Housing is a human right not a commodity

In Melbourne, Australia, one in five investor-owned units lie empty, the report says; in Kensington, London, a prime location for rich investors, numbers of vacant homes rose by 40% between 2013 and 2014 alone. “In such markets the value of housing is no longer based on its social use,” the report says. “The housing is as valuable whether it is vacant or occupied, lived in or devoid of life. Homes sit empty while homeless populations burgeon.” …

Farha, 48, by background a human rights lawyer and anti-poverty activist, calls for a “paradigm shift” whereby housing is “once again seen as a human right rather than a commodity”. It is clear, she suggests, that the UN’s sustainable development goal of ensuring adequate housing for all by 2030 is not only receding, but without regulatory intervention to re-establish the primacy of housing as a social good, laughably optimistic. Continue reading

Australia: dump F-35s or carry on sinking AU$?

I’m going to sell you a plane which can do things you can’t even fully describe. In fact, no one can, because it’s just an untested idea on paper. 14 years later, and you still don’t have a plane, but the price tag has more than doubled. And in fact the cost could keep rising. At the end of the day, you’ll pay whatever I ask.

Finally, this unfinished plane overheats on the tarmac. To cool it down, you have to open some of its doors every ten minutes, even when you’re flying. It’s not faster than other planes, and it doesn’t handle well. Chinese hackers could hack your plane out of the sky. And if you weigh less than 75 kilos and you need to eject, its helmet could actually kill you. Continue reading

Renewables Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in Australia

Renewables Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in Australia,” Environmental News Network, 8 January 2014

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in Australia has discovered that renewable energy is cheaper to produce than the old conventional fossil fuel sources, and that is without the subsidies.
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‘Go home or face arrest’

Jeremy Harding , “‘Go home or face arrest’,” London Review of Books, 1 August 2013

Three years ago in Arizona, Russell Pearce, the leader of the state senate, hit the ‘illegal’ button, and a strange thing happened: authorised migrants and citizens of non-US extraction – often the first to call for stricter immigration targets – changed their position and started muttering about racism. Meanwhile, as the round-ups began, thousands of unauthorised workers left for neighbouring states and the local economy went from steep decline to death row.

Unauthorised arrivals by boat have always been a prickly issue in Australia.

Read the full article here.

Solar Could Help Australia Phase Out Coal Power by 2040

Solar Could Help Australia Phase Out Coal Power by 2040,” Solar Energy News, July 26 2013

Australia could phase out almost all its fossil-fuel sourced electricity by 2040 if it doubled the current rate of take-up of solar energy and wind energy maintained its current growth pace, said Professor Ken Baldwin, director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute. …

Solar energy, currently dominated by photovoltaic cells, is adding about 1 gigawatt of capacity annually, roughly equivalent to the amount added by wind farms. If the pace of solar energy expansion doubled, starting in 2025, it would overtake fossil-fuel fired power plants by 2030 and leave only a couple of gigawatts of coal or gas power by 2040 – down from almost 40 gigawatts now. …
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