Friday, February 13, 2009
Headlines Friday 13th February 2009
First shark attack on Bondi Beach in 80 years
There's been another shark attack overnight, with a man having his arm partially severed while surfing at Bondi Beach.
Vic firies make progress in cool weather
A spell of cool, calmer weather has allowed firefighters to build new control lines and extend others as Victoria's bushfire crisis enters its sixth day.
Firebug strikes during bushfire telethon
Police are hunting a firebug whose actions briefly threatened the Mornington Peninsula town of Baxter on Thursday night, as the Nine Network aired its bushfire relief telethon.
Lesbian mums win claim against doctor
A lesbian couple who said having two IVF babies instead of one damaged their relationship have won an appeal against their doctor and been awarded $317,000 in compensation.
'Sorry' not enough: Calls for more action, one year on
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Parliament apologising to the Stolen Generation, but the government admits work still needs to be done.
Two men arrested over Vic bushfires cleared of arson
Two people arrested in relation to Victoria's deadly bushfires have been released without charge.
ATM exploded at Villawood
CFA volunteer dies in suspicious house fire
Koala Sam - our new global star
Govt to rush stimulus package back through parliament
PALEONTOLOGIST, HEAL THYSELF
Following massive deaths in Victoria, Tim Flannery wants Australians to endure some root cause self-loathing:
Let’s hope that Australians ponder the deeper causes of this horrible tragedy, and change our polluting ways before it’s too late.
Flannery, who previously flew to the US to deliver $50,000 speeches, knows all about “our polluting ways”. From the same Guardian piece in which he condemns Australian pollution:
The day after the great fire burned through central Victoria, I drove from Sydney to Melbourne …
For the past 12 years a new, drier climate has established itself. I could measure its progress whenever I flew into Melbourne airport.
Which “ways” would Flannery like us to change?
A cartoon apparently first published in 1956:
Via David G., who notes: “Still relevant.”
UPDATE. José M. Guardia observes, with disgust:
A poll commissioned by the ADL shows that 33% of Europeans blame the Jews for the financial meltdown. A mind-boggling 74% Spaniards think so; another 2/3 of Spaniards think that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries.
CLIMATE CHANGE POOCHIES
Just who we need during these testing times – the Extreme Weather Heroes:
Via Kae. Let’s hear some more from the heroes’ site:
The average Australian household generates around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year. Help us inspire new green communities to emerge in the aftermath of severe weather events, to cut the greenhouse cycle.
Go tell it to the Prime Minister, heroes.
SHOOK HIM ALL NIGHT LONG
The sex-crazed US agents of Islamic fable are back:
A suspect in the Mumbai Massacre has claimed a woman FBI agent tortured him with SEX during an interrogation.
Fahim Ansari — accused of helping the jihadi gang who killed 173 in November — says the American performed a sex act on him against his will.
He claims this amounts to torture because he is a devout Muslim.
Ansari alleges the woman stripped him naked, abused him all night — leaving wounds and bite marks — and showed him hardcore porn films.
In Sydney, this is known as “Saturday night”.
TREES LIVE, PEOPLE DIE
Warwick Spooner, whose mother and brother were killed in Victoria’s fires, speaks truth to Nillumbik council:
“We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” he said.
UPDATE. Nillumbik tree fans previously promoted their area as the lungs of Melbourne.
(Via Mystery Meat and Small Dead Animals)
UPDATE II. Prior warning:
The shire council covering some of the areas hit hardest by the bushfires was warned five years ago that its policy of encouraging people to grow trees near their homes to give the appearance of a forest would lead to disaster.
One of Australia’s leading bushfire experts, Rod Incoll, warned Nillumbik Shire Council in a 2003 report that it risked devastation if it went ahead with changes to planning laws proposed by green groups that restricted the removal of vegetation.
Police attend a South Carolina burglary in progress, only to meet another Obama believer:
They walked into a bedroom and found a man lying on the floor drunk off his ass with some weed in the room. The man struggled to his feet and an officer handcuffed him until he proved, via some mail addressed to him, that the apartment was his. But the pot tested positive so he was taken outside to a squad car, whereupon he started cursing and wouldn’t get into the car.
He wailed that President Obama would free him. But the cops weren’t intimidated and he was charged with drunkenness, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
The cops searched the apartment and found all the trappings of pot dealing, including digital scales, pipes and about $1,000 in cash. So the man was further charged with possession with intent to distribute and possession in close proximity to a school ...
Healesville now is being threatened again. An urgent threat message has been issued by the CFA.
Given the size of the catastrophe, this now seems mad:
CANBERRA and the states baulked at the $20 million cost of a telephone-based alert system that would have given early warning of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires, a secret report shows.
This shows us at our best:
AUSTRALIA’S highest profile stars have raised more than $20 million for bushfire victims in the Australia Unites telethon.
Yesterday the police said arsonists were now not suspected to have caused the worst of the fires. A day later, this:
FEARS are mounting that arsonists lit the Marysville blaze that may have killed as many as 100 people.
And to see what kind of utterly amoral people we are dealing with, two more fires were deliberately lit yesterday, in the midst of this devastation and our grief:
Mr Brumby said there was every indication that the Mansfield fire, which started yesterday, was deliberately lit.
Those warnings we failed to heed
JOHN Brumby says he will call a royal commission into the fires that have so mauled us.
“We want to put in place whatever arrangements are necessary to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Good, Premier. But the question is: will your government this time listen?
Every time we suffer a disastrous bushfire it’s the same. In our agony, we set up an inquiry.
Cold months - even years - later, that inquiry tells us that we must especially do more fuel reduction burns to stop forest litter from mounting so high that it turns a fire into a turbo-fuelled inferno, impossible to fight.
And each time governments ignore them. Or forget them. Or hear too late.
In fact, no government has ignored them more completely than this one, doing fewer and fewer fuel reduction (or prescribed) burns over this past 10 years, until time had run out.
Here, let me quote the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s fire manager of the very region which contains the now annihilated towns of Kinglake and Marysville, where so many of our 200 dead perished.
Here he is, just 16 months ago, telling a parliamentary inquiry how far behind the DSE was on its paltry targets for prescribed burns - and why:
“It is hard to put a finger on, to say in this urban interface environment how you can increase that level of prescribed burning - double it, to get up to our target - without having a huge influx of resources.” (My emphasis.)
Those resources never came. But resources sure were there for the green causes this Government preferred to chase.
Name 10, Mr Rudd
The Australian describes how Kevin Rudd researched his speech last year in which he said sorry to the “stolen generations”:
Mr Rudd used an excerpt from a paper by academic Robert Manne that was provided by Victorian Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, and was given a departmental response to comments by right-wing columnist Andrew Bolt and historian Keith Windschuttle in relation to the Stolen Generations.
That response would be worth gold to me. I’m betting that the department’s response fails to come up with 10 examples of children truly stolen just because they were Aboriginal, and not because they needed help.
If I’m wrong, Rudd should release that response just to discredit me and my doubts..
Der Spiegel reports on another eco-scam:
Germany’s renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country’s electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.
But there’s a catch: The climate hasn’t in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven’t prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.
Even more surprising, the European Union’s own climate change policies, touted as the most progressive in the world, are to blame. The EU-wide emissions trading system determines the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted by power companies and industries. And this amount doesn’t change—no matter how many wind turbines are erected…
On the contrary. Germany was able to sell unused certificates across Europe—to coal companies in countries like Poland or Slovakia, for example. Thanks to Germany’s wind turbines, these companies were then able to emit more greenhouse gases than originally planned. Given the often lower efficiency of Eastern European power plants, this is anything but environmentally beneficial.
There is another catch, of course. How much in subsidies and taxes are needed to keep the windmills turning?
Too few arsonists to blame
There was an awful lot of talk about ”mass murderers‘’ who should ”rot‘’ in jail for setting fires on Saturday, but I think we need to focus back on what the authorities did - or failed to do - that made these fires so lethal:
ARSON is unlikely to be the cause of most of the bushfires that ravaged Victoria on Saturday, including the deadly Kinglake complex blaze, according to a special police taskforce.
Assistant Commissioner Dannye Moloney said the Phoenix Taskforce, which was announced yesterday to investigate the causes of the fires, had divided the bushfires into six regions, only one of which was now being treated as suspicious.
He said information from residents and firefighters led police to suspect arson was involved in the fires that started in Churchill and spread to Hazelwood and Callignee, killing at least 21 people
Not warm enough
Reader R. is wondering why global warming didn’t clear the way for her Antarctic cruise:
Can you please suggest a website where I could find statistics about the sea ice build-up in the Ross Sea in recent years? Let me explain.
I’ve just returned from a 26-day voyage to Antarctica run by Aurora Expeditions, travelling (8 Jan - 2 Feb) from Hobart to Bluff (NZ). We each paid, on average, $A20,000 for the trip. Aurora Expeditions markets this voyage as the Ross Sea Explorer - and its focus is on Deep Antarctica with its historic huts plus the Dry Valleys. The brochure certainly warns intending passengers that heavy ice may block our passage, but the pictures and other details are very seductive. Fair enough - that’s marketing.
But by the time the 86 passengers disembarked in NZ we were not happy little Vegemites, for various reasons. We had been informed by letter dated 30 December that there was a large build-up of sea ice in the Ross Sea region, which would probably mean heading to Commonwealth Bay instead. What fuelled passenger discontent was the claim in this letter that “This is a very rare occurrence - normally at this time of year much of the sea ice has melted and our passage to the Ross Sea is clear”. The passenger’s rumour mill said that the same thing had happened to the Ross Sea Explorer voyage last year, although I have no formal confirmation of this. Our expedition did eventually get in to the Ross Sea, but only for a few days before we had to turn northwards again because the pack ice threatened to close up again.
Passengers are now asking each other just how often this level of pack ice has built up in recent years, and how often the promised Ross Sea expedition has been redirected elsewhere… If you could suggest a URL which shows the sea ice statistics, I would be grateful.
Reds search under beds for Jews
Ian Buruma on yet another threat to the Jews - and not just them:
A CHINESE bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.
Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I’d Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder’s Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar’s army in 1905.
What evil itch precisely does anti-Semitism scratch? And why has anti-Semitism become so fashionable even in our salons, where the cultivated carefully insist on a distinction they swear they can detect: “I’m just anti-Zionist, of course. Jews, though, are a remarkable people. No, no, no, this isn’t anti-Semitism at all.”
It’s like the Left’s attitude to Bush. They’re not anti-American, of course, just against any American leader who in fact defends its essential values. Before Russia joined the Allies in World War Two it was the same with that sort. Chamberlain was much more liked than Churchill.
At best we’ve bought time
Too slim a defeat for us to be sure our billions are safe:
THE Senate has rejected the Rudd Government’s $42 billion economic stimulus package amid heated debate.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon joined with the Coalition to block the package. The Australian Greens and Family First’s Steve Fielding voted with the Government, which needed the support of all crossbenchers to carry the bills.
Kevin Rudd, though, isn’t the biggest loser. Fielding is.
And what a pity that the everyone except the Coalition is arguing not about the gargantuan size of the debt this leaves us, but on how precisely to squander the cash.
Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’
I thought it was immoral - almost illegal - to doubt?
TREASURER Wayne Swan has asked a powerful House economics committee to judge whether the proposed emissions trading scheme is the best way to tackle climate change. The move appears to throw its schedule for the introduction of an emissions trading scheme into doubt…
House of Representatives Economic Committee to examine the choice of emissions trading as the Government’s key weapon against climate change and report back in the second half of this year. Mr Swan’s terms of reference ask the committee to “inquire into the choice of emissions trading as the central policy to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution, taking into account the need to: reduce carbon pollution at the lowest economic cost; put in place long-term incentives for investment in clean energy and low-emission technology; and contribute to a global solution to climate change.”
What chance that any MP on that committee call a witness or three to cast doubt not just on the emissions trading scheme, but on the theory on which it so precariously rests?
Let’s check the members:
Mr Craig Thomson MP (Chair) (Australia Labor Party, Dobell NSW)
The Hon Kevin Andrews MP (Deputy Chair) (Liberal Party of Australia, Menzies VIC )
The Hon Julie Bishop MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Curtin WA)
Mr David Bradbury MP (Australia Labor Party, Lindsay NSW)
The Hon Joe Hockey MP Liberal Party of Australia, North Sydney NSW)
Ms Sharryn Jackson MP (Australia Labor Party, Hasluck WA)
Mr Richard Marles MP (Australia Labor Party, Corio VIC)
Ms Julie Owens MP (Australia Labor Party, Parramatta NSW)
The Hon Tony Smith MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Casey VIC)
Mr Jim Turnour MP (Australia Labor Party, Leichhardt Qld)
One to give us hope of a debate? Two?
Your loss is planet’s gain
The sight of so many people losing their jobs can still bring a smile to the face of a planet-saver like Ross Garnaut:
THE international economic downturn may result in a short-term benefit with a decrease in production leading to a slowing in the growth of greenhouse pollution, one of the Federal Government’s top advisers has forecast.
At least he makes the link explicit - the most effective global warming policies will make you poorer.