Friday, March 20, 2009
Headlines Friday 20th March 2009
Tenth Aussie soldier killed in Afghanistan
An Australian soldier has died in Afghanistan protecting his mates, on the same day the body of another dead digger began his journey home.... - Rudd has sent another soldier to his death with his under-equipped expedition. - ed.
Labor will reject amended workplace bill: Swan
Treasurer Wayne Swan says the Rudd government is absolutely determined to push through parliament its planned changes to workplace laws.... - On the eve of Queensland elections, the ALP are divided over many things. - ed.
Life for Fritzl over House of Horror abuse
A jury has ordered Josef Fritzl detained for life for treating his daughter as a sex slave in the cellar of his home during a 24-year orgy of depravity in which he fathered seven children. ..
Australia on the ropes: out for 209 in Cape Town
South Africa has the upper hand after day one of the third Test in Cape Town, bowling out Australia for just 209 before cruising to 0-57....
Demetriou hits out at AFL "doomsayers"
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has used the official season launch to hit back at critics of the game's expansion plans, calling them "doomsayers"....
Housing starts slump to eight-year low
Housing starts slumped to their lowest level in almost eight years in the December quarter as potential home owners were sidelined by worries about the economy, economists say.... - on the eve of the Queensland elections, it is worth noting that Rudd has done nothing he promised. - ed.
UK rejects calls to cap executive pay
Britain's Treasury chief Alistair Darling rejected calls to cap the pay of executives in banks that were part of the government's multi-billion pound (dollar) bailout package....
Autopsy confirms head knock killed Natasha Richardson
British actress Natasha Richardson died from an accidental blow to the head, an autopsy has confirmed after a freak ski accident....
Polls, newspapers show swing towards Springborg
Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Springborg enters the final day of campaigning before the Queensland state election on Saturday ahead in the polls.
Police investigating Darwiche's murder charge two men
Police investigating the murder of Sydney crime figure Abdul Darwiche have charged two men caught with a loaded gun in their car.
Teacher sacked every three weeks for sex crimes
Every three weeks on average in NSW, a teacher is sacked for sexually assaulting children or committing other sex crimes against students, government figures show. - can't they get rid of that teacher once and for all? - ed.
Fast-food giant funding nation's McMaths
THE McDonald's logo will be regularly splashed in front of 1.4 million students as it makes a major move into education.
Major quake hits Tonga region
Labor loses on small business definition
Time for some actual financial responsibility
The government talks the talk on financial responsibility, but it's about time it walked the walk, according to Alan Jones.
POWER AND A HALF
“Will you be resurrecting the Hour of Power this year?” asks reader Steve. Why, yes I will. The Hour of Power is already leading Christmas as this site’s favourite annual event. And this year it may even be extended by 30 minutes, to compete with an emerging force:
We know as well as you do that Earth Hour has no impact on our climate. So we’re doing even more by supporting Earth Hour and a Half—the only mass action guaranteed 50% more effective than Earth Hour.
TRICK IN THE CAMERA
A door-kicking is taken out of context:
Australia’s most controversial sheik, Taj Din al-Hilali, has been caught on videotape kicking in a door at his own mosque before calling police to report an act of vandalism.
The head imam at the Lakemba mosque, who caused outrage in 2006 by comparing scantily clad women to uncovered meat, was shown on a CCTV security tape kicking open the door just minutes before reporting the incident.
The Nine Network’s A Current Affair last night broadcast the videotape from March 9, showing the incident, which Sheik Hilali initially denied.
“There is a trick in this camera. There is a trick in this film,” he told ACA.
But in a letter sent by Sheik Hilali’s lawyers to ACA yesterday, he admitted kicking the door, saying the damage had already been done to the door before he kicked it.
(Via Adam I.)
UPDATE. Further mosquey mayhem:
Strong emotions led to a brawl outside the mosque when Sheik Hilaly publicly accused several young men arriving to pray as those he believed leaked the security footage to a TV network. Some said they believe the time has come to remove him from office.
Remove him? No chance. He’ll just kick his way inside again.
DON’T MENTION THE DIVORCES
The phrase “animal husbandry” confounds Miami Democrat Larcenia Bullard:
‘’People are taking these animals as their husbands? What’s husbandry?’’ she asked. Some senators stifled their laughter as Sen. Charlie Dean, an Inverness Republican, explained that husbandry is raising and caring for animals. Bullard didn’t get it.
‘’So that maybe was the reason the lady was so upset about that monkey?’’ Bullard asked, referring to a Connecticut case where a woman’s suburban chimpanzee went mad and was shot.
Filter gone to the dogs
The potential reach of the Rudd Government’s new filter is a worry:
THE websites of a Queensland dentist, a tuckshop convener and a kennel operator have been included on a secret “blacklist” of sites to be banned by Australia’s communications watchdog. The seemingly innocuous websites were among a leaked list of 2300 websites the Australian Communications and Media Authority was planning to ban to protect children from graphic pornography and violence.
Several Queensland businesses yesterday expressed dismay at their inclusion on the Government’s mandatory internet content filter. Dental Distinction practice manager Kelly Wilson said the business had never been contacted by the ACMA and she was struggling to understand why the website appeared on the list.
“I am quite shocked and slightly amused that our name is on it,” Ms Wilson said. ..
Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy yesterday said the leaked list included proposed banned sites but denied it was the ACMA blacklist.
Rudd’s need for love
Mark Latham, whatever his failings as a politician, has become a superb columnist. It’s a pity the Financial Review won’t put his work on the Internet, so you’ll have to make do with this taste:
Rudd is yet another victim of the “got to be loved” syndrome in public life. I first saw it when I worked for Bob Carr - how the lure of public adulation can transform a serious intellectual into someone obsessed with media management and opinion polls. Both (Carr and Rudd) came from the school of hard rocks, teased and humiliated by their adolescent peers. Both sought comfort in the solidarity of the Labor movement.
No one should underestimate the emotional side of politics. The Left in Australia has a history of hero worshipping that one does not find on the conservative side of politics.
The chattering classes who despised Paul Keating for his neo-liberal economics adored him for his Mabo legislation. Rudd has undergone a similar metamorphosis. The turning point was the apology to the Stolen Generations. The outpouring of affection for the Prime Minister seems to have had a seductive impact. If the symbolism of a parliamentary apology could bring people to love him, then why not make other populist gestures to the Left? After all, he is flesh and blood like the rest of us, wanting to belong, wanting people to appreciate him. The “got to be loved” syndrome colonises the judgment of governments, weakening their capacity to make unpopular but necessary decisions.
The people around Rudd are not helping. He needs a Peter Walsh by his side. Rudd’s point-man, Lindsay Tanner, is too lax and indecisive to keep the nation’s spendthrifts from raiding the federal budget.
Spot on. Although I think Latham is actually too kind to Rudd (in the full version of this column), trying hard to avoid seeming just another bitter John Hewson or Malcolm Fraser. Rudd’s desperation to be loved is not a surprising turn from a confident man, but in fact the sign of a man with no centre and no real confidence. - Andrew feels this is spot on. He is highly sympathetic to the ALP, however. Rudd has shown no strength or character, and the Australian public despise it. However, Rudd is supported by left wing industry, including big business. There is nothing to take pride in .. but if one watches, even from a distance, one sees frailty and fear in Rudd. - ed.
Still tight, but far closer than Labor counted on when dashing to an early poll, before the worst was known:
A Galaxy Poll, conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail, has revealed a steep swing against Labor in Brisbane and a sizeable shift away from the party across the rest of the state… On a two-party preferred basis, the LNP retained a slight lead over Labor with 51 per cent to 49.
But if you work on the principle that newspapers prefer to pick winners rather than ideological soulmates, this editorial from the Labor-leaning Courier Mail, with a staff heavy with former Labor press secretaries, says more:
ANNA Bligh has chosen tomorrow as her day of electoral reckoning, six months sooner than she needed. She has cut short the term of the government she inherited to argue to voters that they need her team’s management ability to steer the state through difficult economic times.
Just as importantly, although she does not admit it, this spared her bearing the opprobrium of two high-profile criminal trials stemming from events on Labor’s watch: one, the manslaughter charges against Dr Jayant Patel; the other, the corruption charges against former minister Gordon Nuttall (the most serious in the state’s history).
Ms Bligh is politically correct to play her strongest hand to justify re-election.
But, in truth, her hand is weak. Under Labor’s watch (all of it while she was part of the Cabinet and much of it while she was a senior minister), the Government dropped the ball on roads, water, child welfare, energy and health planning. The price we are now paying to catch up is the reason Queensland has lost its valued AAA credit rating…
These challenges need a fresh approach, a willingness to shed the past. Mr Springborg offers it and deserves a chance to do the job.
The Age is not pleased, starting today’s election report like this:
WHILE some people snigger about a return to hillbilly politics in Queensland if the Liberal National Party wins tomorrow’s election, leader Lawrence Springborg is unashamed of the state’s, and his own, National Party heritage.
I think we know who “some people” are and which news organisations they work for. Scratch a media Leftist and you’ll expose an almighty snob.
An astonishing statistic:
While much less of a media tart than her predecessor, the 400 journalists on the government payroll give opponents grounds to complain that Labor governs by spin.
And that’s not counting the journalists who spin for Labor for free.
I should ‘fess up, though. Every one of the four journalists here are also former paid spinners for Labor politicians.
Barack Obama’s teleprompter is now blogging:
Teleprompter, is the president ever argumentative with you, or is he compliant with your instructions?
Good question. Look, like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. Last year on the campaign trail, The Big Guy came to me and told me that like the cigarettes, he really felt like he needed to start working through his dependency. Then he went out and did this townhall session on health care.
Suffice it to say, we aren’t having those unpleasant discussions any more.
Feeling cold, thinking hot
THREE shivering global warming activists, stuck on an ice floe in the Arctic, are helping to tear up the psychology textbooks.
In 1956, US psychologist Leon Festinger became instantly famous for giving us “cognitive dissonance”—the theory that humans couldn’t tolerate two conflicting perceptions. One would have to go.
Ha! It’s taken half a century, but warming believers are now making a monkey of old Festinger.
As proof, here are three recent news items about the latest pilgrimage to the North Pole of three scientists, all hot gospellers of our new faith and all convinced the ice cap is barely there.
February 13, 2009, from Britain’s Herald Express: The team of three will be measuring the thickness of the ice . . . The data they gather will give scientists a better idea of just how long the ice cap could survive.
February 19, 2009, from the online diary of team leader Pen Hadow: With unusually heavy snowfall in Britain just before we left for Canada, leave-taking from our families was not quite what we had planned.
March 18, 2009, from AFP: Project director and ice team leader Pen Hadow and his colleagues, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels, are now down to half rations and fighting to survive in brutal sub-zero weather conditions.
Never mind. Hadow’s team may be deep frozen, half-starved and cut off from rescue by howling gales, while their loved ones shiver in Britain, but think they’ll stop believing the world is actually a sauna, and heating to hell?
Hell would freeze over first. This is a faith where believers can feel cold and think hot—displaying all the symptoms of Festinger’s cognitive dissonance, but without feeling any need to reconcile two conflicting perceptions. Theory kaput.
Need more proof?
How it got so hot or not
IPCC reviewer Steve McIntyre gives a brilliant discussion, with graphs, of how the infamous “hockey stick” became a poster-child of the global warming believers - and why it is not to be trusted.
Among the points he makes:
- This claim that not for thousands of years has it been as warm as today is based on the use of a couple of measurements, especially of growth rates of bristlecone trees in the US, that skew the data far more than is safe.
- The “independent” studies confirming the since-discredited Mann hockey stick (above) used by the IPCC themselves use the same suspect data.
- The bristelcone data is in fact 20 years old, and recent remeasurements don’t find the same evidence of flat temperatures followed by unprecedented heating.
- The other suspect data, of Polar Ural trees, is based on measurements also contradicted by recent studies in the same area.
- Without this data there is no hockey stick.
- The IPCC has refused to acknowledge or incorporate in its data the updated studies of bristlecomes or the Polar Ural evidence.
- It is thus impossible to say that the present is warmer than the Middle Ages (but also impossible to prove the reverse). However, there is good reason to believe the world has been warmer over the last 4500 years, and perhaps more than once.
This lecture confirms that the IPCC is now so wedded to its theory of man-made catastrophic warming that there is little chance of any evidence being considered that might contradict it. It also confirms a point made in the Wegman inquiry into Mann’s hockeystick - that there is a network of climate scientists who operate on the same data, peer review each other’s work and, hence, could operate (in my words) as a climate Mafia, at war against any independent scientists and sceptics, including those like McIntyre who have indeed exposed significant errors in their work.
The Hadley Climate Centre concedes at last that urbanisation could explain more of the recent warming - at least in China - that they claimed.
Less to connect them
Marvellous multicultural Sydney:
RELATIVES of members of the bikie club Notorious may have been targeted in one of two drive-by shootings in Sydney’s west early yesterday…
The attacks may be retaliation for a drive-by shooting at the house of a senior member of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club’s Blacktown chapter early on Monday. Notorious is suspected of being behind that shooting, as well as attacks on the Nomads’ clubhouse in Marrickville and the Hells Angels’ clubhouse in Petersham in recent months.
Notorious, thought to have been formed in 2007, is run by a Lebanese-Australian Christian with longstanding links to one of Sydney’s most well-known underworld families. Police and underworld sources have indicated that Notorious is relying heavily on “Islander muscle” ...
Obama’s Newspeak bans terrorism
With one word, Barack Obama’s new Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has done what the Bush administration couldn’t and abolished terrorism:
SPIEGEL: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word “terrorism.” Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?
Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.
This is the authentic Left - at home more with words than deeds. How safe is America now?
No way we’ll move millions to green jobs
Keith Orchison is rightly sceptical of airy green claims that slashing emissions won’t hurt because we can just move workers from gassy jobs to green ones:
Most of the Australian green jobs talk seems to have its genesis in a mid-2008 CSIRO study - commissioned by the environmental movement - that predicted a tough emissions trading scheme would create a green-collar workforce over two decades, but added that more than three million workers would need to be retrained.
The CSIRO report appeared well before the global economic tsunami hit these shores - ... but it made one observation that is still highly relevant. Thirty per cent of Australian workers, it noted, are employed in the industries that create up to 90 per cent of the carbon impacts, including: agriculture, food and drink production, mining, petroleum, manufacturing, aluminium production and road transport.
Shifting them to green jobs seems highly improbable.
Orchison gives an example of how easily Labor could kill thousands of a jobs at just a single project with its planned emissions trading:
Hydro Aluminium Kurri Kurri ... operates a Hunter Valley smelter and provides 2500 direct and indirect jobs in the region. The company is evaluating a $4 billion investment in the smelter ... If the project goes ahead, it will generate 3000 new long-term jobs and 15,000 construction jobs over three years.
But the company points out: “The investment is contingent on the regulatory regime in Australia (including emissions trading and the renewable energy target) not materially eroding competitive advantages.”
If emissions trading and the renewable energy target do erode the company’s competitive advantage, not only will the expansion be dumped but the future of the existing operation would have to come into question, with the potential loss of 2500 actual jobs as well as the 15,500 potential ones from the expansion.
Wait until they’re visited by Mr Rub
The Obama White House shows again the diplomatic skills that made its dealings with Britain’s Prime Minister and Russia’s Foreign Minister such fun. This time the victim is the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva:
His meet and greet with the U.S. president was bumped to Saturday, and when the White House announced his official visit, they misspelled his name… Silva aides said the trip was pushed forward from Tuesday because of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday — making Latin America once again look like an afterthought. Then, the White House announcement misspelled his name as “Luis Ignacio” and put “Lula” — a nickname that decades ago became a legal part of the Brazilian leader’s name — in quotes.
Comrade Kim finds his Lord Haw Haw
Britain’s Ambassador to North Korea, Peter Hughes, describes a paradise:
Spring seems to have arrived in Pyongyang… The weather during the weekend was relatively warm and sunny for the elections of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place on Sunday 8 March. There was a very festive atmosphere throughout the city. Many people were walking to or from the polling stations, or thronging the parks to have picnics or just stroll. Most of the ladies were dressed in the colourful traditional hanguk pokshik and the men in their best suits. Outside the central polling stations there were bands playing and people dancing and singing to entertain the queues of voters waiting patiently to select their representatives in the country’s unicameral legislature. The booths selling drinks and snacks were very popular with the crowds and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The list of successful candidates was published on Monday. There was a reported turn-out of over 99% of the voters and all the candidates, including Kim Jong Il, were elected with 100% approval. In a few weeks time the Supreme People’s Assembly will open for business which will include voting for the Chairman of the National Defence Committee (presently Kim Jong Il), and drawing up the budget for the coming financial year.
The city has returned to normal since the weekend, and people are going about their business much as they usually do. However, the sunny weather and warmer temperatures have encouraged the parks and roadside verges to begin turning green again after the long winter. During the afternoons, long columns of schoolchildren can be seen marching through the streets in their blue uniforms with red neckerchiefs, carrying red banners and flags that encourage the people to launch a “general offensive in response to the Party’s call to make a historic leap on all fronts, and sounding the advance for opening the gate to a strong, powerful and prosperous nation in 2012, the centenary of the birth of the Great Eternal Leader Kim Il Sung”. The children sing songs and chant slogans as they either walk gaily hand in hand, or march solemnly by.
There has been a lot of activity preparing the small plots of land around blocks of apartments for sowing a spring crop of vegetables and herbs, and last week the government announced a nationwide ‘reforestation’ programme under which millions of saplings are to be planted throughout the country. The people in Pyongyang have taken this programme very seriously and have planted young trees every six metres or so along all the pavements, and within the apartment complexes. Every evening people can be seen tending the saplings they put into the ground just a few days ago, while at intervals ladies are sitting selling cigarettes or sweets from small tables they have set up by the roadside.
Oliver Kamm describes a donkey:
In 2004, The Observer published a report that has stayed with me as few accounts of the modern world have: “Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.”
Bear that in mind when reading this… Hughes protests that his depiction of North Korea - one great Potemkin village, so it would appear - was not intended as political commentary, and he is indeed not a politician. But his remarks, which go beyond mere fatuity and obtuseness, surely mark him as unfit for public service.
Has the West forgotten what evil looks like, and how to resist it?
WHY THE FAR-LEFT IS USING MEGHAN MCCAIN AS A POLITICAL PAWN
This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. - this is a cut form, full transcript at the link. - ed.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment, the left-wing smear machine strikes again. And this time yours truly is the target.
Now, we told you in the "Talking Points Memo," after a satirical bit on my radio show about Meghan McCain, the far left has gone on the attack. I'm used to it.
With us now is Jill Menin, a Democratic commentator and FOX News radio host, and I've known him for so long I don't want to admit, John Gibson. Both of you, great to see you.
JILL MENIN, DEMOCRATIC COMMENTATOR: Good to see you.
INGRAHAM: John, I know you have been through this. You host a radio show. When you do a show every day, you do three hours a day, five days a week, that's 15 hours to fill minus commercials. Is this an attempt to demonize and marginalize critics of the Obama administration?
JOHN GIBSON, FOX NEWS RADIO HOST: I have been studying this. When Obama has a bad day, somebody else has a worse day. You know, whenever he gets in trouble, they either roll out Bush and flog him or roll out Rush and flog him or roll out Michael Steele and flog him and then you got in the rollout.
So this -- all this is, is the politics of distraction. Let's find something else we can talk about because we don't want to talk about all the other stuff that Obama is up to his eyebrows in.
INGRAHAM: Julie, if Meghan McCain were a Republican attacking Barack Obama, do you think she'd get a guest spot on "The View" or be invited on "The Rachel Maddow Show" or any other MSNBC show?
MENIN: Listen, I think she got the spot because you targeted her weight. And you can...
INGRAHAM: No, no, no, no, no. You're out of order -- out of order. No, out of order. You've got to get the facts right. A lot has been distorted in the last week. I'm not going to let it happen on this show.
She wrote a column criticizing Ann Coulter, saying the Republican Party needed to go moderate...
INGRAHAM: ... to attract women.
INGRAHAM: OK. That's what she did. She got invite on "The Rachel Maddow Show."
INGRAHAM: I then did a riff on how cable bookers are desperate for guests and just keep recycling the same guests, taking her on Rachel Maddow. Then I did a satirical bit, which I do a lot on talk radio. And that is what happened. This diversion about -- oh, it's about her weight. My point was she has no real world political experience to make the case for moderation.
MENIN: Here is the issue, Laura. Is that when women talk about other women and they talk about their weight, that is bad for women. It's degrading.
INGRAHAM: I am going to ask you something. Because this is what happens in some of your writings. Because what she writes about, as you know if you research for this segment, is tattoo shopping and her dating struggles. OK. That's funny and it's cute and she's an attractive woman. But she's not exactly David Brooks writing in The New York Times. God bless her.
But what happened with the Sarah Palin controversy? Let's think about this, Julie. Sarah Palin was called every name in the book. I scoured your column on the Huffington Post. I didn't see you once come to her defense. Instead, I saw what you wrote...
MENIN: Because it had nothing to do with weight or her appearance.
INGRAHAM: It's cruelty and mean-spiritedness, which I have been accused of. And you said that Palin only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about women when she complains about the press, when people ask her a legitimate question.
MENIN: That's exactly right, because she claimed that the left -- she basically claimed that the elite media was attacking her.
INGRAHAM: Trailer trash.
MENIN: I didn't call her trailer trash at all.
GIBSON: You better get used to it. This is going to happen over and over and over. Obama is going to have trouble, and they're going to be looking around. Who else can we go after?
If you say "plus size," you're going to get it. If Rush Limbaugh gives a speech, he's going to get it. If Michael Steele gets a gym, he's going to get it.
MENIN: Listen -- listen, women can be much better than that. The idea of women fighting and a cat fight is bad for women.
INGRAHAM: What about women in charge has she made that I can rebut? What substantive argument?
MENIN: She talked about the Republican Party.
INGRAHAM: What substantive argument?
MENIN: She said that Ann Coulter is basically too extremist. If you had gone back and said, "No, she's not too extremist, no." You decide to do the comedic riff. It just changes the topic.
INGRAHAM: OK, so Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot is fine, because he's a man and he's a conservative.
MENIN: That's not what I'm saying at all. I think when people make personal pejoratives attacks...
INGRAHAM: How about George Bush is a stupid -- George Bush is a stupid frat boy? That's basically the Will Ferrell show on Broadway. Is that OK?
MENIN: Listen, when people have to make pejorative, personal attacks, they can't attack them on substance. It's much stronger. You're a lawyer; I'm a lawyer. Attack them on substance. It's much better.
INGRAHAM: I do that. I do that for most of my radio show.
GIBSON: Don't they feel bad about calling him the idiot in chief? Or whatever.
INGRAHAM: I do selective moral indignation. People know what it is. They're smart enough. Julie and John, I appreciate it.