Sunday, 25 February 2018

Just in case you think that Barnaby Joyce will only have his backbench salary to live on


Given soon to be former deputy-prime minister Barnaby Joyce has wrapped himself in a self-pitying cloak of undeserved victimhood, it may not be long before he is crying poor to whichever journalist will listen.

So just to remind everyone that the son raised by well-to-do "multi-millionaire" parents,who had him privately educated in his highschool years as a border at St. Ignatuis' College Riverview, is not without resources.

As of 1 January 2018 a federal MP's base salary stands at $203,030 per annum and, in addition to this salary Joyce as the Member for New England will receive an electoral allowance of est, $40,000 per month, along with a subsidised car, travel & accommodation allowance, free home phone as well as a daily allowance when in Canberra of $90 per day.

He also reportedly owns five rural investment land parcels in the Warrumbungle district totalling around 2,400ha and then there is the family.....


Aerchie Archive, undated 2016:

But the Joyce family's main property is Rutherglen, in Woolbrook, which sprawls across more than 1780ha north of Tamworth. No price was disclosed for that asset, which has been owned by the family for more than five decades.....

He attended St Ignatius’ College, Riverview in Sydney where he played Rugby, and the University of New England in Armidale, where he resided at St Albert’s College and graduated with a Bachelor of Financial Administration degree in 1989He attended St Ignatius’ College, Riverview in Sydney where he played Rugby, and the University of New England in Armidale, where he resided at St Albert’s College and graduated with a Bachelor of Financial Administration degree in 1989…..

The Australian, 12 March 2016:

Mr Joyce also enjoys considerable wealth, largely stemming from the Joyce family trust, which is controlled by his parents, Beryl and James Joyce.

The family owns more than 33,700ha of land in Enngonia, north of Burke, which was bought between 2000-04 for $1.7m, along with a two-bedroom holiday house valued at $400,000 in Mission Beach, between Townsville and Cairns….. [my yellow highlighting]

It is noted that in his declaration of member's interests in January 2018 Barnaby Joyce specifically stated he had no dependent children.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

A little bit of Saturday silliness



"Beware of the Dog" sign from the wonderful world of Google Search​

Friday, 23 February 2018

There's something worse than a cashless welfare card out there in the darkness


What could possibly be worse than the Turnbull Government's Cashless Debit Card which will eventually cover all government cash transfers to individuals except Age and Veterans' Affairs pensions?

The answer is - welfare payments being converted into 50 per cent Cashless Debit Card and 50 per cent a generic low grade, nutritionally suspect, weekly or fortnightly processed, tinned & dry goods food parcel.

Such as this proposed program......


Vibe, 13 February 2018:
In Donald Trump's budget proposal, America's poor is hit the hardest, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. The plan proposes a $17.2 billion-cut to the program by 2019 and will replace monthly cash benefits with a food box delivery program, according to reports.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney compared the program to Blue Apron, an ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service. The Chicago Tribune notes SNAP provides roughly $125 per month to 42.2 million Americans, and the Agriculture Department would use part of those benefits to buy and deliver boxes of "homegrown" food. It's called "America's Harvest Box."
The Harvest Box would contain things like shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. Since the boxes are valued at half of SNAP recipients monthly benefit, the remainder of their benefits would be put on electronic benefit cards, CNN Money reports.
The existing US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers about 46 million low-income Americans an allowance to buy from grocery stores and farmers markets a wide range of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, dairy products, fresh fruits & vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, as well as seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are food items and are therefore eligible items. Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items.
Trump intends to change this program as a government cost-cutting measure saving up to a reported US$127 billion over ten years and, have the private sector under contract give out shelf-stable food bought in bulk. No choice of food parcel content appears to be allowed - it will be one-size-fits-all.
What could possibly go wrong? So many things if private contractors of the type the Trump Regime will pick were to attempt regular food delivery to est. 46 million people.
Given the love affair that those right-wing warriors in the Liberal and National parties have with the political extremes of US Republican politics, it won't be long before the likes of Minister for Human Services Michael Keenan and Minister for Social Services DanTehan start suggesting similar food parcels as a component of the bulk Centrelink welfare payments here in Australia.  

NATS Spill? Monday 26 February 2018



According to Junkee on 22 February 2018:

Nationals MP Andrew Broad has publicly called on Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to resign from the leadership of the National Party, firing the starting gun on a leadership challenge.

In an interview on ABC radio this afternoon Broad said his local Nationals branch had called on Joyce to resign and that he would represent that view to the Nationals party room meeting in Canberra next Monday. He called on Joyce to resign as party leader and go to the back bench.

Are we about to see......


Thursday, 22 February 2018

So Prime Minister Turnbull has been bitiching again about the ABC's reporting



On 14 February 2018 ABC News’ economic journalist Emma Alberici wrote:

It's also disingenuous to talk about a 30 per cent rate when so few companies pay anything like that thanks to tax legislation that allows them to avoid paying corporate tax. Exclusive analysis released by ABC today reveals one in five of Australia's top companies has paid zero tax for the past three years.

On that same day the House of Representatives Hansard recorded these mentions:

Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (10:12): ………All of these hardworking Australians would be thrilled to know—very pleased to know—that the ABC has uncovered that about one in five Australian companies pay no company tax whatsoever in this country. Yes, that's right: 380 of Australia's largest companies pay absolutely no income tax at all—a big doughnut; a big fat zero. They include airlines, banks, financial service companies, mining, energy, clothing, steel, and telecommunications companies. There's even a condom manufacturer. That's rather appropriate, given what they've just done to the Australian taxpayer in paying no tax at all during the course of the last couple of years…..

Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (13:49): As mums and dads pack up the kids, send them off to school and head off to work; as pensioners struggle to put the air-conditioner on because of rising electricity costs; and as students face increases in their fees because of cuts to TAFE and cuts to funding for education—these hard-working Australians, as they head off to jobs and study today, would be pleased to know that the ABC has uncovered that one in five Australian companies pay absolutely no company tax in this country. That's right, 380 of Australia's largest companies paid absolutely zero company tax over the course of the last three years. They include airlines, energy companies, mining companies, clothing companies, banks, insurance companies and a manufacturer of condoms—which is highly appropriate, given the rogering that they've just given Australian hardworking taxpayers by paying no tax. Now, given that these companies pay no corporate tax, what is the response of the Turnbull government? The response of the Turnbull government is to give them a tax cut. These companies are struggling so much that we're going to give them a tax cut! Yes, that's right: 380 of the largest companies that pay no tax will get a tax cut, despite the fact that they're increasing taxes for Australian workers by putting up the Medicare levy. We won't cop it. Labor will oppose these tax cuts and we'll stand up for average, hard-working, battling Australians……

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:03): I thank the honourable member for her question. The government is supporting and delivering lower business taxes because we know they will result in more investment and more jobs. Company tax is ultimately a tax on workers. When nearly nine in 10 Australians work for private business, surely it is obvious that it's in the national interest to support the companies that employ the overwhelming majority of Australians. But, instead of supporting policies that will create jobs and grow wages, the opposition is busy peddling the myth that business does not care about the level of tax and doesn't in fact pay tax. I'm not sure where the $68 billion of company tax receipts came from, but, according to the Labor Party, companies don't pay tax. The Labor Party wants to increase taxes; the government wants to reduce them. But we do not believe that paying tax is optional. Every Australian and every business that makes a profit in Australia must pay their fair share of tax. You'd think that was common sense, but not for the opposition. Like everything the opposition leader does, he calls for action one minute and then opposes it the next. He called for action against multinational tax avoidance and then he voted against some of the toughest anti-avoidance laws in the world. If this isn't clear enough for the members opposite, we'd be happy to arrange a briefing with officials from the Australian Taxation Office. We have introduced and, no thanks to the Labor Party, passed through the parliament some of the toughest multinational tax avoidance laws in the world. At that briefing from the ATO, I am sure that those distinguished officials will be able to provide a tutorial on the difference between revenue and profit because members opposite either don't understand the difference or they're now calling for businesses to be taxed on revenue—not profit— even if the business makes a loss. We saw that they were busily retweeting the article—one of the most confused and poorly researched articles I've seen on this topic on the ABC's website. Of course, the ABC is an enterprise that understands profit and loss.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr TURNBULL: It does! It understands taxes; they're recipients of them. They receive them—taxpayers' funds. They understand the difference: the hard work of investing and struggling and losing money one year and then being able to offset it against profit the next—or not. No, the ABC has the same understanding of the commercial world as does the opposition. (Time expired)

The Australian Financial Review scenting blood after the prime minister’s criticism went to print with this disingenuous take on 15 February 2018:

Both premises fatally expose their author's innumeracy. The first is demonstrably false. Freely available data produced by the Australian Taxation Office show that 32 of Australia's 50 largest companies paid $19.33 billion in company tax in FY16 (FY17 figures are not yet available). The other 18 paid nothing. Why? They lost money, or were carrying over previous losses.

I’m sure North Coast Voices readers will quickly notice that Alberici was citing statistics for a baseline of around 1,900 companies and the ‘Fin Review’ columnist was citing a baseline of 50 companies - so of course the number of companies paying no tax to the number of companies paying tax is going to differ between the two baselines.

Reading the full text there does not appear to be any factuall inaccuracies in the Alberici article being complained about.

Meanwhile ABC News withdrew the online version of the economic analysis


 and updated Alberici’s companion article in order to provide further information and context.

The companion article still contains those same statistics:

Analysis by the ABC reveals Qantas is not alone — about 380, or one in five, of Australia's largest companies have paid no tax for at least the past three years.

However, these opening lines written by Alberici in the article “There's no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five of Australia's top companies don't pay it” on 14 February are now missing in action as this analysis gently sinks to the bottom of the Internet:

There is no compelling evidence that giving the country's biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.
Treasury modelling relies on theories that belie the reality that's playing out around the world.

Since the peak of the commodities boom in 2011-12, profit margins have risen to levels not seen since the early 2000s but wages growth has been slower than at any time since the 1960s.

The Guardian reported on 16 February that:

Guardian Australia understands ABC News management has been in crisis meetings for two days after the prime minister attacked the articles in question time and then wrote formal letters of complaint to management.

I suspect that what Turnbull took umbrage to in the first place was the fact that one article took a stronger position on why corporate tax cuts were not good for the economy or wages growth and, therefore were unlikely to benefit workers and their families and, the other article which is still online did not address this aspect of government taxation policy.

So he set out to shoot the message down and be damned to the fate of the messenger.

Of course in attempting this Turnbull created a Steisand Effect With A Twist - ensuring that the full text of There's no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five of Australia's top companies don't pay it” has been copied onto websites he can't bully and the article's analysis is still being discussed by voters.

BACKGROUND

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/...abc-turnbull.../story-fna045gd-1226869241476?...
Jan 26, 2018 - COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull says ABC board members who do not want to get involved in ensuring news content on the public broadcaster is accurate and impartial should get off the board. Revealing he receives hundreds of complaints about the ABC each week, MrTurnbull said “the ..


https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/...turnbull...abc.../ff6ad001ced93bb9c40eee1f4c839...

Dec 2, 2013 - THE minister in charge of the ABC, Malcolm Turnbull, rang the broadcasters boss Mark Scott last week to tell him he had made an “error of judgment” in teaming with the Guardian to run revelations that the Indonesian presidents phone was bugged.


https://delimiter.com.au/.../watch-turnbull-implies-complained-abc-failed-nbn-coverag...
Feb 4, 2016 - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to have implied that he made the samecomplaint to ABC management that he has previously made in public before the 2013 Federal Election, stating that the broadcaster had "failed" to provide balanced coverage of the competing National Broadband Network ...

This report contains the total income, taxable income and tax payable of over 2000 corporate tax entities for the 2015-16 year. This report also includes separate lists of entities whose information was not available by the cut-off date to produce the Report of Entity Tax Information for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

George Christensen running a little distraction for his 'mate' Barnaby Joyce?


Far-right federal politicians tend to stick together in the face of negative media coverage and on 17 February 2018 thirty-nine year old George Robert Christensen, Liberal-Nationals MP for Dawson, apparently decided to give social media something else to talk about other than his 'mate' Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce.

Unfortunately when picking a topic George showed all the maturity and sound judgement voters have come to expect from members of the Turnbull Coalition Government.



Cristensen's Facebook caption reads "You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?"

Unfortunately for George at least one member of the public reported his Facebook post to the police and the prime minister. So it wasn't that long before he changed the captioning of this gun-totting image.

Some time later he also removed the image with a silly show of petulance.

 Perhaps he finally got around to considering whether his prime minister might be as unamused as many other Australians given these facts about those so-called "greenie punks".



Conservation Watch, 07.03.2017

“Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago.” [The Guardian, 13 June 2017]

"A New South Wales farmer who shot and killed an environment officer involved in land clearing prosecutions against his family has been found guilty of murder." [ABC News, 25 May 2016]

Speak Up for Battery Hens Before It's Too Late: NSW Government taking submissions on Model Code of Practice for Poultry until 26 February 2018



AAP MediaNet Release:

15 Feb 2018 4:00 AM AEST - Australians Urged to Speak up for Battery Hens Before it's too Late

15 February, 2018

Australians Urged to Speak up for Battery Hens Before it's too Late

Australians are being encouraged take part in a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help end the cruel use of battery hen cages by making a submission to the poultry code review.

With polls indicating 84% of Australians believe that battery cages should be banned, it's alarming that 11 million hens still suffer in cages in Australia today.

Deemed cruel and unacceptable in many other countries including Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the entire European Union, Australia is now lagging behind the rest of the world by continuing to allow the use of battery hen cages.

The reasons to act now and make a submission to the poultry review are clear. Battery hens in Australia are permanently locked in small cages, denied the freedom to walk around and stretch their wings for their entire life. Furthermore, scientists estimate that four in five caged hens suffer from crippling osteoporosis due to the conditions they are forced to live in.

Setting the standard for the treatment of farmed birds, the review of the Model Code of Practice for Poultry is now open for public consultation. But the process hasn't been without scandal, with documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act indicating collusion between the egg industry and the NSW Government to ensure battery cages remain in use.

With industry interests dominating the agenda, now is the time for the public to raise their voices for animal welfare standards to reflect community expectations.

"This is the first time in 17 years that the laws that allow cage egg farming have come under review. Currently, more than 90,000 Australians have made a submission through the Animals Australia website, which is staggering. It's already the biggest response to a public consultation for farmed animals that Australia has ever seen. This demonstrates the depth of concern in the community about this issue," said Animals Australia's Campaign Director Lisa Chalk.

The expectations of the community have changed significantly within the last decade, with many consumers already voting with their wallets. Most Australians no longer buy cage eggs and while major companies such as Woolworths, Aldi, McDonald's, Subway, Hungry Jack's, Arnott's, Nestle and Heinz are removing cage eggs from their supply chains, cage egg corporations are still permitted to operate in Australia.

Cage egg farming in Australia is dominated by three multi-million dollar corporations whose combined annual revenue is over half a billion dollars. They can well afford the 2.5 cents per egg it would cost to give hens a better life.

With support for cage egg farming waning, some egg producers are now looking to export cage eggs overseas. A legal ban on battery cages would ensure Australian hens aren't condemned to suffer in cages to lay eggs for other countries. 
    
"Australian Governments like to project the nation as a world leader on animal welfare but in reality, Australia is lagging well behind other developed nations, particularly in failing to acknowledge the unacceptable cruelty caused by battery hen cages," said Lisa Chalk.

"What we have before us is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a better life for millions of animals."

The poultry code review provides a rare opportunity to secure a legal ban on the cruel and archaic battery hen cage. Running until February 26, the public consultation process enables everyone in the community to join well-known Australians - Judith Lucy, Mick Molloy, Sam Pang and Lehmo - to be part of history in the making and help free hens from cages.

Submissions take only a minute and can be made by visiting AnimalsAustralia.org before February 26th.

Video and images are available for download at:

Submissions can be made via email or post. 

Please email submissions to publicconspoultry@animalhealthaustralia.com.au 

Or 

Post submissions to: Animal Welfare Standards Public Consultation PO Box 5116 Braddon ACT 2612


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

US Dept of Justice-FBI investigation of Russian links to Donald Trump's election campaign inexorably rolls on


On 17 May 2017 the probe into Russian influence on US political processes and collusion between the Russian Government and individuals associated with the election campaign of President Donald J Trump became an investigation which would inevitably lead to charges being laid.

To date both President Trump's former campaign manager and campaign deputy-director have been indicted, along with thirteen Russian nationals and three corporations.

Trump's former security adviser, along with a former member of his foreign policy advisory team and an individual who unlawfully supplied US bank accounts to Russians associated with the alleged political interference, have plead guilty to charges.

Current State of Play according to US Dept. of Justice

U.S. v. Internet Research Agency, et al (1:18-cr-32, District of Columbia)
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.

U.S. v. Richard Pinedo, et al (1:18-cr-24, District of Columbia)
Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, Calif., pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2018, to identity fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028.

U.S. v. Michael T. Flynn (1:17-cr-232, District of Columbia)
Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.), of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI.

U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (1:17-cr-182, District of Columbia)
George Papadopoulos, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017.

UPDATE

U.S. v. Alex van der Zwaan (1:18-cr-31, District of Columbia)
Alex van der Zwaan, of London, pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, 2018, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
Statement of the Offense

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:18-cr-83, Eastern District of Virginia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., were indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 22, 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment contains 32 counts: 16 counts related to false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.
Indictment

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr. (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment on Feb. 23, 2018, against Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 68, of Alexandria, Va. The superseding indictment contains five counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements.

U.S. v. Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Richard W. Gates III, 45, of Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty on Feb. 23, 2018, to a superseding criminal information that includes: count one of the indictment, which charges conspiracy against the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 (which includes conspiracy to violate 26 U.S.C. 7206(1), 31 U.S.C. 5312 and 5322(b), and 22 U.S.C. 612, 618(a)(1), and 618(a)(2)), and a charge of making false statements to the Special Counsel’s Office and FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. A status report with regard to sentencing was scheduled for May 14, 2018.

So will the Turnbull Government come clean about ministers' VIP travel over the last eighteen months?



It would appear that Australian federal politicians have a long history of using RAAF VIP jets in an extravagant manner.

Take current Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals MP for New England  Barnaby Joyce as an example. 

News Mail, 28  December 2012:

One Coalition heavyweight, Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce, racked up one of the highest percentages of ghost flights among non-government parliamentarians.
Senator Joyce’s travel bill totalled some $47,955 for 10 taxpayer-funded flights, primarily between Melbourne or Canberra and St George.
But he was only on board for three of those flights, with the remaining seven costing nearly twice as much as the flights he was on board for - racking up $31,395 worth of ghost flights.

BuzzFeed, 28 July 2017:

BuzzFeed News has confirmed the deputy prime minister billed taxpayers almost $9,000 for "special purpose" defence force charter flights on the same day he attended a rugby league game with his family……
On Mother's Day last year, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was charged with collecting Barnaby Joyce and Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash from two regional NSW towns, and flying them to Canberra ahead of the first day of the federal election campaign…..

The RAAF's logs revealed that the first flight on May 8 [2016], from Canberra to Tamworth with no passengers, cost $3,348. The second shows Joyce was picked up in Tamworth and flown to Parkes for $2,930.

The Daily Telegraph, 13 August 2017:

In March that year [2016], the empty VIP plane flew from Canberra to Melbourne, at a cost of $4604, to collect Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and fly him to Tamworth at a cost of $5441. The plane then returned to Canberra without any passengers, at a cost of $4185.

Herald Sun, 2 January 2018:
RAAF planes took nine trips [in last half 2016] without passengers between Tamworth and Canberra to provide chartered flights to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, with each flight costing more than $4000. 

The New Daily, 18 February 2018:

Barnaby Joyce charged the taxpayer to stay overnight in Melbourne after attending an AFL game last year [2017], before chartering a $6000 “special purpose” defence force flight back to Tamworth the following day…..
Parliamentary documents show Mr Joyce claimed $442 in travelling allowance on May 13 last year for an overnight stay in Melbourne, citing “official business” as Deputy Prime Minister.
The Nationals leader declared in his register of member’s interests that he was a guest for the City vs Country at the May 13 AFL night match between Geelong and Essendon at the MCG, with the gift including “hospitality in the form of food and drinks”.
The New Daily can also reveal Mr Joyce was then the sole passenger on a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flight from Melbourne to Tamworth the following day, which was Mother’s Day.

Defence Department documents show the cost to the taxpayer for the charter flight was $6440.

So it is no wonder that questions are being asked at this particular time.

Australian Parliament Senate Hansard, 14 February 2018:

Senator Kitching to move on the next day of sitting:
That there be laid on the table, by 5 pm on 15 February 2018, by: (a) the Minister for Defence, details of any Special Purpose Flights taken by members of the executive in 2017, noting that no reports on the use of Special Purpose Flights since 3 July 2016 have been tabled.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Surprise, Surprise. Nationals appear to be telling pork pies to voters on the NSW North Coast yet again



Echo NetDaily, 15 Februaty 2018:

An animal activist has accused two National Party MPs of 'misleading the public' over claims the RMS has revegetated more than a hundred hectares of land along the Pacific Highway Ballina upgrade route with tens of thousands of koala feed trees.
In recent weeks both roads minister Melinda Pavey and north coast MLC Ben Franklin have made public statements regarding the re-vegetation of koala habitat at Meerschaum Vale to compensate for the damage caused by the highway upgrade construction.
On February 3, Minister Pavey said in a press release that 'the government had re-vegetated 130 hectares of land with 95,000 koala feed trees.'
Then on February 9, Mr Franklin said that 'about 110 hectares, equating to 80,000 koala food trees had so far been planted and there were plans to plant another 20 hectares as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade.'

Empty paddock

But co-ordinator of Australians For Animals, Sue Arnold, told Echonetdaily she took a field trip to the re-vegetation site earlier this week, which 'revealed an empty paddock with no koala feed trees planted in spite of a sign indicating that the planting was part of a "130 hectares of Koala Food Trees planted".'
Ms Arnold said she was unable to find any other planting sites in the vicinity.

Global fires affect Earth's methane emission levels


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 4 January 2018:


A reduction in global burned area in the 2000s had an unexpectedly large impact on methane emissions.

A new NASA-led study has solved a puzzle involving the recent rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, with a new calculation of emissions from global fires. The new study resolves what looked like irreconcilable differences in explanations for the increase.

Methane emissions have been rising sharply since 2006. Different research teams have produced viable estimates for two known sources of the increase: emissions from the oil and gas industry, and microbial production in wet tropical environments like marshes and rice paddies. But when these estimates were added to estimates of other sources, the sum was considerably more than the observed increase. In fact, each new estimate was large enough to explain the whole increase by itself.

Scientist John Worden of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues focused on fires because they're also changing globally. The area burned each year decreased about 12 percent between the early 2000s and the more recent period of 2007 to 2014, according to a new study using observations by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer satellite instrument. The logical assumption would be that methane emissions from fires have decreased by about the same percentage. Using satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide, Worden's team found the real decrease in methane emissions was almost twice as much as that assumption would suggest.

When the research team subtracted this large decrease from the sum of all emissions, the methane budget balanced correctly, with room for both fossil fuel and wetland increases. The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

* Atmospheric methane concentrations are given by their weight in teragrams.
* One teragram equals about 1.1 million U.S. tons -- more than the weight of 200,000 elephants.
* Methane emissions are increasing by about 25 teragrams a year, with total emissions currently around 550 teragrams a year.

Most methane molecules in the atmosphere don't have identifying features that reveal their origin. Tracking down their sources is a detective job involving multiple lines of evidence: measurements of other gases, chemical analyses, isotopic signatures, observations of land use, and more. "A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together," Worden said.

Carbon isotopes in the methane molecules are one clue. Of the three methane sources examined in the new study, emissions from fires contain the largest percentage of heavy carbon isotopes, microbial emissions have the smallest, and fossil fuel emissions are in between. Another clue is ethane, which (like methane) is a component of natural gas. An increase in atmospheric ethane indicates increasing fossil fuel sources. Fires emit carbon monoxide as well as methane, and measurements of that gas are a final clue.

Worden's team used carbon monoxide and methane data from the Measurements of Pollutants in the Troposphere instrument on NASA's Terra satellite and the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer instrument on NASA's Aura to quantify fire emissions of methane. The results show these emissions have been decreasing much more rapidly than expected.

Combining isotopic evidence from ground surface measurements with the newly calculated fire emissions, the team showed that about 17 teragrams per year of the increase is due to fossil fuels, another 12 is from wetlands or rice farming, while fires are decreasing by about 4 teragrams per year. The three numbers combine to 25 teragrams a year -- the same as the observed increase.

Worden's coauthors are at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado; and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and University of Utrecht, both in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Updated Jan. 3, 2018, at 1:40 p.m. to clarify weight in sidebar feature.