Monday, April 12, 2010

Headlines Monday 12th April 2010

=== Todays Toon ===
The Declaratory Act (citation 6 George III, c. 12) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain in 1766, during America's colonial period, one of a series of resolutions passed attempting to regulate the behavior of the colonies and cancel the majority of the effects of the Stamp Act. It stated that Parliament had the right to make laws for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever".
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, KG, PC (13 May 1730 – 1 July 1782), styled The Hon. Charles Watson-Wentworth before 1733, Viscount Higham between 1733 and 1746, Earl of Malton between 1746 and 1750 and The Earl Malton in 1750, was a British Whig statesman, most notable for his two terms as Prime Minister of Great Britain. He became the patron of many Whigs and served as a leading Whig grandee. He served in only two high offices during his lifetime (Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Lords), but was nonetheless very influential during his one and a half years of service.
=== Bible Quote ===
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”- 1 Peter 2:24
=== Headlines ===
Austrian daredevil plans to do something no one has ever done as he hopes to become first parachutist to break the sound barrier, plummeting toward the ground at 760 mph.

Obama's Nuke Mission
White House officials say president will showcase his eagerness to lead on nuclear issue during summit

Gates Backs Troops in Shooting Video
Defense chief stands by soldiers in leaked military video, contends it doesn't show the 'broader picture'

Karzai Takes a Stand
Afghan president urges Taliban to lay down their arms and air their grievances while visting violent province

Atheist campaigner has asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

Baby watches drunk dad crash car
DRUNK dad flees police, hits traffic lights and crashes car into two houses with his son in car.

Families slugged fortune in fees
HOUSEHOLDS giving banks $50 a week - and the profit-grabbing is even making bank staff sick.

'Get on boat now or risk not getting in'
WEB-savvy smugglers duping asylum seekers into thinking they can beat visa changes.

'Death inevitable' in rugby arms race
HEADMASTER of top private school to ban boys from playing against "win-at-all-costs" teams.

Man kills himself after 'racist' joke row
TECHNICIAN feared for his job after being suspended for making politically incorrect joke.

If I get lost, don't try to find me
SNAKE-crazed adventurer warned would-be rescuers to get lost before embarking on dangerous expedition into wilderness.

Families slugged fortune in bank fees
AUSTRALIAN families are paying more than $50 a week each in bank fees and low-paid workers are ploughing almost $30 a week into bank profits.

Clinton won't rule out going nuclear
AS BARACK Obama tries to stop arms race, Secretary of State warns that all bets are off if US comes under biological attack.

Poles line streets as President Lech Kaczynski's body comes home
TENS of thousands of Poles solemnly lined the streets of Warsaw to pay an emotional tribute to President Lech Kaczynski as his body was brought home after a devastating air crash.

Toll at 20 after bloody Thailand clashes
DEFIANT "Red Shirt" Thai protesters have vowed to keep up their efforts to topple the Government, after the country's worst political violence in almost two decades left 20 dead and more than 800 injured.

Parents won't break teachers' strike
A LEADING parents' group criticised a plan to use parents as strike-breakers if teachers boycott the national exams at the heart of the My School website. - My School is not a good site anyway. It could provide a lot more information that would dramatically improve schooling.It is another ALP failure -ed.
=== Comments ===
Tim Blair
Finally, Crikey publishes something that’s worth reading.
Tim Blair
Serial offender Dave Lindorff reunites us with an old friend:
Incredibly, as stupid and pointless and immoral as was the war in Iraq, Obama has found himself mired in an even more stupid, pointless and immoral war in Afghanistan. And because he has chosen, in his first year in office, to escalate that war instead of wind it down and end it, and has doubled the rate of US casualties in that war, President Obama now cannot do the right thing and end it even if he wants to, because then, how to explain all those pointless deaths? Instead, he is forced to clap soldiers, perhaps some of them already doomed, on the back in the cafeteria at Bagram Air Base, and tell them, in an echo or George Bush’s famous sneak visit to Iraq, “I’m proud of you. You guys are doing great work, each and every day.”

What a pathetic joke. The only thing missing was the plastic turkey.
Wrong! The plastic turkey is never missing. It’s been ever-present in our lives since way back in 2003. The plastic turkey is eternal.
Tim Blair
I went to my first grown-up party in 1972. It was my Aunty Jill’s 21st. I was six years old.

It was a surprise party, which seems odd for a 21st. Perhaps Jill’s parents had arranged it to take place a few days before her actual birthday. In any case, Jill – tall, extroverted, blonde and model-beautiful – was delighted by her surprise. So were all of us. To that point, I’d never been among a larger group of happy people.

Subsequent surprises were not so happy, however. Far from it. Yet there was to be a late-life turn of events that finally allowed Jill to find her purpose on this earth. - a powerful, compelling story, as family stories often are. - ed.
Tim Blair
Former System of a Down singer Serj Tankian discusses his new solo album:
“I was reading a chapter of Robert Fisk’s ‘The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East,’ and I just sat on the piano and wrote …”
He’s writing songs based on a Robert Fisk book? Whoa! Break out the rhyming dictionary for matches with error, wrong and loser:
The book contains a deplorable number of mistakes. Some are amusing: my favourite is when King Hussein’s stallion unexpectedly “reared up on her hind legs”. Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Napoleon’s army did not burn Moscow, the Russians did. French: meurt means dies, not blooms. Russian: goodbye is do svidanya, not dos vidanya. Farsi: laleh means tulip, not rose. Arabic: catastrophe is nakba not nakhba (which means elite), and many more.

Other mistakes undermine the reader’s confidence. Muhammad’s nephew Ali was murdered in the 7th century, not the 8th century. Baghdad was never an Ummayad city. The Hashemites are not a Gulf tribe but a Hijaz tribe, as far as you can get from the Gulf and still be in Arabia. The US forward base for the Kuwait war, Dhahran, is not “scarcely 400 miles” from Medina and the Muslim holy places, it is about 700 miles. Britain during the Palestine mandate did not support a Jewish state. The 1939 white paper on Palestine did not “abandon Balfour’s promise” (and he was not “Lord Balfour” when he made it). The Iraq revolution of 1958 was not Baathist. Britain did not pour military hardware into Saddam’s Iraq for 15 years, or call for an uprising against Saddam in 1991.
Should be a great album. Oh, let’s not be too hard on Bob; maybe he’s not so bad. Lately the oldtimer has even been defending Ann Coulter. Meanwhile, in more positive musical news:
Some young Somalis are using rap to speak out against Islamists who they say are using religion to wage war in their country.

The 11-member Waayaha Cusub band, currently in exile in neighbouring Kenya, wants its rap lyrics to encourage fellow Somalis to stand up to Islamist rebels known as al Shabaab …

“They are unkind, teach terrorism, and worthless lessons, they blindfold, and cause pain, inject drugs, that lead to actions, force them to kill their fathers and relatives,” one of the group’s raps goes.

The group’s only female member, Falis Abdi Mohamud, is a rebel in her own right. In one video, the 23-year-old is not covering her head as most Somali women do, and is wearing tight jeans.
She sounds very Australian.
Tim Blair
The curse of Katyn: Arthur Chrenkoff and Richard Fernandez on the death of Lech Kaczynski and other Polish government officials in the forest near Smolensk airbase.
Tim Blair
Journalists really hate the Pope, and they don’t much care if facts get in the way.

(Via Damian Thompson)
The man who may help murder South Africa
Andrew Bolt

The bloody worst may still be ahead of South Africa, as a new racism rises:
The South African president, Jacob Zuma, moved yesterday to calm racial tensions after the murder of Eugene Terreblanche, the leader of the far-right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), was blamed on inflammatory remarks that were made by one of Zuma’s own party officials.

Zuma ordered Julius Malema, 28, leader of the African National Congress (ANC) youth league, to shut up after it emerged that only 48 hours before the killing, Malema had showered praise on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and called for the nationalisation of white-owned farms

But is Malema an ANC rogue, or the face of the future?

Julius Malema is a chubby man-child who rose to prominence as Jacob Zuma’s attack dog, threatening violence against anyone who sought to block the Zulu patriarch’s rise to the state presidency…

A poorly educated 28-year-old, he mysteriously acquired two posh houses, a fleet of cars and an obscenely expensive Breitling watch… Malema openly professes dislike for “children of the colonialists”, a term he insists is not synonymous with white people. At other times, he says he doesn’t hate white people, just the quality of “whiteness”. In Malema’s circle, this sort of juvenile wordplay passes as intellectuality…

Malema is the vulgarian who dismissed the woman who laid a rape charge against Zuma as a slut…

Emboldened, he took to excoriating his superiors for placing key economic ministries in the hands of whites and Indians. Then he picked a fight with cabinet minister Jeremy Cronin, South Africa’s most visible white Communist, who had dared to opine that his enthusiasm for nationalisation had much to do with a fondness for bling and nothing to do with the plight of the poor. In response, Malema reportedly sent Cronin a threatening SMS: “Wait to see what’s coming to you.”

Alarm was mounting, but Malema appeared untouchable. Two weeks ago, he made an extraordinary speech at the wedding of Robert Gumede, an IT entrepreneur grown rich off government contracts. Grinning malevolently, Malema warned Gumede that the masses were coming to take his money away…

On his trip [last week to Zimbabwe], Malema was met at the airport by a clutch of notorious profiteers.... They organised a crowd to sing his controversial song about shooting Boers…

In return, Malema expressed his unqualified admiration for the policies that have ruined Zimbabwe and vowed to press for their adoption south of the Limpopo River.

“In South Africa, we are just starting,” said Malema. “Here you are already very far…”

On Thursday, Malema reiterated these sentiments at a press conference marked by an ugly racial attack on a BBC reporter. There has been no repudiation. The silence says something truly ominous: Malema has protection…

The trouble is that this card trumps all others. Our underclass is huge, poorly educated and desperately poor. They know what happened in Zimbabwe, but even so, the prospect of loot is irresistible, and that’s Malema’s bait. Mandela gave them free houses. Mbeki gave them welfare grants, leading to a situation where five million taxpayers support 13 million indigents, with the total rising far more rapidly than our ability to pay. Now Malema and the faceless vultures behind him are offering them the rest. They are playing the death card, the Ace of Spades.

The saps who paid now see what Rudd did their dough on
Andrew Bolt
Channel 7’s Sunday Night report on the school stimulus scams will mainstream a scandal that’s going to cost the Rudd Government as much as it has cost the rest of us.

It’s so bad that even the word-perfect Julia Gillard, the minister responsible, now struggles to spin it away. Take her floundering as she tried to explain why one company could charge astonishing fees of 21 per cent on contracts.


I thought the whole excuse for this shark-feeding orgy was to get the money out fast to stop any recession:
THE Victorian government is holding back up to 20 per cent of federally funded school building projects because of rising costs and a shortage of contractors and materials.

Sources say the Victorian Education Department is ‘’dribbling out’’ the projects because builders have been swamped by the federal government’s billion-dollar program… Since the middle of last year, when the first round of tenders went out, builders’ costs submitted to the Education Department have risen 5 to 12 per cent. Builders say this is to allow for swollen prices demanded by subcontractors and suppliers.

Gillard caves in:
Ms Gillard has announced the establishment of a task force to investigate complaints associated with scheme on all issues including the lack of value for money for taxpayers.

The announcement comes weeks before an auditor general’s report on the scheme was scheduled to be tabled in parliament, raising the possibility the report was critical of the waste associated with the scheme.
Let me guess: Gillard’s inquiry will report after the election.
At Waterloo, Napolean did beat Saddam. UPDATE: Crikey’s Waterloo
Andrew Bolt
Tim Blair warns of the perils of relying on Robert Fisk even for your lyrics.


How many thousands of dollars in compensation did this cost the ”quality journalism” campaigner Eric Beecher?

My wife is still furious that I stood on my free speech principles and did not sue Beecher, too, for his site’s astonishing vilification of me. The damage deliberately done by his hired smearer, as she points out, has been considerable.

I’m hoping the damage done is actually more to Beecher’s own reputation, which now sinks still lower. After all, mistakes can happen, but Beecher has actually hired people to slime conservative columnists such as Blair, which suggests he’s just brought the inevitable on his own head.
Putting the English back into England
Andrew Bolt
British Labour announces a radical policy to remake Britain:
All public sector workers will be expected to speak English… under manifesto pledges to be announced by Gordon Brown today.
(Thanks to reader Alan RM Jones.)
Rudd contradicted by his Immigration Department
Andrew Bolt
Kevin Rudd says he will suspend most refugee applications solely on the basis of the country of the applicants:
The federal government has suspended processing new claims by Sri Lankans and Afghans, who comprise 80 per cent of all boat arrivals, for three and six months respectively…

“It is a matter of suspension being enforced as of now, which means it will be reviewed in the case of one group over a three-month point and a second group, at a six-month point,” Mr Rudd said.

“The reason for that is based on information concerned with the changing security circumstances in the country of origins...”
His own Immigration Department says that’s not how it works:
Applications for Protection visas are assessed by departmental decision-makers trained in the law, policy and procedures concerning the Refugees Convention and Protection visas.... Decisions are made on the individual circumstances of each applicant’s claims. There is no blanket approval or refusal of applications based on broad assumptions, for example about the safety of particular countries.
I suspect the courts will have something to say about Rudd’s desperate “fix”.

And already:
Greg Barnes, from the Australian Lawyers Alliance, argues the Government’s freeze on processing asylum claims could be unlawful…

“On this basis that one of the key principles of administrative law and in other words, the law which applies to decisions which are taken by governments against individuals is that they shall be done on the basis of being free from any discrimination based on race, and alternatively that people have procedural fairness,” he said.

“The second point to make is that the law in Australia and the rule of law is such that laws have to be applied equally irrespective of where a person comes from or their race.”
But the courts probably won’t have said much until after the election, which is all the time Rudd needs.


Former Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews emails:

Your comment about the difference between what the PM has said about the asylum seekers and the advice from the Immigration Department is correct. The immigration department advice which you quote is what the previous government operated under. There will be endless litigation about these cases.
Amnesty sides with its pet jihadist
Andrew Bolt

Gita Sahgal, head of Amnesty International’s gender unit, quits the group over its disgraceful support for jihadist Moazzam Begg:

On Friday 9th April, 2010 Amnesty International announced my departure from the organization. The agreed statement said, ‘due to irreconcilable differences of view over policy between Gita Sahgal and Amnesty International regarding Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners, it has been agreed that Gita will leave Amnesty International’.

I was hired as the Head of the Gender Unit as the organization began to develop its Stop Violence Against Women campaign. I leave with great sadness as the campaign is closed. Thousands of activists of Amnesty International enthusiastically joined the campaign. Many hoped that it would induce respect for women’s human rights in every aspect of the work. Today, there is little ground for optimism.

The senior leadership of Amnesty International chose to answer the questions I posed about Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg by affirming their links with him. Now they have also confirmed that the views of Begg, his associates and his organisation Cageprisoners, do not trouble them. They have stated that the idea of jihad in self defence is not antithetical to human rights; and have explained that they meant only the specific form of violent jihad that Moazzam Begg and others in Cageprisoners assert is the individual obligation of every Muslim.

The slickers just make the slick worse
Andrew Bolt
Walter Starck joins me in amazement at the hyped-up claims by politicans and activists that just three or four tonnes of oil from the grounded Chinese Shen Neng 1 may devastate the Great Barrier Reef:
- Oil floats, coral doesn’t. The damage to reefs from oil spills is minimal and recovery is rapid. Follow-up studies of oil spills have repeatedly found that environmental recovery has invariably been much faster and more complete than predicted with the worst affects being inflicted by clean-up efforts. The use of dispersants, as was done in the current event, is only a PR stunt by government wanting to be seen to be doing something. For the reef, it is the worst thing to do.

- In the First Persian Gulf War in 1991, the largest oil spill ever occurred when 6-8 million tonnes was dumped into an area of shallow water and reefs. With a thousand oil well fires to contend with, no effort was made to do anything about the marine spill. Follow-up studies found that within 4 months most of the oil had been degraded naturally and within 4 years even the most heavily affected areas had largely or completely recovered. This spill was about 10,000 times larger than the total carried by the ship now on the reef.

Manne’s racist quote marks
Andrew Bolt
In the kind of smear only too typical of him, “stolen generations” propagandist Robert Manne suggests Keith Windschuttle is just a racist, anyway:
He [Windschuttle] must be the only historian who is not repelled by the quasi-zoological terminology — “quadroons”, “octoroons”, “cross-breeds” — universally deployed. Almost all historians who use these words in their work place them in inverted commas, to distance themselves from their plainly racist meaning. Windschuttle does not. No doubt he would regard this as political correctness. It is as if in writing a revisionist history of the Jim Crow regime of the southern United States, a historian used the term “nigger” without inverted commas throughout.
So how does Manne himself refer to part-Aboriginals? With all the commas properly inverted?

Oh, dear. We must have another raaaaacist...
Smuggler confirms what Rudd denies
Andrew Bolt
A people smuggler confirms what the statistics suggest, but which kevin Rudd and his many media apologists have denied:
For weeks Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has denied the sharp rise in the number of refugee boats was connected to Labor’s decision to overturn the Howard government’s hardline Pacific Solution.

But a former people-smuggler now living in Australia, who can only be identified as Shadi, said: ”The immigration rules in Australia were changed and everyone knows it and that’s why so many are now coming.

“Before, the reason it stopped was John Howard absolutely, he deterred some boats by force and Nauru Island where they (boat people) knew they could get stuck for one or two or three years.

“We and the passengers would check the internet daily to see what Canberra was doing and we all knew these things,” he told The Courier-Mail.
Of course they did. My red dot on this Department of Immigration graph marks the day Rudd revealed the laws against boat people would be weakened:
Bolt Endorses the corrupt and inept for a pretty face
Andrew Bolt
Whether or not you hate NSW Labor or back her stand on Kevin Rudd’s health policy, NSW Labor Kristina Keneally’s performance on AM this morning was most impressive. - Why won't she address the serious issue of Hamidur Rahman's death and the apparent cover up? Why does Andrew endorse such a person with so little to commend them. Andrew does not share her religion. I get it that Andrew would like to see the good he recognizes in the ALP to shine, but I don't think Keneally is it. She has not got control of her own agenda, and that is why the issue of Hamidur Rahman will not be addressed by her. - ed.
Rudd plan “almost grotesque”
Andrew Bolt
Faith in Kevin Rudd’s ability to run hospitals better than he runs an insulation program is running out:
RESERVE Bank board member Roger Corbett has attacked Kevin Rudd’s hospital reform plan as “bizarre”, and a “formula for disaster"…

The former Woolworths chief executive, who chairs the Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney’s west, described the plan as “almost grotesque” and praised Victorian Premier John Brumby and Kristina Keneally of NSW for resisting elements of the blueprint, arguing it would not end the blame game and would add to confusion.

“It’s not going to resolve anything. In fact, it’s conceivably going to significantly worsen the situation,” Mr Corbett told the Seven Network…

Mr Corbett said Mr Rudd’s planned local area hospital networks would only add to confusion and lead to more public servants.
And Victorian Premier John Brumby is as astonished I was on Insiders yesterday by Rudd’s bizarre tactic of releasing his full hospitals plan only bit by bit, treating his negotiations with the states as just a media strategy:
The Prime Minister will today unveil a $739m package supporting 5000 aged-care places. The announcement will increase pressure on Mr Brumby, who last week issued a rival blueprint rejecting Mr Rudd’s planned hospital takeover in favour of a 50-50 funding model and continued state control…

Mr Brumby attacked Mr Rudd for releasing the package one element at a time.

“It would have been better to deal with the whole health system in one go rather than in bits and pieces,” Mr Brumby said.

“I don’t believe you can separate it out.”
- This is the same amount of information that lead Bolt to award the debate to Rudd over Abbott. The fact at the time was that Rudd wanted Abbott to do what Rudd still won't. - ed
Here we go again
Andrew Bolt
On Jason Morrison’s 2GB show last week I warned that Kevin Rudd had so bungled his boat people policy that his latest backflip would simply return us to the lip-sewing days of emotional blackmail and self-harm. And indeed:
A GROUP of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers at a Sydney detention centre have begun a hunger strike over the Federal Government’s toughened policy on claims.

About 50 men, who arrived at Villawood Detention Centre from Christmas Island last month, began their protest at 5pm yesterday, Jamal Daoud of the Social Justice Network said.

Many of the group, which also includes Iraqis, are mentally unstable and plan to lodge appeals after their claims for asylum were rejected, Mr Daoud said.
When Rudd took office, the boat people issue had been solved by John Howard. Just 18 boats had arrived in six years. But Rudd weakened the laws, caused the boats to return and filling our detention centres. His latest freeze on processing the claims of Sri Lankans and Afghans will just complete the circle, giving us once more violence in our detention centres as well.


I’ve been struck by the patronising assumption of the David Marrs, Jon Faines and others that boat people are too poor and ignorant to know about our boat people laws (and thus couldn’t have been lured by Rudd). But anyone thinking of spending $10,000 a head on a trip to Australia makes damn sure he knows the odds of getting to where he’s paid so much to go:
BAD news spreads quickly in the claustrophobic world of Pakistan’s 1.7 million-strong Afghan refugee community.

Within 48 hours of the Australian government announcing it was to suspend all visa applications for Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum-seekers, the news was being dissected in the teeming Afghan vegetable market on the outskirts of the Pakistan capital, Islamabad.

“I read it in the paper yesterday and it shocked me,” 20-year-old Jan Agha said in broken English over a chaotic din of donkeys, trucks and vegetable hawkers…

A few kilometres away at the I-12 refugee camp—little more than a collection of mud and straw huts erected four months ago to replace one demolished by Pakistan’s Capital Development Authority—Pakistan-born Rahim says the Australian government’s decision to suspend Afghan refugee applications for six months would not deter him from having another go to reach Australia.

Two more boats in a day:
A boat carrying 25 passengers, understood to be predominantly Afghans, was stopped by Customs and Border Protection personnel yesterday near Browse Island, off Western Australia’s north coast.

Later yesterday, another vessel, this time carrying 30 passengers and four crew, was intercepted by the navy in the Ashmore Islands, also off WA’s north coast.
That makes around 100 boat people to arrive after Rudd’s changes, prompting this:
MORE than 20 extra Australian Federal Police officers are expected to fly to Christmas Island to quell possible disturbances as authorities intercepted the first asylum-seekers to fall victim to the Rudd government’s suspension of new refugee claims…

On Friday, the officers held a meeting with senior immigration officials before unpacking riot gear, including shields. A freight plane that arrived on Christmas Island on Saturday is understood to have included tear gas, rifles and ammunition.

I know my Daily Telegraph colleague Malcolm Farr spoke not to inform but to insult, but the Sydney Morning Herald laps it up:
Bolt, who is known for the forceful enunciation of his right-of-centre views, said he believed Afghan asylum seekers will soon start posing as Pakistanis in order to gain asylum.

Host Barrie Cassidy said: ‘’Well it won’t take them long to sort that out.’’

‘’Yes it will,’’ countered Bolt.

‘’What, they all look the same do they?’’ Farr was heard to mutter.
Well, er, yes - in the sense that Hazaras from Pakistan don’t look different from Hazaras from Afghanistan. But give Farr his due: he would not pretend for a moment to have researched the Hazaras and their geographic spread, and so would be genuinely ignorant of, say, this crucial fact:
In the year 2000, there were more than 110,000 Hazara residing in Pakistan. Many Hazara are declared by the Australian Government to be Pakistani rather than Afghani, and, therefore, not in need of protection.
And he will have honestly forgotten the notorious case of the Bakhtiaris - the kind of case I suspect we’ll get more of, involving disputed claims of origin:
When the two young Bakhtiari boys escaped from the Woomera facility and resurfaced at the British consulate in Melbourne, asking for asylum in England, ultimately their bids for asylum in both Australia and Britain failed and the family was deported to Pakistan despite their protests that they were, in fact, Afghani. Now the family says that their Australian lawyers and refugee advocates are responsible for them being deported and they’re asking the Government to give them another chance. The ABC’s South Asia correspondent Geoff Thompson spoke to them in Lahore, Pakistan.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Nine months after being deported from Australia, Alamdar and Montazar Bakhtiari appear on camera for the first time. They are on a two week holiday in the Pakistani city of Lahore after spending 2005 in the country they have always called home - Afghanistan - where the Bakhtiaris have again settled in the capital, Kabul.

Reader Mole correctly adds that I should have pointed out that Pashtuns are the main ethnic group spread over the Afghani-Pakistani border, even if Hazaras are now most commonly said to be persecuted:

When I worked at Port Hedland pretty well all the Pakistanis claiming to be Afghanis were Pashtuns. Being Pakistani was seldom enough to gain a visa.
Tick, tick, tick
Andrew Bolt
Greg Sheridan on another leader who prefers declarations to deeds - and dangerously so:
BARACK Obama is a wonderfully gifted showman. And what a splendid show he’s put on this past week or so concerning nuclear weapons.

First came the new Nuclear Posture Review, apparently dramatically reducing the circumstances under which the US might use nuclear weapons. Then came a new nuclear arms agreement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to reduce US and Russian nuclear arsenals by a third.

It is all, to use Obama’s favourite word, “unprecedented”.

Or is it?…

Here’s the thing: it’s still really all about Iran. And on Iran, ... Obama is failing, and not just failing but failing dismally and utterly, failing without the slightest compensation of even partial success, failing now without even a serious effort to succeed.

One of the alleged benefits of the deal with Russia is that Moscow is now allegedly willing to consider sanctions against Iran. Just how long is this danse macabre going to go on?

No sooner had Medvedev made that statement than the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister made it clear that any serious sanctions, especially those which might hit refined oil products, were absolutely out of the question.
I fear that Obama’s time in office will be ranked alongside Chamberlain’s in pre-war Britain. The difference is, though, that at least Chamberlain didn’t try to disarm Britain as the Nazis grew stronger.

(Thanks to reader James.)


Obama’s poll numbers are now worse than ever.
He probably was callous enough to eat, as well
Andrew Bolt
This isn’t reporting but smearing:

AS THE Catholic Church battled a sexual abuse crisis, Pope Benedict XVI spent Friday evening watching a movie...
What is Labor trying to hide, and what rules will it break?
Andrew Bolt
Let’s see what respect this crusader of the Left has for the insitutions of our democracy:
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Rob Hulls has committed a serious contempt of Parliament by ordering government advisers not to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into the Hotel Windsor planning scandal, according to the legal guardian of Victoria’s upper house…

[Legislative Council clerk Wayne Tunnecliffe’s] explosive advice will reignite the row over a media plan written by Planning Minister Justin Madden’s press secretary, Peta Duke, that outlined a strategy to run a sham public consultation over the contentious $260 million redevelopment of the Windsor.

Tom Ormonde speculates unwildly:

The more desperate the government appears in its efforts to gag Peta Duke, the more we are inclined to wonder whether others in Madden’s office, and possibly the minister himself, were in on the sleazy plan.
Old Malthouse should grow up
Andrew Bolt
Vicious, and a childish apology:
MAGPIES coach Mick Malthouse last night offered an apology after his extraordinary “rapist” spray aimed at St Kilda star Stephen Milne…

In return, Collingwood wanted Milne to accept he provoked Friday night’s ugly incident by calling Malthouse old and wrongly accusing assistant coach Paul Licuria of being homosexual…

Last night Malthouse said: “It was only after the match that I reflected fully on the events and my actions at quarter time.

“I apologise to Stephen Milne for comments I made in the heat of the moment, which were wrong and I retract them. I accept that after 27 years as a coach I should know better than to respond to incidents like this.”

Collingwood said as Milne acknowledged his comments to Mick Malthouse were inappropriate, the Magpies would not be taking action through the AFL regarding his conduct.
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