Tag Archives: Australia

New Study: China Would Beat US Military in Pacific, by Dave DeCamp

Predictably, the study calls for higher defense spending. From Dave DeCamp at antiwar.com:

The United States Studies Centre (USSC), a research center based at the University of Sydney in Australia, released a study titled, “Averting Crisis: American Strategy, Military Spending and Collective Defence in the Indo-Pacific.” The study makes the argument that the US would not be able to defeat China in a military confrontation in the Indo-Pacific.

The USSC is funded by the Australian government, over the past five years one percent of their budget came from the US government and eight percent came from “US-based foundations, companies or individuals.”

The three researchers whose names are on the study are part of the USSC’s Foreign Policy and Defence program. The program lists its partners as the Australian government, The US defense company Northrop Grumman, the French defense company Thales and the US State Department.

The study says the US is disadvantaged in the region because of, “ongoing wars in the Middle East, budget austerity, underinvestment in advanced military capabilities and the scale of America’s liberal order-building agenda.”

The researchers often cite the 2018 Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy (NDS). The NDS share the researcher’s concerns with respect to the Indo-Pacific region and shows a desire to prioritize the threats of China and Russia. The NDS says, “China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage.”

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More Police Raids As War On Journalism Escalates Worldwide, by Caitlin Johnstone

Julian Assange’s indictment might have opened the floodgates for global persecution of journalists by governments. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The Australian Federal Police have conducted two raids on journalists and seized documents in purportedly unrelated incidents in the span of just two days.

Yesterday the AFP raided the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst, seeking information related to her investigative report last year which exposed the fact that the Australian government has been discussing the possibility of giving itself unprecedented powers to spy on its own citizens. Today they raided the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, seizing information related to a 2017 investigative report on possible war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan.

In a third, also ostensibly unrelated incident, another Australian reporter disclosed yesterday that the Department of Home Affairs has initiated an investigation of his reporting on a story about asylum seeker boats which could lead to an AFP criminal case, saying he’s being pressured to disclose his source.

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Lawlessness, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Five nations have shredded the law in their vendetta against Julian Assange. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at the automaticearth.com:

With the news that Julian Assange is “wasting away” in Belmarsh prison hospital, and with UN rapporteur Professor Nils Melzer’s report detailing how this happens, I’m once again drawn towards the lawlessness that all “authorities” involved in his case have been displaying, and with impunity. They all apparently think they are literally above the law. Their own laws.

But they can’t be, nowhere, not above their respective national laws nor the international ones their countries have signed up to. They can’t, because that would instantly make any and all laws meaningless. So you tell me where we find ourselves today.

There’s this paragraph in an article by Jonathan Cook entitled Abuses Show Assange Case Was Never About Law, which lists “17 glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles”, that sums it all up pretty perfectly:

Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.

See, Cook is already skipping a step there. Gillard didn’t take Assange’s citizenship away, because that is against Australian law, but it’s just as much against Australian law for a government to let one of its citizens rot in some kind of hell. Still, they did let him rot, but as an Australian citizen. At that point, what difference does anything make anymore?

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China’s Big Brother Social Control Goes to Australia, by Joshua Philipp

Governments won’t come right out and say so, but there isn’t a government in the world who doesn’t want China’s social control programs. From Joshua Philipp at theepochtimes.com:

Australia is preparing to debut its version of the Chinese regime’s high-tech system for monitoring and controlling its citizens. The launch, to take place in the northern city of Darwin, will include systems to monitor people’s activity via their cell phones.

The new system is based on monitoring programs in Shenzhen, China, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is testing its Social Credit System. Officials on the Darwin council traveled to Shenzhen, according to NT News, to “have a chance to see exactly how their Smart Technology works prior to being fully rolled out.”

In Darwin, they’ve already constructed “poles, fitted with speakers, cameras and Wi-Fi,” according to NT News, to monitor people, their movements around the city, the websites they visit, and what apps they use. The monitoring will be done mainly by artificial intelligence, but will alert authorities based on set triggers.

Just as in China, the surveillance system is being branded as a “smart city” program, and while Australian officials claim its operations are benign, they’ve announced it functions to monitor cell phone activity and “virtual fences” that will trigger alerts if people cross them.

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“That’s Something China Can’t Tolerate”: Tensions Erupt As China Slams Australia’s “Irresponsible Comments”, by Tyler Durden

Many nations commercial relationships with China are so extensive that China can throw its weight around. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

It all started in late February when we reported that a political row had erupted between China and Australia, with Beijing cracking down on imports of coal from Australia, cutting off the country’s miners from their biggest export market and threatening the island nation’s economy at a time when it and its fellow “Five Eyes” members who have sided with the US by blocking or banning Huawei’s 5G network technology.

In the weeks that followed, while Beijing disputed such a draconian export crackdown, China was overtly targeting Australian coal imports with increased restrictions – what Beijing claims were quality checks – that delayed their passage through northern ports. Given Australia has the highest level of income dependency on China of any developed nation as 30.6% of all Australian export income came from China last year, equivalent to US$87 billion (twice the trade volume with Japan, Australia’s next biggest trading partner), and Australia’s coal industry is deeply dependent on its exports to China, which account for 3.7% of Australia’s GDP, this prompted much speculation that Beijing is punishing coal companies as retribution for political acts by Canberra, one of Washington’s closest allies. “The last time Australia was so dependent on one country for its income was in the 1950s when it was a client state of Britain,” Sydney Morning Herald’s international editor, Peter Hartcher Hartcher said in March, according to the SCMP.

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As Washington Vacillates, Asia’s Alliances Are Shifting, by Conn Hallinan

America’s Asian allies are hedging their bets. From Conn Hallinan at antiwar.com:

“Boxing the compass” is an old nautical term for locating the points on a magnetic compass in order to set a course. With the erratic winds blowing out of Washington these days, countries all over Asia and the Middle East are boxing the compass and reevaluating traditional foes and old alliances.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars in the past half-century, and both have nuclear weapons on a hair trigger. But the two countries are now part of a security and trade organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), along with China, Russia, and most of the countries of Central Asia. Following the recent elections in Pakistan, Islamabad’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has called for an “uninterrupted continued dialogue” with New Delhi to resolve conflicts and establish “peace and stability” in Afghanistan.

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A Housing Bubble Pops: Update on Australia, by Wolf Richter

Australia has had one of the longest running housing bubbles around, but it looks like it’s popped. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

It is rare that a housing market makes such a beautifully defined U-turn, after a long hard surge.

In Sydney, Australia’s largest housing market and one of the world’s biggest housing bubbles, prices of homes of all types fell 5.4% in July compared to a year ago, and 5.5% from the peak in September. Prices of single-family houses dropped 7.0%, and prices of condos (“units”) fell 1.6%, according to CoreLogic’s Daily Home Value Index:

The most expensive quarter of the market got hit the hardest, with prices down 8.0% in July compared to a year ago. Across the so-called “most affordable quarter of the market” – “least unaffordable” would be more appropriate – prices fell by 1.8%.

And supply in Sydney is starting to come out of the woodwork: Total number of homes listed for sale in July, at 26,103, was 22% higher than a year earlier, and according to CoreLogic, the most since July 2012.

In the chart below, the number of homes listed for sale in 2018 is denoted with the black line. It’s below only the blue line (2012), but creeping up on it. Note the seasonality, with listings getting pulled during the Christmas holiday period (chart via CoreLogic):

And so goes the rental market, where “conditions eased further in July,” CoreLogic noted in its report: In Sydney rents fell 0.4% year-over-year. While that might not sound like much of an annual decline, it is “the largest decline on record” in CoreLogic’s data going back over a decade.

Melbourne lags a few months behind Sydney but is now catching up. Home prices in Melbourne fell 0.5% in July year-over-year, according to CoreLogic, and are down 3.0% from their peak at the end of November 2017: House prices fell 1.4% from a year ago while condos are still up 2.3%. The index is now back where it had been at the end of June, 2017:

To continue reading: A Housing Bubble Pops: Update on Australia