Saturday, February 21, 2009
Headlines Saturday 21st February 2009
Arrest me: Captain challenges police after Steve Irwin searched
The skipper of the Steve Irwin is challenging police to arrest him in a bid to expose alleged illegal whaling by the Japanese.
'Erratic' Cornelia Rau arrested in Jordan
Cornelia Rau, the Australian who was wrongly detained by immigration authorities, has been arrested in Jordan after wandering without medication in the Middle East for months.
Clinton shocks with cold stance on China
Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock on Friday after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.
Robbo's refurbishment finally scrapped
The proposed $500,000 office refurbishment for new Corrective Services Minister John Robertson won't go ahead.
New data reveals shocking pub violence
The rates of alcohol-fueled violence could be up to twice as high as official government figures first suggested
Self-snuffing cigarettes to cut bushfire risk
Laws limiting Australian smokers to "reduced fire-risk" cigarettes should be put in place before next fire season, a coalition of non-government groups says.
Netanyahu to form Israeli government
Hawkish Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be tasked with forming a new Israeli government, the president's office has announced.
Rebels bomb Sri Lankan capital, kill 2
Fire survivors to attend day of mourning
Grandpa says 'octomummy' needs help
45 passengers injured in horrific turbulence
Five dead as plane burns on Egypt runway
What a waste: Recycling sent to landfill
Nothing could have been done about the bushfires? Don't believe it
There's a lot of talk from the government about how nothing could have been done to prevent the terrible toll of the bushfires. Alan Jones says don't believe it.
As during previous conflicts, British subjects at home are supporting their troops abroad. It’s just that now, their troops are on the other side:
British Muslims are providing the Taliban with electronic devices to make roadside bombs for use in attacks against British forces serving in southern Afghanistan, The Telegraph can disclose …
The disclosure is the latest in a string of suggestions from British commanders about the connections between British Muslims and violence in Afghanistan.
In August, Brigadier Ed Butler, the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, told the Telegraph that there are “British passport holders” in the Taliban ranks. Other officers believe their soldiers have killed British Muslims fighting alongside the Taliban.
And last year, it was revealed that RAF Nimrod surveillance planes monitoring Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan had heard militants speaking with Yorkshire and Midlands accents.
It’s the Tykeban! “Owdo, Rasoolullah. Have you seen our Waheed today? I’ve heard nowt from him since he went down road to plant an IED.”
SING THE STIMULUS
Tragically, the Great Rudd Stimulus came one year too late for a timely reworking of that old bicentenary-flogging TV tune from 1988:
Here’s how an updated version might go:
Stimulation of a nation!
Give us a hand
Stimulation of a nation!
Let’s make it grand
Let’s make it great
In two thousand … nine
Damn. So close. Think of the money Kevin Rudd could have saved. Instead, he’ll probably have to commission a brand new stimulus-selling song written during a big Sing-Song Summit in Canberra. - how about "It's Time" ALP supporters loved that. - ed.
PROGRESSIVES AT PLAY
Andrew Bolt is hit by racist fakery:
We have detected in past two days a number of new readers - or old readers using new fake names - posing as racists and claiming to be my keenest supporters. This is clearly an attempt to produce trumped-up evidence for someone then to claim that this blog encourages racism, when - as you know - the reality is that I am militantly against it, whether racism of the old kind or the New Racism of the Left …
What madness this is - to perpetrate a vileness in order to denounce it, because what you’ve been denouncing is in fact too innocent.
Interesting that this has happened over the past two days; possibly someone is encouraging this kind of thing.
GROWN MAN SQUEALS WITH DELIGHT
Transcript of a recent Rupert Murdoch press conference:
While it’s impossible to be completely prepared for a downturn of this magnitude, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy earlier last year. We implemented strict cost cutting measures across all our operations. We reduced head count in individual businesses where appropriate and we scaled back on capital expenditures.
Even on [finance] terms, we have never been a company that tolerates facts. So in times like these, we are better positioned to weather this cycle than our competitors.
Now, you can see why someone opposed to Murdoch might seize upon the highlighted line. Murdoch hates facts! He says so himself! But you’d also see that the line, as presented, makes no sense. He’s talking about scaling back and weathering business cycles and reducing head counts … and then there’s this strange mention of “facts”. Could he have said something else and been mistranscribed? Something that maybe sounds like “facts” but fits with the rest of Murdoch’s theme?
MSNBC host Keith Olbermann didn’t think so. Take a look from the 1.50 mark (actually, watch the whole thing; most TV people have learned to conceal any profound personality tics, but with Olbermann they form his entire act):
The seconds after 3.06 are recommended only for those with a military-level squeamishness clearance. Naturally, Olbermann was wrong, leading to an equally painful correction:
Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy
That’s meant to be a “pirate” accent, by the way.
(Via the excellent I Hate The Media)
UPDATE. This is fantastic. Towards the very end of the Seattle monkey video I posted earlier there’s an obvious (and flagged, although that may have been added subsequently) audio alteration that has Fox presenter John Gibson “comparing” the monkey to US Attorney General Eric Holder (who is black).
Just juvenile Youtubey shenanigans, you’d think. Not worth mentioning. But Daily Kos and Wonkette believed it was true. So did Huffington Post, which has since published a correction.
CAGELESS IN SEATTLE
More monkey action – involving a particularly, er, distinctive monkey – in the US:
COUNSELLING MALLET REQUESTED
Kevin’s Canberra Counselling Centre receives a new client:
Julia Gillard’s office was in damage control last night after a staff member inadvertently told a western Sydney journalist to “f..k off” in an email on ABC Learning.
Condemned by the Opposition as “absolute arrogance”, the staffer from the Deputy Prime Minister’s office was ”counselled”...
Join the queue, pal:
• Kevin Rudd has confirmed that two senior staff in his office have been counselled for turning their backs on Brendan Nelson’s apology to the Stolen Generations ...
• Kevin Rudd has given a final warning to disgraced Labor backbencher Belinda Neal, ordering her to undergo counselling for anger management after “a pattern of unacceptable behaviour”...
• A day after Mr McClelland declared that a Labor government would campaign internationally to stop executions — even in extreme cases like the Bali bombers — a furious Mr Rudd described the comments as “insensitive in the extreme”. And after declaring he had ”counselled” his frontbencher ...
• Kevin Rudd has counselled a staff member after he was made aware last night of an email to his office in late March from the Department of Veterans Affairs warning him a “pretend” Anzac Day dawn service at Long Tan would offend veterans.
The Telegraph has attempted, once or twice, to discover the exact nature of this “counseling”, and whether it is conducted by a professional counsellor with a proper counselling certificate and everything – or if it’s just some rubbish counselling by someone who fancies him or herself a natural counselmaster.
No dice. The government is very secretive about its counselling tactics. We know more about what happens in Guantanamo Bay.
As if a mere fine would deter the UAE
This is rubbish:
Organisers of the Dubai women’s tennis tournament were on Friday fined 300,000 US dollars by the WTA Tour after the United Arab Emirates refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer, the WTA said in a statement.
“The actions taken today are intended to redress the wrongs suffered by Shahar Peer, who was victimized by an unjust policy of discrimination by the UAE,” WTA Tour chairman Larry Scott said.
“These actions are also intended to send a clear message that our Tour will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and that we will never allow this situation to happen again, in the UAE or elsewhere."…
The proceeds of the fine will be used to compensate Peer and her doubles partner Ana-Lena Groenefeld for loss of potential prize money, and the balance will be donated to charity.
No self-respecting player or WTA official should set foot on the UAE courts until the ban on Israeli players is lifted. It’s all in, or none. Those who play in this tournament are complicit in its injustice.
Wouldn’t happen if they were white
You wonder how child welfare officers could be so astonishingly stupid:
CHILD protection authorities in Western Australia were warned last May that a foster carer of four children was working as a prostitute, gambling heavily and using her taxpayer-supplied vehicle to drive to work at a suburban brothel.
But nine months later, the Department for Child Protection has not removed the four children, who still live in the woman’s house with a male lodger, who sleeps in a queen-size bed in the living room. The woman’s brother, who has convictions for serious criminal offences, also stayed at her house until a departmental officer told the woman he had to leave...
How could people be so blind? Because of that “stolen generations” myth, of course:
The case has emerged as a glaring example of flaws in Western Australia’s Aboriginal child placement principle, which gives priority to placing indigenous children in state care with family or people from within the child’s indigenous community.
Here’s the official response:
Yesterday, DCP director-general Terry Murphy confirmed that a complaint last May was investigated. “It was found (the carer) had worked as a cleaner in a brothel before the children came into her care. She has not worked in that capacity since caring for the children.” He said a vehicle had been provided by the department, and it was in the process of screening the woman’s male paying boarder.
He dismissed the allegations, saying: “This appears to be a successful example of placing Aboriginal children with an Aboriginal relative carer.”
Where Australia is probably headed
Glenn Milne last January, after a government junket to California
The great thing about visiting California is that it gives you a sense of where Australia is probably headed. In the context of the climate change debate, this assertion stands, only more so…
A year later:
The state itself stepped away from the brink of financial ruin early Thursday when the state Legislature ended months of deadlock and paralysis — which had shut down road projects and held up tax refund checks — by agreeing to a budget plan that increases taxes, cuts spending and borrows money to plug a $42 billion deficit by mid-2010.
$42 billion? Now there’s a familiar figure.
Here’s something else familiar:
The Western Climate Initiative, touted as a model for national global warming legislation, will strain the region’s electricity grid and prolong the economic recession, a business group asserted Tuesday. The initiative was launched in September by seven Western governors, including California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, and four Canadian provincial premiers. It seeks to slash regional greenhouse gas emissions by about 15% below 2005 levels in the next 12 years.
Howard’s Rau deal
David Marr, veteran Howard hater, catches up with one of the most famous victims of that regime:
CORNELIA RAU is in prison in Jordan after wandering the Middle East unmedicated for several months. On balance, her family is relieved.
They are? That’s a change. When Rau was held in (and treated by) one of wicked John Howard’s detention centres after claiming to be an illegal immigrant from Germany, they were far less “relieved”
Drunk and violent
Another measure - this from NSW - of our slow decline into barbarianism:
ASSAULTS involving drinkers from pubs and clubs are running at levels up to twice those of official government figures, according to information contained in a confidential state-wide police database. The database of 77,000 crimes and other incidents, obtained by the Herald after a three-year fight using freedom-of-information laws, details 13,086 separate assaults involving drinkers from pubs and clubs in the 11 months to last July.
Beggars and those who choose them
Designer poverty is sure to appeal to Hollywood millionaires:
Slumdog Millionaire is expected to win a clutch of Oscars on Monday for its uplifting story of a boy from the slums who wins the jackpot on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Meanwhile, back in Mumbai:
But there is no sign of life imitating art for two of the youngest actors, who many feel are the real stars of the film. They are still living in squalor on the outskirts of Mumbai, despite assurances from (director Danny) Boyle they were paid well. He and producer Christian Colson said the child actors were paid three times an annual adult salary for what amounted to a month’s work, although he has refused to give an actual figure.
Despite his claim, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, who plays the lead character’s brother Salim, still lives with his family in extreme poverty. Their home is a flimsy structure of tarpaulins and blankets in the overcrowded Behrampada shanty area, where rats run and sewage lies untreated as children play barefoot…
In fact, the family is worse off than when Slumdog Millionaire was filmed because the illegal hut they were living in was demolished by authorities. His father Mohammed Ismail usually brings in 1500 to 3000 rupees ($47 to $94) a month selling scrap wood but he has tuberculosis and often cannot work…
Rubina Ali, 9, who plays the young version of Latika, the film’s heroine, lives a few hundred metres away… Her father Rafiq Ali Kureshi, a carpenter, broke his leg during filming and has been out of work since...
Still, it’s easy to draw such shaming comparisons. In the end, no film director can end Indian poverty by opening his wallet, and the actors would have rather the work he gave than be left alone.
Pigs complain of oinking
When John Robertson concedes his own snout-in-trough government has plans that are “absurd’, “obscene” and a “disgrace”, why delay an election a day longer?
Last night the Minister for Corrective Services ruled out a $500,000 refit of his city office.
“It is absurd and obscene and all the comments I have heard people making on talkback radio are justified. It is a disgrace and it won’t be happening.” Mr Robertson said.
Mr Robertson said the refit plans were already in place before he was made a minister but he did not know their cost.
More than two years to go before voters finally get a say on a desperately incompetent, divided, farcical and scandal-ridden government whose only successful program lately has been to increase the number of sharks that are now eating swimmers in Sydney.
No school means no hope
Both men are absolutely right - but which politicians or even principals want to be held responsible?
CAPE York indigenous leader Noel Pearson has called for radical laws to stamp out truancy, forcing education ministers to report to parliament every quarter on the reasons why cases of chronic non-attendance at school have not been prosecuted…
Mr Pearson backs a call by fellow indigenous leader and Australian of the Year Mick Dodson for all children to be enrolled in school by January 26 next year, and challenges the Rudd Government to ensure the goal is achieved.
Mr Dodson said the so-called Education Revolution was worth “bugger all” if investment was not poured into teacher quality, relevant curriculums and providing school reports parents could understand. But Mr Pearson has taken Mr Dodson’s call a step further, calling on governments to overhaul the way truancy is dealt with and insisting on much more ambitious targets to improve indigenous education.
How big is the problem these men want tackled? Judge it from one of the schools trying hardest to get Aboriginal students to attend:
The challenge falls squarely into the lap of Ken Langford-Smith, principal of Alice Springs’ Yipirinya School… Mr Langford-Smith said Yipirinya, which has children from preschool through to Year 10, had an average 60 per cent attendance. “And we work hard to get that,” he said.
And judge it from one of the worst:
SARAH HAWKE: But the Northern Territory’s Education Minister Marion Scrymgour (now resigned) maintains all measures to tackle attendance have to be explored.
MARION SCRYMGOUR: Well, I look at communities like Maningrida which have got 658 enrolled students and only 90 attending.
What Pearson and Dodson both want are measures which should apply equally to non-Aboriginal students.
No more Bounty under captain Bligh
You may think this is no time to launch a re-election campaign:
VOTER confidence in Labor’s ability to govern during the economic crisis will be tested for the first time in Queensland, where an early election is almost certain after the Bligh Government revealed yesterday the state budget had plunged $1.6billion into deficit.
The collapse of fortunes forced ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to lower the state’s long-cherished AAA credit rating for the first time to AA.
But voters should ask themselves: if Anna Bligh thinks this is the best news she can hope for over the next six months of her term, what worse news is she trying to head off by going to the polls six months early?
And, certainly, the figures in yesterday’s Economic and Fiscal Update are frightening. EFU could just as easily stand for Everything’s F .. ked Up - and things will get worse.
In 2009-2010, when Labor willbe in its fifth term in office or the Liberal National Party its first, Queensland will be on the brink of a recession and an additional 60,000 people will be unemployed.
Quick! To the polls before the voters realise.
Correction: John Gibson did not compare Eric Holder with Monkey with Bright Blue Scrotum.
Lowe blow to radiation regulator
The Federal Government has an agency that regulates radiation - ARPANSA - that has just had a green cuckoo slipped into its nest.
Advising ARPANSA and its boss, Peter Burns, is a Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council whose job is to raise “matters of major concern to the community in relation to radiation protection and nuclear safety”
On that council is a “representative of the public interest’’ who, you’d assume is someone who knows a bit about radiation, understands the community and is prepared to represent all Australians, with their various views, and not just one, small band of zealots.
So guess who the Rodd Government has just appointed as that “representative of the public interest”? Why, it’s Professor Ian Lowe, chairman of the Australian Conservation Foundation, fierce opponent of uranium mining and nuclear power, and professional Deep Green.
But the appointment of such a green partisan to the advisory council isn’t just inappropriate because of the man’s closed mind.
I’m told that among the issues the council has recently discussed have been a proposed intermediate level radioactive waste repository in the Northern Territory (strongly opposed by the ACF); the regulation of radiation management in uranium mining (which the ACF wants banned), and the regulation of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which runs the Lucas Heights facility and which the ACF wants to shut down.
Given that, has Ian Lowe got a conflict of interest? How can he sit in confidential discussions within a regulatory body that is discussing issues that his own organisation is campaigning against?
So why was Lowe appointed?
You hardly need to be told the details that would confirm your suspicions, but here we go. I assume he was appointed by Senator Jan McLucas, the parliamentary secretary to the Health and Ageing Minister whose area this is. And McLucas’s own website boasts:
Environmental issues have always been a part of Jan’s interest and activity. She has campaigned on a range of issues including opposing uranium mining . . .
This is what is meant by the “long march through the institutions”, so that institutions are captured that the public assumed to be neutral.
This reckless spending must stop
John Roskam on the (not so) new corporatism:
It’s a pity that the country’s economists, corporate leaders and journalists have been reduced to little more than cheerleaders for the government. It’s sad that we’ve come to this. And there’s something a little bit contemptible about the whole thing.
Given the way the country’s policy elites have rushed to embrace more government intervention in the economy, more government spending and more government debt, it’s as if the 1980s never happened. And what was the point of the recession we had to have if we have forgotten its lessons?…
Bizarrely, many in the Canberra press gallery genuinely seemed to believe that if the big-business lobby groups endorsed the package the coalition would automatically fall into line. The approach of the gallery was along the lines of: ‘‘If everyone who’s anyone likes the idea of cash handouts how can the coalition be opposed to the package?’’
What media commentators failed to notice was the growing rift between the public positions of the business lobby groups and the opinions of their members. The Liberal Party, at least nominally, supports free markets.
Pay that poor terrorist for his jailing
Britain has its own Guantanamo Bay - or, in fact, its own brainless critics, not just protecting but paying its enemies:
Radical preacher Abu Qatada has been awarded £2,500 in compensation by the European Court of Human Rights. Judges ruled that his detention without trial in the UK under anti-terrorism powers breached his human rights.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was “very disappointed” with the award, but it was “not always possible” to bring terror suspects to trial…
The European Court also awarded pay-outs of between £1,500 and £3,400 to 10 other people who were detained in Britain following 9/11 on suspicion of providing support for extremists linked to al-Qaeda… One judge has described (Qatada) as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe.
I wonder how Qatada would use that cash, should he ever be freed.
And I wonder why the British Labor Government is far more forgiving of its own detention of suspected terrorists without trial than it was of George Bush’s.
But there is one other point that will become sharper with time: By what (sensible) right do foreign judges sit in judgment of a democracy’s attempts to defend its citizens? The only proper answer to this court is the raspberry.
Obama’s stuttering start
Karl Rove examines Barack Obama’s first few weeks in the job:
… a growing sense the administration is winging it on issues large and small… The danger is that what we have seen is not an aberration, but the early indications of his governing style.
Hey, Ian: beat this
Bulgaria, at least, has a central bank governor prepared to tell a big-spending prime minister what he most needs to hear:
Bulgaria’s central bank warned the coalition government on Wednesday that its spending spree aimed at shoring up the economy from the global crisis could cause a budget deficit which Sofia could not afford.
”We need calm and not to act stupid,” Central Bank Governor Ivan Iskrov told an economic forum that discussed the planned government anti-crisis measures.
Rescuers need rescue
A plea to the chronically litiguous: when swimming, please put a sign on your back reading “rescue me at your peril”:
A Queensland woman given emergency first aid by St John Ambulance officers while visiting Victoria is suing and says her treatment was unlawful assault. Brodie Cambourne, 34, alleges volunteer medics permanently damaged her shoulder when they rushed to assist her at a Lorne surf carnival.
People like this endanger the rest of us by making volunteers feel too scared to help.