=== Todays Toon ===Foreign Secretary George Canning as Phaeton (aftermath of pre-emptive raid on Denmark)
William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville PC, PC (Ire) (25 October 1759 – 12 January 1834) was a British Whig statesman and Prime Minister.
=== Bible Quote ===“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”- John 10:28-30
=== Headlines ===Sgt. Gary Stein created the Facebook group 'Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots' to show his opposition to Obama's health care overhaul — and continues to post on the site, even though it could hurt his military career.
Pentagon: Iranian Missiles No Match for U.S. Missiles
U.S. says it is 'very confident' it could defend itself against the threat of an Iranian ballistic missile strike
Lawmakers to Obama: Confront Egypt
Bipartisan group of lawmakers wants White House to act on the 'grim reality' of Christians forced to marry in Egypt
What's the Surge Costing You?
Fox News examines what it costs the military, and YOU to run two overseas wars
A suburban house auction was halted when an Aboriginal group startled bidders with claims the property was a sacred site, then offered $150,000 for the $700,000 home.
No pay? Here, have a coffee
HEALTH bosses offer staff a single $3.20 coffee as an apology for the massive payroll failure.
Missing boy found at neighbour's house
A SIX-year-old boy who was missing for more than 12 hours, has been found with a friend
Cautious Qantas finally takes to the sky
DESPITE first flight from London Qantas refuses to guarantee other services will follow on time.
Facebook rolls out plan to network world
IF you're not part of an online social network, the future of the internet looks dim for you.
Ban on bi sportsmen blasted as balls up
THREE bisexual players banned from taking part in a major sports event as "they are not gay enough".
'Corrupt cops link' to Williams jailmate
POLICE to examine claims that witness to attack was close to officers suspected of corruption.
Prison guard's ICAC drug inquiry
A CORRECTIVE Services officer charged with drug offences is being investigated by ICAC over claims he supplied drugs and mobile phones to prisoners in exchange for money.
No one will pay for Dianne Brimble's death
SHE died in the most humiliating circumstances - a mother on the holiday of a lifetime. But after almost eight years spent trying to hold someone accountable for Dianne Brimble's cruise ship death, no one will be. Her family has been left devastated that her accused killer Mark Wilhelm will not face a jury again, a charge of manslaughter being dropped at the 11th hour. Ms Brimble's daughter Tahlia, who awoke on the first morning of the 2002 cruise to find her mother was dead, has broken her silence for the first time. "I am extremely upset, as you could imagine," she told The Daily Telegraph.
EnergyAustralia's smart meters fail
FAMILIES will no longer pay more for the power they use to cook dinner. EnergyAustralia - the state-owned company behind the surge in controversial "time-of-use" charging - has decided to allow households on these tariffs to switch to flat rates. That affects about 200,000 households with "smart meters". These customers pay double the standard rate for power from 2pm to 8pm on weekdays in return for discounted rates at other times. The meters have been made mandatory in new or renovated homes in EnergyAustralia's distribution area, from Scone in the north to Sutherland in the south, including Newcastle, Gosford and areas of Sydney within 25km of the coast.
France set to ban full Islamic veil
FRANCE'S ban on women wearing the full-face Islamic veil in public could face a legal challenge.
=== Journalists Corner ===Election turmoil rocks Obama's hometown district in Hawaii!
Now, the Republican who's running stops and exposes the truth!
The high court is looking to fill an empty seat ... so, who's the perfect pick? You be the judge!
The gloves are off! Bernie Goldberg swings back after Jon Stewart's latest rant!
Guest: Karl Rove
He's got an agenda, but does Obama have the support to pull it off? Rove on politics, pitfalls & problems.
=== Comments ===Rudd’s GST raid for health a sickening con
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd may have been telling the truth when he described the new health funding agreement as historic, but he probably didn’t mean historic fraud. No greater deceit has been played upon the Australian public - Rudd can take credit for perpetrating the biggest lie in the nation’s political history. - I note the mainstream media were again willing dupes to a three card trick. Absurdly, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland supported Rudd’s dotty plan from the get go. NSW, WA and Vic held out. It is interesting to note Tassie and SA’s stance given the recently rorted elections. NSW held out to a programmed time, to allow Kennealy to back out with grace in the face of a coming election. Vic never was independent, but held out the facade of an ALP wrestling with their conscience. In some ways, they were hoping WA would join with them and fold with them. This is an enormous pork barrel that the ALP will lick clean. There will be no benefit to sick people or patrons.
I think it diminishes the scale of the problem to say that “Rudd lies” or “Rudd is a socialist.” In fact the spending is indicative of something else.. Rudd is not in control and those in control are likely corrupt. The case of the disappearing billions has never been effectively addressed by mainstream media. Kudos to your columns, Julie and Piers, but there needs to be more from the mainstream press on this. In fact those billions are disappearing in ways that are accountable .. but not worthwhile. At least a substantial amount goes on press advocacy. - ed
How to Handle Wall Street Thugs
By Bill O'Reilly
President Obama wants new laws to regulate speculation on Wall Street and impose investment standards on the banking and finance industries. The president is correct in dealing with the problem that has harmed most Americans. There's no question the current recession was caused in part by greedy speculators who recklessly sold bad investments, and when those investments crashed, so did the U.S. economy.
"Talking Points" believes President Bush had no idea the financial industry was trafficking in bad mortgage paper, risky derivatives. He was stunned when he found out. You could see it.
So obviously the country needs new laws that would constrain financial corruption so that Wall Street gangsters could not undermine the economy again.
Now, I know some of you do not trust the federal government, and I am skeptical of the feds as well. But there's no other choice. Washington is the only place that can regulate and supervise the U.S. financial system.
Here's what President Obama said Monday night:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe in the free financial market. I believe that it's essential that we have a strong financial market because that helps to boost dynamic economic growth. But a free market doesn't mean you should be free to do whatever you want, however you can get it without regard to consequences. There have to be some rules of the road. There's got to be some accountability. There's got to be some transparency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, the problem is that many Americans, including your humble correspondent, are worried that the president may use a legitimate issue like controlling speculation to further expand the nanny state. The fact that the government mortgage houses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not included in the proposed new law is very telling. Fannie and Freddie hastened the collapse of the economy. So why isn't President Obama interested in regulating them?
I'll tell you why. Because the Obama administration uses Fannie and Freddie to redistribute income to provide mortgages to often underfinanced Americans.
So we have what they call a conundrum. We need reform on Wall Street. We need strict oversight on gangsters who would abuse the financial system. But that means more big government, and that means more power for people like Congressman Barney Frank, who totally blew it with Fannie and Freddie. What a mess.
TOO MANY BOOKS
The Melbourne Storm have just lost two NRL premierships due to creative accounting.
NOW LET’S SEE WHAT THEY DO TO THE HEALTH SYSTEM
Finally realising that the task of placing fibreglass lumps in ceilings is just way too difficult, the government surrenders:
The Federal Government has canned its botched $2.45 billion home insulation scheme which was due to resume in a modified form on June 1.Yet the government, which can’t control temperatures in individual houses, still imagines it can do something about the global climate. Peter Garrett’s legacy is now more widespread than those plastic bags he used to worry about:
Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet made the announcement following a decision by Cabinet yesterday.
“The Government has determined not to proceed with the proposed insulation rebate,” he said.
Warehouses and garages across Australia are stacked with millions of insulation batts nobody wants.They’re like Midnight Oil remainder bins.
A hoax 999 caller who told emergency services his name was Ben Dover claimed he had been raped by a whale, a court heard.The “too much cannabis” claim, unlike the others, is possibly true. In Nice:
Daniel Hammond, of Conifer Way, Swanley, made nuisance phone calls for eight months telling operators he lived in Doctor Who’s Tardis before reporting his manhood had fallen off because he had smoked too much cannabis and was struggling to have sex.
An artist faces the threat of prosecution for taking a picture of himself wiping his bottom with the French flag.He’ll be charged with arson. There’s a lot of arson around. In Ohio:
According to police, Janice McCoy-Nuttle and her husband had been drinking and got into a fight. That is when Janice apparently struck her husband in the head, so he called police, officers said.There is always a smaller bird. Nobody knows why. In California:
When officers arrived, they said they found Janice lying on her bed surrounded by five Chihuahuas.
The officers said there was a large white parrot standing on her head, which appeared to be biting her in the face. They said there was also a smaller bird on her chest.
Three bisexual men are suing a national gay-athletic organization, saying they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series held in the Seattle area two years ago.Not gay enough? Please. They wanted to play softball. In Seattle. Finally, in Queensland:
The three Bay Area men say the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in essence deemed them not gay enough to participate in the series.
A woman who had petrol thrown over her, allegedly by her partner, then lit a cigarette igniting the fuel.It’s easy to forget that you’re covered in petrol.
UPDATE. “Sure, you laugh,” emails Nicole. “But do you have any idea how difficult it is to get that last bird to stay put on your chest before the cops get there? Good thing this cop wasn’t on duty that night …”
DOGS CHANGE LIVES
Weary of charities that take your money for disaster relief or third-world children and instead give it to global warming cultists or UN scams? Then why not donate to Assistance Dogs Australia:
Donate to the organisation’s Super Puppies program – great name for a rock band, by the way – and you get to see your puppy graduate. Which, if your family is as graduate-scarce as mine, would be a unique and treasured experience.
I’m in for a few bucks. Click to sign up.
Two more Rudd schemes flop
Two more Rudd disasters.
FEDERAL cabinet scrapped the home insulation program after the Hawke report into the botched $2.5 billion scheme warned of grave concerns about the wisdom of proceeding.Two:
The report by Allan Hawke, released this afternoon, found that the safety and quality risks of the plan “cannot be fully abated” and that the government should consider whether efforts were better spent on rebuilding confidence in the insulation industry.
Greg Combet, the minister in charge of cleaning up the scheme, confirmed today the rebate scheme that was due to resume on June 1 would now not proceed because of safety concerns.
THE Rudd government has quietly dumped its election pledge to end “the double-drop-off” for parents by building 260 childcare centres on school grounds.Still to come: the Auditor-General’s report in the rort-ridden $15.2 billion Building the Education Revolution.
The Childcare Minister Kate Ellis said it would cause “disruption” for parents and unsettle the child care industry after the collapse of childcare giant ABC learning.
Ms Ellis said today the government would finish the 38 it has started.
PS: Both announcements were made by junior ministers, not Rudd himself, even though he’d launched both schemes.
Club destroys itself
Astonishing cheating, even more astonishing punishment:
Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two NRL premierships and fined a total of $1.6 million after being found guilty of long-term salary cap breaches.
NRL chief executive David Gallop announced they would also not be allowed to accrue any premiership points in the 2010 season.
Gallop said the Storm had been found to have rorted the salary cap by at least $1.7 million over five years.
“They had a long term system of effectively two sets of books and the elaborate lengths they have gone through to cover this up has been extraordinary,’’ said Gallop.
Can I now sue for offences against my faith in reason?
The green faith has its first martyr, canonised by a compensation hearing:
A worker who was preparing to sue his employer for discriminating against his environmental views has agreed a settlement of almost £100,000. Tim Nicholson, 42, was made redundant in July 2008 from his £77,000-a-year post as head of sustainability with Grainger, the UK’s biggest residential landlord.At this rate it won’t be long before I’ll be hit by a claim of religious vilification of green worshippers.
He alleged that his redundancy was a direct result of his opinions about the dangers of climate change, which put him at odds with other senior executives within the firm, and was preparing to sue. Last year, a judge, in a landmark decision, ruled that his belief in climate change was legally akin to a religious belief and should be protected from discrimination...
Reader Max has more optimistic news:
My wife and kids and I saw Arj Barker, US comedian, at the Melbourne Town Hall during the Comedy Festival there. He packed the place out – 1,400 people each night.Skip the first half the interview, and the irritating show laughs of the hosts.
What’s interesting is that he includes material in his hour-long routine that satirizes green fundamentalism and questions global warming alarmism…
Anyway, he says that he is into “Awesome Human Theory” which means that the problem isn’t people but rather Nature: humans are too awesome for Nature to keep up! I can’t possibly do credit to the routine, which unfortunately isn’t on you-tube. However, Arj did a brief (90 second) interview on US radio where mid-way, he talks about Awesome human Theory. Give it a listen – very funny stuff and quite courageous in a way.
By the way, the audience at the Town Hall loved his routine. Mostly people in their 20s and 30s – maybe they’re tiring of the earnestness and quasi-religious nature of green ideology.
(Thanks to reader Vivienne.)
What the waitresses made of Rudd’s behaviour, heaven knows
I’m not sure this report quite carries the flavour of the confrontation, or just how disgracefully the Prime Minister behaved:
IT WASN’T quite a fight scene from Raging Bull. But it was bruising enough when Kevin Rudd dined recently with a high-powered party from the Herald Sun at Nobu, the Crown Casino-based restaurant part-owned by Robert de Niro.I’d say more, but confidences must be respected. I’d merely add that I have no reason at all to suspect this recent judgement of mine to be false:
The PM and a couple of his senior political staff dined in an alcove at the flash Japanese eatery on March 30 with Herald Sun editor Simon Pristel, editor-in-chief Phil Gardner and Peter Blunden, managing director of The Herald and Weekly Times…
The trigger came when Mr Rudd discovered what would be on the front page of Melbourne’s tabloid the next day.
The paper was splashing with a story suggesting Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would, as the headline put it, ‘’Shut the borders’’. The front-page story spilled to two inside pages under a strap banner that read ‘’Border Wars’’.
The story was apparently the catalyst for Mr Rudd to express his strong views - at some volume in a packed restaurant - about balance in recent coverage of sensitive issues. He did not hold back - and the editors gave as good as they got.
But one disillusioned day you will hear from many who now work with him that how Rudd seems is bizarrely different to how he is.UPDATE
I don’t just mean that this publicly prissy churchgoer is privately a foul-mouthed, arrogant, paranoid and abusive control freak, but that many of his brightest ideas swiftly flop.
Neil Mitchell on 3AW commented this morning on this story, adding that the Herald Sun executives were “shocked” and warning Rudd against his foul temper and abusiveness. I suspect he is still brooding over Rudd’s offensive behaviour at a boozy party - one organised by 3AW, which prevents Mitchell from saying what went on. But he’s still cross enough to now say:
Things are unravelling for our Prime Minister. Now it will be fascinating to see whether he can maintain an even temper, maintain the myth of self-control.(No link to the audio.)
I discuss Rudd’s tantrum here with Steve Price on MTR (half-way through).
Rudd weakens, bludgers applaud
UNEMPLOYED people will no longer have to turn up to Centrelink every two weeks to hand in their dole forms, under radical changes that have been slammed for weakening the mutual obligation regime and for allowing jobless to opt out of the system.Today reader C. responds:
As I work for Centrelink, I have overheard many people waiting in line talking about how great it is that the rules have changed, and how they dont need to worry about finding four jobs per fortnight, making it easier for them to do other things, other than looking for work.
I have been told by fellow colleagues that the new rules were introduced to reduce the workload for Centrelink workers, who have to deal with disrespectful, and at times, hard to understand customers who speak very little English. Although it gets quite busy at times, to say we are over stressed and over worked is plain rubbish. Some offices may be understaffed, but we get the job done. At the end of the day, isnt that all that matters?
A few customers have asked me to put them back on forms that are due every fortnight, because they feel 12 weeks to hand in a form is cheating the system. Unfortunately, we cant do that.
In the end, who is benefiting? The dole bludgers who don’t do the right thing.
Good idea adopted
No sooner suggested here:
Abbott’s suggestion: no dole for the under-30sThan wisely considered:
US-style term limits on the dole, and stricter limits for the young, might be better...
THE Coalition is considering a radical plan to place time limits on the dole, ending payments after six months to anyone who refuses to move to a location where their skills are needed.UPDATE
Another policy is announced, which may save us billions:
THE Coalition is likely to scrap the $43 billion national broadband network if it wins office later this year, a position one industry expert labelled a ‘’total disaster’’ and the government said was a return to the Howard era.UPDATE 2
This blog may be a safer source of inspiration than a Conservative Party poster:
(Thanks to reader Nick.)
And who will be France’s burqa police?
I agree - the burqa is offensive, divisive, oppressive and alienating, but I wonder how this law is going to be enforced:
France is moving toward a ban on wearing face-covering Islamic veils in public, with the government set to examine a draft bill next month amid heated debate over women’s rights and religious freedom.UPDATE
President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke out in favor for a complete ban on Wednesday, and the relevant bill will be presented to the cabinet in May, government spokesman Luc Chatel said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy believed that the full veil, commonly referred to as the burqa in France, “hurts the dignity of women and is not acceptable in French society,” he told reporters.
Not just in France:
Belgian lawmakers are set Thursday to impose a ban on wearing the Islamic burqa in public, the first clampdown of its kind in Europe, unless the nation’s political crisis disrupts their vote.(Thanks to reader John.)
On March 31, the federal parliament’s home affairs committee voted unanimously to endorse a nationwide ban on clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa.
Those who ignore it could face a fine of 15-25 euros ($20-34 Cdn) and/or a jail sentence of up to seven days, unless they have police permission to wear the garments.
Rudd’s free-insulation brain-snap scrapped
The Rudd Government is clearing the wreckage before an election:
THE Rudd government is set to renege on a promise to relaunch the $1000 home insulation rebate, focusing instead on fixing the tens of thousands of installations that were botched under the original scheme.
Weeks after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd flagged a revamped home insulation scheme to start in June, cabinet yesterday decided to scrap the ill-fated program altogether…
The government has already spent $1.5 billion of its $2.45 billion budget for the insulation scheme, and there are fears the cost of fixing botched installations could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Australian film praised
Reader Chris Fawkes says Beneath Hill 60 is that too-rare thing - a great Australian movie. Go see.
The Australian’s Evan Williams tends to agree:
The men of the 1st Australian Tunnellers were a makeshift lot: raw, untrained, inexperienced. Most of them were miners or civil engineers, brought together on the western front during World War I to tunnel under German lines and lay explosive charges. Beneath Hill 60 is an account of their most daring exploit and is among the greatest Australian war films.The ABC’s Michael Clarke:
Beneath Hill 60 is an outstanding story that is told in an engaging, and at times, quite beautiful fashion… Add Beneath Hill 60 to the list of compelling and important films about Aussies at war.That said, the Herald Sun’s Leigh Paatsch, a man of good judgement, says the film tells an inspirational story, but at times boringly:
Beneath Hill 60 is only a mite better than Kokoda and well below the high standards set by Gallipoli.
The gunrunner Rudd shipped in
First Rudd lured them, then promised them and now holds them in indefinite detention:
A GUNRUNNER for the Tamil Tigers is among six Oceanic Viking refugees no country wants and the Prime Minister would rather forget after promising them rapid resettlement.
The six cannot be returned to Sri Lanka, but are condemned to indefinite detention on Christmas Island after ASIO labelled them a national security risk…
Shanmugarayah Sasikanthan, 27, ...used to smuggle pistols and ammunition for the Tigers. The one-time maths teacher believes they were used in assassination attempts.
The men’s predicament makes a mockery of the special deal Kevin Rudd cut with all 78 Oceanic Viking refugees to end an embarrassing stand-off with Indonesia on the Australian customs ship last year…
Australia brought the six Tamils to Christmas Island knowing they were a security risk…
Australia’s domestic spy agency found four of the refugees were ‘’directly or indirectly a risk to security’’, including a woman. Her children, a boy, 2, and a girl, 6, are also detained indefinitely.
It’s not who was killed, but how
A dumb response by Premier John Brumby, when the real issue now, following the murder in jail of Carl Williams, is as serious as potential corruption in the police force and prison service:
Responding to calls for a judicial probe or royal commission, Mr Brumby said: “To be honest, what occurred in the prison was obviously unacceptable, but the person concerned was a serial killer.
“I think it would be quite unnecessary and a quite inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money to have a royal commission...”
A good health system for bureaucrats
Uh, oh. Once again, the spin was better than the substance:
KEVIN Rudd’s claim to have delivered historic health reform is under increasing challenge, with doubts emerging about whether it achieves its aim of sidelining inefficient state bureaucracies.It sounds so very Ruddish, or the result of a deal made simply because a deal had to be made:
As the government yesterday confirmed that as few as 165 out of the nation’s 764 hospitals would be converted to the activity-based funding model the Prime Minister championed as a key driver of a more efficient health service, Canberra has also agreed to take a hands-off approach to the management of local hospital networks. This would give states and territories total control over appointments to the new bodies.
Cracks appeared in the Rudd plan yesterday, with the Australian Medical Association questioning who was in charge of the hospitals and states and territories refusing to co-operate on the proposed local health networks. Mr Rudd is also yet to seal a deal with Western Australia.
LOCAL control—the catchcry of Kevin Rudd’s hospital funding shakeup—has been sacrificed as part of the deal to win state support for the plans, which experts fear may generate significant extra bureaucracy.UPDATE
John Deeble, one of the architects of Medibank and Medicare, said far from being a blueprint for revolutionary reform, the agreement was “mostly about process—it’s mostly about federal-state relations”.
“There was nothing that will fundamentally change the way health services work,” Professor Deeble said....
Bob Wells, director of the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at the Australian National University, branded the agreement a “disaster” that would see a proliferation of new federal agencies -- without achieving the key aims set out in the initial reform blueprint.
Mr Wells said the revised plan had been heavily watered down, was hospital-centric and included “rampant” bureaucracy involving “bodies reporting to bodies reporting to other bodies”.
Does this look like a deal that, as Rudd promised, ends the “blame game” and makes governments more accountable?
DAVID Speers: Who do voters blame? Who’s accountable? The commonwealth or the state?Rudd: The system we have devised is very plain. On the funding of the system, because I as Prime Minister have taken on the responsibility. On the question of the running of the system, we’ve said we’d have a new health and hospitals network. That is therefore run through your individual local hospital networks, and they therefore would be locally accountable. That’s as it should be. We do the funding, they do delivery, that’s as it must be.Oh, and Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews told me on MTR yesterday that he would be responsible if you didn’t get treated on time in a Victorian hospital. So take your pick.
Harry Hemley, president of the Australian Medical Association Victoria, is not impressed:
AFTER what has been touted as the biggest health reform in more than two decades, the state’s hospitals may end up looking worryingly similar to the way they do now. Politics and spin aside, the health financing agreement will deliver only moderate improvements for Victoria’s hospitals - not the real reform our system has been crying out for…
The target to treat 95 per cent of elective surgery patients within clinically recommended time frames and limit emergency department waits to four hours is terrific in theory, but will be close to impossible to put into practice.
More worrying is the fact that it could lead to inappropriate patient care in order to achieve hospital targets…
Improving future health outcomes requires much more than an agreement on hospital financing.
War is fine, but a jeep is too dangerous
And war is completely ruled out for OHS reasons:
OCCUPATIONAL health and safety rules mean there will be no Defence Force vehicles in Adelaide’s Anzac Day parade for the first time on Sunday…(Thanks to reader Observer of Wodonga.)
War veterans are being stopped from riding in army Land Rovers due to the risk of injury and legal action under new occupational health and safety rules…
Defence said yesterday: “The commander believed that the army vehicles were not the most appropriate for veterans and elderly to step in and out of. Therefore it was decided that on this occasion the request from the RSL would be declined. The amended OH&S Act has resulted in the liability being placed on the commander and the Commonwealth should any injuries occur.”
Chavez shows our Left the way
How much more inspiration can our Leftists here take from the great Chavez?
You’ll remember that two years ago a collective of our shiraz socialists - including the ABC’s Phillip Adams, propagandist John Pilger, the Greens’ Kerry Nettle and Kevin Rudd’s nephew Van Thanh Rudd - begged Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to come teach Australians a lesson:
Every country has its own traditions and culture and has to find its own solutions, but what Venezuela has been able to achieve in so little time will be a source of inspiration and ideas for many in Australia.Since then this “source of inspiration and ideas” been teaching our closet totalitarians lots of lessons, such as how to shoot students, close down critical TV stations, arrest political opponents and create shortages.
Now he inspires them with his alleged corruption, too:
Wilmer Azuaje was a young firebrand when he joined Hugo Chávez’s revolution a decade ago to topple Venezuela’s corrupt ruling class. He was elected to the national assembly and worked with the president’s family to turn their home state of Barinas, a rural backwater of cattle ranches, into a laboratory of change…(Thanks to reader Mark.)
The baby-faced protege, once a rising star in the ruling party, has now become the Chávez family’s most outspoken foe. “They turned out to be the most corrupt ever. They betrayed us.”
Azuaje has blown the whistle on what he claims is a kleptocratic dynasty in Barinas where farms, businesses, banks and government contracts have been pocketed by the president’s parents and five brothers....
Chávez’s father ruled as governor [of Barinas] for a decade until handing over to the president’s brother, Adán (above, left, with Chavez), in an election marred by fraud allegations. Other brothers are also thriving: Aníbal is mayor of nearby Sabaneta; Adelis is a top banker at Banco Sofitasa, which enjoys government contracts; Argenis wields enormous clout as a political fixer; Narciso is reportedly planning his own election run…
It is alleged the family bought thousands of hectares of farmland through proxies, including a former labourer, Nestor Izarra, who is named as the owner of one estate, La Malagueña…
Azuaje, the Barinas firebrand, has had a torrid time since delivering to the national assembly a package of pictures, deeds and documents which he said proved the Chávez family amassed an illicit $20m fortune. The government-controlled assembly dismissed the claims after a brief inquiry.
The 33-year-old legislator said he then reaped a whirlwind: shots fired at his home; a brother killed; his mother and wife fired from state jobs. The latest alleged reprisal: a criminal charge that he abused and struck a policewoman.
Gaia strikes, planes down
David Spratt, whose alarmist book Climate Code Red was launched by Victoria’s politicised Governor, David de Kretser, sees a volcanic eruption in Iceland as an act of Gaia:
Air travel is the fastest growing sector of global greenhouse gas emissions.(Thanks to reader Neil.)
Eyjafiallajokull may be Gaia’s revenge. At the least, we should be thankful for a practical demonstration as to how dependent we have become on industries and patterns of mass consumption such as aviation, which are simply incompatible with a safe climate.