Today the High Court of Australia ruled (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia  HCA 23) for the second time that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]. [more inside]
Yesterday Australia joined many developed nations in putting a price on carbon pollution (fixed at $23/tonne CO2e for three years) (prev). Despite extensive compensation, this moderate economic reform has proved enormously unpopular ("based on a lie") and is expected to be repealed if/when the Federal Opposition are returned to government.
The Republican Brain is Chris Mooney's second book investigating the reasons for the beliefs of conservative Americans, following 2005's The Republican War on Science. He asks why identified Republicans reject the scientific consensus on important issues, seemingly against their education achievement, finding an answer in brain structures.
South African fast food chain Nando's ran an amusing ad featuring Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe enjoying himself with a range of deceased despots, to the tune "Those were the days". The Zimbabwean "government" was not amused.
You probably haven't heard of Gina Rinehart. However, she's Australia's richest person and will quite possibly be the world's richest person in a few short years. Her currently limited political activity appears primarily directed at maintaining profitability, avoiding taxes and stopping a price on carbon pollution.
Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults, Ryota Kanai, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, Geraint Rees. Current Biology - 26 April 2011 (Vol. 21, Issue 8, pp. 677-680) [Full text .pdf]
Political liberalism and conservatism were correlated with brain structure
Liberalism was associated with the gray matter volume of anterior cingulate cortex
Conservatism was associated with increased right amygdala size
Results offer possible accounts for cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives [more inside]
Investigative reporting continues to attack the credibility of the IPCC reports on climate change, as well as vicious personal attacks. These stories gain wide coverage in the denialist echo chamber, yet several months down the track, after thorough independent investigation, they are found to be false. Weak retractions are published in newspapers, but the damage is done.
The people have
spoken mumbled a bit. The Australian Federal election held last Saturday has produced an extraordinary result. A minority government with the support of 1 Green and (maybe) 4 very independent independents will should result, but which way will it fall, left or right? Every Westminster-style government, claimed to produce strong stable majorities, now has a hung parliament.
Even though results may not be known for several days yet, we can acknowledge the outstanding work of the Australian Electoral Commission. (Previously).
Australia's emissions trading scheme, the "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme", is being debated in the Senate today. [more inside]
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating provides some observations on the GFC, including suggestions that the USA could become a defaulter, and identifying a need for a new international settlement to replace Bretton Woods. [more inside]
Silvio Berlusconi humps a meter maid. Ubiquitous youtube link.