Thursday, July 16, 2009
Headlines Thursday 16th July 2009
Gordon Nuttall guilty of corruption
Former Queensland ALP government minister Gordon Nuttall has been found guilty of corruption....
Jamie's survival could earn him $1m
Jamie Neale's 12 days of hell lost in freezing conditions on the Blue Mountains could earn him up to $1 million, but doubts are already being raised about his story.
Lawsuit may threaten Hobbit films
New Zealand film-maker Peter Jackson may have more in common with JRR Tolkien's heirs than he thought - they are also complaining about big studio accounting methods.
'Nothing left' after Iranian plane crash
Relief workers are struggling to find any recognisable signs of any of the 168 people killed in an explosive plane crash in Iran.
Bones in cave belong to missing mother
Police have confirmed human remains found on the NSW Central Coast belong to a mother-of-two missing for seven years.
Footballer critical after savage attack
Police have released CCTV footage of a brutal attack in which a promising young footballer was choked into unconsciousness and left for dead.
Beach, surf alert after tsunami warning
A THREAT remains to some Aussie beaches after a series of small tsunamis hit the east coast.
Kidnapped activist found murdered
A RENOWNED activist in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region was found murdered hours after being abducted in Chechnya, horrifying fellow campaigners and the Kremlin.
=== Comments ===
PM turns blind eye on thugs bullying Aussies
KEVIN Rudd has now let down Australian citizens in two foreign countries. The Chinese Government has so far snubbed his attempts to get any substantial news about the arrest of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu.
Closer to home, the murder of Australian Drew Grant near the huge US-owned Freeport mine in Indonesia’s Papua province remains a mystery. - Indonesia does not have enough money to support itself. It may, one day make enough, but right now it doesn’t. Despite the wealth of some of its citizens, it never has had enough cash to run its economy. People forget, or have never been told, that lucky countries like Australia were built on sweat and toil, and not on envy as the ALP policy advisers have long suggested. Worldwide, communism and socialism have never been sufficient to allow the kind of wealth needed for a nation to run effectively. There is such a thing as wealth creation and only capitalism does it. For capitalism to work, you need good government, like that provided by the conservative parties.
On the issue of Timor, I would like to hear Rudd explain his involvement with Reinado’s death. I think the ALP policy regarding Timor over the last forty years to be sinister. - ed.
Not equal before God, any more
How much is the United Church in Australia prepared to sell out its founders - even its faith - to embrace the new racism and the doctrine of the Noble Savage?
Judge from an extraordinary proposal now being favorably considered by the Uniting Church National Assembly which would change its constitution to accuse former Church missionaries of racism, damn former Church leaders as bad Christians, rebadge Aboriginal faiths as a kind of proto-Christianity, and divide worshippers by race into “First” and “Second” people
Where is the Marr of our times?
Remember the brave cries for free speech under the totalitarian Howard regime? Remember reading the denunciations by David Marr, written on scraps of paper that his sympathisers smuggled out from Sydney in their trembling socks:
Since 1996, Howard has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced non-government organisations, neutered Canberra’s mandarins, curtailed parliamentary scrutiny, censored the arts, banned books, criminalised protest and prosecuted whistleblowers.
But not long after the Wall fell and Kevin Rudd brought back democracy and free speech, it became clear that the foot on our throats had not been lifted, but pressed even harder - so hard, in fact, that even Marr and Robert Manne no longer dared to protest, to judge by their silence.
And today this final blow:
VICTORIAN principals are being forced by the Brumby Government to sign contracts promising not to speak out against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s computers-in-schools policy — or risk losing tens of thousands of dollars in funding…
The memo, from Victoria’s Education Department, says funding for computers will only be provided once the school has signed the agreement. “Failure to adhere to any part of this agreement may result in being required to repay all … funds,” the agreement says.
Who will speak up against this tyranny, now that even Marr cannot?
Reader River Red discovers that Brumby’s sinister charter of human rights may be good for something, after all:
What about the The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)?
People have the right to hold opinions without interference from the government or from other people. People have the right to seek out, receive and pass on information and ideas of all kinds whether orally, in writing, in print, as an artistic expression or in any other way of their choosing.
Maybe it does not apply to schools - too right - wouldn’t want kids learning about free expression or even think for themselves - would we?
Denouncing the climate caper
Climatologist Dr Garth Paltridge has finally had enough of the hysteria, hype and witchhunting that’s fed the great global warming scare. Out today is his new book, The Climate Caper:
(Patridge) discusses how and why climate scientists have vastly overstated the case for disastrous global warming.
Among other things he explains why forecasts of a much dryer Australia in the future – forecasts which were the basis of the Garnaut economic recommendations which led in turn to the Emissions Trading Scheme now before parliament – are probably nonsense....
He says of climate change research: “The whole business has hardened over the last couple of decades into a semi-religious crusade in which climate scientists have developed an arrogance about their aims and activity which brooks no argument either with their interpretation of the science or with the way the science is used."…
Much of the book is devoted to examples and discussion of how ‘the system’ keeps scientific scepticism about forecasts of climatic doom from public view. As for the rest of us, the attitude of a climate scientist can be coloured by politically correct ideas, by a need to be associated with a ‘cause’, by loyalty to colleagues and by the rise of excessive research competition. These are all powerful forces which amplify a real fear within the research community that an expression of scepticism about the current wisdom on global warming can be disastrous to one’s career.
Paltridge is a critic not easily dismissed by our leading promoters of apocalyptic warming, such as mammal expert Tim Flannery, singer Peter Garrett, general practitioner Bob Brown, economist Ross Garnaut, ex diplomat Kevin Rudd and former politican Al Gore, none of whom have any of his expertise in climate science:
Dr Paltridge was a Chief Research Scientist with CSIRO and is a Fellow of the Academy of Science. His is a specialist in atmospheric physics and climatology. He took part in the establishment of the World Climate Program in the mid-1970’s, and was with the US National Climate Office during 1989 at the time of the emergence of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For ten years he was CEO of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre studying the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in climate. He is currently an Emeritus Professor at the University of Tasmania.
But what would he know, right?
Kevin Rudd finally speaks:
KEVIN Rudd has toughened his rhetoric towards Beijing over the Stern Hu affair, warning that the world will be watching and emphasising that China has significant economic interests at stake in Australia…
Mr Rudd said Australia had significant economic interests in its relationship with China. “But I remind our Chinese friends that China, too, has significant economic interests at stake in its relationship with Australia and with its other commercial partners around the world.”
I accept Rudd is under terrible domestic pressure to say something, and yet - as I wrote a day before he spoke - I wonder if it is wise to publicly challenge China over the arrrest of an Australian businessman when no one can yet be sure he is innocent.
Jennifer Hewett, for different reasons, also doubts the wisdom of arcing up the confrontation:
KEVIN Rudd’s decision to publicly up the ante in his reaction to the Chinese detentions of Rio Tinto executives is curious as well as extremely risky.
The Prime Minister’s words were his most critical so far, and will reverberate loudly in Beijing. To what purpose is far less clear. The rhetoric is more likely to further irritate the Chinese than it is to persuade them to change course over the imprisonment of Stern Hu. Rudd would presumably appreciate that. It suggests that his comments are designed more for domestic consumption and for blunting the opposition’s hysterical demands for the government to pick up the phone.
Ross Garnaut would seem inclined to agree:
SOLVING cases of detention involving Australians in trouble in China requires quiet diplomacy for which the government of the day may not even be able to claim credit, says veteran diplomat and former ambassador to China, Ross Garnaut.
But I think there are actually more at stake that even Hu’s freedom. If Australia does not impose some pain on China for apparently using state power to intimidate even Australian businessmen, let alone our politicians and media, it will happily continue to do so. A public warning that China will face consequences to its reputation and business dealings is actually pointing out the obvious to a country that needs to hear it.
Whether Rudd should have yet made that point in defence of Stern Hu, though, is a question to which we are yet to know the answer.
Perfect one day, in jail the next
Is there a familiar smell to the Queensland Government?
DISGRACED former Queensland government minister Gordon Nuttall may face further charges of official corruption after being found guilty yesterday of receiving $360,000 in secret payments from two of the state’s leading businessmen.
The former health and industrial relations minister could be jailed for up to seven years when sentenced today by District Court Chief Judge Patsy Wolfe for corruptly receiving secret commissions between 2002 and 2005…
The verdict against Nuttall yesterday represents the third serious conviction of a senior Labor MP in the Beattie government. In 2007, former minister Merri Rose was jailed for attempted blackmail, with veteran Labor MP Bill D’Arcy also serving seven years of an 11-year term for child sex offences.
Three senior Labor politicians from the same government in jail or facing it. That’s some record, surely.
Garrett would once have written the same
There’s all the booga-booga in this report that you’d expect of an Age environment reporter, but it’s fun to see an old Yanks-under-the-radioactive-beds campaigner like Peter Garrett now hoist on his own petard:
THE new uranium mine approved by the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, will be owned by a subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.
A colourful but reclusive billionaire named James Neal Blue, who helped devise the Predator unmanned aircraft being used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is a director of Quasar Resources - the company that will control the Four Mile mine.
Quasar Resources is an affiliate of General Atomics, a US weapons and nuclear energy corporation which is chaired by Mr Blue, and reportedly holds $US700 million ($877 million) in Pentagon contracts. Mr Blue, 74, first came to prominence during the 1980s as a self-described “enthusiastic supporter” of US involvement in a covert war against the left-wing government in Nicaragua.
Save the planet! Poison Chinese workers
Every time you switch on an energy-efficient, warming friendly light, a Chinese worker gets sick:
WHEN British consumers are compelled to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs from 2012, they will save up to 5m tons of carbon dioxide a year from being pumped into the atmosphere. In China, however, a heavy environmental price is being paid for the production of “green” lightbulbs in cost-cutting factories.
Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs. A surge in foreign demand, set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years, has also led to the reopening of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.
When will they ever learn? They did
Professor Steven Pinker says it would pay to understand why violence is in fact falling:
When the criminologist Manuel Eisner scoured the records of every village, city, county, and nation he could find, he discovered that homicide rates in Europe had declined from 100 killings per 100,000 people per year in the Middle Ages to less than one killing per 100,000 people in modern Europe… Worldwide, the number of battle deaths has fallen from 65,000 per conflict per year to less than 2,000 deaths in this decade. Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, we have seen fewer civil wars, a 90 percent reduction in the number of deaths by genocide, and even a reversal in the 1960s-era uptick in violent crime…
Man’s inhumanity to man has long been a subject for moralization. With the knowledge that something has driven it dramatically down, we can also treat it as a matter of cause and effect. Instead of asking, “Why is there war?” we might ask, “Why is there peace?” If our behavior has improved so much since the days of the Bible, we must be doing something right. And it would be nice to know what, exactly, it is.
Does film music matter? The answer
Does film music really matter to the average moviegoer? ... (W)hy bother hiring a high-priced composer and a 50-piece orchestra to crank out a commodity that next to nobody notices?
One word: “Chinatown."…
The original score, written by the classical composer Phillip Lambro, was heard on the soundtrack of the version of the film that was shown seven weeks prior to the film’s release date at a preview in San Luis Obispo, a small town north of Los Angeles. “By the time the lights came up, half the audience had walked out, scratching their heads,” Robert Evans, the producer of “Chinatown,” wrote in “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” his 1994 autobiography. Concluding that Mr. Lambro’s “dissonant, weird, scratchy” music (as Mr. Towne would later describe it) was responsible for the film’s poor reception, Mr. Evans called in (Jerry) Goldsmith, and 10 days later “Chinatown” had a new score. Mr. Towne, who was present at the first recording session for Goldsmith’s score, later told a journalist that “you could see the movie come to life...”
So it did: “Chinatown” is now universally acknowledged as one of the key American films of the ‘70s.