Monday, June 01, 2009

Headlines Monday 1st June 2009

Pacific Dawn passengers free to leave as ship cleared of swine flu
Hundreds of people on board the Pacific Dawn will be free to go later this morning after swine flu tests came back negative.

Prime Minister's 'nasty streak' takes the gloss off his image
Recent outbursts from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have taken the shine off his leadership, with voters starting to think he has a nasty streak, new figures show.

Petrol prices rise for fourth week in a row
Petrol prices have risen for a fourth straight week across the nation, with fresh data from the Australian Institute of Petroleum showing the national average price of unleaded has risen 1.2 cents.

Ten more to be arrested over child porn
Ten more Australians are expected to be arrested for downloading a child pornography video, with Federal Police to carry out more search warrants on confiscated computers.

Rudd takes credit for retail rise
Consumers have spent a record $19.4 billion in April, and the Rudd Government is taking the credit.

Abortion doctor George Tillman shot dead in church
Prominent late-term abortion provider George Tiller has been shot dead in a church while serving as an usher. - I don't approve of abortions, but I am pro choice. I think the law shouldn't dictate conscience. Whomever shot this doctor did a terrible thing, and it eats away at my faith in my christian bretheren. - ed.

Rafael Nadal knocked out of French Open
Rafael Nadal's hopes of a record fifth successive French Open title were crushed into the Roland Garros red dust by Robin Soderling's Swedish sledgehammer on Sunday.

GM bankruptcy announcement expected soon
General Motors is making final preparations for its bankruptcy protection announcement after bondholders accepted a sweetened deal, smoothing the way for the company's reorganisation.

Google launches new wave of services
Google Australia has announced a range of new services, including free access to Fairfax newspapers dating back to the late 1800s.

Susan Boyle takes second on Britain's Got Talent
Unlikely star Susan Boyle has taken her shock Britain's Got Talent loss on the chin, already looking to a future singing professionally.
=== Comments ===
Tim Blair
We’ve all enjoyed Clare Werbeloff‘s celebrated description of a Kings Cross shooting she subsequently admitted she didn’t actually see:

“I came out of the tattoo parlour and there were these two wogs fighting. And the fatter wog said to the skinnier wog, ‘Oi bru, you slept with my cousin, eh.’ And the other one said, ‘No man, I didn’t for shit eh.’ The other one goes, ‘I will call on my fully sick boys’ and then they pulled out a gun and just went chk-chk BOOM!”

It’s a brilliant piece of spontaneous verbal performance art. But what if Clare could venture throughout history, offering instant on-the-spot reports from all points of time and space …
Tim Blair
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, one of the world’s greatest minds, believes painting roofs, roads and pavements white will help contain global warming. Reader Steve H. reviews the Chu plan:
The total area of the U.S. (50 states + D.C.) equals 9,826,630 km^2.

According to a 2004 study by the U.S. Geophysical Union, all constructed so-called “impervious surfaces” (buildings, roads, parking lots, roofs, etc.) in the USA total a combined 112,610 km^2. Which is a bit less than the total area of Ohio, a bit more than Virginia.

That means we’ve got about 1.14% for Dr. Chu to paint.

That should make a big difference.
Vast coverage of the planet by human construction is a common assumption among greenoids, who evidently imagine that their own surrounds are a universal global standard. Incidentally, how did Chu arrive at the conference where he delivered his white-world idea?
Steven Chu turned up at the conference in a jet-black SUV.
Tim Blair
As the New York Times reports, a shooting more than 40 years ago helped shape modern Germany:
The killing in 1967 of an unarmed demonstrator by a police officer in West Berlin set off a left-wing protest movement and put conservative West Germany on course to evolve into the progressive country it has become today.
But it turns out that leftists were protesting a murder committed by one of their own:
A discovery in the archives of the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, has upended Germany’s perception of its postwar history. The killer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, though working for the West Berlin police, was at the time also acting as a Stasi spy for East Germany …

For the left, Mr. Kurras’s true allegiance strikes at the underpinnings of the 1968 protest movement in Germany. The killing provided the clear-cut rationale for the movement’s opposition to what its members saw as a violent, unjust state, when in fact the supposed fascist villain of leftist lore was himself a committed socialist.
Says former Der Spiegel editor Stefan Aust:
“I would never, never, ever have thought that this could be true.”
It seems to be so. Germany’s leftist myths aren’t holding up very well; in 2006, it was revealed that leftoid hero and Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass had been a member of the Waffen SS.
Tim Blair
New Scientist magazine now refers to “climate change doom-mongers”. Meanwhile, warmy-mocker Claude Allègre replies to critics of his possible appointment as French industry czar:
“We are not in the Soviet Union. We can contest a scientific thesis.”
Sadly for warmies, both assertions are true.
Tim Blair
This week’s column revisits a certain speech …

THE world trembled last year as a terrible prospect loomed: the next vice-president of the United States might be a complete moron.

According to David Marr, speaking on the ABC’s Q & A, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was “thick as a brick”. Marr presumably based this assessment on a few verbal stumbles from Palin, such as the time she described two Christian preachers as “decent white folk” – only to discover later that the two men were black.

That’s the sort of blunder that can destroy a political career. Just as well, then, that Palin didn’t actually say it. Marr did, however, in the Sydney Morning Herald four years ago.

Anyway, intelligent people everywhere were relieved when Palin’s White House bid failed. But what if John McCain and his dimwitted running mate had been elected? Right now we’d be listening to some of the most spectacularly stupid speeches ever made.

Speeches such as a commencement address at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University earlier this month, for example. Let’s imagine how Palin might have handled it …
Tim Blair
Robert Stacy McCain has another essential guide to non-wussdom:
• If you’ve ever paid your rent with proceeds from ticket-scalping;
• If you’ve ever had a search warrant served at your home;
• If your high school yearbook was signed by at least one person later sentenced to life without parole;
• If you have at least one scar as the result of a motorcycle accident;
• If you’ve ever been in a fight that ended when your sister-in-law pulled a pistol;
• If you know all the words to at least one David Allen Coe song;
• If you’ve ever eluded a pursuing police car;
• If you’ve ever been on the front row at a ZZ Top concert;
• If you’ve ever worked in a strip club;
• If you got fired for “fraternization” …
I scored five out of nine in McCain’s first list; only scoring two here. Maybe 2.5, if eluding a pursuing non-police car counts for a partial credit.
Tim Blair
Bush-hating leftist ‘toonist Ted Rall enjoyed great times in 2008:
“Chronicling the possible end of a great empire is far more interesting than peace and prosperity,” said Rall …

“These are great times for me, not the country.”
But now Bush is gone … and so is Rall, who has lost his job at United Media:
“I’ve been laid off,” reads the headline on the blog of cartoonist Ted Rall …

“If you need a cartoonist, a writer, or an editor, or anything else, please drop me a line. I need work, and fast.”
As Ken Shepherd and Instapundit point out, this may explain Rall’s recent rage against Obama.
Tim Blair
Japan moves away from Kyoto:
The high costs Japan would incur if Tokyo promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 would be hard for the public to accept during the recession, Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Friday.

His comments showed there was still no consensus within the government …
Among options now being considered by Japan: a four per cent emissions increase. This makes the No Carbon Community cry.
Rudd’s signal heard, all right
Andrew Bolt
Kevin Rudd’s media defenders claimed in April that the increase in boat people could not be blamed on Kevin Rudd’s softening of our laws against illegal immigrants. Their argument: How could ignorant Afghanis, Iraqis and Sri Lankans have even known of Rudd’s changes?:

The ABC then claimed one asylum seeker told it Rudd’s “softening of asylum seeker policy . . . had no influence on his decision”. But a fuller transcript showed he’d denied nothing.

Again Rudd’s apologists tried. The ABC’s Jon Faine, The Monthly’s Sally Warhaft, and The Sydney Morning Herald’s David Marr agreed mere Afghans could never have known of Rudd’s changes

That argument was almost immediately challenged - by boat people themselves:

One (Iraqi) said he plans to attempt the boat journey even though his refugee status is already confirmed, because he has heard he is more likely to be accepted by Kevin Rudd’s Government than its predecessor.... ”Kevin Rudd - he’s changed everything about refugee. If I go to Australia now, different, different,” a second asylum seeker told the ABC.

And today the Herald Sun carried this interview with Iraqi asylum-seeker Yaser Mandalavi, in an Indonesian detention centre:

“Mr Howard made it very hard for refugees. He wouldn’t let me bring my family to Australia when I lived there. But I have been told (Rudd has) made it easier for people like me to come to Australia and to bring our families with us...”

After the Rudd Government scrapped TPVs, a people smuggler “mafia man” persuaded him to set sail.

”He told me the laws had been changed in Australia, and that Mr Rudd wanted refugees,” Mr Mandalavi said.
300,00 warming untruths
Andrew Bolt
This was the absurd scare:

Climate Change responsible for 300,000 deaths a year

These are just some of the thousands of media stories promptly filed by gullible or unquestioning journalists and activists including this, in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Climate-change disasters kill about 300,000 people a year and cause about $US125 billion ($A160 billion) in economic losses, mainly from agriculture, a think-tank led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan reported on Friday.

Of course, the claim was bogus - even though almost no journalist bothered to query it. Climate scientist Professor Roger Pielke Jr explains exactly why this report is a crime against the truth:

This report is a methodological embarrassment and poster child for how to lie with statistics. The report is worse than fiction, it is a lie.
Pick Tim’s own politics
Andrew Bolt
Political theorist Tim Soutphommasane in the Sydney Morning Herald describes the fallout of Britain’s expenses scandal:

Left-wing commentators at The Guardian are clamouring for constitutional reform, some for revolution. Right-wing demagogues at the Daily Mail are baying for MP blood.
Chinese see what Oakes won’t admit
Andrew Bolt
Kevin Rudd’s reputation as a mere spinner is going international. Zhu Feng, deputy director of the School of International Studies at Peking University, hardens his attack on the Prime Minister, in words picked up by Malaysia’s New Straits Times:

Zhu’s lament was that Rudd ”say big words, (but) do little”. It was a recurring comment in Zhu’s week-long visit to Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne as guest of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Even Ross Gittins now entertains a doubt:

Rudd wants everything to be a priority, but doesn’t seem willing to give up anything much to establish any real priorities. This could mean Malcolm Turnbull is right and he’ll prove to be just another Whitlam-like reckless spender.

Gittins says he doubts that will actually happen on the grounds that he thinks Rudd is a mere spinner and breaker of promises. Apparently that’s a comfort.
Swine flew the coop
Andrew Bolt
Finally we’re told there’s no need for all that panic-spreading busy-busy, after all, as Victoria lifts restrictions on swine flu sufferers:

Victoria’s health chief ... Dr Rosemary Lester said ... people living in the household of each new case detected would be quarantined, but this would no longer be necessary for schoolmates or workmates of the sufferer…

Dr Lester stressed that so far the swine flu had not shown itself to be any worse than the normal seasonal flu and of the 212 state cases detected, just three were hospitalised and were in a stable condition… The decision to declare the disease had ``sustain’’ status, would likely lead to all of Melbourne’s schools being re-opened and quarantine to be concentrated on direct families.
Catharine gets a stunned silence
Andrew Bolt
Journalism professor Catharine Lumby, whose NRL sex education program teaches footballers there’s nothing wrong with gang-banging fans if they do it with “respect’’, dismisses the arguments of critics who protest that this crazy advice will lead to people getting hurt:

Third one – and I love fielding this: Q: “Do you think some responsibility lies with the women who throw themselves at footballers?” A: “Do you mean to say that if I play movies loudly in my house I can’t complain to the police if someone breaks in and steals my DVD player?” A ruminating silence always follows this response.

I’m not surprised there’s a “ruminating silence”. It would take a long time to work out what on earth Lumby is trying to say with this bizarre analogy.
How dare Indians complain we’re caste-conscious
Andrew Bolt
I’m naturally sympathetic to the cause of the several thousand Indian students who marched in a Melbourne protest yesterday:

The protest rally was organised by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia after a series of violent attacks on students which they claim are racially motivated.

I, too, am appalled by the violence, and believe some of it to be indeed racially motivated, if not by born-here Australians then by African and Islander gangs.

But I doubt that smashing stuff, blockading an intersection, battling police or allowing the far Left to steer their demo (and make their tell-tale and far-fetched claims of police brutality) is the best way to get sympathy. Nor is the hysterical recycling of highly suspect and inflammatory claims to be supported:

A COUSIN of Indian cricket star Harbajan Singh claims his son died in a racist attack in Melbourne.... Jagjit Singh alleged his son, Upkar Singh Babbal, 26, was killed by a taxi driver before being left on a railway track on May 7…

Sources told the Herald Sun Mr Babbal, who had been studying hospitality, was standing on the track when he was hit and killed. It is believed Mr Babbal had been drinking heavily and had argued with his girlfriend.

But even less acceptable is the trashing of Australia as fundamentally racist:

THE perception in India that Australia is a racist country is gaining currency, with a Bollywood screen legend refusing an honorary doctorate from a Queensland university because of recent violence against Indian students… Amitabh Bachchan posted a notice on his website in which he said he would be rejecting an honorary doctorate he was due to be awarded next month from the Queensland University of Technology.

The allegation is irresponsible (and baseless) enough when made by professional defamers from within our own intelligentsia, but it’s risible when we’re accused of institutional racism by citizens of a country that has the caste system, matchmaking ads routinely asking for partners with a ”wheaten complexion‘’, and often deadly Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence. Whatever our faults, our tendency to judge people by their race, social origins or religion is surely much less than you’d find in India.


Claims that the bashings are an expression of fundamental Australian racism have been easy to make precisely because Australians are in fact so terrified of seeming racist that reporters no longer dare speak frankly. But Macquarie University student Mukul Khanna says it straight:
They target all Asian students including Pakistani and Sri Lankans. A lot of my Pakistani friends have left the place after being brutally attacked and robbed. Interestingly, the attackers are mostly not locals and are themselves people of foreign origin who resent the fact that Indian students go there in large numbers and take up jobs which may otherwise have gone to them.

It seems we might actually be less racist if we were more racist. Or something like that.
Rudd refuses dinner
Andrew Bolt
You may have noticed this small story tucked away on some page last week:

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told the Minerals Council of Australia’s annual black-tie dinner in Parliament House last night: “I call on you to convey a message to the leader of the federal Liberal Party about the need of business for certainty on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.”

The real story is more significant. That speech was meant to be delivered by Kevin Rudd, who pulled out without explanation and without offering a speaker in replacement. Then, half an hour before the dinner was to start, Rudd summoned some Minerals Council representatives into his office.

At the dinner itself, Gillard invited all the ministers present to stand up and show themselves. She was mortified to find just two had bothered turning up.

Rudd’s vindictiveness to those who disagree within him is becoming a problem, and a very visible one. Exhibit B: the blocking of the appointment of diplomat Hugh Borrowman.
Allison ‘s crime against a hero
Andrew Bolt
Lyn Allison, who led the Australian Democrats into oblivion, now wants to put on trial one of our most decorated and senior soldiers. She writes in The Age a piece that no al Qaida sympathiser could have put better:

But we cannot seriously ignore the horrors committed by coalition forces in Iraq.

It is beyond time we acknowledged the many victims of our aggressive war. The children of Fallujah whose bodies Western forces burned with white phosphorous in a hopeless attempt to flush out Sunni insurgents. The traders at two Baghdad marketplaces, and the Al-Jazeera and Reuters cameramen, whom Australia’s war partners callously shelled to death.

But just acknowledging them is not enough. The political and military leaders responsible for their loss and agony — those who authorised the illegal invasion and those who committed egregious crimes during the conflict — must be brought to justice…

The assault on Fallujah in late 2004 provides some of the most horrific examples of war crimes committed during the war to date…

Some 30,000 to 50,000 civilians remained in Fallujah throughout the coalition’s three-week-long bombardment. They were denied food, water and electricity in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. When scenes of devastation at the local hospital hit the world’s media, soldiers stormed the building and ordered patients to lie on the floor before tying their hands behind their backs. Major-General Jim Molan, a decorated Australian war hero, was in charge of the operation. (He has since written a book giving his version of events.)

Where Australians were not directly responsible for committing certain crimes, they may nevertheless be tried on the grounds that they were participants in a joint criminal enterprise — namely, the illegal invasion of Iraq — of which war crimes were a foreseeable consequence.

I wonder of Allison could be sued for suggesting so lightly - and with such wilfull contempt for the facts - that Molan is a war criminal.

Allison’s claim that white phosphorus was used as an offensive weapon in a “hopeless” effort to drive terrorists from Fallujah already shows how little respect she has for facts or the truth. White phosphorus is actually a screening agent, and not banned by any international convention, and clearing terrorists from Fallujah was not “hopeless’’ but one of the turning points of this war. Nor could Allison provide a skerrick of proof for her suggestion that the US casually and knowingly killed reporters - a baseless claim that cost CNN’s head of news, Eason Jordan, his job.

Molan in his autobiography Running the War in Iraq adds even more important facts that Allison so irresponsibly omitted or ignored.

Fallujah was in fact a city that had been captured by thousands of Islamist terrorists and insurgents, including al Qaida, who had brutally cowed the inhabitants, and were using it as a base for terrorist operations throughout Iraq, killing many hundreds of civilians, Iraqi public servants, Iraqi police and Coalition soldiers. After its liberation, Coalition forces discovered 19 “factories” for making bombs, 229 ammunition and weapons caches, and eight houses for holding, torturing and executing hostages. Some 3000 insurgents died in the battle, as did 72 Coalition soldiers.

The decision to liberate Fallujah was made by the Iraqi Government, and only after a prolonged ceasefire had failed to bring peace.

Repeated and extensive efforts over many weeks were made to warn the civilians to leave the city, and the attacks only started after the Coalition headquarters, where Molan served as chief of operations (not, as Allison claims, head of the Fallujah operation), was convinced most had indeed left. Allison’s figure of up to 50,000 civilians is pure conjection, and almost certainly a gross exaggeration. Molan also spends many pages in his book outlining the precautions the Coalition forces took to minimise civilian casualties, even when it meant exposing their own soldiers to greater risk.

The Coalition was so open to scrutiny that 90 reporters and cameramen were allowed to observe the operation.

The hospital Allison mentions had been used for months by the insurgents as a base and a propaganda station, with “doctors” unknown to any Iraqi medical organisation holding press conferences on Coalition “atrocities” like the “white phosphorus” beatup Allison unquestioningly adopts. Insurgents launched attacks from several medical centres in Fallujah, knowing the Coalition would think twice before firing on such buildings and would be condemned by a terrorist apologist such as Allison if they did. Molan says that of the three medical centres his troops were accused of damaging, two had been used by terrorists for offensive firing positions, and the third had not been used as a health clinic for years and was not one of the sites the Iraqi Government had listed as a protected medical facility. Among the patients found in the hospital were many injured men suspected of being insurgents and terrorists. Molan adds that 66 of the city’s 166 or so mosques were also used by the terrorists to store weapons or to shoot from - another insight into how prepared they were to use civilians and their sanctuaries as shields.

Anyone reading Molan’s detailed book would be in no doubt of the care taken by the Caolition to avoid harm to civilians, while clearing a city of some of the most barbaric terrorists in our time. Knowing him personally, I can vouch for his integrity and compassion. For Allison to so viciously smear Molan on such trumped up charges, and in such wilful ignorance, is the true crime.

And that The Age publishes it… Let them now pray that violent-minded men with a taste for vengeance not read this trash and believe it.
No, mean whites aren’t responsible for heavy blacks
Andrew Bolt
Another easy assumption of the kind that underlines racism:

Perceptions of racism—from being treated with suspicion in a store to unfairness in employment or housing—can heighten stress levels and affect health, research has shown. A new study from Boston University links these smoldering signs of racism to weight gain in black women, suggesting a possible explanation for the their higher obesity rates compared to white women.

Cozier said she was interested in learning whether there was another reason beyond diet and exercise that could explain why black women tend to be heavier than white women. Her study did not include white women, so a direct comparison is not possible, she said, but the unique experience of racism appears to be a potential contributor to the difference.

This study is kind of racist itself, eager to reach an untested conclusion on the basis of race. What Cozier seems to downplay are genetic and cultural differences, and the well-known link between obesity and poverty and poor education.

What is interesting is that poor black women are no heavier than poor white women, but white women tend to get thinner than black with increasing education, perhaps reflecting in part different cultural standards of beauty or even different cultural preferences of diet.

The study at last link also raises another objection: If racism is to blame, why do black women in the US tend to be heavier than Latina?
Studying the researchers is more interesting
Andrew Bolt
Fun research work if you can get it:

One of TV’s most enduring cartoons, The Simpsons, may cause children to consider smoking because of its many scenes depicting the habit, according to a new study. According to a study published in The Medical Journal of Australia, researchers say a lot of characters in the series smoke, which may influence children to consider taking up the habit.

Researchers Guy and Marielle Eslick viewed 400 episodes in the first 18 seasons of The Simpsons and documented 795 instances of smoking or references to smoking.

And I’m having trouble getting all po-faced about a study which denounces this category of smoking villains:

Guy Eslick — an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health — says most of the smoking instances involved male characters, but 20 per cent involved females, two per cent involved both sexes and 16 per cent involved non-gender characters, i.e. animals.
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