Sunday, April 12, 2009
Headlines Sunday 12th April 2009
Bikie gang war erupts in prison
Tensions between outlaw bikie gangs have erupted in Sydney's Parklea Prison.
Thailand protests force Rudd home
The Prime Minister has been forced to return home after a rally in Thailand got out of control.
Safran Good Friday stunt 'over the top'
A Catholic dean says he hopes a stunt by John Safran involving the comic's crucifixion in the Philippines on Good Friday occurred for all the right reasons.
No police at overdose rave party
Authorities in Perth will be on alert at today's Trance Energy rave party, after dozens overdosed on drugs at a similar event in Melbourne on Friday.
New laws to stop predatory lending
Federal Cabinet has signed off on two new pieces of legislation to stop predatory lending practices by banks, card providers and finance brokers.
Emirates jet close to major 'aviation disaster': report
An Emirates plane came just centimetres from crashing at Melbourne Airport, authorities have revealed.
Teacher arrested over suitcase murder
A Sunday school teacher has been arrested in the US for allegedly killing an eight-year-old girl......
Thieves threaten teens with gun
Two teenagers have been threatened with a gun during a home invasion in Sydney's southwest....
UK police quiz terror suspects
British police have been granted a further seven days to question 11 men arrested over an alleged al-Qaeda-driven major terrorist plot.
Easter bunny Rudd walks on eggshells
EASTER is the traditional season of renewal in the Christian faith, but this year growing unemployment will mean increasing numbers of Australians find little to celebrate. - The bill hasn’t been presented to the Australian people yet. Some big time journos are still covering for Rudd, so that Rudd’s abysmal treatment of a RAAF person is reported as being like the time Downer fell .. or someone else pipes up that they think Rudd’s cat is cute. With reporting that partisan, that bad, it is no wonder that many are confused.
It should not be forgotten that Hitler came to power when some people thought he had valid ideas on management. I am not likening Rudd to Hitler, but the blind spot the press seem to have for him does not bode well. Whitlam, Hawke and Keating were returned as PM’s at election. We must acknowledge the mistakes as well as any successes. At the moment, it seems that mistakes are reported as successes. - ed.
It’s nearly May, and that means Vanity Fair‘s annual green issue! For the past three years, the May edition of this chokingly smug Manhattan celebrity-worship rag has been dedicated to matters environmental.
HIT THEM HARRRD
Unarmed crew aboard the Maersk Alabama drew criticism for fighting back against pirates who boarded their vessel off Somalia’s coast. Here’s how pirates were dealt with in 1849:
About 400 have been killed, and the rest dispersed without resource.
By contrast, modern sailors are encouraged to use firearms against pirates only as a final resort.
Somali pirates have captured an Italian-flagged US tug and its 16-strong crew today …
CALLING ALL DAY
Chicago woman Nour Hadid faces a first-degree murder charge following the beating death of her two-year-old niece. But according to her husband, an even graver crime has been committed:
The police booking photo of alleged child killer Nour Hadid released Tuesday is an “insult against our religion,” says Hadid’s husband, Alaeddin.
Orland Park police detectives say the 26-year-old Muslim woman was treated as any other suspect in a murder probe would be, and they did not intend to humiliate her when they photographed her Sunday without her headscarf and wearing only a skimpy top.
Alaeddin claims police are “really going to be in big trouble” for releasing scarfless images to the press:
“It is against our religion; we do not do this in our culture,” Alaeddin said.
“People have been calling me about this all day.”
Kevin Rudd is returning from Thailand following cancellation of the ASEAN summit:
Protesters clad in red and black and carrying weapons stormed the venue in Pattaya.
A state of emergency has been declared, according to reports.
The main problem seems to be red-shirted people:
At 8:40 am, the red-shirted protesters armed with giant firecrackers, Molotov cocktails, sling shots and batons, battled with local people who formed a line to protect the venue … Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and red-shirted leaders have indicated that they would consider cancellation of the summit a victory for the red-shirted campaign.
The red-shirted people are opposed by blue-shirted local people:
The outnumbered blue-shirted local people [were] scattered and ran for cover when the red-shirted people attacked them.
Several explosion sounds of firecrackers were heard and the red-shirted people were seen as firing slingshots with bolts at the blue-shirted people who formed a line in front of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel.
The red-shirted protesters were seen carrying Molotov cocktails but none had been thrown at the other side yet. Terrified local residents closed their houses and many were seen weeping with fear.
An earlier red-shirt insurrection was reportedly quelled by the “unity of normal people on the road who happened to be there”.
Putting the ice on the warming believers
Join Alaska’s famous Nenana Ice Classic, run each year since 1917, and guess when the tripod finally falls through the frozen Tanana River. This should be a doddle for global warming believers, since the record for the earliest ice break-up is April 20, and it’s already April 12.
Mind you, sceptics might note that that record was set in 1940, and the world has cooled, not warmed, in recent years.
Natalie: the talent from nowhere to everywhere
An astonishing reach from a girl working from a desk in her bedroom, with nothing but her wit, sass and YouTube:
From her parents’ home in western Sydney, Natalie Tran, Australia’s queen of YouTube, has proven time and again that titillation is not a prerequisite to internet fame. With more than 150,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, Tran, 22, is easily the most subscribed YouTube user in Australia, while globally she ranks 37th.
The 118 videos she’s created over two years have amassed 64 million views, making her also the most viewed Australian YouTube user of all time - more popular on the site than even AC/DC, whose videos have attracted 53 million views.
Well, not quite only her wit, sass and YouTube, because this true but not exactly:
Tran has eschewed titillation...:
But isn’t it mysterious and exciting that a young student on her own can manage to hit the button of hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers in a way that mega-media companies - the communiciations professionals - desperately try to but fail? I’m guessing that integrity, and not just smarts and looks, have a lot to do with it, and doing it alone and without sponsorship only helps.
And she sings.
Obama has a gun. Dare he use it?
Barack Obama now has a mini crisis of strength - one which talking along cannot solve:
Somali pirates have captured a US tug and its 16-strong crew, a Kenyan official reported on Saturday, hours after another group holding a US captain hostage warned against any attempt to free him… Ten of the 16 crew are Italians, Italy’s foreign ministry said in a statement, without giving any details.
Is this Obama’s Jimmy Carter moment?
The Italians, too, have a problem. The danger is that their solution will be like the one they used to free a “hostage” in Iraq, reaching not for a gun but a wallet.
The dithering begins:
Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach…
The organization’s rapid expansion, ties between its leaders and al-Qaeda, and the presence of Americans and Europeans in its camps have raised the question of whether a preemptive strike is warranted… An attack against al-Shabab camps in southern Somalia would mark the administration’s first military strike outside the Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan war zones. The White House discussions highlight the challenges facing the Obama team as it attempts to distance itself from the Bush administration, which conducted at least five military strikes in Somalia. The new administration is still defining its rationale for undertaking sensitive operations in countries where the United States is not at war.
Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act.
Why are Rudd’s “tough” measures all sugar?
Chris Berg warns that Kevin Rudd is just making it up as he goes along:
And isn’t it a little dubious that the best way to fix the crisis just happens to be $900 delivered straight into the bank accounts of almost every Australian voter? Wouldn’t you be more convinced the Government was trying its hardest if they thought they had to do something that the electorate absolutely hated?
I’d have a lot more faith in Rudd’s healing powers if he believed he had to raise taxes massively on working families or sympathetic pensioners to save the economy — you know, something that really hurt his poll numbers. If he announced he needed to slaughter one cute puppy every day until toxic debt was completely eliminated, he’d be cuckoo, but at least you’d know he was trying.
John Roskam sees in Rudd a Whitlam-plus-billions:
Rudd can now mix it with the best of them. He’s just resided over a government that’s got 20 per cent bigger. According to the Treasury’s own calculations, spending by the federal government will have gone from just over 23 per cent of gross domestic product in 2007-08 to about 28 per cent in this financial year. Saying this growth is of Whitlamesque proportions is not hyperbole. It’s a statement that’s literally true. Indeed, depending on how you measure it, government is now growing faster than it did in 1972-75.
Who will rid NSW of these troublesome pests?
Just how much more proof do NSW voters need of how low they’ve been brought by Labor?
SCHOOL playgrounds have been added to the long list of public assets the cash-strapped NSW Government is desperately trying to sell off to pay public servants’ wages.
An internal Education Department strategy obtained by the State Opposition reveals high schools sitting on more than 6ha of land and primary schools on more than 3ha have been identified as possible cash cows.
“Land holdings in excess of the standard school site size - 3ha primary, 6ha secondary - are deemed to be surplus,’’ it states.
Bikies rule, OK?
Why are the police and VCAT so easy on outlaw bikies and so hard on the lawful?
A VICTORIAN council lost its fight to stop two rival bikie gangs setting up in the same suburb after police apparently raised no objections…
The Outlaws - ranked by the FBI as the world’s fourth-most powerful gang - has claimed Melbourne’s southeast as its turf for a decade.
The gang won the right to build its Pakenham clubhouse after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal overturned Cardinia Council’s decision in 1999.
Rival gang the Rebels - which has been involved in a shooting turf war with another gang, the Bandidos - then applied to build its clubhouse in the middle of the Outlaws’ territory in Pakenham.
And after it also was refused a council permit, VCAT again overturned the decision last year.
There is also another principle to consider here: why is the rights-rights-rights VCAT so dismissive of the right of communities to govern themselves?
Policing bikies, Victorian style:
The Bandidos and the Rebels are in the throes of a violent turf battle in Victoria. Among recent developments: Detectives met the presidents of both clubs to call for calm after a car had been sprayed with bullets outside the Bandidos headquarters in Geelong last month.
Policing bikes NSW style:
POLICE have swooped on a gathering of bikies from 10 different gangs planning a major peace council this week. About 70 members of the Rebels, Bandidos, the Finks and seven other clubs had gathered at a hotel in western Sydney when the Gang Squad and officers attached to Strike Force Raptor descended on them yesterday.
Team America said it already:
The five permanent UN Security Council members and Japan agreed Saturday on a draft statement condemning North Korea’s missile launch and are in favor of fresh sanctions against the country, diplomats said…
“It is a text which sends out, as we intended, a clear message to North Korea, expressing our disagreement with what happened,” he said.
(WARNING: Video contains prime ministerial language.)
Will Barack Obama learn as George Bush did so painfully that the only countries which can trust the UN are those which fear the US?
The Security Council stalemate over North Korea’s rocket launch is turning into an early test of the Obama administration’s U.N.-focused multilateralism. Six days after U.S. President Barack Obama called for swift punishment of North Korea, the Security Council hasn’t acted.
Rudd to axe best stimulus of all
Kevin Rudd has got $3.9 billion for pink batts, $43 billion for a white elephant of a broadband plan, $6 billion in cash handouts that didn’t work, $6 billion to make car makers make more of what we aren’t buying, and $42 billion for yet another stimulus package of spend-spend-spend.
But he’s run out of money for this:
SABELLA Zogopoulos is a gorgeous $70,000 miracle that we all helped to create.
The 13-month-old was conceived after her mother, forklift driver Theona Zogopoulos, endured 10 cycles of IVF at a personal cost of $30,000.
Taxpayers chipped in the rest via the Medicare safety net scheme, making the long-held dream of parenthood a reality for Ms Zogopoulos and her council worker husband, Chris.
“I call her my little miracle on ice,” the besotted mother says. “She was on ice for 18 months.”
But without the 80 per cent rebate on the IVF procedure — the family also had other medical expenses — it’s doubtful the Zogopouloses, who took out a $20,000 bank loan to cover their costs, would have been able to afford so many IVF cycles.
Now, as the Federal Government scrapes for savings ahead of the May 12 budget, it is looking again at publicly funded IVF and obstetric services, which cost taxpayers $141 million a year through the safety net scheme.
The joke is that if you really want to get people buying more stuff to stimulate the economy, give them a baby. Nothing surer.
Green hypocrites: example #726
Fighting global warming is a job for the little people, not the preachers. Latest examples?
Barack Obama preaches:
Few challenges facing America—and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change… My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change...
Barack Obama does:
When you’re the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do - even if that means flying a chef 860 miles. Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.
Paul McCartney preaches:
Former Beatle Paul McCartney is urging the world to go vegetarian in a bid to fight global warming ...
Paul McCartney does:
Back in Britain he drives around in an eco-friendly Lexus car in a bid to reduce his carbon foot print. But ...Sir Paul McCartney touched down in LAX Airport in Los Angeles with girlfriend Nancy Shevell before zooming off in his stylish blue C5 Corvette sports car. The thirsty 5.7 litre engine sees the car do just 16 miles to the gallon - and it takes just 4.8seconds to go from 0-60mph.
Send it by pigeon instead
How patient is Nick Minchin with the ABC?
So Kevin Rudd’s stimulus packages aren’t saving us, his Budget deficit is soaring, his dole queues are rising, his Defence Minister is floundering, his $43 billion broadband plan is mad, his staff are quitting, his Governor General has become a Rudd tout, his ideas summit turns out a fraud and his emissions plan will kill more jobs. Never mind, the Canberra press gallery heavies have now weighed in.
Laurie Oakes says Rudd’s abuse of an RAAF flight attendent reminds him of the time Alexander Downer fell over.
Malcolm Farr says Rudd has a cute cat.
Rudd’s next promise: a Ferrari in every garage
We’re now living in a parallel universe, where this Rudd Government can spend or promise another $100 billion in just six month on measures that don’t stop the economy from falling through the floor, and then - without a word on where the cash would come from - announce yet more grandiose plans to spend:
The Rudd Government’s defence white paper, due out later this month, will call for a more potent and costly maritime defence for Australia. The expansion of Australia’s sea and air defences will include a doubling of the submarine fleet, 100 joint strike fighters, new spy planes, as well as powerful new surface warships.
Exactly how ruinously deep in debt will we be before voters wake up to the fact that Rudd is spending tens of billions we don’t have without the slightest idea how we will pay it back?
This is insane.
Defence Minister homeless as well as clueless
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon moves house, after we learn his sweet Chinese landlady spent thousands of dollars introducing him to nice Chinese generals:
Mr Fitzgibbon said in an interview that he was planning to change his accommodation arrangements in Canberra after revelations he was renting his apartment from the Liu family.
But the Defence Minister may also have to move jobs, after falsely accusing implying his department (and not the Chinese, heaven forbid) of spying had spied on him:
But that close co-operation between the minister and his department was not in evidence in Washington yesterday.
After an address to the defence think tank the Centre for a New American Security, at the exclusive Willard Hotel, a short walk from the White House, Mr Warner and Air Chief Marshal Houston gathered with other Australian and US defence and military types for drinks. Mr Fitzgibbon steered clear of his department heads.
PETER ROFF: Who’s REALLY to Blame for the Subprime Mess?
By Peter Roff
Fellow, Institute for Liberty / Former Senior Political Writer, United Press International
Now that he is back in the United States President Obama will once again, no doubt, turn his attention to the current economic crisis. As he was leaving the country he, more or less, got his way with Congress on his budget.
Yes, his proposal was cut by about $20 billion (virtual pennies out of the $3.55 trillion total) but he got most of what he wanted. There are a few big gaps — his plan to win universal, government-backed health insurance for every American may now be harder to accomplish and his cap-and-trade scheme to restrain the engine of America’s economic growth in the name of reducing carbon emissions is in real trouble. But, on most of the budget, he got his way.
Of course to do that he had to create, or at least exacerbate a climate of fear about the U.S. economy. He came into office surrounded by claims — and they were false claims — that the state of the economy was worse than an anytime since The Great Depression. And, while the administration has backed away from that rhetorical extreme they do continue to talk the economy down. Why? Because they can use a bad economy as an excuse to rush proposals through Congress, proposals designed to alleviate the nation’s economic suffering by doing something. What they are doing is of little help, in economic terms even if it is providing the Democrats with great political gains.
JAMES P. PINKERTON: Obama Is Dead Wrong on Nuclear Weapons
President Obama can overspend, overtax, over-regulate, and over cap-and-trade, and yet America will undoubtedly survive. We might be worse off — probably will be worse off — but our Republic will endure.
But if Obama–or any other president–mishandles national security badly enough, well, that could be the end of our country.
Which brings me to my point: Obama is dangerously dead wrong on the issue of nuclear weapons, specifically, his goal of, “a world without nuclear weapons.”
As he said in Prague last Sunday, Obama wants to see the United States abolish its nuclear weapons — also known as our nuclear deterrent — while all the other countries do the same. This goal of Obama’s is worse than foolish, it is reckless.
Obama can dream of a world without nuclear weapons, but it is not a good idea in the real world.
In a world without nuclear weapons, how would we defend ourselves against conventional weapons? America needed 16 million men and women in uniform–more than a tenth of the total population–to win World War Two, before we figured out how to end the war with Japan quickly, thanks to the atom bomb. Today, China has 1.3 billion people and a swelling military, and the Obama administration wants to cut our conventional war-fighting capability, by eliminating “costly” weapons systems. Yes, defense is costly–but defeat is more costly. And now he talks about eliminating nuclear weapons. Yet without the best conventional weapons, and without nukes, what would we use to stop a potential Chinese attack? Counter-insurgency tactics? A surge? Please.
More to the point, there is no evidence–none whatsoever–that other countries would abide by such a treaty. To put it bluntly, even if they signed Obama’s no-nukes deal, they would cheat, or else develop some new category of weapon-of-mass-destruction not covered by the treaty.
And for good reason: How else could tiny Israel defend itself against Arabs and Iranians over the long run? How else could Pakistan survive against India, with seven times the population? A hundred other countries would find themselves in similarly perilous situations, now and at any time in the future. Who are they going to call for help? President Obama? No, they will call upon themselves, and their own resourcefulness.
That’s cold realism, the hard-earned wisdom of international politics in a dangerous world. But for his part, Obama will have none of that. Speaking in Prague, a city liberated from communism two decades ago, the President said, “We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change.”
So, you see, “the people, united, will never be defeated.” A relatively decent Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, didn’t have the stomach to massacre the Czechs as they peacefully demanded their freedom, back in 1989–so that’s now the template for the future?
Well, other leaders, still alive today–from Zimbabwe to Syria to China–would not hesitate to machine-gun peaceful protestors, and then machine-gun the protestors’ families, too, just to be on the safe side. And as one robin does not make a spring, one decaying totalitarian regime does not indicate that all totalitarians have given up their desire for control. To such dictators nuclear weapons are simply one more useful tool for control.
MARK JOSEPH: Guess What, Mr. Obama? Christianity Continues to Put Its Stamp on Our Country
By Mark Joseph
Easter is upon us and as good a time as any to debate a question that President Obama seems to have a definitive answer for but one which bedevils (no pun intended) the rest of us: Is America a Christian nation?
I would add another question to that one however: Is that the right question to be asking?
On his first major overseas trip, President Obama declared that America wasn’t a Christian nation. But in 1988 former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor disagreed citing as her authority the United States Supreme Court. O’Connor noted that three cases supported her view. One of them, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States from 1892 noted the following:
“If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters, note the following: the form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen;” the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town, and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing every where under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
The Holy Trinity case is not anything approaching a definitive judgment on the matter, but just a passing reference to the obvious: America and American culture are imbued with religion and not just any religion, but a specific one which prominently features a Savior named Jesus which in turn sprang from one called Judaism. But does that make our country, in any official sense, a Christian nation?
The Justices did make a convincing argument that American culture circa 1892 reflected strong Christian influences in its everyday practices. 117 years later, I could add dozens of other cultural customs that similarly reflect a specific religious heritage that is part of our common practice.
Why are Noah, Caleb, Benjamin, Jacob, Elijah, Hannah, Abigail, James and John among the most popular names given to American children in 2009? Why do we continue to live in cities with names like Corpus Christi, Bethlehem, Galilee, Bible Grove, Calvary, Jesus Maria, Easter and hundreds of others scattered across this nation? Why does most of America take Sunday off as a day of rest and why do we even have the custom of one day of rest out of each seven to begin with?
But the Christian nation question is the wrong one because it is sometimes posed by people who answer it with a no and then try to use that answer to argue for a separation of private faith and public conduct. That’s an argument that most Americans reject and it betrays a certain theological naivete by assuming that objects, including nations, can be Christian, as if the term were a modifier which can be attached to things. The term Christian which began to be attached to followers of Jesus Christ meant “little Christ,” but can a nation or a book or a song or any thing that is not a person, be Christian?
President Obama was right when he said we were not a Christian nation but off the mark when he said we were instead merely a “nation of citizens” with the quiet implication that our citizenry is somehow secular. It is true that, thankfully, we are not Christian in any official sense that would imply that our country forces us to convert to the Christian religion, coerces participation in church on Sunday morning or forces people to tithe a tenth of their income to a religious institution. But we are a nation of citizens where anywhere from 76-84 percent of us say we believe in a religion which teaches that an all-powerful God set the world in motion, watched it reject Him and sent His Son to visit it to provide forgiveness and salvation.
But rather than label America a Christian nation, it’s far more accurate and useful to merely re-state the obvious: America and its institutions, including its founding documents and much of the way it goes about its business is profoundly impacted and influenced by the Bible and Christian practices. The country is also populated by huge majorities of Christian people who bring their beliefs into their lives, including through the legislation they support, the songs they sing, the names they give their children and their cities, the books they read and the lives they lead. All this, in turn, produces a political and social culture that naturally reflects those beliefs and is profoundly shaped by the religion articulated in the Bible.
But the Christian nation question is also the wrong one to ask because it sets up the wrong argument. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln was asked: Whose side of the civil war is God on? Lincoln wisely replied: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Another president, Ronald Reagan, seemed to have a similar understanding when he took the oath of office with one hand on his mother Nelle’s worn out Bible, opened to II Chronicles 7:14, next to which Nelle had scribbled in her own handwriting “a wonderful verse for the healing of the nations.” Reagan’s chosen Bible verse made it clear that although it was individuals, and not nations who were or weren’t followers of God, each individual ’s decision could have profound implications on the nation: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”