Sunday, February 15, 2009
Headlines Sunday 15th February 2009
AUSTRALIA'S MOST HATED: Arson accused a ''fragile'' loner
The first person to be charged with arson over the deadly Victorian bushfires has been described as a ''fragile'' loner.
The science of the smooch is chemistry
Just in time for Valentine's Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men
Turnbull goes into bat for Bishop - Rudd dumps on Swan
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has expressed confidence in his deputy and treasury spokeswoman Julie Bishop, declaring she's doing a great job.
IMF: Rich world in ''deep'' recession
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Friday that advanced economies were in a "serious" and "deep recession," ahead of crisis talks with G7 finance ministers.
Desperate jobseekers selling themselves for $4 an hour
Anxious job seekers are offering their skills online for as little as $4 an hour, as the global economic downturn continues to push the unemployment rate skyward.
Firefighter recognised for aiding furry friend
The firefighter who gave an injured koala a drink of water during a tender moment in a burnt-out forest will be recognised by an animal rights group.
Residents make emotional return to fire-ravaged area
Firefighters welcome milder weather
Audacious auto theft nets 13 cars
Flight delays as Qantas staff walk off the job
Rudd package is nothing but a burden
IN December, Kevin Rudd promised to create 75,000 jobs when he spent $10 billion, but there is no evidence that he created even one. - Brilliant Piers, and I would like to add that the things the ALP is buying into will cost us more with maintenance .. without saving us a thing. The State governments have a growing backlog of maintenance issues in current school buildings .. more will mean more which the government will not support. I spent some ten years in a class room which had a leaky roof whenever it rained which wasn’t fixed. I left my position in 2007 and since then have worked casually in many schools .. all of which have serious maintenance problems (excuse me, one exception .. but that was a well run private school).
The computers will cost the states more to maintain too .. and power. So spending up big now means spending more later just to stand still.
It gets worse. We could spend big responsibly .. but we aren’t. We could build dams to give water to our cities. We could pipe water from the north. We could treat stormwater. We could solve our water problems now .. but we aren’t.
We could pay for bush fire hazard reduction. We could build alert systems for the country. We could improve country access to cities to make it safer for country folk. But we aren’t.
Thank you Rudd. Maybe Rudd will call a double dissolution at the end of this year .. so as to avoid facing the bill for the borrowing. - ed.
LAWN OF THE SAID
Scene: It is November past. New Hampshire man Eric Rieseberg is removing Democrat signs that were placed on his lawn without permission. A lawyer appears, walking a dog.
Lawyer: “What are you doing? You can’t do that. Who do you think you are?”
Rieseberg: “Who the f*** are you?”
Lawyer: [presents business card, in the manner of his kind]
Rieseberg: [reads card] “Ryan Russman, you are a f***ing ****.”
As Jules Crittenden says: “Sounds like fair comment.” Both lawyer and lawn-tidier are headed for court this Tuesday, where Rieseberg, 59, faces charges of disorderly conduct and criminal threatening.
Australia’s $42 billion stimulus package passed on Friday. We’re now a proud member of the international stimulus community:
• ”Lithuania’s government plans an economic stimulus package worth four billion to five billion litas to dampen an expected downturn, the prime minister said.”
• “The lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, has approved a 50-billion-euro economic stimulus package. The budgetary move is the biggest of its kind for Germany since World War II, and aims to tackle the country’s spiralling recession.”
• ”Japan is considering more steps to fire up its economy on top of a planned 12 trillion yen ($131 billion) in new spending and tax cuts as the economy probably shrank an annualised 10 percent in the last quarter of 2008, a newspaper reported.”
• “The Kuwaiti government may boost its approximately $5 billion economic rescue plan.”
• “With 4.5 billion soles, Peru’s government has announced fuel prices will decrease, social spending will increase and there will be help for non-traditional exporters and infrastructure projects.”
• “In view of current global meltdown Nigerian budget has been drawn to boost agricultural sector, unlock rural assets, and mobilize rural assets for increasing agricultural productivity. Provisions for steady flow of foreign direct investments have been incorporated for strengthening Nigerian economy.”
Foreign direct investments to Nigeria traditionally come from Queensland. Besides the US and Australia, at least 32 other nations have caught stimulus fever.
It’s the cutest sea kitten yet:
Actually, it’s more of a river kitten. The Goliath tiger fish – they can apparently grow to 68 kilograms (150 pounds) – is one of many kittenish oddities lately hauled out of the Congo:
A recent, unprecedented river run on the Congo yielded a raft of new discoveries, including different species--some potentially new--in nearly every nook and cranny, scientists announced this week.
If you like the look of the Goliath tiger kitty, why not buy one? They’re cute when they’re little. Later, you can feed them any stray humans you might have in the house.
UPDATE. The UN warned last year that global warming would destroy major commercial sea kitten stocks. Yet according to NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change spokesman John Dengate, Sydney’s kittens are breeding like rabbits:
“There is more fish life around the harbour now than there has been in a century …”
UPDATE II. Lots of sea kittens in Melbourne, too, despite the usual hysteria.
THE TREES HATE US
In the Age, historian Jonathan King considers last week’s deadly fires:
We humans started this war and now the environment is fighting back.
As Andrew Bolt notes, these people are beginning to sound like 9/11 apologists.
Do enjoy Helen Caldicott’s interview with Antony Loewenstein. Caldicott speaks especially slowly during the interview, as you would if dealing with a learning-challenged child. Which might be justified, considering that at one point Antony mentions attending Sunday school ... “on a Sunday”.
New York man Muzzammil Hassan founded pro-Islam station Bridges TV five years ago to combat the negative public image of Muslims. He is currently under arrest for beheading his wife.
(Via Jihad Watch)
UPDATE. Further from Greg Mitchell and LGF.
The couple in happier times, before Hassan removed his wife’s head
UPDATE II. An earlier news report. “If the charges are true,” writes Kathryn Jean Lopez, “I think it’s fair to say he’s failed at his job.”
UPDATE III. Poverty problems in Paris:
A French court has jailed a Pakistani man for 20 years for setting his ex-girlfriend alight after she refused to marry him, in a case seen by rights activists as highlighting violence against women in poor neighbourhoods …
Amer Mushtaq Butt, 28, doused Ms Belayni with petrol and set fire to her on the street as she was leaving her home in the underprivileged Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Marne in 2005.
Belayni was only 16 at the time. The Associated Press report continues:
Human rights groups such as the prominent “Ni Putes Ni Soumises” ("Neither whores nor submissive women") say violence against women is rife in poor communities with high Muslim populations on the outskirts of French cities.
The activists say some young Muslim men take out their frustrations about poverty and discrimination on women, demanding that they cover up according to Islamic tradition. If they refuse, they are considered “whores”.
Hassan isn’t poor, nor did he suffer discrimination. I wonder what his excuse is.
Don’t mention the (non) burns
It is a common - but fallacious - conceit that our greens represent a kinder, more tolerant ethos. Let sweetness rule?
Oh, yes? See how swiftly such people resort to the foulest abuse and most vitriolic personal attack when someone on the ABC - Barrie Cassidy, in this case - dares note that green opposition to fuel reduction burns and fire breaks may have contributed to the deaths of so many people in these fires.
Some points to make. Barrie actually did have a mayor from one of the worst-hit shires to defend the policies he mentioned. There was the opportunity there of debate. And there’s hardly a fire expert in the media that didn’t agree with his point. What’s more, to those greens insisting it’s too early to discuss causes, how about showing the way and not blaming global warming?
Don’t yell at Ho
Labor figures are outraged that a Liberal expresses a view about art, and the Sydney Morning Herald shares their disgust:
A LIBERAL Party powerbroker once accused of racist road rage gatecrashed an art exhibition opening and “threw a temper tantrum”, a mayor claims. Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller was so outraged by the actions of upper house right-winger David Clarke that she has complained in writing to the Premier, Nathan Rees.
Her account is backed by the council general manager, Phil Tolhurst, who said Mr Clarke “was very vocal and argumentative”, and by a senior exhibition staffer Nikita Karvounis, who said the MP was “very rude and aggressive and basically accused us of being a communist organisation”.
Poor petals. So what sweet art caused Clarke to be so mean?
Mr Clarke denied the claims and said ...he had been asked to attend the Casula event at short notice by members of the Vietnamese community who were upset at the exhibition’s content. He said he was loud by nature, but denied yelling or pointing his fingers in anger. He was, instead, indicating works that members of his group found offensive, particularly a pop-art depiction of then Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.
So Liverpool Council mounts an exhibition that glorifies a mass-murdering dictator whose regime forced tens of thousands of Vietnamese to flee to Australia. And this Council is upset that these Vietnamese Australians and their Liberal champion are upset? Grow a brain, people.
Worse for the model, that is
This Daily Telegraph headline isn’t quite worded right:
Climate change ‘worse than predicted’
Check the text:
IT seems the dire warnings about the oncoming devastation wrought by global warming were not dire enough, a top climate scientist says… “We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected,” said Chris Field, who was a coordinating lead author of the report.
Actually, what’s been “worse than expected” has been not “climate change” but the growth in man-made emissions. But here’s the curious thing: despite that unexpectedly high growth, temperatures have unexpectedly not budged for a decade.
Which suggests that “climate change’’ itself is not worse than expected, but less - if global warming theory is true.
This should save us
The stimulus package, meant to protect jobs by sparking economic activity, also includes $24.1M for Operation Sunlight, to redesign and reform the layout of Budget papers.
The fires: the causes
The global warming excuse won’t go far:
THE Brumby Government and a private electricity company face one of the largest class actions in Victorian history over last weekend’s devastating firestorm.
The legal wrangle, which is expected to involve hundreds of millions of dollars and last for years, will centre on a fallen power line that is believed to have sparked the blaze that tore through Kinglake, Steels Creek and St Andrews, killing more than 100 people and destroying about 1000 homes…
On Thursday, police removed a length of the fallen power line and a pole as evidence.
Mexico at war
A bit like Iraq, but with sombreros:
The general didn’t get much time. After a long, controversial career, Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñones retired from active duty last month and moved to this Caribbean playground to work for the Cancun mayor and fight the drug cartels that have penetrated much of Mexican society. He lasted a week.
Tello, 63, along with his bodyguard and a driver, were kidnapped in downtown Cancun last Monday evening, taken to a hidden location, methodically tortured, then driven out to the jungle and shot in the head. Their bodies were found Tuesday in the cab of a pickup truck on the side of a highway leading out of town. An autopsy revealed that both the general’s arms and legs had been broken.
The audacious kidnapping and killing of one of the highest-ranking military officers in Mexico drew immediate expressions of outrage from the top echelons of the Mexican government, which pledged to continue the fight against organized crime that took the lives of more than 5,300 people last year. Military leaders, who are increasingly at the front lines of the war against the cartels, vowed not to let Tello’s death go unsolved or unpunished.
Prince of hypocrites
It’s an almost universal rule that greens emit more of the gases they condemn:
Prince Charles was accused of hypocrisy last night for using a private jet on an ‘environmental’ tour of South America.
The prince will travel to the region next month in a visit costing an estimated £300,000 as part of his crusade against global warming.
He will use a luxury airliner to transport himself, the Duchess of Cornwall and a 14-strong entourage to Chile, Brazil and Ecuador on a 16,400-mile round trip.
Who does he think he is? Tim Flannery?
Spending who knows how much on who knows what
Now this is how you, as party leader, reject a bloated stimulus package that not even its keenest backers are sure will work.
I mean, can you believe that the US Congress has just passed a $1.2 trillion spending bill without a single lawmaker having even read what the bill actually says?
There is a whipped-up panic to spend among the Leftist governments of the US, Britain and Australia that is overwhelming all prudence or even any pretence of scrutiny. We’ll pay for this.
Did I forgive Rudd too easily?
When I was first asked about this on ABC radio, I brushed it aside as just Kevin Rudd misspeaking. I simply could not believe he’d deliberately do something as low as Peter van Onselen suggests:
KEVIN Rudd has attempted one of the most shameful examples of wedge politics in recent Australian political history. On Tuesday this week he stood up in parliament and linked his controversial and contested $42 billion stimulus package with aid for victims of the Victorian bushfires.
Speaking during a condolence motion in the parliament, Rudd said: “The Government of Victoria will be able to draw on its estimated $1.5 billion share of the social housing fund to assist families in need as a result of the Victorian bushfires.” The look in Rudd’s eyes when delivering the statement gave away his political motives…
After Rudd made his play at wedge politics, Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull immediately urged the Prime Minister not to tie bushfire assistance to any other legislation, particularly legislation as contested as the stimulus package. He well knew what was going on.
Liberal MPs were furious. One told me: “It shows the measure of the man (Rudd). Politicising the fires and the related tragedies is an absolute outrage.” ...
The PM may have been so moved by his recent visit to the bushfire-affected areas in Victoria that his judgment was put out of whack… Let’s hope that’s what motivated Rudd, because the alternative explanation is that he is so politically shrewd (and unscrupulous) that he was prepared to use the suffering and the horror felt by many Australians to put pressure on Opposition MPs to pass his unrelated stimulus package…
Many of my academic colleagues shook their heads at John Howard’s use of wedge politics during his decade in power… But none of the instances in which Howard employed the wedge tactic sank as low as Rudd’s use of it this week.
Wayne Swan and Jenny Macklin later “clarified” Rudd’s comments, and I was in no mood early last week to doubt their assurances of an innocent misunderstanding. Now I wonder…
As long as their killers weren’t Jews
The world denounced Israel for killing innocent Palestinians, albeit unintentionally. But what does the world have to say about Hamas killing innocent Palestinians, too, and with murderous intent:
The new evidence corroborates witness accounts given to the Guardian, as well as an investigation by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza City, that found 32 people had been killed by the Palestinian security services and other gunmen in Gaza since the war began, and that dozens more were shot or beaten.
Is it the victims that count, or just the Jewishness of those who killed them?
Burning the critics instead of the forests
A snapshot of how we courted this disaster - not just by bad forestry practices but by our culture of toe-the-line conformity in public debate on green issues:
Forest Fire Victoria — a group of forestry experts and scientists, including outspoken academic David Packham — claims the Government has sidelined crucial recommendations from its own parliamentary environment and natural resources committee to curry favour with environmentalists.
The dispute flared when (Environment Minister Gavin) Jennings said this week Victoria had carried out 400,000 hectares of fuel-reduction burning over three years…
Mr Packham yesterday accused the minister of deception.... Fuel-reduction burning of 400,000 hectares in three years represented only 1 per cent of Victoria’s bushland a year — when 10 per cent was needed to safeguard the state properly and the Government’s own committee had urged an annual minimum of 5 per cent fuel-reduction burning…
Mr Packham said he was willing to risk being dismissed from his post as honorary senior research fellow at Monash University’s school of geography and environmental science rather than stay silent. It is believed his criticism of bushfire management has made him unpopular in some circles at the university.
Former Victorian environment minister John Thwaites, widely seen as the architect of Victoria’s relatively modest reduction-burning policy, has been appointed a professor at Monash since stepping down from Parliament.
On the other hand, they’ll run in snow
Question: why buy Melbourne trams that can’t cope with Melbourne weather?
MELBOURNE’S train network will be disrupted by heat 10 days each year on average, a new Connex report says…
“Melbourne’s train network is not designed to operate at its best in extreme heat,” the operator said in a statement. “Most of our trains have air-conditioning systems that don’t operate optimally beyond about 35 degrees, leading to cancellations.”