Home Loan Default Day .. for me. Thank you Joe Tripodi (My local state member) and John Della Bosca (my then minister for my workplace).
Pacific Brands execs double their pay before mass lay-offs
Sacked Pacific Brands workers have taken another hit with revelations the company's directors were handed massive pay rises just last year....
Victoria braces for extreme fire danger
Firefighters have acted quickly to get on top of two new fires that have broken out in Victoria's southwest....
Holocaust-denying Bishop apologises
British bishop Richard Williamson apologised to all those he offended with his Holocaust-denying remarks, in a letter to the Vatican released on Thursday through a Catholic news agency....
Hughes fails as Australians struggle on Day 1
Australia have fought back from 3-38 to reach 5-254 at stumps on rain-shortened day one of the first Test against South Africa, after debutant opener Phil Hughes fell for a first-over duck.... Thank the selectors. That is an experience he will never forget - ed.
British house prices in free fall, biggest drop since 1952
British house prices fell at their biggest annual rate since at least 1952 during February, despite tentative signs that massive interest rate reductions from the Bank of England are beginning to stoke interest in the market....
Blanchett and Crowe to team up for Robin Hood
Cate Blanchett will star as Maid Marian alongside Russell Crowe in 'Robin Hood' after Sienna Miller was dumped from the role....
Chris Brown to plead self-defence
Chris Brown will reportedly plead self-defence in his court case, claiming Rihanna attacked him. ..
Woman 'swapped kids for cockatoo, cash'
A US woman is accused of trading two young children in her care for a pet cockatoo and $US175 ($A269) in cash from a couple who had been trying for years to have their own child, police said on Thursday.
A million pensioners could have payments cut
A million pensioners could lose at least part of their payment to allow for an across-the-board increase.
How coffee can prevent skin cancer
Scientists are getting closer to understanding how drinking tea or coffee can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Children found naked, bound and gagged at home
Police rescued a girl and a boy whose relatives kept the children gagged, bound and naked inside a water tank at their home, a Mexico City prosecutor said.
'No one's job is safe': Govt accused of creating panic
Paraglider stuck in tree... for five hours
$4.5m amphetamines haul seized
Pac Brands down... what other businesses will Woolies and Coles kill?
Woolworths and Coles killed Pacific Brands and yet the government does nothing to stop their stranglehold. We must act now, according to Alan Jones.
Woolworths to blame for Pacific Brands collapse
Bonds, Kings Gee, Berlei... they're all viable brands. So what's to blame for Pacific Brands' catastrophic collapse? Alan Jones points the finger at an uncompetitive retail sector.
ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SISTER
Muzzammil Hassan – the let’s-show-the-peaceful-side-of-Islam TV exec who cut off his wife’s head – had prior form as a wife beater, according to the Guardian‘s Wajahat Ali:
Asma Firfirey, the sister of the deceased, stated Aasiya suffered last year from injuries that required nearly $3,000 of medical bills – allegedly the result of spousal abuse.
According to Zerqa Abid, first cousin of Hassan’s first wife, “Both of his earlier wives filed divorce on the same grounds of severe domestic violence and abuses … it took [my cousin] several years to get rid of the fear of living with a man in marriage.”
Despite his shameful history, Hassan mind-bogglingly remained a prominent and adulated figure in Muslim American circles for his contributions to the media. His example, amongst several others, highlights the egregious failure of foresight and insight of American Muslim leadership to carefully vet, screen and ultimately renounce appointed representatives with reprehensible backgrounds.
Click for the whole article, which makes the point that “millions of Muslim, Pakistani and immigrant couples who share the same joys and burdens of marriage like any other, yet never resort to violence, abuse or murder.” True, but – as Ali points out – many women are trapped in a culture hostile to females:
Imam Tahir Anwar, an Imam at South Bay Islamic Association located in San Jose, California, concurs and says instead the problem lies in a “culture” of misogyny that induces fear and shame: “Culturally, women are taught to ‘not speak out’ even if they are beaten. They have to ‘save’ the family and honor.”
Rima Chaudry, a domestic violence victims advocate and counselor based in San Francisco, CA, says survivors of abuse often “face a community that is ignorant about domestic violence and unsupportive.”
Steps are apparently underway to improve matters, or at least to drag them out of the Stone Age:
A nationwide, unified effort entitled “Imams Speak Out: Domestic Violence Will Not Be Tolerated in Our Communities” has commenced to ask all imams and religious leaders to finally discuss this recent tragedy, as well as domestic violence, in their weekly sermon on their upcoming Friday prayer services.
Good luck with that. Imams – particularly those who turn up on YouTube – seem to be the main problem, writes Mona Eltahawy:
Type Muslim+woman+beating into an online search engine and you get a monster’s parade of what I call “YouTube imams” explaining how to beat a woman according to “Islamic teaching.”
Exhibit A: an imam telling his congregation that, according to “Islamic teaching,” there are three types of women for whom nothing but a beating work. I’m proud to say I scored two out of three.
Muslim denial over the abysmal status of women is deeper even than the one over the use of Islam to justify radical violence. Centuries of male-dominated and misogynistic interpretations of Islam are strangling us. We’re told on the one hand that God says men can beat us and yet, when we complain and demand our God-given right to a divorce, we’re told that’s a man’s prerogative.
And when we complain publicly, as I am now, we’re told that we’ve abandoned our faith and that we’re giving ammunition to the Islam haters.
Here’s a crazy idea: how about Islamic men stop bashing women? All Islam haters would then be completely without ammunition. Eltahawy continues:
Let’s start naming and shaming the violent men among us and boycotting their businesses. Given the choice between the “community” and the sister, we must always choose the sister.
Sounds fine to me. Meanwhile:
Under arrest in his wife’s brutal death, Muzzammil Hassan is “almost in shock,” his attorney said Wednesday following a court appearance in Orchard Park.
“He’s having difficulty coping with this,” attorney James Harrington said.
His wife isn’t doing so well, either.
FIER BY NAME
The word “global” kind of suggests that no particular place is safe, but that didn’t stop global warming escapee Adam Fier fleeing the US:
Adam Fier recently sold his home, got rid of his car and pulled his twin 6-year-old girls out of elementary school in Montgomery County. He and his wife packed the family’s belongings and moved to New Zealand—a place they had never visited or seen before, and where they have no family or professional connections. Among the top reasons: global warming.
What were the other reasons? Fondness for rugby union? Respect for the mixed member proportional electoral system? A chance to meet the cast of Outrageous Fortune?
“The guy who moves from here to New Zealand is no different than the guy who moves from the lowland in the Philippines to the highland, or from El Salvador to Honduras,” said Rafael Reuveny, a political economist who studies ecomigration at Indiana University at Bloomington.
Well, he’s a little different. He’s moving to New Zealand for no reason at all. Someone moving to New Zealand should probably first ask why so many New Zealanders move away.
Fier, 38, a computer security professional who used to work at NASA, said he thought hard about the risks of global climate change. He knew moving to a new country would be difficult but thought that the dangers of staying in the United States were worse.
But Obama is lowering the oceans!
Several years ago, he drew up a list of countries and studied how they might fare over the next century. He examined their environmental policies, access to natural resources and whether they would be safe from conflict. He decided that New Zealand would offer a comparable quality of life, has an excellent environmental record and is isolated from global conflicts by large tracts of the Pacific Ocean. Its tropical, subtropical, temperate and arctic zones also offer a variety of “bioenvironments” as a hedge against the vagaries of climate change.
Also, Jonestown shut down years ago.
“I am not going to predict how the climate might change and how it might affect New Zealand,” Fier said. “But quite honestly, I feel in 100 years, one of my daughters is still going to be alive and this planet is going to be a mess. If I didn’t have two daughters, I would not be doing this.”
His 106-year-old daughter is going to be stuck in Taranaki wondering: “What the hell am I doing here?” (By the way, how come only one of Fier’s twins gets to survive past 100?)
[Fier] argued that people who do nothing in the face of risk are the ones who are being irrational …
Hey, you 300 million Americans who haven’t moved to New Zealand: irrational!
“This is an absolutely rational way to do things,” agreed Reuveny, who moved from Israel to Indiana with an eye on environmental concerns.
He’s moved to the very country that Fier has just fled. This lunatic has a death-wish.
Joe Biden can’t remember the website number for recovery.gov.
UPDATE. And Obama can’t remember who invented the automobile.
Was Peter Garrett a co-spiker or merely a tree stander?
Anti-whaling activist Paul Watson has admitted spiking trees in Canada—with Peter Garrett standing beside him.
The Steve Irwin’s captain made the statement at a packed talk to about 600 people at the University of Tasmania last night.
He said Environment Minister Peter Garrett had been standing alongside him at the protests of the time.
“We spiked them and I know people don’t want to hear that here, but it works - it’s inoculation against a disease called clear-cutting,” he said.
“We spiked them then put out a press release saying we had. I know it’s controversial but nobody ever got injured. Certainly I have no remorse.” …
Tree-spiking, which involves the hammering of a metal or another hard substance rod into trees, has not been considered acceptable by Tasmania’s conservation movement and is considered dangerous to loggers.
Perhaps Watson – who should be run out of town as a matter of general policy – was only joking.
UPDATE. Garrett’s office “strongly denied” the claims. Maybe Watson is messing with Garrett’s big shiny head, due to them no longer being friends:
Capt Watson was scathing of the Federal Government, saying it was worse than the previous government and Mr Garrett far worse than predecessor Ian Campbell, now an adviser to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Campbell signed up with these lunatics last month.
RABID RAISIN RICE PUDDING RIP-OFF
Organic food gurus Al and Erin Rosas stand accused of picture piracy. The green duo are alleged to have stolen images of eggplant parmesan, a pork chop and Nobu cod for use on their site. Worse still, Al Rosas is accused of stealing and renaming a dish as Chef Al’s Rabid Raisin Rice Pudding. Hit the pudding link for further foodish details.
FROM LAWN TO LAW
Eric Rieseberg, the guy who said mean things to a nosey lawyer, has faced court on a charge of criminal threatening. Here’s the verdict.
Bitter biter bit better
One of the editors hired by Mr Eric Beecher, campaigner for ”quality journalism”, writes to Tim Blair:
I know we’re not the best of Internet mates, but I was hoping we might be able to put that aside for a few minutes. A blogger who I assume you have had dealings with from time to time, J.F. Beck, has written a post about me that is quite clearly defamatory by suggesting that I have paedophilic thoughts. This is in addition to a previous post where he makes a similar suggestion. Now, I’m all for political name-calling on the blogosphere, but this has the potential to seriously damage my name, reputation and career. The word “paedophile” is about as bad as it gets.
I have emailed Beck and asked him to remove the posts. I would like, if possible, to avoid having to take the matter further. I’m sure that you can see that these posts cross a line and perhaps you might have a quick word to Beck for me and encourage him to take the posts down.
Tim Blair replies:
Considering that your site has labelled me a racist male prostitute who f...s dogs, I’m probably not the right person to ask about this. I have difficulty finding the “line” you believe has been crossed.
Dennis Shanahan says Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is not just floundering, but drowning:
But an ineffectual response (in this week’s SAS pay debacle) contained on a page torn out of a spiral notebook, blame shifting, and a typically - but completely out of place - smiling and flippant manner, are not Fitzgibbon’s only problems. All that could pass with Prime Ministerial support.
Fitzgibbon’s problems are much wider and are feeding his colleagues’ perceptions that he was promoted beyond his capability and is failing in the defence portfolio.
Certainly, there appears to be confusion about the Defence White Paper; there is tension between the minister and the military chiefs; rivalry exists between the minister and his highly efficient Parliamentary Secretary, Greg Combet; there are continuing cost blowouts in some of the Government’s biggest budget items; and none of this is helped by a stultifying and unresponsive defence bureaucracy.
All encouraging for the Opposition, of course. But it’s all for nothing until it gets right its position on emissions trading, and sharpens its attack on the Government’s astonishing spending spree.
As Alan Wood says:
Ask yourself, do you believe that the worst global recession since the Depression, with job losses accelerating, is the time for Australia to introduce a carbon trading scheme that will squeeze growth, jobs and investment?
Beware the neo-interventionists
Michael Costa coins a perfect label:
The way Garrett’s department administers the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act provides a perfect rebuttal of Rudd’s recent neo-interventionist call for greater government involvement in economic development.
And the instance he gives of Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s neo-interventionism shows how absurdly hostile to development this green-preaching government is, even as thousands of Australians are losing their jobs each week:
The handling of a residential development at North Cooranbong in the Hunter Valley, undertaken by the Johnson Property Group, shows just how out of control Garrett’s department has become.
This project was approved by all relevant NSW government departments, complied with the state government’s regional strategy and conservation plan and the developer had provided environmental offsets in accordance with NSW legislation.
Despite this, after eight years of assessments, Garrett’s department intervened at the last moment and is demanding more land be quarantined for ecological reasons, which will have the effect of increasing the price of land packages by $30,000, making the project financially unviable.
A charter of their rights only
He’s right, of course:
THE head of a government-picked committee investigating whether Australia should adopt a charter of rights has taken aim at Victoria’s model, dismissing it as “legislative window-dressing” used to enact a soft-Left political agenda.
In a speech in Melbourne yesterday, Jesuit intellectual Frank Brennan (said)....Victoria’s charter of rights had failed its first test by not enforcing a freedom-of-conscience clause in new laws decriminalising abortion that would have excused doctors who objected to performing abortions from referring patients to other doctors they knew did not…
He warned the Victorian model was ”a device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda -- a device which will be discarded or misconstrued whenever the rights articulated do not comply with that agenda”.
Exactly like Victoria’s laws against racial vilification, which have been used less on hatepreachers than on their critics.
Why only free tests for city folk who are Aboriginal?
KEVIN Rudd has taken the fight against indigenous disadvantage to the cities, promising free health checks to urban Aborigines to detect disease early...
So Ernie Dingo can now get free tests, but not his white wife?
Forgiving Obama’s flopping
GOOD thing for Barack Obama that he isn’t George Bush. He’d have been slaughtered for starting so badly that he’s picking a Cabinet of tax cheats.
But a month since he was sworn in as President, Obama has lost not a fleck off his golden tongue.
Nor has he stopped entrancing opinion makers as America’s first African-American leader.
So for those impressed more by words and racial symbols than performance, the most unqualified president since before even John F. Kennedy remains above the kind of vicious media criticism routinely heaped on Bush.
But how loudly would the people who cheer Obama have screamed if Bush had, for instance, surrounded himself with this extraordinarily long list of spivs and chiselers?
There’s Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader whom Obama picked as Health secretary, but was forced to quit for having failed to pay more than $150,000 in taxes - and for pulling a mysterious $1.5 million a year as an influence-peddler to a law firm.
A rescue that’s drowning us
THE sacking of 1850 workers by Pacific Brands this week showed why the Rudd Government risks turning a disaster into a catastrophe.
Just one month ago, Treasurer Wayne Swan dismissed concerns that his first big stimulus package - its $10.4 billion free money giveaway in December - had not worked by claiming we were at least buying a lot more undies (and, boy, do we need them now).
“The evidence from Woolworths ... showed that there was a very significant impact on spending on the basics of life, such as school shoes, such as socks and jocks, such as polo shirts and so on.”
But it turns out that if we were spending our free money on socks and jocks, rather than booze and pokies, they weren’t sock and jocks made here.
Pacific Brands, maker of said jocks, said competition from imports - not to mention its inefficient, overgeared operation - had forced it to close its clothing manufacturing in Australia.
The Government still claims that without its stimulus package last year - and now its $42 billion sequel - this crunch would be even worse.
But really? When the evidence so far suggests the Government’s rescue packages aren’t working as advertised?
Queensland Lib Nats looking sunny
It seems voters have worked out that Anna Bligh is treating them like mugs, rushing to an early election before they find out how sour the economy has gone under her:
QUEENSLAND voters have turned against Anna Bligh and the Labor Party, according to the latest poll, which puts the Liberal National Party in a strong position at the start of the campaign. The Galaxy poll of about 800 voters, taken on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and made public last night, shows the major parties locked 50-50 on a two-party-preferred basis.
Small poll, though, Big margin of error.
Which tyrant would hate Obama’s new pick?
Barack Obama has posed as a champion of human rights, a foe of tyrants and a staunch defender of Israel. But much that Obama says is not matched so far by what he actually does. And so it is here, with his not-denied slating of Charles “Chas” Freeman (right), the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as his gatekeeper to US intelligence.
Freeman seems certain to be made chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for compiling intelligence from 16 US agencies into National Intelligence Estimates for the president. Gabriel Schoenveld explains why this would be a terrible mistake:
Either way, if those complaining loudest about politicized intelligence have indeed placed a China-coddling Israel basher in charge of drafting the most important analyses prepared by the U.S. government, it is quite a spectacle. The problem is not that Mr. Freeman will shade National Intelligence Estimates to suit the administration’s political views. The far more serious danger is that he will steer them to reflect his own outlandish perspectives and prejudices.
Judge for yourself from the man’s own words.
Freeman on Tianamen Square:
I find the dominant view in China about this very plausible, i.e. that the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than—as would have been both wise and efficacious—to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China. In this optic, the Politburo’s response to the mob scene at “Tian’anmen” stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action.
Freeman on Israel:
American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel’s American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation – whatever form it takes – will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.
Freeman on calls for Palestinians to end terrorism:
The fact is, of course, that Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent. Occupations are acts of violence. The dispossession of people from their land is an act of violence. Preventing people from coming to and going from their own country is an act of violence. And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.
Freeman on the cause of Middle East terrorism:
And the problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it. Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending.
Freeman on the Saudis:
It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think that is the case.
Freeman on Hamas and Hezbollah:
I’m a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them--to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad.
John Pilger does it again, perfectly demonstrating how little he can be trusted. Here is his latest claim - typically alleging dark conspiracies by a democracy:.
In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the “coalition” in landmine technology - in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere except Afghanistan. “I confirm,” Thatcher wrote to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, “that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them.” The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the “coalition”.
Oliver Kamm shows how baseless is Pilger’s claim - so baseless that Pilger and his publishers once paid plenty for it, leading Pilger’s QC at the time to read out this grovelling apology:
The defendants now accept that neither plaintiff has ever trained Khmer Rouge or any other guerrillas and particularly not in mine-laying or any other military techniques which would be directed against civilians. Neither plaintiff would ever contemplate any such thing and would refuse to do it if ordered.
Alan Kohler says get out of super:
It’s simply because investments (by super funds) in direct property, direct infrastructure, hedge funds, and private equity are valued only periodically, often just once a year. What’s more, market valuations are not used, but rather discounted cashflows and net present value of income flows using capitalisation rates.
The future cash and income flows are little more than a guess these days, and capitalisation rates are moving sharply against the funds.
So it is imperative that super fund members get out while they can. The risk of staying in a superannuation default fund is now incredibly high.
If you can cash your fund in, do so; if it’s too early to retire, then switch to a 100% listed option within the fund. You will be overpaid by at least 10% for your default fund units and make an instant profit of that amount.
(Thanks to reader James, who suggests that Kohler’s comments apply more to industry funds, and that the balanced investment options of funds such as Colonial and Perpetual are not exposed to the types of investments Kohler warns against. I don’t know myself, so can’t say.)
Let someone else save the planet
I think these Australian National University researchers are trying too hard to find a green commitment that their own survey tells them isn’t there:
Australians are willing to put their money where their mouth is to address climate change, but not to pay anywhere near the expected costs of the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
That’s the key finding from a survey from researchers at the Australian National University.
Actually, the key finding is that Australians are prepared to pay no more than lip service to stop a catastrophe they’ve not sure is coming.
Michael Stutchbury explains one reason why they are right to cling to their wallets:
Take the Government’s porky that its fiscal stimulus plan to put ceiling insulation in every Australian home will cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 million tonnes by 2020. That’s now turned into what some claim to be the “fatal flaw” of the Rudd Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme, or ETS. Neither ceiling insulation, solar panels nor riding a bike to work will actually cut one tonne of overall carbon emissions, at least not at first.
Such efforts will simply provide room for “big polluters” to pump out more greenhouse gases underneath the Government’s overall emissions cap out to 2020.
Here’s that “porky”:
Kerry O’Brien: Is it true that individuals who decide to reduce their own personal carbon footprint may end up subsiding the big polluters because of the way you have structured your carbon emission scheme?
(Climate Change Minister Penny) Wong: Well, no. What I’ve said very clearly is voluntary action does contribute to Australia meeting its targets, and does contribute to the Government being able to reach targets that it sets and set more ambitious targets into the future. And secondly, what we will be able to do, as we set our targets, is to ensure - is to recognise the fact - that a range of measures can contribute to those targets. And the carbon ... and the cap be reduced the following year.
And here’s the truth:
Not according to section 4.3.2 of the Government’s CPRS white paper, which says the 2020 target is fixed and the cap can be adjusted only five years in advance:
A FIVE-YEAR indicative trajectory strikes a reasonable balance between predictability and flexibility. To maintain a reasonable level of guidance, the indicative trajectory can be extended by one year, every year, from 2010 onwards, so that the trajectory for the current year and four future years (is) always known.
How to praise Bush, the Age way
The Age’s Philippa Hawker says I’m wrong:
IF YOU were expecting director Oliver Stone to skewer George Bush, you’ll be sorely disappointed with W.
Boy, do I feel silly. So Stone has instead made a film showing Bush much as he is - honorable, disciplined, determined and courteous?
An almost indulgent Stone presents us with the younger Bush .. as an amiable goof with spurts of resentment who wins the love of a good woman (Elizabeth Banks) and the presidency but is vulnerable to manipulation.
He is a frat boy who never grew up, an Oedipal figure whose constant, instinctive rebellion against his remote, unappreciative father (James Cromwell) leads him unwittingly to the White House. There is something almost as unconsidered and Oedipal, according to Stone, about his decision to invade Iraq…
There is an element of satirical critique in the depiction of the machinations of Bush’s closest advisers, on whom he bestows trust and nicknames.
The chief manipulators are shown to be Dick Cheney (played by Richard Dreyfuss with a delightful mixture of restraint and relish) and Karl Rove (Toby Jones). Scott Glenn is a somewhat under-imagined Donald Rumsfeld, while Thandie Newton presents Condoleezza Rice as an impossibly buttoned-up figure, as rigid as a Thunderbirds marionette.
Gee, Philippa, don’t save those kisses for me.
Mark Naglazas of the West Australian is also guilty of false advertising - or clueless typing. W, he claimes, is:
Oliver Stone’s surprisingly understated and even-handed account of the life of the man his harshest critics are gleefully describing as the worst president in American history.
(Stone) has set out to trace the source of George Walker Bush’s jaw-dropping career arc, from coke-sniffing party animal to leader of the free world to political punchline, back to the struggle with his impossible-to-please father… However, the 1960s veteran Stone ... cannot resist depicting Bush as he has been for much of his presidency — a shallow buffoon who, in a just world, would struggle to get a job cleaning toilets in the White House.... And later when George W.’s band of merry men and one woman plot war against Saddam Hussein ... Stone brings up the theme song from the TV show Robin Hood (Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen . . .).
Understated. Even-handed. You know, like the ABC.
A freak, not a trend
William Kininmonth, former head of the National Climate Centre, explains the freak weather that helped to create the Black Saturday fires, and concludes:
It is fashionable to promote climate change as being a contributor to changing fire frequency and intensity. The pattern of rainfall over the past century does not point to a trend of reduction in rainfall. Nor has any link been offered between global temperature trends and the meteorology of Victorian heatwaves. Extreme bushfire events are rare events and must be analysed according to the statistics relating to rare events; the breaking of a previous temperature record established 70 years earlier does not establish an underlying trend.
Remarkably, and to its credit, this piece appears in The Age.
Obama’s windy words, words, words
AP fact-checks Barack Obama’s speech to Congress, subjecting the new president to rare scrutiny.
The findings? No, Obama’s new housing plan won’t stop money going to dumb speculators. No, America didn’t invent the car. No, the US isn’t importing “more oil today than ever before”. No, his “$2 trillion in savings over the next decade” aren’t real. No, his new budget doesn’t “end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them”. No, his budget does not “finally end… the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas” No, his recovery plan will not “double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years”. No, we cannot be sure his plan “will save or create 3.5 million jobs”.
The rest of the speech was pretty good, though. Except for the bits that weren’t.
Iran insists on confronting Obama
Iran refuses to use the excuse that would let Barack Obama off the hook:
Iran denied it had slowed down its nuclear activities and said it planned to install 50,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium over the next five years, a senior Iranian nuclear official said on Wednesday.
The U.N. nuclear agency watchdog said last week that Iran had slowed the expansion of its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz but had built up a stockpile of nuclear fuel…
U.S. President Barack Obama has said the United States is prepared to talk to Tehran, in a break from his predecessor’s approach, but his administration has also warned of tougher sanctions if Iran refuses to halt its nuclear work.
Students hot for Gaia
It seems the Rudd Government would rather children sweat than sin against the environment, and pray to Gaia rather than God:
Some $12.4 billion set aside for major projects in primary schools can’t be used “for the building or refurbishment of any facility which has religious worship as its primary purpose”. The same restriction applies to $1.3 billion dedicated for minor refurbishments in all schools, along with a ban on the installation or refurbishment of airconditioning.
Teaching Pearson, not the kids, a lesson
What Pearson should understand is that the Rudd Government will not set a target that would actually force it to get tough:
INDIGENOUS leader Noel Pearson yesterday launched a scathing attack on the Rudd Government for refusing to take up the challenge of low school attendance and its “miserable” targets for reducing indigenous disadvantage.
Mr Pearson told The Australian that ensuring children went to school could open the way to tackling many more difficult issues in indigenous affairs.
But despite a strong public response to the proposal, which he backed, from fellow indigenous leader and Australian of the Year Mick Dodson that every indigenous child be enrolled in school by January 26 next year, there had been “not a word” from the Government, he said.
Imagine what the Government would have to do to reach this essential target. No wonder the targets it does set are in the never-never land of 2020 or, even betterm 2050.
Treasurer Wayne Swan in January explaining why the Government’s $10.4 billion December stimulus worked:
Well, the evidence from Woolworths just yesterday, showed that there was a very significant impact on spending on the basics of life, such as school shoes, such as socks and jocks, such as polo shirts and so on.
Pacific Brands, maker of socks and jocks, in February showed why it didn’t:
Pacific Brands workers are reeling from the news that 1850 of them will be sacked over the next year as the company shuts down its clothing manufacturing in Australia by 2010.
Terry McCrann warns that “stimulus’’ money isn’t helping where politicians hope and how we should want:
The story of Dunlop/PacBrands is the story in microcosm of the country’s broader, long, slow retreat from protection and local manufacture. Just as the various ‘car plans’ are the Canute-like attempt to turn back the irresistible rise of imports....
It should be self-evident that all the budget billions thrown to consumers ain’t going to keep those PacBrands factories open and the workers in jobs… What if the spending prompted by the budget billions and the lower rates just pours overseas? Into imports?
Lenore Taylor seconds McCrann’s first point:
The $10 million a year the Government has been giving Pacific Brands over the past two financial years now doesn’t seem like money well spent.
Yet Industry Minister Kim Carr, the Socialist Left faction heavy, is actually still boasting that he’s wasted those millions:
But this is a case where the Government has done all that it can, it’s providing up to $10-million per annum to this company...
And worse is that he and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd are pumping hundreds of millions more dollars to prop up another fading industry:
The figures for Kevin Rudd’s latest bail-out to Holden - ostensibly to make a new “green” car - ... works out to taxpayers giving $100,000 a year for three years to every worker involved in this project, including even those working only part-time…
Why the cash for the car and clothing industries - and Rudd’s $4 billion Ruddbank for commerical construction projects? Former NSW Labor Treasurer Michael Costa explains:
Maybe it’s a coincidence but these also tend to be highly unionised sectors represented by politically significant ALP-affiliated unions....
Once again we see the Left in charge of the economy, splashing billions of money we don’t have to prop up pet industries that still face collapse, while “stimulating” short-term demand that still stays flat, leaving us with rising job queues and mounting debts.
Next, Rudd’s plan to hit manufacters with a new tax on their emissions - a tax that can only help the Chinese factories now making Pacific Brand’s stuff offshore. And help any other Chinese company competing with our own.