Saturday, February 14, 2009
Headlines Saturday 14th February 2009
50 dead as passenger plane crashes into US house
Rescue teams battled on Friday to douse a raging firestorm still burning hours after a US commuter plane crashed into a house in New York state and exploded in a deadly fireball, killing 50 people.
Bushfires still burning in Victoria
One week after Victoria's deadly bushfires began, thousands of fire fighters continue to battle the worst natural disaster in Australia's history.
House approves Obama stimulus package
The US House of Representatives has passed a nearly $US790b ($A1.21t) stimulus package that President Barack Obama called "only the beginning".
Fosters lays off volunteer firefighters
Two Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers have lost their jobs at brewing giant Foster's while fighting the fires that savaged Victoria.
China cracks down on local journalists
China plans to create a blacklist of journalists who break its reporting rules, state media reported, adding to the controls restricting its domestic media.
13-year-old father keen to "be a good dad"
A baby-faced boy in the UK has become father, but when asked how he would cope financially, he responded, “What’s financially?”
Arson and child porn: Man charged over deadly bushfire
PM heaps praise on Xenophon for agreeing to stimulus package
Man tries to kill himself with brown snake
Is koala ''Sam'' a fraud?
How to get bullied at school
It's tough to avoid getting beaten up at school, but some kids don't even try. Tim Brunero explains.
Shambolic stimulus set to stagger through
The stimulus package is a shambles but it looks like its going to blunder across the line, according to Alan Jones.
WORLD DESTROYED, MOSTLY
Actress Janeane Garofalo offers a few thoughts on conservatives:
Their policies have destroyed us and most of the world – that’s a fact not an opinion.
Garofalo’s definition of “destroyed” might not match anything in dictionaries. Nor might her definition of “fact”.
Their policies of deregulation, pre-emptive strikes, unmitigated support for Israel to the detriment of the Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, the British. Every single policy that “conservative republicans” have put forth since Reagan has destroyed us.
Didn’t Reagan have something to do with ending the Cold War? That seems contrary to conservative aims of global ruin.
Janeane can see inside people’s brains
To pick another example from Garofalo’s list of destruction, imagine how her own life might be slightly poorer if movie distribution and sales weren’t largely deregulated.
And we affect most of the world, so why do they still get a say? That’s what blows my mind. It’s almost like self-flatulation or masochism in some way.
Self-flatulation? As accurate as this stunning new term is in describing Garofalo’s logical processes, credit for it should probably go to the interview transcribers at Ecorazzi.com rather than Janeane. That site needs more regulation.
The reason a person is a conservative republican is because something is wrong with them. Again, that’s science – that’s neuroscience. You cannot be well adjusted, open-minded, pluralistic, enlightened and be a republican. It’s counter-intuitive. And they revel in their anti-intellectualism. They revel in their cruelty.
Everyone needs a hobby.
First you have to be an asshole and then comes the conservatism. You gotta be a dick to cleave onto their ideology.
Forget ideology; Garofalo has a problem with basic anatomy. Which particular body part are we meant to be? Next, our dickass political theorist discusses Sarah Palin:
There’s definitely something wrong with her. She’s lacking in so many areas … It really is neuroscience. I truly believe that it has something to do with their limbic brain. I really believe that some people’s limbic brain dominates more than others. Our limbic brain controls all our emotions and it causes us to be irrational. Our limbic brain goes into action when we’re ecstatic, frightened, when we’re having sex. I really believe that if a neuroscientist examined the brain of somebody who identified as a conservative, they would find it’s wired differently.
I met Garofalo in Boston a few years ago. She was cute and talky, and we seemed to get along OK, but that was probably only due to me concealing all my severe limbic brain issues.
IMMUNITY WORDS DEPLOYED
Whenever you hear someone say something like this, you know you’re about to be gutshot with a load of global warming bull:
Although any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming …
That was Al Gore, who subsequently linked three individual storms to global warming. And here’s Time‘s Bryan Walsh:
It’s important to acknowledge that no single weather event can be definitively caused by climate change …
The headline on Walsh’s piece: “Why Global Warming May Be Fueling Australia’s Fires.” (Walsh is a noted scientific authority.)
UPDATE. Global Kimming hits North Korea:
North Korean state media have credited the upcoming birthday of leader Kim Jong-Il for a spring thaw on the mountain where he is said to have been born.
FOREIGN POWER ATTACKS
This ought to help with our whole stimulus drive:
Australia faces the prospect of paying an extra $870 million for greenhouse gas emissions after Kevin Rudd’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and a new UN target for carbon pollution.
After a year-long review by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change committee, Australia has been given a tougher target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN has reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions Australia is allowed to produce by 6.6 million tonnes a year.
Thanks, UN. Meanwhile:
Victoria’s bushfires have released a massive amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - almost equal to Australia’s industrial emission for an entire year.
JUST CUT THEM DOWN
Peter Mitchell applied for permission a couple of years ago to remove some trees close to his property. Permission denied. On Saturday, his house burned down. Mitchell plans to rebuild, and this time he won’t be bothering with any council permission nonsense:
“I’m just going to cut down the trees and push the perimeter back a bit more. If I build on the same place, I have to feel I am going to be able to defend it and not play Russian roulette.”
Council reaction will be interesting.
A cultural change is needed to save us:
AUSTRALIANS living in the bush and in semi-rural suburbs must change the way they live or else risk dying in bushfires, according to the man leading the fight against the Black Saturday fires. Russell Rees, chief officer of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority, yesterday said firefighters could no longer guarantee saving the lives of those who chose to surround themselves with vegetation despite the obvious fire risks.
And this, repeating something I noted yesterday:
His warnings came as it emerged that Victoria had ignored repeated demands to reduce bushfire hazards and crack down on “tree-changer” housing estates in the years leading up to Saturday’s deadly fires, which are believed to have killed more than 200 people and left 7000 homeless. The state was berated by the federal government in 2007 for ignoring some of the findings of two national bushfire inquiries held after the 2003 Canberra blaze…
United Firefighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall said… “The recommendations from the (Victorian) royal commission will be no different to those that arose from the inquiries into Ash Wednesday, the Dandenong fires and the Canberra fires, that haven’t been implemented...”
“Mouthed his silent thankyous and was gone”
Paul Toohey, a fine reporter deeply involved in Aboriginal issues, is invited in for a chat by Australia’s third taxpayer-funded TV network:
THE offer was too good to knock back: fly from Darwin to Sydney, business class, stay at the Hilton two nights, and be a panellist on a Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypothetical, being filmed for National Indigenous Television (and screening on NITV tonight at 8pm AEDT).
It’s a must read. Real life as satire. And learn not just how NIT splashes cash, but how our two of our greatest experts on Australian wickedness - Germaine Greer and Geoffrey Robertson - get their material. Or not.
One of Toohey’s good lines:
Greer was not particularly interested in hearing of events unfolding in the north, as relayed by me, so I sat back and listened to her describe an Australia - the place, not the film - with which I was not that familiar.
Save the planet. Endanger the people
Nillumbik Shire, one of the areas that suffered the worst casualties in these fires, last year explained why it wasn’t keen on burning off the fuel piling up so lethally in its forests:
Council believes there should be consideration of greenhouse gas pollution produced from undertaking such burns and the possible contributions to climate change. There may be alternative methods for reducing fire risk to assets such as sensitive slashing or fine fuel removal in firebreak areas.
VICTORIA’S bushfires have released a massive amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - almost equal to Australia’s industrial emission for an entire year.
This madness ends now.
Great advice, via the ABC’s Brigid Andersen:
Keith Crews is a professor of structural engineering at the school of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Technology in Sydney. Professor Crews ... says that underground bunkers could be the answer to protecting people from fires like those Victoria has just witnessed.
“You would need something that is essentially underground because of the insulating quality of the earth,” he said. “Obviously you would need something over the top of that that’s quite well protected.
“The next issue that I think you would have to consider is oxygen or air because when you get a fire storm like that it’s got a tendency to suck up all the air that’s there… The earth is a great insulator. Obviously you would have to give consideration to groundwater and all those issues, but I would assume that something like two to 2.5 metres, so essentially it was like a basement,” he said…
Professor Ross also believes the design of underground car parks could be enhanced to offer communities a safe place to wait out bushfires in larger groups. He says building fire bunkers could be something that becomes mandatory in parts of Australia.
How dare you call us intolerant
One bad way to rebutt a criticism of your faith is to confirm it:
The editor and publisher of The Statesman, a highly respected Kolkata based English daily, have been arrested on charges of “hurting the religious feelings” of Muslims because they printed a piece written last month by Independent columnist Johann Hari.
Hari, a liberal athiest, penned the comment piece, “Why should I respect oppressive religions?”, at the end of January and it was later syndicated by The Statesman. In the article, Hari (somewhat prophetically) lamented how the right to criticise a religion is being steadily eroded around the world.
Muslim protestors in Kolkata, West Bengal, have been causing havoc outside The Statesman’s offices since it ran the article on Feb 5th and police have even used baton charges to disperse them. Staff at The Statesman have had to barricade their front doors for much of the past three days and rely on police escorts to get them to their workplace, which is situated just opposite the Tipu Sultan Masjid, Kolkata’s largest mosque.
Four years left for us
So after 2013 we can down tools?
The planet will be in “huge trouble” unless Barack Obama makes strides in tackling climate change, says a leading scientist.
Prof James McCarthy spoke on the eve of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he heads.
The US president has just four years to save the planet, said Prof McCarthy.
Another “scientist” also seriously claims we have just four years - and then “bang”:
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth…
Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. “We cannot afford to put off change any longer,” said Hansen. “We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.”
NSW Government claims credit for shark attacks
The NSW Government finally manages to do something right. Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald notes there are now more sharks off Sydney, and boasts:
The build-up of numbers has been an objective of the Government.
From the same news story:
The family of a surfer whose hand was partially severed in a shark attack at Sydney’s Bondi Beach last night has thanked his quick-thinking rescuers, amid calls for more protections for swimmers…
Another Sydney man was attacked by a shark on Wednesday morning, during an international counter-terrorism exercise in the inner-city waters of Sydney Harbour. Doctors had to amputate elite Navy diver Paul de Gelder’s right hand after the attack. They are now deciding whether to amputate his right leg.
The one thing these clowns manage to achieve is the one thing you wish they hadn’t.
Her police, her right
Russ Hinze would have understood:
POLICE Minister Judy Spence has admitted pressuring police to carry out a pre-election crime crackdown in her southern Brisbane electorate.
Ms Spence yesterday insisted she saw no problem with calling in Queensland’s top cop and one of his lieutenants for a meeting last week to seek action against an anti-Asian summer crime wave gripping her electorate.
Reader Tom asks the ABC to explain why it took down a poll that showed most respondents thought man-made global warming a myth.
Age withdraws Greer’s licence
The Age is usually only too pleased to hail Germaine Greer as an oracle. But when she quite sensibly blames the ferocity of our fires not on global warming but a lack of fuel reduction burns, she scores this headline:
Another Greer rant: Australian authorities ‘arsonists’.
Bad mother wins compo for failing to love
Did these women want children or a political statement?
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....
During the initial proceedings, the ACT Supreme Court heard that following the twins’ birth, the mother had lost her capacity to love....
The couple, whose combined income is more than $100,000, sought $398,000 from Dr Armellin to cover the costs of raising one of the girls, including fees for a private Steiner school....
Blessed twice over and they sue. What kind of mother has love for one, but none for two? And when do they tell one of their children that they were unwanted and caused their mother to stop loving?
The court should have told them to grow up, get out and act like real mothers.
Not so sorry, really
Joel Gibson, the Sydney Morning Herald’s indigenous affairs reporter (below), clearly wants to praise Kevin Rudd’s apology for encouraging more whites to take the blame for black misery, thus ensuring “we are closer friends than before”. But there’s an embarrassing problem in the statistics that mystifies him:
A crucial difference in attitudes after last year’s apology is that 63 per cent of us now accept that the race-based policies of yesteryear “continue to affect some indigenous people today”.
Strangely, we seem to have gone backwards on this count. The 1996 research found that 72 per cent of people agreed with the statement “many of the problems seen in Aboriginal communities stem from past mistreatment” and 80 per cent said removal policies were bad. Maybe the wording of the questions can account for that anomaly.
Well, that, or the fact that taking a closer look at Aboriginal dysfunction - and the money thrown at trying to fix it - has educated a few more Australians about the true sources of this tragedy. Indeed, it seems that the harder the Reconciliation Industry has worked to convince White Australia to accept the guilt of Black Australia’s troubles, the less convinced the public has become.
Never mind. If saying “sorry’’ didn’t work, Gibson thinks saying “I do” just might:
If more of us did tie such a knot, it might improve our knowledge of and pride in the world’s oldest culture.
I can see the slogan now: “Study Aboriginal culture. Marry an Aborigine.”
Good heavens. What a cold, patronising basis for contracting a marriage. I can’t believe that Gibson himself is married, whether to an Aborigine or Caucasian. But a word in his shell-like: Joel, plenty of non-Aborigines are already more than pleased to marry Aborigines, and not for political reasons but for love:
The 2001 Census indicates that 68 per cent of Indigenous couple families - some 45,000 couple families - include a non-Indigenous partner.
(Image of tenor Harold Blair and his wife Dorothy from the National Film and Sound Archive.)
Pink batts and dead farms
Kevin Rudd gets his stimulus package through, but at a price - a price that just underlines one of its great weaknesses.
Here is what he offered Nick Xenephon to get that last Senate vote he needed:
KEY crossbench Senator Nick Xenophon will support the Government’s economic stimulus package after winning more than $2 billion in funding for the Murray-Darling Basin. Senator Xenophon has secured close to $1 billion in new funding, including $500 million for water buybacks, $200 million in funding for local governments for re-engineering works and $200 million for stormwater recycling
A quarter of that cash is, in effect, to actually decommission irrigated farms, which may be worthy but will not make us more productive - no more than will Rudd’s main spending on pink batts, public housing, school halls and free cash.
And here is the concession Rudd gave the Greens:
Yesterday, the Greens made a $435 million deal with the Government paid for by reducing the $950 cash-bonus bonus to $900. It included $40 million to be spent to build extra bike paths, $50 million in extra help for the unemployed and $300 million for one-off grants to church, charity and community groups for grass-roots job creation schemes.
I mean, bicycle paths?
And to think the bottom line is that we’ve just been signed up for a $35 billion deficit next year, thanks to spending which would not leave us better able to pay it off.