Saturday, July 31, 2010

Headlines Saturday 31st July 2010

=== Todays Toon ===
Lieutenant General Sir John Northcott KCMG, KCVO, CB (24 March 1890 – 4 August 1966) was an Australian Army general who served as Chief of the General Staff during World War II, and commanded the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in the Occupation of Japan. He was the first Australian-born Governor of New South Wales.
=== Bible Quote ===
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”- Matthew 5:14,16
=== Headlines ===

Investigators Recommend Rangel Get Slap On Wrist
Investigative panel looking at alleged ethics violations by New York congressman recommend 'reprimand,' the most lenient of the three, formal modes of discipline in the House.

Lawmakers: Amnesty Plan in the Works?
GOP senators ask top immigration officials in the Obama administration to reveal whether large-scale plans are under way to provide so-called non-legislative version of amnesty for thousands

U.S.-Contracted Firms Ignore Iran Sanctions
Two multinational corporations that have earned millions of dollars in U.S. government contracts are conducting business with Iran in violation of recently signed sanctions, watchdog group says

On Eve of Wedding, Chelsea Thru the Years
Chelsea Clinton was only 12 when she moved into the White House, and as she prepares to walk down the aisle, take a look at how she's grown

Breaking News
Extremely rare dolphin threatened
A LITTLE-known species of dolphin, found only in northern Australia, is taking a battering from boats and lost fishing gear off the WA tourist town of Broome.

Calcium supplements linked to heart attacks
PEOPLE taking calcium supplements have about a 30 per cent higher risk of heart attack, research suggests.

Tear gas in letter to Paris US embassy
TWO men who work for the US embassy in Paris were exposed to tear gas fumes while handling suspicious letter.

Crackdown on foreign-born criminals
PRESIDENT Sarkozy threatens to strip the French nationality from foreign-born criminals who use violence against police

Palin wedding plans rocked by rumours
DAUGHTER of former vice presidential candidate reconsidering reunion with former boyfriend.

Abbott leads Gillard in latest poll
JULIA Gillard has taken a battering in the latest opinion poll, which shows the Coalition would win the election.

Floods kill at least 430 in Pakistan
DEATH toll from three days of flooding in Pakistan has reached at least 430, as rains submerge villages and trigger landslides.

Forest fires death toll reaches 25
DEATH toll from forest fires sweeping across Russia amid a record-breaking heatwave has grown to 25.

Soldier in video leak case transferred
PRIVATE suspected in the leak of thousands of classified documents about the Afghanistan war moved to US military jail.

Pressure on mayor to quit over deaths
MAYOR rejects claims he bears political repsonsibility for music festival tragedy where 21 people were crushed to death.

NSW/ACT
Buy today, price hike tomorrow
SYDNEY motorists are being urged to fill up this morning, with prices to skyrocket by tomorrow.

Hospital's loo a health threat
ON the same day two burns victims were forced to wait, Liverpool Hospital's syringe bin in the emergency toilets was overflowing.

School's five sets of twin trouble
FIVE sets of twins starting at South Grafton's Jacaranda Preschool - but lucky Liam Mitchell is the only boy. Check out the twin trouble.

Our schools are just left to rot
NSW Labor will defer school maintenance to pay for Verity Firth's promise to replace unflued heaters.

Graduates lend a helping hound
FORGET teaching your dog how to catch a stick - imagine one that even cleans up after you.

Flu vaccine for under-5s given OK
THE suspension of flu vaccine for children under five has been lifted by the after a series of adverse reactions earlier in the year.

The truth about our violent city
AS NSW police try to drive down the "perception" of crime, we can reveal the real, shocking figures.

Keneally China trip costs $105,000
NSW taxpayers spent over $105,000 on a week-long trip to China for Premier Kristina Keneally.

Queensland
Mackay woman hit by car
A 23-YEAR-OLD woman has been hit by a car in Mackay after reportedly stepping into the path of the vehicle.

Two rescued after boat hit rock
TWO men have been rescued after their boat became stuck on a rock in north Queensland waters, with one suffering head injuries during the ordeal.

Four with potential spine injuries
FOUR people have suspected spinal injuries after a single-vehicle rollover at Springsure, southeast of Rockhampton.

Man killed in Stanthorpe crash
A MAN has been killed in a single-vehicle crash at Stanthorpe, southwest of Brisbane.

Victim's sister sad at lack of remorse
THE sister of the murder victim in Queensland's first case of DNA innocence testing has expressed regret the man jailed for the murder will not admit his guilt.

Water commission leaking staff
THE state's water watchdog is battling a staff exodus as the organisation struggles for direction after the end of Queensland's crippling drought.

Ekka showbags get fresh
BRISBANE'S Ekka will offer a fresh fruit showbag in an Australian-first move away from the traditional show tucker of dagwood dogs, chips and fairy floss.

Sellers unfazed by election
THE election campaign has not stalled the real estate sector with a significant increase in properties for sale compared to last year.

Speed camera threat in pay blue
POLICE have threatened to turn off speed cameras and take sick leave in a mass block in an angry response to the latest pay offer from Premier Anna Bligh.

Two children missing in north Qld
QUEENSLAND is on a "child abduction alert" for a missing 15-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl who were last seen with a man known to them.

Victoria
Parents and schools at odds
PARENTS are losing patience with the failure of some principals and education bureaucrats to resolve festering disputes with schools.

Leagues' code of silence
BIG local leagues have applied a cone of silence to footy thuggery. It comes as it was revealed seven junior matches were abandoned.

Giving myki a miss
COMMUTERS have avoided myki in its first week of operation on trams and buses.

Thumbs up for iPhone
AS the hysteria over the iPhone 4 launch subsides, Melbourne users have given it the seal of approval.

Parmas going posh
The days of eating cheap food at your local pub could be over, with some pub meals more expensive than Melbourne's top restaurants.

Stores get a big, fat fail
A TIGHT leather jacket that flattened the bust with sleeves so tight they acted like a tourniquet under the armpits was, apparently, a great fit.

Day off as schools log on
VICTORIAN state school students will get the day off on Monday week while their teachers enter a brave new cyber world.

Women dies in Cowwarr smash
A WOMAN has died and another woman and two men are in a critical condition after a night of carnage on Victoria's roads.

PM confirms partner's 'silly' fines
UPDATE 1.45pm: THE Prime Minister says her de facto Tim Mathieson has “paid the price’’ for breaking road rules in her car.

Commuters missing 'Free Friday' train
UPDATE 11.55am: METRO begins a detailed infrastructure inspection as some travellers remain oblivious to free travel today.

Northern Territory
Violent bullies force girl out of school
TWO years of bullying by a gang of girls has left Cassidy Pratt "the most anxious kid you could meet".

South Australia
$400 a week - for a bedroom
UNIVERSITY students are facing an accommodation crisis, paying up to $400 a week for a bedroom as landlords "cash in" on international students .

Stuck at the wrong station
TRAIN passengers have been left stranded at strange stations late at night because malfunctioning doors are preventing them from getting off at the correct stop.

Median strips a bike path necessity
BIKE paths should be taken off main roads and placed on median strips, footpaths and rail corridors to separate cyclists and vehicles, an urban designer says.

Imported construction workers paid more
VICTORIAN construction workers are employed on South Australian building sites and being paid as much as $20,000 more a year for doing so.

Burnside report calls for criminal charges
THE report into allegations of bullying, harassment and undue influence in the Burnside Council contains recommendations for criminal charges.

Home buyers head for the Hills
SOUTH Australian property buyers have ignored the risk of bushfires and are driving house prices in the Adelaide Hills to new highs.

Former Super CEO sued for expenses
FORMER Statewide Superannuation chief executive Frances Magill has been accused of using almost $344,000 of members' money for personal expenses.

Adelaide's underbelly exposed
HIDDEN among the leafy green cafe set of our suburban inner east, police were yesterday dismantling a massive drug laboratory at an opulent bluestone villa.

'Missile' driver sentenced to 18 months
A YOUTH speeding like a "missile" in a high-powered car has been detained for killing cyclist Darren Dunow near Lewiston last November.

Inquest into cop-killer Fry's death
DEPUTY State Coroner Anthony Schapel will conduct an inquest into the death of notorious cop-killer Lindsay Allan Fry.

Western Australia
'Rotten' power pole caused Toodyay fires
A NEW report claims a "rotten" power pole caused the devastating Toodyay fire that destroyed 38 homes.

Man pleads guilty to running over dog
A DAWESVILLE man has pleaded guilty to deliberately running over and killing his dog.

Police searching for missing teen
POLICE have a launched a public appeal in the efforts to find a missing 16-year-old boy.

Restaurant crash driver charged
A P-PLATE driver who crashed her car into a busy inner-city restaurant earlier this month was today charged with careless driving.

Police fears over replica gun thefts
POLICE fear two replica handguns stolen from a house in Stratton will be used for criminal purposes.

Censured health boss working in WA
THE Queensland Health bureaucrat who supervised Dr Jayant Patel is now working in WA.

Perth house prices fall 1.5pc
HOUSE prices in Perth experienced the largest monthly fall in June as the case for the RBA to hold interest rates strengthens.

Flu vaccine 'safe for children'
PARENTS have been advised that it’s safe for children under five to have their seasonal flu vaccine.

WA 'desperate' for light rail - Greens
A LIGHT rail network is ''desperately needed''' to ease public transport woes when Perth's new AFL stadium is built, say the WA Greens.

Archbishop stirs poll atheism fears
PERTH Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey has suggested Julia Gillard's atheism could cost her votes.

Tasmania
Nothing New
=== Journalists Corner ===
Guest: Senator Evan Bayh (D)
Pushing for an extension! He's fighting against his own party to keep Bush's tax cuts in place. Now, Senator Evan Bayh joins Sean.
===
The "Bush Recession"?
The administration cranks up the blame game over the economic crisis. So, will that strategy really pay off? Steve Moore reacts!
===
Saturday: Don't Miss 'The Cost of Freedom'
GM's shocking new move - will their Volt be a bailout blunder? And, Arizona's immigration roadblock ... will it fast track financial problems for other states?
===
On Fox News Insider
King VS. Weiner, On-Air Duke Out Over 9/11 Aid
Uncle Kracker Performs LIVE on Fox and Friends
Robert Gibbs Headed to American Idol?

32 Senators call for Investigation into Regime's Crimes Against Humanity!
Amazing! In just two weeks, we got 32 Senators to call for the US to support a UN Commission of Inquiry into the military regime's crimes against humanity. This was made possible by your phone calls to your Senators' offices. This is a monumental step forward in our campaign to hold Burma's Generals accountable for their crimes against humanity and war crimes.

See if your Senator was one of the 32 here.

While we continue to pressure our government on behalf of the people of Burma, the struggle in Burma continues. Just this week the regime raided a number of Karen villages sending even more villagers on the run. We ask President Obama and Secretary Clinton to hear these villagers and work together with the international community to bring Burma's generals committing these crimes to justice.

We are going to need your help to make sure that the Obama administration listens to these Senators and to the growing voices around the world calling for a Commission of Inquiry on Burma. We at U.S. Campaign for Burma will remain steadfast in this goal.
=== Comments ===

Have a go Kernot dreaming of a seat in Senate
Piers Akerman
JULIA Gillard styles herself as the candidate for “moving forward”. Cheryl Kernot is now trying to appeal to those who prefer the view in the rear-vision mirror. - She is running for the senate in NSW and she has some voter recognition. If her voter group gets more than 4% of the vote they get paid some $2.30 per vote, and that could be substantial for someone who wants to live big and contribute little.
I am running for the seat of Blaxland and am doing so because I want to raise the issue of Hamidur Rahman’s death. I am not the ALP candidate who got 68% of the 2 party preferred last time, neither am I the Liberal candidate, although I am a Liberal member (and yes, those preferences go his way for me) and so I’m not in it for the dosh. I don’t like seeing voters taken for granted when there is so much that could be done. - ed.

===
O'Reilly on Obama's 'View' Appearance

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FROM "THE O'REILLY FACTOR," JULY 29, 2010. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST HOST: A lot of reaction to President Obama's appearance on "The View" today. Bill O'Reilly himself will join us in a moment with his take on how the president did. But first, let's take a look at some of the highlights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The last 20 months has been a nonstop effort to restart the economy, to stabilize the financial system, to make sure that we're creating jobs again instead of losing them. And in the midst of all of that, we've also had the oil spill, we've also had two wars. As much as you said it's been tough for me, the truth is, it's not tough for me. I mean, you know, I've got people, pundits on the news who may say things about me.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": You noticed?
OBAMA: Of course.
BEHAR: The right wing through Fox News and other outlets, they seem to be hijacking the narrative. Where on your side is the narrative? Where is your attack dog to come out and tell the American people, "Listen, this is what we did"?
OBAMA: Joy, that's your job.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": We are in a state of chronic joblessness. Yet -- and we heard in the beginning of the show, as well, you claim that there's saved jobs, something -- a standard that's not been used before by any administration.
OBAMA: Well, actually, Elisabeth, what's happened is that we have gained private sector jobs for the last five months. So we were losing jobs when I was sworn in, as I said, 750,000 jobs per month. We've now gained jobs for five consecutive months in the private sector.
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": They took your e-mail away when you came in, but do you do it on the side?
OBAMA: You know, I have a BlackBerry, but only 10 people have it. And I've got to admit, it's no fun because they think that it's probably going to be subject to the Presidential Records Act. So nobody wants to send me the real juicy stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Joining us now on the phone, the aforementioned Bill O'Reilly. Bill O'Reilly, thanks for taking time from your vacation.
BILL O'REILLY: All right, Juan. I watched the show tonight -- today, I should say, with the ladies.
WILLIAMS: Yes.
O'REILLY: And, you know, I've been there about, I'd say seven or eight times in that seat. And I think Obama did pretty well. He was relaxed. He knew what he wanted to say. He knew -- I don't think he knew the questions in advance, but he certainly knew it was a friendly audience except for Elisabeth Hasselbeck. And it was more like a campaign rally. I got that campaign rally thing out of that. How did you pick it up?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I looked at the news of it, Bill. And it seems to me that he went there because he's after an audience of women. And he, right now is sinking in the polls. And he thinks it's with conservative women. I should say independent conservative-leaning, but independent women. And he thinks they watch "The View." And "The View" has, what, 3 to 4 million women who watch. You know this. They can move the polls. So that's what he was doing there. And I think the most newsy thing he did was say that he's been creating jobs for the last five months. What say you?
O'REILLY: Well, the women thing, yes, OK. But this is basically a chosen venue because there's no challenge to it. That's No. 1.
No. 2, if he goes on any program like that, it's going to get picked up on the Internet. So everybody's going to see it. And then, you know, cable news is going to pick it up and run with it. So it's not about being on "The View." Everybody gets to see and hear what he says. And so you select a venue that's friendly. He did that. He came off fine.
All right, jobs. In the entire Obama experience, which is 18 months, the country has lost 2.5 million private sector jobs, all right? That is according to the Labor Department, Bureau of Labor statistics. So 2.5 million jobs in the private sector gone, since Mr. Obama's been president. Sounds bad, OK? But we all know he inherited a situation that was pretty intense.
WILLIAMS: Right.
O'REILLY: And in the last five months, he's added about 600,000 jobs. Not he, but the country. 600,000 jobs in 2010. However, the government has spent nearly $500 billion, that's half a trillion dollars, stimulating the economy to add these 600,000, which is a paltry -- and I emphasize that word paltry -- performance. You're going to spend a half a trillion dollars, you better add more than 600,000 jobs. Do the math. I mean, it's crazy.
So what the president is saying is No. 1, he saved the country from a depression. Well, he can say that. Who can prove it? Nobody.
No. 2, that he saved, s-a-v-e-d, saved all these jobs. Well, who can prove that? Nobody.
So you know, they're shrewd in their presentation, but the most important thing he said, and this is very, very true for Barack Obama, that he believes in his heart all the controversy, all the low polls, all the trouble he's having right now is going to go away because his economic policies are going to pay off and the economy's going to rise the last two years of his first term. That's what he believes will save him.
WILLIAMS: Right, but so, Bill, let me challenge you here. It's without a doubt true what he said, that for the last five months, the U.S. economy has been adding jobs. And what we know is coming out of the Bush years, the U.S. economy was losing jobs.
O'REILLY: Yes, but Juan, if you're going to spend that much money, come on, why don't you just send the checks to the people? It's cheaper.
WILLIAMS: Well…
O'REILLY: I mean, come on.
WILLIAMS: Sixty-two percent of the stimulus money has already been spent.
O'REILLY: Yes.
WILLIAMS: That bucks up your point. But here's my point to you. Right now, he's still making the case, do you want to go backwards or do you want to go forwards? This is…
O'REILLY: I'd like – look…
WILLIAMS: This is what he's sticking up in "The View" today.
O'REILLY: Juan, I want the economy to prosper, but I'd like the country not be bankrupt at the end of it. How about you?
WILLIAMS: Well, without a doubt. And you know what?
O'REILLY: OK, so I mean, he's spending a half a trillion dollars to add 600,000 jobs. Come on, Juan. (more at the link)
===
PARTY APART
Tim Blair
“The Julia Gillard experiment is failing,” writes Peter Hartcher:
Labor’s share of the vote in today’s Herald/Nielsen poll is almost as bad as the party’s result in the worst poll of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership.

On these numbers, Tony Abbott would be prime minister if an election had been held in the past three days. This is a political emergency for Labor.
And one that few – including Martin Flanagan – saw coming:
When this campaign began, I thought Gillard was a good match-up for Abbott. I thought she’d be too steady for him, too precise – as they say in boxing, too good in close.

But this election is not the contest I imagined …
Me neither. Labor’s blunders have been spectacular. More on that poll from Michelle Grattan:
The Gillard government would be swept from power according to the latest poll, which shows Labor trailing the Coalition 48 to 52 on a two-party vote.

In a dramatic turnaround, Julia Gillard’s approval has plunged and her lead as preferred Prime Minister has been sharply eroded during a week when government division was exposed by an anti-Gillard leak of cabinet secrets.
Significantly, the poll – which records a six-point decline in Labor’s primary vote – was taken on the very night the leak was reported. Knock a couple of points off due to timing, but consider the lasting damage possibly done. And while you’re thinking about that, think about this:
The shadow of treachery hovers over Gillard. Rudd is going to hospital for a gall bladder operation but the Rudd factor looms larger with his statement that he is ready to campaign in Queensland and the rest of Australia, a potentially frightening event for Labor …

Rudd made his own written statement revealing he was entering hospital for an operation but would resume campaign activity next week both in Griffith and “elsewhere in Queensland and the rest of the country as appropriate”. The ALP national headquarters has made no such campaign request of Rudd. The people who deposed him as PM are not asking him to either assist or save Gillard’s campaign.
Labor is terrified that Kevin Rudd will campaign for Labor. This is remarkable. Just 36 days ago, he was the star of Labor’s election posters. Now he’s the enemy:
The weight of internal opinion is that Rudd has been the one behind the destabilisation of Gillard and her campaign. Senior Labor players believe only Rudd is angry enough to dice with an actual election loss
Further leaks will only make things more entertaining. But leaks aren’t the main problem. They’re a symptom. The problem is Labor, a riotously divided party increasingly subject to the whims of Mark Arbib. Do hit that link, where the following is detailed:

• Arbib assisted in the removal of Kim Beazley and the rise of Rudd.

• Arbib assisted in the removal of Rudd and the rise of Gillard.

• Arbib was previously “part of the push to replace [the former premier] Morris Iemma with Nathan Rees. A year later he stood back and allowed the Macquarie Street wing of the NSW Right and the right-wing unions to execute Rees.”

• Arbib urged Rudd to drop his emissions trading scheme, then used backlash against the move to argue for Rudd’s removal.

• Arbib is now a foe of fellow Labor henchman Joe Tripodi. Can’t anyone in Labor remain friendly?

• Arbib once said: “We’ll do whatever it takes to win an election. Definitely.”

Right now, Arbib’s tactics are shaping to deliver a sensational defeat.
===
MISUNDERSTOOD IN MOBILE
Tim Blair
Alabama teenager Bobby Wyatt blitzes the field in Mobile, then is blitzed himself by golf reporters:
Hours after he tapped in for 57, Wyatt said he was bombarded with phone calls and text messages congratulating him on his record round. He appeared on several local radio shows and had an interview scheduled on the PGA Tour Radio Network for Thursday evening. On Friday morning he’ll be a guest on ESPN’s “First Take.”

“And I got a call from Australia today,” Wyatt said. “I’m not sure who it was. He had a really thick accent, I couldn’t understand him. I think he was from a newspaper.”
(Via Mr Bingley, who emails: “Kevni get a new job?")
===
The real “Coles and Woolies tax” is Gillard’s
Andrew Bolt
So much for Labor’s limp attempt to sell the ”Coles and Woolies tax” scare:
The head of Coles says he does not believe having to pay a levy to fund the Coalition’s proposed paid parental leave scheme would push prices up for consumers.The Coalition has committed to funding the scheme by imposing a 1.7 per cent company tax levy on the nation’s biggest businesses.

The Government says it will push up food prices.

But the managing director of Coles, Ian McLeod, has told ABC’s Sunday Profile the levy would have a relatively small impact.

“In overall terms I’m probably more concerned about the rising utility bills that are emerging through Australia, with electricity rates rising at almost 20 per cent,” he said.
And those rises are largely thanks to the decisions of governments - almost all state Labor governments such as that in NSW:
Over the next three years the increase will be between $246 and $600, and that depends on which retailer you take electricity from and that is what happens if the Commonwealth does not introduce this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; if it does, there’ll be a further $300 of increase on top of that.
Let’s call the ETS a “Coles and Woolies tax”, shall we?

(Thanks to Jeff of FNQ.)
===
Police go cold on Gore case
Andrew Bolt
Gore won’t face charges for overheating:
FORMER U.S. Vice President Al Gore will not face criminal charges over allegations he groped an Oregon massage therapist nearly four years ago…

The paper reported prosecutors declined to pursue the case because Hagerty, 54, failed a polygraph test and because she appeared to have been paid by the National Enquirer, which broke the story. As well, the Oregonian said, hotel workers gave conflicting information about that evening.

===
O’Brien lets Abbott speak, but not as he lets Gillard or Brown
Andrew Bolt
Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog says Tony Abbott won his debate with Kerry O’Brien this week - but only because O’Brien cheated:

MWD is of the considered view that Tony Abbott did very well in his debate with Kerry O’Brien on the 7.30 Report last Monday. Very well indeed. You see, the Liberal Party leader won the debate.

How do we know this? Well, according to Nancy’s count, Mr Abbott got 1742 words in edgeways - compared with Mr O’Brien’s 1709 words. In percentage terms, Tony Abbott got 50.5 per cent of the on-air time compared to Kerry O’Brien’s 49.5 per cent. Well done, Tony Abbott.

To be fair to Mr O’Brien, however, Tony Abbott got some artificial assistance - since the 7.30 Report decided to show the Opposition leader a long clip of an interview he did with Kerry O’Brien on 27 July 2009. The aim was to make Tony Abbott account to the 7.30 Report presenter about views he had expressed in the past. In view of the planned cross-examination, Mr Abbott’s 2009 interview featured a bit more Abbott and a bit less O’Brien - making it possible for the Opposition leader to achieve an overall victory. [Interesting tactic. Has Mr O’Brien tried this one on Julia Gillard? ....]

In fact - if the Abbott/O’Brien replay is not counted - Kerry O’Brien had 51.5 per cent of the interview time to Tony Abbott’s 48.5 per cent. Kerry O’Brien is more inclined to listen to other political leaders. He gave Julia Gillard 58.5 per cent of air time on 19 July. On 5 July he allowed Greens leader Bob Brown a whopping 63 per cent of air time - and confined himself to a mere 37 per cent.

===
Coalition leads as Labor self-destructs
Andrew Bolt
A catastrophic result for Labor:
In a stunning reversal of fortunes for the Coalition after a disastrous week for the government, support for both the Prime Minister and Labor has plummeted; the Coalition now leads Labor on a two-party-preferred basis by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

This represents a 6 percentage point two-party swing against the government since the last Herald poll a week ago, and a 4.7 point two-party swing against the government since the last election…

The poll shows Labor’s primary vote has gone into freefall, plunging six points in a week to 36 per cent while the Coalition’s primary vote rose four points to 45 per cent. The Greens remained steady at 12 per cent…

The 58 per cent to 42 per cent lead that Ms Gillard enjoyed over Mr Abbott among women voters only a week ago has disappeared and the female vote for Labor and the Coalition is now statistically even at 49-51.
This result also comes just two days after a Galaxy poll put the parties at 50-50.

The import of this poll does not just lie in its predictive value. The poll will also hurt Labor’s already floundering campaign for at least several dark days.

First, the pressure now on Julia Gillard has become colossal. She faces not just defeat but personal humiliation if she leads Labor to defeat just seven weeks after assassinating a prime minister who was once our most popular on record. She will feel real fear, but betraying a glimpse of that will fatally make her seem out of her depth and out of control - the very opposite of what she’s projected for the past three years.

Second, Gillard will have to change to a much riskier tactic for her. She has tried to sail through the campaign serenely and regally as the frontrunner, barely engaging with Tony Abbott, trying to seem as the calm, impeturbable and methodical Prime Minister that Rudd in fact never was. Now she has to attack Abbott, who has seemed more assertive and even Prime Ministerial by the day. Can she do it without seeming shrill and scared? Her few digs at Abbott in the debate - patronising him as “naive”, for instance - seemed dangerously unsuccessful to me. It’s a challenge for a woman in politics to be strong without seeming just a bitch,

Third, Tony Abbott now knows he need take fewer risks - and certainly not of the magnitude of his absurdly lavish parental leave scheme. His real work now is to seem genuine prime ministerial material, now that voters are cooling rapidly on Labor and Gillard again.

Fourth, Abbott will have a surge of confidence - and confidence is a very reassuring thing to see in a political leader, providing it comes across more as assuredness than cockiness.

Fifth, the results will finally kill off that absurdly exaggerated claim that Abbott has a “women problem”. Having his shy wife and his daughters appear with him seems to have helped.

Sixth, journalists have the meme for the next week - Labor’s stumbles.

Seventh, as Osama bin Laden said, people tend to follow the strong horse. If the Liberals look like winning, more businesses will dare donate to its fund, and more public servants will dare to leak it revelations about Labor. On the other side, the Labor leakers against Gillard will be joined by the blamethrowers, advice-givers and the desperate.The party could yet blow right open.

This past week could prove to be the one that lost it for Labor. This next week could confirm it, unless Labor finds something very special, or the Liberals manage some great pratfall.

UPDATE

Alexander Downer:
Every time I look at Gillard I am reminded of Canada. In 1993, the then government of Canada was in deep trouble. Prime minister Brian Mulroney was sacked and replaced by Kym Campbell, Canada’s first female prime minister. Not only did she lose the election held five months later, but she lost her seat.
Michelle Grattan calls for a bucket:
The more policies converge, the worse for Labor. If Abbott isn’t scary, you might just vote for him. Labor knows it has to get back to demonising him, but Abbott, after those first few bad ‘’WorkChoices’’ days, is proving an elusive target. Gillard desperately needs to sharpen the difference.
Paul Kelly calls for a policy:
… the most conspicuous event of the week is Gillard’s inability to articulate a fresh policy agenda for her prime ministership. It is surprising but true. It is as though Labor thinks a fresh face, as distinct from a fresh agenda, is enough...It seems Gillard as Prime Minister has no wider set of ideas, policies or philosophy to impart, a reminder of how closely she was tied into Rudd’s government and how much continuity remains in the Rudd-Gillard transition.
Chris Uhlmann:
But the trouble isn’t with the campaign team or the leader; it is with the product they are trying to sell. Its core is empty… Too much of it is based on slick political fixes and the longer this campaign runs the more chance there is that it will age badly… (O)ne of the clear themes of this campaign is that Labor prefers political fixes to proper fixes. If it looks like a solution, then it will do. But it won’t.
Peter Hartcher misreads Rudd again, and on the very day of another leak:
Will the leaks continue regardless? We will see. But Rudd must be praying that they will not. Because at the current rate, Rudd could end up being blamed, fairly or not, for costing Labor the election.
Paul Toohey on just why the Cabinet leaks were so devastating for Gillard, unmarried and childless:
But out in Babyland, in Sydney’s outer west, news that Gillard apparently tried to kill off Labor’s paid parental leave scheme ... has been met with outright hostility… For young mothers and fathers, it’s pretty simple: Gillard tried to stand in the way of parental leave because it was not something she, personally, would ever have to worry about...

This does not pretend to be an exhaustive survey of what young parents are thinking out west. We only spoke to a handful in Camden, part of the marginal seat of Macarthur, held by the Liberals but which, after a redistribution, is now viewed as a notional Labor seat. Most said they believed Gillard had made the comments. They all said she did not understand them.
Jennifer Hewett:
Her appearances have been generally so managed and controlled, her style comes across as semi-robotic and in need of new batteries. Her reputation for quick-witted retorts is being strangled in a mumble of marketing jargon and slogans. The debate last Sunday night showed her endlessly repeating the focus group lines and being calm to the point of being soporific. The idea of a Citizens Assembly on climate change suggested a politician even more addicted than her predecessor to spin over substance. Among her own side, plenty of people are shaking their heads at this confusion about the real Gillard that is being allowed to develop in voters’ minds.
UPDATE 2

The Liberals go in hard, with a reworked Kevin O’Lemon:

UPDATE 3

Reader Stuart:
Sportsbet.com.au has Abbott @ $2.95 in from $3.80. TAB Sportsbet has him @ $3 in from $4.50.

Gillard is $1.40 out from $1.22
.
===
Flagging an invasion
Andrew Bolt

I doubt this is an effective way to protest against laws trying to limit illegal immigration. Indeed, it tends to portray that immigration as an invasion.

Meanwhile, France tries to deal with what in some suburbs seems almost an ethnic or religious war, brought on by lax immigration policies:
President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he wanted to strip French nationality from anyone of foreign origin who threatened the life of a police officer, in a crackdown after riots shook two French towns this month.
And in Australia:

AN Islamist website based in Australia is co-hosting an international forum this weekend.

It is described by a London research centre as an ”online conference of global terrorists”.

The forum, to be streamed live on the Australian-registered website Authentic Tawheed, will feature a line-up of speakers known for their militant teachings and links with al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups.

They include British-based cleric Abdullah el-Faisal, who was previously a translator for British al-Qa’ida leader Abu Qatada, and who was deported from Britain in 2007 after being convicted of inciting racial hatred and urging his followers to kill non-Muslims.

The forum will “examine the current war against Islam and Muslims, and ask for how much longer can the kuffar (non-believers) fight against the deen (religion) of Islam, and the necessary steps needed for victory”. A starting time of midnight tonight in Sydney is advertised.

===
Yet another green con unravels
Andrew Bolt
Nothing about green schemes is real - whether is the good they allegedly do or the harm they allegedly confront. So why the big surprise that one more such scheme turns out to be a joke:
LABOR’S push to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the use of energy efficiency schemes was yesterday dealt another blow when building industry heavyweights discredited the star ratings being applied to hundreds of thousands of homes.

Investigations by the building industry have found that the mandatory star ratings scheme is inaccurate and fundamentally flawed.

The Housing Industry Association and Master Builders Australia yesterday joined scientists in calling for urgent action by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to resolve problems that are potentially having an impact on more than 100,000 houses built each year.

They said owners were not aware that mandatory software tools—used to calculate whether a planned new house could achieve the minimum five-star energy efficiency rating necessary to obtain approval for construction—gave vastly different results for the same house under identical conditions…

The results show that the three software tools, including the original model designed by the CSIRO, were inherently unreliable.

The star ratings system was rolled out nationally several years ago and recently extended to older houses.

The findings mean that in some cases houses that should be failing the energy efficiency test are being approved and built, while identical houses are going back to the drawing board for changes and costing their owners more time and money to get right.

It also means the stated objective of the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions in houses is in serious question.
UPDATE

Terry McCrann says another “green” scam proves that Julia Gillard could one day challenge Gough Whitlam for incompetence:

It would be premature to conclude that Gillard is up there with Rudd as not merely the worst prime minister since Gough, but worse than Whitlam.

Obama’s cash-for-clunkers was unabashedly all and only about stimulus. It failed on those “merits” alone: simply and expensively and so disruptively, bringing forward some new vehicle purchases. Albeit, thank-you-very much, on the taxpayer’s dollar.

It didn’t even try to make the ludicrous pretence of being “green.” Whereas Down Under, it’s a case of: sorry, we won’t give you a real climate change policy, so here’s a meaningless cash-for-clunkers substitute.

I have to say I’m conflicted. A symbolic waste of $400 million seems a reasonable price to pay, if that’s the case, for meaningful inaction on the climate change charade.

In this same category is Gillard’s perfectly secular but Augustinian coal-fired power policy. Lord, or perhaps Gaia, give me carbon-less purity, but just not yet.

In short, it’s an announcement of a government that hasn’t got a clue.

===
It’s now disgusting to say you have a loving family
Andrew Bolt
Michelle Grattan typically has it the wrong way around. Labor’s smears actually came first, forcing him to mention that he actually had a family of women who loved him:
Tony Abbott has been trying to play the ‘’family’’ card without pushing it in a way that would be counterproductive. The ALP might be tempted to retaliate by dredging up some of his past positions that women have found offensive or off-putting.
Oh, and Michelle? Time to question that meme of the feminist and anti-Catholic Left that Abbott has a women problem. The latest Nielsen and Morgan polls suggest that “problem” is exaggerated.

But I’ve noted on the 7.30 Report and in The Age in particular an attempt to smear Abbott as a nasty bigot for mentioning he actually lives with women. This is portrayed as a cheap shot at childless, unmarried Gillard, when it is in fact an attempt to counter the earlier smear from the same critics - and Labor - that no woman could like such a blokey Catholic.

Niki Savva takes a stick to these have-it-both-ways commentators:

Abbott’s appearance with his family the day after the debate was enough for Kerry O’Brien to opine in a promo for The 7.30 Report: “Julia Gillard focuses on health while Tony Abbott plays the family card.”

Card is not normally a loaded word. Not unless you put, say, race in front of it, or law and order. So, turning up with the missus is like advocating the return of capital punishment or the White Australia policy?

Abbott also had the audacity to mention his wife and mortgage in his debate opening remarks, as a way of letting families know he could feel their pain.

This was too much for Michael Gleeson from Labor’s spin factory Hawker Britton who on ABC TV News 24 accused Abbott of being “nasty”.

Every modern Australian political leader has “used” his wife and/or children. Billy and Sonia, Gough and Margaret, Malcolm and Tamie, Bob and Hazel, Paul and Annita, John and Janette, Kevin and Therese. When Andrew Peacock split from his wife, his daughters went with him.

Consenting adults know what is going on and factor it in.

We have reached the bizarre point when one leader isn’t allowed to display his family because it could be seen as an affront to the other leader, who is not married and doesn’t have children.

The insinuation is that he shouldn’t show his if she can’t show hers, and especially if debate swings on to who is best equipped to help families.

Except Gillard does use her family. She makes frequent proud references to her parents, as migrants and hard workers, and they and her sister have made themselves available for interviews.

There is nothing wrong with that. But if she can do that without inciting unfavourable comment, why is it “nasty” of Abbott to display his?

Given the (previous) Fairfax Nielsen poll had female voters preferring Labor by 58 to 42 per cent, Abbott had plenty of reason to show he does not repel women.

When he addressed the Liberals Federal Council in Canberra weeks ago, he was accompanied by his parents, Richard and Fay, wife Margie and daughter Frances.

It passed without comment. Last Saturday, when that poll was published, he again appeared with Margie. The footage was beamed to Mars and back.

===
Taxing a slab of voters in the campaign isn’t smart
Andrew Bolt
The Gillard Government dodged a bullet with this week’s inflation figures, but this tax rise - and the failure to announce them - will still hurt it on the cost-of-living front:

SMOKERS face another tax rise on Monday - just three months after the Federal Government’s $5 billion slug on cigarettes… The Herald Sun has learned the tax rise, which has not been announced, will add 24c to a pack of 50 cigarettes and 13c to a pack of 25s…

It comes on top of the surprise 25 per cent cigarette tax rise in April, announced by Labor to pay for its hospital reform plan…

Beer drinkers will pay more from Monday with a tax grab of 21c for a full-strength slab of 24 cans - taking the total excise on the carton to $14.28.

===
Gillard left our national security to her ex-bodyguard
Andrew Bolt
Maybe you can leak when you’re flat on your back, after all:
JULIA Gillard has been accused of “scandalous” disregard for national security amid revelations she sent a former bodyguard to attend highly sensitive security meetings on her behalf…

In claims that will fuel the distrust between the Gillard and Rudd camps, sources have told The Weekend Australian that when Ms Gillard was deputy prime minister she regularly failed to attend cabinet’s national security committee meetings. Instead, she reportedly sent her former bodyguard and junior staff member Andrew Stark.

A spokesman for Ms Gillard said cabinet confidentiality meant she could not defend herself from the damaging allegations…

As deputy prime minister, Ms Gillard was a member of the NSC and was expected to chair its meetings when Mr Rudd could not attend. However, it is understood Ms Gillard at times failed to stand in for the former prime minister, sending Mr Stark in her place. Mr Stark did not return phone calls yesterday.

Former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer told The Weekend Australian Ms Gillard’s reportedly poor attendance record at the NSC and her decision to send a junior adviser was scandalous behaviour and disregarded the importance of the top-level security committee. “The NSC takes decisions on life and death and is no place for a junior staffer. Such actions are scandalous,” he said.
Who are these clowns in charge of our national security? How incompetent was the Rudd Government that its leaders could be so inattentive to their most solemn duties? How rush-rush and slap-dash were they that they sent boys and bodyguards to do what they themselves were charged with?

But for Gillard, the question is more personal: which rat-f...er leaked this? Could it be someone who is repaying this leak of a week ago, tit for tat:
FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd appalled officials by sometimes sending a senior staffer to sit in for him on cabinet’s highly sensitive national security committee, it has been revealed. The new ABC News 24 channel last night quoted officials and cabinet sources as saying Mr Rudd had shown a casual disregard for the national security committee, keeping it waiting for hours or missing meetings and allowing his 31-year-old chief of staff, Alister Jordan, to stand in for him.
(The juxtaposition of the pictures of Gillard and Stark above is not mine but that of the Australian, which seems to me to be making a very unfortunate insinuation, even if - I hope - accidently.)
===
Hard to leak when you’re flat on your back
Andrew Bolt
You bet he does:
OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott has wished Kevin Rudd a speedy recovery...
The Liberals sure don’t want poor Rudd in hospital, when he’s been so effective in campaigning. Labor, on the other hand…
===
Not fair at work, and no party will dare to say so
Andrew Bolt
But neither side of politics will dare mention just now how incredibly, job-wreckingly dumb this is:
A MELBOURNE business owner fears he will be hit with a $700,000 backpay bill after an investigation by the Federal Government’s Fair Work Ombudsman.

Colin Robertson, the managing director of the design company Pop Art Australia, said the Fair Work Ombudsman allegedly contradicted previous Government advice and told him he was underpaying his workforce.
Just for a start: what is the injustice here that needs correcting, when so many workers freely accepted without demur the wages they were paid? Why aren’t previous Fair Work assessments held as binding, or needing challenging at the time - and not later, when the alleged liabilities become nearly fatal to the business?

(Thanks to reader Brett.)
===
The good oil on “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”
Andrew Bolt

Within a month of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I warned that the damage done by spills tended to be wildly exaggerated, and that this one seemed to be no exception. Two months later, Time now agrees:
President Obama has called the BP oil spill “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced,” and so has just about everyone else. Green groups are sounding alarms about the “catastrophe along the Gulf Coast,” while CBS, Fox and MSNBC are all slapping “Disaster in the Gulf” chyrons on their spill-related news… The obnoxious anti-environmentalist Rush Limbaugh has been a rare voice arguing that the spill — he calls it “the leak” — is anything less than an ecological calamity, scoffing at the avalanche of end-is-nigh eco-hype.

Well, Limbaugh has a point. The Deepwater Horizon explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it’s no leak; it’s the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It’s also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far — while it’s important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago — it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. “The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared,” says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana.

Yes, the spill killed birds — but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago. Yes, we’ve heard horror stories about oiled dolphins — but so far, wildlife-response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region’s fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana’s disintegrating coastal marshes — a real slow-motion ecological calamity — but so far, assessment teams have found only about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.
Ditto Yahoo News:
Where is all the oil? Nearly two weeks after BP finally capped the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the oil slicks that once spread across thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico have largely disappeared. Nor has much oil washed up on the sandy beaches and marshes along the Louisiana coast. And the small cleanup army in the Gulf has only managed to skim up a tiny fraction of the millions of gallons of oil spilled in the 100 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig went up in flames.

So where did the oil go? “Some of the oil evaporates,” explains Edward Bouwer, professor of environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins University. That’s especially true for the more toxic components of oil, which tend to be very volatile, he says. Jeffrey W. Short, a scientist with the environmental group Oceana, told the New York Times that as much as 40 percent of the oil might have evaporated when it reached the surface…

Perhaps the most important cause of the oil’s disappearance, some researchers suspect, is that the oil has been devoured by microbes.
Ditto the Telegraph:
One hundred days on from the original blow-out, the question is beginning to be asked: might the scale of the potential environmental damage have been exaggerated?… For many marine scientists, the answer seems to be yes – and now that some of the initial fury has died down, they are putting their heads above the parapet to say so.

Dr Simon Boxall, an expert in marine pollution and dispersion at the National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, explains that there was panic at the estimated size of the spill, between 140 and 200 million gallons – the equivalent of about four supertankers of oil…

The combination of the fact that it was light, or “sweet”, crude oil and that the disaster happened in warm waters so far out to sea always meant, he says, that it would be dispersed very quickly. The Gulf, which has a lot of natural seepage into its waters, has, he explains, developed microbes that break down the oil.

“...When (BP’s) Tony Hayward said it was a drop in the ocean, it might have been the wrong thing to say at the time, but it was the truth. This spill is the equivalent of less than a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. For all but a tiny bit of the Gulf, it will be back to normal within a year...”

A quick look at the statistics produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other bodies seems to bear out his thesis. Of the more than 2,100 miles of threatened coastline, one quarter has been touched by oil and much less has been heavily soiled. As for wildlife, the total number of animals found dead and covered in oil for the whole period is 1,296 birds, 17 sea turtles and three dolphins – that is less than one per cent of the birds killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989…

Professor Geoffrey Maitland, an energy engineer at Imperial College, agrees that the Gulf is well adapted to oil spills because tens of millions of gallons naturally seep into it every year. “Many people do not realise that oil is a naturally occurring substance and nature has a way of dealing with it,” he says. It doesn’t need to be scooped off, burnt or dispersed with chemicals. “In fact, it is often best to let it just evaporate and biodegrade naturally.

“With all the clean-up work, natural evaporation and biodegradation, I reckon 50 per cent of the oil has already gone and the rest will follow shortly. There is talk of a lot of oil below the surface, but I am a bit sceptical, as oil is less dense than water and so it floats.”
Ditto, to a lesser extent, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post:

Scientists and government officials are currently on the hunt for much of the oil that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, reports The Washington Post. While experts remain positive that the oil is still in the Gulf—"That stuff’s somewhere,” a researcher hypothesized to the paper—most of it is AWOL. According to the Post, “up to 4 million barrels (167 million gallons), the vast majority of the spill, remains unaccounted for in government statistics. Some of it has, most likely, been cleaned up by nature. Other amounts may be gone from the water, but they could have taken on a second life as contaminants in the air, or in landfills around the Gulf Coast.”

Some believe that a portion of the oil was consumed by ocean-dwelling microbes. The tiny organisms, like humans, enjoy oil on their seafood. But the microbes can only do so much: scientists are also reporting that masses of oil have migrated miles away from the spill… Still, of the 5.2 million barrels that likely leaked, we’ve only destroyed 1.2 million barrels worth of the stuff. The country will continue to restlessly search the land and seas for oil, which, really, is exactly what we’ve always done anyway.

===
Rudd says Gillard’s people want him, Gillard says they don’t
Andrew Bolt
Rudd leaks to a gullible and much-favoured source the story that Labor now realises he’s indispensible to its campaign:
Labor has asked the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to campaign for the party outside his own seat, but he has asked for time to consider the request.
Gillard begs to differ:
JULIA Gillard has denied that either she or Labor campaign HQ had asked Kevin Rudd to campaign outside his seat to help the party in Queensland.

“I and campaign headquarters are respecting Kevin Rudd’s wish to campaign for re-election as the member for Griffith. No other request has been made,” the Prime Minister said in Perth a short time ago.
Rudd ups the ante, offering help even as the heroic sufferer is wheeled into surgery:
KEVIN Rudd has pledged to campaign for Julia Gillard’s re-election after recovering from an operation today to remove his gall bladder.
The former prime minister had been admitted to hospital in Brisbane after suffering acute abdominal pain yesterday and was to have his gall bladder removed today, his office said in a statement…

“Mr Rudd looks forward to resuming campaign activities next week both in his own electorate, elsewhere in Queensland and the rest of the country as appropriate in support of the re-election of the government and Prime Minister Gillard,” the statement said.
How can mean Gillard turn down the last wish of a dying man.

I tell you, this is more fun than a circus.

UPDATE

It’s about to get funnier yet, with a launch starring more former Labor PMs than Gillard would like - and right on Rudd’s doorstep:
JULIA Gillard will formally launch the Labor Party’s campaign in Brisbane on Monday, August 16, much later than expected.

The launch is the key event of Labor’s campaign, but this election launch will attract much attention because it is on deposed leader Kevin Rudd’s stomping ground - Brisbane.

Ms Gillard will also appear on stage with her de-facto partner Tim Mathieson.

But the Labor Party has a huge task ahead in managing former Labor prime ministers, including Mr Rudd, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke.

Mr Hawke and Mr Keating clashed recently in The Australian over accounts of their time governing together.

Mr Rudd’s appearance will also be difficult to manage, considering accusations he is behind leaks that have undermined the campaign of Ms Gillard, who deposed him as leader.
UPDATE 2

The Australian on-line reports on Rudd’s operation, as the surgeon demonstrates the procedure:
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