Thursday, May 28, 2009

Headlines Thursday 28th May 2009

67 Australians confirmed with swine flu with 'significant' rise expected
Swine flu in Australia is unlikely to be contained, experts warn, with official numbers of infected to blow out from 67 today.

$40m wasted on stimulus payments to dead people, expats
As many as 16,000 dead people and 27,000 expatriate Australians have received a total of $40 million worth of federal government stimulus payments.

Shotguns fired during hold-up in Epping
There are reports shots have been fired during the armed holdup of a Chubb security van at Epping, in Sydney’s north.

Disabled woman's cliff death fall was an accident: coroner
A Coroner has found the death of a disabled woman who fell from a cliff at the Blue Mountains in NSW, was a tragic accident.

Clare Werbeloff may be new presenter on Channel Nine
You may not have seen the last of 'chk-chk boom' girl Clare Werbeloff – with claims Channel Nine is considering giving the Sydney teen an ongoing role on A Current Affair.

Sonny Bill Williams beats Gary Gurr by TKO in second round
Sonny Bill Williams made a perfect - but brief - start to his professional boxing career in Brisbane on Wednesday night, stopping New Zealand's Gary "The Baboon" Gurr in the second round.

US banks turn profit after record loss
America's banks turned a profit in the first quarter, but the number of troubled banks jumped to the highest level in 15 years and tough conditions persist for the industry, the government said on Wednesday.

Chris Brown: I ain't a monster
Crooner Chris Brown has finally broken his silence about his alleged assault of former girlfriend Rihanna, telling fans that he "ain't a monster."
=== Comments ===
Trading our future away with very poor politics
Piers Akerman
CLIMATE Change Minister Penny Wong says the Federal Government is determined “to keep, continue to press forward” on emissions trading legislation because “it is the right thing to do”. - It is disturbing that the government found itself elected on this policy. It was one of the few actual policies which it presented to the electorate. It is called a wedge issue because it differentiates political groupings .. and the politics of the conservative parties have had to address the fact that people voted for this policy. I support Turnbull’s proposals not because I believe in climate change .. I don’t. I support Turnbull’s policies because I believe that a federal conservative government would not make the mistakes of the ALP.
However, the issue should not be this insane wedge, but poor ALP governance. In the wake of Sol Trujillo’s departure, things have been said, and Rudd was observed to wave and give an ‘adios.’ Sol has correctly said that Australia’s future lies in maintaining a presence on the world stage which is commensurate with ‘foreigner’s bringing their expertise here and trading on it. It is wrong to say that Rudd was despising the nationality of Sol. In fact, Rudd was despising the independence of Sol, and Rudd’s wave was a warning to all CEO’s in Australia of what can happen to them if they don’t toe his line. It is the poor governance of the ALP, not their expressed racism and not their failed policy which is the greatest threat to Australia’s future. - ed

===
HOPE, CHANGE, MILLARD
Tim Blair
Rather than use planet-wrecking jets, the Obama administration employs a new way of transporting officials to important carbon talks:
The US has sent a caravan of top officials to Beijing to secure a deal with China.
===
AT LEAST HE DIDN’T BASH THEM
Tim Blair
Lawyers sometimes wonder why they’re held in low public esteem. Perhaps they should consider the arguments offered by Sydney lawyer Clive Steirn in defending a multiple rapist:
Taxi driver Hassan Nagi should not receive a harsh sentence for raping three women as he suffered a condition called “Don Juanism” which made him addicted to sex, his barrister said yesterday.

Clive Steirn SC also urged a District Court judge to spare the sex predator a “crushing” sentence because he never bashed his victims while he was raping them. - Tim masterfully tells this story. I have left much out. Please click on the link - ed.
===
WHITE SUPREMACIST
Tim Blair
One of the world’s greatest minds comes up with one of the world’s greatest ideas:
Steven Chu, the Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by US President Barack Obama as Energy Secretary, wants to paint the world white.

A global initiative to change the colour of roofs, roads and pavements so that they reflect more of the Sun’s light and heat could play a big part in containing global warming, he said yesterday.
It would be interesting to get Chu’s estimate on the percentage of the earth’s surface that is covered by roofs, roads and pavements.
===
One in five? Pigs
Andrew Bolt
Can this be remotely true? From the front page of The Age:
SWINE flu is expected to infect one in five Australians, threatening lives and costing the economy double the price of seasonal flu, authorities said yesterday… Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Rosemary Lester, said the virus could infect 20 per cent of the population, or about four million people.

If 4 million Australians get swine flu, that on its own will be 300 times more than the total number of people around the world who have caught it now:

The WHO said worldwide there are are 13,398 confirmed cases of the flu.

It will be 880 times more people than caught the flu even in Mexico, which has more than five times our population and has been hit hardest by the virus.

Or put it this way: .004 per cent of Mexicans have caught swine flu. But we are being told 20 per cent of Australians may, too.

Really? Let’s see.
===
Save the planet! Bonk a prostitute
Andrew Bolt
When I say that global warming is the first faith led entirely by sinners, I wasn’t thinking about these emissions at all:

The global climate challenge may have been on the daytime agenda during the recent World Business Summit climate conference in Copenhagen, but in the evenings many businessmen, politicians and civil servants are reported to have availed themselves of the capital’s prostitutes.

Exciting work, saving the planet.
===
Rudd runs out of masochists
Andrew Bolt
You’d also wonder what calibre of people do agree to work for him:

ONE of the most prestigious diplomatic jobs in Australia - foreign policy mandarin in the Prime Minister’s Department - has been vacant for months because no one approached so far is willing to take the post, which involves working closely with Kevin Rudd....A former senior foreign affairs official with a close knowledge of the post told The Australian nobody of any seniority wanted the job because of Mr Rudd’s micro-management.

Apologists will say that this micromanagement, a persistent criticism of Rudd from colleagues and public servants, is just a way of running things that can be fixed. In fact, I suspect it’s unfixable because it’s drive by his character - his great fear of failure, and his manic need to control and assert himself.
===
Prove it, Julia
Andrew Bolt
This would be a test worth getting Julia Gillard to sit. She could either prove that fears of her workplace changes are unfounded, or learn that she really is about to make a terrible mistake and put thousands of Australians out of work:

JULIA Gillard is ignoring a request by a cleaning company for her to personally explain how the federal Government’s awards modernisation program will not increase business costs.

South Australian family-owned Longford Cleaning, which employs about 70 permanent part-time and casual staff, yesterday told The Australian the changes could result in it losing up to half its clients when a 25 per cent spike in wage costs is passed on from January 1 .

The Workplace Relations Minister earlier yesterday defended the Government’s new modern awards process, telling ABC radio: ”I could sit and work it all through with (Longford Cleaning) very specifically … with all of the time and wages sheets, to say whether I agree with the calculations or don’t agree with the calculations."…

Longford manager Dominic Gibbie told The Australian yesterday the company would be interested in taking up Ms Gillard’s offer to “sit down and work it all through”. But a spokeswoman for Ms Gillard last night refused to answer specific questions from The Australian, including whether Ms Gillard was prepared to meet the company...

If Gillard is right, what does she have to fear from the test? - Gillard ignored my challenge, and now the situation has arisen in which, as with Mallard in WA, I can never get justice from parliament. I might, possibly, get an ex gratia payment down the track, but my issue is now dead. The result is the family of Hamidur Rahman may never have justice, after the coroner apportioned some blame on them for their son’s death. I have not only lost my career in speaking out on conscience, but I have been threatened and have lost a substantial amount of my superannuation. This is the result of Gillard .. and her IR laws. I have done nothing wrong. - ed.
===
Defence boosted. Rudd says “bang”
Andrew Bolt
Yet more Rudd spin, this time on our defence:

DEFENCE planners have been “deliberately vague” about the nation’s long-term military plans, raising doubts about the affordability of a 20-year build-up of air and naval power, a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has found.

The government-funded, independent institute has released a scathing assessment of the secrecy surrounding the funding plans for the Rudd Government’s defence white paper, saying the “absence of dates and figures cannot be an accident”.

It says this month’s federal budget deferred the benefits of a new funding scheme and “reneged” on a spending promise made only 10 days earlier by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, at the white paper’s launch.

”We risk adopting a defence posture that is more talk than action,” says the report.

I may have noted this myself:

Rudd’s promise this month of the biggest defence build-up since World War II? Not an extra dollar for defence can be found in this Budget, in net terms, over the next four years.

Manana, manana. If promises were tanks, we’d be invincible. And if Rudd ever keeps his, we’ll be even broker than we are.
===
Biden mocks the tele-prompted Pres
Andrew Bolt

Even Joe Biden is laughing at Obama. Or maybe it’s yet more proof that it’s Biden who’s the joke. - Joe Biden is a very clever man. He likes to keep in touch with the American people. To achieve that end he watches every late night comedy program broadcast in the US. Because they have been highlighting the teleprompter issue, Joe made his funny comment. It wasn’t meant to be denigrating of Obama. It is just that Joe is a complex person and sometimes gets lost in the maze. He thinks of things even he can’t figure out. Like global warming. Joe won’t buy a Prius. He can build a caravan. He can walk to China with his caravan. Because, by god, nothing else that the white house has tried in the last few months works. - ed.
===
Green is now a joke
Andrew Bolt

Green has gone from omm to ha ha. America’s ABC presents a new animated sit-com, The Goode Family, which mocks this most earnest new faith of the guilty class.

Of course, the BBC tried more gentle (and I suspect funnier) mockery of such greens three decades ago in The Goode Life, before the green lifestyle became a tiresome religious mission.

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger say the green bubble has burst:

Gestures that were once mundane--bringing your own grocery bags to the store, shopping for secondhand clothes, taking the subway--were suddenly infused with grand significance… What downscalers offered was not a better way to reduce emissions, but rather, a way to reduce guilt. In 2007, we asked environmentalists in focus groups about green consumption. None thought that consuming green would do much of anything to address a huge challenge like global warming. They did it anyway, they said, because it made them feel better… Apocalyptic fears meld seamlessly into utopian hopes. The end of the world is near--unless we heal all that divides us…

(W)hile utopianism has a bright side–it is a way of imagining a better world–it also has a dark side characterized by escapism and a disengagement from reality that marks all bubbles, green or financial…

And then, almost as quickly as it had inflated, the green bubble burst. Between January 2008 and January 2009, the percentage of Americans who told the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press that the environment was a “top priority” dropped from 56 percent to 41 percent.... Whatever romanticized vision of a simpler life that might have existed a year or two ago has largely been replaced by a fearful vision of a life of poverty or, at least, greater insecurity.

UPDATE

But some climate preachers still act like extras on a vicious green-baiting satire:

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment. Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol…

“Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change. Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb.

And:

Steven Chu, the Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by President Obama as Energy Secretary, wants to paint the world white. A global initiative to change the colour of roofs, roads and pavements so that they reflect more sunlight and heat could play a big part in containing global warming, he said yesterday.
===
Useless payment spent uselessly
Andrew Bolt
That’s actually a lot of money, even if it’s now dwarfed by the $315 billion of debt Kevin Rudd is contracting:

THE Rudd Government has wasted $40 million by paying the $900 stimulus bonus to tens of thousands of dead people and expats.

And all of this money is borrowed.
===
Rundle’s licence to hate
Andrew Bolt
Beck is right. Guy Rundle is projecting, not attacking. For a start, he’s having just far too much fun indulging in hate speech that’s simply disgusting. What a hate-filled man.
===
Back us or we’ll take your compo
Andrew Bolt
This is blackmail:

The Rudd government is warning industry it could end up with an inferior assistance package if the emissions trading scheme has to go back to the drawing board.... Greg Combet, the parliament secretary for climate change, ... urged business to consider the ramifications, considering billions of dollars worth of assistance were involved…

“This is something that all industries receiving assistance should think very carefully about when they consider their approach to proposals to delay the scheme,” Mr Combet said.

Grubby and desperate.
===
Smarter than any white colleague on the court
Andrew Bolt
Sonia Sotomayor, Barack Obama’s affirmative action pick for the Supreme Court, reaches a conclusion that proves her conclusion is false:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Not only is this racist and foolish, it fundamentally misunderstands the role of a judge, which is to uphold the law, not pass on the lessons of her personal experiences. Be afraid that Obama finds this fine.
===
Has Oakes lost it?
Andrew Bolt
For Laurie Oakes the biggest story in Canberra today is that Malcolm Turnbull is rich, and should be ashamed of it.

Apparently it’s more shameful to have an Opposition Leader who makes millions than a Prime Minister who blows billions.
===
President Obama vs. Dick Cheney
By Bill O'Reilly
n one of the most important debates in U.S. history, the president and former vice president are lined up against each other on the vital subject of national security. So I am here to give you some no spin perspective. If you hate the president or Mr. Cheney, this analysis is not for you, so don't waste your time.

We begin with President Obama, who believes that after the 9/11 attack the Bush administration compromised some of America's core values, putting the country in even more danger:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight, that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

But isn't Mr. Obama doing the same thing? His left-wing base despises the War on Terror, believing the USA brought much of the Muslim hatred on itself. And while campaigning for the presidency, Mr. Obama gained liberal votes by softening the War on Terror rhetoric.

Then the President got specific:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As commander in chief, I see the intelligence, I bare the responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That is a bit of verbal sleight of hand. By all accounts, enhanced interrogation methods like waterboarding were rarely used. It is the president's opinion, not a fact. They were not necessary.

Mr. Obama continued about the dangers of rough interrogations:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists and increase the will of our enemies to fight us while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

A theory but probably true to some extent. Any aggressive action the USA takes will lead to more terrorists signing up. Does Mr. Obama believe that sending more troops to Afghanistan is not helping Taliban recruitment? Come on, you don't fight a war fearing the enemy will get angrier. You fight to win.

As for U.S. troops being mistreated, everybody knows the terrorists don't need a reason to murder. They do it everyday. On this issue, the president sounds naive.

Mr. Obama then addressed closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Again, the theme of giving terrorists recruitment tools and alienating so-called allies like Spain and other European countries, who are now refusing to help Mr. Obama in Afghanistan. But the president is correct when he states that Gitmo has become a symbol of anti-American feeling. However, closing the prison does not guarantee anything. If you hate America, you'll find other symbols.

President Obama then addressed where the captured terrorists will go:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders. Namely, highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Well here's a bulletin for the world. The detainees are far better off inside Gitmo than they will be inside a supermax American prison. I've been to Gitmo twice. Cooperative detainees have amenities, good food and all the fresh air they want. At a supermax they will be locked down solo because other inmates would kill them. So liberal Americans, including the president, should wise up about that. If I'm a terrorist, I want Gitmo all day long.

More than halfway through his speech, the president changed the tone, beginning with his support for military tribunals:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence gathering. They allow for the safety and security of participants. And for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield, they can not always be effectively presented in federal courts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Mr. Obama is absolutely correct on this. He's also right about the photo controversy:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated, and they have been held accountable. It was my judgment informed by my national security team that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That decision hammers the Obama-haters who believe the president is weak. Left-wing loons desperately want to diminish America with those pictures. The president is standing tall on this one.

By the way, any media that puts out leaked pictures will pay a huge price. Trust me on that.

Finally, the president predicted the future:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I do know with certainty that we can and will defeat Al Qaeda, because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies. And they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Let's pray he's right.

But Dick Cheney is not optimistic. In his reply to the president he began by defining his dissent:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER VP DICK CHENEY: When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Fair enough. Mr. Cheney then listed all the terror attacks leading up to 9/11, pointing out that standard diplomacy did little to blunt the growing problem of Al Qaeda. The historical record proves that, as does North Korea launching missiles over the weekend.

Then Mr. Cheney got pithy about the Bush post-9/11 strategy:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the terrorist surveillance program, which let us intercept calls and contacts between Al Qaeda and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret and for good reason until the editors of The New York Times got it and put it on the front page.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

The former vice president obviously indicting the ultra-liberal newspaper in a major way.

Mr. Cheney then went to the alleged torture deal:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts had failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work, proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. Yet somehow, when the soul searching was done, and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That is Dick Cheney's strongest point. It is impossible for we the people to make a rational decision on interrogation without knowing the full extent of the situation. If President Obama does not release all the information on the subject, he will never win the historical debate.

Mr. Cheney continued pressing his point:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You've heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about his beheading of Daniel Pearl. We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country, things we didn't know about Al Qaeda. We didn't know about Al Qaeda's plans, but Khalid sheik Mohammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we did not think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It is here where Americans must make their own judgment. I've made mine. I would have waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Finally, the former vice president put the president on the spot:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: To completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That is a blunt warning. And if the USA is attacked again, President Obama will hear that echo.

So there you have it. The president believing his strategy will make the world more inclined to help America defeat the terrorists. Dick Cheney believing Mr. Obama is damaging national security.

As always, you make the call. My job is to present the issue in a fair way, and I believe I have.
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