Saturday, May 16, 2009

Headlines Saturday 16th May 2009

CIA Pushes Back at Pelosi
CIA director Panetta urges staff to ignore D.C. interrogation debate, despite being called liars by House speaker

Facebook moves to quash 'phishing' scam
Facebook is blocking links to bogus websites set up to look like the home page of the popular social network in a "phishing" attack by hackers.

Cancer chemicals in Parramatta River
A toxic cancer-causing chemical is leaking into the Parramatta River in Sydney's west from a shipping container facility, forcing a major decontamination

Howard slams Rudd's stimulus packages
The Rudd Government's stimulus packages and its abolition of Work Choices have made the economic situation in Australia worse, ex-PM John Howard said.

Bad smell 'may motivate smokers to quit'
Suggesting to smokers they smell bad may be a more potent motivator to quit than gruesome images of tobacco-related disease, a new Australian study shows.

Planning laws rejig for bushfire victims
Survivors of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires will be able to rebuild lost homes without a permit.
=== Comments ===
Budget aims to help Labor, not Australia
Labor's budget shows it is more concerned about the party, than the nation, according to Alan Jones.
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Gassing on at the ABC of warming alarmism
Andrew Bolt
Last year the ABC decided to go Gestapo to slash emissions and save the planet from its gassy staff:

Forget all that leftie pinko stuff - the ABC’s going Green!… In November 2007 our official target was announced: we’re going to cut the ABC’s emissions by 40% by 2020, and by 60% by 2050.

No step was thought too crass, offensively preachy or even smelly, as ABC Science Show presenter Robyn “100 metres’’ Williams found in conversation with Bernie Hobbs, charged with turning ABC staff into worriers for Gaia:

Robyn Williams: ... As you walk around the ABC do you get the kind of palpitations that I do about how really decrepit this place is, with hundreds of lights on all the time, with lashings of material just wasted?

Bernie Hobbs: It’s appalling… (I)t does blow me away that people leave a studio, leave the lights turned on…

Robyn Williams: Do you know that’s why I actually took the lights out of the socket. I don’t have any.

Bernie Hobbs: You have been a leader in this field for some time, Williams, because not only that, you’ve established your own compost heap in that disgusting plant that you can barely see for the fruit flies in one corner of your office…

(I)t’s down to the rest of us to get off our arses and start switching lights off, start turning computers off…

Robyn Williams: ...There’s a tiny touch of the Gestapo about this. You’ve given me a card which enables me to dob someone in. How does this work?

Bernie Hobbs: It’s a part of the site called Busted, and it really is just trying to do it in a fun way, rather than just nagging someone, rather than doing what other people do and put sticky tape over the power button on your colleague’s computer to annoy the hell out of them. It’s just a light-hearted way of busting someone for doing the wrong thing. So we’ve set the tone a bit by busting a few ABC celebrities… We’ve already busted Margaret Pomeranz who I think looks as though she’d be absolutely delightfully green, but that women has got a sea of styrofoam cups underneath her desk that would float a Pacific island....

So ... we’ve made these postcards and you can just tick a box and say whether it’s because they’ve got more frequent flyers than Neil Armstrong or what have you and leave it on their desk, and then on the back, five things they can do right now to make a difference.

Robyn Williams: Yes, I must say I do a tiny bit of that myself, but don’t look!

So, how successful has the ABC been in living by the cause it spruiks so fanatically? Here, from Hobbs’ Green at Work site, are its latest figures on power savings made at its two biggest studios:

ABC Elsternwick/Ripponlea (Melbourne TV)
Electricity (GJ) ...
2007-08 10978
2006-07 10771

Electricity use up by 2 per cent.

ABC Ultimo (Sydney)
Electricity (GJ)
2007-08 59700
2006-07 59314

Electricity use up by 1 per cent

OVERALL ABC FIGURES:
Electricity (GJ)
2007-08 157,845
2006-07 156,559

Electricity use up by 1 per cent

When it comes to global warming, the ABC just gases on and on. A year after deciding to cut its emissions by 40 per cent in 13 years, they instead lift them by 1.

Oops! I forgot this bit of cheating, though:

It might sound ambitious, but it’s an incredibly achievable target - largely because the 40% cut is based on our 1997 emissions, and we’ve already cut them by a massive 26.5% without most of us even noticing.
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Defending what should be damned
Andrew Bolt
Paul Kelly demands the Opposition vote for a scheme that will wreck the economy without doing a thing to stop a warming that’s actually stopped, anyway:

The Liberals need to retreat from their madness in threatening to block the carbon emission scheme bills, a manifest act of political suicide. This will become the decisive test of Turnbull’s leadership; he must carry the party on this path towards responsibility based on a recognition that the true interests of the Liberal Party are a full-term parliament with an election on the economy at the end.

To this goal, the Liberals should sanction, if necessary, the Nationals voting against the carbon scheme bills with the Liberals voting for the bills. Turnbull has already lost his optimum position on this issue: that was Rudd’s Mark One version, with the scheme starting next year before the election. By their tactical ineptitude the Liberals drove Rudd to rethink and put the start date into his next term. They cannot afford a second, more disastrous, blunder. The Liberal Party needs to remember that you can win elections by “giving prime ministers their dreams”.

This advice confuses the role of the journalist with the role of the politician. It is not for journalists to approve ruinous, tokenistic, populist policies simply on the grounds that they are electorally appealing. It is for us to make politicians who play such politics pay, and to argue instead for what is in the national interest. Political courage, when allied with the facts, should be encouraged, not deplored, or we’ll be run by spivs, mainchancers, spinners and carpetbaggers.

So I much prefer to heed Terry MCrann, who warns that the Budget proves Rudd’s planned carbon tax will cost more than we can afford, or that Treasury has calculated:
For the first time we see [in the Budget] revenues from the carbon tax—strictly, the emission permits—in the numbers. Some $4.5billion in 2011-12 and $13billion in 2012-13 (accruals basis).

The 2012-13 number is the equivalent of lifting the GST from 10 to 12.5 per cent. Yet Treasury sees no contradiction in imposing such trauma on the economy and its expectation that economic growth will not only be unhurt but we will continue to zoom along “above trend"…

Further, the attack on carbon energy is an attack on the fundamentals of economic activity. It raises the price of all energy. Especially if done unilaterally, it must impact negatively on economic growth in the years after 2012. Yet in its Alice in Wonderland forecasting methodology, Treasury predicts the economy will zoom along unfazed.

Meanwhile George Megalogenis by implication repeats an error implicit in the Rudd Government’s spin - that running any deficit is the same as running Rudd’s record one, even without considering how recklessly Rudd’s cash has been squandered:

The Treasurer is correct when he says the dramatic plunge into deficit wasn’t his doing. It remains primarily the fault of the global recession and the former government.

This can be seen with a simple calculation. Let’s assume Labor didn’t spend a dollar since the world economy turned turtle. That is, it did what the Opposition seems to have been demanding…

A stimulus-free budget would have faced deficits of $25.6 billion in 2009-10, $38.4billion in 2010-11 and $31.3 billion in 2011-12. That was, in effect, the Costello trajectory. It would have been worse, of course, because no spending would have made the recession deeper and crunched revenues by even more.

Let’s do the sums that Megalogenis doesn’t. He’s implying a Coalition deficit would be $95.5 billion over three years, plus more from the effects of no stimulus spending. By contrast, Rudd’s deficit will be at least $159 billion. I really do think Rudd’s extra $60 billion of debt shouldn’t be waved away so lightly. Paying the interest on that alone will cost jobs.
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Rudd’s promises need your super to pay for them
Andrew Bolt
Uh oh:

THE Rudd Government plans to tap Australia’s $1 trillion pool of superannuation savings to help plug a $58 billion hole in its nation-building program.

The funding shortfall for approved infrastructure projects has raised concerns that unless a greater portion of national savings can be accessed, some of the 15 rail, road and ports projects announced by Wayne Swan as Tuesday night’s budget centrepiece may never be built.

The Weekend Australian has learned the Government’s advisory group, Infrastructure Australia, has turned its post-budget focus to developing new investment pathways to funnel super funds into infrastructure. It is understood Infrastructure Australia will submit a set of recommendations to the Government, including various models that offer investment incentives to super funds.

Figures compiled by KPMG reveal the total cost of the Treasurer’s nation-building program, to which the Government has allocated $22 billion over the next four years, is $80billion.

Of course, it’s not as if they’ll actually demand your savings to fund promises Rudd never had the money for:

Infrastructure Australia Partnerships executive director Brendan Lyon said ... “This must not mean treating superannuation as a piggy bank to be raided for infrastructure purposes through mandated levels of investment - super funds must always be invested on commercial terms and for commercial purposes...”

UPDATE

Here are just some of the risks in this plan. First, to tempt the super funds to do more than they’ve done, the Government will have to offer special inducements - which means taxpayers must foot the bill.

Second, using super funds for government projects exposes the government to extra political risks if the investments go sour. That’s voters’ super savings that may be lost, and in many cases these are the funds being managed by industry funds run by the country’s most powerful union and Labor figures. All the more reason for governments - especially Labor ones - to use taxpayer money to prop up unprofitable projects.

For an example of how taxpayers are made by governments to subsidise the unprofitable - and even useless - investments of industry super funds, check out our wind farms and who owns them.
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Next they’ll have to pay for their coffins
Andrew Bolt
Why must Diggers pay if their life insurance isn’t enough?

AUSSIE Diggers being deployed to Afghanistan are being warned by the Defence Department to pay for extra life insurance because existing compensation has been deemed “inadequate”.

A day after 600 troops from Townsville left for the warzone, The Courier-Mail can reveal hundreds of soldiers have been issued with letters from the department advising of the need for “appropriate insurance”.

“The additional accident insurance cost for basic cover is less than a night out on the town for a few beers with your mates each month,” the letter reads.

If it’s that cheap, why does the Government pay it? It has billions for pink batts, so why not a few millions for soldiers risking death in the line of duty?
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Rudd demands Turnbull fix his mess
Andrew Bolt
Annabel Crabb describes Kevin Rudd’s trick neatly:

It’s a pretty nifty trick, this. Distract attention from your own horrific deficit by insisting that the guy who isn’t in charge of it outline how he would fix it. It’s nice work, if you can get away with it.
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What racists?
Andrew Bolt
At last the truth is told, or at least some of it:

The Federation of Indian Students of Australia say they know of 60 serious assaults in Melbourne in a few years. Many go unreported. The police and the State Government have a reference group to talk about the issue and play down race but it’s an open secret around Werribee that attacks are usually racial by local gangs of mixed ethnicity.

But which ethnicity? Why is that not reported?

Previous reports by The Age have merely attacked unspecificed “racists”, feeding a perception that this fits a wider pattern of traditional Australian intolerance. Example:

An Indian student was bashed and robbed by a racist gang in front of passengers on a train home on Saturday, adding his name to a growing list of young Indian victims in Melbourne.

Who are these racists? Well, it would be racist to say - unless, of course, they were just Anglo. Then The Age would go in hard with naming and shaming, and deploring a racist “culture”, like this:

Racism has long had a place in Australian culture. The White Australia policy, which from the 1850s favoured European immigration, was finally buried in the 1970s by the Whitlam government.

But still, the issue has reared its head through different waves of migration. In generations past it has targeted migrants from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Witness the ugliness of the 2005 Cronulla riots, in which young Anglo and Lebanese men clashed.

The fact that these (again unnamed) Indian-bashing racists aren’t Anglo may explain this offensive police strategy to deal with them:

INDIAN students will be taught not to speak loudly in their native tongue or display signs of wealth such as iPods when travelling on trains at night, as part of a strategy to crack down on violent robberies.

A more honest discussion than you’ll find in some papers here and here.
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Has Ridout sold out?
Andrew Bolt
What is the point of access if you have to cut your members’ throats to get it?

UNDER Kevin Rudd, Heather Ridout has transformed the standing of the Australian Industry Group, achieving a level of cabinet access any business lobbyist would yearn for…

Steve Knott, chief executive of the Australian Mines and Metals Association, said there was a perception the AI Group was “more comfortable” working with Mr Rudd than Mr Howard…

“But I’ve got to say as I go around business organisations, and I speak to them on a regular basis, and I talk to CEOs, there’s a general view about that sometimes they have to do a double take—whether it’s a press release or a statement from the Government, or a press release and a statement from AIG.” ...

Now it’s Ms Ridout’s turn to be accused of cosying up to the Government at the expense of the interest of the wider corporate sector. Rival employers say the latest example is her description of this week’s federal budget as “supporting recovery and renewal"…

“She’s been appointed to more reviews and committees that would even make Sir Humphrey Appleby blush. In that context, she is seen as very much involved in the Government, she’s involved in just about every committee and the perception is she’s representing Australian industry....”

Mr Knott pointed to how Ms Ridout had described Labor’s Fair Work Bill as a “workable compromise” before advocating a raft of changes to a Senate committee.

Even more bizarre than Ridout’s backing for workplace laws and a plan for record debts that would hurt employers and cost jobs is her backing of Rudd’s emissions trading system which would also hurt employers and cost jobs.

How on earth could Ridout approve of a scheme so useless and so disastrous to her members? Is she really that keen to hold Rudd’s bags and sit at his table?
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Melbourne Uni’s festival of baaing
Andrew Bolt
Melbourne University announces a festival of ideas - well, of some ideas, and of a particularly stale kind:

Festival Director Dr Patrick McCaughey (BA (Hons) 1966), a former art critic for The Age and former Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Wadsworth Athenaeum in Connecticut and the Yale Museum of British Art, said the festival would explore the impact of climate change well beyond its environmental effects.

Climate change is going to bring massive cultural change and I want to look at how these two things meet. How is it going to change our cities?
Dr McCaughey said the diversity of speakers would ensure a range of thought provoking views were brought to the table. “We don’t want all panellists to come and agree – we want them to disagree and debate what the problems are,” he said.

Oh, really, Patrick? You really want people to “disagree and debate”? It seems instead from your festival web site that you’ve declared the debate over already:

Australia is undeniably on the sharp end of climate change. The implications are serious for its economy and living standards.

And not a single one of the “diversity” of speakers you’ve chosen seem inclined to disagree, or to point out, ahem, that your emperor has no clothes, just as the cold is setting in:

And let’s not even bother pointing out just how preposterously one-sided is the festival’s “debate” over Islam in Australia, to gather from the gaggle of apologists selected.

I admired McCaughey when he was head of the NGV. He seemed an iconoclast and born teacher. Has the intellectual curiosity, daring and elan really been beaten out of him so completely? Has he not retained at least the honesty to concede that speakers who “diasgree and debate” are precisely NOT what he wants or has invited?

Still, what did you expect from a university whose vice-chancellor, Glyn Davis, was so instrumental in stage-managing his friend Kevin Rudd’s 2020 summit of pre-approved ideas of the Left?
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ABC admits: we shouldn’t have flogged Earth Hour
Andrew Bolt
A small victory in the battle against the ABC’s relentless preaching of the global warming clause.

Reader Matthew lodged the following complaint with the ABC in March:

I just heard Robyn Williams asking me to ‘Vote Earth’ for Earth Hour on what sounded suspiciously like free advertising for Earth Hour on Radio National. It was after By Design, and before the news at 3 am this morning. It wasn’t tied to either segment but a seperate advert.

Wouldn’t this go against Section 31 of the ABC act? Or is there another Section allowing presenters to give free advertising their favourite causes?

Two months later he’s received this apology:

Thank you for your email of 24 March. I regret the delay in responding to you.

The broadcast to which you refer was not an advertisement for Earth Hour, as you suggest; rather, it was a Community Service Announcement (CSA) about the event. CSAs are broadcast on the ABC in accordance with the provisions of section 14 of the Editorial Policies, available here: http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm.

Following investigation, the ABC acknowledges that the Earth Hour CSA did not comply with sections 14.1.6(a), 14.1.6(c) and 14.1.6(d) of the Editorial Policies. Please accept the ABC’s sincere apologies for this lapse in editorial policy judgement.

Please be assured, this matter has been raised with ABC management. As a result, I understand the ABC will be reviewing its involvement with Earth Hour in the future, and will also be closely examining its CSA approval processes.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the ABC’s attention.

Yours sincerely

XXXX XXXX
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs

To explain, those cited sections of the ABC’s editorial policies prohibit the broadcast of material likely to compromise the ABC/’s independence, directly promote a political issue and take a position on a contentious issue. How did Robyn ”100 metres” Williams not know his announcements would offend the ABC’s rules on three grounds?

Or his cause greater than the claims of truth - or of the ABC?
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Mini apocalypse now predicted
Andrew Bolt
Even the scaremongers admit the scares have been too scary:

WHILE a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet will have devastating impacts on global sea levels, a study has found the anticipated impact has been seriously overestimated. Using new measures of the ice sheet’s geometry, British and Dutch researchers predict its collapse would cause sea levels to rise by 3.2m, rather than previous estimates of five to seven metres.

But...

But, but, but… But southern sea ice is in fact increasing.
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How independent is Treasury? A test…
Andrew Bolt
John Roskam can’t believe the Budget - and Treasury - claims that the economy will grow by a booming 4 per cent within two years:
Treasury officials are not used to being laughed at on budget night but, as soon as their growth forecasts were revealed, no other reaction was possible.

And he sets Treasury a test to check if its independence is as real as Kevin Rudd insists:

When Rudd embarked on his crusade against neo-liberalism in The Monthly, he was attacking the principles of economic liberalism to which Treasury had adhered to since the 1980s. If Treasury really was independent, as the Prime Minister claims it is, then some sort of response to this assault could have been expected. But no response was forthcoming…

This is ironic given that, not too long ago, (Treasury secretary Ken) Henry was an eloquent defender of neo-liberalism. In a speech to the Sydney Institute in 2005, he listed the reforms of neo-liberalism such as floating the currency, eliminating tariffs, and significantly “deregulation of capital and financial markets”. He said: “It is now widely accepted - not only by commentators but also within the general community - that these policies have been a great success...”

When Henry repeats in 2009 what he said in 2005 we’ll know that Treasury is truly independent.
===
New York Times Fueling War on Religion?
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The liberal media's war against religion is alive and well. A recent front-page story in The New York Times reported on the alleged rise of atheism in America. And, of course, a story like that didn't go unnoticed by Bill Maher.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")

BILL MAHER, HOST: Now, what do you think of the fact that it seems to be a movement that's gaining credibility as of late?

Well, it was on the front page of The New York Times this week in a number of places around the country that you might not think it would be happening, when they put up a billboard that says, "Atheists, please call," you know, there was no complaints. It was just people saying, "Hey, I want to join."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So, is The New York Times and other liberal outlets responsible for pushing an atheist agenda?
(more at the link - ed.)
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Why the ACLU Should Be Condemned
By Bill O'Reilly
President Obama did the right thing Wednesday by listening to his generals and refusing to release evidentiary photos of American military people abusing prisoners. Many of the abusers are now in prison, as our justice system does not permit random violence against captives.

But the ACLU is not satisfied with the convictions. It wants to damage America and put the lives of American service-people overseas in even more danger. That is the truth. The ACLU does not care about these brave men and women at all.

Here's what "Talking Points" said on April 27:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: The ACLU, which sued to get the pictures released, wants to inflame the world against the USA. That, of course, will put our troops and diplomats in even more danger and make it harder for the Obama administration to get cooperation from other countries. Does the president understand that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Well, apparently he does. Mr. Obama did the right thing.

ACLU chief Anthony Romero is the big villain here, but he is not alone. The publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Eddy Hartenstein, saw his paper editorialize for the release of the photos today. And radical-left George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley is making the far-left rounds promoting the release of the pictures. We used to respect Turley, but no longer. He has really gone over to the dark side.

Anyone — anyone — who wants those pictures in the hands of our enemies is no friend to America or to the military, and it is time that clear-thinking people hold the haters responsible. America has more than 200,000 men and women in the field overseas protecting us, and some loons want to hand the enemy inflammatory pictures? No. The lunacy stops here.

A new FOX News poll says a whopping 77 percent of Americans believe the pictures would cause a backlash against American troops.

Once again, the people know the score. Every member of the ACLU is guilty. Every one of them. There is no excuse to support this organization.

Going forward, the Obama administration must take the case to the Supreme Court. Period. No backing down. The president can also issue an executive order in the case, even if the courts continue to do the wrong thing.

Lives are on the line, and this time the enemy is not just the terrorists — it is some of our fellow Americans themselves.
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