Monday, March 30, 2009
Headlines Monday 30th March 2009
Zervas's brother gunned down as bikie war escalates
The brother of Hells Angel Anthony Zervas has been gunned down in Lakemba overnight, with police now concerned an innocent life could be lost in an all out bikie war. Laura Tunstall is at the crime scene.
Rudd rivals Hawke as most popular PM: poll
A new poll shows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is rivalling Bob Hawke as Australia's most popular prime minister, while support for Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has slumped dramatically.
Logie nominees announced: Mark Priestley nominated for posthumous Logie
All Saints star Mark Priestley, who passed away last year at the age of 32, has been nominated for a posthumous award at this year's Logies.
Shots fired at business near Kings Cross
Two men are being sought after shots were fired at a business near Kings Cross in Sydney's east.
$900 stimulus handout challenged today in court
Families anticipating the proposed $900 tax bonus will have those payments challenged by a legal academic in the High Court over the next two days.
Girl, five, decapitated at birthday party
A MAN kills his two sisters at a party - decapitating the birthday girl - before he's gunned down.
Girl 'bashed' at elite school's dance
A 13-YEAR-old has allegedly been hit 40 times by an older girl at a prestigious school's dance.
I feared for my son's life - D'Arcy's dad
NICK D'Arcy's father thought his son might end his own life while suffering deep depression. - how about when he was so drunk he didn'ty know who or how he was hitting people. - ed
Public 'need not fear' new bikie laws NSW Government pleads to public to understand
'Geeky' Rudd ridiculed by Brit press
KEVIN Rudd dubbed a "boot-wearing geek from Down Under" and a "charisma-free zone".
UK interior minister, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, in 'adult film' row before G20 summit
A SENIOR minister, who is in charge of British security, was forced to apologise today for using public money to pay for adult films, an embarrassment for Prime Minister Gordon Brown as he prepares to host a G20 summit.
In the latest in a series of political rows over lawmakers' expenses, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, already under investigation over her housing allowance, said she mistakenly claimed for pay-per-view television when she submitted a bill for her internet connection.
A IS FOR ACTIVISM
Highlights from Matthew Weaver’s coverage of London’s latest complain-about-everything rally:
• A Turkish workers group in Trafalgar Square is chanting about jobs and justice.
• There are lots of old fashioned banners and placards. The most bizarre I’ve spotted so far include, “Obama is a muppet” and “A is for Autism”.
• A few thousand people have gathered in the wind and rain at the start of the march near Temple station. They are making a lot of noise and protesting about everything from war, poverty, unemployment and global warming to disability rights and housing insulation.
Somewhere in that crowd is a crippled Taliban supporter who lost a low-paying job because hot weather made her oversleep inside an uninsulated house. She is the Perfect Protester. And here’s the perfect protest sign:
PLANETARY CRISIS ELUSIVE
Time magazine science expert Bryan Walsh wonders if Earth Hour might become environmentalism’s defining image:
SHEILA AND ALI
Romance in New Delhi:
A rape victim has told a city court that she wants to marry her violator. Almost four years after Sheila was allegedly raped by Ali (both names changed), she has converted to Islam and is ready to accept him as her husband.
She told the court that her marriage to Ali was necessary to end the social stigma she faced since 2005.
This storyline is unlikely to feature in any sitcoms.
SHOULD BE EASY ENOUGH
Note to self: avoid any social occasions where rapper Mos Def and writer Christopher Hitchens are both present.
Here’s a highly entertaining segment of Bill Maher’s show, with Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens squaring off against ... rapper Mos Def, who gives new meaning to the word “incoherent.” - well, Mos sounds like a Democrat supporter -ed.
REGULATION ON THE MARCH
When black cars are banned in California, only criminals will have black cars. Which they prefer, as it happens. Also in California:
The California Energy Commission is considering a proposal that would ban California retailers from selling all but the most energy-efficient televisions. Critics say the new standards could take 25 percent of televisions off the market — most of them 40 inches or larger.
Even by Californian standards, the place is in a regulation frenzy:
An issue that briefly brought President Barack Obama ridicule on the campaign trail last year is gaining traction in California, where air regulators are seeking to mandate proper tire inflation as a way to reduce fuel consumption.
The New York Daily News reports:
The White House was plunged into turmoil Saturday as an explosive video emerged allegedly showing Vice President Biden’s daughter snorting cocaine at a Delaware house party.
The shocking video of Ashley Biden, 27, was shot this year and is being peddled for $250,000, a lawyer representing the seller told RadarOnline.com.
The News is getting ahead of events in that second paragraph; the video is still only alleged to be of Biden. Either way, expect various privacy concerns to be raised over this – “she didn’t run for office, she isn’t a public figure, the media shouldn’t cover it”, and so on. You know, the same way concerns were raised in the case of the mother of the boyfriend of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter.
GABBIN’ ABOUT GAIA
Queensland journalist Derek Barry subjects me to a friendly Earth Hour Q&A:
Derek: UN Gen Sec Ban-Ki Moon calls the 2009 version “the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted” and a “clear message” that people want action on climate change.
Tim: UN Gen Sec Ban-Ki Moon at least has the right name for a lights-out enthusiast. But if he thinks that middle-class slumber parties and candlelit dinners are a “clear message” for action on climate change, he’s mentally ill. It’s interesting, too, that Moon is able to see a “clear message” while everybody else involved in this can barely make out the wine labels and ends up drinking accidental chardonnay/riesling/sauvignon blanc combos.
Fitzgibbon’s unbelievable “mistake”
Julia Gillard yesterday used the ”Einfeld defence” to excuse her little mate, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who “forgot” to mention he’d received valuable gifts from a Chinese businesswoman who’d groomed him, almost literally:
Well I think it’s just an innocent lapse which occurred.
An honest mistake? Let’s check what exactly happened, and see how un-innocent it actually was.
First, Fitzgibbon as an Opposition spokesman accepts a $20,000 donation from Helen Liu, a woman with high-level connections in China’s communist party. He also accepts from her two business-class trips to China, although he returns to her a new suit.
Somehow Fitzgibbon, who rents from Liu’s sister a house in Canberra (has it been checked for bugs?), contracts an obligation to Liu so powerful that he flies to China with her over Christmas, missing not just Christmas with his children but his wife’s birthday.
Fitzgibbon somehow fails to list the gifts in his Parliamentary register of interests, despite being obliged to. And last week there’s this exchange, after the newspapers have already reported that his relationship to Liu is under scrutiny:
REPORTER: Have any of your trips to Beijing been paid by Ms Liu? Or any of her companies?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, DEFENCE MINISTER: I’ve said on a number of occasions I’ve had a close, personal relationship for the Lius and the family for 16 years now. And over that period of time there has been an exchange of a number of small gifts, for example on birthdays etc. No-one has ever raised concern…
REPORTER: Can you give an example of those gifts?
JOEL FITZGIBBON: No, very small gifts.
I have trouble believing Fitzgibbon “accidently” misled the reporter. And I want to know what Liu saw in this man that persuaded her to give him gifts and cultivate a close relationship with him. Excuse me if I doubt she simply found his conversation stimulating. More likely, especially given China’s efforts to gather intelligence here, is this explanation, admittedly not from a reliable source:
A website for expatriate Chinese reported that Ms Liu also kept good relations with Australian politicians and “accurately passed new Australian policies and moves towards China to relevant domestic parties”.
Remember: Fitzgibbon is the Minister in charge of our defence. This issue is big.
Julia Gillard yesterday dismissed concerns about China’s reach and influence with this wave-away:
But this is all, it seems to me Barrie, if I can make a point, all getting a little bit absurd. We now have the Opposition carrying on as if there is some huge conspiracy here that if you ever met a Chinese person, that if you’ve ever discussed an issue in relation to China, that you’ve ever spoken a word of Mandarin, apparently this is all some huge conspiracy against Australia’s national interest. Well, the reverse is actually true.
Here’s today’s “absurd” news about China’s reach and influence:
A CYBER spy network based mainly in China has tapped into classified documents from government and private organisations in 103 countries, including the computers of Tibetan exiles, according to Canadian researchers.
Which puts in context former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s point:
According to Downer, (Defence Signals Directorate) and Defence set up secure communications systems for ... central government players from their Blackberries to their personal laptops. In Fitzgibbon’s case the allegation is that DSD was spying on him potentially illegally when it discovered Helen Liu’s bank account details…
In our conversation Downer invited everyone feverishly scrutinsing Fitzgibbon to reverse their order of thinking. According to the former foreign minister, it is an ongoing duty of Defence to protect their minister from anyone hacking into their computer. In other words, it may be that the information DSD discovered about Liu was a duty of care, not a case of unauthorised spying.
Relieved of the constraints of office, Downer was explicit. The major culprit, when it comes to hacking into the computers of foreign governments, is China: not the Yanks, the Brits or even the Russians…
It’s now global yawning
The doom-mongering finally met consumer resistance during Earth Hour, even in post-heat-wave Melbourne:
Electricity consumption in the city centre fell by 2 per cent from 8.30pm on Saturday, when people were encouraged to switch off their lights in a united call for political leadership on climate change. This was down markedly on a year ago, when electricity use for the hour plunged 10.1 per cent.
Brawling, bawling, touring
Cheaper to scream for the Gov’mint than to take out insurance:
WHINGEING, irresponsible, cut-rate Australian tourists abroad are costing those who stay home millions of dollars and are being arrested more than ever.
The latest figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that 2009 is set to become the first year when more than 1000 Australians are arrested and when more than 1000 Australians are expected to die overseas.
Investigations on cost recovery also disclose huge outstanding losses when those helped in emergencies refuse to contribute to emergency services and flights.
Up until last week, Foreign Affairs has only been able to recover $55,462 of the $32.4million Australian taxpayers paid in 2006 to evacuate 6500 Australian citizens from Lebanon during the Israeli bombing.
On that last point, it seems to me someone in Government is really not trying hard. And I’m with Downer:
Yesterday, the Foreign Minister at the time of the Lebanon crisis, Alexander Downer, told The Australian he was bitterly disappointed at how Australians were abusing consular services overseas, refusing to take responsibility for their own care, ignoring travel advice and complaining about embassy staff.
Money gone, soldiers sacked
The Rudd Government has spent so much money on pink batts, free cash and public housing that it has none left to hire soldiers:
(T)he Government is looking to wind back a promised 3 per cent increase in military spending as it seeks billions of dollars in budget savings… Defence will also be asked to find savings by...achieving savings of almost half a billion via job cuts.
Sacking soldiers to pay for a “stimulus” package that didn’t work. That’s how debased the Government’s policies now are.
Not the faith but the violence
Paul Sheehan says it’s not “Islamophobic” to be worried by violence:
Given the abundant evidence of violent cause and fearful effect, involving a small percentage of antagonists, the general charge of Islamophobia is an ideological fabrication.... Consider the series of blows to the image of Muslims in just the past three weeks, where the everyday decency of the majority have been collaterally damaged by the antics of the few.
A long and disturbing list follows.
Rudd-style spending too much even for Europe
The reckless Ruddernomics of fellow Leftists Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd has been rejected by Europe:
GORDON BROWN’S carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession.
“I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said.
The Spanish finance minister, Pedro Solbes, also dismissed new cash being pledged at Thursday’s London summit.
“In these conditions I and the rest of my colleagues from the eurozone believe there is no room for new fiscal stimulus plans,” he said.
Not quite Playschool
Al-Jazeera broadcasts an inspiring lecture to children from Saudi cleric Khaled Al-Khlewi. Some highlights:
Khaled Al-Khlewi: How old are you, Omar?
Omar: Eight years old.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Do you like the Jews?
Khaled Al-Khlewi: You hate them. Why do you hate them? What did the Jews do?
Omar: They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Well done. They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad. And what are they doing to our Muslim brothers now? They are killing them. When you curse them, what do you say? “Oh God…”?
Omar: Oh God, destroy the Jews.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Well done.
Meanwhile in Finland:
Helsinki city councilman, Jussi Halla-aho was charged with blasphemy and incitement of an ethnic-group in the Helsinki district court today, and ordered to stand trial for publishing on his blog that Islam’s prophet was a pedophile.
The councillor’s blog post here.
Jihad Watch wonders what else you’d call the Prophet by today’s standards:
The collection of traditions of Muhammad that Muslims consider most reliable, Sahih Bukhari, affirms in no less than five places that Aisha was six when Muhammad took her and nine when he consummated the marriage (vol. 5, bk. 58, no. 234; vol. 5 bk. 58 no. 236; vol. 7 bk. 62 no. 64; vol. 7 bk. 62 no. 65; and vol. 7 bk. 62 no. 88). It is also in Sunan Abu Dawud (bk. 41 no. 4915), another of the Sahih Sittah, the six hadith collections Muslims accept as most reliable.
I agree it’s offensive to Muslims to mention such facts and especially to use the word “pedophile”, which is why I rarely do the former and never the latter. But to make illegal the expression of such opinions, which are at the very least arguably well-based, is absurd. The second charge against Jussi Halla-aho, if reported correctly, is even more absurd, suggesting that the prosecutor too stupid to understand irony, analogy or logic.
Meanwhile in Britain, police are trying to cope with hate preaching that’s far more lethal:
Two hundred schoolchildren in Britain, some as young as 13, have been identified as potential terrorists by a police scheme that aims to spot youngsters who are “vulnerable” to Islamic radicalisation.
Not pious enough for Prius
The hype is receding; the hybrid isn’t selling - at least in the US:
Last month, only 15,144 hybrids sold nationwide, down almost two-thirds from April, when the segment’s sales peaked and gas averaged $3.57 a gallon. That’s far larger than the drop in industry sales for the period and scarcely a better showing than January, when hybrid sales were at their lowest since early 2005.