Budget hard-sell begins
Treasurer Wayne Swan and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd are out selling their nation-building budget to the public this morning.
Tough? ‘It’s a pussycat of a budget’
The so-called tough federal budget has been dismissed as a pussycat approach to the global economic downturn.
Cop critical after Kings Cross assault
A police officer is fighting for her life after being found by colleagues with critical head injuries in a Kings Cross bus stop.
We may have delivered surplus: Turnbull
A coalition government might have delivered a budget with a small deficit, or even a surplus, according to Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says.
Homeopath's baby in "severe pain" at SCH
A malnourished baby with a severe skin condition squealed in distress every time she was touched by hospital emergency staff, a jury has been told.
Swan talked tough but didn't deliver: Hockey
The federal government has no plan to get Australia out of its spending rut, the coalition says.
Infertile women lose out in budget
Infertile women and private health insurance policy holders are the big losers in the federal health budget.
Rudd welcomes rating agencies' budget approval
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has welcomed the three major ratings agencies' approval of the federal budget.
Matthew Johns faces Nine boss, could be stood down today
Matthew Johns could be stood down by Channel Nine today over the group sex scandal that has dominated headlines, with the former league star and Footy Show personality meeting with the network’s boss this morning.
Sharks 'knocked back $10m Gosford offer'
Former Cronulla football manager Theo Burgess says the embattled NRL club knocked back a $10 million offer to relocate to Gosford in 2005.
Miss California keeps title despite pics
Miss California was told Tuesday she can keep her state crown despite the release of semi-naked photos.
=== Leaks and Tips ===
Has Everyone Given Up?
By Greta Van Susteren
Transparency or Dodging? You tell me…
Will the White House release ALL the pictures taken from the AF 1 fly over Manhattan? or not? Remember, that trip cost you $328,000 so you ought to see what you paid for. They could at least put on the White House Web site, right?
The White House released ONE picture and I would bet my right arm that more pics than one were taken [...]
Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
Dick Cheney speaks out on the hot-button issues!
From Obama's new economic policy to interrogation tactics and getting the GOP back on track!
The former vice president sits down with Neil!
The O'Reilly Factor
Are Obama and Clinton being fooled by terrorist propaganda tactics? It's a 'Factor' investigation!
Plus, "Gay marriage" is making headlines, but could "TRIAD Marriages" be next?
=== Comments ===
Peter Costello accuses Wayne Swan of political desperation
FORMER treasurer Peter Costello has accused Wayne Swan of political desperation, angrily rejecting his claim that the Howard government loaded the federal budget with unsustainable spending.
Mr Costello defended his record in government, saying he had paid off $100 billion in Labor debt only to see Mr Swan plan to reborrow it twice over, creating debts that would take 20 years to repay.
On Sunday Mr Swan told The Australian his preparations for today's 2009-10 budget had been challenged not only by the global recession, but also by the unsustainable spending of former prime minister John Howard.
Mr Swan, who will use today's budget to attack middle-class welfare, said Mr Howard had behaved as though the mining boom would never end.
"As a consequence of those unsustainable habits which developed at the top of the boom, and given the nature of the global recession and the unwinding of the mining boom, everybody will have to do their bit to put the budget on a more sustainable footing," Mr Swan said.
Mr Swan's comments, providing a glimpse of Labor's political strategy in the promotion of its budget, sparked an angry response from Mr Costello, who ran the Treasury from 1996 to 2007.
"This is the desperation derby," Mr Costello told The Australian last night.
"What I find extraordinary is (that) if there was all this unsustainable spending, why didn't he (Mr Swan) cut it in the last budget? Apparently last year he didn't think this was unsustainable and made no effort in relation to it at all," Mr Costello said.
"He has invented this in response to the fact that he has careered the budget into deficit."
Since handing down last year's budget, Mr Swan had committed to spend another $100 billion on economic stimulus packages and a national broadband network.
"This bloke has added $100billion to spending and then said it was unsustainable to start with," Mr Costello said.
Earlier, he told Melbourne radio station 3AW he had reined in spending as treasurer.
"Over a period of 10 years I actually eliminated commonwealth debt," he said. "We paid back over $100 billion. And the great tragedy ... is that they will have reborrowed the lot. In fact they will have reborrowed probably double."
Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said Mr Swan had said on April 23 that Mr Costello and Mr Howard had left him with a strong budget surplus.
"Yet only on Sunday he tried to spin a different angle," Mr Hockey said. "I hope these guys are putting as much time into public policy as they are into spin."
Kevin Rudd last night said the Howard-Costello legacy was one of wasted opportunities. He said the previous government had failed to apply the benefits of the mining boom to infrastructure or nation building.
Swan is the bogeyman of this fiscal fairytale
WALLOWING in self-pity, blaming everyone but itself for the financial woes of the nation, the Rudd Government has drifted into fiscal fantasy. - Truly this government owes this nation a debt that can never be repaid - ed.
Ove’s latest big scare
I heard this very scary story on the ABC, too:
Southeast Asia’s biologically diverse coral reefs will disappear by the end of this century, wiping out coastal economies and sparking civil unrest if climate change isn’t addressed, conservation group WWF said on Wednesday.
The Coral Triangle, a reef network that spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor, has more than 76 percent of the world’s reef-building coral species and 35 percent of its coral reef fish species.
However, a new report commissioned by the WWF warned that much of this reef is doomed unless developed countries cut carbon emissions to 40 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2020 ...
And already I’d guessed the report’s author from that tell-tale alarmism. Why, yes, it’s my old friend:
...Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the report’s author and a marine expert at the University of Queensland
Any chance that his latest predictions will be better than his past ones? And couldn’t the ABC reporter or this Reuters one have mentioned his form for predicting far, far worse than what actually turns out?
And any guess why the WWF chose Ove, above all the coral experts in the world, to do its research?
Neither the NSW Government nor James Packer believe CSIRO claims that global warming could strip Australia’s ski resorts of half their snow by 2050:
AN agreement struck between James Packer’s private company and the NSW Government will clear the way for a new $112 million village - incorporating shops, accommodation and skier facilities - to be built in what is now the Perisher Blue ski resort’s car park.
But the thou-shallt-not warming extremists advance on a Flanders field:
The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.
Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals… The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent’s declaration of a weekly “veggie day”.
“Well I think Australia is better placed than nearly any other economy around the world going into this international downturn, after all we had no net federal debt, we had a Budget which was strongly in surplus, we had historically low unemployment. So we were better placed than practically any other country around the world. Where this Budget falls down of course is if it is only going to be a mild contraction ½ per cent why have we got the greatest Budget deficit in Australian history? Why have we got such a rapid accumulation of federal debt? Now it’s either going to be a mild contraction and our fiscal position should be much, much stronger or the fiscal position is telling you that the contraction is going to be much, much greater. But it’s I think a Budget of spin. What they have tried to do is they have tried to spin the forecast to try and fit the story rather than fit actuality."
Peter Costello with Karen Tso - Squawk Australia, CNBC May 13, 2009.
Why this one faith?
Hawaii has no “Christian Day”, “Jewish Day”, “Hindu Day” or “Mormon Day”. In fact, you have to go “a long way down on the list of most popular faiths on the islands before you get to the one that deserves the singular honor of official recognition and respect:
The difference is the Pope is too civilised
Gerard Henderson was almost amused by the Chaser’s latest taxpayer-funded stunt:
The Chaser’s executive producer, and comedian Craig Reucassel decided to fly a helium-filled blimp at the front of St Peter’s Square, close to St Peter’s Basilica. The blimp was flown in Vatican City airspace which, for obvious security reasons, is a restricted zone… Apparently the blimp contained a rude message for Pope Benedict XVI (no surprise here) and the stunt will be shown in the new Chaser series which is an ABC co-production.
Yet Henderson wonders if the stunt lacked that certain something - bravery? originality? a point? - and suggests a few tweaks to the concept to make it truly worth applauding:
1. Put a rude message about the Prophet on a blimp and fly it over the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
2. Put a disrespectful comment about the God Ram on a blimp, fly it over the Tirupati Balaji Temple in India and wait around and see how the radical Hindus react.
3. Place a mock cartoon of Guru Nanak on a blimp, fly it over the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, and see how angry the Sikhs become.
4. Put a “Free Tibet” message on a blimp and fly it over Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Talk about your feelings with China’s secret police.
5. Pretend to have a leak on the Kremlin Wall in Moscow, right near Vladimir Lenin’s Tomb. Try telling the Moscow police that you are a Lenin-hater and are merely engaging in a “piss-before-you-diss” routine.
But what are the odds that the ABC would back any of those suggestions the way it backed the mockery of the Pope:
The Chaser shoot was approved by ABC TV. No one has yet been charged and anyone who is charged will have our full support.
Budget: comment roundup
Treasury and its official sibling, the Reserve Bank, have fallen out big-time over their forecasts for the economy. The Treasury ones in the Budget are far more optimistic than those from the RBA in its Monetary Policy Statement just last week…
Simply, if the RBA is right or ‘righter’, the Budget will slide deeper into the red. And the RBA could be lifting interest rates into a relatively sluggish economy. Instead of exiting deficits in 2015-16 - and so entering the first possible year for a tax cut - we would still be in deficit. And in deficit despite a carbon tax which could be raising $20 billion a year or more by then.
There are three critical differences in the forecasts. The strength of recovery, the timing of recovery, and the risk and indeed likelihood of threatening inflation…
Treasury projects the economy to really roar in those ‘out years’. With GDP accelerating by 4.5 per cent in both 2011-12 and 2012-13. After picking up pace, to 2.25 per cent in 2010-11. This will - would - feed into inflation pressures.
The RBA is much more sombre over the next year or so. It appears to see a bigger negative - a slightly deeper recession. And not quite the subsequent Treasury surge. Is it because it sees itself forced to earlier action - to hike - interest rates?
The world faces its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression but Wayne Swan is a convinced optimist who has produced a budget for optimists. If Australia survives the current global recession delivering only the modest savings identified yesterday, then miracle will be a better label.
THESE are the budget cuts that won’t bark… (T)he extra Government spending for 2009-10 is $34.5 billion. So the savings of $2.5 billion do not touch the sides.
In the following year, 2010-11, when the economy is meant to be growing again, the budget will add $11.6 billion in spending on top of $12.7 billion in previous stimulus for a total of $24.3 billion. This pump priming will be offset by $5.6 billion in savings.
The budget projects growth to be 4.5 per cent in the latter years. It also makes the assumption that spending can be tightly contained in the future. The international economy is an unknown; the growth projection optimistic and the spending promise may be heroic.
And despite all Mr Rudds claims of inclusiveness ahead of his victory, he showed yesterday that self-starters who work that little bit harder to get ahead will ultimately be punished.
The Rudd Government has responded to the recession like a lion, but the budget reveals that it is retreating from it like a lamb. The Government loves to tell us that it was “early and decisive” in splurging taxpayers’ money to ward off recession. True. And now we see that it plans to be slow and timid in bringing the budget back under control again…
Last night’s budget projects that in a decade from now, the Federal Government will still have net debt of 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product as a result of the money it is spending today. In today’s terms, that is about $40 billion, the size of the entire economy of Lebanon. This is extraordinary. It marks this as a frightened government.
Annabel Crabb on the first Treasurer to not mention the Budget bottom line in his speech:
Later, when asked by a journalist to name the projected national debt figure, Swan blankly refused to do so, first advising the journo to consult a Treasury official, then telling him “it’s all in the tables”.
Rudd comes badly unstuck on 3AW. He quotes in his support Standard & Poor’s assessment that Australia’s debt will be below the average of other developed countries and is no threat to our triple A rating. Neil Mitchell asks why he didn’t quote instead this assessment of rival credit agency Moody’s:
The Australian government’s flexibility in trying to return to a surplus will be constrained by higher interest costs.
Rudd had no answer, and started to blather.
THIS is a big-spending budget. On any definition. It sets records for government spending as a share of the economy. It adds $35 billion of spending over the next four years, even on top of what Kevin and Wayne handed out in their previous stimulus packages. So why doesn’t it feel like a big-spending budget?
A graphic on-line tutorial on the Budget and Rudd’s debt by shadow treasurer Joe Hockey. An interesting use of the new technology. Fast work, too - and an important message.
Professor Sinclair Davidson:
Swan keeps going on about ... the collapse in revenue and the greatest recession since the Great Depression. That is just bullshit! Australia is not experiencing the greatest recession since the Great Depression, nor does Treasury forecast such a thing. Unemployment is now 5.4 percent - the same level as in September/October 2004 and only slightly higher than at the 2004 election. There was a budget surplus then. The government is forecasting a decline in revenue, yet at the same time is forecasting a return to above trend economic growth. So how does that work?
When Wayne Swan says it will be seven years before the budget is back into balance you know he means he can never achieve this. Still less can he build the surpluses to pay back the hundreds of billions of dollars of debt budget deficits will accumulate in the interim… The problem is that the demand injection comes either from creating money or from borrowing. In the first case it will end up with inflation, perhaps galloping inflation. In the second case it will siphon off savings that would otherwise be used for investment… Hence fiscal deficits will undermine a recovery (and) perhaps, as was seen in Japan in the 1990s and US in the 1930s, totally prevent it occurring.
Is the T shirt Kevin 57 out yet? (UPDATE: Done!)
THE Coalition’s odds of winning the next election have been slashed after bookmaker Centrebet described today’s federal Budget as a “journey into Neverland”. The Coalition’s odds were cut to a $2.42 from $2.85, while Labor widened to $1.55 from $1.40.
Cuts for thee, but not for me
Cuts for you, but not for Rudd and his spinning. From the Budget papers:
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet — additional funding
The Government will provide additional funding of $7.2 million over four years to enable the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to sustain its role as a central policy agency and support the Government’s program delivery…
Community Cabinet — enhancement…
The Government will provide an additional $4.2 million over four years to enhance the Community Cabinet program and further direct engagement with the general community…
Of course, Rudd looks after Labor’s allies, too:
The ABC will be given $136.4 million in new funding over the next three years to develop an advertising-free digital children’s channel and increase output of Australian content.... SBS will also receive an additional $20 million in funding over three years to provide up to 50 hours of new Australian content annually…
No time in the Monthly for Costello
Peter Costello is (not really) apologetic for his role in Sally Warhaft’s sacking as editor of The Monthly over her offer to publish a Costello essay:
Warhaft had published an essay under the name of Kevin Rudd, which argued that capitalism had failed and it was up to social democrats, such as Rudd, to fix it. On Q&A, Warhaft and I were asked our views about the essay. The host, Tony Jones, then asked Warhaft if she would publish an essay by me on the subject…
What should she have said that night — “No, we won’t publish Costello because we disagree with his view”? You can imagine how that would have gone down. Even to an ABC audience largely hostile to conservative views, it would have been embarrassing to admit such intolerance.
What if Warhaft had (truthfully) said, “I am happy to publish Peter Costello, but Morry Schwartz and Robert Manne won’t allow it”? It’s likely Warhaft’s editorial career would have ended earlier.
So what was Warhaft to do? She could have exposed the magazine as one that doesn’t allow competing debate or she could have maintained it was open and tolerant and hope the owner and the board would back her at a later date. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Meet our new human rights judges
There’s some good news - and plenty bad - about the United Nations’ most shamefully hypocritical body:
The United States Tuesday was elected, along with China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, to the UN Human Rights Council, a body shunned by the previous US administration for harbouring notorious rights violators.
Such is the moral inversion of the times, that The Age gets Jeff Sparrow, who has been an activist for the pro-tyranny International Socialist Organisation and then Socialist Alternative, to draw an analogy between America’s waterboarding of three known al Qaeda terrorists to the Nazi’s extermination of six million Jewish men, women and children.
Naturally, Sparrow is also an academic. Also naturally, the magazine he edits is the recipient of many grants from our capitalist governments and their agencies.
Rudd bets your future on manana
THIS Budget is classic Kevin Rudd. Spin, populism, bold predictions and even bolder promises that he won’t even try to keep until manana.
But now there’s a difference. Now the bills are just starting to come in. And the trust in this merchant of spin must surely start to run out.
That includes trust in his predictions that recovery will soon rescue us from this debt he’s hanging around our necks.
Next year the Budget deficit will soar to a record $58 billion. The year after, it’s another $57 billion. The year after, if we’re lucky, it’s $44 billion. The year after . . .
And does Rudd offer a way out from under this mountain of debt, sure to make our recovery so much harder?
Well, add “solution” to Rudd’s manana, too.
What a list that to-do-manana now is.
From those that do to those that didn’t
IT’S a great political truth: never let a good crisis go waste.
And yet this crisis is indeed being wasted, and in this Budget, too.
The markets are punishing the reckless and greedy - the people who bet money they didn’t have - and that is good, and long past time.
But the Rudd Government is instead punishing the responsible and careful. And even rewarding those who weren’t.
America’s enemies will cheer
Barack Obama will please not just the Left, but China, Russia, Syria, Iran…
Obama’s new budget plan includes a little-noted sea change in U.S. nuclear policy, and a step towards his vision of a denuclearized world. It provides no funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, created to design a new generation of long-lasting nuclear weapons that don’t need to be tested.
Some background from Time:
The latest U.S. nuclear showdown doesn’t involve a foreign enemy. Instead it pits President Barack Obama against his Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, and concerns the question of whether America needs a new generation of nuclear warheads. While serving under former President George W. Bush, Gates had repeatedly called for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program to be put into operation, because the nation’s current nukes — mostly produced in the 1970s and ‘80s — are growing so old that their destructive power may be in question.
“The Reliable Replacement Warhead is not about new capabilities but about safety, reliability and security,” Gates said in a speech in the week before last November’s election. In an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, released in early December after Gates was tapped by Obama to stay on at the Pentagon, Gates repeated that refrain. “Even though the days of hair-trigger superpower confrontation are over, as long as other nations possess the bomb and the means to deliver it, the United States must maintain a credible strategic deterrent,” he wrote…
RRW basically trades explosive force for greater assurance that new warheads would work predictably in the absence of tests, which the U.S. has refrained from conducting for nearly two decades to help advance nonproliferation goals.
But Obama doesn’t buy that logic. Shortly after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, he turned what had been a campaign promise into an official presidential commitment: the new Administration “will stop the development of new nuclear weapons,” the White House declared flatly on its website, with no equivocation, asterisks or caveats.
How strong will the US be once Obama has finished with it?
Global warming too hot for World Vision #2
Tim Costello yesterday assured me “not one cent” of donations by me and others to World Vision’s child sponsorships was diverted to its ludicrous campaign against “global warming”.
I’m sure Costello, the WV boss, is not misleading me. Yet I can understand why some might think those walls are very thin, given this statement on World Vision’s web page explaining child sponsorships:
Up to 5% of your monthly donation supports our campaigns and advocacy activities so we can effectively pursue our fight against poverty.
And when you click on the ”solutions” link on its page explaining its ”campaigns and advocacy” programs, you find this in the list:
Twice As Green
Climate issues are poverty issues.
That said, Twice As Green is a subscription program, rather than one funded from general revenue, or so it seems to me.
Reader Paul says World Vision’s campaign against global warming actually hurts the poor - and not helps, as Costello yesterday claimed:
Tim Costello’s argument is wrong because the money he takes is not free. The price of “buying” into the global warming myth is to advocate for putting the brakes on global economic growth, the one thing proven to lift people out of poverty in the long term:...If the price of receiving World Vision aid is to have World Vision campaign against economic growth in developing countries then the price is too high.
A World Vision insider says the organisation has had a cultural revolution:
So who’s in charge now? Advocates and media people.
I have seen the advocacy team increase from 7 or 8 people to a huge department. Media and PR were always a huge department. (You probably know people out there).
Walk around the advocacy department and see all sorts of climate change and green environmental press cuttings culled form world wide sites and media. Always on the alarmist view.
There are no scientific credentialed staff at WVA. They rely on misinformation pushed out by alarmists and world wide MSM. Their references are James Hansen, Real Climate and the IPCC.
Media and PR staff are made up of university grad journos or marketing people. There are literally hundreds of them all on megabuck salaries.
Is global warming activism as peripheral to World Vision’s work as CEO Tim Costello suggests? Here is a press release from Costello himself from just last week, produced in part with overhead cash taken from sponsorships and revealing how little Costello really knows about the scare he helps feed:
World Vision believes the Government’s announcement today has reopened the window to achieve a global deal on climate change in Copenhagen, which would benefit Australians and the world’s poor. CEO Tim Costello said it was vital that Australia headed into Copenhagen with a bargaining position that wasn’t insulting to developing nations…
In 1950 there were 50 humanitarian disasters that World Vision responded to with emergency aid. In 2006 there were 250. The number of humanitarian disasters we’re seeing, of cyclones, droughts and storm surges, means that organisations like World Vision are having to respond far more frequently.
“While the increased emissions reduction target from 5 to 25 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 is a positive step in the right direction, the 5 per cent unconditional target is still far too low. We should commit to reducing our emissions by as close as possible to 40 per cent below 1990 levels, by 2020.
There is no proof at all that global warming (which ceased in 1998) is caused by man or in turn caused any of the disasters Costello claims. But the point is: why is Costello offering himself as a global warming expert? Why is World Vision diverting its attentions from its real expertise - bringing aid to the poor? Why is it risking the donations of people who want to help the poor, not help climate activists?
Is global warming activism as peripheral to World Vision’s work as CEO Tim Costello suggests? Costello appointed as his campaigns manager John Connor, who had previously worked on global warming for the Australian Conservation Foundation, and two years ago left World Vision to become CEO of the Climate Institute, an activist group that is hardline on global warming.
But neither is actually Turkish
I’m glad the Anglo magistrate disagreed, but what concerns me is that the bikie believes it - and thinks it an excuse:
A BANDIDO bikie tried to use his Turkish heritage yesterday to justify throwing a rock at a Gold Coast mother who he believed had kicked his eight-year-old son.
Cem Jim Kusdemir, 31, who was born in NSW, yesterday appeared in Southport Magistrates Court with a psychologist’s report outlining his anger management issues, which related to his Turkish background… The court was told the psychologist’s report claimed the father-of-two believed it was the ‘Turkish way’ to fight.
Magistrate Brian Kilmartin said there were many Turkish people who were first-class citizens and the report was wrongly suggesting all Turkish people were violent.
“The report of the psychologist says it’s a cultural thing that Turkish people resort to violence to protect the honour of their family,” he said.
It’s manana from Kevin
What a scary Budget. Record spending, record deficit, hard decisions put off until after the election (or even until 2013), a huge transfer of money to pensioners as if we had money to burn, and building-our-future infrastructure spending that’s actually no more over four years than Rudd blew in just two rounds of free-money cheques for all.
Rudd may be right - recovery may come soon and strong, although with his record of prediction I wouldn’t bank on it. But even if there’s a recovery, was this massive debt a bigger help than it will be a hindrance? And if the recovery is delayed, this will be the biggest losing bet in our history.
More in my column tomorrow.
Or $1.5 million per boat
Kevin Rudd’s “kindness” doesn’t come cheap:
(N)ew figures reveal the cost of processing the latest influx of boatpeople is about $38,000 an asylum seeker.
The figures emerged as immigration authorities at Christmas Island yesterday prepared to process a boatload of 31 Afghan asylum seekers and their three Indonesian crew intercepted by the navy north of Darwin yesterday.
That’s $1 million, right there, just to process this latest boat load.
Yesterday’s interception ... was the 19th boat to be detected since last September, following a softening of detention policies.
The boats have ferried a total of 711 people to Australia, a huge increase on the 148 people who arrived in 2007, but a fraction of the tens of thousands who arrive annually in Europe.
711 people at $38,000 each is $27 million.
Visit the land that creeps out even its tourism minister
Holiday in charming Britain, urges its Tourism Minister:
Tourism minister Barbara Follett backed a campaign today to encourage people to holiday in Britain.
But for gawd’s sake watch out for the locals:
Tourism minister Barbara Follett claimed more than £25,000 for security patrols outside her London home because she did not feel safe there… The Telegraph says Mrs Follett demanded extra protection at her ‘second home’, a four-storey property in Soho, because she had been mugged and followed by a stalker.
Just why Follett needs the taxpayers to fork out for all that security is another mystery, not least because it’s not as if her husband Ken (above, with Barbara), the best-selling thriller writer, is short of several tens of millions of dollars, in the New Labour way.
World Vision: blowing cash on a pagan cult
I’ve been a donor to World Vision for more than a decade. I’ve helped to publicise its work and urged you to support it, praising above all its commitment to giving the poor the direct help they need.
That’s now over. When my current sponsorships end, I will not renew. I will not donate a dollar more than I’ve already promised. An organisation I once admired for pragmatism has now fallen for the giddiest ideology of all. Under Tim Costello, so ignorant and alarmist that he blames global warming even for tsunamis, donors’ money is now being wasted on a great sham. A once-Christian organisation is now switching its focus from saving people to saving Nature, as it follows a neo-pagan gospel.
The latest evidence? From World Vision’s jobs page:
Strategic Technical Advisor (Carbon and Poverty Reduction Facility - Asia Pacific)
This exciting and newly created role based in the Asia Pacific provides technical assistance in the design and implementation of carbon and poverty reduction projects and programmatic responses, helping position World Vision Australia as the pre-eminent development NGO in climate change.
Campaigns Leader - Climate Change
We are seeking an experienced Campaign Leader for our Policy & Programs Group to work on effecting change within our region.
This role has been created to provide multi-disciplinary support through business analysis, research, proposal development, project design and management, stakeholder engagement and communications, particularly around climate change related to Carbon and Poverty Reduction Projects.
Reader Daniel is furious:
World Vision through very expensive advertising campaigns educate and look after children in deprived circumstances in the third world. What are they doing joining the very crowded world of those preaching global warming?
That leaves me needing a new charity. I’m starting already to switch my support to Very Special Kids. Could anyone also recommend a charity that gives meaningful help to the poor overseas?
A number of readers say they’re cancelling their sponsorships immediately. That’s not something I’m doing. I’ve made implied promises to children that I intend to keep. The issue is what I do with my money once those sponsorships lapse. I hope no one makes children suffer for the ideological giddiness of Tim Costello.
4BC’s Michael Smith isn’t impressed, either.
Tim Costello has rung to make the following important points:
- None of the money given for World Vision’s sponsorships go to its global warming programs.
- By getting involved in global warming, World Vision actually makes money, getting donations from governments and international bodies.
- The money it gets for carbon offsets, for example, is used to benefit people though the planting of trees that are also a food source.
Tim has challenged me to consider what I would do in his place, if there was so much money I could use for the poor that was being offered by global warming campaigners.
My answer to him was and is: I would take it, indeed, but I would not preach as true that which is false. There are ways to help the poor that do not involve endorsing a new faith that is a threat to reason, development and even humanity itself.
You, however, may consider his answer sufficiently pragmatic to continue to support World Vision.
Does Obama Administration Understand How to Wage War?
By Bill O'Reilly
Last week, Taliban attacked a small village inside Afghanistan, beheading at least three civilians. And indications are they killed other unarmed folks with hand grenades. Local Afghan authorities responded to that attack and were fired upon. They then called for help, and American air power was dispatched, routing the terrorists.
Less than an hour later, the Taliban called the press claiming U.S. had killed scores of unarmed civilians on purpose. Of course, the corrupt press immediately reported the propaganda without knowing what actually happened. Then, the president and Secretary of State Clinton made statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I wish to express, you know, my personal regret and certainly the sympathy of our administration on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan. We deeply regret it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Secretary Clinton then went on to say there would be an investigation, which there should be. But, and this is big, the tone, particularly as you just saw from Secretary Clinton, of their remarks signal to the world that we did something wrong, which is preposterous. These Taliban killers hide behind civilians while murdering other civilians. Are we supposed to let them do that?
Now "The Factor" has been briefed by retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, who told us that the impact points of the American bombs strongly suggest they didn't kill civilians in that village.
"Talking Points" believes that President Obama needs to get much tougher fast in the commander in chief role. If we are not going to fight to win in Afghanistan, let's get our people out of there. It is simply not fair to the military to run out calling for investigations every time the Taliban makes an accusation. Can you imagine FDR doing that when the Nazis cried foul? And the Taliban are no different than the SS, believe me.
It is long past time for the USA to stop with all the contrition, because in Iraq the military is fighting and dying to give the Afghan people a chance at freedom, a chance to live their lives without the threat of being beheaded. If the world doesn't like that, tough. We are not the bad guys. And the president should make that much more clearer than he has.
Did Wanda Sykes Go Too Far at the White House Correspondents' Dinner?
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: 9/11, waterboarding and wishing for kidney failure all wrapped into one really nasty joke about Rush Limbaugh. Comedian Wanda Sykes viciously hammered Rush in front of the president at the White House correspondents dinner. We're going to show you the infamous jokes. You will hear what Rush has to say about it in his own words. And Karl Rove will be here.
Plus, Donald Trump goes "On the Record." "The Donald" owns the Miss USA pageant, and tomorrow, Donald makes the official announcement whether Miss California will keep her crown or not. The Donald is here minutes from now.
And our own Griff Jenkins takes on actress Janeane Garofalo for calling the tea party protesters racist, their confrontation caught on tape, and it is explosive. You will see it.
But first, comedian Wanda Sykes unloaded on Rush Limbaugh at the White House correspondents dinner on Saturday night. You decide if she went too far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: Rush Limbaugh, one of your big critics -- boy, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. You know, so you're saying, I hope America fails. You're, like, I don't care about people losing their homes or jobs or our soldiers in Iraq. He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason. He's not saying anything different than what Usama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was so strung out on Oxycontin, he missed his flight.
SYKES: Too much? But you're laughing inside. I know you're laughing!
SYKES: Rush Limbaugh! I hope the country fails? I hope his kidneys fail, how about that?
SYKES: Needs a little waterboarding, that's what he needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously, everyone has been waiting for Rush Limbaugh to respond. Well, Rush had very little to say about Wanda Sykes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: How can they be running a response when I didn't respond? Well, there isn't going to be a response!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to put some distance between the White House and Wanda Sykes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What did the president think of Wanda Sykes's comment about Rush Limbaugh and a hijacker?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I'll leave it to the immediate past president of the White House Correspondents Association to discuss...
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the president, though. What did the president...
GIBBS: No, no. I understand. Let me -- let me -- I'll give you my full answer if you'll give me one second to do it. I don't know how the guests get booked. That's a White House Correspondents Association thing. I think the president -- I haven't talked specifically with him, but my guess is, Jeff (ph), that -- I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection, rather than comedy. I think there's no doubt that 9/11 is part of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Meanwhile, in the world of offensive humor, a CBS golf analyst is apologizing for a bad joke he made about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Writing in "D" magazine, a publication out of Dallas, David Feherty wrote, "If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Usama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death." Feherty later apologized to Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid.
And moments ago, Karl Rove went "On the Record" about those stories and much more.
VAN SUSTEREN: Big -- big controversy in Washington over the weekend, Wanda Sykes, who was the comedian at the White House correspondents dinner, blasting many people, including Rush Limbaugh. People -- many people say she went way over the line with Rush Limbaugh. And then we've got this CBS golf analyst who took some pretty wicked -- I shouldn't use the word "shots." I can't think of the right word, but said some pretty wicked things about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. What do you think about these two events?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think both of them went over the line. You know, wishing death on anybody and doing so in a serious tone of voice and the personal assaults that the comedian made at the White House correspondents dinner was pretty remarkable. I appreciated that the golf - - the golf reporter at least had the courtesy to understand that he had made a mistake and to apologize to Speaker Pelosi and to recognize that he made inappropriate comments.
But you know, look, at the White House correspondents dinner, you expect there to be good-natured fun poked at the president, poked at the press, poked at other public figures. But these were nasty, vicious, mean, ugly comments and had no place at the dinner.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of interesting. I sort of think once in a while -- I mean, I like good comedy. I like good humor. But I sort of once in a while wish that some of these people, whether it's journalists or comedians, would walk in the shoes of these politicians on either side of the aisle because these are tough jobs, whether you agree with them or not. It's not always fun.
ROVE: I think that's right. And look, imagine you're the President of the United States, whether it's this president or his predecessors. You have to go to these dinners, and there are several of them. There's the White House Correspondents' Dinner, there's the radio/TV dinner, there's the Gridiron Club, there's the Alfalfa Club. You have to go to these dinners, take a night away from your home and take a night away from work in order to go and have yourself belittled.
And so that's fine. It's for the good-natured fun of Washington. But I've notice that the media never gets -- you know, has a thin skin about these kind of comments. And I also notice that virtually nine out of ten times, the inappropriate humor is from a left-winger criticizing a conservative, as we saw on Saturday night with the White House correspondent dinner.
I repeat, these were mean, vicious, nasty comments. And you know, I know the president didn't chortle at them or laugh out loud, but he seemed to be wryly amused by them, and I thought that was inappropriate, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, maybe the members of Congress and members of the Senate should have their own dinners and roast us. You know, maybe they -- you know, they should make some effort to sort of get even with us some time and bring in comedians. But they don't do that. That -- that might be a good suggestion.
ROVE: No. They wouldn't do that ever because they understand that journalists would keep a grudge. I mean, the thinnest-skinned people I know in Washington are not the politicians, they're the journalists.
VAN SUSTEREN: The comment against -- against Rush Limbaugh -- he's not a politician. But you know, he's a tough guy. He can take that one. I bet that -- for some reason, I bet that Rush sort of enjoyed that he matters that much that he gets hit like that.
ROVE: Yes, look, he's a tough-skinned guy and he's going to ignore it. But look, that's not the point. The point is, is that the comedian added to a coarseness of our political culture that's unattractive. I mean, those kind of things should not be said about anybody, even if they do have a tough skin and ignore them and can laugh them off. I mean, it just shows a coarseness and a bias and a meanness that is unattractive in American politics.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, switch gears. Former vice president Dick Cheney over the weekend and the last couple weeks has been talking about how under the new administration that -- I don't mean to put words in his mouth, but I guess I'm going to do so now -- is that -- is that we're at greater risk under the new administration than the old administration. How do we know that?
ROVE: Because he understands intimately the kinds of changes that have been made and how these are going to affect our ability to collect actionable intelligence that allows us to break up these plots before they are launched, and I frankly agree with the vice president on this. I think Vice President Cheney has made a reasoned, thoughtful series of observations about how doing things -- well, let me give you just one example.
Taking, for example, the memoranda about the enhanced interrogation techniques and making them public has been a value to our enemy. They have -- it has served, frankly, I think, as a recruiting tool. They can now take these memoranda and go to prospective, you know, recruits and say, This is the worst that the enemy, the United States, would ever do to you, and they've even forsworn these things. We can help you, prepare you to deal with these things, but even the enemy is so weak they're not going to use these techniques on you.
And it's given them a tool to make it more attractive to recruit people, and you know, this kind of thing is harmful to us over the long haul. I mean, if the enemy thinks that we're going to deal with them toughly and severely -- and they've got to know -- they've got to know that these methods have yielded an enormous amount of intelligence which has allowed us to break up their networks -- I mean, even the director of national intelligence under President Obama acknowledges that these techniques yielded vast amounts of information that allowed us to stop these attacks. And if you do that, if you stop using these techniques and -- it gives -- it makes the world a less safe place for America and our allies.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in light of the fact that the documents have been released -- I mean, there have been a number of them released. I know that many people say that it was wrong to release them. Vice -- former vice president Cheney has asked that additional documents be released, be declassified.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- if we've gone this far down the road, why not release the other ones? What's -- what would possibly be the impediment?
ROVE: I think that's a legitimate point. If you're going to release the techniques, then at least give the American people a balanced picture by showing them the benefits of these. What is the kind of information that's been gleaned from these, and how that's been useful in keeping America safe. Let people make a, you know, balanced opinion. You'll notice the administration was ready to release the memos that they thought would cause criticism of the previous administration, but they're not willing to release the memoranda that would give evidence of how important these procedures were in keeping America safe over the last eight years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Up next, more with Karl Rove. Rove uses the word "audacious" talking about General Colin Powell. What is Karl talking about? Well, that's next.
And later, Donald Trump goes "On the Record." He has the power. He owns the pageant. And tomorrow, he makes it official. Is the Donald going to rip the crown from Miss California? We're going to ask coming up.
VAN SUSTEREN: More with Karl Rove.
VAN SUSTEREN: Recently, as well, is that former vice president Dick Cheney had something to say about former secretary of state Colin Powell, basically saying, Why don't you just become a Democrat? Is that sort of the media is trying to drive a little bit of a wedge, or is this, you know, from the heart of Vice President Cheney? What's going on with that?
ROVE: Well, I'm not sure that exactly that's what he said. He was responding to Secretary Powell's criticism of Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans and he was making the ironic -- the ironic-toned observation that Secretary Powell had endorsed Senator Obama for president last fall, not his close personal friend, Senator McCain. Secretary Powell has talked for years about his close friendship with Secretary -- with Senator McCain. And yet when push came to shove last fall, he endorsed Senator Obama, who didn't have the same opinions, ostensibly, as Secretary Powell and did so over his close personal friend, Senator McCain, who represents the kind of future of the Republican Party that Senator -- that Secretary Powell had talked about being hopeful would be realized.
So I think Vice President Cheney was naturally responding to Secretary Powell criticizing the Republicans, but then himself not even having the -- the -- you know, the courtesy to endorse his long-time friend, who represents the kind of values and direction that he says he wants for the Republican Party.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think Powell did that? Why do you think Powell endorsed President Obama over Senator McCain?
ROVE: Well, you know, I trust him at his words at the time. I just think that having done that, that removes his moral authority to come and lecture every other Republican about how we should have supported more moderate candidates and a more moderate future for our party, like that represented by his friend, Senator McCain. I mean, I thought it was a little audacious, to use a -- use a common phrase in Washington, for him to be lecturing Republicans about it.
And I thought it was particularly unusual that his principal focus was not -- I didn't hear a word from Secretary Powell advocating a positive and optimistic agenda. He didn't spell out what it is that he wanted the Republican Party to do, except for Rush Limbaugh to shut up. And I thought that was sort of short-sighted and narrow-minded. If Secretary Powell wants to advocate a positive course for the Republican Party, he's got every right to do so. Let him back it up by going out and helping candidates whom he thinks represent that kind of spirit within the Republican Party and let him spend his time and effort advocating a positive course.
Frankly, I think the American people are fed up with people who just walk into politics and tear down somebody, rather than building up somebody something, who tear down a philosophy rather than building a positive view of what they want to achieve. I'd feel far more comfortable if he were going out there and saying, Here's what I, Secretary Powell, want to see for the future of the Republican Party, I'm going to back my words with actions to support those kind of candidates, instead of just going out there and saying, If you disagree with me, shut up. I don't think that's a very constructive way to go about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: When he left, the secretary of state, was he pushed out, shoved out, or did he -- I mean, did he leave sour, or did he leave because it was time, he wanted out?
ROVE: Oh, I think it was clearly time. I mean, he basically had said, I'm here for four years and had indicated to President Bush shortly after the 2004 election, maybe even before the 2004 election, that he would be leaving after the first term regardless. So you know, no, I don't think there's a sense of bitterness here. I'm not even certain that this was a - - something that upon sober reflection, that Secretary Powell would believe that it was the most artfully expressed way of putting this. I mean, again, why get in a fight with Rush Limbaugh? I mean, if you want to advocate a future course for the Republican Party, then advocate it. Describe it. Explain it. Help people understand what it is.
It's not a very comforting, you know, vision to say, My vision for the Republican Party's future is for Rush Limbaugh to shut up. I mean, that's not a very compelling and positive observation. It's not the kind of thing that causes people to stand up and say, yes, that's the kind of Republican Party I want. Rush Limbaugh, shut up. I mean, that's a very limited and narrow description of what ought to happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so Vice President Cheney's speaking up, and you speak out, as well. Is there some sense from the old administration that the new administration is whacking it unfairly and there's an awful urge to want to stand up for yourself?
ROVE: Well, you know what? I have to make this observation. I've tried to go back and look at the records of, like, what did Bill Clinton say about George W. Bush? I know what George W. Bush said about Bill Clinton. What did Ronald Reagan say about Jimmy Carter? What did Jimmy Carter say about Gerald Ford, and so forth. And I can find no administration in which there was such a frequent recourse to blaming everybody from the previous administration.
I happened to be last week in a debate with David Plouffe out in Monterey, Cal State Monterey Bay, in which he blamed the Bush administration for the deficit this year. And I said, Well, wait a minute. You know, what about your spending bill? It was your -- it was the bill that President Obama -- $787 billion stimulus bill? What about the $33 billion SCHIP bill that he signed? What about the $410 billion omnibus bill?
In fact, you know, on reflection, didn't Senator Obama support the rescue package, the recovery package last fall, the $750 billion to help rescue the banks? Three hundred and fifty billion dollars of that was spent by the time he got in office. If he didn't like that spending, he could have said, You know what? We're not going to spend another dime of that $350 billion, and yet he did.
And yet President Obama stands up and says, Well, it's not my deficit. I'm not -- you know, ignore the fact for the moment that I'm the guy who signed the stimulus bill, the SCHIP bill, spent the $350 billion and did the $410 billion omnibus bill. Mean (ph) old (ph) Alamo (ph). That's not my deficit, that's somebody else's.
And I frankly think the American people are a little -- you know, they're -- they're -- they want their president to succeed. They're -- they're -- they're willing to give him high marks. But I think this is wearing thin. This is -- this is causing the American people to say, Wait a minute, this is all your spending. Why do you keep blaming the guy who came before you for it.
And that's the way this administration is on a whole host of things. They've been gratuitous in seeking out opportunities to publicly declare that the problem is not theirs but the previous administration's. And I can find no in recent memory who has done as much of this as often as this as frequently as this and as cheerfully as this president and his spokesmen have done.
VAN SUSTEREN: And does that come from the top or is that his aides?
ROVE: Well, sure. I mean, look -- no, that's him. I mean, he's the guy who stands up and -- all the time -- I mean, he does two things that really sort of are unusual. One is he blames his predecessor for everything. And also, then he constructs these straw men arguments. If you disagree with him, don't expect him to treat what you have to say on the merits. For example, on the stimulus. The Republicans in the House organized a stimulus measure of their own. They carefully crafted it. They ran it through the econometric model that had been created by the -- by Obama's head of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Romer. They found that by running their plan through the Obama administration's economectric mode that they created 50 percent more jobs at half the cost of the Obama stimulus package. That was the model the administration itself constructed. And they did this painfully. It took them a long time.
They presented it on the floor. It got defeated. Obama goes and holds a news conference and says people who opposed the stimulus package didn't want to do anything. Well, no, they didn't. They wanted to do something else, something that would have produced more jobs quicker and at less cost and would have been what National Economic Council adviser Larry Summers said last fall, which was it would be a stimulus program that would be temporary, targeted and timely.
Where There's Smoke, Is There Fire?
By Glenn Beck
Here's the one thing: We're told that when there's smoke, there's fire; but is that really true?
There's a rotten smell coming from ACORN, the community organizing group of 400,000 or so people in 110 cities that became notorious for voter registration fraud allegations during the 2008 election.
We have people on the inside telling us what they believe is happening because there doesn't seem to be enough journalists who want to be the Woodward and Bernstein of today.
First hint of smoke: Here's what the chair of ACORN in Washington, D.C., said last week:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCEL REID, ACORN: ACORN doesn't need to be funded with any more taxpayer dollars until we find out what happened to the last taxpayer dollars that ACORN was funded with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Boy, isn't it awfully suspicious that people within the organization itself can't seem to get answers about where all the taxpayer money is going? There's no transparency and when people have asked questions, they've been tossed out — like another one of our guests, Karen Inman.
We know there is smoke, but is there fire? I don't know because it's nearly impossible to unravel the web of organizations that are part of this massive group.
All of ACORN apparently operates under the umbrella of Citizens Consulting Inc., whose Web site is completely empty aside from its address: 1024 Elysian Fields Ave., New Orleans.
According to corporate filings, about 270 related organizations — which are a mix of corporations and non-profits from states from California to Louisiana — have filed from that location. Does that look like a building that holds 270 organizations?
The $630,000 building that was once a funeral home is owned by Elysian Fieldscorp.
But there's even more smoke there.
The president of ACORN, Wade Rathke, is also a partner in Elysian Fieldscorp. And he and his brother Dale are listed as president or partner in dozens of companies based in that building in Louisiana.
We've told you that Dale embezzled about a million dollars while serving as comptroller of CCI and was fired about a year ago over it — only after the scandal had been brushed under the carpet for about eight years.
But is there fire?
To give you an idea of what's going on at that address as far as size and scope, compare it to the United Way. The United Way has 1,300 local organizations, while ACORN has 1,200 — so they're roughly the same size. But, we found just 13 records of affiliated organizations at United Way's main address. ACORN has two hundred and seventy.
So what's going on in that location? We don't know yet. We think it could be as harmless as an administrative letter drop.
But there's plenty of smoke at that address in Louisiana and we're going to find out whether the fire department needs to be called in.