Thursday, 23 March 2023

Former PM Paul Keating criticises AUKUS pact and discusses relations with China | ABC News


Click above for the video
Paul Keating spoke at the Press Club in Canberra, with some pretty spicy takes on the AUKUS treaty (he hates it) and our commitment to buy nuclear powered subs from the US and UK (he also hates that). And some very robust -- more like rude -- reactions to questions from the press.  For those in the comments saying we need someone with his wisdom back in parliament, well, he’s burnt his bridges by his own Labor Party and with the Media. Quite a Q & A.

I met Paul Keating when he was Prime Minister, back in 1994 and I was Executive General Manager of East Asia for Austrade. I was flown to Canberra to brief him on his forthcoming China trip. In the room just him and a couple and on my side just me and a couple. As I went through the issues and what we needed to hit hard on the trip, he took notes by hand on an A4 lined pad. Detailed. Like... asked for me to repeat some bits so he could get it all down. I went to China and we next met in Beijing, with the then Chinese President, Jiang Zemin. I was in the room sat one away from Keating, next to our Ambassador. What impressed me was that when it came to trade issues, Keating made the exact points I’d asked him to make, and word perfect. 

I don’t know anything about submarines, but it appears that Keating does. He makes a good case why we’re crazy, in Australia, to buy these nuclear subs. When we could by 45 Collins-class subs, for the price of the 8 nuclear ones we’re going to get. And we’d get them sooner. And they’d be more relevant to Australia defending its borders, as opposed to going into the South China Sea to confront China. 

All that said and even agreed, on the overall China-Australia relationship he most certainly does come across as a China Bull, to the extent of being a China shill. Not a single criciticm of China. Not a one. When there are many that impact us directly. Or on which we ought have views, because of International Treaties we’re signed on to. 

On the latter point, of course, there’s Xinjiang and the treatment of the Uygurs. The imprisonment of one million in camps for “reeducation”, which has been called a genocide by the United Nations and senior politicians in the UK and the US. Keating dismisses it as “there’s some debate on it.” Shame. 
There’s the trade embargo on Australia. Which is against all WTO rules. Which, again, he dismisses as a piffle. 
There’s China’s encroachment in the South China Sea, which has upset countries in SE Asia. They have historically high distrust of China, per various polls. Keating again dismisses this with a wave of the hand, as just some islands the size of Centennial Park in Sydney. 
There’s the way China has manipulated the WTO to its benefit in a case of mercantilism on steroids.  Yet again, Keating dismisses this. Even though it was the US that ushered China into the WTO and it was the Chinese manipulation of it that led to US tangles with China that persist to today. 

That’s not an exhaustive list. Just some that come to mind, without going off an Googling. But for Keating all of this is for nothing and he has only the highest praise for China. And only criticism for Australia. For that I’m kinda anti the guy. Even if he may be right on the submarines. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

COVID origin case reopened: A lab leak is a legitimate question - Matt Ridley

Four months ago but still relevant from the man who knows most about the issue, who is not a US government scientist (most of whom have an agenda to trash the lab leak theory. Because, one assumes, the US government, and hence Fauci, have a deep desire for the world not to know how much gain-of-function research they carried out in Wuhan, and even some in the United States.
The other day I posted about Lord Ridley's comments on the recent Raccoon Dog theory, which has even less credibility than all the other zoonotic origin theories.

Sent from my iPad



What a horrible duo!

My wisdoms. So I’ve lost wisdom.... Came out this morning. 

Aren’t they horrible?!

China population happiest in world | IPSOS

Click to enlarge 

Do we believe these figures? Do I believe them? That 91% of Chinese tell the IPSOS Global Happiness Survey pollsters that they’re happy? Well, yes, on the whole and based just on my trips to China, where I always make a point of chatting to folks. All I talk to are happy, optimistic. Then again, I find that about the States, too, despite all the sturm und drang we see on the news. And most place, tbf. Except Russia, when we went across it in 2017, everyone seemed as sour as the borscht. 

But Saudi Arabia at 86% happy? Huh? I’ve been there and I find it grim. Perhaps it’s because most Saudis haven’t been outside. Netherlands at 85%? Yes, believe, kind of… though there’s plenty of farmers who aren’t too happy with the government that wants to take away their farms because …”climate crisis”.

I wonder where Australia is. Hong Kong is fairly down the list. 

ADDED: Australia is on 80%, quite high, but 4% down on the last survey. Hong Kong is not covered. Here

Yesterday on Victoria harbour | ART BASEL Hong Kong

25 metre (80’j catamaran. HSBC, our bank, invited us for afternoon drinks yesterday. To promote Art Basel, Hong Kong, of which the bank is prime sponsor, on 21 to 26 March. 
Early onboard. More folks turned up later!

This is terribly important. If we believe Dr Redfield we should stop Gain of Function research

Dr Robert Redfield was the head of the CDC in the United States. Which I’d always thought of as the gold-plated repository of knowledge on all matters health. But no. During Covid and the new head Rochelle Wolenski  it has crowned itself in shame. Misinformation about masks, vaccines and mandates. To today. 

We see the playing out of the battle between highly-credentialed scientists on opposite sides of an issue. That’s science. Never settled. Redfield v Fauci on lab leak v zoonotic origin of Covid. 

Update from Matt Ridley on the latest story about Racoon Dogs as a spreader. Word doc here

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Is THIS the moment you’ve been waiting for?


“Steady hands Joe”. Really?

A mate here in Hong Kong, a man I’ve known and loved for years and who I’ve always thought sound, says that he’s a full-on Biden supporter because, he says, Biden is a “steady pair of hands”.

Now here goes. And here goes — please to note — from a non-Trump person. Just I’m a Biden Bear big time. Joining other Democrats who criticise the man. As the late-night comedians used to do to any administration, part of the deal, to keep the powerful to account. But who now to a man are simply Biden boosters. Enough. 

Off the top of the head, re Biden as a “safe pair of hands”. Nothing Googled:

“A steady pair of hands?”

A man who screwed up handling Covid, with unnecessary mandates and lockdowns — many that continue to this day. With zero sense and less science. 

That locked down the economy, ruining mom-and-pop stores nationwide. That closed schools. When told Europe kept their schools open, said “that’s Europe, this is the US”. Science, right? 

That pumped Trillions— with a “T” — of US dollars into the economy, to make up for his lockdown damage and when told this will lead to inflation said “no, it won’t”.

And when did lead to inflation was told it would lead to increase in interest rates, and said “no, it won’t”.

And when it did lead to increased interest rates, we have banking collapses, and stagflation — high interest rates, high inflation and high unemployment. 

Which is where we are now.

And that’s just domestically. (And far from a full accounting of the domestic damage from Joe’s “steady hands”. E.G. the whole Title IX stuff, room for a book).

Internationally there’s: 

Afghanistan which he abandoned, even though he didn’t have to, that was just “steady hand Joe”. Which handed the Taliban not just the country, and all its women to suppress, but also hundreds of billions of latest American armaments. All unnecessary and so, so sad, for the abandoned people of Afghanistan. 

And then have the green light for Putin to invade Ukraine, by letting him know the US would do nothing if they “just” invaded the East, the Donbas region. And so: Ukraine war. 

And then bombed the Nordstream gas pipeline, to punish Germany for being too close to Russia, and lied about it, even as we know he did it — you could only believe he didn’t do it, if you’re the person that believes he’s a “steady pair of hands” — that’s an act of war on an ally.

And none of this to even mention his dealings with spies in China, with crooks in Ukraine, the money he made from them, all recorded by his crackhead son, on Hunter’s laptop, which the MSM assiduously ignores, because … well, “steady hands Joe.” 

And not to mention — how can we?— that he shat in his pants in Germany. That he farted in front of the Queen. Well, she did laugh, so there’s that. 

We have in Joe Biden a President who shits on the world, literally and figuratively, who farts in the face of royalty. Who screws up his own nation. And this man, this senile, this flatulent, this incompetent, this corrupt, this pathetic old man is …

“Steady hands Joe.”


BIDEN SUPPORTERS: give me the counter! 

Dr Clare Craig on the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic, lock...

Click above for video
Dr Clare Craig is a consultant pathologist with over twenty years’ experience. She is co-chair of the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART). I don’t know HART and haven’t googled it, but I suspect it might be described as a “misinformation” group, on the basis that it doesn’t agree (or doesn’t always agree) with the government agenda. I’d rather just listen to what she says, with her expertise. She’s not a YouTube rando!

Above she talks to “British Thought Leaders”.

Monday, 20 March 2023

Victorian Premier conflates Nazis and women’s rights activists

Click above for video
Kellie-Jay Keen is the “controversial anti-trans activist” mentioned in so many articles, one from The Guardian right here. She is in fact leader of a group she calls “Let Women Speak” whose aim is to protect rights women have fought for over half a century. 

She is a women’s rights activist. Saying “anti-trans” is wrong. As you’ll see from the long-form interview above.  

She speaks for women’s rights in the face of intrusions by some in the trans community and Radical Trans Activists (TRA), many of whom are left wing and not at all trans! 

Nazis turned up. Who knows why. Spoiling for a fight maybe? Or could they have been a Fifth Column? Sent in by TRAs to make Kellie-Jay look bad? So that bad across like the Victoria Premier Dan Andrews can call her a merchant of “hate speech”?

What she actually talks about is:

  • The intrusion into women’s spaces by biological men, identifying as women. 
  • Specifically into women’s prisons: where men who have committed crimes take advantage of new self-identity laws lets them demand to be in women’s prisons. That caused a huge ruckus recently in Scotland and led to the downfall of Nicola Sturgeon. 
  • Against the transitioning and radical surgery in minors. Something which has now had a backlash in the UK and an increasing number of European countries. So why so controversial in Australia. 

And yet when I look at Dan Andrews’ tweets, in all he talks as if the Nazis and Kellie-Jay Keen’s “Let Women Speak” were made to sound ine and the same. I’ve seen Keen in several long-form podcasts and she is in no way a Nazi and would have been horrified by Nazis intruding her get together, a gathering of women who are speaking up against the erosion of rights that were hard win over the last half century. Shame on Andrews, and all the MSM that you read if you Google “Kelly Jay Keen in Melbourne”.

ADDED: Kellie-Jay Keen on Wikipedia says she’s an “anti-trans activist”. If you look at what that means, she is none of it. She is only concerned with protecting the rights of women in the face of challenges by radical trans activists to overtake women’s spaces. Imagine young girls and women in female spaces being confronted by biological males, with full kit (around 95% of trans women have not removed their male genitalia). Women and girls don’t like it. Understandably. So where are the trans women to go? Answer: in the men’s room or in gender-neutral places (or ok in women’s room for the 5% who are post-operative, I presume). The answer to the sensitivity of some, can’t be to ignore the sensitivity of many. 

Saturday, 18 March 2023

The Biden-DeSantis Rebalancing Act | Andrew Sullivan

Anything but Trump And also Anything but Biden
An interesting analysis of where we stand on the Biden for 2024 campaign   
I'm not sure about Sullivan's comment on the "unconstitutionality" of some of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ moves.  I don't see it, but then I'm not a US Constitutional lawyer That'd be our son John who I must ask about that.
Surely Andrew is not talking of some of the moves to control what books are allowed in schools. Because that's an issue of curriculum not of Free Speech.

Friday, 17 March 2023

US extremist violence

Sitting here in Hong Kong with my print copy of The Atlantic, I'm very clear that this is a liberal — maybe uber-liberal — magazine. So I expect a left-of-centre slant. But did Adrienne LaFrance's piece on extremist violence in America have to be quite so partisan? Does balance count for nothing these days at The Atlantic?
Sure, she mentions left-wing violence. In early 20th century United States, she reminds us of the anarchistic violence, the mass-murderous bombings by the Galleanists. Then there's Italy in the 1960s and 70s, the "Years of Lead" (when I lived there, by the way), with its ultra-left bombingly murderous mayhem. In today's United States, she mentions, glancingly, violence by the left-wing Antifa. No mention of BLM. But the real threat today, she says, is not those left wing rioters, but… the Proud Boys! Horrid right wingers! 
I'm sat here in Hong Kong, as I was in 2020, with full access to all the world's MSM and all the world's Social Media. I watched the violence that erupted across the US in 2020. 
I watched it on CNN and on MSNBC and on BBC and also on Fox (forgive me!). 
I was not there in Portland, so I have to go on what I saw. And what I saw was that the violence, not just in Portland, but also in Seattle, in Kenosha, in Los Angeles, in New York, in Chicago, across the country was mostly Antifa and BLM. The Proud Boys may have been there, but they weren't obvious. And you'd think that if they were there, certainly the likes of CNN & Co, would have pointed them out.
I have friends in Portland who took photos of the graffiti. The graffiti I saw in Portland and Seattle was all left-wing and anarchist. "ACAB" (All Cops are Bastards), "Kill the cops" and "Kill a MAGA-man today". "Destroy Capitalism". That sort of lovely stuff. 
Yet still, LaFrance concludes the biggest danger is from the right.  I would urge her, and The Atlantic, to heed their own advice: to follow the science. Follow the data. Follow the facts.
This has impact. The readership of the The Atlantic is almost all liberal left. They read this and are confirmed in the their belief that it's all the fault -- not just of "far-right terrorists” -- but of all Republicans!  And therefore they hate even more on their political opponents. Remember: in his last SOTU, Joe Biden said half the country are "semi Nazis". WTF??
A decent society should allow for political differences, without thinking the opposite party are your enemies.
If each side were more aware of the violence each side does, maybe there's some chance to tone it down.
As it is LaFrance's essay only serves to stoke tensions. 

China shoots itself in the foot

It’s a click bait headline, but still pretty good. Click above for the video 
This is a year old, but still a pretty decent summary of China's bullying of Australia over the call for an investigation into the origin of Covid. As in “we have nothing to hide. How dare you call for an investigation.”

China never bought Australian coking coal, steaming coal, iron ore, lithium, seafood and wines as a favour to Australia. It did it because they needed and wanted these things. The only people they hurt were Chinese. Australia meanwhile quickly pivoted and found other markets. If you look at the historical GDP charts for this period for Australia, as I did a while back, you can hardly see a blip from the Chinese thuggery.

China deserves to suffer for this thuggish act. They still are.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Cochrane Library: Masks, Science and Tribalism

Much angst amongst mask zealots. Cochrane Library has come out with a study, actually an update of a previous study, that concludes “there is no evidence that masks work”. 
For the record: Cochrane Library are regarded as the gold standard in the collection of global data on medical-health issues. 
And: their concussion is not quite that masks don’t work, but that they work only marginally -- in some cases not at all -- and not enough to warrant mandates. Which is where I ended up in my letter to the editor a few weeks ago: “Extraordinary mandates require extraordinary evidence”, which they don’t have. For some individuals, masking may work, but they need to be on tight and all the time. That’s not the way populations wear masks. And that’s the point of the Cochrane Study: at a population level and when you mandate, they don’t really cut it. 

UPDATE: there’s been some confusion over an “apology” from Cochrane Library over the conclusion that “there is no evidence that masks make any difference”. The apology was from a senior editor at  Cochrane -- not the authors of the study -- and there’s evidence the editor was pressured into it. The authors have objected and stand by their findings. There’s more on that story here.  

The Study

Cochrane Library: Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. The WebArchive version is here.

Lead author Tom Jefferson comes with impressive resume. He digs deep into data. For example, in 2012 he was lead researcher on a study into oseltamivir (Tamiflu). According to Wikipedia 

In 2012, Jefferson was the lead author of another Cochrane review of this data which concluded that oseltamivir [Tamiflu] did not reduce the number of hospitalizations caused by influenza. Jefferson said that this review also found no evidence that oseltamivir stopped complications from the disease.[6] The review is considered a landmark and is posted on the James Lind Library website[7] which illustrates the development of fair tests of healthcare. [my emphasis]

The critics of the Study: abc News here, Conversations, hereNew York Times, here (with critique here and here), The Guardian, here (with critique here). The Washington Post, here (with critique here)

The critics of the critics of the Study: Vinay Prasad* MD, MPH, here, here and here. Kevin Bass, here. Kyle Lamb, here. Paul D. Thacker, here. Rod Liddle, here.

The sum of all the critics of the study is: the study doesn’t show masks don’t work. It shows that there is no evidence that they do. IOW “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, which is taken apart by Dr Prasad in his pieces above, where he says the Cochrane study is simply following the same standards used for the study of all other medicines and non-medical interventions. Masks ought not be treated differently. 

Then: “it’s apples and oranges” comparison, a critique by both the Conversations criticism and The Guardian, so seems they’ve cribbed off each other. In any case, it’s a fact that’s acknowledged by the Cochrane study authors themselves. They worked with what data they had. And that data was mixed. In total data from 78 RCTs, 11 of which were post the start of Covid. They acknowledge this is not enough and we need more. A question might be asked: why has the CDC or UK equivalents not done so? Especially in relation to masking by children, on which there’s not a single RCT? 

Their criticism seems to be: you’re measuring people as they actually use masks, not how they should be  used. Well, exactly. Because how people use masks is how people use masks. You can’t force compliance with some correct way of wearing masks. I know that from here in Hong Kong, where we had a very compliant and obedient population, but after a while masks were below noses and on chins. That’s just the reality. And that’s also the reality of population-wide mandates. People just get sick of them. It’s even the way with doctors and nurses who all say that they never wear the mask the whole day. It’s just too unconformable to be worn non-stop.

(ADDED: quite a while back I thought there might be a difference in how masks work in a laboratory and how the work in the Real World. And it turns out that’s true.)

Agenda: what would be the agenda of people saying “masks don’t work”? What skin in the game do they have?? Shorting mask-making stocks? Whereas C. Raina MacIntyre, lead author of the Conversation piece reveals in her Disclosure statement that she works for a mask manufacturer. Not that I’m saying that may have influenced her views in any way. Just sayin’. To repeat: there can be no agenda for finding against masks, for what’s the gain?

Bottom line: Cochrane Library is the best collection of data on mask effectives that we have to date. It’s the best we know on the available evidence. If you don’t like it, then have other studies go at it. The authors of the Cochrane study suggest this themselves. Even taking into account the critics, the most we can say, the most mask-friendly thing we can say is that the study doesn’t show that they definitely don’t work. At the very best that’s inconclusive. And it’s not the extraordinary evidence we need for the extraordinary demands that are made by mandates. As I said in my letter to the editor, here

End of the day, mask wearing or not became one remains tribal. If you’re of the mask wearing tribe, you’ll look at the headlines in the critics of the Cochrane study and conclude that masks do work. And if you’re in the anti mask-mandate tribe, you’ll take comfort from the Cocharane study and keep on leaving your face open to the fresh air. And you’d be more right about that. Because you’d be following The Science. As far we know it today. Science might change conclusions. But for now, it’s Cochrane. 

And, on this I think I’m done. Till next time. Mask you later!

*Vinay Prasad MD MPH Hematologist Oncologist. Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Team Malizia at 30 knots in the Southern Ocean

Click above for the video
They’re having so much fun! Team Malizia in the Southern Ocean SE of New Zealand, on the way to Brazil in The Ocean Race.  [Tracker]

This year the boats are all enclosed. In the past they were out in the open with cold waves crashing over them and the deck. I doubt we’ll see that again in round-the-world boats. This is the way for racing round the world. Carbon-light, foils, enclosed decks. 

These are IMOCA 60 -- International Monohull Offshore Class Association, 60 feet long. They are all the same. So the first there is there winner. Scoring: first gets the most points, last the least (opposite of all the racing we’ve done in IRC boats, where the first gets one point, second two points, etc, and the aim is the least points. In the One-Class format, the aim is the most points). 

Holcim has a handy lead at the half-way mark)

"Guardian's HIT PIECE On Russell Brand And His 'Descent Into CONSPIRACY “ | The Hill

They, the Left — or maybe I should say the far left — can’t stand it when someone, especially of their tribe, wanders even one foot off the reservation. You must abide by the whole catechism or begone!

Don Lemon's Encounter With Morgan Freeman.

"Put your mind to what you want to do, and do it"
Morgan Freeman
Doesn’t agree with Lemon that racism holds people back:
Lemon: Do you think race plays a part in wealth distribution and chances in society?
Freeman: No. Look at us!

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Incredible drone shots of Holcim at 33 knots


Holcim, in the lead in The Ocean Race. She covered a record of 590 nautical miles in 24 hours, almost 25 knots average. For that she’d have to be doing above 30 knots most of the time. 

“Indonesian villagers take on Swiss cement giant Holcim to seek climate justice” | SCMP

These folks are planning to sue Holcim cement company.
Holcim have a boat in The Ocean Race, around the world with four crew in IMOCA 60s. They are currently leading. [See above video]
The race is a showpiece for action on the Climate Emergency. Holcim has entered to highlight its credentials as the most clean cement producer in the world. That is, with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per tonne of cement.
And yet this is the company that Indonesian islanders plan to sue?
They would be better off seeking Holcim's help in building levees to replace the crude rock banks they have.
Poor people need infrastructure. They need iron, steel, cement, glass, carbon fibre wires. They don't need to sue these manufacturers no matter how virtuous it makes their Green proponents feel. For make no mistake: this is not their idea; it's come from Green whisperers telling them how wicked the cement companies, the steel companies, all these, are. 
ADDED: I just discovered that the above link is to an article from August 2022. The print article I read is today. But search not found online. Both pretty much identical stories. 

Silicon Valley Bunk

Why did Silicon Valley Bank go bust? Because its assets were eroded. Why that? Because it bought US Treasuries. Why that? Because “it’s gilt”, because the government encouraged them to do so — copper-bottomed blue-chip!  But which then plunged in value. Why that? Because inflation >> higher interest rates. Higher interest rates >> lower bond price. Because that’s the iron law, the first thing I learned in 1969 in Eco 101, bond prices and interest rates are inversely correlated. Why inflation up? Because US government firehosed cash into the economy 2020-22. Why that? Because lockdowns, coz Covid. People needed money to make up for lost business. Why lockdowns? GOOD question! At the time there were other options, mainly the a great Barrington Declaration. But it was snuffed out because government had its own agenda: lockdowns are the only way. They were not. We knew then, but were ignored and vilified. We still know now.

To blame this on anything other than government mishandling is Silicon Valley BUNK.

SCMP - Chinese investment in Australia up, but US still leading foreign investor

Aussie mates living and doing business in China say their business is booming: in taking money from high net worth individual Chinese to put into Australia so they can get a "Gold Visa". That is: their escape route from China should things turn really bad.
To the extent that the Chinese investment is corporate, it's to buy up our assets, especially ones in short supply for the future industries, like Lithium, rare earths. And property, of course.
But that's not the reason Americans invest in Australia. They do so more as an extension of their business in the US.
Without doing a deep dive, I’d guess US investment in Oz is better net-net for Australians than is Chinese. But I don’t know and could be persuaded otherwise. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Bougainvillea Squirrels

Japanese give up mask mandates

Click to enlarge 
Above: top line is Japanese mask compliance during the pandemic — always above 90%.
Bottom line is number of cases. Notice any correlation? 
One of the early and clearest signs that there is a difference between masks in the laboratory and masks in actual human use.
Mandates dropped but people will still mask, they say.

Wang Huning: China’s Robespierre


Note the masking policy above. Follows The Science. Click above to hear Lei on the power behind the throne in China. 

Monday, 13 March 2023

Hasn’t Fauci aged under the new GoF allegations?

But it’s Anthony Fauci, really, isn’t it?

David Davis on Brexit

David Davis was the main man on Brexit negotiations.
He confirms what I've been reading more about:
Theresa May seriously screwed up the negotiations.
  1. By giving away the N Ireland / Rep Ireland border issue (the Good Friday Agreement)
  2. By Giving away the principle of "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". Instead she let the EU have all its demands agreed before they got to UK demands.