Sunday, May 03, 2009
Headlines Sunday 3rd May 2009
The Chaser war against Vatican wrap
After allegedly flying a blimp over protected airspace above the Vatican, The Chaser team would like to clear their names with the following statement released by Julian Morrow. - Why are those dumb clown fighting the Vatican? -ed
Mobile sext messaging on a rise
The emergence of a disturbing trend among teenagers known as sex-ting has prompted a state wide campaign to warn parents.
80 suspected swine flu cases in Australi
There are 80 people awaiting test results for swine flu in Australia, with no confirmed cases, the federal Health Department says. - Australians have greater chances of being eaten by mice while in government care than dying of swine flu. - ed.
Cancer drugs get $600m budget boost
A number of life-saving cancer drugs will be subsidised by the Federal Government -A government is expected to do that. -ed
Flash floods and a flying caravan
Residents across Sydney's northern and eastern suburbs will spend the morning mopping up the damage from last night's storms. - The NSW Gov't failed to work to prevent such disasters during the boom years. -ed
Unemployment boot camp
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has refused to confirm reports the federal government is......
Dead teenagers 'were in car boot'
TWO teenage boys are dead and four critical after their packed car hit another vehicle and caught on fire, trapping them inside.
$100 billion hole in Federal budget
FEDERAL Government revenue down by more than $100 billion because of the global financial crisis, Wayne Swan says.
Australian anti-flu drugs are out of date
THE Government needs to replace 1.9m doses of flu vaccine.
Children lament Rudd debt legacy
WATCHING members of the Rudd government evade questions at press conferences is like watching blowflies in their erratic flight. - To give Rudd his credit, his decisiveness can be seen in the Swine Flu crisis. In Sydney, Trains can stop without even a moment’s notice. Power might be cut. Hospitals have practiced staff used to being overwhelmed. Ferries have no problems in running for vast lengths of time without passengers. Police know what to do if the emergency infrastructure fails.
As Bolt points out, a pensioner has greater likelihood in Australia of being eaten by mice than dying of Swine flu.
Those stimulus payments will come in handy as people follow government advice and stock up to three weeks of food in case of an emergency.
Yet if we choose to panic, we can rest assured that we are following Rudd’s advice there too. Everything Rudd looks at is in crisis. From Defense reserves through to school resources. It was a Top Gear tv show host who pointed out that other world leaders try to claim things are better than they seem .. Rudd is the reverse of that. On that point alone, I think Rudd is correct. Since Rudd’s election, everything is worse. - ed.
Swine flu has killed more people than have been killed by global warming. Which is to say, more than none.
RUDD SQUAD UPSET
Self-censorship observed within the Australian media:
When Kevin Rudd’s angry outburst to an airline hostess was published last month, marring the Prime Minister’s trip to the London G20 summit, there was grumbling among travelling Australian parliamentary journalists who had heard the bad temper stories but hadn’t checked or reported them.
Usually politicians complain about unflattering stories. In this case, the complaints came from other journalists. Interesting.
HOLE RIPPED IN NARRATIVE
The global warming debate heats up as Australia cools:
A cold weather outbreak this week broke records across the southeast …
Like everything else in Australia, this colding is probably caused by warming. It’s making more Arctic ice, too.
Lively times of late for Sydney’s former men of no appearance:
Hilel Merhi was a loud-mouthed young man with a penchant for extreme violence.
Armed with a pistol, he had robbed liquor and video stores and petrol stations, and had his driver’s licence disqualified because he was a danger on the roads.
Hilel has since been disqualified from the Australian Society of People With Heartbeats. Meanwhile:
Police are seeking help in relation to an armed robbery at a Liverpool convenience store on April 14 …
The offender threatened the assistant with a knife before clearing out the register.
The man is described as Middle Eastern in appearance …
Only a knife? Time to upgrade:
The police bomb squad is assessing suspicious items at a unit in Sydney’s south where officers have found an arsenal of weapons, including a ‘tommy’ sub-machine gun and an AK-47 …
Detectives from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad arrested a 20-year-old man at a cafe on Kent Street in Sydney’s CBD.
No arrests yet following knife attacks on taxi drivers:
The first man produced a knife and threatened the driver, demanding money. The driver gave the man cash and his mobile phone before the second man entered the vehicle and stole coins and a global position system navigator.
The armed man then slashed the driver across his face, from the bridge of his nose, across his upper right eyelid and to his right temple, leaving a deep wound …
The first man is described as Middle Eastern/Mediterranean in appearance … The second man is described as Middle Eastern/Mediterranean in appearance …
Same deal in Campsie. Perhaps a meeting of community leaders might help. Then again, maybe not:
A meeting of ethnic community leaders in Sydney ended in a shouting match today after heated debate over whether police should be able to use ethnic descriptions of criminals.
A poor little Australian jihadist isn’t allowed to go on a jihadi holiday:
“This is just a nightmare that I hope I’m going to wake up from one day and find it’s not true.”
The Joe(k) speaks
They were right: Americans at the last election could have chosen as vice president a stupid, shoot-from-the-hip, blunder-prone klutz.
Something about Palin’s most recent TV appearance, and her couch, tells me she’s a lot less likely to panic than Jumpy Joe.
Brendan Nelson should quit again
Nine MSN asks:
Is it time for Brendan Nelson to step down as leader?
I’m confused. Do the “Nos” want him back, or think he’s gone?
First if was ”do you know who I am?” Now it’s “do you know where I live?”:
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd could face pressure to sack one of his Queensland frontbenchers after revelations that she has been living with her partner in Canberra for more than a year while claiming travel allowance payments of $13,000 tax-free.
Senator Jan McLucas, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, lists her home base as Cairns, but official parliamentary records show that between January 1 and June 30 last year she spent 144 nights out of 180 in Canberra.
That compared with only 24 nights spent in Cairns, according to latest available figures.
US retreats, terrorists advance
Has Barack Obama unleashed more violence by promising to pull out too fast?
The U.S. death toll for April rose to 18, the military said Friday, making it the deadliest in seven months for American forces in Iraq. The sharp increase from the previous month came as a series of bombings also pushed Iraqi deaths to their highest level this year.... Most of the recent violence has targeted Iraqis since the Americans have begun pulling back from inner-city outposts in preparation for a withdrawal from urban areas by the end of June.
Let’s pray the new president does not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Genuflecting on a sinning writer’s behalf
There’s one aspect of cutting debt and going small that Lisa Pryor’s column fails to mention. So a righteous sub-editor decides to at least include it in the headline:
Small is beautiful … and cheap, economic and environmentally aware
This may surprise Pryor, who actually writes that the attraction of going small is this:
...less debt means eating out and overseas travel are still possibilities.
The art of hit and run
First the cheap and nasty vilification:
THE State Library of Victoria has outraged politicians and Jewish groups by spending taxpayers’ money on an artwork depicting Jeff Kennett surrounded by Nazi imagery. Do I Pass Muster? by Australian artist Juan Davila shows the former Victorian premier as a cow surrounded by swastika-shaped trees.
Then the cheaper and nastier “who, me?”:
But the State Library hit back, with spokesman Matthew Van Hasselt bizarrely saying there was no evidence the artist meant the trees to be swastikas - even though the exhibition’s program notes said the trees are “shaped into swastikas”.
“People are free to interpret it any way they like,” he said. “They could just be cacti.”
But when Age admirers come to call, there’s no such doubt:
Davila’s views could not be more plain… Note the swastika.
Andrew Landeryou gives the history of Davila’s beef with Kennett, and sums up the work’s merit well. Go to the link for a more complete view of the “art”.
Rudd declares war on maths
Estimated cost of Kevin Rudd’s promised defence building over the next three decades: $300 billion.
Question: how to pay for it?
The Defence Department is expected to find savings of $20 billion to pay for an expanded arsenal of submarines, destroyers, helicopters, fighter jets and armoured vehicles. The current annual budget is $22 billion...
Um, aren’t there two obvious problems in the maths here?
Any attempt at a sensible answer must start with this concession: Rudd is making huge promises that he won’t have to implement. It’s future governments that must find his cash.
The Left and violence, snobbery and hypocrisy
I’ll ask again:
May Day protesters clashed with riot police in Germany, Turkey and Greece on Friday while thousands angry at the government’s responses to the global financial crisis took to the streets in France.
What is it with the Left and violence?
And what is it with the Left and vomitously vindictive snobbery?
Don’t gay activists like this one, who have demanded respect for so long, realise how much they trash their cause by this kind of sniggering, personal, cruel and demeaning abuse of a woman who simply dares to say, as Miss California did last week, that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman? Where’s the respect for difference now?
And what is it with the Left and hypocrisy?
Don’t feminists like this one realise how much they trash their cause when they mock the looks of a woman whose realise “mistake” was to disagree with them on gay marriage? How dare this one smirk that what “(Carrie) Prejean needs is a heart transplant rather than the breast implants”?
How foul. The underlying hpocrisy and the snobbery both are underlined by this fact: On gay marriage, Prejean’s views are almost word for word those of President Barack Obama.
So does Obama have buttock fat for brains? Does Obama need a heart transplant? Does Obama get two minutes of sniggering, smirking, mewling abuse of his looks and brainlessness on television, too?
Why not? Why the difference?
Cough, and the world’s policeman shakes
Who guards when the guards tremble so?
Interpol sends its regrets:
Subject: 21st Meeting of the Standing Committee on Disaster Victim Identification: Lyon, 18-20 May 2009
We regret to inform you of the postponement of the 21st Meeting of the Standing Committee on Disaster Victim Identification, scheduled for 18 to 20 May 2009.
The INTERPOL General Secretariat is currently dedicating its resources to closely monitoring and providing whatever support our 187 member countries may require concerning the recent outbreak of the swine flu epidemic. No one is certain what will happen over the next several days or weeks; however, as the only global police organization with worldwide responsibility, we must prepare for a potentially worse case scenario while hoping that it will not occur.
Peter Juel Thiis Knudsen, Deputy Chief Forensic Pathologist in Denmark’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, sends his scorn:
According to the medical authorities in Denmark the flu A H1N1 (which does not affect swine, but only humans) is a comparatively mild disease and it does not AT THE MOMENT appear to be more contagious than the usual flu that we see every year. We have 500-1000 deaths a year in Denmark from various versions of flu.
If such a disease can flatten INTERPOL I fear for the day when we have a real emergency.
Bureau sees warming when it squints
The Bureau of Meteorology has long been in the alarmist camp. But how closely can its claims withstand scrutiny, and how much is it disposed to assume the worst?
THE Bureau of Metereology has backed down from a claim that temperatures at Australia’s three bases in Antarctica have been warming over the past three decades…
The Weekend Australian reported last month a claim by Bureau of Metereology senior climatologist Andrew Watkins that monitoring at Australia’s Antarctic bases since the 1950s indicated temperatures were rising. A study was then published by the British Antarctic Survey that concluded the ozone hole was responsible for the cooling and expansion of sea ice around much of the continent.
The head of the study project, John Turner, said at the time that the section of Antarctica that included the Australian bases was among the areas that had cooled…
Dr Watkins (now) admitted that analysis of the (BoM) data might show “an ozone-induced cooling trend in the latter half of the record”—a reference to the past three decades.
Dr Watkins declined to release the temperature data to The Weekend Australian. He said it had still to be fully analysed by the bureau.
Turnbull says no to China
Malcolm Turnbull says no to the proposed Chinalco investment in Rio Tinto, now awaiting the Rudd Government’s approval:
This will give Chinalco, and hence the Chinese government, the seat of greatest influence and access to information about production, costs, pricing and marketing strategies of our second largest resource company…
I have three major concerns about acquisitions of this kind. First, there is the matter of state owned enterprises… In China the chief executive and senior executives of the major SOEs two or three rungs or below are appointed directly by the Central Organisation Department of the Communist Party… The deal therefore is, for all practical purposes, between Rio and the Government of China itself.
Second, there is the matter of conflict of interest. It is obvious that there are concerns with a major purchaser of our commodities acquiring a position of considerable influence and access to information in the operations of a leading producer of those same commodities.
Third, there is the matter of mutuality. There is no prospect that an Australian or any foreign company would be able to acquire a stake of this kind in a major Chinese resource company – not least because they are all state owned.
Turnbull also criticises - with great reason - Kevin Rudd’s erratic foreign policy, that has dismayed Japan and had Rudd both seen as China apologist but also as a man too scared of seeming so to even sit next to a Chinese ambassador.
But one of the most interesting insights in his speech is this:
I spent some years of my business life pursuing mining ventures in China… On one occasion, I was spending a lot of time in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province, discussing gold mining joint ventures with the local geological bureau, which had of course access to all the relevant geological data.
The Director of the Bureau and I had been looking closely at some deposits in the hills behind Dalian when he said we should jointly develop the Paishanlou gold deposit.
I told him I had seen the then Premier, Li Peng, sign a joint venture to develop that deposit with the largest gold mining company in the world, Barrick Gold Corporation, in Beijing and in the presence of the Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney.
The Director said, yes, that had been done. But the people in Beijing had cut him out of the deal – and so he had refused to give them any of the data.
How do you get away with that? I asked.
“Shan gao huangdi yuan” he replied “The mountain is high and the emperor is far away.”
I stayed out of that one – but I also noted some time later, Barrick pulled out of the deal complaining they couldn’t get the data and the Liaoning Geological Bureau developed the mine themselves, opening it in 1998.
Is the scholar better than the Manne?
Professor Robert Manne, Australia’s “most influential public intellectual’’, has campaigned for the removal of conservative opinion from the ABC and, in the global warming debate, from The Australian. In fact, he dreamed of ”an end‘’ to “the culture war” now that Kevin Rudd is in power - a war in which Manne has distinguished himself by repeatedly sliming as immoral those who dared to expose his “facts” as ”fictions”.
So notoriously censorious, personal and sensitive is he considered in debate that one ABC producer begged me to come on radio with him to debate yet another wild anti-Howard diatribe he’d produced (one of his typical pack-attacks by fellow essayists of the group-think Left) because “no one else wanted to”.
So it is not surprising in the slightest to see Manne involved as chairman of the editorial board of the The Monthly in the spiteful sacking of editor Sally Warhaft, despite her adamantine Leftist credentials. And it’s even less surprising to now read this from former Warhaft partner and Monthly contributor Gideon Haigh:
I do know the atmosphere (at the magazine) soured after Sally appeared on the ABC’s Q&A a month later. While on air she offered to publish an article by fellow panellist Peter Costello — only to find that her chairman would sooner die in a ditch than let this happen.
When the idea was discussed at the last, very tense, editorial board meeting, Manne stated weightily that The Monthly was a “social democrat” magazine. “I thought we were independent,” Sally replied.
Given all this, the questions I have include the following:
Is it not sadly true that Manne, voted our “most influential intellectual” by his peers in a Sydney Morning Herald poll, personifies a fundamental characteristic and fundamental flaw of our intelligentsia - a hostility to debate and a punitive insistence on group think?
Will Manne’s former admirers of the Left (a fast-growing group) now wonder whether this characteristic and this flaw actually mar Manne’s scholarship itself? Will they now reassess his work on the “stolen generations” that they once took on trust - work marked by bombastic moralising and vituperative denunciations of critics, yet so lacking in proofs that to this day Manne has been unable to name even 10 of the 25,000 children he falsely claimed were stolen from their parents just because they were black, in a racist plot to destroy Aboriginality?
Torture even in the “ticking time bomb” scenario may still be morally indefensible, but can opponents at least quit using the deceitful argument that it won’t save lives? Charles Krauthammer on waterboarding, which the CIA used on three senior al Qaeda terrorists:
Did it work? The current evidence is fairly compelling. George Tenet said that the “enhanced interrogation” program alone yielded more information than everything gotten from “the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together.”
Michael Hayden, CIA director after waterboarding had been discontinued, writes (with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey) that “as late as 2006 ... fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Even Dennis Blair, Obama’s director of national intelligence, concurs that these interrogations yielded “high value information.” So much for the lazy, mindless assertion that torture never works.
Asserts Blair’s predecessor, Mike McConnell, ”We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”
Wonder if any of those people vilify Bush as a torturer?
What the Media Missed About Arlen Specter’s Switch and Reagan’s Big Tent
By Mark Joseph
In all of the punditry that has accompanied Arlen Specter’s departure from the Republican party, none is more curious — or inaccurate — than the assertion that this housecleaning of liberal Republicans from the party is somehow a departure from Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of having a “big-tent” party, i.e.: a party where many would be made to feel comfortable even if they weren’t always in agreement on every issue.
Reagan had once famously articulated an inclusive philosophy that welcomed all to his party and he was fond of saying things like “somebody who agrees with you 80% of the time is an 80% friend not a 20% enemy.” But his inclusiveness had its limitations. Reagan’s contempt for the Rockefeller wing (what would today be called moderate or liberal Republicans) of the GOP was legendary and the feeling was mutual.
So what should the GOP learn from Reagan’s big tent philosophy?
When Reagan took over the levers of power at the GOP convention in Detroit one of the first things he did was force his will onto the GOP platform on issues like abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Those GOP forces who today misquote Reagan and have misunderstood Reagan’s idea of a big-tent need look no further than Mary Dent Crisp, once a prominent leader in the Republican party, who in 1977 was appointed its co-chair.
Although Crisp had been a Republican longer than Reagan and had worked her way up the ladder of party leadership, Reagan was now defining what the party stood for and Crisp was outraged at the party’s new values on abortion and the ERA.
“Although our party has presented the outward appearance of vibrant health, I’m afraid we are suffering from serious internal sickness,” she said during platform committee meetings in 1980. “Now we are . . . about to bury the rights of over 100 million American women under a heap of platitudes.”
The next day Reagan showcased his big-tent philosophy, telling reporters that Crisp “should look to herself and see how loyal she’s been to the Republican Party for quite some time.”
Crisp got the message, left the convention and signed on with the third party candidacy of a more moderate/liberal Republican named John Anderson.
So what should the GOP learn from Reagan’s big tent philosophy?
First, he did indeed have a big tent, especially in 1984, which allowed 59% of the electorate to vote for him, but it was a tent of Reagan’s design in which those who disagreed with him had little say about how the tent was constructed, but were welcome to stay anyway. Pro-choice women were welcomed into the tent as voters so long as they didn’t try to change the party’s position on the issue of abortion, one which Reagan held dearly enough to have written a book about while still in office. Union members were courted by Reagan, so long as they didn’t mind Reagan’s tough policies toward organizing which included his firing of striking air traffic controllers and eventually came to be known as “Reagan Democrats.” Those jittery over Reagan’s bellicose statements on foreign policy were also welcomed, provided they could live with his tough posture toward communism. And even Rockefeller Republicans were allowed to stay in the tent so long as they realized that they were joining his party and not the other way around, that while they would be horrified by the new boss’s position on social issues for instance, they’d find something to cheer about in his tax cuts.
Reagan’s big tent also included some unsavory characters on the extreme right. While disavowing any connection to the John Birch Society, accused by some of having racist tendencies, Reagan invited its members into his big tent saying that if members supported him it was in indication that he had ”persuaded them to accept my philosophy, not me accepting theirs.”
In contrast, Reagan considered members of what has derisively come to be known as “the religious right” as not a fringe group to be courted, but a foundational element of the big tent he constructed. Meeting with Christian leaders in 1980, he famously declared “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you,” and made sure that platform committees that were to decide party policy were heavily stacked in their favor.
In Reagan’s big tent, the likes of Arlen Specter would always have been welcomed, so long as they were willing to go along with Reagan, but the moment they stood in the way, as Mary Dent Crisp did, and sought to assert their policies on his vision for the party, they were shown the door. Today, the big tent that Reagan stitched together is in disarray, but if its leaders are to return from political oblivion, they’d do well to remember how Reagan went about constructing the tent and the philosophy that swept him, and two weak Republican successors who rode his political coattails into the White House, and build a tent which stands for key principles, yet never fails to welcome those who disagree, as honored guests.