Search Results

DEEP SPACE: From the edge of the solar system, Voyager probes are still talking to Australia after 40 years.

STATUS QUO IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA?:

China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, under a new “status quo” brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defense minister said.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a “commercial deal” with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea with an aim to begin drilling within a year.

This deal is bilateral. The U.S., Japan and Australia have floated a “code of conduct” proposal for the region that sounds similar to this agreement. Will Beijing live up to this emerging deal with Manila? Good question.

WAIT, I THOUGHT OBESITY WAS A WORLDWIDE EPIDEMIC. Australian Academics Attack Campaign for More Female Exercise Because of “The Male Gaze.”

SEARCH AND RESCUE IN THE CORAL SEA: This photo was taken August 5, right after a Marine MV-22 Osprey crashed and three Marines went missing. 23 others were rescued. The Australian ship HMAS Melville located the downed MV-22. The Marine Corps has determined the missing Marines are dead: 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19. All of us regret their loss and thank them for their service.

RELATED: The V-22 is an expensive aircraft.

DAMAGING NATIONAL SECURITY, BUT EXPOSING NO ACTUAL SCANDAL: Why is there so little talk about the leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia? “Why are we not seeing more? I noticed some stories claiming the transcripts show Trump is an idiot, but every day I see stories saying Trump is an idiot. And from what I’ve read of the transcripts (not every word), I don’t think they show idiocy, and I think they’re going to take careful reading to understand how Trump was trying to work with the 2 leaders. I suspect that Trump-haters who undertook serious study of the language have decided it’s best not to try, that a close examination of the text will only help Trump, and therefore the transcripts have rapidly become a non-story.”

But one that has meant the President can’t have a reliably secret conversation with other world leaders now. And — though this is less appreciated — that future presidents will have the same problem.

DEEP STATE UPDATE: Even Trump critics say latest leaks go too far.

Even critics of President Trump seem to agree: The leakers have gone too far.

Many in Washington are expressing alarm that the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders were leaked to The Washington Post, warning that the action could undermine the U.S. government and imperil national security.

“This is beyond the pale and will have a chilling effect going forward on the ability of the commander in chief to have candid discussions with his counterparts,” Ned Price, a former National Security Council official under President Barack Obama, told The Hill. . . .

The Post on Thursday printed the entire transcripts of Trump’s private phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Many in the media and on the left have celebrated the torrent of leaks — some involving classified information — that have bedeviled the Trump administration since taking office.

But Thursday’s revelation went too for some Democrats, who warned that the release of the president’s private conversations with foreign leaders is a bridge too far.

“Leaks of sensitive or classified information damages our national security,” Michael McFaul, who served as Russian ambassador under Obama, told The Hill.

That sentiment was echoed by Obama’s former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who took a dig at Trump over Twitter but nonetheless said he’d have been mortified to see such a leak happen to his former boss.

The leakers should be found and tried, and the Post shouldn’t have published the leaks, which served no purpose except politics. Those involved should be subpoenaed for the identity of the leakers, and jailed if they refuse to identify them. Journalists, remember, have no special privilege to refuse a subpoena.

MARK KRIKORIAN: Why Trump Is Right about Immigration.

The RAISE Act would limit family immigration rights to the actual nuclear family: husbands, wives, and little kids of American citizens and legal residents. The current categories for adult siblings, adult sons and daughters, and parents would be retired. U.S. citizens could still bring in their elderly parents in need of caretaking, but only on renewable nonimmigrant visas (no green cards or citizenship) and only after proving that they’ve paid for health insurance up front.

The second major element in this restructuring addresses the employment-based immigration flow. It is now a jumble of categories and subcategories, the main result of which is to provide steady work for immigration lawyers. The Cotton-Perdue bill would rationalize this mess by creating one, streamlined points system, along the lines of similar schemes in Canada and Australia. Points would be awarded to potential candidates based mainly on education, English-language ability and age, and those who meet a certain benchmark would be in the pool for green cards, with the top scorers being selected first.

The bill would also eliminate the egregious Diversity Visa Lottery and cap refugee admissions at fifty thousand per year, rather than allow the president let in as many as he wants, as is the case today.

The level of immigration—now running at over a million a year—would likely drop by 40 percent, and then drop some more over time, as the number of foreign spouses declined. (Most U.S. citizens marrying foreigners are earlier immigrants, so as they age, and fewer new immigrants come in behind them, the demand for spousal immigration is likely to fall.) That would still mean annual permanent immigration of 500,000–600,000 a year, which is more than any other nation.

None of this seems unduly harsh, or really anything less than perfectly sensible — naturally then, anyone supporting the bill is “literally Hitler.”

NO. WAY. Australia Weather Bureau Caught Tampering With Climate Numbers.

Meteorologist Lance Pidgeon watched the 13 degrees Fahrenheit Goulburn recording from July 2 disappear from the bureau’s website. The temperature readings fluctuated briefly and then disappeared from the government’s website.

“The temperature dropped to minus 10 (13 degrees Fahrenheit), stayed there for some time and then it changed to minus 10.4 (14 degrees Fahrenheit) and then it disappeared,” Pidgeon said, adding that he notified scientist Jennifer Marohasy about the problem, who then brought the readings to the attention of the bureau.

The bureau would later restore the original 13 degrees Fahrenheit reading after a brief question and answer session with Marohasy.

“The bureau’s quality ­control system, designed to filter out spurious low or high values was set at minus 10 minimum for Goulburn which is why the record automatically adjusted,” a bureau spokeswoman told reporters Monday. BOM added that there are limits placed on how low temperatures could go in some very cold areas of the country.

Now why would that be?

MORE ISLAMIC TERROR: Australia Foils Plot to ‘Bring Down’ Plane, Prime Minister Says. “Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said officers became aware people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an ‘improvised device.’ Colvin added that the plot was believed to be inspired by Islamic State.”

LIVING WITH A NUCLEAR-ARMED NORTH KOREA?: Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, discussed options with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Asked to clarify whether that meant the world might have to live with a nuclear North Korea that could strike other continents, Admiral Swift said: “It’s not for me to say. It’s part of the dialogue is what I’m acknowledging. When people say, ‘everything is on the table,’ in my mind I think it includes a dialogue with respect to North Korea as a nuclear power. I don’t know if that’s acceptable. I’m not part of those discussions. But I know that’s part of the dialogue because people are reporting on it.”

Asked for his response to the fact that the stated US position is that it cannot tolerate a nuclear North Korea, Admiral Swift said: “I’m not a policy-maker. That may very well be the policy that the United States arrives at. But that now becomes the starting point for the dialogue.”

He said that military intervention was also part of the dialogue.

MORE:

He said that no simple solution was going to emerge and this was going to be a complicated and long-term process.

Here are some other course of action options for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear quest. They aren’t good, they aren’t simple.

DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH: Minnesota cop who fatally shot Australian woman was ‘fast-tracked’ into the force. They claim his training was just as rigorous as anyone’s in spite of this, but given the mayor’s eagerness to tout his presence on the force, I have my doubts.

UPDATE: From the comments:

“This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer.”

So, all your officers are panicky little bitches?

Ouch. But I suspect that if any journalists dig into Noor’s training record and the emails discussing it, they’ll find out that he wasn’t doing so well and there was pressure to push him through anyway.

MODIFIED LIMITED HANGOUT: Mohamed Noor’s attorney: Maybe Justine Damond was on sleeping meds?

As Ed Morrissey writes, “So what if Damond did take Ambien? Its side effects can include some odd behaviors, such as sleepwalking and night eating, but neither of those present a lethal danger to others, especially police who are presumed to be responsible enough to defuse odd situations. The speculation that Damond might have taken some widely used sleep medication created an angry backlash, especially in Damond’s native Australia.”

As well it should. Read the whole thing.

MARK STEYN: DIVERSITY AND DISINTEGRATION:

A law-abiding unarmed woman makes the mistake of calling 911 and, when the responding officers arrive, they shoot her dead. The American media’s reflex instinct is that this is an out-of-control murderous police-brutality story. To be sure, it’s more helpful if the victim is black or Hispanic, but in this case she is female and an immigrant, albeit from Australia. And certainly Down Under the instinct of the press would also be to play this as an example of a country with a crazy gun culture and the bad things that happen when innocent foreigners make the mistake of going there, even to a peaceable, upscale neighborhood. Or in the shorthand of the Sydney Daily Telegraph front page:

AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

In both Oz and the US, the next stage of the story would be cherchez le cop – lots of reports of a redneck officer with a hair-trigger temper and various personal issues.

But there’s a complicating factor. It’s so complicating that The Washington Post finds itself running a 1,200-word story on the death of Justine Damond without a word about the copper who shot her – nothing about his background, record, habits, behavior. Not even his name.

Because his name is Mohamed Noor. As Tucker Carlson pointed out on Fox News the other night, the reason you know the officer’s identity is significant is because the Post went to all that trouble not to mention it.

As IowaHawk says, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.”

UPDATE: Neighbor on Mohammed Noor: “He is extremely nervous … he is a little jumpy … he doesn’t really respect women, the least thing you say to him can set him off.”

Plus: “When they say a policeman shot an Australian lady I thought uh, oh but then when they said who it was I was like, ‘OK.’”

And yet he was promoted to be Minneapolis’s first Somali immigrant cop by a city administration that cared more about his background than his actual qualifications. And note that you have to go to the foreign press to get this kind of reporting.

THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS HAD ISSUES FOR A LONG TIME — THE LATE JOEL ROSENBERG BUTTED HEADS WITH THEM REPEATEDLY — AND NOW THIS: Mohamed Noor: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis police officer who is accused of shooting and killing Justine Damond, an Australian yoga teacher and spiritual healer, was the first Somali-American officer in his precinct.

A year ago, the arrival of Noor on the Minnesota police force was celebrated by the mayor and Somali community he hails from. There is a pending federal complaint against him, though, by a former social worker from Minneapolis who says Noor and other officers violated her constitutional rights in March by ordering her detention at a hospital after she called 911 to report a drug crime and other issues. You can read that complaint below.

Damond was shot in the abdomen and killed while wearing her pajamas and speaking to another police officer, identified as Matthew Harrity, after calling 911 to report a possible assault in an alley behind her home on July 15, reports The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The shooting death has caused outrage in both Australia and Minnesota, where Damond, who also went by the name Justine Ruszczyk, was a beloved teacher of meditation who held betterment workshops and was supposed to be married in August.

My first thought was that this was an accidental discharge, but I’m not sure now.

FASTER, PLEASE: US and Australia finish a key round of hypersonic missile tests. “One step closer to a weapon that can strike anywhere within minutes.”

Both the US and Australia have confirmed that they recently completed a series of mysterious hypersonic missile tests. All the countries will say is that the flights were successful, and that they represented “significant milestones” in testing everything from the design assembly to the control mechanisms. They won’t even say which vehicles were used or how quickly they traveled, although past tests have usually relied on Terrier Orion rockets (above) and have reached speeds as high as Mach 8.

The tests are part of the long-running HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation) program, whose first launch took place way back in 2009. They should help bring hypersonic flight to a “range of applications,” according to HIFiRE partner BAE. That could easily include ultra-fast aircraft, but it’s widely believed the focus here is on missiles and similar unmanned weapons. A hypersonic missile would fulfill the US military’s goal of building a conventional weapon that can strike anywhere within an hour, and it would be virtually impossible to stop using existing missile defenses.

Well, this is the 21st Century, you know.

THEY PLANNED… POORLY: How Energy-Rich Australia Exported Its Way Into an Energy Crisis.

Australia now exports so much liquefied natural gas, or LNG, it may overtake No. 1 exporter Qatar within several years. It exported 62% of its gas production last year, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Yet its policy makers didn’t ensure enough gas would remain at home. As exports increased from new LNG facilities in eastern Australia, some state governments let aging coal plants close and accelerated a push toward renewable energy for environmental concerns. That left the regions more reliant on gas for power, especially when intermittent sources such as wind and solar weren’t sufficient.

Shortages drove domestic gas prices earlier this year in some markets in eastern Australia to as high as $17 per million British thermal units for smaller gas users such as manufacturers. On the spot market, gas prices have gone from below $1 in 2014 to roughly $7 today—well above the roughly $3 that prevails in the U.S.—causing havoc around the country.

In March, Australia’s largest aluminum smelter cut production and laid off workers because it said it couldn’t secure enough cheap energy.

Bad luck.

AUSTRALIA CONSIDERING TRADE SANCTIONS ON CHINA OVER NORTH KOREA?: The Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is clarifying an earlier statement by the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce. Australia doesn’t support sanctions against China but against Chinese companies that violate UN sanctions on North Korea. But the subject has been raised. Beijing will read it as a diplomatic signal.

On July 6 Joyce, commenting on North Korea, said:

“The United States is not going to allow the capacity for a despotic dictator from North Korea to fulfill his rhetoric and develop a nuclear warhead that could hit the US or its allies — for which, we are one.”

Joyce said North Korea is testing the resolve of the U.S. and in his opinion “that’s a very foolish thing to do.”

Well, it’s a foolish thing to do when Donald Trump is president. If Barack Obama were still in charge — perhaps not so foolish.

FLOCK OF OSPREYS: USMC MV-22B Osprey tiltrotors in formation off the coast of Sydney, Australia. You can see the opera house, though it’s obscured in engine exhaust from the Osprey on the left-hand side of the photo. The photo was taken June 29 by a USMC lance corporal.

ENERGY: This Paint May Pick Up Where Solar Panels Leave Off.

A team of researchers in Australia have created an experimental paint that attracts water molecules from the air and chops them up to produce hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel that can be used to generate electricity.

“Our new development has a big range of advantages,” Dr. Torben Daeneke, a research fellow at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology School of Engineering in Melbourne and leader of the team, said in a written statement. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.”

Anyone else reminded of Galt’s generator from Atlas Shrugged?

SPYING: Australia advocates weakening strong crypto at upcoming “Five Eyes” meeting. The real problem isn’t terrorists using strong encryption. It’s intelligence agencies abusing their powers and public trust for political ends. They need to be reined in, sharply.

CANADIAN SNIPER SETS RECORD FOR LONGEST CONFIRMED KILL: He made the shot of in northern Iraq. He hit an ISIS terrorist 3,450 meters away.

RELATED: The Newsweek list of long-range sniper kills the article cites is missing this shot of 2,815 meters by Australian snipers in 2012. Admittedly, two snipers fired and one hit. As the blog says, “That is an impressive feat, but calling it a world record is unfair in my opinion.”

UPDATE: Link fixed.

RELATED: Why snipers rule.

DON’T BE EVIL: Google moves on extremist YouTube content.

I don’t trust Google to properly define “extremist.”

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS: Outrage as Saudi Arabia’s football team SNUBS a minute’s silence for London Bridge terror victims ahead of World Cup qualifier against Australia because ‘it is not in keeping with their culture.’

I predict that their culture, such as it is, won’t be around anymore, soon enough.

ANOTHER KNOWN WOLF: Why was he on parole – and why was he in Australia at all? Violent, ice-addicted Islamic jihadi who trained in Somalia had been jailed for drug-fuelled home invasion and linked to terror groups before killing spree.

It doesn’t mean much to be “known to the authorities” when the authorities are too pathetic to do anything.

I HAD BEEN ASSURED COAL WAS DEAD: Coal market threatened by glut from over production.

Australian coal prices serve as a benchmark for Asia and soared over 130% to nearly $110 a tonne last year creating huge profits for producers. These high prices caused suppliers to ramp up production flooding the market and causing prices to plummet. Despite this, the Indonesian coal industry has several major producers which are still planning major production increases for the latter half of this year.

The main question is whether producers will continue to reinvest profits creating additional production capacity. It is a simple matter to put idle equipment to work or increasing the hours for a workforce. However, if major investments are made in new heavy equipment which is put into service there will have to be a major increase in output to offset the cost. This type of increase is what could drive an already over saturated market into a glut.

Some people think the threat of the market being over saturated is being blown out of proportion. Australian coal prices have fallen but that fall came from record highs where a correction was needed and demand in the area is increasing dramatically as well.

The War on Coal is over — and coal won.

GREGG ALLMAN HAS DIED: Complications from liver cancer killed him. He will be buried in the same cemetery in Macon, Georgia, as his brother, Duane, and Allman Brothers Band bassist, Berry Oakley. Gregg Allman wrote Whipping Post, a song I admire.

I see Glenn posted on this previously, after I read his post about the mysterious Australian SOS and went elsewhere online. Here’s the wikipedia on Whipping Post. Here’s a link to the YouTube of Whipping Post performed at the Fillmore East in 1970.

MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS OF GILLIGAN: SOS Message Has Australian Police Scratching Their Heads.

JAMES MORROW: Not every scandal is a magic bullet, and the hysteria is helping Trump.

The pattern of the Trump-shared-secrets-with-the-Russkies story is predictable.

As is so often the case the Washington Post, which has made itself the unofficial house organ of America’s anti-Trump establishment with its new self-regarding slogan, “Democracy dies in darkness”, kicked things off.

They did this with an article citing “anonymous sources” who claimed that the president — whether in a fit of braggadocio, stupidity, or in partial payment for Moscow’s meddling with the election the Post leaves to the reader to decide — passed on exceedingly sensitive and restricted intelligence to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in a meeting last week.

The information was so top secret, said the Post, that America hadn’t even shared the information with key allies.

All of this conjured images of Trump letting the Russians in on something really big, like exactly when all the generals take smoko at NORAD (“I tell you Vlad, they’re out there every morning at 9:30 like clockwork. And if they’re talking about what happened on Last Resort, they’re not back at their stations for, like, half an hour, easy.”)

And it immediately set commentators abuzz, with everyone who’d just settled down over the firing of FBI Director James Comey once again demanding Trump’s impeachment, this time for grievously damaging national security.

But as so often happens, the extent of what Trump actually told the Russians reality may be a bit more pedestrian.

The information in question is now said to have been about ISIS plots to sneak a bomb on to an airliner in a laptop, a plot device easily imagined by any Hollywood TV writer or paperback spy thriller author.

Indeed, if no other allies knew about the plot, then all credit to British officials who instituted a similar ban in the wake of the US’s move to ban laptops on flights from a number of Muslim-majority countries, as well as to Malcolm Turnbull, who is also said to be looking “very closely” at putting such a policy in place for flights to Australia.

And for what it’s worth, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has denied anything inappropriate was shared with the Russians, though whether the word of a three star general can hold a candle to unnamed sources is an open question.

This is not to defend Trump so much as it is to plead for some sense of reality on the part of his critics, who see in every scandal a magic bullet that might restore the world to the way they think it should be.

Well, I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on — see Stephen’s post below for more — but what is clear is that they hope that if they gin up enough controversy, baseless or not, maybe it’ll give cover to an impeachment or 25 Amendment removal, or something. I don’t think it will happen and if it does — barring something a lot bigger and more uncontrovertible than anything they’ve come up with so far — you will have literal riots in the streets if Trump’s removed, far beyond anything you’ve seen from Democrat constituency groups like Black Lives Matter. Trump supporters have had it with the establishment, and are unlikely to go along quietly with a system they regard as deeply corrupt and devoted to their destruction. To the extent it’s interested in impeachment, the anti-Trump establishment, which likes to present itself as responsible and sensible, is playing with fire here, in a room full of gasoline that the establishment itself has pumped.

Exit question: We know of one clear-cut crime here, the leak to WaPo. Which senior Republican White House official — because who else could it be? — was behind that leak? And will Trump follow Obama’s lead and use the Espionage Act to try to find out and punish the leaker? Because Trump’s practically a dictator, and that’s what a dictator would do, right? Oh, wait . . .

LONG TIME COMING: Earliest Signs of Life on Land Have Been Found in 3.48 Billion-Year-Old Australian Rocks.

AMERICA’S AIRLIFT AND SEA LIFT DEFICIT: It exists, unfortunately. This article does a good job of sketching the problem.

Here it is, succinctly:

TRANSCOM doesn’t have enough ships, airborne tankers or cargo aircraft to get a large number of troops to a battlefield and sustain them.

Last week I was at a conference where I linked up with an old friend who is a retired Australian Army reserve officer. He remains active in Australia’s military and foreign policy community. After the conference ended we went to one of my favorite Texas cafes. We discussed North Korea and Asian security then got to talking about C-17s — what fabulous planes they are and how we don’t have enough of them. Australia bought two of the last big batch Boeing manufactured. It has eight in service. My friend said he knows Australia and the U.S. both need more C-17s. For that matter, so do Canada, Great Britain and NATO. (If our list sounds parochial, remember the conversation was between an Australian and an American. FWIW, NATO’s Heavy Airlift Wing has three C-17s.)

There is simply no other transport plane that can do what it does. Unfortunately, Boeing built its last C-17 Globemaster III in late 2015.

Here’s an extract from the Defense Industry Daily article on the Aussie’s C-17 buy:

Australia is a big country. Coast to coast distances are roughly the same as New York to Los Angeles. Or, to put it another way, you could drop Europe on top from Lisbon, Portugal to the Russia-Ukraine border. Tactical transport aircraft like the C-130J Hercules and the C-27J Spartan are necessary within the country, and Australia’s role as a regional stabilizer and a Western country extends its circles of influence and concern to locations far beyond its shores.

An intratheater transport was necessary, and Australia’s government sums up their choice as follows: “One C-17A can carry up to four C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift, and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C-130.”

The plane’s tactical advantage and combat loads:

C-17s can even operate from unpaved, unimproved runways, though this is rarely done. The potential for minor but expensive damage from flying rocks or other hazards makes air forces reluctant to do it, unless there’s some compelling need.

The C-17 is designed to airdrop up to 102 paratroopers and equipment. In Australian terms, it can also carry one 60-ton M1 Abrams tank as well as loads ranging from 5 Bushmaster external link infantry vehicles to 3 Tiger reconnaissance/attack helicopters external link.

“Compelling need” means soldiers on the ground need the equipment right now.

WHOSE PHONE IS IT, ANYWAY? Australia slams Apple for telling customers ‘you’re repairing it wrong’

An error message that bricks iPhones when it detects that a repair is made by an independent repair shop. We saw the problem flare up in the U.S. last year. The simplest explanation is that the device would recognize if it had been tampered with and then cease to function.

[ To comment on this story, visit Computerworld’s Facebook page. ]
Apple tried to say this was a security procedure designed to stop people undermining device security, but it later relaxed its so-called security check and people stopped complaining about it.

That should have been the end of the story, but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking Apple to the courts, as it claims the company has “routinely” refused to repair devices that had previously been repaired by an independent repair specialist.

“Right to Repair” is an idea whose time has come.

SYRIA: ‘Chemical attack’ in Idlib kills 58.

If you have the stomach for it, Australian reporter Sophie McNeil’s Twitter feed is filled with photos from the attack — and it certainly does look like chemical weapons were used.

WHITE SUPREMACY: YOU’RE REALLY DOING IT WRONG! Ayaan Hirsi Ali cancels Oz visit after being threatened, called “white supremacist(!)”.

NOT AS EXTINCT AS WE THOUGHT? Extinct creature sightings are piling up in Australia.

NOW THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY I WAS HOPING FOR: Domino’s Will Begin Using Robots to Deliver Pizzas in Europe.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd., the world’s largest franchise licence owner of Domino’s Pizza, with operations in markets across Asia and Europe, has formed a group called Domino’s Robotic Unit to oversee the project.

Domino’s has tested ground-based autonomous vehicles for pizza delivery in Australia and New Zealand in 2016. In November it also delivered a pizza –peri-peri chicken– by drone in New Zealand.

“With our growth plans over the next five to 10 years, we simply won’t have enough delivery drivers if we do not look to add to our fleet through initiatives such as this,” Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

Domino’s ended its old “30 minutes or it’s free” guarantee because of the danger it created for its human delivery drivers — might robots let the company bring it back?

AUSTRALIA WILL SOON BE WITHIN RANGE OF NORTH KOREAN NUKES: From The Australian:

In South Korea last month, US General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of UN and US forces in the country, stood in front of ­Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and ­delivered some sobering news.

The general told her North Korea, led by the maniacal Kim Jong-un, had developed its rocket technology to the point that Australia would soon be within range of a nuclear strike.

“The assessment was that North Korea … was now at a point of advanced technology when it came to ballistic missiles that were capable of carrying a single nuclear warhead, that it was an increasing security risk not only to the Korean peninsula but also to our region, including Australia,” Bishop told The Australian.

US and Australian intelligence had long warned that North Korea was getting close to being able to launch a nuclear-armed intercontinental missile capable of reaching the US or Australia, but no one had spelt out this new reality as bluntly as Brooks.

“It was the first time I had heard it in such stark terms,” ­Bishop says.

“It is deeply concerning that North Korea has been able to take the opportunity to advance its capability.”

Glory be. We are where we are. North Korea extended the range of its ballistic missiles on Obama’s watch. Now art of the deal meets art of war.

ROGER SIMON: We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now.

Who unmasked Michael Flynn and — so it seems now — others and why did he, she or they do it? Who later leaked (selectively) President Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico? Is this the same person or are there several?

More importantly, who is watching the watchers and why was their work — this raw data that supposedly is never seen except on the most extreme “need to know” basis — apparently so widely distributed? Who inspired this? And who ordered what is known as a “tasking” to enable this to happen in the first place?

These questions are as or more important than healthcare, immigration, taxes or even how long ISIS will survive because they speak to the very nature of our society and the values for which we stand. Are we still a democratic republic or have we drifted so far into a high-tech Orwellian nightmare that we will never emerge from it again?

Read the whole thing.

CLAIM: Customer Service Chatbots Are About to Become Frighteningly Realistic.

Soul Machines has already created an assistant avatar called Nadia for the Australian government. It’s voiced by actor Cate Blanchett and powered by IBM’s Watson software. It helps people get information about government services for the disabled. IBM has prototyped another avatar, Rachel, that helps with banking.

The movements of Soul Machines’s digital faces are produced by simulating the anatomy and mechanics of muscles and other tissues of the human face. The avatars can read the facial expressions of a person talking to them, using a device’s front-facing camera. Sagar says people talking to something that looks human are more likely to be open about their thoughts and be expressive with their own face, allowing a company to pick up information about what vexes or confuses customers.

The company’s avatars can also be programmed to react to a person’s facial expressions with their own simulated facial movements, in an attempt to create the illusion of empathy.

If they’re realistic enough, you won’t know to be frightened.

SARRAH LE MARQUAND: It should be illegal to be a stay-at-home mum.

Yes, the role played by parents in the early months and years following the birth of a child is vital and irreplaceable. It also stands to reason that for many (but certainly not all) families, it is the mother who opts to take time off work during this period to solely focus on caring for her baby.

Once again, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, that time at home should be a privilege afforded to more new mums, which is why a few years back I was a lone voice in supporting Tony Abbott’s grossly misunderstood and thus ill-fated paid parental leave scheme, which proposed all female employees receive their normal salary for six months.

So it’s not as simple as suggesting that the OECD’s rallying call to utilise the potential of stay-at-home mums is an insult to mothers — on the contrary, it is the desperately needed voice of reason that Australians cannot afford to ignore.

Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.

Feminism has gone from pursuing legal equality to encouraging forced labor in just three generations.

WHO IS MORE FOOLISH — THE FOOL OR THE FOOL WHO FOLLOWS HIM? U.S.-Style Homeland Security: Back on Australia’s Agenda?

Recycled in various forms for more than a decade, the idea of bringing together the national security responsibilities of various security agencies, units within different departments and law enforcement bodies under one superstructure is now on the desk of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Just why it is back is not clear.

Various suggestions have been put forward, from conspiracy theories about it being used as a vehicle for the ambitions of Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration, and his department head Michael Pezzullo, to the more prosaic idea that Prime Minister Turnbull is looking at it as part of a big shake up of administrative arrangements and a major Ministerial reshuffle after the May Federal budget.

The initial reaction to speculation that the idea of a major restructuring of the existing security machinery to create a US-style Department of Homeland Security is back on the agenda indicates that it is still an idea with only luke-warm support.

A who’s who of former senior officials with backgrounds in security policy has been publicly quotedas opposing the idea, or at least seeing no overwhelming case for it. Political interest in the idea outside those directly involved in its consideration seems non-existent.

Turnbull might want to talk to some actual Americans about DHS before he decides to sign that bill.

THE HOTTEST JAMS: Woman’s headphones explode mid-flight after she falls sleep listening to music.

Photos show the young woman’s face covered with what appears to be soot, with her hair and hand singed from the exploding electronics.

She says she threw the headphones to the ground when they began to spark, and eventually put them in a bucket of water for the rest of the flight.

“People were coughing and choking the entire way home” as the smell of burnt metal and plastic lingered, the woman said.

The cause of the mini-blast is believed to be the batteries in the headphones — which were not identified by brand — according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

The authorities really need to go public with the brand.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Musk offers to fix Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days.

The Tesla (TSLA) founder was responding to a challenge from billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who wanted to know whether the company was serious in claiming that it could end blackouts in South Australia quickly.

“Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

South Australia’s population of 1.7 million people suffer regular power cuts and energy shortages. In September, much of the state was left without power after a storm damaged crucial transmission lines.

Another major blackout happened last month, after an unexpected spike in demand due to a heat wave.
The Australian government has made solving the problem a priority, and increasing grid storage could help.

South Australia’s renewable energy woes are entirely self-inflicted and easily predicted.

F-22 RAPTORS OVER AUSTRALIA: Another fine USAF photo with cool planes and beautiful scenery. The photo was taken March 2.

TAIWAN MODERNIZES ITS AIR FORCE:

Because of Chinese political and economic pressure, Taiwan is using a lot of locally manufactured components to upgrade its F-16s. But some tech can only be obtained from the United States and most of the requested items have been made available along with technical assistance from the American manufacturers. The Taiwanese upgrade center will turn out 24 upgraded aircraft a year.

Meanwhile Taiwan has completed upgrades of its own locally manufactured jet fighter. In 2011 Taiwan rolled out the first of its upgraded IDF (F-CK) jet fighters. The improvements include better electronics, largely from the United States and the ability to carry four, instead of two, radar guided air-to-air missiles.

Beijing’s belligerence in the South China Sea and East China Sea has led South Korea, Japan, Taiwan (Republic of China) and the U.S. to modernize their forces and/or change their military force posture. These nations are technically adversaries. Vietnam is a pugnacious adversary. Singapore, Indonesia and Australia are also “adjusting” their defense policies.

BILL BINNEY’S NOT JUST ANY WHISTLEBLOWER: NSA Whistleblower Backs Trump Up on Wiretap Claims.

President Donald Trump is “absolutely right” to claim he was wiretapped and monitored, a former NSA official claimed Monday, adding that the administration risks falling victim to further leaks if it continues to run afoul of the intelligence community.

“I think the president is absolutely right. His phone calls, everything he did electronically, was being monitored,” Bill Binney, a 36-year veteran of the National Security Agency who resigned in protest from the organization in 2001, told Fox Business on Monday. Everyone’s conversations are being monitored and stored, Binney said.

Binney resigned from NSA shortly after the U.S. approach to intelligence changed following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He “became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he had helped develop — nicknamed ThinThread — were being used to spy on Americans,” PBS reported.

It’s not really a “wiretap” except notionally — I think basically they just store everything, then query a database about what they’re interested in.

Plus: “Binney did say events such as publication of details of private calls between President Trump and the Australian prime minister, as well as with the Mexican president, are evidence the intelligence community is playing hardball with the White House.”

IS THERE’S NOTHING HE CAN’T DO? Barbra Streisand: ‘Donald Trump is Making Me Gain Weight.’

Shot:

With his Twitter account, President Donald Trump can move the media — and can also apparently tip celebrities’ scales.

Singer Barbra Streisand tweeted Saturday that Trump is making her gain weight, because after hearing the morning news, she switches from liquids to pancakes doused in maple syrup.

[Donald Trump is making me gain weight. I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!…Trump just accused Obama of tapping his phones. Seriously crazy times. Time for more pancakes,” Streisand tweeted.]

“Barbra Streisand: ‘Donald Trump is Making Me Gain Weight,’” Big Hollywood, today.

Chaser:

When she started out in Hollywood it was not a crime to have curves, so Barbra has never denied herself in the same way as the younger generation. Interviewers have noticed over the years that she constantly nibbles at cheese while talking.

More recently, however, she has tried her hand at a few fad diets. Celebrity nutritionist Carrie Wiatt (who also counts Jennifer Aniston among her clients) tried to introduce her to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, with plenty of vegetables and fruit and no processed foods. But failed.

Her attempt to cut back on carbohydrates faltered due to her love of pancakes, which she eats for breakfast every day when she’s not working.

Barbra and her husband, the actor James Brolin, also dabbled with the Jenny Craig diet (an American diet system which delivers healthy meals direct to wealthy clients). But within weeks  she admitted: ‘I’ve been eating like a pig.’

— “Pancakes, no exercise and £7 face cream — how Barbra stays stunning at nearly 70,” the London Daily Mail, October 27, 2011.

You go into some of these small towns in California, and like a lot of northern effete leftwing towns such as Chappaqua and Georgetown, their sanity has been going now for the past 17 years, and nothing’s come to replace it. And it fell through the Bush Administration, the Obama administration, and during each successive administration they said that somehow these artists’ creative spark is gonna regenerate and it has not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to pancakes and syrup and oikophobic antipathy to Americans who aren’t like them or anti-Trump sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

But geez, for an ideology that’s currently styling itself as “The Resistance,” French Underground-style to Trump, you’d think the left would hit the gym a bit more and lay off the pancakes, to stay in shape for their imaginary apocalyptic struggle. But at least, after eight years, now they have someone to blame for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

Earlier: ‘I’m coming if you’ll let me in’: Barbra Streisand claims she will relocate to Australia if Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton in US election.

MALE PRIVILEGE: Women’s life expectancy on track to hit 90 in some nations. “The men who could look forward to the longest lives in 2015 were in Switzerland, Iceland and Australia — all within a few decimal points of an 81 year lifespan.”

INDONESIA MAY CONDUCT JOINT PATROLS WITH AUSTRALIA IN SOUTH CHINA SEA: Beijing’s “artificial island imperialism” continues to get push back.

Indonesia is talking softly, but just mentioning joint military patrols indicates Jakarta is upset.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo will discuss the prospect of joint patrols with Australia in the South China Sea when he meets his counterpart Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the weekend.

Widodo told The Australian newspaper he would like to see joint patrols with Australia, but only if did not further inflame tensions with China.

“If there is no tension I think it’s very important to have the patrols together. We will discuss this with PM Turnbull,” said Widodo.

Indonesia has traditionally taken a neutral position on the South China Sea, acting as a buffer between China and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that have the most at stake, the Philippines and Vietnam.

But after China angered Indonesia by saying the two countries had “overlapping claims” to waters close to Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, Jakarta staged large-scale exercise on the edge of South China Sea in October.

Here’s some background on the “slow invasion.”

RELATED: This post from last year explains why the The U.S. Third Fleet’s operating area has expanded. The USS Carl Vinson is conducting operations in the South China Sea and remains under Third Fleet command.

NO: You can now transfer money internationally through Facebook.

The money transfer startup TransferWise has launched a new chatbot that enables Facebook (FB, Tech30) users to move funds abroad using the social platform’s Messenger service.

The bot can be used to move money between the U.S., Canada, Australia and the European Union. It will also notify users via an alert when their regularly used currencies hit favorable rates.

Facebook users were previously able to transfer money within the U.S., but not between accounts in foreign countries.

Messenger is the creepy front-end of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s creepy vision of the future.

ZEALANDIA: Geologists spy an eighth continent.

Geophysical data suggest that a region spanning 5 million square kilometres, which includes New Zealand and New Caledonia, is a single, intact piece of continental crust and is geologically separate from Australia, a team of scientists from New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia argue in the March/April issue of GSA Today1.

“If you could pull the plug on the world’s oceans, then Zealandia would probably long ago have been recognized as a continent,” says team leader Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“Zealandia” has a nice ring to it, but “Middle Earth” might catch on faster.

AND FROM THE OTHER SIDE: “How is it playing out in Australia?”

NY FASHION DESIGNER DEBUTS ANTI-TRUMP, PRO-MILITANT MENSWEAR LINE: “Designer Robert James debuted a collection that was unmistakably, ‘decidedly militant in tone’ in order to ‘create clothes that felt like armor.’ The look screams ‘Occupy radical chic.’”

Allahpundit wrote earlier this week that “American politics increasingly feels like a novel whose events are retold by two unreliable narrators, Trump being one and the media being the other.” My take? Forget being trapped the Matrix – at the end of election night in November, all of America went to sleep and found itself the next day trapped in the first draft of Tom Wolfe’s next novel.

HMM: Pundits Stunned After Trump Hangs Up On Australia Prime Minister, Slamming “Dumb Deal”

It said the call had been scheduled to last an hour but Trump cut it short after 25 minutes when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tried to turn to subjects such as Syria. Turnbull told reporters the call with Trump at the weekend had been frank and candid but refused to give further details.

“I do stand up for Australia. My job is to defend Australian interests,” the former Goldman employee said in Melbourne. Turnbull refused to confirm the Post report that Trump, who had earlier spoken to world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, had angrily told him that the call was “the worst so far”.

Political analysts were dumbfounded and said such acrimony was unprecedented, surpassing even the difficult relations between former U.S. President Richard Nixon and then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who pulled Australian troops out of the Vietnam War. “Even that was always done in the language of foreign policy niceties,” said Harry Phillips, a political analyst of 40 years experience at Edith Cowan and Curtin universities in Perth.

As reports of the conversation hit headlines on both sides of the world, Trump tweeted shortly before midnight in Washington: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal.”

Boy, that escalated quickly.

ROGER KIMBALL: Donald Trump vs. Immanuel Kant.

Perhaps Australia knows the real truth.

DOWN UNDER AND HIGH: Breaking: Australia Has Just Legalized Medical Marijuana Across the Entire Continent.  (they’ve actually been working on this a long time.  Also, what happens when they get high, do they just float off the bottom of the world?  No?  Can we convince them they do?)

IT’S LIKE “THE CHALKENING” WRIT LARGE. I MEAN, LITERALLY WRIT LARGE. ‘TRUMP’ Skywriting Appears Above Sydney Women’s March.

Related: Anti-Trump protesters HUMILIATED as supporters pay to write President’s NAME in sky above. Heh. I think we’ll see more stunts like this. Trump’s not just a president, he’s become an international anti-PC icon. And, of course, things like the “women’s march” only strengthen that status.

UPDATE: From the comments: “God, this is gonna be fun.” (Bumped).

I THOUGHT THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED. Humans, not climate change, wiped out Australian megafauna.

LIFE AFTER POLITICS: Australia’s oldest living prime minister really knows how to chug a beer.

“ONE OUGHT ALWAYS TO BE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY:” The 21st century left has quite a schizophrenic relationship with the concept of history, don’t they? It’s a very different relationship than that of midcentury liberals, who had their own concept of “Whig history,” and teaching that all of history, including the Founding Fathers, set the stage for Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, the New Deal, and America’s victory in WWII.

In contrast, today’s far left views virtually all history until the arrival of Kennedy, Martin Luther King and the Beatles as little more than a non-stop series of brutal oppressions, ugly stuff that’s hardly worth learning, and famously dubbed “Black Armband History,” by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey. The effect renders virtually all western history prior to about 1962 as original sin, with the left rejecting every historic figure from Christ to Columbus to the Founding Fathers as each being uniquely destructive individuals.

(And they’re slowly turning on their own. QED, Princeton students’ recent attack on Woodrow Wilson, once seen as such a vital linchpin of “Progressivism,” his racism, brutal crackdowns on free speech, and indeed much of the domestic history of America during WWI were largely expunged from classroom study, a real-life version of Woody Allen’s gag in Sleeper about Nixon being airbrushed from history.)

And yet, simultaneously, as Brendan O’Neill writes at Spiked, in an essay titled “History Begins,” in recent years, the left has weaponized history, in the form of the cliché frequently uttered by Mr. Obama to demonize the other side of the aisle when and if they dared challenge his policies as being “on the ‘wrong’ side of history,” as if history was a quasi-religion like the Force in Star Wars, with a good side and a dark side:

What ends up happening is that history, in the objectified and even weaponised sense it is understood today, becomes the enemy of history-making. History is conjured up to counter change, to weaken and dilute the very urge to make history. 2016 has made this clear. It has confirmed a profound fear of change among the West’s intellectual and political classes, which look upon Brexit and Trump and other events with an extraordinary sense of dread. They fear in particular for the standing of the Third Way, of what they view as the stability conferred on Western affairs by the wrapping up of the Cold War and the winding down of the historical political conflict of left vs right. In their eyes, that was history’s greatest achievement — history being the bestower of occasional fortunes — and now a more vengeful history threatens it, and threatens to unleash uncertainty, violence and possibly fascism. So they marshal history, objectified history and its warnings and threats, against change, against the making of history, against human agency. History becomes, not Marx’s ‘activity of man pursuing his aims’, but a check on the activity of man. It becomes a means of questioning and slowing man’s activity and thinking and choices. History becomes the controller of men, and a warning against change.

In this situation, it is imperative that we argue against history, against history as power. That we rage against it, in fact. The wonderful thing about 2016 has been its rekindling of the historical imagination. Vast numbers of people, using their intelligence and will, decided to impact on history. To strip away a temporary institution that had been naturalised by the elite as the normal and historically correct way of doing politics: the EU. And to deliver a salvo against an American establishment that presumed its way of politics is the only way of politics. People said, ‘There must be an alternative’, and in doing so they thought and acted historically, upon history.

As O’Neill writes, “in 2017, do not heed ‘history’; challenge it. Challenge the dead lessons dredged up by a new political, expert and history class keen to correct our estimation of ourselves as the potential makers of history. Use the ‘daring, courage, imagination and idealism’ that technocracy has sought to decommission, and think and act historically. One ought always to be on the wrong side of history.”

Read the whole thing.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

THE DEATH THROES OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: The PC Police Crack Down on . . . Kids Books.

Ranking high among the surrealities of 2016 was the meltdown at a literary festival in Australia when the American-born novelist Lionel Shriver defended the freedom of fiction writers to conjure characters unlike themselves.

“Taken to their logical conclusion,” Ms. Shriver warned, “ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all.” Among the concepts she skewered was “cultural appropriation,” the notion that members of one ethnic group mustn’t use (or eat or wear or write about) things emanating from other ethnic groups. The illogical impracticality of the idea, especially with fiction, hasn’t impeded its spread, and the resulting umbrage was a wonder to behold: An Australian writer of Egyptian and Sudanese origin stormed out of the speech, later blaming Ms. Shriver for celebrating “the unfettered exploitation of the experiences of others, under the guise of fiction.” The officials in charge of the event disavowed their keynote speaker’s remarks.

Such exquisite sensitivities put a lot of well-meaning people into terrible predicaments in 2016. In the children’s literary realm, where “diversity” has become the lodestar, the year began and ended with choler, indignation and the repudiation of books.

Of course it did.

(Behind the WSJ paywall, but you might find a way around it here.)

OUCH: Britain, edging towards Trump, scolds Kerry over Israel.

In an unusually sharp public rebuke of Obama’s top diplomat, [Prime Minister Theresa] May’s spokesman said that Israel had coped for too long with the threat of terrorism and that focusing only on the settlements was not the best way to achieve peace between Jew and Arab.

London also took particular issue with Kerry’s description of Netanyahu’s coalition as “the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements.”

“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally,” May’s spokesman said when asked about Kerry 70-minute speech in the State Department’s auditorium.

That’s been a hallmark of this administration.

UPDATE: Australia, too.

I FOR ONE WELCOME OUR NEW ROBOT EMPLOYEES: Mining 24 Hours a Day with Robots. “Each of these trucks is the size of a small two-story house. None has a driver or anyone else on board. Mining company Rio Tinto has 73 of these titans hauling iron ore 24 hours a day at four mines in Australia’s Mars-red northwest corner. At this one, known as West Angelas, the vehicles work alongside robotic rock drilling rigs. The company is also upgrading the locomotives that haul ore hundreds of miles to port—the upgrades will allow the trains to drive themselves, and be loaded and unloaded automatically.”

Related: Kent Brockman on Unemployment.

UPDATE: Canberra explosion not religiously motivated.

An explosion outside the Australian Christian Lobby’s headquarters in Canberra was not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated, police say.

The 35-year-old driver of a white van that exploded around 9.35pm on Wednesday night is in a critical condition at Canberra Hospital.

Police believe the driver ignited gas cylinders within the vehicle, causing an explosion which damaged the vehicle and Eternity House on Campion Street in Deakin.

ACT Policing commander Mark Walters said police had spoken to the driver and did not believe the attack was motivated by politics, religion or ideology.

Nor was there any ongoing threat to the community, he said.

The time of day suggested an accident rather than an attempt to murder infidels.

TERROR DOWN UNDER — OR JUST AN ACCIDENT? Van drove into Australian Christian Lobby’s Canberra headquarters and ‘exploded’

A van reportedly carrying gas cylinders was driven into the Australian Christian Lobby headquarters in Canberra on Wednesday night, causing an explosion.

There were no injuries suffered from people inside the building but the alleged driver was receiving medical treatment for his injuries, according to reports.

The vehicle was allegedly carrying gas bottles when it exploded about 10.45pm, News Corp reported. It was destroyed and the two-storey office building named Eternity House was badly damaged by fire.

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton posted two images online on Thursday morning of a vehicle he claimed had been driven into the group’s office in the inner-southern Canberra suburb of Deakin.

“A vehicle has rammed our office in Canberra & exploded all staff are safe,” Mr Shelton posted on Twitter.

“I do not know the condition of the driver. Prayers appreciated.”

That’s all that’s known so far.

PEACEFUL TRANSITION: Pennsylvania Electors Getting Police Protection For Monday’s Vote.

One elector, Ash Khare, said he and each of the 19 others have been assigned a plainclothes state police trooper for protection.

“I’m a big boy,” said Khare, an India-born engineer and a longtime Republican from Warren County, who estimates he receives 3,000 to 5,000 emails, letters, and phone calls a day from as far away as France, Germany, and Australia. “But this is stupid. Nobody is standing up and telling these people, ‘Enough, knock it off.’ ”

It’s going to be a long four years — at least — of battling Democrats’ uncivil behavior.

DISPATCHES FROM THE HOUSE OF STEPHANOPOULOS: George Stephanopoulos’ wife told ‘The View’ their upset 14-year-old girl screamed ‘no abortions!’ when Trump won.

Are you sure that’s what she screamed? Perhaps it was actually “Now, Australia!!!”, which is where her parents vowed to move if Trump won.

Any word yet when the Stephanopoulae will begin packing their bags?

THESE 18 CELEBRITIES WHO PROMISED TO MOVE IF TRUMP WAS ELECTED CAN GET ON THAT NOW.

And it’s not even a complete list. Recall this item from early last month:

The wife of ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos declared that if Donald Trump wins, the couple is moving to Australia. That’s according to the Hollywood Reporter in a piece from Tuesday on how celebrities will react to the election. Ali Wentworth is an actress, notable for appearing on Seinfeld and marrying Stephanopoulos.

Will any GOP interviewee have the chutzpah to remind the scandal-tarnished DNC operative with a byline when appearing on his show?

NOT-SO-MULTI-CULTURALISM: Australian judge requires female Muslim witness to testify without a veil.

HEAD START: Study finds cash and coins help engage primary maths students.

Primary school students are more likely to understand and engage with maths if classes use real money and real-life projects, according to a Western Sydney University pilot study.

The findings come as Australian students lag behind other countries in maths, with Year 4 students dropping from 18th to 28th out of 49 countries in year 4 maths in the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science study.

The project leader, Associate Professor Catherine Attard from the School of Education, says the pilot study aimed to tackle one of the most common complaints about maths classes- that they lack relevance outside school.

“Students expect to be taught information that is meaningful and makes sense to them,” says Dr Attard.

I can vouch for this, having watched my boys catch on to totaling up their savings far faster than any pencil and paper math lesson.

GOOD GRIEF: Rare ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’ Kills Six in Melbourne, Australia. “Monday’s storm caused rain-sodden ryegrass pollen grains to explode and disperse over the city, with tiny pollen particles penetrating deep into lungs. About a third of patients who suffered asthma attacks Monday reported never having had asthma before. The storm overwhelmed emergency services and hospitals in the city of 4.5 million people, with 8,500 receiving hospital treatment.”

SPACE: EmDrive: Nasa Eagleworks peer-reviewed paper finally published by AIAA saying it works. “Similar to an early draft of the paper that was leaked onto the Nasa Spaceflight forum earlier this month by Australian fan Phil Wilson, the published paper reveals that Nasa Eagleworks did indeed build a drive that generated 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of thrust in a vacuum. Of course, this amount of thrust is incredibly low, but the scientists said that they were more concerned about trying to prove that the device worked at all.”

If it works, we can probably increase the thrust. And even small thrust is a big deal when it’s created reactionlessly. If this pans out — and it’s looking better and better — this will be what our era is remembered for, not our elections.

AUSTIN BAY:

Obviously, we don’t have a criminal entering the White House. American is also well positioned to get rid of the middle class-killer known as ObamaCare.

Those are the two major payoffs, but there are others.

George Stephanopoulos’ wife, Ali Wentworth, said that she and her husband would leave the U.S. and go to Australia if Trump won.

George, old boy. You’re the Democrat operative with a byline who ginned up the phony Republican “war on women” meme in the 2012 election. You also donated 75 grand to the Clinton Foundation and didn’t mention it to your audience until, you know, it sleazed out.

So, please, you sleazy fraud, you and your bride get the hell out of the States. Go to Australia. Sashay to Down Under and frolic with kangaroos. Kiss a Tasmanian devil.

Aside to Team ABC: George Stephanopoulos was never a journalist and you jerks knew it from the get-go. Stephanopoulos was there to slam Republicans and push Democrats. Yet Team Hilary lost the election. Your scam’s over, Team ABC. You don’t believe it. But it is.

It won’t really be over until the media monoculture experiences some ideological diversity.

NICE WORK, ANGELA: Berlin Prepares to Admit Defeat on Refugees?

Germany is trying to walk back its open door promises on refugees and migrants even further, with the Interior Ministry reportedly looking to Australia as a model. The EU Observer explains that the proposed system would seek to intercept migrants at sea and send them back to North Africa. . . .

The plight of refugees is perhaps the greatest moral dilemma of our time, and the past few years have been blighted by short-sighted and counter-productive thinking about the issue. Naive policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have allowed these awful refugee crises to persist and grow. Meanwhile, the inability to slow the flow of refugees has created a nightmare on the continent, enabling and ennobling far-right politicians and pulling at the fragile bonds of community upon which hold together the European political community. Unwillingness to attack the problem at its source in Syria and North Africa is the original sin, but it’s hardly the only sin.

If Germany gets tougher on migrants, the usual suspects will repeat the usual platitudes about human rights and values. In just the past two weeks, for example, the Australian model has been repeatedly attacked by the editorial board of The New York Times. Moral preening, coupled with a studied inability to recognize real political and social limits of a controversial policy, has amplified an already-grim situation. Hopefully Berlin is finally beginning to sober up.

Angela Merkel, who needs to sober up, has been held out by Hillary as a role model.

TROLL LEVEL: GRAND MASTER. “North Korea has demanded that two Australians return to Pyongyang and apologise on national TV for fooling the regime into thinking they were professional golfers.”

OBAMA’S “WAR OF NECESSITY.” Afghan Governor pleads for Australian help as soldiers defect to Taliban.

AS IF THERE WEREN’T SO MANY OTHER REASONS TO VOTE FOR HIM: “Ali Wentworth would rather go down under with husband George Stephanopoulos: ‘If Trump wins, we’ll start looking at real estate in Sydney, Australia. No crime, no guns.’”

Flashback: Stephanopoulos discloses $75,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation.

DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU, TOO?: The entire continent of Australia sways (a little) with the weather.

BEING SHIRTLESS ON TV CAN BE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH: Australian swimmer thanks fan who raised alarm over mole.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Duterte’s Flip-Flop Into Bed With China Is a Disaster for the United States.

Max Boot:

From the American viewpoint, Duterte’s flip-flop — assuming it leads to a lasting strategic shift — is a potential disaster. Aligned with the United States and its regional allies, the Philippines can provide a vital platform to oppose Chinese aggression in the South China and East China seas.

If the Philippines becomes a Chinese satrapy, by contrast, Washington will find itself hard-pressed to hold the “first island chain” in the Western Pacific that encompasses “the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, and the Philippine archipelago.” Defending that line of island barriers has been a linchpin of U.S. strategy since the Cold War. It now could be undone because of the whims of one unhinged leader.

China could either neutralize this vital American ally or even potentially turn the Philippines into a PLA Navy base for menacing U.S. allies such as Taiwan, Japan, and Australia. At the very least, the U.S. Navy will find it much harder to protect the most important sea lanes in the world; each year $5.3 trillion in goods passes through the South China Sea, including $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade.

Boot notes that this “massive geopolitical shift is entirely Duterte’s doing,” and that “the Philippine people remain largely pro-American.” With any luck, Duterte’s rule will be short, and the Philippines will return to the fold before any lasting damage is done.

FACT-CHECKING THE “FACT-CHECKERS,” AGAIN: NRA says Clinton said something she said. Politifact says NRA claim ‘mostly false.’

Fiske argues that Clinton “focused her comments on voluntary buyback programs similar to those some U.S. communities have instituted for guns and the federal ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program.”

That’s demonstrably false. Clinton clearly said “the Australian example is worth considering.”

And that “Australian example” was an example of gun confiscation. It was not a voluntary program. Historian Varad Mehta wrote about the Australian program last year for the Federalist, breaking down exactly what it entailed.

“Australia outlawed semi-automatic rifles, certain categories of shotgun, and implemented strict licensing and registration requirements,” Mehta wrote. “The cornerstone of its new gun-control scheme, however, was a massive gun buyback program. The Australian government purchased 650,000 to one million guns with funds raised via a special tax.”

That buyback program was mandatory, Mehta wrote. One cannot claim to consider the Australian example and its effectiveness in removing guns without acknowledging that the reason it worked was that it was mandatory.

A Clinton spokesman told Politifact that the Democratic candidate “does not support national mandatory gun buyback programs, including those modeled after Australia’s program” and that she was only discussing voluntary buyback programs.

But the candidate absolutely discussed Australia’s program — which was a mandatory buyback program — and said it was “worth considering,” just as the NRA claimed.

Think of the “Fact Checkers” as Democratic Party narrative-control officers with bylines and you won’t go far wrong.

AUSTRALIA’S $200 MILLION EXPERIMENTAL GREENHOUSE: Australia doesn’t need to grow tomatoes in the desert — and the article makes that point. But a greenhouse using seawater, sunlight and coconut husks is an interesting concept.

WHEN INTERNET SHAMING GOES WRONG: “A woman in Melbourne, Australia was riding a bus when she noticed a young man walking up to other women and sticking his hand in their faces. This woman said the man sat near her and stared at him. She claimed the women he tried to interact with were visibly fearful. She wrote an expletive-laden Facebook post about the incident, calling the man a ‘low life,’ ‘creep,’ ‘loser’ and ‘festering turd of a human being.’ She did not know this man, but immediately jumped to conclusions about his motives. She even took a photo of the man (without his consent) and plastered it on Facebook, where her post received more than 80,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares. The man she shamed is reportedly autistic, and likes giving people high fives.”

WHEN ISIS ATTACKED IN KURDISTAN: A former Australian MP visits the war zone. His trip to Iraqi Kurdistan included a visit to the Yazidi town of Sinjar.

PAY TO PLAY: The Clinton Foundation’s corporate donors lobbied Hillary’s State Department to open Burma to American businesses. They got what they wanted.

Clinton and her team said the country’s gradual shift to democracy — Burma had just held an election, won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — meant it had earned the U.S. investment. Other economic powerhouses, including Australia and the EU, were also moving to loosen their own rules for investment in Burma. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as the Washington Post reported at the time, said the United States needed to keep up.

But, as the Post also noted, human rights leaders predicted Clinton’s decision would set back their cause. At the time, as Foreign Policy reported, Suu Kyi supported a partial easing of the U.S. investment ban, but didn’t want American companies to be able to invest in the country’s energy sector. They argued opening investment to the energy market would fuel economic inequality and only strengthen the country’s repressive military. And they thought it gave the country’s government too much too soon, giving up leverage to push for more reform in the future.

But the Obama administration broke with Suu Kyi and human rights leaders, letting American companies invest in all sectors—including oil and gas.

I’m so old I can remember when Democrats loved Suu Kyi and hated Big Oil.

STATE OF DESPAIR: In Australia’s most progressive state they’re currently burning live cats to stay warm and eating newspaper. It’s the Adelapocalypse!

That’s Tim Blair, so of course you’ll want to read the whole thing.

I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS: Australian Man’s Penis Targeted by Venomous Spider for Second Time.

PERSONALLY, I THINK COMPLAINING ABOUT “CULTURAL APPROPRIATION” IS RACISM, STRAIGHT UP: Lionel Shriver responds to her critics.

Earlier this month, fiction writer Lionel Shriver made headlines when she delivered a speech to the Brisbane Writer’s Festival (which most of her online critics had probably never heard of) and said she hoped “the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad.”

She explained that being told we cannot appropriate other cultures – like wearing sombreros at fiesta-themed parties – will ultimately harm fiction writers. “The moral of the sombrero scandals is clear: You’re not supposed to try on other people’s hats,” Shriver said. “Yet that’s what we’re paid to do, isn’t it? Step into other people’s shoes, and try on their hats.” (Emphasis original.)

She went on to talk about college campuses and how people are no longer allowed to do anything that is associated with particular identities. These words offended one woman, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Sudanese-born Australian engineer and memoirist, so much that she stormed out and gave an interview to the Guardian.

(One thing about millennials, which Abdel-Magie is, and outrage, is that they have to let everyone know they’re outraged and get attention for themselves in the process.)

Now Shriver has responded to the controversy with an op-ed in the New York Times. She said she worried that the point of her speech — about how constraining fiction writers to only write about their own personal experiences would destroy fiction — would be “so self-evident” that it would be “bland.”

“Viewing the world and the self through the prism of advantaged and disadvantaged groups, the identity-politics movement — in which behavior like huffing out of speeches and stirring up online mobs is par for the course — is an assertion of generational power,” Shriver wrote.

“Among millenials [sic] and those coming of age behind them, the race is on to see who can be more righteous and aggrieved — who can replace the boring old civil rights generation with a spikier brand.”

This, Shriver wrote, has made the Left now the “oppressor,” the ones who enforce conformity. Shriver said she is a “lifelong Democratic voter” but is “dismayed by the radical Left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy.”

Yes. When victimhood is power, skins grow very thin.

STUDY: Sex Ed Is Negative, Sexist and Out of Touch.

In the study published in the journal BMJ Open, researchers pored over 55 qualitative studies that examined the views of young people — mostly ages 12 to 18 — who’d received sex-and-relationship education at school in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Iran, Brazil and Sweden between 1990 and 2015.

Even across all of those different countries and a 25-year time span, kids’ views were remarkably consistent: sex ed sucks.

The problems, researchers found, were numerous. “Everything we got in our class had a really clinical feel,” said one student. ‘They don’t mention anything about same-sex relationships,” said another. A group of students recalled their PE teacher Miss Plum, who was so uncomfortable giving her own presentation that she cried during it.

Amazingly, the human race seemed to date, marry, and propagate itself just fine even before the educators involved themselves.

THE CULTURAL WARS DIG A DEEPER TRENCH: Fiction Writer Defends Writing Fiction; SJWs Outraged.

BUBBLES GOTTA POP: US Think Tank Warns That Australia Is About 6 Weeks Away From Housing Collapse.

Real estate prices in Australia’s largest housing markets have soared over the past couple of years fueled, in no small part, by demand from Chinese buyers looking for offshore locations to park cash. The Sydney and Melbourne markets have been the largest beneficiaries of foreign capital with real estate prices up 53% and 51%, respectively, since 2012. That said, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics it looks like home prices in Australia have already started their descent.

Looks like China may have found yet another way to export its economic mismanagement.

JOHN SCHINDLER: We’re Losing the War Against Terrorism.

President Obama’s diffident, pseudo-war against the Islamic State is stalled, with top generals in retirement now admitting that this White House’s efforts against jihadism in its homeland are strategically deluded and militarily hopeless.

Hillary Clinton has promised more of the same failed policies, which show no sign of defeating the Islamic State, the evil ISIS, in anything faster than geologic time. For his part, Donald Trump’s aggressive talk of “crushing” the Islamic State with quick and decisive victories can be safely dismissed as just that—talk. In reality, there is no military option available short of large-scale use of nuclear weapons, which would kill tens of millions of innocents, to annihilate ISIS in the Middle East.

Even then, inflicting nuclear Armageddon on Iraq and Syria—which is something no American president seeking to avoid war crimes and genocide charges can do—would achieve little in terms of mitigating the threat of jihadism inside the West today. A high percentage of the terror plots that are uncovered across the Western world, from Europe to North America to Australia, involve homegrown jihadists, native-born citizens and residents of Western countries. Even if ISIS disappeared from the Middle East tomorrow, the West would still be facing jihadist plots at home for years to come.

Read the whole thing.

NO HILLARY JOKES, PLEASE: 3.7-billion-year-old fossils may be the oldest signs of life on Earth.

It’s a stunning announcement in a scientific field that is always contentious. But if confirmed, this would push the established fossil record more than 200 million years deeper into the Earth’s early history, and provide support for the view that life appeared very soon after the Earth formed and may be commonplace throughout the universe.

A team of Australian geologists announced their discovery in a paper titled “Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures,” published Wednesday in Nature.

I hope this finding pans out.

THIS SHOULD DEFINITELY SEAL THE DEAL: ‘I’m coming if you’ll let me in’: Barbra Streisand claims she will relocate to Australia if Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton in US election.

Unfortunately of course, celebrities never keep their word on this stuff.

WHEN NANNY-STATE INTERVENTIONS FAIL: Digital baby dolls encouraged teen pregnancy.

Digital baby dolls that wake up crying in the middle of the night and need feeding, rocking and nappy changes are supposed to deter teenagers from falling pregnant.

But in an ironic twist, researchers have found they have the opposite effect.

The findings of a 10-year program and study involving more than 1250 girls and costing more than $1.5 million has found the dolls are actually more likely to encourage motherhood.

The study’s author, Sally Brinkman, from the Telethon Kids Institute, said the program to give babies mimicking the behaviours of a six-week-old to more than 1250 girls aged 14 and 15 had turned popular thinking on its head by proving they encouraged teenagers to fall pregnant.

“The most alarming figure is girls are 1.36 times more likely to have pregnancies if they were exposed to the babies,” Dr Brinkman said.

Oops. I thought the behavioral science was settled.

21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: Robot Babies Not Effective Birth Control.

But real babies are.

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN AFGHANISTAN IN KABUL UNDER ATTACK: “CBS News’ Ahmad Muktar reported that several American professors and possibly hundreds of students are inside, though many have appeared to escape through emergency doors. Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini tweeted that he and others are trapped inside the school. Hossaini tweeted that he heard shooting and an explosion.”

Reporting on today’s news, the Washington Free Beacon adds, “American University in Kabul was shuttered earlier this month after gunmen kidnapped two foreign professors, one American and one Australian, close to the campus in the capital of Afghanistan on Aug. 8. The campus reopened three days after the incident.”

Developing.

ALL-TOO 21ST CENTURY HEADLINE: British woman, 21, killed in Australian backpackers’ hostel attack by knifeman ‘shouting Allahu Akbar’

We may never know his real motive.