Australian news, and some related international items

Fossocracy Australia: government of the people, by the fossil fuel companies for the fossil fuel companies by Michael West and Callum Foote | Dec 30, 2022 |

Public subsidies for coal plants are merely the icing on the cake of a triumphant year for multinational fossil fuel corporations operating in this country. Michael West and Callum Foote report on Fossocracy Australia.

If democracy is government of the people by the people for the people, surely a government whose two major parties are financed by fossil fuel payments, and which returns the favour with favourable policies and billions in fossil fuel subsidies each year, can reasonably be labeled a fossocracy.

It might seem a cheeky term, but not an unreasonable one if you follow the money: record fossil profits and record fossil subsidies at a time when the cost of living is soaring, there is record demand for food relief and public housing, and the planet is warming.

This week’s publication of the annual Michael West Media Top 40 Tax Dodgers confirmed fossil fuel corporations once again as the biggest “leaners” on the public purse; and that, hard on the heels of the government’s sheepish admission there would be hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies for thermal coal plants operated by the likes of Rio Tinto and Origin Energy. That was quietly concocted amid the Christmas cheer to counter the modest moves by the Albanese government to cap gas and coal prices – instead of something robust such as a super profits tax or carbon exports levy. 

It should be noted that Rio pays a lot of corporate income tax in Australia, but both Rio and Origin are still guilty of aggressive tax avoidance; the former with its Singapore hubs grift and the latter with its fake LNG sale.

Further to the organs of Australia’s fossocratic state is our very own Pravda, a fossil media duopoly of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Nine Entertainment’s AFR, both of these funded by federal government subsidies and millions of dollars a year in fossil fuel industry advertising and sponsorships. 

The fossil media literally, daily, rewrite the press releases and espouse the talking points of the fossil lobby with its publicly subsidised tax-free status: the Minerals Council of Australia and APPEA (both lobby groups are controlled by foreign corporations despite boasting the word “Australia” in their titles).

This barrage of propaganda is promptly telecast across the rest of the fossil media, from a gun-shy ABC to the subsidised airwaves of Sky News, talkback radio and Kerry Stokes fossil media Seven West.

How otherwise could it have possibly come about that the biggest LNG exporter in the world is importing gas back into Australia from overseas while the gas cartel of Shell, Exxon, Santos and Origin reaps record profits and claim “gas shortages on the East Coast”?

How else could it be that truly independent analysis of this mollycoddled gas cartel be routinely blocked from appearing in the fossil media, such as this from IEFFA’s Bruce Robertson?

How else could it be that Australia is a fossil pariah globally yet remains on track to frack the Beetaloo Basin which could blow out the country’s emissions out by another by 20%?

How can it be that the government is forking out billions in subsidies to foreign tax avoiders while poverty, the working poor and homelessness are all on the rise?

How else could the fossil media duopoly, straight-face, page one, run the hissy-fit by Santos boss Kevin Gallagher that the Albanese government’s modest gas cap measures are “Soviet-style” and risked Australia turning into Venezuela or Nigeria? So embarrassing was the rant that Santos didn’t even run it on its website but got the lapdogs of the fossil press to run it for them.

Once again, the MWM Top 40 is dominated by foreign-controlled fossil corporations paying little or no tax, yet the ATO annual transparency report upon which the figures are based is lagging, capturing mostly the profits and tax payments up until this time last year (December 2021).

Since then, with the war in Ukraine sending coal oil and gas prices into orbit, both revenue and profits have soared. (Indeed, the new government is tipped to have lucked into a Budget surplus this year thanks to precisely this.)

We will therefore see some of the worst offenders, the likes of Exxon, Energy Australia, Santos and Shell perhaps paying what will appear to be big licks of corporate income tax. It’s not about the size though, it is about the proportion.

Globally, Shell racked up a $25bn profit, Exxon $23bn, Chevron $18bn and Santos $1.2bn. That’s profit, not revenue. Locally, their subsidiaries are racking up double digit increases in revenue (not profit but revenue) and are now expected to be so glamorously profitable at the end of 2022, that when their December year profits are quietly released to the corporate regulator in late April, they will finally be seen to be paying some income tax.

A social licence?

So the question must be asked, again, what social licence do the fossil giants have to operate in Australia, given their lies and fear-mongering, their impact on the climate and failure to pay tax to fund roads, hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure?

When you consider that up to 80% of gas and 90% of coal is exported, and that the dazzling profits accrue to foreign shareholders … none.

And that is why they are buying their social licence, not by paying tax like the tobacco companies for instance, but by sporting sponsorships, hundreds of them from local nippers to first grade football and

In doing this, they are buying PR and advertising, paying for the image of a social contribution to Australia in lieu of paying tax. 

Routinely, they pay “independent experts” to conduct “analysis” into their contribution, and dutifully, their fossil media clients reproduce their press releases.

But a dig into the actual numbers unearths the big lie.  

The Big Lie

The claim by the Minerals Council and their experts (formerly Deloitte and now EY) is that the big mining companies provide over $43 billion in contributions to the Australian government every year in the form of royalties and taxes.

Keeping to one side for a moment that royalties are not taxes, they are the payments which companies make to the states to extract our resources, the fossil lobby has overcooked its contribution by more than $80bn over the years.

The Minister for Energy, Madeline King, has repeated these claims from the carbon lobby, that the mining industry made payments of $43.2 billion in company tax and royalties to Australian governments in a speech given at an ​​NT Resources Week conference. The figures were repeated on ABC Radio without question.

The EY report, the latest that is, has – like Deloitte’s previous work – failed to disclose that up to 60% of the tax that they claim the mining industry pays to Australian governments is returned in the form of GST refunds.

They have included GST paid but not refunded. The false claims come at a critical time for the mining and energy sectors which are reaping record profits, partially at the expense of energy customers, and the minerals lobby is threatening a public campaign against the government if efforts are made to increase taxes and royalties.

As for the government, they are doing things, unlike the previous mob which had a penchant for words over action. The gas and coal caps are modest but you could argue politically savvy, even brave by recent standards.

Yet they are small steps, tiny steps, which do little curb the power and the influence of the fossil giants. Or to tax them properly, contain energy prices, or strike significant reform.

The solution then? Abolish fossil donations, enact media reform (rather than embracing continued subsidies) to attract a diversity of voices and detract from the relentless barrage of propaganda, and bring in a levy on carbon exports as per this excellent roadmap from another independent source Tim Buckley. And stay true to the pledge of no new fossil fuel projects, and up the ante to no fossil subsidies, none.

When the time comes to mend all the mining voids, to rehabilitate, the fossil brigade will have made their super profits and left.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

This Year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners are deeply connected to the CIA

The entire Nobel Peace Prize ceremony this year seemed to be part of a public relations spectacle whose purpose was to mobilize public opinion against Russia and to support a military escalation of the war in Ukraine.

Whereas at one time genuine peace activists—like Emily Greene Balch, Linus Pauling and Martin Luther King, Jr.—were awarded the prize, now it is being conferred on war propagandists and national traitors in the pay of foreign masters who are using them merely as pawns in a deadly game in which there are no winners.

By Covert Action magazine, Jeremy Kuzmarov, December 21, 2022

Far-fetched as it sounds, this year’s winners are all connected to a CIA offshoot, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and parroted CIA / State Department / Pentagon talking points about Ukraine and Russia in their acceptance speeches

The Nobel Prize Committee has five judges, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, who are tasked with choosing Nobel Prizewinners.

But people are starting to wonder if there is a 6th Nobel Prize judge, not appointed by the Norwegian parliament, but by the CIA, who is tasked with making sure that winners of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize advance the agenda of U.S. policy makers.

Although the idea may seem far-fetched, this year’s winners all have connections to a CIA offshoot, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Oleksandra Matviichuk, for example, who accepted this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Ukraine Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) on December 10, had received the NED’s annual Democracy Award on behalf of the CCL six months earlier.[1]

The NED was founded in the 1980s to promote propaganda and regime-change operations in the service of U.S. imperial interests. Allen Weinstein, the director of the research study that led to creation of the NED remarked in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

The two other recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian dissident, and Memorial, a human rights organization expelled from Russia for violating its foreign agent law, have also received NED awards and probable financing.

While the Nobel Peace Prize has previously gone to warmongers like Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama,[2] never before has it gone to organizations that were intricately associated with a foreign intelligence agency specializing in political skullduggery and psychological warfare.

The entire Nobel Peace Prize ceremony this year seemed to be part of a public relations spectacle whose purpose was to mobilize public opinion against Russia and to support a military escalation of the war in Ukraine.

In their victory speeches, all three Peace Prize recipients ritually denounced Russian war crimes and aggression and issued support for the war in Ukraine. Oleksandra Matviichuk also directly asked the Norwegian government for more air defense for Ukraine and other types of weapons.

Promoting a Fairy Tale Version of Reality

Matviichuk’s speech was notable for its overt Russophobia and Manichaean view of world affairs that showed a fundamental naiveté about the character of Western governments.

Matviichuk said that the West had turned a blind eye to Russia’s “destruction of its own civil society,” and “shook hands with the Russian leadership, built gas pipelines and conducted business as usual” when, for decades, “Russian troops had been committing crimes in different countries.”

In Matviichuk’s telling, the “innocent” West is complicit in appeasing Russia—though for the last few decades, it was U.S. troops and its proxies that rampaged across the Middle East and committed massive war crimes.

All while Russia has often intervened in self-defense against U.S.-NATO aggression—like in Georgia in 2008—or at the request of a besieged ally, like in Syria, where it saved the country from the fate of Libya which had been destroyed by the 2011 U.S.-NATO intervention.

Matviichuk claimed in her speech that the war in Ukraine is “not a war of two states—but of two systems—authoritarianism and democracy.”

If that is the case, it is not clear which side she is on as her president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has banned eleven opposition parties, including the communist party, which is legal in Russia, and mounted a Phoenix-style operation to silence dissidents.

Matviichuk suggested earlier in her speech that the world had not adequately responded to “the act of aggression and annexation of Crimea, which were the first such cases in post-war Europe.”

Crimea, however, had historically been part of Russia and was never invaded. Its people voted to rejoin Russia in a referendum after the U.S. and EU had backed a right-wing coup in Ukraine that represented a vital security threat to Russia on its border.

Matviichuk presented more false history when she claimed that “the Russian people were responsible for this disgraceful chapter in their history [the invasion of Ukraine] and their desire to forcefully restore their former empire.”

Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, however, was not an attempt to restore the Russian empire, but was carried out in response to genuine national security threats that Russia faced as a result of the right-wing coup in Ukraine and NATO advancement on its border.

Matviichuk further omits that Russia was carrying out a genuine humanitarian intervention by trying to save the people of eastern Ukraine who had been the target of an ethnic-cleansing operation by the Ukrainian military, which left 14,000 civilians dead.

Matviichuk concluded part of her speech by stating:

People of Ukraine want peace more than anyone else in the world. But peace cannot be reached by the country under attack laying down its arms. This would not be peace, but occupation. After the liberation of Bucha, we found a lot of civilians murdered in the streets and courtyards of their homes. These people were unarmed. We must stop pretending deferred military threats are ‘political compromises.’ The democratic world has grown accustomed to making concessions to dictatorships. And that is why the willingness of the Ukrainian people to resist Russian imperialism is so important. We will not leave people in the occupied territories to be killed and tortured. People’s lives cannot be a ‘political compromise.’ Fighting for peace does not not mean yielding to pressure of the aggressor, it means protecting people from its cruelty.”

It is astounding that someone would use the platform accorded to her by winning a major world peace prize to try to rationalize a war that her country had started—in 2014 when it attacked the people of eastern Ukraine who voted for more autonomy after a foreign-backed coup in Ukraine, and after the post-coup government imposed draconian language laws.[3]

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (2014-2019) has even disclosed that Ukraine had no intention of abiding by the Minsk peace agreements, which could have prevented a full-scale conflict with Russia. Instead, Ukraine signed those agreements as a stalling tactic to give it more time to build up its military power and accrue more weaponry and support from the U.S. so it could fight Russia from a position of strength.

Matviichuk promoted more disinformation by suggesting that the Russians had killed all the civilians in Bucha, as in-depth investigations have determined that many civilians were killed in Bucha by the Ukrainians after Russian forces were expelled…………………………………………

Honoring a Propaganda Agency That May Well Help Ignite World War III

While the Nobel Peace Prize has not always honored true peace activists, a truly ominous precedent has been set in giving it to a propaganda agency that may well help ignite World War III.

A key part of CCL’s current mission is to document Russian war crimes in Donbas—though Ukraine has been responsible for the majority of human rights crimes there since the war started after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014—when CCL started this work.[4]

Residents from towns in eastern Ukraine have reported on widespread rapes and torture of captured prisoners by Ukrainian troops and constant shelling of civilian centers and terror bombing over an eight-year period.

This is ignored by the CCL, which instead has tried to spotlight the stories—real or imagined—of victims of sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine and women abducted by Russian troops and taken into captivity in Russia.

Further, the CCL has mounted an international campaign to release the Kremlin’s political prisoners, and aims to raise awareness about political persecution in what it calls Russian-occupied Crimea—which is not “occupied” since its people voted to rejoin Russia in a referendum.

The CCL fashions itself as a particular champion of the Crimean Tatars, some of whom had collaborated with Nazi Germany in World War II and who had long been used by outside powers to try to destabilize Russia and foment ethnic conflict as part of a strategy of divide and conquer.

Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, who received an award from the NED in 2018, travelled to the NATO headquarters in Brussels after the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 agitating for an armed intervention by the UN to return Crimea to Ukrainian control, and has been a militant proponent of sanctions against Russia……………………..

Belarusian Winner Also Has NED Connection

The politicized nature of this year’s Nobel Prize ceremony was apparent in the selection of a Belarusian dissident, Ales Bialiatski, as co-winner of the Peace Prize.

Jailed for “financing group actions that disrupted public order,” Bialiatski was part of an NED-sponsored uprising and color revolution in 2020-2021 that failed to overthrow Belarus’s socialist ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, who had saved his country in the 1990s by rejecting Western-imposed privatization and shock therapy programs and sustained a strong social safety net.[5]…………………………..

By helping to paint Lukashenko as a monster in national and international media, Bialiatski’s organization and others of his kind serve U.S. imperial interests by helping to mobilize popular support for a regime-change operation directed against Europe’s last true socialist government.

Yet Another NED Connection

The third winner of this year’s Nobel Peaze Price is a banned Russian human rights organization, Memorial, whose work includes preserving the memory of the victims of Soviet gulags and Joseph Stalin’s reign, and documenting political repression and human rights violations in Russia.[6] In 2004, its director, Arseny Roginsky, was awarded the 2004 NED Democracy Award………………………………………

Should It Be Renamed the Nobel War Prize?

The Nobel Peace Prize has tarnished its reputation through many of its past selections; but this year seems worse then ever with the Nobel ceremony providing a platform for anti-Russia war incitement.

In the future, all pretenses should be thrown aside and the prize finally renamed the Nobel War Prize.

Whereas at one time genuine peace activists—like Emily Greene Balch, Linus Pauling and Martin Luther King, Jr.—were awarded the prize, now it is being conferred on war propagandists and national traitors in the pay of foreign masters who are using them merely as pawns in a deadly game in which there are no winners.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More weapons to Ukraine “to bring peace” – says NATO chief.

NATO chief suggests ‘weapons for peace’ in Ukraine 30 Dec 22

NATO chief suggests ‘weapons for peace’ in Ukraine. Jens Stoltenberg has told German media that continuing to arm Kiev will help bring the conflict to an end more swiftly.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Western military aid to Ukraine is what is needed to bring peace to the Eastern European country in the shortest time possible.

He claimed that Russia will only agree to peace talks when it faces a situation in which it cannot achieve its goals militarily.

In an interview with German news outlet DPA, parts of which were published on Friday, Stoltenberg said: “It may sound paradoxical, but military support for Ukraine is the quickest way to peace.

The Western military bloc’s chief claimed that for the conflict to end, Russian President Vladimir Putin has to come to the conclusion that his forces are unable to take over Ukraine. It is only then that the Kremlin would be ready to negotiate a settlement.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected out of hand a ten-point “peace formula” floated by Ukrainian president Zelensky that envisages the withdrawal of Russian troops from Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions.

Lavrov told reporters that Moscow will “not talk to anyone” under the conditions previously proposed by Ukrainian president.

He stressed, however, that the Kremlin has not refused in principle to engage in negotiations with Ukraine, adding that Kiev must first recognize the new reality on the ground.

Stoltenberg also defended recent Ukrainian strikes on military targets deep inside Russian territory. He argued that “every country has the right to defend itself,” insisting that the attacks were justified.

When asked whether Ukraine should be given intermediate-range ballistic missiles, Stoltenberg revealed that individual NATO member states and Ukraine are engaged in dialogue regarding specific systems, which he declined to name. He also pointed out that several members of the military bloc have already supplied Kiev with weapon systems that have a longer range, such as US-made M142 HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems and drones.

On Thursday night, US President Joe Biden signed off on a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill, which earmarks $45 billion for “crucial assistance to Ukraine.” Of this amount, $9 billion will go directly toward training and equipping the Ukrainian military.

Russia insists that Western weapon deliveries only serve to prolong the conflict, warning Ukraine’s backers that these shipments could potentially result in an all-out military confrontation between Russia and NATO.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marie Curie’s Belongings Will Be Radioactive For Another 1,500 Years


Marie Curie, known as the ‘mother of modern physics’, died from aplastic anaemia, a rare condition linked to high levels of exposure to her famed discoveries, the radioactive elements polonium and radium.

Curie, the first and only woman to win a Nobel Prize in two different fields (physics and chemistry), furthered the research of French physicist Henri Becquerel, who in 1896 discovered that the element uranium emits rays.

Alongside her French physicist husband, Pierre Curie, the brilliant scientific pair discovered a new radioactive element in 1898. The duo named the element polonium, after Poland, Marie’s native country.

Still, after more than 100 years, much of Curie’s personal effects including her clothes, furniture, cookbooks, and laboratory notes are still radioactive, author Bill Bryson writes in his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Regarded as national and scientific treasures, Curie’s laboratory notebooks are stored in lead-lined boxes at France’s Bibliotheque National in Paris. Wellcome Library

While the library grants access to visitors to view Curie’s manuscripts, all guests are expected to sign a liability waiver and wear protective gear as the items are contaminated with radium 226, which has a half life of about 1,600 years, according to Christian Science Monitor.

Her body is also radioactive and was therefore placed in a coffin lined with nearly an inch of lead.

The Curie’s are buried in France’s Panthéon, a mausoleum in Paris which contains the remains of distinguished French citizens – like philosophers Rousseau and Voltaire.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 1 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Sorghum: Harnessing The Power Of Climate Smart Crops” • As we begin to see the effects of climate change, it is clear that not all crops will be reliable producers in the long term. Extreme weather patterns and changing ecosystems pose a threat to many of the sources of food and […]

January 1 Energy News — geoharvey

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment