How kangaroos stay cool


This video says about itself:

Amazing Kangaroo Technique To Stay Cool – Planet Earth – BBC Earth

2 April 2017

Australia is the world’s most arid continent, and its blistering daytime heat can be a potential killer. Using thermal imaging, we are given a fascinating glimpse into how the Red Kangaroos cool their body temperatures and avoid the deadly effects of the mid day sun.

Australians, Floridians against Trump’s war on Syria


This video says about itself:

Thousands protest Trump as “sister marches” begin in Australia

21 January 2017

Thousands of protesters in Australia take part in one of the hundreds of womens’ marches planned around the world in a show of disapproval of U.S. President Donald Trump as he began his first day in office.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Australian workers and youth speak out against US strike on Syria

By our reporters

10 April 2017

Workers, students and young people across Australia have reacted to the US bombing of a Syrian air base last Thursday with a combination of shock and intense opposition. Speaking to the WSWS, many noted the bloody record of US and Australian interventions in the Middle East over the past 15 years. Some expressed concerns that the direct targeting of a base at which Russian troops were present marked a dangerous turn towards a broader military conflagration.

The sentiments of ordinary people stand in sharp contrast to the response of the Australian political and media establishment. Liberal-National Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor Party leader Bill Shorten hailed the illegal act of aggression by the US.

The media, including its nominally “liberal” wing, has universally lined-up behind the fraudulent pretext for the US bombing—that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons last week—and has suppressed all information indicating that it was the US-backed Islamist opposition that had the most to gain from the alleged nerve gas attack.

WSWS reporters spoke to workers, students and young people over the weekend.

Amanda, a middle-aged healthcare worker from Newcastle, a regional centre in New South Wales, said: “The CIA is behind the bombings in Syria and probably the gas attack as well. They have their fingers in all pies. That is how they operate around the world. If they don’t like a government, they will change it.”

Amanda questioned the official pretext for the bombing. “I really doubt it was Assad [the Syrian president] who conducted the gas attack,” she said. “It is illogical. Why would Assad do that now, when he is regaining control over Syria? It doesn’t make sense.

“America has attacked every government in the Middle East that had gained some degree of independence. Iraq, Syria and Libya were some of the most civilized countries in the Middle East and all had secular governments. When they [the US] invaded Iraq in 2003, no one provided any proof about weapons of mass destruction.”

Asked about the dangers of a broader conflict, Amanda commented: “There is real likelihood for a major war here. Russia has never attacked the US and they have no overseas bases except in Syria. But the US has over 200 bases in every corner of the world. I imagine if Hillary Clinton had been elected US president she would have gone to war just a couple of days after the election.”

In the Latrobe Valley, in south-east Victoria, WSWS reporters spoke with residents about the relationship between the drive to war abroad and the assault on the social conditions of the working class. The region faces a deep social crisis, after decades of job cuts in the power sector, which will be exacerbated by the closure of the Hazelwood power plant last month and the destruction of 750 jobs.

Misty

Misty, a 22-year-old casual worker, said: “I think that war has gotten to the point where it’s not about protecting people. It’s about a selfish government.

“I wanted to go and fight in a war when I was young. I did 28 days of training. It’s only in the last two years I decided not to. I realised people are not fighting for freedom, but for money. I don’t think it’s right for some of us to suffer just for someone else to put money in their pocket.

“In Iraq, in 2003, there were no weapons of mass destruction. They said there were. It was a lie. I think this one in Syria is the same. There’s another reason they want to go to war in the Middle East. There’s a lot of money to gain from controlling the oil.”

Misty continued: “The government here spends all the money on war and things that aren’t necessary. They could be funding homes for people who are homeless. There isn’t enough done for the people who need it. I don’t see people as Muslim or Iraqi. We’re just people. We all have to work, we all have to survive.”

Jordan

Jordan, a 24-year-old demolition worker, said: “I think this whole thing in Syria is caused by the US. It’s just like Iraq. In 2003, it was all over oil. Saddam Hussein was a bad man but it wasn’t a reason to take over a country.”

Asked about the billions spent by the Australian government on war, Jordan said: “I believe money is spent in the wrong way. There’s nothing much out here. I came here to live with my girlfriend’s family. There are a lot of drug problems and there are no jobs. I find whatever work I can. I get work three out of seven days. It’s not enough to get by.”

Yvonne

Yvonne, a retiree, pointed to the illegality of the bombing. “The question in my mind now is, did Trump order the bombing?” she asked. “Trump has the formal title of president but he is not the government. I don’t know whether according to the US constitution he can make unilateral decisions and have them executed.”

Yvonne denounced the media, for uncritically peddling the claims of the major imperialist powers. “I know what the media is saying is tailored. It’s tailored by what is not said,” she commented.

Yvonne pointed to the persecution of refugees, many of whom are fleeing the Syrian conflict, by successive Labor and Liberal-National governments. “I just can’t bear to watch the television,” she said.

“I’m the daughter of refugees and I hate the appalling policies that our government carries out against asylum-seekers in the name of ‘border protection.’ They don’t listen to us. They’re Janus-faced. There’s the public face on the television with all the trimmings. And then there’s the reality which we never get to see.”

Anuj

Anuj, a 30-year-old IT worker originally from India but now living in Sydney, said: “I’m against the bombing, any bombing. It’s not something that should ever happen. I think Trump is someone who doesn’t really understand why he does a lot of things. He’s doing it to show he has power.

“The media is supporting what he’s done because he is president of the most powerful country in the world. The US has attacked the Middle East a lot, like they did in Vietnam. They have a history of meddling in other country’s affairs.”

Stuart, a transport worker in Sydney, said that US bombing was “disgraceful.” “There are so many machinations in this that you wouldn’t know what’s going on,” he said. “Western governments have created a lot of this mess. The whole region was split up by Britain at the end of World War I which started a lot of the mess.”

Stuart pointed to the anti-democratic character of US-led wars: “There is never any attempt to ask the people. It’s just the leaders that make the decisions and the ordinary people have to do all the dirty work for them. They are the ones sent to war and dying. The generals sit back in their ivory towers and once it’s all over, they move on to the next disaster and leave all the carnage behind them.”

Stuart said that there was a deepening social crisis in the US and Australia. “The US worker has been in decline for a long time,” he commented. “The steel industry has been decimated, they all lost their jobs and look at it now. It’s even creeping up to the high-paid and skilled workers, like the pilots in America. It’s hitting Australia as well and other Western countries. What do you do? You vote for Trump as a protest vote and you end up with a bigger disaster.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

9 April 2017

The Jacksonville Progressive Coalition protest Syrian strikes by Trump. JSO [Jacksonville Sheriff’s Offic] made errors and allowed provacateurs to create violence. JSO then arrested and brutalized anti-war protesters. The next day a protest was held at the county courthouse to bring attention to the arrest and brutalization and to show support for hospitalized and jailed protesters.

By Matthew Taylor in the USA:

Florida anti-war protesters attacked, arrested in police provocation

10 April 2017

Five protestors taking part in a demonstration against the Trump administration’s illegal bombing of Syria were arrested in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday afternoon and charged with multiple felonies, including inciting a riot. Video of the arrests and eyewitness testimony clearly show that the incident was provoked by the police in concert with a well-known right-wing provocateur.

The police assault was initiated when Gary Snow, a right-wing activist well-known for his frequent provocations, attempted to disrupt the protest by mounting the area used as a stage for the speakers with his own megaphone to shout pro-Trump slogans. Snow was allowed to do this by the police, who had at least a half a dozen officers surrounding the immediate area.

When one speaker, Connell Crooms, confronted Snow offstage with a sheriff’s deputy standing between them, he was shoved by Snow. Jacksonville police then began their assault on Crooms.

The video shows at least four officers pile on Crooms, who is deaf, violently dragging him to the ground. As Crooms was pinned to the ground by three officers, one of them repeatedly punches the incapacitated man in the ribs as the others hold him down. Snow can be seen standing unmolested over the dogpile of police officers as they viciously beat Crooms.

Crooms, who frequently participates in anti-war and anti-police violence protests in Jacksonville, was hospitalized for his injuries. Witnesses told the Folio Weekly that police could be seen dragging the limp body of Crooms into a nearby ambulance. Police absurdly charged him with two felonies: inciting a riot and resisting an officer with violence.

As the outraged crowd gathered closer and shouted at police to stop their assault, the sheriff’s deputies turned on the crowd and responded with brutal force. Toma Beckham, another local activist, was slammed to the ground and arrested. When another nearby activist, Christina Kittle, came to their aid she too was assaulted. The video shows a large sheriff’s deputy slamming the woman face down onto the ground and violently twisting her arm behind her back into a joint lock before arresting her.

Kittle was charged with two felonies: battery on a law enforcement officer and riot/incite or encourage. Beckham was charged with a felony count of resisting an officer with violence and a misdemeanor count of affray (fighting).

William Wilder, a 74-year-old man, was beaten by another large deputy as he attempted to prevent him from assaulting another protestor. In a Facebook post from the Jacksonville sheriff’s office, the police admit punching the elderly man in the face “several times to obtain compliance,” after Wilder allegedly knocked the radio off of the deputies shoulder. Wilder was charged with two felony counts: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and depriving an officer with means of communication.

David Schneider, a local activist, was charged with a felony count of inciting a riot. Schneider was on the outskirts of the protest when police launched their assault on demonstrators.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) Facebook post that attempts to whitewash the arrests justifies Schneider’s arrest thus: “During the protest suspect David Schneider was identified to be the primary organizer of the protest. He was observed organizing and rehearsing chants with the crowd that they later repeated on his command during the time he addressed the crowd with an electronic megaphone. Mr. Schneider was also the main person observed engaging and coordinating with most of the [protester]s. The decision was made to detain the organizer of the protest. Suspect Schneider observed police looking at him and began to cross the street and leave. Police yelled multiple times to stop and he did not comply. An officer ran after him and grabbed his arm and told him he was being detained. Suspect Schneider was arrested for Inciting a Riot (felony).”

The JSO indicts themselves with their own words. They arrested Schneider for organizing the protest, exercising his constitutionally protected rights of free speech. Nothing in the preceding protest, which consisted of peaceful chanting and speeches, could be rationally seen as inciting a riot.

It is clear, however, that the JSO allowed a friendly provocateur to start a fight which they then used as a justification to assault the activists.

The fact that Schneider was targeted despite the fact that he was not in the immediate vicinity of the police assault suggests the arrests were planned in advance and the [protester]s were illegally targeted for their politics. Kittle, Beckham, Crooms, Wilder, and Schneider are all well-known activists who frequently participate in local anti-war and police violence protests.

A recent article in the Florida Times-Union exposed the JSO’S routine surveillance of demonstrations. Going back to at least 2015 the Times-Union established that sheriff’s office had a contract with the social media monitoring service Geofeedia. They used the service to notify them of any planned protests, particularly against police violence. The article also reveals that the JSO would film demonstrations, zooming in on the faces of speakers so as to better identify them. The article states that the JSO has access to facial recognition software, suggesting that they used the software to identify and target protest organizers.

On Saturday family members and friends who attempted to visit those arrested were turned away from the Duval County jail. Some had traveled from out of state to visit their imprisoned family members. Rather conveniently, the jail had been placed in lockdown and visitation canceled.

The provocateur, Snow, is also a frequent presence at local protests. He is known for provoking and intimidating protestors in his attempts to disrupt peaceful demonstrations and promote his right-wing ideology. At a rally at the Jacksonville courthouse Sunday in support of the imprisoned [activist]s, speakers called for his arrest, and several noted that at previous demonstrations the police had separated the counter-demonstrators from the main protest. The fact that they failed to do this at Friday’s protest indicates probable collusion between the police and Snow.

Further evidence of this can be seen in video from the incident. As the police scatter the terrified crowd, Snow can be seen sitting on the hood of a nearby police cruiser, calmly talking with officers.

The arrests in Jacksonville must be taken as a stern warning to the working class. Police collaboration with fascistic elements like Snow in assaults on workers is a frequent tactic of authoritarian dictatorships. As opposition to war and inequality grows, the state will increasingly rely on such methods.

White House threatens more strikes on Syria: here.

Following the declaration of support by the German government for the US attack on Syria on Friday, Germany’s media launched a campaign at the weekend for a massive expansion of aggression against the country: here.

TRUMP ON TRACK TO OUTSPEND OBAMA’S ENTIRE TRAVEL BUDGET IN ONE YEAR “President Donald Trump has spent 21 days of his 80-day presidency at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, at an estimated cost of $21.6 million in travel and security expenses, CNN reported. In contrast, Obama spent a total of just under $97 million during his entire presidency.” [HuffPost]

Australia’s wildlife beauty spots


This video says about itself:

Australia’s Key Biodiversity Areas: Discover Nature’s Hotspots

20 March 2017

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are nature’s hotspots. They are the most important places left for life on earth. Australia’s KBAs are the irreplaceable homes of birds and other wildlife that make our country unique – they are places we love. And many are closer than you might think.

Despite their global significance, many KBAs don’t receive the protection they deserve. As a result, the health of these special places is in decline. But we can turn this around. BirdLife Australia is working with local communities to improve recognition of the value of these places, and finding solutions to the threats they face. Everyone can play a role in safeguarding the future of Australia’s nature hotspots – will you join us?

Thanks to the BirdLife staff and volunteers who generously donated footage for this video: Dan Weller, Andrew Silcocks, Dean Ingwersen, Glenn Ehmke, Wes Cooper, Matt Herring and Reuben Warren.

See also here.

Australian Great Barrier Reef coral problems


This March 2017 WWF video is about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It has coral bleaching problems.

Trumps breaks refugee promise to Australia


This satiric video from Australia says about itself:

America First, Australia Second/ Australia Welcomes Trump In His Own Words (Official)

6 February 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Australia: Trump stalling on implementation of refugee deal

Tuesday 28th February 2017

AUSTRALIAN senators heard yesterday that Washington has yet to send security officers to vet refugees held on Pacific islands for resettlement.

US President Donald Trump has reluctantly agreed to honour a pledge by predecessor Barack Obama to accept up to 1,250 refugees refused entry to Australia.

But he said they would be subject to “extreme vetting” before being granted asylum in the US.

Australia pays Nauru and Papua New Guinea to hold more than 2,000 refugees, mostly from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, in foul conditions condemned by human rights campaigners.

Immigration and Border Protection Department secretary Mike Pezzullo told a senate committee that US Department of Homeland Security officers were set to start vetting refugees on the islands as soon as they were authorised to do so by the White House.

Mr Pezzullo told the legal and constitutional affairs committee he was confident there would be “movement within the next few, several months.”

“The present administration’s made it clear they are currently looking at their vetting thresholds,” he said.

Committee member Senator Nick McKim, who described Mr Trump as “insane,” questioned how Mr Pezzulo could have confidence in that time frame, given that the White House was “in absolute disarray.”

Mr Pezzullo replied that he was relying on advice from US Homeland Security and State Department officials.

State Department officials have already conducted preliminary interviews on the islands to ensure that candidates for resettlement were genuine refugees, he said.

Mr Trump has described the deal with Australia as “dumb” and raised doubts about whether it will proceed.

Extraordinary conflicts have erupted within Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition government, underscoring a profound political crisis that is engulfing not just the government but the entire parliamentary establishment: here.

Australian government emulating Trump


This TV video from the USA says about itself:

Alec Baldwin mocks Trump and his Australia phone call on tonight’s episode

On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin returned to portray President Donald J. Trump in a blistering cold open, skewering all the top stories that plagued the administration this week.

Including Trump’s advisor Stephen Bannon as the Grim Reaper.

Though Trump bullied Australian Prime Minister Turnbull in that phone call, that does not seem to stop the Turnbull administration from emulating Trump.

By Anna Pha in Australia:

‘Fortress Australia’- Government seeks Trump-like powers against immigrants

Thursday 23rd February 2017

CLAIMS by Australian media outlets last week that the country’s immigration and border protection minister Peter Dutton is seeking “Trump-like” powers to target visa-holders are not far-fetched.

Amendments to the Migration Act that gained support in the House of Representatives on February 9 and US President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries have strong similarities.

There are differences in form though, with Trump attempting to directly use his presidential powers and Dutton seeking to gain similar powers through thinly disguised parliamentary legislation.

If passed, the Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016 would give Dutton and future ministers unchecked discretionary powers to subject any group based on race, nationality or other trait holding a visa — regardless of whether the visa is permanent or temporary — to a revalidation test and possible cancellation of their visa.

Trump’s attempts to ban Muslims from the countries on his hit list have little to do with countering terrorism.

For example, the list does not include Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, which has played a major role in training and funding terrorists.

This is not surprising as Saudi Arabia is also one of the largest importers of armaments from the US and Trump is reported to be set to approve large orders from the Saudi regime that had been blocked by former president Barack Obama.

Trump’s attempted bans have much more to do with the reactionary politics of anti-Islam, xenophobia and authoritarian and demagogic politics of the far-right.

The amendments to the Act share the same politics as Trump’s ban.

They were supported by the Australian Labour Party on the senate legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee. The Australian Greens issued a dissenting report opposing the Bill. Labour did, however, vote against the Bill and it is now before the Senate.

The Bill seeks to introduce a system of online visa revalidation. Visa holders would be required to update information and answer other questions as and when determined by the minister. Failure to meet requirements set by the minister would result in loss of their visa.

The claimed objective of the new visa provisions is a new, 10-year, “longer validity” visitor visa to be used by business people and tourists.

This visitor visa is explained as necessary to compete with other countries offering longer visas to tourists. It would allow multiple visits with a limit of three months each time.

The Bill provides for a trial of the 10-year visa for Chinese nationals only. The concept was raised as a means of making it easier for business people and tourists from the People’s Republic of China to come and go at short notice.

It is suggested that nationals of other countries would progressively be allowed to apply for the 10-year visa.

Dutton argues that over a period it would be necessary to require visa holders to routinely update the information they have previously provided to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Hence the need for the changes. According to the memorandum of understanding accompanying the Bill, visa revalidation “is designed to manage the risks to the Australian community that may arise in the context of longer validity visitor visas, including a person’s individual circumstances changing over time, or in the event of a serious incident occurring overseas which may create a situation where it is in the public interest to reassess a visa holder’s individual circumstances in light of such an event. The amendments will allow the government to ensure that visa holders continue to meet the health, character, security and other requirements for entry to Australia.”

As well as providing for a routine revalidation system, the Bill also gives the minister the power to personally decide that an individual or class of individuals must have their visas revalidated.

The minister could exercise his or her powers on the basis of which country they are from, their ethnicity, religion, etc. This is referred to as “public interest” revalidation.

The minister’s powers apply to all visa holders, not just to those on a 10-year visa, even though the argument for their necessity was based on monitoring changes over 10 years.

The “public interest revalidation check [is] to manage specific, serious, or time-critical risks in relation to an identified cohort of visa holders,” Dutton said in his second reading speech.

“In such circumstances, issuing a personal ministerial revalidation requirement will immediately prevent specified visa holders from being able to travel to and enter Australia until they successfully revalidate their visa,” Dutton said.

The wording of the Bill leaves it wide open as to what groups could lose their visas and be denied visas in the future.

Already there is legislation on the books that restricts areas Australian visa holders can visit without good reason such as visiting their family.

The revalidation check will require the visa holder to provide information via their secure online account that will allow the minister to assess whether the visa holder passes the revalidation check.

For example, it could result in the loss of visa and denial of entry for people who live in or have travelled through a specific country or a particular area of a country; have travelled through a particular area; have contact with people in a designated region or country; are of a specific nationality or even are the children of immigrants from certain countries.

It could also be applied to specific religious beliefs or races.

It contains the potential for loss or denial of visa retrospectively if the offending behaviour occurred prior to it being considered a security risk or what the minister considers undesirable.

This raises the question of why the government would make provisions for the banning of “cohorts” of people, maybe even nationals from a whole country, along similar lines to Trump, unless the intent is to use them.

Trump makes no pretence about his agenda of banning Muslims or nationals from those seven countries that are on the US’s hit list.

Dutton is not so honest about his intentions. A visa holder will pass a revalidation check if there is “no adverse information” relating to the person, or if there is, that it is reasonable to disregard that information.

“No adverse information” is not defined in the legislation. It is left to the minister to determine what is adverse information.

The minister can delegate power to deny and cancel visas. The minister also has complete discretionary power to determine who is required to undergo revalidation.

While the process is under way, their visas cease to be in effect, denying entry until they pass revalidation.

If someone is in Australia at the time, they would not become unlawful non-citizens at the time, but if “adverse information” is found, then they would have to leave Australia.

The Bill also provides for new classes of visas making it far more difficult to gain citizenship.

Recently leaked documents reveal plans for new types of visas, a longer and more difficult process to gain permanent visas and citizenship and delays in gaining access to social security.

The current government is getting away with these laws after years of successive governments demonising asylum-seekers, then Muslims, and increasingly giving prominence to and normalising the politics of the far-right.

The Murdoch-owned Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, recently launched a campaign to collectively demonise Muslim immigrants, refugees and welfare recipients. It led with a front-page article claiming that “Middle Eastern migrants are piling up the dole queue”: here.

Donald Trump, Australia and New Zealand


This TV video from the USA says about itself:

Alec Baldwin mocks Trump and his Australia phone call on tonight’s episode

On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin returned to portray President Donald J. Trump in a blistering cold open, skewering all the top stories that plagued the administration this week.

Including Trump’s advisor Stephen Bannon as the Grim Reaper.

By James Cogan in Australia:

Pro-Trump Australian senator splits from Coalition government

7 February 2017

After months of speculation, right-wing and pro-Trump Senator Cory Bernardi formally split from the governing Liberal Party today and announced his intention to form a new party, the Australian Conservatives. At this stage, no member of the parliament’s lower house, from either the Liberal Party or its coalition partner, the National Party, has joined him. The Coalition and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, therefore, still cling to power with a fragile one-seat majority.

Bernardi, 47, has represented the socially conservative Christian right of the Liberal Party since he first entered parliament in 2007. The main issues with which he has associated himself are climate change skepticism, draconian immigration policies, anti-Muslim xenophobia, anti-abortion campaigns, opposition to same sex marriage and calls for the repudiation of anti-discrimination legislation. He was a supporter of former prime minister Tony Abbott, who won the 2013 election against the Labor Party, and an opponent of Turnbull, who became prime minister through an inner-party coup against Abbott in September 2015.

A senator from the state of South Australia, Bernardi was seconded to Australia’s United Nations delegation last year, spending three months in the US during the final stages of the presidential election campaign. He paid considerable attention to Donald Trump’s campaign, particularly the latter’s populist

How many times do I have to repeat that ‘populist’ is the wrong word for politicians like Trump?

appeals to immense political alienation and discontent among some of the most desperate and impoverished sections of the American population and his channeling of such sentiments behind America First nationalism, anti-immigrant xenophobia and right-wing economic populism.

Bernardi returned home vowing to develop a Trump-style movement in Australia. On November 23, he wrote: “[P]olitics in Australia needs to change. My time in the USA has made me realise I have to be a part of that change, perhaps even in some way a catalyst for it.”

Bernardi is acutely conscious of the instability that surrounds the Turnbull government. He has split just days after the now notorious phone call between Turnbull and Trump, when they clashed over Turnbull’s insistence that the new US administration honour a sordid refugee deal that had been earlier made with the Obama administration. In recent days, Turnbull has denied US reports that he agreed to certain quid pro quos with Trump to ensure the deal remained. The alleged “reciprocal” agreements ranged from sending more troops to Iraq to sending Australian warships into Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

Points of difference had already flared after Trump repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership following his January 20 inauguration. Turnbull briefly suggested that the trade pact could continue without US involvement and raised, in meetings with Japanese prime minister Abe, the prospect of including China in a revised TPP—an action that would certainly have been viewed with hostility in Washington.

There is no question that the rifts between Turnbull and Trump have heightened tensions within Turnbull’s government. In June 2010, under conditions of a rift between then prime minister Kevin Rudd and the Obama administration, pro-US factions within the Labor Party orchestrated an inner party coup to oust Rudd and install Julia Gillard.

According to Fairfax media, Bernardi reportedly told Turnbull this morning that a leadership challenge was being plotted against him and that “I want no part of it.”

Given the extent of the factional divisions both within and between the Liberal and National parties, the outcome of any leadership spill would be highly unpredictable and could result in a split of some sorts and the fall of the Coalition government.

Bernardi’s statements today serve to underscore his major concern: to prepare for the collapse of the Coalition and Labor Party-dominated two party system that has prevailed in Australia since World War II.

In his resignation statement to the Senate, he declared: “[T]he body politic is failing the people of Australia and it’s clear we need to find a better way. The level of public disenchantment with the major parties, lack of confidence in our political process and concern about the direction of our nation is very strong. This is a direct product of the political class being out of touch with the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people.”

So-called third parties are now attracting an unprecedented 30 percent of the national vote. While Labor’s former working class base has abandoned the party in droves, right-wing populist formations such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Nick Xenophon’s party and Jacqui Lambie’s party have cut deeply into the traditional voter base of both Liberal and National.

Bernardi has pointed to the fact that more than one million conservative voters have shifted from the Coalition to other right-wing formations. Comments he made last year, however, revealed that he is even more concerned over the prospect of mass anger and alienation taking the form of a left-wing, anti-capitalist movement within the working class and among young people. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald last December, Bernardi noted that if the Democrats had stood Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, Sanders would have beaten Trump in the election because his anti-capitalist rhetoric appealed to broad layers of the population. The South Australian senator recalled being shown “research that found 50 percent of young Americans believe socialism or communism is a preferable system to capitalism.”

In the period ahead, the danger of war with China will soar as a result of the Trump administration’s agenda, while the deepening economic crisis will intensify pressures on the government to slash taxes and cut public spending.

Bernardi’s objective is to divert the rapidly deepening social disaffection into anti-immigrant demagogy and nationalism, combined with calls for corporate tax cuts, the winding back of social welfare and the slashing of government regulations on business.

According to Bernardi, 60,000 people have indicated “interest” on his “Australian Conservatives” web site. He has also developed relations with significant corporate figures, and is closely associated with Western Australian multi-billionaire Gina Rinehart, who has amassed a staggering fortune on the back of iron ore exports to China. Rinehart has heaped praise on Donald Trump, and called for Australian governments to replicate his pledges of massive corporate tax cuts and of winding back corporate regulation. According to several reports, Bernardi and Rinehart together met with members of Trump’s transition team in December.

Discussions are expected to take place, at some level, during the next several weeks between Bernardi and his backers, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

New Zealand government refuses to condemn Trump’s anti-immigrant bans

7 February 2017

New Zealand prime minister Bill English has repeatedly refused to condemn US President Trump’s ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries—Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan—entering the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the ban in the US and throughout the world, including thousands in New Zealand.

English told Radio NZ that in his first telephone conversation with Trump on Monday he told the president “we don’t agree with the policy, it’s not something we’d put in place.” He described Trump as “warm, civil and very thoughtful”—in an apparent contrast with Trump’s browbeating of Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

While saying he “disagrees” with Trump’s anti-immigrant measures, English has pointedly refused to call the policy “racist.” Asked by a TVNZ newsreader on January 31 if he would denounce Trump’s actions as “horrifying [and] anti-Islamic,” English replied flatly: “In the end [the US] make decisions about their policy.”