John Cadogan’s expose and opinion on the ACCC suing Mazda Australia who is alleged to have dismissed customers concerns when managing serious warranty issues with their new vehicles, and alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law.
John Cadogan’s expose and opinion on the ACCC suing Mazda Australia who is alleged to have dismissed customers concerns when managing serious warranty issues with their new vehicles, and alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law.
Thanks to The Tim Traveller who brings us the largest open cut brown coal mine in the world. The coal is of poor quality with litlle calorific value and definitely carbon unfriendly. The mine is located in Hambach in Germany, and although it is recognised that this mine environmentally unsustainable, the government uses the coal to replace nuclear power stations shut down by environmentalists. I guess the greenies can’t have it both ways! The mine is 5km accross at its widest point!
In his irreverent fashion, John Cadogan lists Tesla’s six most recent fails. By doing so, he queries the inherant safety (or lack thereof) and their fitness to be used on-road.
See John Cadogan’s expose on a Nissan Leaf EV with a battery that lasts approximately 40km (25 miles). This Leaf cost AU$53,000 new, and the battery replacement cost is AU$33,000. The car had travelled 90,000km and is 7 years old. Will Nissan replace this battery under ACCC legislation? No way!
Ever notice how, more and more, many politicians of a certain worldview say “there is no alternative” to this and that, usually some “pressing” issue? Whether it is EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (who joined the Federation of Young Italian Communists in 1988) weighing in on the Iran deal — “there is no alternative” to the so-called Iran deal — or Zoran Zaev saying “For Macedonia, there is no alternative to NATO and EU membership. There is no alternative for the whole region” — these statements come fast and furious. But really? Are we all that bereft of intelligence, insight, and wisdom that we must shrug our collective shoulders and go with the only path that has been proffered, almost always by those same individuals who insist that “there is no alternative?” Are there no other ways? Really?
Does this strike you as a bit creepy? It strikes me as downright authoritarian. Because it is. It is a deliberate effort to shut down debate and silence opponents. In effect, these politicians are saying “There is no way other than that which we dictate to you, the little people, from on high. You don’t have to like it, but you will obey and comply.” That’s authoritarian. We should be asking “why is there no alternative” or “could there possibly be another alternative?” Isn’t that what these individuals are there for — to explore all possible deals and then make the best deal? Or is it that they just wish to avoid the hard work and prefer to fall back on intellectual and moral laziness?
In the case of Macedonia, let’s look at those possible alternatives.
First, we must recognize that indeed, the Macedonian public desires membership in NATO and the EU. Fine. But it’s always useful to point to the fact that it was the center-right party of VMRO-DPMNE that called for Macedonia’s membership in both organizations long before SDSM, the current party in power, did. And it’s worth noting why it took SDSM many years to say they advocated this membership for Macedonia as well: prior to independence in 1991, SDSM was…the League of Communists of Macedonia.
But again, the majority of Macedonia’s citizens want membership in these clubs, though the percentage of those wanting this has decreased over the last decade, due to many reasons. But there’s a caveat to all of this: they want membership in NATO and the EU: but not at any price. Not at the price of losing their name, their identity, their dignity, their culture, their way of life, their country….you get the idea. And yet “there is no alternative.” Meaning, if “there is no alternative” then, according to those who espouse this mantra, the Macedonians must adopt a stiff upper lip, hold their heads as high as they can, accept the one and only and true path, and then deny their own existence, in effect committing national suicide in the process. After all, “there is no alternative.”
Why is it that the opinions, nay, the very heartfelt desire — and the universal right — of Macedonians to retain their name, their identity, their dignity, their language, their culture, and much more — why is their heartfelt desire and right not taken into the equation? In fact, in a parliamentary democracy, power ultimately resides with the people and to say that “there is no alternative” when the people say the opposite is, indeed, authoritarian. On May 21, Zaev told the public, regarding his proposal for “Republic of Ilinden Macedonia,” “I do not think there is a political party, an intellectual, a normal citizen who is insulted by this proposal.” Well, facts are stubborn things. And the facts state otherwise. Most Macedonians are, indeed, insulted. And they are insulted by the whole charade of these so-called “negotiations.” But of course, “there is no alternative.”
Why is it that we never hear Western leaders saying “There is no alternative for Sweden and Finland, but to join NATO?” How is it that Sweden and Finland (and Finland shares a very long border with Russia) manage to get by without this membership? Is it possible that there is, indeed, an alternative to membership?! Hallelujah! But not so fast. Not for Macedonia and the “whole region” according to the diktats of Zoran Zaev. What about the EU? Why is it that we never hear “there is no alternative” for Iceland and Norway but to join the EU? “Hold on!” you might fairly shout. “Those are ‘rich’ countries and really don’t need to join the EU,” you chortle, secure in the thought that you have an iron-clad answer to why they don’t need to be in the EU. Fair enough. They are rich. But here’s an interesting fact: they didn’t get rich by being in the EU. They got rich by being out of the EU. Funny how that works. That is not to say that being out of the EU guarantees you riches. But it does point to….an alternative. But of course “there is no alternative.”
Wouldn’t it be good if politicians from all political parties in Macedonia came together and said “Look, we need to develop alternatives to the EU and NATO, while still working with them and cooperating with them to the largest extent possible, like other countries, even as we wait for our Greek friends to change their minds.” But this can’t happen and mustn’t happen because “there is no alternative.”
Those who proclaim “there is no alternative” are either lazy, morally and intellectually, or have an agenda that is nothing short of authoritarian.
Source: Jason Miko
THE REPUBLIC of Macedonia may be the most perplexing country in Europe. Crossing the border, you are informed via text message that you have entered the “cradle of civilization.” Billboards lining major highways are defiant: “This is Macedonia!” It is the only part of Yugoslavia that did not experience significant bloodshed. It is also the only country in Europe, apart from Romania, where every ethnic minority is guaranteed parliamentary representation. And yet Macedonia is not a success story, but one of how a country the size of Vermont has navigated its way back from the shoals of one disaster after another. In 1992, its economy was devastated by an embargo from Greece in the south and a UN-led blockade on Serbia in the north. Three years later, President Kiro Gligorov was nearly assassinated by suspects who remain at large. Then, in 1999, 360,000 refugees—a fifth of the Macedonian population—descended on the country from Kosovo. By 2001, ethnic Albanians of the National Liberation Army were beating the drums of insurgency, and in 2004 President Boris Trajkovski died in a plane crash on the day the country’s EU application was presented in Dublin.
Most of Macedonia’s neighbours treat it as a pariah state. Serbia considers Macedonians “south Serbs” and Skopje the seat of an apostate patriarchate. Bulgaria takes the curious view that Macedonia is a state, but not a nation. But the most intractable critic has always been Greece, which claims that “Macedonia” is already the name of a Greek province and that Macedonia can only receive international recognition with a cumbersome qualifying name: “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”; “Slavic Macedonia”; “Vardar Macedonia.” Athens is single-handedly responsible for denying Macedonia entry into both the EU and NATO—institutions that Macedonia was qualified to enter a decade ago. Greece’s veto of Macedonia’s accession technically runs in violation of a 1995 bilateral treaty allowing Macedonia to enter international institutions as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” so long as Macedonia does nothing to “provoke” Greece—a treaty that has resulted in Macedonia changing its first national flag as well as several denominations of its currency in order to show that is has no intention of appropriating the culture of “Greek Macedonia.” “We have gotten used to the impression that we are some sort of threat,” Nikola Poposki, the Macedonian foreign minister, told me in Skopje. “We have gotten used to nearly three decades of unfair treatment. The average Macedonian lives with this reality. He will be highly surprised if, in any context, he gets a fair treatment.”
Nikola Gruevski, the descendent of Egejtsi, Greece’s Slavic minority, took control of the country in 2006. After the 1946–49 Greek Civil War, Nadežda Gruia, the widow of a partisan killed on the Greek-Albanian front, fled her northern Greek village with her three children, including Gruevski’s father, Talo. She settled in Yugoslavia and changed the family’s name to “Gruevski.” Born in 1970, Nikola grew up wanting to be a film actor. He opted for banking after a failed stint in professional boxing. During the privatization of the 1990s, he entered politics, but kept one hand in telecommunications and construction; he was among the first private individuals to trade on the Skopje stock exchange when it opened in 1996. From 1998 to 2002, he was finance minister in the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) government.
In April, I watched Gruevski deliver a press conference at VMRO’s headquarters in Skopje. He was doing so in the capacity of a private individual; last June, under pressure from the EU, Gruevski stepped down from power in the midst of a vast wiretapping scandal that has marred Macedonia in political chaos for over a year now.
He struck me as a rather buffoonish man—a Balkan politician sodden with a power whose source, geography, he misattributed to his own abilities. His small frame bobbed around the podium as a phalanx of state-approved media jostled their hands in the air. What did he think about the refugee crisis? Macedonia was defending the EU from itself. What about the EU forcing him out of power? It was a NATO ploy to undermine Macedonia. Did he worry about the prospects of losing at the polls? No, the opposition was bankrolled by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Gruevski spoke unhurriedly and with no great attempt at conviction. As he saw it, it was merely the banal truth.
IN 2003, Gruevski became the head of VMRO. “He was just a technocrat. Unconfrontational, uninterested in history or politics,” the party’s founder, Ljubčo Georgievski, the former Macedonian prime minister, told me. By the time Gruevski became prime minister three years later, Georgievski and the old Yugoslav generation within VMRO had been cleared out. Gruevski brought in Macedonians from the diaspora who grasped how to build the rudiments of a market economy. The Ministry of Foreign Investment went to Vele Samak, a former Microsoft executive from Seattle, and Gligor Tashkovich, the former manager of an oil pipeline in Bulgaria. Information Technology went to Ivo Ivanovski, a former IT manager of a Plexiglas company in Ohio. Immediately surrounding Gruevski is a small circle of advisers known throughout Macedonia as the Familija. His best man, Zoran Stavreski, a six-year veteran of the World Bank, runs Macedonia’s economy. His cousin, Sašo Mijalkov, a security consultant who allegedly oversaw a labyrinth of criminal enterprises in the Czech Republic throughout the 1990s, is his spy chief. No one has accused Gruevski of shirking duties toward clan and kin.
For Gruevski, 2008 was the annus horribilis. The financial crisis stalled the motors of his economic agenda—namely, foreign investment. More importantly, Macedonia was vetoed a place in NATO by the Greeks. The move shocked the George W. Bush administration as much as it did Gruevski, the young, English-speaking technocrat who had staked his political future on bringing Macedonia into the West. With access to the international community barred for the indefinite future, Gruevski’s calculus changed. For two years he had pushed reforms with the purpose of joining Western institutions that would ultimately only curtail his personal power; now he turned to expanding his political power at the expense of jettisoning Macedonia’s qualifications to enter Western institutions.
He pivoted to identity politics. This was an odd decision in a country where one in three Macedonians identified as ethnically Albanian and the other two-thirds had little idea of what identifying as Macedonian actually meant. But for Gruevski, this malleability was an opportunity. He instructed Macedonians to rally around a brazen new past: not the nineteenth-century anti-Ottomanism pushed by the VMRO of the 1990s, nor the antifascist mythology of Yugoslav Macedonia, nor a Slavic Orthodox identity, but a Greek imperial one. Foreign archaeologists were flown to Skopje to hunt for linear descent from the Macedonians of Alexander the Great. A delegation was invited from a village in Pakistan purporting to be the home of ancestors of his army. The Skopje airport and the highway leading to Greece were renamed “Alexander of Macedon.” The national soccer stadium was rechristened “Philip II Arena.” The Macedonian Church began publishing radio broadcasts referring to Macedonia as the “oldest nation on earth.” In doing all this, Gruevski changed the terms of the debate. Macedonia calling itself “Macedonia” was one thing; Macedonia feverishly grasping the crown of three millennia of Hellenic civilization was another.
To his overwhelmingly pro-EU electorate, Gruevski now had an enraged target to blame for derailed accession. Starvation wages, limited imports, restricted travel rights: Greek politicians were responsible for them all. And while historically this was in no small part true, Gruevski’s new policy of antikvizacija, or antiquization, turned twenty-five years of Macedonia’s paranoia about its place in the international community into a self-fulfilling threat. Internally, with no incentive to make progress on two decades of uninterrupted democratic reforms, Gruevski dismantled them altogether. His product-management cabinet turned to stage management. Antigovernment media was silenced through an astonishing string of jail sentences that in six years drove Macedonia’s standing on the World Freedom Index from 34th to 118th—just above Afghanistan, significantly below any other European country. Political opposition has been neutralized with a series of character assassinations and humiliating arrests, many aired on prime-time state television.
The last eight years of Gruevski’s rule have been a jumble of contradictory policies. The neoliberal who ran on a platform of privatization has bloated the public sector on a steady diet of cheap foreign credit. One in three Macedonians now works in a public administration that has been ruthlessly colonized by VMRO; from the university faculties to the judiciary to the police forces, the extension of public contracts are contingent upon loyalty to Gruevski at the polls. In nearly every Macedonian village, you can spot a VMRO-owned building emblazoned with the party’s signature roaring lion; there are more party offices than hospitals in Macedonia. The reformist who pledged to eradicate construction racketeering has institutionalized state money laundering on an unprecedented scale. When I asked analysts in Skopje to explain the state of Macedonia’s finances to me, they couldn’t; VMRO party finances and Macedonia’s GDP are too deeply intertwined. In Washington, the party spends $1.7 million a year on lobbying firms to push party interests it insists are consistent with Macedonia’s. Approximately 5 billion euros—half of Macedonia’s GDP—have allegedly left Macedonia for offshore accounts since Gruevski took power. His successor Gjorge Ivanov is denying revelations in the Panama Papers linking him to offshore accounts.
TODAY, THERE are three nexuses of power in Macedonia: the state, VMRO and Gruevski. The distinction between the three has slowly collapsed over the last decade. Anyone who protests against Gruevski or refuses to vote for VMRO cannot be a true Macedonian; they are by definition a fifth column for those who plot against Macedonia on the outside—a vast category of conspirators that ranges from Greece to the Red Cross to the CIA. In Gruevski’s worldview, these groups are in league with one another against him. The Social Democratic opposition? A “traitorous structure working against Macedonia’s national interests.” NATO? “The North Atlantic Terrorist Organization.” America? A front for Albanian interests. The EU? Happily blackmailed by Greece. Russia? In thrall to the Serbs.
Heavy state control of the media has convinced many Macedonians of this picture. “Gruevski understands how to control the modern nation-state better than Milošević ever could have,” Ljubomir Frčkoski, one of three men who authored Macedonia’s 1991 constitution, told me. “His authoritarianism is technocratic, often sui generis. He knows things Putin does not.” Towards the end of 2010, Mijalkov began giving Gruevski daily briefings on the opposition. Together, they implemented the largest illegal surveillance program conducted in Europe since the dismantling of the Stasi. Over the course of four years, the phones of at least twenty thousand handpicked Macedonians—in addition to six ambassadors and at least one U.S. official—were wiretapped. In its Nixonian rage for surveillance, the Gruevski administration also recorded itself. Last May, the transcripts of 675,000 recorded conversations—known throughout Macedonia as the bombi, the “bombs”—were made available to the public by Zoran Zaev, the leader of the Social Democratic opposition who claims he received the recordings from an antigovernment whistleblower. Gruevski says a foreign power handed them to Zaev, who was charged with attempting to coup the state shortly after made the tapes public. Zaev told me that he believes at least two million more conversations are still in Gruevski’s possession. Those that have been released reveal, in extraordinary detail, the depth of corruption and cronyism, not to mention the cover-up of murder and police brutality, committed by VMRO apparatchiks. Macedonians will go to the polls this autumn to decide Gruevski’s fate.
And yet the difficulty with turning Gruevski out of power electorally is that Macedonia’s democracy has been hardwired to keep him there. VMRO has developed an elaborate system of bussing voters to districts where it struggles to obtain a majority. It is something out of Gogol: Of the 480,000 Macedonians who vote for Gruevski, as many as one hundred thousand aren’t living ones—they are the so-called fantomski glasači, the “phantom voters.” Ethnic Macedonians from the Albanian border are caravanned into Skopje on election days and given government-issued ID cards with VMRO-owned addresses. “We have to be careful because we are under observation. I fear that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe might start barking,” Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska tells Gruevski in one tape. “I mean, you can’t have 40 new people in a village with a population of five.” Civic opposition to Gruevski’s rule has been an unmitigated failure. Antigovernment protests? Gruevski immediately shuts down the Internet and busses in counterprotestors from around the country, typically incentivized with free ice cream. Foreign NGOs? A parallel world of VMRO-funded QUANGOs—“quasi-NGOs”—has been established to counter the findings of each and every one. The cottage industry of anti-Gruevski blogs and YouTube channels? An army of VMRO-funded Internet trolls raids comments sections with government propaganda.
“We’d kill for a government like that in Bosnia,” one EU official remarked in 2011, referring to Gruevski’s regime. Nearly every NGO president I met in Skopje believes that Gruevski has been allowed to dismantle an already pseudodemocracy in exchange for providing an alleged bastion of stability in the heart of the Balkans. Most of these NGO leaders added that Brussels, in its desperation to show that it does something in the way of implementing democratic reform, often does nothing at all. For the last ten years, policy reports have been skewed to show that Macedonia’s democracy works. As late as April 2014, European observers were claiming that Macedonia’s electoral process—the one operating with some one hundred thousand fake voters—was “efficiently administered.” This has now left the EU in the awkward position of trying to do damage control through the very state apparatuses that Gruevski himself controls—namely, by prosecuting Gruevski through a judiciary, four-fifths of whose members are VMRO loyalists. In preferring stability over democracy in Macedonia, the EU today has neither. Gruevski, who is in regular communication with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Viktor Orbán, has perfected the blueprint of how to create an illiberal democracy on a smaller, Balkan scale. Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić is one man following Gruevski’s lead. The more dangerous figure is Milorad Dodik, a Bosnian Serb from Banja Luka and the author of the upcoming Republika Srpska referendum, which will almost certainly trigger Greater Serbia aspirations and throw much of the Balkan Peninsula into political discord.
ALMOST EVERYWHERE in the western Balkans the arrangement of the post-Yugoslav space—NATO would provide security, the EU would institute democratic reforms—has broken down owing to the inability of the latter to effectively carrot-and-stick local political elites. Fifteen years ago, however, Macedonia was the first great success of EU intervention. In February 2001, the National Liberation Army (NLA), a heavily armed force of some six thousand Kosovo veterans, jihadists, and drug and arms traffickers, nearly unleashed the “Fifth War of Balkan Succession” on Macedonia. Some NLA fighters wanted a Greater Albania; most just wanted equal representation in a Macedonian society that had only ever given them minimal say in public affairs. And yet within six months, the commander of the NLA, Ali Ahmeti, a one-time Marxist-Leninist with a steady place on the CIA’s blacklist, had disbanded his guerillas, descended from the Šar foothills and upended the old adage that an Albanian never gives up his guns. The EU-brokered Ohrid Agreement was responsible for this. By merely posturing towards insurgency, Ahmeti secured more political rights for Macedonia’s Albanian community in half a year than had a decade of parliamentary politics. The lesson hasn’t been forgotten by either side—not least of all the hard-line nationalist Gruevski, who now rules in a coalition with none other than Commander Ahmeti himself. “Today, Ahmeti commits worse atrocities against the Albanian community today than any Macedonian ever could have,” Georgievski, the prime minister who conducted the six-month war on Ahmeti in 2001, told me.
Gruevski’s most stunning achievement has been the hijacking of the Ohrid Agreement by institutionalizing two parallel societies instead of integrating two equal ones. In Macedonia today, Slavic Macedonians and Albanians have limited interaction. They live on opposite banks of the Vardar River. They rarely attend one another’s protests. Each is represented by twin strata of political elites that mirror one another’s corruption and cronyism. Gruevski is indisputably more powerful than Ahmeti; but only through the one-time rebel in the hills has he been able to puppet control over some five hundred thousand Albanians who hardly needed Zaev’s wiretaps to ascertain the depth of VMRO racism against their community. (“How about making a war on the Albanians?” a VMRO minister proposes to another in one recording. “If it’s about showing who is stronger, we will crush them in an hour,” comes the reply.)
In Macedonia today, political elites in both the Slavic and Albanian communities exploit ethnic tensions to distract from the narrative of corruption. The most salient example of this is what happened on Europe Day last May, while mass protests against Gruevski’s wiretapping program paralyzed Skopje’s city center. Forty kilometers northeast of the capital, in the city of Kumanovo, Kosovar gunmen entered the city, allegedly under orders from Albanian mafia bosses. At the same time, (ethnically Slavic) national police were dispatched from Skopje to Kumanovo to conduct a bust of a local drug ring. The two groups collided; a street battle ensued; twenty-two were gunned down. A trial is currently being held, though the defense has argued that shortly after the clash four of the surviving gunmen were executed in a nearby police station to prevent them from testifying against the state. Photographers I met who went to Kumanovo shortly after the shootings said that their memory cards were confiscated by police. Almost immediately Gruevski took to state TV with claims of a renewed Greater Albania insurgency, a new 2001, this one fomented by “participants from several countries, some in the Middle East, which points to their great experience in guerilla fighting.” But most freethinking individuals I met in Macedonia, both ethnic Slavs and Albanians, were convinced that Kumanovo—the deadliest outbreak of violence in the Balkans in a decade—could only have been jointly masterminded by Gruevski and Ahmeti.
THE CULMINATION of Gruevski’s unstable mixture of paranoia and hyper nationalism is something called “Skopje 2014,” an Olympian-scale building project that has demolished Skopje’s Communist city centre and replaced it with a ruthlessly kitsch classical theme park. It is theatrically provocative. Hundreds of bronze and clay statues of muses and Hellenistic kings and Byzantine saints have been mounted on dozens of new bridges, museums, government buildings, fountains and pirate ships. Some have speakers that blare Wagner and John Williams; others monitor passers-by with small cameras; hardly any depict ethnic Albanians. Elaborate statuary is devoted to Alexander the Great being breast-fed and coddled by Olympia, his mother. It’s used as evidence by some Macedonians that “Skopje 2014” has a Freudian underbelly: Gruevski, who allegedly solicits political counsel from his mother, is straining to replicate his lost motherland. At the very least, he’s attempting to show that if Macedonia can’t join the EU, it will become the EU. Walk around Skopje today, and you find concrete-plaster reconstructions of the Arc de Triomphe, the London Eye, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Brandenburg Gate. (There is also a glitzy reproduction of the White House, made out of waterproof plaster mixed with small pieces of glass that enable the building to twinkle when lit at night.)
The wiretaps have revealed that the principal designer of “Skopje 2014” was of course Gruevski himself. “Baroque is one thing, Classicism is another,” he lectures a minister in one recording. “These buildings we saw on our trip to Washington were Classical and the pillars we will have at the Constitutional Court, those are baroque.” Nearly three years past deadline, “Skopje 2014” will cost the average Macedonian two months’ salary by its completion. It doubles as a massive kickback program for VMRO. Construction contracts were tendered to chief party contacts. Gruevski exploited the subjectivity of art to enrich himself. “The point of art is that you can’t put a price on it,” a student activist named Ivana told me at an anti-Gruevski rally in May. “Nation building is your tool for money laundering!” was emblazoned on her poster. “VMRO can charge the state 2 million euros for a 500-thousand-euro fountain and pocket the discrepancy.” The wiretaps have revealed that Gruevski typically solicits 5 percent in kickbacks from construction projects, which would put his profits from “Skopje 2014” at approximately 50 million euros.
Quo vadis, Macedonia? Over the last ten years, the decisionmaking and revenue of the state has become overwhelmingly centralized in Skopje. Several kilometers to the north and west, hills of ethnic Albanians boast little more than crime and roads the state has never bothered to pave; their tax dollars go instead to a capital that has been extravagantly architected to make them feel like strangers in their own country. Many Albanians I met—not just peasants, but activists, journalists and professors in cities like Tetovo and Gostivar—quietly recalled 2001, when they could have destroyed Macedonia. By 2025 the Albanian population is expected to surpass that of the Slavic Macedonians. One wonders what settling of scores may be in order.
On the international scene, today Macedonia really is isolated. The balance in sympathy on the name issue, which had generally been on Skopje’s side for twenty years, now tilts unquestionably towards Athens. Reversing this will require re-demolishing central Skopje, even as construction of “Skopje 2014” remains ongoing; there are Macedonians who talk openly of doing this. As far as the EU is concerned, Brussels has been curiously disengaged ever since it forced Gruevski from power last June: as thousands of protestors continue to march nightly in Skopje pleading for the EU to help fix the democratic apparatuses it watched Gruevski disable, they are met with blunt statements about Macedonians’ need to sort out their crises themselves. Some civic activists I met blamed the refugee crisis and the “stability argument” for this. Why else has Gruevski been allowed to run the state for the last year as a private citizen? Others thought that the EU had lost the political will to be the caretaker of a country that will soon have the finances of Greece. In July, Brussels abruptly withdrew 30 million euros it had previously allocated to reforming Macedonia’s ministries of justice and public finance. This seemed less an indictment of Macedonian political elites than a rebuff to the tens of thousands of Macedonians who see the EU as the only solution to their crisis. Still, the most telling sign about Macedonia’s place in the world today may yet be Vladimir Putin, who has shown little interest in scoring even a thin propaganda victory by shepherding Macedonia, however disingenuously, towards the Eurasian Customs Union. Whereas Moldova is worth a high degree of plotting and subterfuge on the part of Moscow, Macedonia was determined long ago not worth the trouble.
Alexander Clapp is a journalist who lives in Kiev. His work has appeared in the Balkanist and the Times Literary Supplement.
Image: Nikola Gruevski speaking. European People’s Party, CC BY 2.0.
The top half of the infographic is presented as two pie charts, one for Yes, and one for No. They provide an overall summary of the response data from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey at the national level. The survey question asked “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Of the eligible Australians who expressed a view on this question, 61.6% responded Yes and 38.4% responded No. The bottom half of the infographic is a horizontal bar graph which presents the response data at the state and territory level. New South Wales had 2,374,362 eligible electors who expressed a view (57.8%) respond Yes and 1,736,838 (42.2%) respond No. Victoria had 2,145,629 eligible electors who expressed a view (64.9%) respond Yes and 1,161,098 (35.1%) respond No. Queensland had 1,487,060 eligible electors who expressed a view (60.7%) respond Yes and 961,015 (39.3%) respond No. South Australia had 592,528 eligible electors who expressed a view (62.5%) respond Yes and 356,247 (37.5%) respond No. Western Australia had 801,575 eligible electors who expressed a view (63.7%) respond Yes and 455,924 (36.3%) respond No. Tasmania had 191,948 eligible electors who expressed a view (63.6%) respond Yes and 109,655 (36.4%) respond No. Northern Territory had 48,686 eligible electors who expressed a view (60.6%) respond Yes and 31,690 (39.4%) respond No. Australian Capital Territory had 175,459 eligible electors who expressed a view (74.0%) respond Yes and 61,520 (26.0%) respond No.
|New South Wales||2,374,362||57.8||1,736,838||42.2||4,111,200||100|
|Australian Capital Territory(b)||175,459||74.0||61,520||26.0||236,979||100|
|(a) Includes Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (within the Division of Lingiari).|
|(b) Includes Jervis Bay (within the Division of Fenner) and Norfolk Island (within the Division of Canberra).|
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Almost everyone had Wi-Fi in the house due to its convenience. However, there have been some safety concerns and the conclusion it that Wi-Fi can be detrimental to the overall health, especially in children. So, Wi-Fi has a negative effect on various things, from brain health to sleep quality.
The non-thermal radio frequency radiation from Wi-Fi can disrupt normal cellular development, especially fetal development. This radiation affects growing tissues, such as in children and youth. Consequently, they would be more susceptible than average to the described effects and are at greater risk of developmental issues.
Wi-Fi has also a great effect on sleep. If you feel like you cannot fall asleep, have an irregular sleeping pattern, it may be due to the low-frequency modulation from cell phones and Wi-Fi. People who are exposed to electromagnetic radiation have a significantly more difficult time falling asleep. And we all know that sleep deprivation can be harmful to the health.
Wi-Fi affects the concentration and the brain function. So, the brain activity is reduced, and as a result, you may experience trouble concentrating or have memory loss.
Wi-Fi is another reason which threats man’s virility. Hence, exposure to Wi-Fi frequencies reduce sperm movement and cause DNA fragmentation. Moreover, it may impact fertility or increase the risk of abnormal pregnancy.
Many people experience a real physical response to electromagnetic frequencies, including increased heart rate. Therefore, Wi-Fi increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The exposure to electromagnetic radiation increases the risk of tumor development.
Fortunately, there are ways you can protect yourself from the dangers, including:
The effect of radiation is determined on the proximity of the transmitting device to the user. The further away, the less power is received, and this is usually in the “inverse proportion” rule. This means that at a given power output, if you are twice the distance from the source you will receive 1/4 of the radiation power; and if you are 4 times the distance away from the source, 1/16th of the radiation will be received, and so on.
3G devices (in the U.S.A.) don’t really have a set frequency, but rather will operate at various levels ranging from about 800 MHz to 2.4 GHz (more if you’re using Bluetooth or 4G phones).
WiFi signals, on the other hand, share the same general frequency as microwave ovens at right around 2.4 GHz.
But because of how we use these signals, it becomes a battle of distance and duration. Mobile phones are used right next to our skin for short bursts of time, while routers or laptops generally sit far away from us for extremely prolonged periods of time. The UK’s Health Protection Agency noted in 2007 that:
Sitting in a wi-fi hotspot for a year results in receiving the same dose of radio waves as making a 20-minute mobile phone call.
But the thing to learn from this is that you probably don’t have to worry too much about this kind of radiation having any seriously dangerous long-term (cancerous) effects on you (provided you’re not walking around with wireless devices taped to every inch of your skin). That’s not to say long term exposure to low-level radiation might not have other adverse health effects, but it’s hugely unlikely to be cancer. Any radiation below ultraviolet (radio, microwave, infrared, and visible light) is non-ionizing and won’t penetrate bone, meaning it can’t break down atoms (and consequently DNA, leading to cancer) and it can’t get to your brain. The “do power lines/microwaves/mobile phones/next radiation-emitting-device-that-most-people-don’t-fully-understand give you cancer?” studies are all, as they’ll always be, resoundingly inconclusive.
Even the newest WHO review of cell phones (described by CNN with a typically alarmist title) somehow makes the claim that cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” despite the fact that “The WHO work group did not find that there was sufficient evidence linking cancer and environmental or occupational exposures with microwave energy,” implying that the possible carcinogens must come from the phones themselves, and not the radiation.
Looking at the picture above, it is somewhat alarmist as none of those devices would be normally found in a child or baby’s bedroom!
At 15:56 on 28/10/2017 emergency services were called to the small rural town of John’s River, near Port Macquarie NSW, following a report of an aircraft crash just north of the town. The tail of the aircraft could be seen from the dual-lane highway nearby.
Emergency services responded urgently to the scene. Shortly after their arrival it was confirmed that VH-JMW built in 1980, a twin engined, Cessna T310R (c/n 310R1802) had crashed, killing the two occupants on board. There was no fire, however fuel leaking from ruptured fuel tanks was foamed by attending fire units.
VH-JMW (owned by Burley Aircraft) had departed from Toowoomba (YTWB) in Queensland at 13:30, on a published flight plan to Taree (YTRE), NSW, but in fact it’s destination was to be a private airstrip at John’s River, a trip that should take 1 hour 25 minutes.
The trip was uneventful with a cruise altitude of 9,400 feet. At 15:51, on descending through 3,000 feet, the aircraft commenced a rapid descent of 1,200 to 1,500 fpm prior to crashing at 15:56. The flight plan supplied by FlightRadar24 can be seen below.
The cause of the incident remains uncertain and officers from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating the incident. This page will be updated as detail is reported. A preliminary investigation report is expected to be released in about 30 days but a final report may take up to a year.
SB is investigating an aircraft accident involving a Cessna 310R aircraft, registered VH-JMW, that occurred about 40 km SSW of Port Macquarie, NSW on 28 October 2017.
The aircraft collided with terrain, fatally injuring the two persons on board.
The ATSB deployed a team of four investigators to the accident site with expertise that includes aircraft operations, engineering and maintenance.
While on site, the team will be examining the site and wreckage, gathering any recorded data, and interviewing any witnesses.
The ATSB will release a preliminary investigation report in approximately 30 days. A final report into the accident may take approximately 12 months to complete.
However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.
|Date:||28 October 2017||Investigation status:||Active|
|Time:||16:00 ESuT||Investigation type:||Occurrence Investigation|
|Location||Port Macquarie, 40 km SSW||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Pending||Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Expected completion:||September 2018|
|Aircraft manufacturer:||Cessna Aircraft Company|
|Operator:||Burley Aircraft Pty Ltd|
|Type of operation:||Private|
|Damage to aircraft:||Destroyed|
|Departure point:||Toowoomba, Qld|
|Destination:||Johns River, NSW|
They are mainly young men and live in southern states, according to a paper, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers say these young men tend to have grown up in gun-owning households, are politically conservative (Republican) and own more than one type of firearm. Some of these homes own up to seven different types of weapon.
It comes less than three weeks since gunman killed 56 people and injured more than 500 others in an attack at a Las Vegas music festival.
The massacre was the deadliest in the history of the US, which has the highest rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in the developed world.
The study, compiled by researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health, the University of Colorado, the Harvard School of Public Health, and North-eastern University, looked at the handgun-carrying behaviour of 1,444 gun owners using data from a 2015 national survey.
Two-thirds of them said they carried their handguns concealed, while 10 percent did so in an open manner.
The research is the first in more than 20 years to scrutinise how and in what manner US adults carry loaded handguns.
Researchers said state laws on handgun carrying have eased since the 1980s and that some respondents to the survey admitted openly carrying a firearm even in regions where it was illegal.
Emergency vehicle visibility and conspicuity research & comments for the Police, Fire, EMS and Ambulance: The AV Blog is written by John Killeen
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