Sunday, February 08, 2009

Headlines Sunday 8th February 2009

More than 100,000 businesses at risk of going under in 2009
Over 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses could go to the wall this year as the global economic crisis impacts domestically. - how many will be lost due to ALP incompetence? - ed.
Man shot in broad daylight at motorcycle event
A man has been shot in broad daylight at a popular motorcycle event in Sydney's west. - they don't even wait for darkness now. - ed.
Top Gear host forced to apologise over PM blunder
BBC television presenter Jeremy Clarkson apologised on Friday after calling British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot". - it used to be that truth was the ultimate defense to slander. - ed.
Branson launches V Australia fleet
British billionaire and showman Richard Branson has declared war on Qantas and other rival airlines with the launch of his new fleet of V Australia passenger jets to fly the Australia-US route.
Arson suspected for bushfire on the move
Arson is suspected as the cause of three bushfires in NSW Hunter region that are consuming terrain at an alarming rate.
Taliban says hostage Piotr Stanczak beheaded
THE Taliban said it had killed a Polish engineer kidnapped last year in Pakistan, but the Polish embassy in Islamabad was not able to confirm the claim. - nice guys Obama is talking to. - ed.
US Senate reaches deal on stimulus
Bin Laden gets on the plonk
Heatwave continues to scorch NSW
NSW health authorities on heatwave alert
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The devil in the detail of Rudd’s mad spree
Piers Akerman
EXPLORERS Burke and Wills perished in 1861, along with seven others, in an ill-planned expedition that has become a byword for arrogance and stupidity.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd now wants to rush the nation into a similarly ill-considered adventure, but he is placing at risk the livelihoods of 22 million Australians - and those of future generations - with his foolhardy scheme. - I still feel you do Burke and Wills an injustice. If they had found a McDonalds in the middle of the desert, they still wouldn’t be alive today. On the other hand, Rudd’s policy is disastrous all on its own. I have no idea if I’m supposed to ‘profit’ from Rudd’s policy .. but I know Rudd’s supervision since last October has seen a $60k decline in my super and I know what I’d rather have.
Costello pointed out that the jobs Rudd claims to support will be supported at a cost of $400k each. I think my employer is missing out on valuable support by not employing me.
Rudd need to get an honest job. It is sad that Obama seems to be copying him. - ed.

Tim Blair
In the US, Barack Obama’s stimulus plan equates to nearly $1 million for every day since the birth of Jesus Christ. In Australia, Kevin Rudd’s stimulus plan equates to $1 million for every day since the birth of … Maggie Tabberer.
Tim Blair
Like Ashley Todd’s attack story, another tale of politically-motivated violence isn’t as it first appeared to be:
A woman who claimed her house was set on fire because she supported President Barack Obama and her boyfriend have been charged with first-degree arson.

Forsyth County Chief Investigator Steve Anderson said Friday that 47-year-old Pamela Graf and her boyfriend, 46-year-old Steve Strobel, are being held in different jails.
In other Presidential news, Joe Biden seems eager to emerge from Obama’s shadow:
Beautiful Sunset
Tim Blair
Sydney is superhot, leading to unusual attitudes:
Dr Gordian Fulde, head of emergency at St Vincent’s Hospital, said people were likely to get “more aggressive and intolerant of each other, and even of themselves” in extreme conditions.
Self-loathing aside, the state hasn’t been brought to its keens yet, despite beating Victoria’s recent power-use record:
In Sydney, the system hit peak demand yesterday, with more than 14,000mW of electricity being used, creating a new summer record.
Don’t have air-conditioning? Then think cool thoughts. Think about … a snowbike:
Beautiful Sunset
Tim Blair
Further on the Great Clarkson Insult Scandal from the Northern Echo, Iain Martin, the Financial Times, the Glasgow Daily Record (including an editorial), AFP, the Daily Star, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the Daily Express, Reuters, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Sky News, the Spectator, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the LA Times, the Press Association, the Independent, AAP, the Daily Mail (also the Mail‘s sports pages), Germany’s ShortNews, the UK Daily Telegraph, UPI, the Scotsman (plus an editorial and a column), the Herald Sun, the Paisley Daily Express, Channel 4, the ABC, the Australian, the London Times, the UK Herald and the Daily Mirror. And the Sun, which reports:
Jeremy Clarkson said sorry yesterday for calling Gordon Brown a “one-eyed Scottish idiot” — EXCEPT for the IDIOT part.
Further still from Ghana’s Ras Mubarak:
I felt outraged when I heard in the news how Jeremy Clarkson, a seasoned BBC journalist described his Prime Minister as “one eyed Scottish idiot.” I fell in love with Jeremy’s interviewing skills when he made John Bolton, former US envoy to the UN look like a buffoon in an interview about the war in Iraq. Jeremy reminds me of another “don’t give me crap” journalist - Ms Elizabeth Ohene, formerly of the BBC and ex-minister of state under John Kufour. I miss her.

I have met Jeremy Clarkson just once in Glasgow. He was in town shooting material for broadcast. He showed a lot of good manners and respect towards me and was quite humorous. I couldn’t believe what could provoke such a fine broadcaster into making unguarded remarks about his Prime Minister and persons with disability?
Mr Mubarak confuses Jeremy Clarkson with Jeremy Paxman. Fair enough; all of those white BBC types do look alike. Meanwhile, consider how much greater might have been the outrage if Clarkson had referred to a certain jug-eared Hawaiian orchid farmer.
Tim Blair
Fourteen people are confirmed killed in Victorian bushfires:
“We believe the figure may even get worse,’’ Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Kieran Walshe said yesterday.

“We base that on the fact we’re only just getting into these areas now ... to search buildings and properties these have been very, very significant fires ... the figure could get into the 40s.’’
Some of the many fires, driven by historically-high temperatures and roaring winds, are believed to be deliberately lit. These are the worst fires in Victoria since the Ash Wednesday blazes of 1983 that killed 47, and 28 in South Australia. Premier John Brumby, who has a personal connection to the disaster, said that at one point some 400 fires raged across the state. At least 100 homes are destroyed, despite the efforts of more than 3000 firefighters. Almost 30,000 homes have lost power.
Tim Blair
The Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland, not usually the sharpest of observers, nevertheless notes a screaming double-standard:
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11 2001 and July 7 2005, a noble impulse seized the British liberal left. Politicians, commentators and activists united to say to their fellow citizens that, no matter how outraged they felt at the loss of civilian life they had just witnessed, they should under no circumstances take out that anger on the Muslim community …

Once again many are outraged by the loss of civilian life they have witnessed - this time in Gaza. Yet there has been no chorus of liberal voices insisting that, no matter how intense their fury, people must not take out that anger on Britain’s Jewish community …

Those who in 2001 or 2005 rapidly spoke out against guilt by association have been mute this time. Yet this is no abstract concern. For British Jews have indeed come under attack.
It’s similar in Australia, where local Jews have been condemned as “vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic” by people given mainstream platforms and anti-Israel rallies feature Nazi symbols. Anti-Semitic attacks in Australia recently hit rates twice the average of the past 18 years.
Tim Blair
Obama’s in the house! Too bad he doesn’t have many friends:
Few supporters are answering President Barack Obama’s call for nationwide house-party gatherings this weekend to build grass-roots support for his economic stimulus plan.

A McClatchy survey of sign-up rosters for a score of cities across the country revealed only 34 committed attendees in Tacoma, Wash., as of midafternoon Friday; in Fort Worth, Texas, only 54, and in Sacramento, Calif., just 78.

“Before the election, we would have had 500 to 800,” said Kim Mack, 46, a Sacramento city-facility manager who’s hosted house parties for political figures and causes since the mid-’90s.
What’s wrong with you people? C’mon – economic stimulus party! Have you already forgotten how the whales celebrated joyously on the day of Obama’s Inauguration?

UPDATE. Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama is becoming laughable.”
Our fires turn deadly
Andrew Bolt
Terrible news:

AUTHORITIES have confirmed 14 deaths in the fires across Victoria and the toll is rising. .

Deputy commissioner Kieran Walsh told a press conference up to 40 could have perished. He said six died at Kinglake, four dead at Wandong and four at sites to be confirmed.

The death toll may rival the 47 killed on Ash Wednesday in 1983

Some of those deaths seems to have been people in cars, possibly deciding too late to flee. Pray that tomorrow’s news isn’t as grim as it promises to be, and pray also for the safety of the men and women fighting the fires.
Aid for thieves
Andrew Bolt
Hamas shows again its style of government:

A UNITED Nations aid agency that serves more than half the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip has suspended humanitarian shipments, accusing Hamas of confiscating UN material for the second time in a week.

The UN Relief and Works Agency said Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, had seized 10 trucks filled with rice and flour. Earlier last week, the agency had accused Hamas’ police force of confiscating blankets and food from a UN-affiliated warehouse.
Now the search resumes
Andrew Bolt
It’s now dawn, and we’ll soon know more
Turnbull makes us reckon the risks
Andrew Bolt
Glenn Milne says most of his colleagues are wrong - by opposing Kevin Rudd’s $42 billion spending spree, Malcolm Turnbull has turned the economic debate in his favor:

The fact is, by international standards, the size of Labor’s fiscal stimulus is robust - not to say potentially excessive. According to the Economist magazine, similar packages in comparable countries range from Brazil at 0.2 per cent of GDP to the US at 5.8 per cent of GDP.

Kevin Rudd’s total shot in the arm for the economy stands at 6.4 per cent of GDP and in a context where the Prime Minister keeps arguing that our economic fundamentals are much stronger than all of our global competitors.

The Economist further tells us that all comparable countries have introduced permanent tax cuts as part of their recession response to global recession. That’s Turnbull’s answer, too, rather than the temporary tax relief offered to low-income earners by Rudd.

Even a Reserve Bank board member here at home has expressed reservations about the size of Rudd’s response. Professor Warwick McKibbon told The Sydney Morning Herald midweek the Rudd’s package risked “turning what isn’t a crisis, into a crisis”.
As I was not saying
Andrew Bolt
Some commentators can’t remember what they typed even just a sentence or two earlier, and how one line might contradict the other.
PM, please lift your leg and pat your dog
Andrew Bolt
Beautiful Sunset
Complete this sentence from today’s Sunday Mail to make it as accurate as possible:

BAREFOOT and in shorts, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may have looked at ease in his private study at The Lodge in Canberra yesterday, but there was no relaxing as...

A: he and Treasurer Wayne Swan worked through one of the toughest weekends of their political careers.

B: he put on shorts, called in his dog and lifted a bare foot into camera shot so that a newspaper photographer he’d summoned could show him as actually a regular bloke, working flat out to help other regular blokes.
Truth can hurt, but I’d rather hear it
Andrew Bolt
Telling viewers about the kinds of gangs shooting up Sydney is bad:

SENIOR racial vilification authorities fear a new television series on Australian crime gangs will fuel ethnic hatred, encourage discrimination and deepen anti-police sentiment on the streets.

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner labelled Channel Seven’s Gangs of Oz “damaging” — a claim echoed by legal experts, a former detective and a leading community diversity group, which called on the network to re-edit the documentary before allowing it to be broadcast.

In the first episode, entitled Middle Eastern Gangs, which is due to premiere on Wednesday, Detective Superintendent Ken McKay, head of the NSW Organised Crime Directorate, states that “Middle Eastern groups are involved in everything. If they didn’t invent it, they perfected it in terms of crime.”

He then adds: “The criminal, in the Middle Eastern sense, is more cowardice (sic) than your general criminal. They’d rather use a gun than stand in a fist fight.”

Naturally, the damnation centred not on the truth or falsehood of that statement, but on the “helpfulness’’ of saying it in public:
After watching the preview episode, provided by The Sunday Age, federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma, whose role as head of ethnic discrimination at the Australian Human Rights Commission makes him the country’s most senior voice on race issues, said that Mr McKay’s casual use of terms such as “Middle Eastern” caused communities to feel stigmatised.

I guess it would, but surely we need to know if McKay’s claim is true, because we’d then be better informed about what to do about these gangs, right? But this article does not once offer an answer to that central question. All we get is more sliming of McKay:

But Dr Kennedy said: “Ken McKay has a record for shooting his mouth off and he has a limited intellect.”

I know neither man, but I already know from this article which one I’m less likely to trust to tell me an unvarnished truth.
Taking a stick to Mann
Andrew Bolt
Michael Mann, now a co-author of a controversial paper claiming the Antarctic is warming, shows all the moderation and careful attention to evidence that marks out global warming believers:

In his latest piece in the tabloid the National Post, Mr. Lawrence Solomon, a widely recognized purveyor of fossil fuel-funded disinformation, continues to use the forum provided to him by the Post to spread lies about scientists and scientific research in the area of global climate change. Doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry that financially supports his disinformation efforts, Mr. Lawrence repeatedly lies about my work...

Mann is particularly incensed by allegations that his infamous “hockey stick” - a reconstruction that claims the world hasn’t been this hot for thousands of years - has been discredited:

(It was) vindicated in a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

In fact, Mann claims:

The National Academy of Sciences responded by performing a legitimate scientific review of my findings and similar work by others in the scientific community, and the academy endorsed or key findings, noting that a host of additional studies since have confirmed them. The media reported the NAS findings as “Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate” (New York Times), “Backing for Hockey Stick Graph (BBC), and so on.

You should be struck immediately by the fact that Mann quotes in his defence not the NAS study but some media reports on it. Solomon swiftly puts Mann right:

The NAS did find some of Mann’s work “plausible” — that’s the closest that it comes to actually supporting Mann’s findings — but then it immediately states there are so many scientific uncertainties attached to Mann’s work that it doesn’t have great confidence in it. The committee then proceeds to further downgrade its view of Mann’s work: ”Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that ‘the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium.’ “

In short, Mann’s main conclusions are not to be believed.

Why not? Because “Mann et al. used a type of principal component analysis that tends to bias the shape of the reconstructions” and because he downplayed the “uncertainties of the published reconstructions.” And, the NAS added, because of what Mann did not do — he did not let others examine his data for accuracy and he did not reveal his analytic methods. For this, the NAS rightly chastised Mann...

And Melanie Phillips notes that Mann’s study then got clobbered even harder:

Mann also does not say in his diatribe is that a subsequent House Energy and Commerce Committee report chaired by Edward Wegman totally destroyed the credibility of the ‘hockey stick’ study and devastatingly ripped apart Mann’s methodology as ‘bad mathematics’. Furthermore, when Gerald North, the chairman of the NAS panel—which Mann claims ‘vindicated him’ – and panel member Peter Bloomfield were asked at the House Committee hearings whether or not they agreed with Wegman’s harsh criticisms, they said they did:

CHAIRMAN BARTON. Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?
DR. NORTH. No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.

DR. BLOOMFIELD. Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.

WALLACE: ‘the two reports were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.’ (Am Stat Assoc.)

As Mark Twain might have put it, there are three kinds of lies—lies, damned lies and global warming science.

Check for yourself the criticism of Mann by Wegman and the NAS.

If Mann sees criticism as “vindication”, isn’t he also likely to see disproof as proof, cold as warm, fiction as fact?
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