Thursday, March 05, 2009
Headlines Thursday 5th March 2009
'Sitting ducks': ICC official slams Pakistani security
Pakistani police and cricket authorities have been accused of failing to provide adequate security for the Sri Lankan team....
Stay positive, Swan tells consumers
Treasurer Wayne Swan says Australians should remain confident despite the first decline in GDP in eight years, insisting the government's stimulus packages have already helped kick-start the economy....
Get in quick: Petrol goes for 50c a litre
Motorists in Sydney's west will be able to fill up for under 50 cents a litre this morning as part of the ongoing protest from independent petrol retailers....
Verbeek backs away from 'hopeless' accusation
After fiercely defending his opinion of the A-League, Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has backed his all-domestic squad to get the job done in Thursday night's Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait....
Asian budget airlines launch price war
Asian low-cost airlines are offering dirt-cheap tickets to perk up travel during the summer holidays amid the global economic downturn....
Next Jen: Miss Universe hopefuls line up
VIDEO: Armed with swimsuits and flawless smiles, dozens of young women gathered in Sydney on Wednesday in hopes of becoming the next Jennifer Hawkins....
Lily Allen regrets 'Rihanna' tattoo
Lily Allen is already regretting her latest tattoo, which she has just found out is exactly the same as one Rihanna got last year....
'Life is beautiful': Man survives being flattened by truck
VIDEO: A Turkish man says life is "beautiful" after he survived a collision between a truck and a train that was captured on security camera video.
Small servos deserve better petrol deal: Xenophon
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says he will work to change competition law to give small petrol retailers a better deal in their competition with big business.
Failed $500m fraud: Brits found guilty
A sex shop owner and his accomplice have been found guilty of attempting to steal $A501.81 million from a Japanese bank, in what would have been the biggest theft of its kind.
Woman, toddler stabbed to death
Police in Adelaide are searching the area around a home in the city's north, where a woman and her two-year-old son have been stabbed to death.
'Incest' victim, 9, aborts twins despite protests
Get in quick: Petrol goes for 50c a litre
Interest rate cuts on the way after GDP slump
Govt needs to remember charity begins at home
There's confusion and despair in bushfire-ravaged Victoria and yet we still find the funds to send overseas. Alan Jones wants to know why.
Just not cricket but terrorists don’t care
THE terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Pakistan should destroy a number of myths about the nature of extremist Islam - but it will not, because a significant section of Western society is unable to admit it has ever been seriously wrong about the goals and motives of the murderers behind these and similar atrocities.
ICH BEIN EIN BURNER
What do you suppose all these little indicators clustered around Berlin represent?
Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald presented three separate stories involving decapitation, and linked to a fourth.
Yet one particular decapitation story apparently hasn’t been mentioned at all. The Herald‘s busy decap desk must’ve missed it somehow.
GUNMEN STILL OUT THERE
Journalist Gavin Scovell describes the madness in Lahore:
“Tillakaratne Dilshan, one of the Sri Lanka players, told me that he had seen one of the gunmen point a rocket launcher directly at the team bus and fire, but the rocket missed.
“He said when the rocket went off they all took cover, diving down on the floor of the vehicle, and starting to pray. The only one who didn’t get down was Tharanga Paranavithana, and he got hit in the chest.
“After seeing that bus, it is a miracle, an absolute miracle, that no-one was killed aboard it.
“I saw Chris Broad in a shirt covered in blood, the ICC match referee, who had been travelling in a separate minibus that was also hit by the gunmen. He told me that the driver had been shot dead in front of him …
“And the gunmen are still out there running around.”
HOAX MUSEUM HOAXED
The Museum of Hoaxes fell for the George W. Bush plastic turkey fakery, currently closing in on 2000 glorious days of gobbling. “Funny how the mind can make us ignore some details and focus on others,” writes curator Alex Boese. “Must have been my liberal, anti-Bush bias clouding my judgement.” All fixed now.
In other Bush news, it’s good to see that he’s still in power.
CAGE THIS BEAST
FACT OF DEATH
Suspected Islamist radicals yesterday murdered several police in Pakistan and attempted to kill an entire cricket team. This is Newsweek‘s current edition, now on sale:
“Living with” radical Islam would be a whole lot easier if it didn’t involve so much killing.
UPDATE. The UN is considering a binding resolution that would make it a crime to criticise Islam.
Remember the sorryists of 2004? They’re back.
A sorry isn’t enough
Paul Toohey describes a bloody tragedy:
THE slow unravelling of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, better known as the intervention, began on November 24, 2007, the day federal Labor took power.
Kevin Rudd, as Opposition leader, stood in parliament in June that year and meekly stated he would wholeheartedly support the shock measures.... While the official line is that the intervention is alive and well, the will to drive it has diminished. Labor has reverted to type, preferring consensus before action. It refuses to take hard decisions.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Alice Springs, where the Tangentyere Council controls the disgraceful town camps. Since the Rudd Government came to power, Tangentyere has let slip six deadlines—the most recent this week—that would have put $60 million to work repairing and normalising the camps. ..
In a further sign of a weakening of the intervention, the federal Government has abandoned support of the Australian Crime Commission’s indigenous intelligence desk in Alice Springs.... The decision to replace intervention operational commander Major General Dave Chalmers with Mike Zissler, a public servant from Canberra, is also telling.
As useless as Rudd’s gassy plan
Terry McCrann should be pleased that at least one warming believer is half way to understanding why Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme is worse than useless:
Economist Alex Robson pointed out in an article in our sister paper The Australian, that ... (if warming believers) wanted to cut Australia’s emissions, they could buy (Rudd’s emissions) permits and just not use them…
So up pops Andrew Macintosh of the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy, to pompously instruct Robson on the ‘flaws’ in his proposal. In particular, that the amount of abatement greenies could achieve by this method “is tiny”.
If the operating revenue of Australia’s four largest conservation organisations was used to buy permits, it would reduce emissions by, the unknowing Macintosh thundered, “less than 0.5 per cent of Australia’s emissions”. That’s to say, I’m assuming Macintosh is telling us, it would be pointless?
And reducing Australia’s total emissions by say a thumping 30 per cent, would do what exactly to the world’s emissions, Mr Macintosh? Why, it would reduce the world’s emissions by less than 0.5 per cent.
So am I right in presuming this twerp will thunder that the government’s proposed emissions reduction is as pointless as the Robson proposal he so pompously ridiculed.
“Tepid” is right
Barack Obama last week addressed Marines at Camp Lajeune. His reception was rather different to the one George Bush got from Marines in Iraq.
Gee, you might get the impression that US soldiers thought the war was actually worth it. Or something.
Imran Khan confirms his sad decline into a rabble rouser and apologist for terrorists:
(The attack on the Sir Lankan cricketers) is a tragedy and is a consequence of our involvement in the Bush administration’s “war on terror"… The Pakistan government must approach the Obama administration and say that unless it changes its strategy, we will sink deeper.
And Money is pronounced “donkey” Ep. 2
Age gossip writer Monoculture Money - informed that even Otto Frank pronounced his daughter’s name “Anna” - responds:
HOWLS of protest from infallible Hun columnist Andrew Bolt: he says he didn’t call Holocaust victim Anne Frank “Anna Frank” on radio (Diary, yesterday), he was just pronouncing the name as they do in Holland. Actually, Andy, her name was Annelies, but she has gone down in history as Anne. That’s one syllable, got it?
Those silly Dutch people, not pronouncing their names in the correct Australian way.
Next week Monoculture Money instructs Jana Wendt on the correct Australian pronunciation of her name. “That’s Gana, got it?”
But a vote for Labor is a vote for Labor
Labor has a how-to-vote card scandal of its own:
JOHN Brumby’s Labor Party has been caught cheating at an election… In the final days of last June’s Kororoit byelection campaign, Brumby and the ALP were worried they might lose this “safe” western suburbs seat to youth worker and independent candidate Les Twentyman. So they launched a smear campaign. Among other things, they distributed a pamphlet that said: “A vote for Les Twentyman is a vote for the Liberals.” It was a lie and Labor knew it to be so…
Twentyman complained to the election umpire, the Victorian Electoral Commission, which ...stated the obvious: Labor’s pamphlet was misleading in suggesting an affiliation or deal between Twentyman and the Liberals, and it was likely to have misled voters “in the formation of their judgement about their preferred candidate”.
No action has yet been taken against the guilty.
Paying SBS to keep rioters sweet
SBS has devised an interesting pitch for more of your taxes - pay up, or our viewers will get rough:
SBS has an important role to play in preserving social harmony in difficult economic times, says the broadcaster’s managing director in a new pitch for more money in the May budget. Shaun Brown told a broadcasting summit that the economic downturn could easily turn into social unrest if efforts were not made to buttress Australia’s “robust” multicultural society.
Peek under this rock
You share the streets with such people:
A MOTORCYCLE club had a rule that its members were not allowed to wear their colours while having sex with Aboriginal women, documents filed in the Northern Territory Supreme Court show… The club’s rules were filed in the NT Supreme Court in an application by club member Paul Anthony Johnson to overturn an order of the NT Commissioner of Consumer Affairs that dissolved the club and seized its clubhouse and land.
Strangely enough, Johnson has found that tabling his rules wasn’t quite the knock-out argument he’d apparently hoped.
Architect denounces engineers’ terrorism
Architect and Sydney Morning Herald writer Elizabeth Farrelly says engineers are a menace:
Evidence that engineers are vastly over-represented among the ranks of international terrorists will come as no surprise to architects, who are accustomed to picking up what few pieces are left after engineers have done their worst.
Actually, Elizabeth, engineers have had to pick up a few pieces themselves after architects have done their worst, too:
Hitler once studied to be an architect. So did Mohammed Atta, the mastermind of the World Trade Centre attacks.
And let’s not forget Albert Speer. But back to Farrelly, who has uncovered the latest evil scheme of the engineers:
Now, however, it seems there may be a yet more sinister engineering plot against the civilised world.
Another 9-11? Another Bali bombing? No, worse:
Somewhere near the start of Glebe Point Road there is a tree, perhaps a poplar… And there’s the rub. For the tree, which stands at an odd, slightly wistful angle and whose leaves are tired-looking even at this harvest festival moment in the calendar, has a problem… Around its base is about half a square metre of that porous faux dogfood with which they apron trees these days, reducing root-compression while admitting rain. But the area of the dogfood is only around a tenth that of the root-ball, so that not much falls there and most of what does, runs off into the gutter instead of soaking in.
I’m shocked. Shocked! Is there no end to the barbarity of the engineering class?
Pay the feckless most
The Victorian Government will help most the bushfire victims who refused to help themselves:
Premier John Brumby confirmed there would be support for the insured and uninsured to rebuild…
“Clearly people who haven’t got any support, who’ve lost everything, who have been uninsured, maybe they get a bigger hand along,” he said.
Why insure against bushfire, then? It’s just a tax on prudence.
A party of sharks
Finally, the NSW Government has a policy that works, as you can tell by the number of people being attacked:
STRICT fishing regulations may have contributed to Sydney’s record of shark attacks, with predators lured into shallow water by an abundant supply of kingfish, salmon and other fish. NSW has the highest number of recorded shark attacks and the nation’s tightest restrictions on fishing for sharks. Victoria, by contrast, has recorded only a fraction of the shark attacks and no annual quota on the number of sharks that can be caught.
Fascists wanted. Only Jews need apply
A question is put - and well answered - in The Guardian:
When the media report a ‘fascist’ party in Israel, yet call Hamas ‘pragmatic’, we must ask what double standards are in operation.
Manne’s talking again about what bores him
Australia’s ”most influential public intellectual”, Robert Manne, in 1982 feels incompetent to discuss economics:
I must admit to having no competence in economics whatsoever.
Robert Manne in 1992 suddenly feels competent to discuss economics after all, writing Shutdown just as Labor leads the country into recession:
THE economic reform agenda in Australia has failed and will lead to permanent high unemployment, with real figures in the order of 15 to 20 per cent ... (After the economic reforms of the 1980s and early ‘90s) the nation witnessed before its eyes the black cloud of economic rationalism casting its pall over the economy and its future ... The cost of economic rationalism, at the end of the day, is the 1990s permanent recession.
Robert Manne in 2004 remembers he’s incompetent to discuss economics, after years of boom and no “1990s permanent recession”:
Of all the controversies in which I have been involved the one centred on Shutdown is my only regret. I now believe I should not have allowed my misgivings about the temper of the New Right or political judgement about the dead-end into which the rationalist John Hewson was leading the Liberal Party to draw me into participation in what was essentially an economists’ debate.
Robert Manne in 2005 admits he’s actually bored with economics, with the Liberals presiding over Australia’s longest boom:
I think, I think I made a big mistake in, um, in giving so much energy and time to the argument against economic rationalism. Not because I necessarily think it was wrong. I mean, I think part of what I predicted hasn’t turned out and part of it probably has. But I didn’t know enough, actually. Um, I’ve never been interested in economics. Um, I have never studied economics formally and I found - pretty quickly when I became, you know, began to argue about economic rationalism or neo-liberalism - I found myself out of my depth.
Robert Manne in 2009 suddenly feels competent to debate economics again , excited as Labor once more leads Australia into recession:
The causes of the global financial crisis are already reasonably clear. ... For 30 years policymakers and elite opinion throughout the Western world, and especially throughout the English-speaking world, had maintained a suspicion of state intervention and regulation and a faith in the superior wisdom of the market. The market faith had for 30 years served the interests of the wealthiest segments of society. The global financial collapse of 2008, which was rooted in the radical deregulation of financial markets, had proven the falsity of that faith. In the crisis, both domestically and internationally, everyone had immediately turned to governments in the search for a solution. As a consequence of all this, a new era was in the process of coming into being where the claims of both the market and the state, and of both economic efficiency and social justice, would need to be honoured. The era of neo-liberalism was over.
Too brain-hurty for modern Australia
A solution is needed, and is simple. Pay maths teachers more, and you’ll get more:
ADVANCED mathematics is disappearing from public school classrooms, leaving students able to learn only basic maths, because the few qualified teachers are being snapped up by the private sector. The shortage of maths teachers will become more acute as fewer students continue maths at university, undermining the nation’s skills base in engineering, the sciences and technology, scientists warn…
An estimated 40 per cent of senior school mathematics teachers do not have a maths major, the minimum needed to teach the subject to senior years, the committee believes. That is up from 30 per cent in 1999.
And, yes, pay them more than we pay teachers of other disciplines, if that is what it takes. But I also wonder whether the lack of maths teachers reflects in turn a failure to have taught maths properly in the first place, and to have properly valued such brain-hurty stuff.
Snow way to protest against warming
Enjoy this report of this week’s Washington protest against global warming. I assume the chants of “yes we can” of the snow-bound protesters are in fact a cry of victory.
Growth gone, jobs gone - and Rudd’s cash gone
Kevin Rudd’s blowing of billions has failed:
The economy contracted for the first time in eight years during the December quarter despite successive rate cuts and government handouts. If it contracts again in the March quarter the economy will technically be in recession.
Gross domestic product declined 0.5 per cent in the December quarter, compared with growth of 0.1 per cent in the September quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said today.
The Rudd Government’s quick efforts to pump-prime the economy with budget handouts and the Reserve Bank’s rapid interest rate cuts had no hope of resisting the full impact of the global crisis. The big political debate will be whether Canberra’s quick blowing of the budget deficit was worth it.
I doubt it was. If any economy was stimulated by Rudd’s $8 billion pre-Christmas cash splash it was China’s.
Meanwhile Lateline Business discovers yet another potential “unintended consequence” of Rudd’s reckless rescue packages:
RICHARD LINDELL: So far this quarter, retail prices are not falling as fast as expected. TD Securities Inflation Gauge had the two biggest monthly rises in the sixth year history of the survey. It’s inflation measure is now running at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent. Higher petrol prices and a weaker dollar lifted the headline rate, but $8 billion in hand-outs before Christmas may have had unintended consequences.
JOSH WILLIAMSON, SENIOR STRATEGIST, TD SECURITIES: We could be seeing the Government’s stimulus package actually helping a rise in prices more than help rise in real output. That would be a bit of a concern, I think, from a policy perspective if we did have a Government policy initiative actually helping to support inflation rather than real output.
(Thanks to reader Ian.)
Remember the standard that was self-imposed by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, one of the chief architects and defenders of the Government’s big-spending response:
KEN HENRY: Ah, negative quarter. Well, of course it’s possible that Australia will avoid a negative quarter of growth. And we’re trying our hardest to make sure that that happens. That we do avoid a negative quarter of growth.
But they didn’t.
And Money is pronounced “donkey”
Malice sure muddles mediocre minds at The Age. Consider this item by Lawrence Money, the gossip columnist:
A few days earlier a (Herald Sun) report headed “Rapid polar meltdown threatens sea levels” told Hun readers that “the Southern Ocean around Antarctica has warmed about 0.2 degrees in a decade”. That report was splendidly placed on the back of the pages by Andrew Bolt, the kitchen scientist who continually lectures readers that “the world has actually cooled for six years”. But then Andy can’t even get the name of one of the Holocaust’s most famous victims right. Yesterday, while calling a 3AW listener a “donkey”, he named “Anna” Frank. Now who’s got the long ears?
I would indeed be a donkey had I mispronounced Anne Frank’s name, not only because she is perhaps the most famous victim of the Holocaust, but because she was from Holland, as were my parents, and she shared the first name of a beloved Dutch aunt of mine.
But Money should have twigged, given my background, that I in fact pronounced Anne Frank’s name just as she would have pronounced it herself. And just as anyone from Holland pronounces it still.
Should Money still doubt that “Anna” is indeed the correct pronunciation, may I suggest he watch the above video (in English) to hear how the late Otto Frank referred to his own daughter? Or does Money think Frank a “donkey”, too?
Incidentally, Money also mocks my observation that the “world has actually cooled for six years”. May I refer him to the NASA satellite records monitored by Dr Roy Spencer, which show exactly that? Or doesn’t he bother to check anything at all?
I have asked The Age to correct the record for their readers, and wait with interest to see if they do.
Meanwhile, check the start to Catherine Deveny’s latest column, and wonder again what has happened to The Age, a once-great paper. Deveny goes on to argue there should be more female columnists, when her piece is proof there should in fact be one less.
Botox - the death of acting
Lisa Nicol warns - no one can act with a face paralysed by Botox:
IT’S probably not surprising that the nominations for best actress at this year’s Oscars (including Melissa Leo, above) were a Botox-free line-up. It makes sense that expressing subtle emotion is indispensable to great acting.
Directors and casting agents have been bemoaning the scourge of Botox since its approval for cosmetic use in 2002. Martin Scorsese has claimed no one in Hollywood over 35 can do anger while Baz Lurhmann has lamented that Botox users just “can’t move their faces properly”.