Thursday, March 19, 2009

Headlines Thursday 19th March 2009


$300m alcopops tax must now be returned to distillers: Gillard
Almost $300 million already collected under the alcopops tax, may have to be returned to the makers of pre-mixed alcoholic drinks.
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Two houses targeted in drive-by shootings in Sydney's west
Two homes have been riddled by bullets in Sydney's west overnight after seperate drive-by shootings.Laura Tunstall is there.
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Fritzl admits murder, enslavement charge
Jurors in the trial of Josef Fritzl could first send him to a mental institution, but he may later be transferred to prison.
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Woman gives birth on plane, leaves baby behind
A woman has given birth while flying to New Zealand from Western Samoa but left the baby behind on the plane after it landed in Auckland, authorities say.
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Astro-bat hitches ride on space shuttle Discovery
The seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery had an unexpected companion during their liftoff from the Kennedy Space Centre earlier this week, the US space agency says.
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Rudd's $900 cash bonus in jeopardy
Australians eagerly awaiting $900 bonus payments from the Federal Government could soon be bitterly disappointed.
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AIG boss asks bonus recipients to return half the cash
Don't send tax cash to distillers: Oppn
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When men of honour speak the nation must listen
Piers Akerman
COL Dillon is a man of impeccable reputation. A former Queensland police inspector, a whistleblower to the Fitzgerald Inquiry which exposed corruption at the highest levels of the Queensland Police Force, he won respect for the brave stand he took against entrenched crime. He is beyond reproach. -We await what the polls suggest will be a close election .. the unfairness of that thought outrages me .. I do not believe that Queensland should reward incompetent government with more time. But I recognize it may.
Another issue that is related, and not about me, I would like to bring to your attention. The 5T Vietnamese gang was disbanded after the leader’s death. The public do not know how or why, but they have a right to know, and a need to know.
As a school teacher in that neighborhood following the disbandment I am privy to some facts. I recall one year 7 boy who was a little miserable because he felt he was a 5T gang member and that his life would follow in a fatalistic direction and nothing mattered. He didn’t know that the 5T gang was no more and he didn’t know why. It wasn’t my fault, but he grew up to leave school a fine young man and not a gang member.
The Cabramatta community is part of the Western Sydney ‘Bible Belt’ with many Christian churches working with some people who are desperate and in need. One such church converted one of the high ranking members of the gang .. maybe a few. So that when the leader died, the gang leadership approached the police and suggested they disband them while they had a chance to “A snake without a head.”
The 5T gang, apparently contracted to kill Newman and any of many others, was wound up because its leaders found faith in god.
The public need to know that. Without that public knowledge of something so important, we are lost. Thank you Piers, for the reminder that when men of honor speak, the nation must listen.

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THE DAY THE LAUGHTER DIED
Tim Blair
Comedic sadness continues:
The traditionally left-wing world of comedy has plunged into depression with the departure of its favourite conservative targets, former US president George Bush and former prime minister John Howard.
Howard’s been gone since 2007. Bush is now safely contained in Texas. Move on, people.
While George Bush’s verbal stumbles made him a favourite of comedians, who only had to quote him to get a laugh, those days are over.

“It got to the point where it was too easy and we all knew it,” said visiting American comedian Rich Hall. Obama represented hope and audiences did not like it mocked, he said.
Our sensitive friend Rich “tell me who you are and just what it is you do” Hall doesn’t much enjoy being mocked himself. One comedian, Melbourne’s Courteney Hocking, is planning a counter attack:
“It is really easy for comedians and intellectual types to think everything in the world is right now that the left is in power, and there’s sort of a sanctimonious tone to it all which doesn’t sit well with me,” she said.

“I feel there needs to be adequate criticism of the left, and comedy and satire is about criticising those in power.”
At the moment, she’s got the field almost to herself.
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ISRAEL BLAMED FOR EVERYTHING, AS USUAL
Tim Blair
Academic Nick Dyrenfurth, with whom I’ve previously disagreed, writes an excellent column for The Australian:
As impressionable, well-meaning first-year students begin their university studies, they are actively preyed upon by the socialist jihadists of the far Left.

Most of the young Socialist Alternative recruits will disappear within a matter of months. Hopefully their departure will be prompted as much by a rejection of the group’s imbecilic economic theories as these abhorrent, irresponsible attacks on Israel and the Jewish people …

In the meantime we can look forward to the next offering by the Socialist Alternative peaceniks.

My tip: “Global Warming: Why Israel is to blame.”
Sound prediction. In fact, former British MP and Israel hater Clare Short has already trialled it:
Ms. Short charged the Jewish state with the ultimate crime: Israel “undermines the international community’s reaction to global warming.”
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UNEASY LIES THE HEAD THAT WEARS THIS HAT
Tim Blair
Pope Benedict XVI chats with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya. The building in the background is actually a hat, below which Biya’s wife Chantal is slowly having her spine compressed:
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PLUS, A LARGE YELLOW ORB IN THE SKY BURNED ME SOMEHOW
Tim Blair
It’s not that the British are whiners, necessarily, but they do tend towards the inventive when it comes to holiday complaints:
• “We bought ‘Ray-Ban’ sunglasses for five euros (£3.50) from a street trader, only to find out they were fake.”

• “No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.”

• “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”
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VIOLENCE PROGRAMS DEVELOPED
Tim Blair
Susan Volk Sizemore, Executive Director of the Erie County Council on the Status of Women, reflects on events following the decapitation of Aasiya Hassan:
“Buffalo’s a little behind the times. In other large cities the Muslim community has very developed domestic violence programs.”
Quite so. Particularly in large Middle Eastern cities. And throughout many Middle Eastern countries, for that matter.
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BYE BLIGH?
Tim Blair
Maybe not. Still, it looks like we’re in for a fun time on Saturday night:
Queensland is poised to witness its tightest election race in 14 years.

But sift through the opinion polls and other evidence and there can be only one conclusion: a history-making win for Labor by the narrowest of margins.
Live election antics here on Saturday from 5pm or so.

UPDATE. Also in Queensland, docile bandit Joshua Lee Ernst has been convicted for a second time:
During the 2001 attempted robbery Ernst, wearing a stolen balaclava and a knife from his mum’s kitchen, jumped up on the counter of a Brisbane Domino’s pizza store and yelled: “This is a stick-up.”

When the store proprietor asked Ernst what he wanted, he replied: “Money”, the court was told.

“The pizza shop owner said ‘no, get down off the counter you are scaring the customers’,” [Prosecutor Melina Litchen] said.

She said Ernst obeyed the instruction and then a curious customer leaned toward the would-be bandit and pulled his balaclava off his head.

The court was told Ernst tried to run off, but then sat down and waited for police when asked to by a store customer.
UPDATE II. Further pre-election Queensland court news:
A man in a wheelchair fatally stabbed his drinking buddy in an argument over beer money, a court has been told.
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ST TELEPROMPTER DAY
Tim Blair
Heard the one about the President, an Irishman, and a teleprompter?
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was just a few paragraphs into an address at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House when he realized something sounded way too familiar. Turns out, he was repeating the speech President Barack Obama had just given …

Cowen was 20 seconds into his second address when it dawned on him that he was giving word for word the speech that Obama had just read from the same teleprompter.
It’s the teleprompter’s revenge. Do not displease the teleprompter. Meanwhile, in Australia:
On St Patrick’s Day, a party called the Greens has put up the price of booze.
UPDATE. Joe Biden sure could use one of them new teleprompter contraptions:
It may very well be that she’s in a circumstance where she is not able, her customers aren’t able to get to her, there’s no transit capability, the bridge going across the creek to get to her business needs repair …

… may very well be that she’s in a position where she is unable to access the – her energy costs are so high by providing smart meters, by being able to bring down the cost of her workforce.
Someone should connect Biden to a smart meter. First negative reading ever.

(Via Andrew Bolt)

UPDATE II. Mark Steyn:
Is the Teleprompter really the brains of the operation? And, if so, why hasn’t it nominated a new Deputy Treasury Secretary?
UPDATE III. Maureen Dowd:
Barack Obama even needs a teleprompter to get mad.
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Embassies too small to be safe
Andrew Bolt
Greg Sheridan finds a nuggett of concern deep within a report on our diplomatic service by the depressingly me-too Lowy Institute:

Another dismal fact is that 40 per cent of our diplomatic missions have three or fewer A-based staff. This is nearly insane. Often these tiny missions are accredited to several nations simultaneously. The report doesn’t draw out this implication but it has serious security consequences. It means locally engaged staff must do much more of the work. The secure part of the embassy cannot be open to locally engaged staff without an A-based officer present. In fact, the embassy itself cannot be open without an A-based officer there. How difficult is it for a host nation’s intelligence service to infiltrate an Australian embassy, with all its secure communications systems, when locally engaged staff have to do most of the work? How can an Australian diplomat possibly be effective when they can barely leave the office?
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No secret hearings, please
Andrew Bolt
This initial closed-door and unrecorded “community consultations” being held by the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires seem too secret to be safe:

The Commission was today expected to hear in secret how communication failures added to the trauma of Black Saturday. (Commissioner) Teague and his team met survivors in a closed session as they seek to uncover why more than 210 Victorians died on February 7. Mr Teague said today’s session would help identify the issues he would investigate, although he stressed it was not an evidence-gathering exercise.

How can it not be “evidence-gathering” when Teague himself concedes it will affect what he investigates? And doesn’t this return us too close to the era of anonymous denunciations?

This is just one sign that the process is being managed more than is consistent with an all-cards-on-the-table inquiry.
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If only the Pac Brands boss played golf
Andrew Bolt
Labor says the $1.9 million pay of Pacific Brands chief Sue Morphett is disgusting, disgraceful, greedy and obscene, and the Rudd Government threatens to take back taxpayers’ money.

But show Labor a sports star, and suddenly no pay is too high for taxpayers to chip in yet more:

TIGER Woods is coming to Melbourne in a $3 million deal - with Victorian taxpayers chipping in for half the bill. The world’s No. 1 golfer will play in the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in November.
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Money gone
Andrew Bolt
But look on the bright side - at least we got our pink batts, public housing and free cash before the money ran out:

THE Rudd Government’s ambitious plans for major economic infrastructure projects are in crisis because of a lack of available financing from the private sector.

Advisory body Infrastructure Australia is due to hand the Government a priority list of 20 “nation building” projects within days, with a price tag of about $45billion.

But the global credit crunch has crippled the ability of the private sector to co-invest, while the public money available through the Government’s Building Australia Fund has been savagely depleted.

Canberra’s ability to borrow to fill the gap is also severely restricted because of the need to finance its ever-increasing budget deficit and help the states with their own borrowings for infrastructure.

Hard to imagine that real experts are in charge.

UPDATE

Meanwhile, the same geniuses plan to be the lender of last resort to projects as troubled as this:

THE developer of one of the first projects likely to apply to the federal Government’s $4 billion “Rudd Bank” scheme is struggling to find buyers for more than 80 apartments priced at between $1million and $3.9 million.

UPDATE 2

It gets as murky as a Tricontinental deal, or a State Bank scratch-my-back:

THE developer and builder behind a stalled $1 billion apartment project that the Rudd Government says could be funded by taxpayer-backed financing have contributed more than $500,000 to Labor Party branches. Sydney’s Austcorp Group, which is developing the 79-storey luxury apartment block in Brisbane’s central business district, has donated $167,000 to the Labor Party since 2002, and the project’s builder, Grocon, has donated $386,000 since 2001, returns filed with the Australian Electoral Commission show.
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Answer: colder than they thought
Andrew Bolt
February 13: global warming believers leave Britain for an Arctic expedition:

The team of three will be measuring the thickness of the ice in the most accurate way yet and will carry out a survey of the floating ice in the Arctic Ocean. The data they gather will give scientists a better idea of just how long the ice cap could survive.

February 19: global warming believers notes a strange omen:

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: global warming believers request help:

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.
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Hot research protected
Andrew Bolt
Professor Wei-Chyung Wang of New York State University at Albany is a hero to warming alarmists, having produced widely-cited papers that dismissed objections that some of the recent rise in land temperatures was caused by growing urbanisation around the measuring stations.

Mathematician Douglas Keenan checked Wang’s work and claimed fraud. He asked Wang’s university to investigate the work of a scientist who’d helped attract $US7 million in funding:

Dr Keenan alleged that in work that has come to be widely cited in climate studies, work that included the collation of data from temperature measuring stations in China, Professor Wang made statements that “cannot be true and could not be in error by accident. The statements are fabricated.”

Now read an astonishing story of stonewalling, obfuscation and a failure to disclose.
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Green Shell beached
Andrew Bolt
Shell two years ago, when we could afford to pretend that green power was a serious alternative:
The company is expected to brief City analysts on the business case for sustainable power and its importance to the future of the group. Shell, which in 1997 said it would spend $500m on renewable projects, is focusing on solar power, wind power and biomass.

Shell today, now that facts need to be faced:

Royal Dutch Shell provoked a furious backlash from campaigners yesterday when it announced plans to scale back its renewable energy business and focus purely on oil, gas and biofuels. Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive, said that Shell, the world’s second-largest non-state-controlled oil company, was planning to drop all new investment in wind, solar and hydrogen energy.

UPDATE

Richard McIndoe, managing director of TRUenergy and operator of the brown coal fired Yallourn power station which provides 8 per cent of the nation’s electricity supply, tells Business Spectator what Kevin Rudd’s attempt to shift us to green power will really look like:
I think if (Rudd’s emissions trading) scheme goes ahead as currently proposed, I think it’s inevitable that ... is going to lead to some (coal-fired power) assets becoming insolvent…

And even if you were to close down these brown coal generators, to bankrupt the generators, reduce their reliability then where’s the electricity generation going to come from when that happens? It’s utterly impractical to think that you’re going to replace the brown coal generators in the Latrobe Valley in five years’ time. Even in a robust financial market, it would be impossible to do…

The economic impact of an unreliable electricity system with the resulting brownouts and impact on investor confidence, let alone the social impact, is potentially devastating…

Carbon capture and storage is going to be a technological as well as a regulatory challenge for any government that’s putting it in place… I don’t think the private sector certainly in the current economic environment is going to be capable of shouldering all the risks that go with developing that as a long-term solution.
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Media Distorts Pope’s Position On Condoms in Africa
Fr. Jonathan Morris
Today Pope Benedict XVI began a five-day pastoral trip to Africa where the Catholic Church is growing in leaps and bounds, even while its members and charitable institutions face enormous social challenges.

Statistics of church attendance, baptisms and other sacraments, and priestly and religious vocations show faster growth for the Catholic Church in Africa than in any other part of the world. This growth is paralleled, however, with a local reality of tribal warfare, government corruption, poverty, and disease in large swaths of the continent.
Dorothy Kwenze, an HIV activist in neighboring Kenya was recently quoted saying, “Abstinence education remains the best strategy, especially for the risk group aged 15-25 years. The concept has worked well for Uganda and can work for other African countries”.
All of this, and what’s making the news? “Pope Says ‘No’ to Condoms.” Thanks to the Associated Press’ reporting, you will see this headline or a similar one on every major American news site, as a first report of what this trip is all about. As a report, I consider it shallow, at best.


Aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, the pope responded to a reporter’s question about the AIDS epidemic and the Church’s refusal to promote condom distribution as the solution. Pope Benedict XVI said:

“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.”
For the record (and, unfortunately, among the major news sites you’ll only see this distinction made here on Foxnews.com), the Pope’s statement was specifically a judgment against condom distribution as a solution to the HIV epidemic. He did not say condoms don’t work in preventing the transmission of the HIV virus. He did not say the Church would prefer that an HIV positive patient infect a sexual partner than that he or she use a condom. He did not say it’s a “double sin” to use a condom in non-marital sex.

Pope Benedict knows history is proving the mass distribution of condoms by the United Nations and population control organizations as the principle strategy against AIDS has failed miserably.
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