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Bookmarked “Sky News Australia is tapping into the global conspiracy set – and it’s paying off”

Original post found at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/24/sky-news-australia-is-tapping-into-the-global-conspiracy-set-and-its-paying-off

For those who don’t know, Sky News Australia has long been an extremely marginal cable news channel in a country with low pay TV penetration. But, owned by Rupert Murdoch as it is, in recent years it’s assembled quite a crew of right-wing ne’er-do-wells to fill its “Sky After Dark” programming, and many clips from that are getting huge circulation on sites like YouTube. (And I mean, I never watch news on YouTube and the site is constantly trying to force Sky News garbage into my recommendations, so clearly YouTube/Google is pretty complicit in this.) Just another example of how pandering to right-wing nuts is a highly profitable endeavour in this hellish economic system…

Bookmarked “‘Destruction by a thousand cuts’: the relentless threat mining poses to the Pilbara cultural landscape”

Original post found at: https://theconversation.com/destruction-by-a-thousand-cuts-the-relentless-threat-mining-poses-to-the-pilbara-cultural-landscape-155941

Just as the parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters was reconvening in Canberra, another culturally significant site was damaged at one of BHP’s iron ore mines in the Pilbara. […]

The destruction of one ancient and sacred rock shelter is, of course, devastating. But there’s a greater and as yet unrecognised loss to cultural heritage that is occurring from the “cumulative impacts” of mining activities in the Pilbara. It’s destruction by a thousand cuts.

Liked “Economics professor Ross Garnaut says Australia voluntarily keeps hundreds of thousands unemployed”

Original post found at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-25/ross-garnaut-economists-unemployment-rba-government-critique/13186724

[Garnaut] says [the federal government and Reserve Bank's] decision to 'allow' hundreds of thousands of Australians to languish in unemployment in recent years, to suppress wages and inflation, as part of the country's broader economic policy settings, has immiserated people and cost the economy hundreds of billions dollars in lost economic activity.

In his new book, Reset: Restoring Australia after the pandemic recession, Professor Garnaut says our policymakers should drop that policy and return Australia to having genuine full employment.

I like the part at the end where he supports a universal basic income, too. If the target rate is this “NAIRU”, and the NAIRU is higher than zero, all these people who are unemployed solely to prop up capitalism need to live in dignity.

Liked “Ask a policy expert: why is it so hard to get on the disability support pension?”

Original post found at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/07/ask-a-policy-expert-why-is-it-so-hard-to-get-on-the-disability-support-pension

While successive Labor and Liberal-National governments have significantly reduced the number of people receiving the payment, this has not translated into increased employment and economic security for people with disability.

The significant fall in people receiving the DSP since the “structural shift” has been accompanied by a corresponding dramatic increase in the number of people with disabilities and medical illnesses receiving the significantly lower Newstart, as Nijole does. Essentially, people with disability have been moved from the higher-paying DSP to the lower-paying Newstart – the outcome from changes to DSP requirements has been to push people already in poverty further into poverty.

Liked “WhatsApp and the domestication of users” by Rohan Kumar

Original post found at: https://seirdy.one/2021/01/27/whatsapp-and-the-domestication-of-users.html

Whether it happens on purpose or by accident, user domestication almost always follows the same three steps:

  1. A high level of dependence given from users to a software vendor
  2. An inability for users to control their software, through at least one of the following methods:
    1. Preventing modification of the software
    2. Preventing migration onto a different platform
  3. The exploitation of now-captive users who are unable to resist

The completion of the first two steps left WhatsApp users vulnerable to user domestication. With investors to answer to, they had every incentive to implement user-hostile features without consequence.

So, of course, they did.

Bookmarked “Britain’s Government Has Decided No One Should Police the Police”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/chis-bill-uk-criminal-conduct-national-security/

This CHIS bill in the UK, which would allow umpteen government agencies the right to commit any crimes they like (amendments to bar them from raping, torturing and murdering were defeated) with zero risk of being prosecuted, sounds horrendous – and shame on Keir Starmer’s Labour Party for going along with it!

Bookmarked “Queensland's Public Trustee accused of profiting off people who lack capacity to manage own affairs”

Original post found at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-24/queensland-public-trustee-accused-of-profiting-off-people/13183638

“Certainly we see people who have gone in asset-rich and within a couple of years, those assets seem to have been dwindled away on fees and charges, and that's really concerning,” Mr Rowe said.

“We see people who have been surviving on a pension, and managing to save, and have been doing that over a number of years.

“They've then gone under the control of the Public Trustee, and due to the fees and charges, they've ended up with no resources, with no savings.”

Bookmarked “The Fake Debate Over a Minimum Wage”

Original post found at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/23/the-fake-debate-over-a-minimum-wage/

While it’s always good to argue for increases to the minimum wage, I feel like this article misses the most obvious “pro-small business” argument for increasing it: low-income workers are almost certain to spend any wage increases they get, with much of that spending going straight to the very retailers and hospitality businesses that like shooting themselves in the foot by short-sightedly opposing wage increases…

Bookmarked “Workers Should Take Back Control of Their Pension Funds”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/australia-superannuation-democratize-funds/

This is a good article about Australia’s superannuation system, and summarises pretty well all the reasons I’m so contemptuous of it (even though it’s not the conclusion of the article that you should have contempt for it). Super is neoliberal garbage, and makes the state indifferent to poverty among elderly people because they just go, “Sounds like your problem for not saving enough super.” Then you have people like Paul Keating, arguing that anyone who draws on any public resources in their old age is a drain on the public purse who should cede their whole estates to the state on their deaths to “repay their debt”, like welfare and public healthcare are conditional loans instead of absolute entitlements fought for and won by generations of workers… ugggggh

Bookmarked “Teachers and Their Unions Are Demanding Truly Safe Schools Reopening — Not “Ignoring Science””

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/teachers-unions-schools-covid-reopening/

Thought this was a good piece. The article talks about what’s happening in the US, but we had a similar debate here in Australia as well. Business groups and the conservative federal government insisted that schools had to stay open to provide daycare for working parents' kids, while teachers' unions, most epidemiologists, and state governments wanted kids to learn from home.

There are so many reasons why remote learning is the safest move in areas where Covid-19 is rife. We know that while children are at a lower risk than the average of serious illness, they still do contract and transmit the virus, and schools could hardly be built to better facilitate contagion if they tried. Cram 25+ people elbow-to-elbow into a room with poor ventilation, either use reverse-cycle air conditioning or tell people they can’t do that, instead requiring school to take place entirely in the freezing cold in the winter, have hundreds of people intermingling constantly, guilt-trip and bully anyone who tries to take sick days so as to ensure maximum infection-spreading… yeah, awesome safe environment you’ve got there.

And while it’s obviously important to talk about children’s needs, what I never see from these “open the schools!!!” fanatics is any discussion of the needs of teachers, or anyone else who works in schools. Children may be less likely to develop severe disease from the virus, but adults working in schools are not. Many of those workers will have pre-existing health conditions that put them at higher risk, or have close loved ones (spouses, parents, etc.) with such conditions. And you can’t re-open schools for children without also putting all of those adult workers in the same environment. As a casual relief teacher with a disability and vulnerable loved ones, I would not have wanted to accept work when the virus wasn’t under control here (so it was fortunate there was JobKeeper to cover my income and schools were mostly closed). If I were in the US… I shudder to think.

Of course, it’s important to continue outreach and make sure vulnerable kids still get their needs met. I think it’s disingenuous for politicians and business leaders to claim that teachers don’t care about this, when teachers are the major group who actually do that. In Victoria at least, vulnerable kids and the kids of essential workers still went to school, which operated with a skeleton crew of workers who were not at high risk themselves. In general, I think it’s school staff – not politicians – who are best-placed to determine what measures hit the right balance between supporting students and avoiding unnecessary risk. That’s why I support these teachers' unions 100%.

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.