Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Headlines Wednesday 22nd April 2009
The worst is yet to come: IMF dashes hopes of recovery
Hopes of an early economic recovery have been dashed by the International Monetary Fund, with the financial regulator reporting a surge in the amount of bad debt plaguing the global financial system.
Rees and ministers ordered to take media training
The NSW Premier and his ministers have reportedly been ordered to undergo media training to help lift their poor public performance.
29 asylum seekers denied immediate refugee applications
Twenty-nine of the asylum seekers aboard the boat that exploded off Australia's northwest coast last week can't immediately seek refugee status because they were first taken to an oil rig which is excised from the mainland.
Astronomy 'Holy Grail': Scientists discover Earth-like planets
In the search for Earth-like planets, astronomers have zeroed in on two places that look awfully familiar to home. One is close to the right size. The other is in the right place.
Glenn Stevens: The road to recovery
In his address in Adelaide yesterday, Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, was again surprising optimistic about Australia and how well it is placed to rebound from the current slump.
Waugh set to re-sign with Waratahs
Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh has reportedly re-signed with the Super 14 franchise for a further two-years, turning his back on several international offers.
Bert Newton and family escape rock attack
Living legend of television Bert Newton, his wife Patti and daughter Lauren have escaped unhurt after a cyclist smashed their car window with a rock.
REAL AND PRESENT DANGER
The ABC’s Sally Neighbour – sometimes sensible on terrorism, sometimes not – returns to sensible mode:
Al-Qa’ida has made “the media battle” a key front in its war, a strategy that helps explain why the jihadist movement continues to flourish. Yet intelligence and security agencies engaged in the so-called war on terror have been slow to seize this imperative, choosing instead to remain in the shadows, avoiding the vigorous media and public debate about terrorism and how it should be combated. Their reluctance has allowed the jihadists to gain the upper hand …
The intelligence and security agencies can no longer afford to stay mute in this seminal debate. It is time for them to come out of the shadows and engage in the crucial battle for hearts and minds.
This can be as simple as releasing more information to illustrate the nature of the threat, such as the revelation in 2006 by MI5 head Eliza Manningham-Butler that British authorities were dealing with 30 known terrorist plots and 200 terrorist networks, and watching 1600 individuals who were “actively engaged in or facilitating terrorist acts here or overseas”. It was a strategic decision to take the media and the public into their confidence by releasing data that normally would be deemed classified. And it clearly had the desired effect, a jolting reminder that terrorism is not a figment of the security agencies’ imaginations but a very real and present danger.
Quite so, and Neighbour’s suggested counter-strategy is one reason why blogging has become so popular over the past eight years. Another extract:
People used to say: “Terrorists don’t want a lot of people dead; they want a lot of people watching.” That has changed; now they want both.
Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia, Primo Alui Joelianto, on people-smuggler response to changed Australian border policies:
“I think maybe the traffickers use this as a trial to organise more of flowing of the refugees, because they get the money for that,” Mr Joelianto said.
“So maybe they use this new policy, but I don’t know exactly.”
Mr Joelianto’s assessment echoed that of Immigration Minister Chris Evans, who said the smugglers had used changes to Australian law as a “marketing tool”.
Meanwhile, the Age makes a case for the return of temporary protection visas:
Not only were the recipients required to apply for a renewal of the visa every three years, but they could not seek to bring family members to Australia from their countries of origin. And they had very limited access to social security and support programs, including those offering new residents that most basic of survival skills, a knowledge of English. In other words, TPVs were intended to isolate refugees, making life in Australia as difficult as possible for them and deterring other potential asylum seekers from emulating their example.
Odd thing is, the Age thinks it is making a case against the return of temporary protection visas.
UPDATE. It’s cheaper to fly to Australia than to arrive by other means.
I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HE’D BEEN POSED
Bad news for the ex-Prez:
Judge rules former President Bush can be deposed
UPDATE. Bad enough that you’re a captured Somali pirate. But even worse that you’re captured by an FBI agent who looks just a little like George W. Bush.
Unions pleased, but kids unemployed
The OECD can see it’s insane to make it harder to hire young workers in this crisis:
THE OECD has warned that the rollback of the Howard government’s Work Choices industrial relations laws may result in higher youth unemployment, as Kevin Rudd conceded for the first time that recession in Australia was inevitable.
The Prime Minister’s concession came as the OECD called on the Labor Government to return to individual contracts and move away from industry awards if youth unemployment starts to rise. The OECD said young workers would be hardest hit by the downturn, with their jobless rate set to rise twice as fast as that of adult workers.
And to underline the link between higher wage costs and unemployment:
Management staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics have been marched out the door this week, the first of flagged cuts the bureau says are necessary to redress a pay rise. A total of 31 employees have been told their services are no longer required...
Joke while it’s still legal
Hal GP Colebatch:
BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state… The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years’ prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out.
Colebatch lists some of the extraordinary exampes he’s found of even children being arrested for thought-crimes:
In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher’s first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: “It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police!” Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott.
Former NSW Premier Bob Carr warns against this insanity, which he says must not be allowed to spread from Britain ... or Victoria:
The Australian Human Rights Commission is finalising a report almost certain to recommend legislation on religion - on freedom of religion or religious vilification - that would mean similar prosecutions being launched under national law…
So why are we even having this debate? The commission says on its website it’s because of “an increased presence of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and other religious communities”. This is an extraordinary statement; it undermines the need for any change in the law. If Australia were a nightmare realm of vilification and persecution, a dystopia of religious angst, I doubt that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews would settle here in growing numbers…
But Tom Calma, one of the commissioners, writes that the terrorism attacks of 9/11 have brought religion squarely back into public debate and it’s important people not be “vilified or alienated because of these beliefs”. In fact, the Australian responses to September 11 and Bali were restrained, given the scale of the losses and the provocative hatred behind the attacks…
Calma might ask himself whether a temporarily strained climate would have been improved by a raft of prosecutions for vilification. Victoria has a religious vilification statute and in 2004 two evangelical pastors were prosecuted for remarks they made in a seminar about Islam. I don’t respect the views of these pastors. The seminar was a fringe event for a fringe sect. Best to ignore it. Instead, the costly and drawn-out legal rigmarole gave Pastor Danny Nalliah the chance to spout in the courts about “Sharia by stealth”. It cost more than $1 million in legal fees.
In 2004 I distributed reports of this outlandish case round the NSW cabinet table, saying to colleagues, “One day we’ll hear an argument for this state having religious vilification … well, that legislation implies prosecution. And that could go anywhere.”
Bolt Reader Peter urges you to sit the Ricky Gervais racism test to see if you have anything to fear:
Melbourne: the water may run out next June
Statistical analyst Jonathan Lowe says Melbourne’s water use shows a city headed for a disaster unless the clouds burst this winter:
There has not been one week in 2009 where Melbourne’s Water Storage levels have increased or even stayed the same. It has been on a continual decline due to lower than average rainfall, higher than average water usage per person, and an ever increasing Melbourne population…
Should this amount continue to decline at this rate? Well possibly. Melbourne’s water usage over winter should decline, however we are still having the greatest population increase of any city in Australia…
Although I don’t like to extrapolate, if the current decreasing trend of water levels were to continue in the graph as shown above, then by November 30, when (No Water Minister) Tim Holding will re-review the storage levels, Melbourne’s water levels will be at 13.3%, less than half of what they are now. And I can extrapolate further too. If the current decreasing trend of water levels were to continue beyond this, then Melbourne will have its last drop on the 16th of June, 2010.
That is before the Government’s $3.1 billion desalination plant comes on line. Even when that plant does finally kick in, the search must already be on for Melbourne’s next water supply, given that the city has grown by a million since our last dam, and will grow by a million more within the next 20 years.
When will this green-obsessed Government finally stop playing Russian roulette with this city and build the new dam it so desperately and obviously needs? A dam on the often-flooding Mitchell would give us three times the water of a desal plant at half the price.
But it’s all too late to save us for the next few years from Labor’s great green folly. For now, it’s pray for rain.
Rudd spends even more of what we no longer have
Kevin Rudd’s latest theory: if splashing out $100 billion in just six months didn’t work, perhaps a few more billions might:
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has indicated a third economic stimulus package will be announced in next month’s federal Budget.
I guess when you’re now spending $43 billion a pop of money you don’t have, the next billions seem small change. But how we’ll ever dig out of the hole he’s digging, I do not know.
Banking on a scare
Even a high tide is now enough to persuade the Asian Development Bank that global warming is drowning us in rising seas. After all, what else have they got to point to?
Arctic ice refuses to melt
Al Gore, who predicted an ice-free Arctic within the next four years, will be disappointed. Despite all the scaremongering in the media, the ice extent is now the highest in five years.
Steven Goddard says other measurements show Arctic ice at a seven year high, and worldwide ice approaching a 20-year high:
True, the climate is changing
HMM, I could be wrong. Maybe the climate is changing after all.The intellectual climate, I mean.
For years it’s been a social crime to doubt man is heating the world to hell, but suddenly the ice is cracking - and no, not the ice around Antarctica, which has actually grown.
Take a few signs from last week alone.
Australia’s pre-eminent academic geologist, Prof Ian Plimer, published Heaven and Earth, challenging the gospel that the world is warming dangerously and that human-caused gases are to blame.
In fact, says Plimer, what warming we saw until a decade ago was not unusual, not dangerous and most likely caused mainly by solar activity. What’s more, temperatures now seem to be falling.
While true, this kind of talk has been enough - until recently - to get you defamed as crazy or corrupt. Only last November, Plimer had a leper’s bell rung over his head when he appeared on the ABC’s Lateline Business, with presenter Ticky Fullerton warning he was “a geologist, not a climatologist” who “by definition works closely with the mining industry”. Cross yourselves!
(When did the ABC last warn viewers that Al Gore “is an ex-politician, not a climatologist”, and Tim Flannery “is a mammal expert, not a climatologist”?)
Then came Fullerton’s “how-corrupt-are-you” question: “You are a greenhouse heretic . . . Is this scepticism genuine, or it it also about economic self-interest?”
Rudd’s shameful silence
I HAVEN’T seen a cover-up as insulting and astonishing as the Rudd Government’s refusal to tell you why an asylum seekers’ boat blew up last Friday.
Why insulting? Because the Government thinks Australians are too racist to be trusted with the facts.
Why astonishing? Because many in the media are helping this Government tell you anything but the truth.
And the truth is that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s softer policies on boat people seem to be luring people once more to their deaths.
Why are so many in the media refusing to hold Rudd to account?
For God’s sake, five people are dead. If John Howard’s policies had killed asylum seekers we’d never have heard the end of the media outrage.
We know this because we’ve already seen Howard hanged by the very journalists now letting Rudd walk.
In 2001, the SIEV X sank in Indonesian waters, unknown to our officials, and 353 people drowned—all while trying to reach Australia.
Howard wasn’t merely blamed—as Rudd should be now—for having policies so soft that they tempted asylum seekers to risk death at sea.
He was accused of murder—of paying people to sink boats coming from Indonesia. Like the SIEV X. Senator John Faulkner, now a Rudd minister, even claimed Howard might have given agents in Indonesia “a direct or an indirect licence to kill”.
More boats? Blame Turnbull
The Age editor sees more boatloads of asylum seekers suddenly coming here, and more asylum seekers drowning at sea. Seeking someone to blame, he finds the perfect scapegoat:
Asylum-seeker row reflects Turnbull’s desperation
Memo to Age: Malcolm Turnbull is the leader of the O-P-P-O-S-I-T-I-O-N. The person in charge is called R-U-D-D.
But who to believe? The Age editor in his zeal to exaggerate, hyperobolise and caricature?
The insinuation in all this is that the Rudd Government’s abandonment of policies that trampled on human rights has undermined border security, creating a flood of asylum seekers who will overrun our haven of stability. This is simply untrue...
Or the Indonesian ambassador and even our Immigration Minister?
INDONESIA experienced an increase in the number of suspected refugees transiting through its borders at the same time Australia was softening its border protection policies.
Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia, Primo Alui Joelianto, said Indonesian-based people-smugglers had exploited changes to Australian law as a way of drumming up business…
“I think maybe the traffickers use this as a trial to organise more of flowing of the refugees, because they get the money for that,” Mr Joelianto said…
Mr Joelianto’s assessment echoed that of Immigration Minister Chris Evans, who said the smugglers had used changes to Australian law as a “marketing tool”.
Save the planet! Get rich
It’s Earth Day - time to reflect on how we should all get richer:
The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run. . . . As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Congresswoman Caught Striking Shady Deal
By Sean Hannity
We often talk about the extremes to which liberals will go in order to reach the highest rungs of power. Tonight, we're learning just what one senior Democratic congresswoman did in an attempt to land herself the top spot on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressional Quarterly reports that Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat, was caught on an NSA wiretap striking a shady agreement with a suspected Israeli agent. Former NSA officials say that Harman agreed to petition the Justice Department to go easy on two pro-Israeli lobbyists accused of passing classified information onto the Israeli government. In return, Harman was promised that the lobbying group would push Nancy Pelosi to appoint her head of the House Intel Committee after the 2006 elections. When Harman hung up the phone, she got a little skittish, declaring: "This conversation doesn't exist."
The FBI began investigating Harman, but stopped at the request of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who, in an ironic twist, wanted Harman's support for President Bush's NSA wiretapping program!
Representative Harman denies the charges, arguing: "...the Justice Department has never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation." She went on to say that, "if there is anything about this story that should arouse concern, it is that the Bush administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional intelligence committees."
I see: It's President Bush's fault! Thanks for clearing that up, congresswoman.
By Bill O'Reilly
Despite the president's humility in speaking about America's mistakes, our enemies are insulting him.
In Europe, Mr. Obama went out of his way to tell the world how he is going to correct what he believes were the mistakes of the Bush administration. And he continued that theme in Mexico and Trinidad last week:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have, at times, been disengaged, and at times we've sought to dictate our terms. What we showed here is that we can make progress when we're willing to break free from some of the stale debates and old ideologies that have dominated and distorted the debate in this hemisphere for far too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The Obama strategy is to clear the decks of any anti-Bush hostility and present a new day dawning. He wants to make the nations of the world our partners in problem solving, and if he has to eat a little crow to do that, he'll butter up the bird.
The downside to that is that some will perceive the president as weak. The London Daily Telegraph is reporting that the French President, Sarkozy, has privately questioned Mr. Obama's decision-making. And just days after the Obama administration told the world it wanted dialogue with Iran, that government imprisoned Roxana Saberi, an American citizen, for eight years on the absurd charge of spying. That was a direct insult to President Obama.
In Trinidad, nut-case Hugo Chavez also embarrassed the president by handing him an anti-American book. This was designed to showcase Chavez's boldness, but the president replied gracefully:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it was — it was a nice gesture to give me a book. I'm a reader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
In addition to Chavez, the anti-American Nicaraguan leader, Ortega, insulted America for almost one hour with President Obama sitting right in front of him. There will come a time when Mr. Obama will have to say enough is enough and hit back. He has been directly insulted three times in less than a week by bad guys.
The president's policy of persuasion is not working so far. He got little from the Europeans. He'll get little from Latin America. That's because failed leaders almost always blame the USA for their incompetence. That's a game that's been played since Harry Truman was president. These clowns can't solve problems, so they blame us.
Mexico, please. With vast natural resources and two beautiful coastlines, they can't develop a middle class, and it's our fault? Sure.
President Obama has been in office less than 100 days, but his policy is clear. He is ready to listen. He is humble in the face of provocation. Will this help America in the long run? Doubtful.