Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Headlines Wednesday 4th February 2009
Opposition may block $42b stimulus plan
The federal opposition has not ruled out blocking the government's $42 billion stimulus package....
Costello slams Rudd's 'miserable essay'
Kevin Rudd's views on reforming economic regulatory systems are an "appalling" attack on the Howard government's record, former treasurer Peter Costello says....
'Mum' had 80 raped for bomb mission
A WOMAN says she had 80 women raped so she could tell them martyrdom was the only
way to escape the shame.
Banned MySpace sex offenders finding haven on Facebook: security expert
MySpace has announced that 90,000 sex offenders have been punted from the site, but its feared many will have simply rolled over onto rival Facebook.
Gatto 'hits out at Underbelly portrayal'
Former boxer and gangland figure Mick Gatto has taken a poke at producers of the prequel to the hit Nine Network series Underbelly over their portrayal of him as a potential hitman....
Explosion hits Hells Angels clubhouse
A massive explosion has blown the front off the Hells Angels bikie clubhouse at Petersham this morning, damaging surrounding homes and businesses. Laura Tunstall is there.
Guns, drugs seized in police raid
Stun guns and drugs have been seized in a raid on a home in Sydney's southwest, police say.
ATM bombers flee with cash
Costello slams Rudd's 'miserable essay'
Slap on the wrist after brothel hires 14-year-old
Stolen war medals traded for drugs: Police
Did sniffer dogs kill this Perth teenager?
With a teenager dead in Perth as a direct result of sniffer dog searches we really need to be asking: are they worth it? Tim Brunero weighs up the pros and cons.
Rudd is plunging us deep into the red
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s latest multi-billion attempt to stimulate the Australian economy would have had achieved a degree of credibility if he had not blatantly politicised the issue in his parliamentary address.
Rudd is, as ever, an opportunist first and foremost.
When it suited him, he and Treasurer Wayne Swan talked the economy down, when they finally awoke to the crisis others had already foreseen, they attempted to change their tune in mid-song.
Too often this team has been caught flat-footed, too often it has thrown money at the problem without having any notion whether their solution has any chance of succeeding. The Rudd-Swan Christmas splash did nothing to stop the spiral.
A responsible leadership team would seek a bipartisan approach to the crisis. Rudd has destroyed any possibility of building that consensus. - I heard someone ask how their $950 would be spent. I’m unemployed for 20 months and got nothing from the last package either. I’ve been illegally blacklisted with the aid of a few ALP state ministers so that I now have no choice but have myself declared unfit for work. My (state managed) super has gone down 35% or $65k since October .. that is Rudd. - ed.
WORKERS AGAINST WARMENISM
Union leader Bill Ludwig insists he isn’t a climate change sceptic, a claim some may doubt:
The patriarch of Australia’s biggest blue-collar union has launched a stinging assault on the credibility of the Rudd Government’s climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, calling him “wacko”.
Australian Workers Union national president Bill Ludwig yesterday poured scorn on Professor Garnaut’s proposal that Australians move away from eating cattle and sheep and instead consume kangaroo meat because of environmental benefits …
The union chief said climate change was described initially as global warming, until evidence proved unequivocally that the planet actually got cooler.
“It’s not global warming any more, it’s climate change,” Mr Ludwig told delegates. “That gets them back in the game. These people are pretty flexible ...”
Sounds sceptical to me.
RIDE OUT THE RECESSION
Farms for rent. Just $1 per week.
NSW railway cleaner Kevin Larkin was fired after turning up to work drunk. Hey, it’s not as though he had to fly a jet or anything:
It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.
His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.
Flight attendants initially ignored passengers’ complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped “making trouble”. As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.
One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was “not such a big deal” if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.
Cheplevsky then attempted to ease fears by personally meeting passengers. This didn’t work.
Paying more taxes is the patriotic thing to do if you’re a wealthy American, according to vice president Joe Biden. But finding a patriotic Democrat isn’t easy:
• “Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, has withdrawn her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government, the White House said Tuesday.”
• “Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary ... Daschle has been battling for his nomination since it was disclosed he failed to pay more than $120,000 in taxes.”
UPDATE. Do enjoy this Daschle campaign ad: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
UPDATE II. “Finally, Democrats have found a tax cut they can support – one that puts even more money in the pockets of Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and the rest of their pals in Tinseltown.”
DRIVER PICKS UP SPARE
English people have apparently forgotten how to drive in the snow. Here’s a helpful “how-to” video:
Note the radar-like ability of the first driver, who expertly picks out vehicles even in a near-deserted street. You don’t develop those skills overnight.
UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: The instructive video was shot in Oregon.
Australian terrorist leader Abdul Nacer Benbrika has been jailed for a minimum of 12 years. His co-accused received lesser sentences.
“Change” means tax dodgers and lobbyists
Even the New York Times is noticing that perhaps Barack Obama isn’t the Messiah, even if he’s not yet just a naughty boy:
During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a ‘new era of responsibility.’ What he did not talk much about were the asterisks. The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists. . . . Several Democrats, including some who have advised Mr. Obama, said privately that he had only himself to blame for delivering such an uncompromising message as a candidate without recognizing how it would complicate his ability to assemble an administration.
Cute that it’s just his naivity that’s blamed.
Were Clinton, Blair, Hawke and Keating neo-liberals?
Gerard Henderson says the problem with Kevin Rudd’s claim that 30 years of neo-liberalism caused this economic slump is that it’s completely against the facts:
The essential problem with Rudd’s essay is that it is ahistorical. The fact is that what he terms neo-liberalism has not prevailed in Britain, the US or Australia. Moreover, if it did, then the likes of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in Britain, Bill Clinton in the US, and Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in Australia did nothing to turn it back. The conservatives in these three nations did not substantially cut regulation or taxation or spending (along with the welfare state that it underpins). Indeed, in Australia, it was Hawke and Keating who started the economic reform process in the early 1980s. Rudd mentions this briefly in his essay but does not seem to appreciate that this reality undermines his thesis.
Rudd’s $42 billion rescue: the media verdict
In a very broad sense, we will have to “wait and see"… Rudd faces an absolute time deadline: November 2010. If we get there and we have deficits and recession, he’ll be swapping his view of Sydney Harbour for the Blue Pacific Sea, south of Noosa.
WHEN it comes to activist fiscal policy, it seems that nothing succeeds like failure. The apparent failure of previous stimulus packages to achieve the desired boost to economic growth is always seen as an argument for yet more stimulus measures. Governments never draw the more obvious conclusion that activist fiscal policy is ineffective… The Government also claims the package will “support” 90,000 jobs… Even on the Treasury’s numbers, this represents little bang for the stimulus buck.
So all we can say is that cuts in interest rates and government spending and tax cuts have worked in the past — eventually — so they should work this time, too.
THIS is a mix of the good, the bad and the amoral. Most of it looks the right stuff at the right time. But parts look as if they are designed to fight Malcolm Turnbull rather than a recession. And the worst is what is not there at all. There is nothing to help the real victims of the recession: the 800,000 Australians whom Treasury expects to be unemployed by June next year.
In truth, no one has much of an idea whether yesterday’s great hand-out will grant the economy the sort of tumescence that avoids a deep recession or whether it will wilt. Until Monday, no one but Rudd and his finance ministers and their senior officials knew the Government was facing a shortfall of $115 billion in receipts over the next four years, either.
The Government has every reason to be pleased with the package’s reception. But it can’t be confident about the really important question. Can these, and any subsequent, measures keep Australia out of recession?
The Government’s decisions to expand state activity in a recession are entirely orthodox in principle - so orthodox in fact that they could be taken from the International Monetary Fund’s textbook.... Where Marx went wrong was that he predicted the collapse of capitalism through the crises brought on by its “internal contradictions”. But where the state can sensibly manage its flaws and repair its crises, capitalism will recover and endure. This is exactly what Rudd is doing, and he is doing it well.
The state of the global economy makes the case for the Government’s plan, but this does not mean it will work.
It is chilling. It is sobering. It is necessary. Once again, the Government has acted quickly and decisively...
Sydney Morning Herald:
It is quite possible that recession cannot now be avoided. But that does not detract from the measures announced yesterday, or the earlier package of handouts and those still to come. All will have mitigated the downturn’s worst effects, and done so in a timely, measured way.
Aspects of the plan may be debatable. Its size and urgency are not… In broad terms, however, the Government is to be commended for the urgency, scale and structure of its response to the global economic crisis.
A $120 million lesson in green scares
I WON’T need to remind you that Sunday will be a year to the day since the dredging started in Port Phillip Bay.
How could you forget?
That disaster has since played out just as the protesters and their friends at The Age warned, hasn’t it?
The few fish left in our beloved Bay all have three heads. Brighton has been washed into the sea. The waves glow with radioactivity. Beachside businesses have been ruined.
And swimmers now emerge from the bay’s filthy water to find their flesh stripped from their bones by the toxins stirred up by that monster of a Dutch dredge that has now chewed through The Heads and ploughed up the Yarra.
Oh, pardon? You mean you haven’t noticed any of this? Zip?
You mean the Office of Environmental Monitor in fact issued a press release last week headed: “Beach water quality in great shape for summer crowds”?
Shaky Rudd’s $42 billion gamble
KEVIN Rudd hasn’t just bet $42 billion on a punt that he can kick the economy out of a slump.
The Prime Minister has also bet $42 billion of your money on his hunch that this time, at last, he understands what the hell is going on and how he can fix it. But his record shows that if he gets this one right, it will be a first.
I’m not an economist, and so you can ignore my fear that Rudd is spending billions that will sugar up the economy like red cordial, leaving us with huge debts and more of the overheated markets that got us into this strife.
But what you cannot ignore is that so far Rudd’s economic pronouncements have been largely wrong.
France rejects Rudd’s plans
France rejects exactly the kind of stimulus package that Kevin Rudd has just bought with $44 billion of your cash:
Prime Minister François Fillon on Monday rejected demands that the French government seek to stimulate consumer spending, rather than follow his plan to stimulate corporate and infrastructure investment, to lift France out of its economic slump.
“It would be irresponsible to chose another policy, which would increase our country’s indebtedness without having more infrastructure and increased competitiveness in the end,” Fillon said in a speech in Lyon.
How is our own competitveness helped by a package whose biggest spending on infrastructure includes $6.6 billion for public and community housing; $3.9 billion on free insulation and solar power rebates; and billions more on school halls and multi-purpose classrooms. This spending scares me deeply.
So while Rudd is stimulating us with pink batts and public housing, let’s see what France deems a wiser use of its recession-busting cash:
Fillon said Monday that Électricité de France would increase investment this year by €2.5 billion to build and renovate new power plants and its grid… The Paris transportation authority and the national railroad would increase investment on new trains and infrastructure by €1.35 billion. The government would spend €400 million on road building and renovation, €300 million on railroads, and €170 million on ports and river infrastructure. It would spend €731 million on universities and research centers and €620 million to renovate prisons, courts and more than 70 monuments and 50 cathedrals
That shopping list sounds awfully like the one I recommended on A Current Affair last night. Bottom line, what Rudd is spending on pink batts, France is spending on trains. What Rudd is spending on public and community housing, France is spending on a better power supply.
Get the idea France is building stuff that will prove useful for years? Then ask why Rudd, on the contrary, is spending $44 billion on next to nothing.
Going cold on Antarctic warming
Professor Eric Steig last month announced in Nature that he’d spotted a warming in West Antarctica that previous researchers had missed through slackness - a warming so strong that it more than made up for the cooling in East Antarctica.
Whew! Finally we had proof that Antarctica as a whole was warming, and not cooling, after all. Global warming really was global now.
The paper was immediately greeted with suspicion, not least because one of the authors was Michael Mann of the infamous “hockey stick”, now discredited, and the data was reconstructed from very sketchy weather station records, combined with assumptions from satellite observations.
But Steve McIntyre, who did most to expose Mann’s “hockey stick”, now notices a far more embarrassing problem with Steig’s paper.
Previous researchers hadn’t overlooked the data. What they’d done was to ignore data from four West Antarctic automatic weather stations in particular that didn’t meet their quality control. As you can see above, one shows no warming, two show insignificant warming and fourth - from a station dubbed “Harry” shows a sharp jump in temperature that helped Steig and his team discover their warming Antarctic.
Harry in fact is a problematic site that was buried in snow for years and then re-sited in 2005. But, worse, the data that Steig used in his modelling which he claimed came from Harry was actually old data from another station on the Ross Ice Shelf known as Gill with new data from Harry added to it, producing the abrupt warming. The data is worthless. Or as McIntyre puts it:
Considered by itself, Gill has a slightly negative trend from 1987 to 2002. The big trend in “New Harry” arises entirely from the impact of splicing the two data sets together. It’s a mess.
Read this link and this to see McIntyre’s superb forensic work.
Why wasn’t this error picked up earlier? Perhaps because the researchers got the results they’d hoped for, and no alarm bell went off that made them check. Now, wait for the papers to report the error with the zeal with which they reported Steig’s “warming”.
Moreland warns Israel
I’m afraid Melbourne’s Moreland Council has become a playground for professional multiculturalists of the far Left:
MORELAND Council has publicly condemned the “Israeli massacre in Gaza”.
Cr John Kavanagh was the lone voice of dissent against Cr Enver Erdogan’s successful motion to condemn Israel’s actions at last week’s council meeting…
“It’s outside our area,” he said. “The motion is too biased for one side. I realise Israel are the aggressors but they have also had to put up with Hamas bombing them ... for a long time...”
But Cr Stella Kariofyllidis said the council should not remain silent.