Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Headlines Tuesday 10th February 2009
It will get worse: Brumby confirms fears as death toll hits 173
Authorities fear the death toll from Victoria's bushfire disaster will rise as high as 200, with Victorian Premier John Brumby saying Australia's worst natural disaster will get worse before it gets better.
$950 to be 'blown on pokies, plasmas'
Economists have raised concerns the federal government's cash hand-outs to millions of people will be blown on pokies and plasma televisions.
Parliamentary hostilities on hold
Parliamentary hostilities will remain on hold for another day with question time suspended for a second day in both the lower house and the Senate.
Prisoners called on to help with fire effort
Prisoners have been called on to help with the fire recovery effort in Victoria's northeast as a blaze continues to burn out of control near Beechworth.
SA's 'Operation Nomad' credited with preventing bushfires
An operation to keep tabs on known and potential arsonists has been credited with reducing the bushfire risk throughout South Australia.
Fire officials stand by 'stay and defend' policy
The Country Fire Authority has defended the "stay and defend" policy in the wake of Victoria's deadly fires.
Boy charged with indecent exposure, assault
A 12-year-old boy has been charged with exposing himself and indecently assaulting a woman near Mt Druitt, NSW.
One of Australia's darkest days: Gillard
The Victorian bushfire tragedy will remembered as one of the darkest days in Australia's history, an emotional Deputy Prime Minister has told parliament.
Teen killed as police handcuff him on road
The mother of a 16-year-old boy hit and killed by a car while being arrested by police says the youth was handcuffed and made to lie on a busy road.
Bushfire appeals raise $10 million
Ordinary Australians are digging deep, donating nearly $10 million in less than a day to a fund for victims of Victoria's bushfires.
Vic arsonists to be charged with murder
Arsonists who set deadly fires in Victoria on the weekend could be charged with murder, the Federal Attorney-General says.
Patel's poor surgery cost lives: Court
Australia's worst ever disaster makes global headlines
Missing boy's parents don't want croc put down
Churchill fire 'threatening communities'
Are the Victorian bushfires the beginning of global warming?
Climate change will cause bushfire conditions to worsen in the decades ahead, and its time the deniers woke up to it, according to Tim Brunero. - good to know what fools think so as to not copy them. -ed.
Arsonists as terrorists: Why the laws must change
Well, through all this horrific tragedy in Victoria, deadly infernos, people coming to terms with huge losses, they can’t go home, there is no home.
What do they do? Where do they go?
Nature has turned on them with such ferocity, aided and abetted by the bushfire equivalent of the terrorist.
He’s called the arsonist. .. by Alan Jones
Setting bush ablaze the act of a terrorist
THE tragic toll from Victoria’s horrific weekend bushfires is already greater than that of Australian deaths in the two Bali bombing attacks of 2002 and 2005 yet we know less about the home-grown terrorists responsible than we do about the Balinese bombers. - To say that an individual or a group is behind it when we don’t yet know is risible. It sounds like someone has been listening to the cool, collected, calming thoughts of Rudd “It’s mass murder!”
In fact the police may know who some of the firebugs are and maybe some of them are Muslim .. but that doesn’t mean it is an islamic plot. Instead, there are idiots that claim Islam .. and other idiots that accept them.
Regardless of who, the buck stops with those responsible .. which should absolve Rudd. The state and federal government are not only responsible for the run down infrastructure (more so the states), but also, they are planning to not improve it. - ed.
Just as they used Hurricane Katrina, warmenists are preparing to use Australia’s fires:
I’m an American climate activist. My heart goes out to all suffering this devastation. I also appeal to you to tell your stories, in blogs or wherever you can; we need your voices to help get climate change laws and treaties passed. Americans don’t understand the harsh reality of GW coming to us all
Karen, San Francisco, USA
Thanks for the kind thoughts, Karen.
Worse and worse
The death toll of Victoria’s is now 166. It’s just so shocking.
Police are said to be close to catching the arsonist behind the Churchill fire, at least.
But what’s also overwhelming is the flood of help. There is more donated food for the homeless than can be used. Donations are pouring in, with the corporates alone donating $14 million already. The Red Cross has been so flooded with people wanting to donate blood that they told me they couldn’t book me in until next week, at the earliest. In our worst times, we realise the good that keeps us together.
Well, that sure was a waste of my time.
Australian Story staff repeatedly told me they really did want me on their show to explain why I doubted Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg’s constant warnings that the Great Barrier Reef was doomed.
They knew my argument, because they’d read the article in which I’d put it. They knew it because I put it twice more in front of their cameras - including to Ove’s face, where he had the chance to answer it. (Far from answering it, Ove - on camera - conceded some of my criticism).
And yet not of that made it to air tonight. Not a word of how so many of his scary predictions had not come true. Instead, Australian Story ran yet more of his predictions, along with spooky music to make you extra scared. And some mild worlds from me about his being a scaremonger - without any explanation about why I reached that conclusion, when his wife, his best friend and some science allies thought him a genius.
But here is the case against believing his scariest warnings - the case Australian Story did not put, despite telling me was precisely the thing it was most interested in having:
In 1999, Ove warned that the Great Barrier Reef was under pressure from global warming, and much of it had turned white. In fact, he later admitted the reef had made a “surprising” recovery.
In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant “between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s great Barrier Reef could die within a month”. In fact, he later admitted this bleaching had “a minimal impact”.
In 2007, he warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were again bleaching the reef. In fact, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network in December said there had been no big damage to the reef caused by climate change in the four years since its last report, and veteran diver Ben Cropp said that in 50 years he’d seen none at all.
None of that was mentioned, yet it goes to the heart of Ove’s credibility. None of that was mentioned, even though Ove had the opportunity to rebut it - if he could - and show his only filmed critic to be a fool. Nor, incidentally, was a single one of the scientists who have publicly disagreed with Ove filmed, either, although I named at least three of them on camera.
Consider it a tax on stupidity:
TRACKING endangered wildlife in politically troubled, impoverished Zimbabwe might not seem the ideal holiday spot but it’s in hot demand in the travel industry’s latest niche market - ”tourism of doom”.
The term was coined by sector specialists for the growing number of travellers flocking to far-flung corners of the planet to see endangered natural wonders before they disappear…
Mr Shapiro said travel agents report that clients are increasingly requesting trips to see the melting glaciers of the Antarctic, the threatened coral of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro before it loses its ice cap.
How we’ll laugh when they demand their money back, 20 years from now.
Howard on the greatness of Bush
John Howard in the Spectator:
Let me advance two reasons why history should judge the presidency of George W Bush to have been a success. The first is that he took the action necessary to prevent another attack on America after 11 September 2001.The second is of special significance to Australia. His foreign policy helped bring a lot of calm stability to the Asia-Pacific region.
The full essay here. Oh, and this PS:
Finally, a word on approval ratings as a measure of political achievement. Just about every anti-Bush column I have read recently has referred to his low approval ratings, as if they alone put paid to any contrary viewpoint. Harry Truman’s approval ratings were similar to those of Bush, when the former ended his presidency in 1952. Yet history now judges Truman to have been a very successful president. There are many who argue that he has been the best Democrat occupant of the White House since Roosevelt. The 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, had an approval rating of 89 per cent in March 1991. Less than two years later, he lost convincingly to Bill Clinton. Margaret Thatcher, unquestionably Britain’s greatest prime minister since Churchill, had a satisfaction rating of just 20 per cent in March 1990, a few months before she was pushed out by her own colleagues. The list is quite long. The only surprise is that so many commentators should base their assessments on such superficial analyses.
Lancet does it again
Lancet didn’t just get the death toll in Iraq wildly and suspiciously wrong, in its eagerness to damn George Bush. It managed even to publish a dangerously wrong and deeply suspect paper in the area on which it’s at least meant to be expert:
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.
Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.
The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.
However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.
Both the papers I’ve mentioned were peer reviewed. Both were alarmist. Both, if heeded, could have cost lives.
Back where they were, but bloodier
Former Tehran correspondent Angus McDowell asks: 30 years on, was the revolution in Iran worth it? It turns out, in fact, that the pattern of this revolution followed the same deadly script of so many before it:
Yet the Islamic Republic created by Mr Yazdi and his comrades failed to live up to the dreams of a Muslim democracy, in which sagacious ayatollahs would stand as guardians of the democratic wishes of the people.
“What is happening now is a disaster,” says Mahmood Delkhasteh, one of the first young soldiers to heed Khomeini’s call to desert the Shah’s army and join the revolution. “Many people regret participating.”
Within months of the revolution, the euphoria had evaporated as the rival factions began a brutal battle for control of the country, which ended with a repressive state that imprisoned and executed thousands of political prisoners – including many of the revolutionaries themselves.
“The missile was launched just now.”
Just another day at the office of the Alarabiya-TV office in Gaza. Reporter Hanan al-Masri wonders what that roar from downstairs was. Wonder how the station would have reported any reply in kind from Israel.
Still, at least it wasn’t fired from a UN-run school, right?
ABC NewsRadio last week asked listeners:
Is Global Warming to blame for the current heatwave in Australia?
The ABC can’t have liked the answer much. The poll, and its emphatic result, has been deleted from the poll archive.
Reader Michael gives the results that the ABC won’t:
1. Global warming is a myth (94.4%)
2. Yes (2.8%)
3. No (2.8%)
Number of voters: 15,451.
We’re told (see comments below) that the ABC had to junk this poll because 90 per cent of the votes were rigged. All right, let’s assume all those 13,906 bogus votes were cast entirely by warming sceptics and remove them from the results. That leaves us with these figures:
Is Global Warming to blame for the current heatwave in Australia?
1. Global warming is a myth (40%)
2. Yes (30%)
3. No (30%)
I’ll accept even these “corrected” figures. Let the ABC publish them.
Incidently, reader Tom rang Laura of the ABC NewsRadio’s web polling section this morning and was assured by her these polls were proof against multiple voting. But she didn’t know until Tom told her that what her poll had just measured.