Low information journalism

Part of the phenomena of the decline of traditional or “legacy” media is a failure to come to terms with the unprecedented connectedness of the world in which we now live.

The old world where only a select few gatekeepers were privy to a majority of facts and selected which ones made it into the finite resource of tomorrow’s paper or this evening’s TV news has gone. The delivery capacity for news is, in effect, infinite and the key restriction is now the curiosity and availability of time for the recipient to gather information.

We get our world views from diverse sources and quickly write off as not credible those which have been proven to be untrustworthy or, worse, manipulative either by false reporting or selective reporting.

The older generation of journalists are taking a huge amount of time to realise this and their failures to come to terms with it are highly public.

Today’s particularly excellent example is courtesy of Jaqueline Maley, “Columnist and senior journalist“;

Let’s get the easy response out of the way first; the reason so few people are talking about it is because the accuser is clearly suffering from severe mental health issues that call into question her credibility, as this disturbing interview demonstrates.

Well done Anderson Cooper and CNN team for putting her up for public consumption simply because you don’t like the result of the 2016 election. What next, trawl the mental institutions for more accusers?

Another reason few people are talking about it is that it’s an accusation in a book, but no police report has been filed. Apparently, she is “considering” it.

You and I are not in a position to know and certainly not to judge whether or not Trump forced himself on Ms. Carroll, but we can judge Ms. Maley’s article where she does exactly that and finds him guilty.

Rape is a terrible crime with long term consequences for the victim. It’s also a crime that can be practically impossible to prove once any significant time has passed. If you were raped in the 1990s, 2019 is somewhat too late to press charges and expect a satisfactory result.

If your expectation is otherwise, may I suggest you haven’t spent enough time considering the consequences of applying that standard to the males you care about, such as your father, spouse, sons, grandsons and close friends.

The more amusing point though is Jaqueline Maley’s failure to treat her readers as having an intelligence quotient much above molluscs.

To even consider writing her opinion piece with a laundry list of reasons she dislikes Trump anchored around Ms. Carroll’s book published accusation, requires her to have completely discounted the possibility of her readers seeking an alternate source of information.

The simplest of internet searches would have given her readers the following internal answers when they read the question, “why are so few talking about it?”;

  1. Ms. Carroll does not present well, and in fact gives off an air of being a nutter,
  2. She’s publishing the accusation in a book but hasn’t informed the police,
  3. The alleged assault happened 4 decades ago.
  4. With the best will in the world, Ms. Carroll seems to have been a bit of a serial target of rape, if her writings are to be believed.
  5. All things considered, Ms. Carroll is really not credible. That’s not to say she’s lying but just that the “optics” are terrible.

Bill’s Opinion

Dear journalists in 2019,

The internet is available and can be used as an incredibly quick and convenient fact checker against which your entire audience can judge your work.

You may wish to consider keeping that sentence at the front of mind whenever you submit copy.

There is a form of bigotry you may not have considered that you are guilty of; the bigotry of low expectations. An example of this would have been evident if you had asked most Australians whether they knew the name of the person this article was referring to in 2013;

They knew it was Rolf Harris despite nobody in the Australian media being brave enough to name him.

Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me.

This is a knavery of them….

So said Bottom.

There’s another bottom around, apparently:

Sydney’s biggest correction in house prices since the 1980s should be over by year’s end but there is no sign of a return to boom times, according to new forecasts.

Ok. I’m sceptical but let’s hear their reasoning behind this.

Domain’s property price forecast for June 2019, released on Wednesday, expects median house prices in Sydney to bottom out at just about $1 million and median unit prices to dip just below $700,000 in spring.

I don’t want to play the man not the ball here but isn’t Domain’s entire raison d’être to sell property?

The market is tipped see a modest turnaround next year, a forecast supported by low interest rates, strong population growth and ongoing low unemployment. 

House prices are expected to increase by 3 to 5 per cent over next year, while unit prices are forecast to rise by 2 to 4 per cent.

The thing about predictions, as the American mathematician Stanislaw M. Ulam famously said, is they are notoriously difficult, especially about the future.

Domain economist Trent Wiltshire said the trifecta of an interest rate cut, the Coalition’s election win and potential lending rule changes helped the market bottom out sooner than expected.

Yes, all three of these are potentially good news for property prices. I suppose the missing question and answer is, are any of these actually the most important factor driving rises and falls in the asset class?

“The big factors contributing to prices bottoming out is what has happened in the past few weeks … it turned around the market’s thoughts,” Mr Wiltshire said. “People will be able to borrow more and that should follow through.”

Quite, Mr. River for a Firstname, County for a Lastname, “economist” for a property services website.

Perhaps people are able to borrow more, having the resultant flow on for prices as demand increases. It doesn’t necessarily follow they will borrow more though.

More on that later.

By the way, who knew that a market was a sentient being with thoughts? Hello Skynet.

Meanwhile;

Sydney’s auction clearance rate is at its highest in more than a year.

Don’t, whatever you do, mention that volumes are half of what they were at the peak and those few properties that do sell at auction (rather than sold privately earlier and then added to the highly-fictitious figures) are sold because they are being greatly-discounted to meet the market.

ANZ senior economist Felicity Emmett said the forecasts were in line with her expectations.

There’s a prediction we will return to in a year or so then.

Economist Stephen Koukoulas said it was more likely for property prices to see zero or negative growth than a dramatic turnaround next year.

Nice to see The Kouk has stopped trolling and returned to reasonable market commentary now he’s come to terms with not landing a plum government advisory job for the duration of this Federal term.

One has to love the use of “negative growth” there, if only there was a shorter, more commonly used synonym in the vernacular. I don’t know, something that rhymes with tall and is a homonym for autumn in American-ese….

Anyway, back to that minor factor impacting property prices; lending.

For reasons of incompetence or mendacity, most commentators talk about supply and demand as if the latter is simply a function of sentiment.

In a real world where most purchases are leveraged through borrowing, demand is less about what one would like to buy and more about what the bank will lend me in order to buy.

So, the RBA’s lending figures have been published for calendar month May. What’s the data saying?

Oh dear, that wasn’t supposed to be story.

Here’s the updated Are We There Yet, Mum? Index;

Now, obviously I’m not as educated and clever as someone employed as the “senior economist” for ANZ or “economist” for Domain but it would seem to me one of two things need to be true for property prices to stop falling and then begin to rise, either;

  1. The blue line on that chart needs to reach the 0.4% hurdle and stay there or above for at least a couple of months, but probably much longer, or
  2. A new magical source of funding is found that doesn’t involve domestic banks.

As you were, people, as you were.

There seems to be an obvious solution waiting to be found

The new oppressed class living amongst us is, apparently, single people.

No, don’t laugh. It’s true; The Sydney Morning Herald managed to find space between the Folau-dering to published an article about it, so it must be correct.

Grab a coffee, settle back and let’s try not to laugh too loudly as we witness mental illness given a public forum yet again in Sydney’s premier progressive organ:

Ok, you were warned. Here’s one of the oppressed;

Lucy Bloom says everyday household expenses such as rent, utilities, insurance and buying food or furniture can be twice as expensive if you’re single.

You may find this to believe but Marilyn, sorry, Lucy is single. Hardly credible, is it?

Now that you’ve got over that shock, here’s some barely believable maths for you to come to terms with;

A one-person household can spend $2835 per month on living costs – 27 per cent more than couples, who spend a combined $4118 per month.
Lucy Bloom can attest to the fact the singles tax is alive and well in Sydney, too.

If, like me, you’re struggling with the underlying equation resulting a statement that $2,835 is 27% greater than $4,118, consider inserting the words “per person” somewhere in the sentence. Sub-editing going well?

Lucy is a financial giant amongst us pygmies, however;

“So many things cost the same whether you’re a single or a couple, so it’s effectively twice the price to be on your own,” the management consultant says.

She’s a “management consultant”? Let that one sink in for a moment. 

It gets better;

“If I had a live-in partner, the only cost that would change would be food, but there would be two incomes to play with,” she says.

And if my mother had wheels, she’d be a trolley.

Actually, Lucy, if you had a live-in partner with another income, you’d have two incomes to play with.

But regardless of language semantics, she’s doing it tough. She barely knows where next month’s hair dye is coming from; 

“The only way I make it work is by renting out my spare rooms on Airbnb, which covers my mortgage.”

“Living by one of the best beaches in Sydney certainly helps my occupancy rate,” she says.

“On the upside, I have my personal freedom and an asset that has increased in value by $600,000 since 2017,” Ms Bloom says.

Right. Not exactly walking 20km barefoot to the well to collect drinking water each day, are we?

That last sentence in the quote is almost “Peak Sydney”; I’m sad and lonely and need to seek attention by dying my hair bright pink and whining about my life in a national newspaper but at least I’m an economic genius when it comes to investing in property. 

Let’s hope nobody bursts her bubble by showing her the CoreLogic indices relating to apartments in the Eastern Suburbs any time soon.

The best is saved for last though. Apparently, the oppressed singletons have one significant expense the privileged couples don’t;

One in four Australians spend $100 or more on pre-date preparation, including new clothes, shoes, hair and makeup and a further $79 on the first date.

They didn’t mention the additional costs associated with veterinary bills for cats, strangely.

Bill’s Opinion

This seems to align closely with Sailer’s First Law of Female Journalism;

The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

Kill it with fire

Sorry, but this saga isn’t going away and nobody is covering themselves with glory;

Christian charity to be investigated for helping Israel Folau.

Yes, Tom Decent was less interested in Australia’s progression to the cricket World Cup semi final after defeating England yesterday but continued his single issue activism journalism.

In a worrying omen for Folau, Gillian Triggs, the previous Australian Human Rights Commission president has offered words of support for his cause. Why is this worrying? Well, Triggs is one of those cultural bellwethers like Peter Fitzsimons; on any given issue, if they’ve made a public prediction about it, you’re usually safe to assume the opposite will occur.

Back to the inconvenient Israel Folau; he’s raised a further $1.2m in the previous 24 hours via a Christian charity donation website. Given that the previous money hasn’t been refunded yet, he’s probably well over the $2m level.

Understandably, this has really annoyed the people who are correct about these things. So, rather than bother letting due process play out, they’re trying to close him down again.

A number of complainants, however, have confirmed to the Herald that they have raised their concerns with the charities commission over the fundraising role played by the ACL.

In a statement, the commission said it “expected all registered charities to meet their obligations under the ACNC Act and the Governance Standards”.

“The ACNC can investigate concerns that a charity has breached the ACNC Act or the Governance Standards,” the statement said. “This may include not pursuing its charitable purpose, not operating in a not-for-profit manner, or providing private benefits to members.”

Presumably these complainants are hoping to help Folau raise a further $3m next week by going out of their way to annoy everyone who ever let a religious thought enter their head into donating in a act of defiance at being told what to think?

At least the Christians have realised the media aren’t their friends;

ACL’s managing director Martyn Iles was contacted for comment.

Quite right. Declining calls from Tom Decent is the smart thing to do at this stage; he stopped trying to pretend he was “Independent. Always” some time ago.

Bills Opinion

It’s not beyond the realms of belief that the Charities Commission will shut this latest fundraiser down. I don’t have any insight into the organisation but there’s a good chance it’s a captured institution given that it’s (a) public sector, and (b) not a meritocracy (but I repeat myself).

If they do, which direction does this saga tack next? People are increasingly wanting to offer Folau support and have shown they will find a way of doing so.

The only logical course to prevent these despicable people from supporting bigotry is to prevent Folau from enjoying the privileges of owning a bank account and accessing the internet and telephone networks.

Anything is reasonable in response to discovering Emanuel Goldstein in our midst, after all.

Australian hypocrisy’s name is Lisa Wilkinson

Christ, can we please all just shut up about Israel bloody Folau?

No? Ok then, here’s our 3rd sodding blog post in a week about the ridiculous saga…..

For those who care enough to continue reading this blog and this specific post but aren’t bothered enough to keep up with the news, which I suppose is probably the square root of bugger all people, the latest update is as follows;

Go Fund Me have taken down his donation page because it breaches their terms of service.

The money will be refunded to the donors.

The Sunday Project (“prow-ject” in the vernacular) host, Lisa Wilkinson, berated a God botherer in a hard-hitting interview last night because he was of the wrong opinion.

Firstly, the Go Fund Me terms and conditions are linked on our previous offering on this subject if you’re curious. They really don’t explicitly exclude Israel’s campaign, but have a big clause about the website’s discretionary powers which would allow them to shut him or anyone else down at a whim. The reporting of this that tries to claim a breach of terms is either wrong or duplicitous. At this stage of the culture war, it’s probably going to save you time if you just assume the latter.

In summary, they are a private website and the contract you sign when you use it allows them to do whatever the hell they want. That isn’t the same as pre-emptively banning on principle Israel Folau’s campaign or similar campaigns.

Refunding the money will be interesting, however. As commenter, Sgt 73rd Regt mentions on our previous post, the inference is that the money goes straight to a trust bank account and doesn’t sit on the Go Fund Me account earning interest for them. I will be able to confirm what really happens shortly as I, ahem, may have considered it worth an amusing tenner to donate under Lisa Wilkinson’s beta male husband’s name….

Which brings us on to the increasingly haggard, post-menopausal La Wilkinson….

Last night on a TV show nobody was watching, she gave a 30 year old God botherer a proper lesson in investigative journalism. Nah, not really; she just did the easiest thing in the world and ran logic rings around someone with faith. If this is important work, there’s a billion people in India who believe God looks like a blue elephant whom she could doorstep with a willing camera crew.

Picking on God botherers is fine, if that’s how you want to make your money but we would like to point out two reasons why La Wilkinson is being incredibly hypocritical;

  1. Her co-host on The Prow-ject is an outspoken muslim  who has struggled in the past, on camera, to explain his faith’s doctrinal view of homosexuals. Presumably, her hard-hitting interview with Waleed will air later this week?
  2. A very lucrative part of Lisa’s annual salary is earned from hosting “Carols in the Domain” each Christmas. One assumes she’s spotted the underlying religious element of that TV program?

Bill’s Opinion

I promise this is the last missive on this subject until something halfway interesting occurs (and that doesn’t include faux legal advice in the comments from a failed civil engineer).

It’s probably worth clarifying my personal faith regarding this issue first; I’m an atheist who enjoys the benefits of where the Judeo-Christian tradition arrived in 2019. Perhaps a “cultural Christian”, if you will. I have no animus whatsoever toward homosexuals, to use the cliché, some of my best friends, etc.

If I could be so inclined, I could seek out discussions with people of faith and run logic rings around them just for fun. In fact, when I was younger, more foolish and cruel, I often did, asking my Christian relatives what they thought about those awkward fossils in the Natural History Museum and what the implications were for their reading of the Old Testament, for example.

What seems odd to me is that Lisa is applauded for poking fun at someone of a particular faith, especially as she’s very fucking happy to take their coin every Christmas. We can play the whataboutery game here too; why doesn’t she ask the question of other religions, for example the bloke she sits next to several evenings a week?

If you don’t believe in the tenets of Christian faith, why would you care about whether it teaches some people will go to a place you don’t believe exists?

Those who suggest this is no longer just about a kick and clap football player and his employer are correct. This is a cultural war being played in AND BY the media. Go Fund Me were bullied into closing down the campaign after a concerted effort by the a small subset of the media. It will be interesting to see where the battle is fought next.

Next week on the Sunday Prow-ject, Lisa Wilkinson angrily confronts Harry Potter fans who claim she can’t travel to Hogwarts.

Take it away, Waleed;

Doing the Decent thing

Tom Decent seems to have decided to not selectively edit today;

GoFundMe’s fine print says the crowdfunding site cannot be used for “campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or sex.”

Here’s my take on his previous attempt to steer the narrative.

Bill’s Opinion

There was a time when journalists used to at least attempt to offer their work as being without bias. I recall a time when they would be referred to as “reporters”. That noun seems to be out of favour now.

It’s absolutely fine to be an “activist”, we all have causes we support, but it’s highly disingenuous to pretend to be a “journalist” at the same time.

Obsessive reporting

The Sydney Morning Herald isn’t coping well with the thought that Israel Folau might have even the slightest chance of winning his legal action against The Australian Rugby Union Rugby Australia.

Reporter Tom Decent and his editors are particularly piqued that quite a few people are putting their money behind Folau in a Go Fund Me campaign:

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to controversial rugby union player Israel Folau will end up in the pockets of Rugby Australia if he loses a protracted legal battle against them.

Well, yes, that’s how legal cost allocation tends to work once cases have been decided.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News last night she was surprised Folau, one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport, would ask the general public for financial support.

Where “surprised” is a synonym for “shitting herself“.

“From our perspective [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so certainly it is not a strategy we thought was appropriate,” Ms Castle said. “They [donors] have seen what the money is going to be used for and they have to make their own decision.”

No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t just for sending bald kids to Orlando, with a huge range of causes from the deadly serious to the frivolous on there.

There’s top level categories for people asking for donations for their weddings and holidays and jokers asking for beer money. For example, I’ve recently been following the progress of a couple who are having a fabulous time circumnavigating in a small yacht who are being funded by donations on the page.

Once Folau’s GoFundMe page was activated just before midnight on Thursday, the money starting rolling in for the exiled Wallabies fullback who pleaded in a viral video for financial support to help stand up for religious freedom.

By 8pm yesterday, more than $410,000 had been sent his way as donors from all over the globe showed their support for an athlete prepared for the “fight of my life”.

That’s quite impressive, but don’t expect any back slapping from the media as it doesn’t fit their narrative. In fact….

However, questions have been raised about the wording of a disclaimer at the bottom of the fundraising page. It read: “In making this contribution I acknowledge that my contributions are made freely as a gift on the basis previously affirmed and that there will be no obligations on Israel Folau to do anything for me in recognition of the gift or to apply the funds in any particular way with respect to his legal action, and that I hold no expectation to receive anything in return for my contribution.”

A basic search of the other requests for donations would show that’s just standard for every request. In fact, every Go Fund Me campaign has the following default disclaimer as part of the platform’s terms and conditions:

All Donations are at your own risk. When you make a Donation through the Services, it is your responsibility to understand how your money will be used. GoFundMe is not responsible for any offers, promises, rewards or promotions made or offered by Charities, Campaigns or Campaign Organisers. We do not and cannot verify the information that Campaign Organisers supply, nor do we represent or guarantee that the Donations will be used in accordance with any fundraising purpose prescribed by a Campaign Organiser or Charity or in accordance with applicable laws.

It might be argued that, by putting the disclaimer on his page, Folau is being more open and honest than everyone else who prefers to let it languish behind a hyperlink.

Still, it’s nice of Tom Decent to draw everyone’s attention to this. Great public service there, Tom; Woodward and Bernstein will be proud of you.

When contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson for Folau declined to comment on the wording of the disclaimer or what the 30-year-old’s plans were if the money raised was surplus to his legal fees.

Frankly, if I were advising the Folau team, I’d suggest they treat any contact from the Sydney Morning Herald as one made in bad faith, based on all the bias they’ve already demonstrated.

Tom is lucky they still answer his calls to even say, “no comment” or something a little more robustly Anglo Saxon.

While it is expected Folau will use the cash for his upcoming challenge, the $3 million goal he set far exceeds the usual expectations for such a legal bill. One barrister labelled the price tag “outrageous”.

A barrister so brave that they didn’t want to be named? Surely there’s an opportunity for the shy and anonymous lawyer to get his/her/zher name out there to offer to under-bid the incumbent legal team?

RA chief executive Raelene Castle (right) said she was surprised one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport would ask the public for financial support.

Well, if he’s being overpaid by so much, who’s fault is that Raelene?

Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses warned that the thousands of individuals who donated anywhere from $5 to as much as $10,000 yesterday might not realise exactly where their money is going.

Again, it’s great that the public are being made aware of the Ts&Cs of the Go Fund Me website all of a sudden. Interesting that Moses wasn’t leading his people across the sea to safety for all other campaigns.

“The issue of crowdfunding and its application to litigation opens up a veritable can of worms for the legal profession and the courts,” Mr Moses said. “This an issue which the legal profession and the courts must grapple with if this practice continues to increase.

Hold the front page; “lawyer finds a problem to be solved by lawyers“.

“A security for costs order is an order that requires a litigant to deposit money into a secured account. This means that if the case is dismissed or the litigation fails, this money would be used to pay legal expenses of the opposing side.

“There are also questions around what occurs with remaining funds if the money is not used in its totality. Is it returned to those who donated or to the person who collected the funds?”

Yes, we’ve covered that already. Read the terms and conditions, Moses.

It’s a donation with no guarantee.

Yet knowing this, people have still freely donated half a million dollars already? That’s got to hurt.

There were also suggestions Folau’s GoFundMe advertisement breached the site’s rules, which states that users may not attempt to raise money for, “for the legal defence of … intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases”.

Suggestions from whom? The Sydney Morning Herald sportsdesk or someone more qualified in analysing the terms of service for a website?

Actually, this is a brilliant example of fake news. The clause partially quoted above is part of a list of inappropriate causes. Have a look at what Tom deliberately cut out and replaced with some dots:

8. campaigns we deem, at our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases;

In other words it’s entirely at the website’s discretion and they are concerned with not getting involved in criminal cases, which this isn’t.

Selective editing, Tom? For shame, Tom Decent, for shame.

Bill’s Opinion

It doesn’t matter which side of the debate you support, there’s no excuse for deliberate selective editing to fraudulently bolster your side.

Also, whipping up a non-story about terms and conditions applicable to every campaign for donations as if they were unique to Folau is a clear form of journalistic fraud.

It must be quite a life burden to have a surname such as “Decent” to live up to.

Offence trolling

The evil and cruel Israel Folau has been up to his old tricks of being mean to people again, like the awful Christian he is:

“Attack”.

Where and when was this “attack“?

Israel Folau has launched another attack on gay people and also criticised young people being allowed to change gender during a sermon at his Sydney church.

Right, so if you didn’t go to his church on that particular Sunday for that particular service, you wouldn’t have heard this recent “attack” then?

It’s so good of the media to give this egregious behaviour the wider publicity it deserves and otherwise wouldn’t have received. I’m sure gay and transgender people are extremely grateful for being offered this service.

What did the hateful Folau preach to his sheep this time?

The former rugby union star described homosexuality as a sin and claimed the devil was behind primary school children being allowed to decide if they wanted to change gender.

Ok, so in line with the teachings of Christianity, Islam and Judaism then, or, in other words, what about two thirds of the world’s population believes?

Not exactly flat earth dogma, is it?

The statements that homosexuality is a sin and the devil is behind primary school age children “transitioning” genders are presented as being equivalent in their logic and level of outrage.

Perhaps we might not agree Lucifer’s hand is to be found behind “Mermaids“, but it doesn’t mean encouraging the proliferation of transgender children is biologically or morally correct either.

Here’s a fun thought experiment;

You’ve got tickets to see the last ever Rolling Stones’ concert and your babysitter just cancelled. It’s too late to ask any friends or family but both sets of neighbours have said they would help out. Do you ask the Folaus or the Salkilds?

By the way, a quick stalk through Emma’s social media suggests she’s pulled back a little on the “my son is a girl” bullshit and, in fact seems to have completely ceased from boasting mentioning it. Almost as if, I dunno, it was a phase she projected on the poor fucker. One assumes the lad and his dad are somewhat relieved no genitals were mutilated in the meanwhile.

Bills Opinion

It’s obvious that Israel Folau has been found guilty of wrongthink and, from now on, will be subject to this type of offence trolling.

Literally nobody would have known about the content of his sermon last weekend if the media hadn’t sought it out and presented it to the world. I’ve not been to Folau’s church but I suspect it doesn’t meet in a football stadium.

If a gay or transgender person is feeling any negative emotions today as a result of reading the reporting of his sermon, who is to blame?

Folau is being consistent to his beliefs. These beliefs are shared by billions of other people. If you agree he should be hounded out of his employment and to continue to be subject to scrutiny over the details of his religion, perhaps you should also consider where this leads and who the spotlight shines on next.

(We tried to contact Peter Fitzsimons for comment but he was unavailable)

Giving no quarter

This is a curious little report.

The United States has rejected more than 300 refugees under the Australia-US refugee deal, leaving the men in Australia’s offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

That’s fair enough; I suppose, their borders, their border entry requirements.

What sort of percentage of these previously slam dunk new American residents were rejected?

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the target of resettling 1250 refugees was not going to be met, hampering the Coalition’s goal of closing down the detention centres.

Crikey, that’s nearly a 25% rejection rate.

“I don’t think we’ll get there,” he said. “There’s been over 300 that have been rejected by the United States for various reasons. They will make decisions about who they will bring under their migration program.”

Various reasons“.

Any chance we, the taxpayer who funds these rejected applicants, could learn what those reasons might be?

Mr Dutton said there were 95 people who have either withdrawn from consideration or rejected an offer, 295 who were in the pipeline for approval and 531 who had been re-settled.

Withdrawn or rejected an offer of resettlement to the USA…. after an expensive and perilous journey across 2 continents and half an ocean followed by several years on an island in the middle of nowhere?

Is anyone else wondering why? A quick scan of the rest of the article would suggest that nobody else is interested in the details.

This is interesting though:

Under the deal, Australia would reportedly accept dozens of Central American refugees in exchange for those in the Australian offshore detention centres, but Mr Dutton said only two Rwandans accused of mass murder by the US had been re-settled in Australia. 

The pair were taken to the US more than a decade ago and charged with murdering eight people in a brutal 1999 machete attack in Uganda.

Wait, what?

“We don’t have plans to bring any others from America at this stage,” Mr Dutton told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

Oh, that’s ok then. Just the two accused of genocide then. Could someone please let me know what postcode they were relocated to?

He said the historical perspective and circumstances of the allegations needed to be taken into account as well as what has happened in the intervening period.

What does that even mean, do we think?

Because Australia doesn’t have many Tutsi these two accused murderers are not so likely to repeat their actions?

Or, over time, a mass murder event becomes less serious?

If you’re confused by Dutton’s statement, you’re not alone.

“That’s a different situation from someone who just sexually assaulted a girl on Manus in the last 12 months,” he said.”We aren’t bringing in people posing a risk.”

Excuse me if I’m unconvinced by that word salad.

In fact, I’m sure I read something similar from the Argentinian authorities in 1960 after Albert Eichman was captured.

Mr Dutton said the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and international partners would continue to vet asylum seekers and Australians returning from war-zones in Syria.

“They’re complex cases. We’ll look at them compassionately but realistically,” he said.

Right, but back to the arrangement with the USA; it would seem something came up in their vetting that didn’t in ours. Comparatively quickly too, given that these asylum seekers were on Nauru and Manus, under Australian Federal care for 4 or 5 years.

There’s more from Mr. Dutton:

“If we’re bringing teenagers back, for example, who may have been listening to the propaganda rhetoric, having watched horrific circumstances, bodies being mutilated, over a long period of time, what threat those individuals may pose to our country if they’re returned”

What, as opposed to two people accused of doing the killing?

Anyway, these two potential mass murderers aside, what about the nearly 25% rejected applicants? Why might the USA quickly deem them to be not the type of person to be admitted to their country?

Here’s another data point you might not be aware of or have forgotten, certainly the news report seems to have omitted it; the deal wasn’t contingent on the applicants being genuine asylum seekers under the UN definition, they only had to pass a basic safety vetting.

Bill’s Opinion

Why might someone sitting for years on Nauru or Manus withdraw from a chance to be relocated in America?

The Guardian suggests it’s because America is horrid to Muslims, because that’s what several of the asylum seekers told them. More horrid than half a decade on an isolated Pacific Island?

We seem to be missing quite a lot of relevant information here.

Why would the USA be able to determine someone isn’t suitable to be relocated in their country when Australia has been happy to keep that person housed, fed and Xbox’d to their heart’s content for years?

Again, we seem to be missing quite a lot of relevant information.

Incentives matter. The urgency to investigate and adjudicate on an asylum seeker’s case when they are living outside of the country to which they are applying is not as great as when they are potentially about to arrive on your shores.

As for withdrawing an apparently slam dunk application to America because of “Islamophobia“? Our razor suggests that’s unlikely to be the real reason; an explanation requiring fewer assumptions to be correct is that there is something in one’s past that, if or perhaps when discovered by the American authorities, would require you to answer a bunch of difficult questions.

We couldn’t car less

Uber will be launching a flying car service, with Melbourne, Australia, chosen as the first trial location.

Wow! We really are living in the age of the Jetsons.

Imagine the convenience of being able to step out of one’s office, hail a taxi and then sit back in luxury as its electric-powered motors glide you up noiselessly and smoothly up in the air to your destination anywhere in the city under the control of the auto pilot.

Ok, you won’t be able to hail it from your office, you’ll have to got to a designated helipad.

Ok, you can’t go exactly anywhere, it’ll just be to the main airport and back.

Ok, it won’t be powered by electric batteries but aviation fuel.

And they’ll be an expensively-trained and qualified pilot at the controls.

But it definitely flies!

All right, as you were people: Uber has bought a helicopter and are entering the executive city to airport transfer market. We haven’t just stepped in to an episode of Buck Rogers after all.

What is it about using the word “car” as a suffix that makes us suspend our normal analytical skills?

Other examples include electric cars, i.e. coal-fired cars, unless the national grid has gone 100% renewable, and self-driving cars, which have about as much chance of being approved today in most jurisdictions as single malt whisky would be if alcohol was a new drug and needed to apply for a licence

Yet here we are, with gushing news articles telling us about the revolutionary future we are entering because, I dunno, boats amphibious cars have just been invented or some such drivel.

Bill’s Opinion

The only revolution that will make any tangible dent in the current economics of public or private transport is the realisation of the autonomous vehicle dream.

Every other potential change involves the same quantum of input costs as the current version. Flying “cars” that still need a qualified pilot are going to be affordable to exactly the same people who currently use helicopters.

A car that uses battery power still requires the same amount of energy to overcome friction. Unless we’ve found a new source of energy, electric vehicles are simply an incremental change. And whatever we do, let’s not mention nuclear energy, by the way…. Green narratives need to be respected after all.

Autonomous vehicles, on the other hand, would remove the requirement for an expensive, error prone, wet computer in the driving seat.

Ironically, that’s the change we’re furthest from experiencing.