Friday, May 08, 2009
Headlines Friday 8th May 2009
Obama Puts Entire NASA Space Program in Limbo - Bush had the vision
WASHINGTON — The White House has ordered a complete outside review of NASA's manned space program, including plans to return astronauts to the moon.
Matthew Johns speaks out about group sex scandal
Former NRL star and rugby league television personality Matthew Johns has spoken publicly about an alleged group sex scandal which occurred seven years ago.
Death threats were a 'joke': Damir Dokic
The father of Australian tennis star Jelena Dokic has expressed regret over his alleged threats to kill Australia's ambassador to Serbia, insisting his comments were "a joke".
Rudd snubs Rees over rail funding
The Prime Minister has again snubbed Nathan Rees, refusing to give him enough money to even start construction on the Western Metro.
Cyber bullying shock at top school
Two teenage girls have been forced to leave a prestigious Sydney girls' school over cyber bullying allegations involving explicit messages.
Syd murder victim a well known developer
A property developer and his brother found dead in their Sydney home may have been the victims of a violent double homicide, police say.
NZ city in lockdown as seige continues
A New Zealand city remains in lock-down this morning as police continue an armed stand-off with a......
Exhibition shows dead bodies having sex
A new exhibition featuring preserved dead bodies having sex opened in Berlin on Thursday with......
New image of man issued in McCann search
The parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann on Thursday released a new image of a "very......
5,335 students dead, missing in last year's Sichuan quake
China says last year's massive Sichuan earthquake left 5,335 schoolchildren dead or missing, releasing its first official tally just days before the anniversary of the disaster.
Stimulus ends up in the toilet, literally
Everywhere you turn now the Government is reminding us that it's lost revenue and that's going to result in a significant deficit in Tuesday's federal Budget, with the frightening figure of $70 billion being trotted out - a $90 billion turnaround from the Budget last year.
Now if you were running your household and you knew there was going to be a shortfall in revenue coming your way, would you involve yourself in massive discretionary spending to the tune of about $100 billion since the last budget was brought down?
And that's included all this throwaway money given phoney respectability by being referred to as stimulus packages.
What has been stimulated?
Well, there are retail sales figures out which show us where we were in February this year compared to February last year, December this year compared to December last year.
And we find that in February this year retail sales are just holding up.
In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales dropped two per cent in the month of February compared with sales in January, which is what you'd expect.
But it's the biggest monthly percentage fall in almost nine years. In other words, in general terms, sales would be down.
But then you look at the individual retail sectors, and an awful picture emerges, one which suggests that the stimulus package has been a failure and it's been siphoned off by Woolworths and Coles jacking up their prices to the detriment of the entire nation.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
Xanax-chompin’ Sydney tough guy Alen Sarkis and docile leftoid retro-pundit Guy Rundle.
Is the Defence Minister’s house clean?
There is one very basic question about this scandal above any other that I want answered:
The Opposition has called on the Defence Department to release the results of its investigation into claims that officials spied on Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon because of concerns about his friendship with businesswoman Helen Liu.
It’s this: Has the Canberra house Fitzgibbon rented from Liu or her family been swept for bugs?
Meanwhile, this allegation is new:
The revelation of another China trip by (the Defence Minister’s father) Eric Fitzgibbon in 2001 comes amid allegations by Ms Liu’s former business associates that the Fitzgibbon family members have been given apartments in Qingdao. - the suggestion Ms Liu is a spy is wrongheaded and offensive. Clearly she is merely a spy handler. - ed.
That free cash wasn’t
Pay for their $23 billion of free cheques by paying more for good health care:
KEVIN Rudd will strip $1.9 billion from the pockets of middle- and high-income earners by slashing their taxpayer-funded 30 per cent private health insurance rebates in Tuesday’s budget.
None of this makes sense. And is this a hint of an early before-the-pain election?
However, while the first round of tax cuts will take effect from July 1, the health insurance rebate will not be scaled back until July next year.
The greatest stimulus to a person’s spending is to give them a child. Yet:
WAYNE Swan and Julia Gillard have been accused of betraying infertile couples who they supported in Opposition by condoning budget cuts to Medicare funding for IVF treatments.
So it’s yes to $5 billion for free pink batts, but no $282 million for babies.
It is believed to expand the reach of the reforms to obstetric claims and to target net savings of $282 million over four years.
The book you nearly didn’t read
HOW hard is it to smash through Australia’s group-think? Consider the case of Professor Ian Plimer and the book he couldn’t sell.
Well, couldn’t sell until now, because Plimer’s Heaven and Earth, debunking the great global warming scare, has become an instant best-seller.
It today gets its fourth reprint in little over a fortnight, bringing to 25,000 the number of copies now sold or ordered.
This, in a country where a best-seller is reckoned at some 8000 copies, so we’re talking about a publishing hit.
But critics have wondered how Heaven and Earth came to be published by Connor Court Publishing, a mere husband-and-wife operation in Ballan, and some have hinted - as did the ABC’s Fran Kelly - that it’s to the discredit of Plimer.
In fact, the discredit belongs entirely to the bigger publishers who turned him down - ABC Books, Random House, Allen & Unwin, and East Street.
Beauty and the beasts
AS A boy I was urged to join the Left to fight sexism, McCarthyism and the vicious snobbery of the upper class.
But, wow. What’s happened to that Left now?
Take the persecution of Miss California, 23-year-old Carrie Prejean.
Prejean last month competed in the Miss USA final, where she was inexplicably asked by a judge, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, what she thought of gay marriage.
Hilton, not incidentally, is dye-my-hair-blue gay, but such is the official tolerance of these times that he was naturally asked to judge a pick-a-chick show for hetero fantasists.
But that official tolerance is also such that half the crowd started to boo when Prejean, a Christian, respectfully gave her answer: “I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Despite the catcalling, Prejean’s opinion was not actually a minority one even in hey-dude California, where voters last year passed a referendum overturning their highest court’s decision to legalise gay marriage.
Indeed, even President Barack Obama - a hero of the Left who has “inspired millions”, according to this same Hilton - said before the election that he was against gay marriage, too, because “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman”.
Just what Prejean said.
But merely expressing her private opinion - and one shared by her President - did not save Prejean from a witchhunt that would make even old Joe McCarthy cry “enough”.
My Qs, and your despairing As
The ABC’s Q&A slumped to a new low last night, aided by an audience that noisily betrayed the steep moral decline and sheer historical know-nothingness of the young Left.
Tell me from where Q&A got that pack in the audience that cheered every slur of the US and howled down its every defence? Why an audience with members of the Left eager to equate the Holocaust with Israel’s dealing with Palestinians today, and why only one voice on the panel to strongly reject that insane analogy?
Why did we get yet another panel stacked to the Left? Why yet another strident apologist for Islam and furious critic of Israel - one even prepared to make excuses for Ahmadinejad?
Why, given all the tyrannies in the world, so exclusive a focus on the (wildly exaggerated or invented) sins of just two countries - the US and Israel?
Why the rudeness in debate of the Left?
Why is it, too, that Pakistan interests a Marxist such as Guy Rundle only to the extent that he can devine some original Western sin in this impending catastrophe? Why do his interests then stop short - short of any proposal to prevent or ameliorate? Why does he not ascribe to Pakistanis any moral agency in their own fate, much as if he were the most racist colonialist, actually?
One bright spot? Greg Sheridan, who tried to ingratiate at first - without giving in to the temptation to sugar his positions - before realising it was time to speak truth frankly, and call a spade a madman.
Hair today, denied tomorrow
He’s surely not so stupid that he’d deny something true:
KEVIN Rudd has denied he threw a “wobbly” over a hair dryer while in Afghanistan. Coalition frontbencher John Cobb claimed the Prime Minister became agitated when Diggers couldn’t find a hair dryer for a photo opportunity.
A livid Mr Rudd last night rejected the allegations as “laughable, ridiculous and untrue”....
The alleged incident occurred when Mr Rudd and a small entourage made a secret dash into Afghanistan just before Christmas last year. There have been stories circulating about it in Defence circles ever since. - thing is, Rudd's office has known history of lying for him on the smallest of points. - ed.
No room in Britain for Koran critics
Has Britain gone mad?
A “shock jock” banned from Britain is threatening to sue Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary… American DJ Michael Savage made the threat as it emerged the majority of people named and shamed on a new Home Office exclusion list has never applied to come to the UK in the first place.
The list, published earlier this week, named 16 individuals who would not be let in to the country, including extremists, white supremacists and Islamic fanatics.
Mr Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, was included for “engaging in unacceptable behaviour” by seeking to provoke violence and foster hatred. The DJ, who hosts a far right talk show called The Savage Nation, has described the Koran, the Islamic holy book, as a “book of hate” and questioned the validity of autism, though he has argued some comments have been taken out of context.
Mr Savage said he was outraged to be named alongside hate preachers and “mass murderers” and said he is going to sue the “lunatic Jacqui Smith”.
He said: “For this lunatic Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary of England, to link me up with skinheads who are killing people in Russia, to put me in (the same) league with mass murderers who kill Jews on buses is defamation..."…
Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal, Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe are also on the list released yesterday. Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, the former leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang which committed 20 racially motivated murders, are also banned from coming to Britain. Both are currently in prison.
Making up the rest of the 16 named by the Home Office are preachers Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim, Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal, Safwat Hijazi and Amir Siddique, Muslim activist Abdul Ali Musa (previously Clarence Reams), murderer and Hezbollah terrorist Samir Al Quntar and Kashmiri terror group leader Nasr Javed.
Before that, of course:
A Dutch MP who called the Koran a “fascist book” has been sent back to the Netherlands after attempting to defy a ban on entering the UK.
Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders had been invited to show his controversial film - which links the Islamic holy book to terrorism - in the UK’s House of Lords. But Mr Wilders, who faces trial in his own country for inciting hatred, has been denied entry by the Home Office.
What is now so explosive in Britain that visits from radio hosts and Dutch MPs now cannot be risked?
Rudd vindicated - or judgment merely postponed
This will take the heat off the Rudd Government for a while, and - if sustained - will win it the economic argument:
A SURPRISING fall in the jobless rate suggests Australia is performing better than expected and could avoid a technical recession. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 per cent in April from 5.7 per cent in March, with the creation of 27,300 new jobs.
But are the figures true?
NAB Capital senior economist David de Garis said: “Does anyone really believe that the unemployment rate went from 5.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent in March and back to 5.4 per cent in April? The truth is somewhere in between.”
The government clearly cannot believe their luck. Unemployment down? Employment Minister Julia Gillard admitted that they expected the jobless figures to increase today.
The ABC doubts:
A surprising fall in the unemployment rate for April is being blamed on a statistical anomaly…
NAB chief economist Alan Oster says it is another sign of the economy’s relative strength. But he says the figures must be treated with caution after funding cuts at the Australian Bureau of Statistics reduced the quality of its data....The better than expected result has not prompted him to change his unemployment forecast. He is still expecting the jobless rate to come close to 8 per cent by late next year.
JP Morgan economist Helen Kevans agress.
“It is a big surprise. We’re really taking it with a grain of salt,” Ms Kevans said.
Rudd cleans up
Here is the word cloud generated by Kevin Rudd’s speech last December to launch the white paper on his carbon pollution reduction scheme.
Guess which two of those words shrank dramatically in the word cloud generated by Rudd’s speech on Monday, when he announced he’d actually be putting off his scheme for a year or two? - funny enough word clouds are exact depictions of how Rudd understands his own speeches. - ed.
ABC insists: all agree on climate change
ABC Newcastle radio interviews Rudd Government frontbencher Greg Combet, with all the ABC’s usual balance:
AARON KEARNEY: Everybody, or almost everybody, accepts that climate change is a reality and realises that something needs to be done, but the reality is, is it not, that this specific industry will pay the price for the broader good?
Open Season on the Republican Party
By Bill O'Reilly
Smelling blood in the water, the Democrats are now hammering the GOP as losers and pathetically out-of-touch with the increasingly secular American citizen.
Tuesday night we told you what the Republicans need to do to fight back. The key point was emphasizing the nobility of America in the face of far-left attacks against the USA and President Obama's overseas criticisms of American policy and actions. With so much confusion and worry in the country, a simple statement of belief is where you start in a political battle.
The Democrats have done that very effectively. They believe the Republican leadership is weak, and they are pounding the theme home:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of "Survivor."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
With the media solidly behind President Obama and with operations like The New York Times and NBC News promoting vicious personal attacks on conservatives, the war for the hearts and minds of the American people is intense and brutal. If the GOP wants to compete in 2010, it had better up its game.
And it's not only the Democrats pounding Republicans. Gen. Colin Powell and other self-described moderates are angry with the committed right. On Monday, Powell told a corporate audience that the Republican Party is in deep trouble because, as he sees it, the extreme right is setting the agenda. Powell said: "Americans do want to pay taxes for services. Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."
Now, I disagree with that, but Powell is convinced it is true. The general then went on to criticize Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh: "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without."
The general also called Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin polarizing figures, but did mention that the governor is a very accomplished person.
So there is no doubt that the political battle is not just between the Dems and Republicans, but there is a split within the GOP as well. And nothing makes the far left happier.