was signed and without appropriate value-for-money assessments.
Yep, it was about that stupid ad “So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?”
The sacking apparently instigated by Kelly, and was unanimous on the part of the board, chaired be former deputy PM Tim Fischer.
- Other members included Andrew Burnes, the owner of what is now the Helloworld travel company and the current Liberal Party treasurer.
At the time any expenditure over $5 million required ministerial approval.
Fran Bailey still won’t say why:
Now retired from politics, Fran Bailey will not explain her decision, telling this newspaper in November last year: “I reiterate that it was a unanimous decision to get rid of Mr Morrison by the board and the minister.”
Tim Fischer is now praising Morrison and distancing himself from it, telling the AFR last year that Morrison had been “full of energy” as the agency’s managing director. Now:
- “They were electrifying times at Tourism Australia with a strong minister and a strong CEO,” Fischer said. “… Scott deserves full credit for the ‘So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?’ campaign. It took some courage to run that campaign and he saw it through. He was let go, wrongly perhaps.”
“Let go” may be technically correct. It may have been a case of, go or be sacked, which was what happened to Richard Nixon.
The way it was handled, he actually got a pay rise just before he left, which fed into his payout. This was not kosher according to the Remuneration Tribunal, who wrote to Fischer about it. Seems Fischer effectively lost the letter.
All this raises the question as to whether we are being governed by a fit and proper person for the job. As the matter stands, the ‘free’ world now has Trump, it has Morrison, and it may soon have Boris Johnson. Have no doubt our standing in the world is in play.
Mumble (Peter Brent) thinks that appointing Kristine Keneally to shadow Peter Dutton was Albo’s first big blunder.
The reason? Every time attention goes to asylum seekers or national security, the Morrison government wins.
We’ll see. That may have just changed.
5. Pollies pay rise
From The New Daily Scott Morrison gets $11,000 pay rise on the day workers lose penalty rates.
6. Reserve Bank cuts interest rates
Not all economists thought the interest rate cut was a good idea. The amounts saved on a mortgage are relatively small, and won’t lead to a huge consumer spend. Many, including the Reserve Rank think there may have to be fiscal stimulus beyond what the government has already planned in a tax refund of around $1000 to middle income earners.
Josh Frydenberg has pointed also to the government’s $100 billion infrastructure program and tax cuts to come in 2022 and 2024. The tax cuts are irrelevant to the now, and $100 billion over 10 years is on the pathetic end of the scale. Victoria I believe is spending $27 billion in its latest budget. Queensland had been promised $2 billion by Labor for cross-river rail, for which it will now get nothing.
Much concern, as usual, is about whether the banks will pass on the rate cut in full, or be greedy and keep it for themselves.
“Themselves” actually means the shareholders, of which I am one. This is what it means to me, from competent advice:
- • We estimate the 25bps reduction in the term structure of interest rates reduces majors’ profitability by ~2-3% and the regionals by ~4-7%.
• However, the next forecasted 25bps rate cut would have a cumulative impact on earnings of ~5-7% for the majors and over 10% for the regionals.
• We expect banks to reprice ~10-15bps (cumulatively), with two rate cuts, which should provide ~3-6% earnings offset.
I can get better dividends elsewhere, fully franked, and with less risk. If I sell my shares, and everyone else does also, then there is no bank.
What’s keeping me is the prospect of having to pay capital gains, having bought the shares years ago. Most shareholders don’t have that impediment.
We need strong banks, and if they are to stay strong, it is in the national interest to look after shareholders.
He took a parting shot on his last day with World Vision:
“Middle-class people think they’re doing it tough – the sense of victimhood is huge. We’ve got a whining middle-class culture.
“We are blessed, we’re the third-richest country per capita in the world. When you lose that perspective, you lose that generosity.”
Stepping down on Friday after 13 years as chief advocate of the charity group, Mr Costello said the nation suffers from ‘compassion fatigue’ and felt overwhelmed by world events.
“My diagnosis is that the global ill-winds turn us inwards. We think, ‘We are just going to look after ourselves, we’re doing it tough, we don’t need to be responsible’. You start to get an evaporation of empathy.”
The numbers back up Mr Costello’s remarks, with the proportion of Australians donating to charity steadily dropping since 2015.
8. Why did the Chinese war ships come to Sydney?
The answer is quite simple – baby formula.
Plus Devondale long life milk and other products, including, for some reason, whitening sheet face masks.