Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Headlines Wednesday 11th August 2010

=== Todays Toon ===
ALP is divided from the top down - ed.
=== Bible Quote ===
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”- Psalm 46:1
=== Headlines ===
Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens Killed in Alaska Plane Crash
Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens dies in a crash involving a single-engine plane carrying nine people that went down in a remote location about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Congress Approves $26B State Aid Bill
House comes back from summer vacation early to pass bill aiming to help cash-strapped states make Medicaid payments and avoid laying off 300,000 teachers and other government workers

Flight Attendant Flips Out, Then Slides Away
JetBlue flight attendant charged after cursing out a passenger and grabbing a beer from the galley before deploying the plane's emergency exit and sliding out

Rangel Tells Peers: 'I'm Not Going Away'
Embattled New York Democrat Charles Rangel takes to House floor to say he's not resigning, despite 13 charges of ethical wrongdoing

Archaeologists Uncover Britain's Oldest House
Over 10,000 years ago, British builders put up a hut. And it may be the most important building in the country. Archaeologists from the University of York date the newly discovered building, found near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, to at least 8,500 BC -- more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge was erected. The 11-foot wide building's remains were found near an ancient lake and close the remains of a wooden dock -- finds described by the researchers as the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe and one of the most important buildings in the country. The house predates what was previously Britain's oldest known dwelling at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years.

Breaking News
US stocks trim losses
WALL Street bounced back from earlier losses today after the Federal Reserve promised to maintain its spending policy to boost the ailing US economy.

Man jailed for turning up to court drunk
A NEW York man was thrown into jail for 15 days for contempt of court after police say he showed up to court drunk and was belligerent to the judge.

Twenty-two killed when bus overturns
A BUS overturned on a road in northern Peru and rolled into a 200-metre deep ravine overnight, killing at least 22 people and leaving 27 others injured, an official said.

Plane crash kills ex-Senator, four others
A PLANE carrying former Senator Ted Stevens and eight others crashed in remote southwest Alaska, killing the longtime Republican politician and four other people, authorities said today.

Cashless store owner beaten up
THREE men have beat up a convenience store owner in Sydney after he said there was no cash available for them to steal.

Facebook fans for angry flight attendant
A FACEBOOK fan page for Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who hurled obscenities at passengers over the airliner's PA system before leaving the plane via its inflatable emergency chute, had more than 30,000 fans overnight, just one day after the incident.

End of swine flu pandemic
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) overnight announced the end of the swine flu pandemic, more than a year after the disease began spreading around the world, sparking panic and killing thousands.

First Guantanamo trial opens under Obama
THE first Guantanamo trial of Barack Obama's presidency opened overnight with Canadian detainee Omar Khadr, who was captured by US troops in Afghanistan at age 15, facing a military tribunal.

Fire sweeps through former Nazi death camp
A FIRE swept through a barrack at the former Nazi death camp of Majdanek, destroying more than half the building and possibly 10,000 shoes of Holocaust victims, officials said overnight.

Storm delays final well kill
A STORM brewing in the Gulf of Mexico overnight delayed BP's long-awaited bottom kill operation to seal off its catastrophic well once and for all, a US official said.

NSW/ACT
Former cop on child porn charge
A FORMER NSW police officer will face court charged with sexually assaulting a child and producing and generating pornography.

Keneally's bid for donations reform
KRISTINA Keneally will embark on the biggest donations reform ever, proposing a $2000 limit on people donating to candidates.

Rich on $120m mansions hunt
SYDNEY's super rich have shrugged off the latest interest rate rises to splurge more than $120m on just 10 homes in three months.

Drink-drive MP 'saved by Tripodi'
CHERIE Burton's friendship with Joe Tripodi is the only thing saving her from the axe, says O'Farrell.

Plates not caught in headlights
FORGET sprays and plastic covers designed to obscure number plates from prying cameras, some new plates are scarcely visible.

I did not hit my Kiesha
THE stepfather of missing child Kiesha Abrahams denied claims he was seen bashing her.

Lives at risk as ambulance locked up
THIS is the ambulance kept in a cage under lock and key in a small country town where locals have to drive for medical aid.

Health funds refusing to be hip
IT is a revolutionary new type of total hip replacement surgery that can have patients back home in less than 24 hours. But ...

Don't add brothels to council plans
BROTHELS will be banned, and promoters using bill posters will be prosecuted - or so councils wrote on their wish list for the future.

Baby Tegan 'killed at Homebush'
KELI Lane may have slipped out a hospital's fire escape to a place she knew really well to kill her child.

Queensland
No referendum on splitting state
PREMIER Anna Bligh won't allow a referendum to be held on whether or not north Queensland can become its own state, despite council support for the move.

Lungfish could blow pipe dream
THE discovery of lungfish in the Wivenhoe Dam has cast grave doubt over the State's ability to switch on the $2 billion recycled water pipeline.

Rogue water sample raises fears
A ROGUE test result has sparked concerns coal seam gas exploration is impacting on the water supply of a western Queensland town.

A great destination for dining
BRISBANE is in the running for a record six awards in the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Awards more than any other capital, including Sydney, which has racked up just five.

Rudd fends questions on UN job
KEVIN Rudd insists his new United Nations job will require only three meetings as the Opposition tries to paint him as a "part-time minister" should Labor be re-elected.

Miners raise QR sale stakes
THE State Government may reconsider a planned float of Queensland Rail after a consortium of coal miners lifted its bid for the state's railway assets to $5.35 billion.

Save $500 a year on electricity
THE energy auditor 80 per cent of homes fail to manage their most costly power consumer - the air conditioner - and simple steps could save $500 a year.

Ekka skies to clear after flooding
HEAVY rain caused localised flooding and several car crashes in Brisbane on Tuesday night, with the prospect of a damp start to People's Day at the Ekka.

Car driver killed on busway
A WOMAN is dead after driving her car into the wrong lane and colliding with a bus.

Hooked shark bites woman's leg
A WOMAN has been attacked by a shark she caught while fishing at Three Mile Creek, near Townsville.

Victoria
81, and beaten to a pulp
A FATHER accused of bashing an 81-year-old pensioner in a road rage attack claims it was self-defence.

Weapons caught in security net
A DISTURBING array of weapons are being carried through Melbourne Airport security checks.

Crime victims make a stand
CRIME victims plan to stand as independents in marginal seats to increase pressure for changes to victims' rights.

King-hit fells footballer, 14
A JUNIOR footballer who fractured the eye socket of an opponent should have never been allowed to play, his former coaches say.

Baillieu link to tax haven
OPPOSITION Leader Ted Baillieu is facing questions over revelations he has links to a company in an overseas tax haven.

Police seek thug linked to attacks
A YOUNG member of a gang linked to face-slashing armed robberies has turned fugitive in Melbourne.

Doused kids recovering
A TODDLER and a baby doused with a powerful chemical in a South Yarra street this week will make a full recovery.

The night of shame
A MODEL allegedly raped by former footballer Andrew Lovett thought she was having sex with his teammate, a court has heard.

First bounce of showdown
OUTSIDE court, media wait, cameras each side of the doors and down on the Lonsdale St corner. It's their answer to footy's zone.

Family escape house fire
A COUPLE and their teenage daughter have escaped a fire that destroyed their home in Melbourne’s east.

Northern Territory
Did a dingo do it? We'll never know
SOMEONE knows what happened to Azaria Chamberlain, killed 30 years ago, and they will take the mystery to their grave.

Alleged Darwin bomber changes plea
A MAN accused of firebombing an insurance office has changed his plea at the last minute, a court hears.

South Australia
Molotov cocktail starts house fire
A BLAIR Athol house fire could have been caused by a Molotov cocktail, police and firefighters are investigating.

Adelaide Oval carpark negotiations delayed
THE Stadium Management Authority won't negotiate the issue of car parking for the Adelaide Oval redevelopment until after the Adelaide City Council elections.

Council boosts Three-Day cash
ADELAIDE'S hold on the Australian International Three-Day event remains uncertain, despite Adelaide City Council's decision to increase its contribution.

Gillard's $7.8bn Murray pledge
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard's plan to save the River Murray by buying back water allocations will cost taxpayers up to $7.8 billion, expert modelling shows.

'I'm on board' - Abbott
OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott will unveil his plan to safeguard the Murray-Darling Basin, rescue the Lower Lakes and pump fresh water into the Coorong.

Suspicion dogged Michael Chamberlain
PASTOR Michael Chamberlain's strange behaviour after the disappearance of his daughter attracted deep suspicion from the public and police.

Dress ahead of its time
A STITCH in time has quite literally helped artist Jennifer Trantor to win The Advertiser Business SA Contemporary Art Prize.

Teacher, student focus of inquiry
A CATHOLIC school is investigating alleged unprofessional conduct between a female teacher and a female student.

Older male bosses serial work bullies
THE profile of a serial sexual harasser is an older male boss who underpays wages, starts false rumours and pressures the women into drinking or taking drugs.

Gastro hits nursing homes
NURSING homes are battling a highly infectious gastroenteritis which can be deadly for their elderly residents.

Western Australia
Public servant disclosed secrets
A PUBLIC servant has been fined $8,000 for accessing a work computer and disclosing confidential information.

Hairdressers rally against deregulation
HAIRDRESSERS have rallied in Perth to protest against proposed deregulation they say will endanger clients in the hands of unqualified workers.

Report finds prison conditions 'degrading'
A REPORT into a WA prison has found its conditions are "degrading" with overcrowding forcing up to three inmates to share cells designed for one.

Police warning on homemade bombs
VANDALS responsible for blowing up letter boxes in Perth suburbs are putting lives - including their own - at risk, police warn.

Rain due to hit on Wednesday
PERTH'S long dry spell is set to end with rain forecast from Wednesday for the remainder of the working week.

Man attacked by violent trio
KENSINGTON detectives are searching for three offenders after a violent home invasion in Redcliffe early today.

Navy intercepts boat with 57 on board
THE Australian Navy has intercepted another boat carrying suspected asylum seekers.

Teen rider, 14, in critical condition
A TEENAGE motorcyclist is in a critical condition after his off-road motorbike collided with a car in Ocean Reef yesterday.

Tasmania
Nothing new
=== Journalists Corner ===
Guest: Head of ICE Goes 'On the Record'
ICE feels the heat! But, as illegals flood the border, do customs agents face their biggest challenge from our own government? ICE headman John Morton on the battle ahead!
===
Today's Early Prime Lineup
As Pelosi pushes for another billion in spending, is it pulling voters toward Republicans in the midterm elections? Marco Rubio has insight on 'Your World'.

Plus, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado - Bret has the latest on the day's hotly contested primary races! Tonight on 'Special Report'.
===
Miss Independent!
Jennifer Aniston says women can have motherhood without a man! The Culture Warriors respond. Plus, New York's bravest getting "burned"! Three hundred firemen are banned from being hired because of "culturally biased" entry exams? "Is it Legal" is on the case.
===
On Fox News Insider
Fox News Confirms: Fmr. Senator Ted Stevens Dies in Plane Crash
Amending the 14th Amendment?
NYC Construction Worker Refuses to Work on Mosque
=== Comments ===
You and President Obama
BY BILL O'REILLY

On September 14th, my new book will come out. It is entitled "Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama."
The theme of the book is how the president is directly affecting you, the loyal American. On Friday, the president took a heavy blow when the unemployment report indicated a net loss of jobs in July. Mr. Obama tried to spin it positive, but even the uber liberal "New York Times" says the situation is dire.
According to the polls, most Americans are unhappy with the president's economic performance thus far. It is directly affecting many of us in negative ways.
Now, we're living in a time where you simply have to have money to protect yourself. If you lose your job, it is catastrophic. So job security is a deadly serious business. And after 19 months in office, the president has not improved the job situation very much, despite a half trillion dollars in stimulus spending.
There's an interesting op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" today by a man named Michael Fleischer, who runs a small business in Ramsey, New Jersey. Mr. Fleischer says he is not hiring because the Feds are making it hard for him to do so. In the article, he runs down the vast array of taxes he has to pay and says his health insurance premiums have risen 28 percent for the business because insurance companies are now passing on the cost the Feds will impose on them for Obama care. So Mr. Fleischer is not hiring even if he needs people. The cost of a new person is simply too high. That's why unemployment remains at 9.5 percent. And millions of Americans have even given up looking for work, choosing the underground economy or living off entitlements.
The president seems inclined to tough it out, believing the Feds can control the economy enough to turn things around. Meantime, conservatives are calling for tax cuts across the board to put more money in play to give small business owners like Michael Fleischer less overhead, but Mr. Obama opposes that.
So the average working American is caught in this terrible ideological war between a liberal president, who want to continue spending to stimulate the economy and an angry opposition that wants to let the free marketplace loose.
Right now, it appears the president will stay his liberal course. And that opens him up for withering criticism, for example. First Lady Michelle Obama under fire for taking a vacation in Spain. White House says the Obamas themselves are paying for her personal expenses, but security costs, of course are borne by the taxpayer.
Some Americans believe this is a slap in the face, that the first lady should be helping the American economy by traveling here. Democrats like Kirsten Powers and Maureen Dowd have even criticized the trip.
Summing up, the economy's not getting much better. And the White House does not seem to be making adjustments. It took President Reagan about two years to turn the Jimmy Carter economy around. So the clock is ticking on Mr. Obama.
===
3 Misunderstandings That Encourage Islamic Extremism
By Terry Kelhawk
When communicating across cultures, there is always the risk of misunderstanding.

Direct eye contact is a skill Americans are taught will help them succeed in everything from negotiating for a used car to conflict resolution. The same is not true everywhere.

For months I assumed a Middle Eastern associate was not really listening to me because he never looked me in the eye. I had forgotten that conservative people in the Middle East only look directly into the eyes of a social equal of the same sex.

Let’s consider three misunderstandings between East and West which might encourage Islamic extremism:

Misunderstanding #1: Religion = Politics = Culture

In traditional Islam, religion is tied to politics and culture. The religion empowers the leaders who use religion to develop laws and direct the culture. This is why some elements of Islamic culture and lifestyle have changed little for centuries. When someone grows up with this tri-fold association they will automatically assume it applies everywhere.

In the West the three variables tend to be less interdependent. But when Muslim extremists view an America movie, for example, and see something they consider immoral, they read it as a decadent culture, arising from evil government, stemming from a corrupt religion. Thus America should be punished.

Sura 5:32 of the Koran gives Muslims permission to kill those who “spread corruption in the land.” To an extremist, Americans dress, relative sexual openness, and attitude toward alcohol are proof that we are a nation for which Allah has prescribed punishment.

Misunderstanding #2: Nations Must Share Enemies to be Allies

An Arab proverb states, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Perhaps this relates to the tendency of Islamic nations to distrust a nation that has ties to Israel.

A thing’s value largely depends on the price you paid for it. We might have a list of things Israel has done that we don’t like, but there is an often unrecognized reason, detached from Islam, that America doesn’t want to see Israel blown off the map: we paid a high price for it.

I’m not talking foreign aid. Many thousands of Americans shed blood to rescue Jews from an evil regime in World War II, and many Americans had a relative participate in that conflict. Americans value our blood and don’t want to see our people die in vain.

In the classic film “Lawrence of Arabia,” Lawrence saves a boy’s life by carrying him across the desert, almost dying himself in the process. When the boy is later executed, Lawrence agonizes because he risked his life to save the boy.

Misunderstanding #3: The Koran Has Never Been Changed

If you know Islam, you doubtless will have heard the claim that the Koran is the same everywhere in the world as it was at time of Mohammed, and it is preserved in heaven. This is not true. But it's not that most Muslims know this and are trying to mislead us. It is the devout belief of all but a small percentage of Muslims.

The most important risk of believing the Koran has never changed is the superiority this misunderstanding engenders. Muslims confidently call the holy books of other faiths “corrupt”while being ignorant of the problems in their own. This paradox is partly due to the relative lack of open study of their holy texts compared to others in the science of textual criticism.

How the Koran has changed is beyond the scope of this article. Proof of the changes falls into three categories: ancient Islamic sources – both Sunni and Shiite (such as hadiths), Western scholarship, and differences in existing old Korans. (Greater detail is given in my forthcoming novel “The Topkapi Secret.”)

In believing that Allah has protected only the Koran from change, extremists find proof that their faith is the only true faith and must be propagated over the entire globe.

To promote peace, the West and moderate Muslims should encourage open textual criticism of old Koranic manuscripts and make the findings known.

If Muslims in general become aware that the Koran has not been perfectly preserved this might go a long way toward pulling logs out of the fire of extremism.

Terry Kelhawk is an award-winning writer, speaker and teacher. She holds a doctorate degree and has considerable personal and professional experience with the Middle East and Islam. She is also the author of the forthcoming novel, “The Topkapi Secret.”
===
SPAIN GAMED
Tim Blair
As in Australia, eco-happy Gaia buggies fail to catch on in Spain:
Spain’s plans to have 2,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2010 have been dealt a blow as figures showed just 16 have been sold.

The government-backed REVE electric car and wind power project said 15 cars had been sold so far this year, in addition to one last year.
The Spanish government plans an investment of $853 million in electric cars.

(Via Astute Bloggers and Daniel Aronstein)
===
BOILED EGG
Tim Blair
600°F in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin!
Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, really got cooking this July 4th around 9:59AM, according to NOAA and Coast Watch. It was there, at the bottom left row of the temperature data points, that the records reveal on that day a phenomenally furnace-like 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Further analysis of the web pages shows that the incredibly wide temperature swings were occurring in remarkably short 10-hour periods - and sometimes in less than 5 hours. Strangely, none of the 250 citizens or the 78 families living in the village appeared to notice this apocalyptic heatwave during their holiday festivities.
Also noted: 430 degrees Fahrenheit at Lake Michigan. The planet has a fever!
===
READER CHALLENGE
Tim Blair
Your role: You are a researcher at The 7.30 Report.

Your task: Compose impossibly detailed questions for Kerry O’Brien to ask Tony Abbott, along these lines:
OK. You’ve committed a billion dollars for a metropolitan wireless network in place of Labor’s commitment to build fibre delivering high-speed broadband to every metropolitan home. How many hundreds of thousands - hundreds or thousands of towers would you have to build? How many thousands of kilometres of fibre would you have to lay to connect them all? And what spectrum would you use to deliver the wireless network?
For another example: If the subject was illegal immigration, your question might go something like this:
OK. You’ve committed up to $80 million for an offshore processing centre in Nauru to house asylum seekers in place of Labor’s commitment to hold vague conversations with East Timor. How many hundreds or thousands of lintels and floor joists would you need? How many thousands of nails and screws would you require to connect them all? And what material would you use for the platforms?
Proceed, researchers!
===
LABOR just LEADS
Tim Blair
Dennis Shanahan checks the polls:
Labor continues to hold a narrow lead in national polling on a two-party-preferred basis – 51 per cent to 49 per cent – but the latest figures from Newspoll, published exclusively in The Australian today, reveal huge differences in voter support between the states.

It is now possible that Labor could win the most votes on a national basis but still lose enough seats to be put out of office.
Possible, but not probable. Still thinking that Labor should just scrape through. Which will be entertaining enough post-election, of course.
===
VORTEX CLOSED
Tim Blair
David Thompson explores The Gillian McKeith Wellness Retreat in southern Spain, which is now missing its fabled energy vortex:
It seems that Ms McKeith’s remarkable energy vortex is no longer part of the advertised package. Instead, patrons will merely bask in “a wonderful feeling of natural vitality.” The tragic closure of the vortex may be related to recent attention from the British Medical Association and subsequent doubts regarding the curative merits of “intuitive vibrational exercises” and interdimensional vortices.

Or maybe it’s just closed for maintenance.
You know, “Gillian’s Vortex” would be an excellent name for a nightclub.
===
NUMBERS UP
Tim Blair
Judging by trade figures since 2007, Indonesia increasingly hearts Australia:
Pushing itself steadily into fourth place from sixth in those three years, Australia continues to climb up the popularity ladder across this country. 37 percent of Indonesians are now chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie”, enabling the country to overtake US, Korea, Germany, Italy and France, all flatlining. Only in the Top 20 cities does US continue to outrank Australia. It isn’t the wine, more likely it’s the fruits and the meat that’s doing most of the talking across all sections of Indonesian society. With two such remarkably different neighbors drawing ever closer, old animosities will soon be nursed only by the greying generations of both countries.
Australia is kind of cool about it. Indonesia’s greying generations, on the other hand …

(Via Goldie)
===
FREEBIE DENIED
Tim Blair
Poor ABC. The tax-funded national borecaster has only three-quarters of a billion dollars to play with, so is reduced to wailing when private media companies arrange their own election coverage:
The event will not be shown live on ABC NEWS 24, the ABC’s new continuous news channel, or streamed on radio or online because it is being withheld by the organisers of the event – Sky News and The Daily Telegraph …

“At all times, the ABC has put the public interest ahead of media politics in this campaign,” says ABC News Director, Kate Torney. “At the request of other media organisations and the two major parties, we have provided these campaign events to all media outlets. Now it appears others have chosen not to play by these rules, and the Australian public will be disadvantaged.”
No, it won’t. The Daily Telegraph responds:
The ABC wants the best of both worlds. The tax-funded media organisation already enjoys the security of not requiring ratings, advertising or commercial investment and now it also wants to ride on the backs of media organisations that live in the risk-loaded world of the free market.

Yesterday the ABC complained that The Daily Telegraph and Sky News declined to allow the ABC to broadcast live our leadership forum at Rooty Hill RSL.

Apparently it isn’t good enough for the ABC that the forum be offered to them on a one-hour delay.

It’s an absurd situation, made more comical by the fact that the ABC’s complaint itself involved consumption of taxpayer funds. Perhaps the ABC would also like us to provide them ahead of time with all of The Daily Telegraph’s exclusives during the election campaign.

Here’s an idea for the ABC - find some ideas of your own.
UPDATE. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald is sponsoring debates about capitalism – in which capitalism loses.
===
FREELANCE SECURITY
Tim Blair
Yes, it’s probably fake. But hey – ninja!

===
Electric car crashes
Andrew Bolt
Another green scheme bites the dust:
Spain’s plans to have 2,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2010 have been dealt a blow as figures showed just 16 have been sold… In April, the government said it would invest 590m euros ($775m; £490m) in the production of electric cars.
Before that, in Britain:
Sales of electric cars have fallen by more than half this year, according to figures released two days after the Government’s climate change advisory body predicted a huge increase. Only 156 electric cars were sold from January to October, compared with 374 for the same period last year.
EUReferendum sums up:
Well, you could blow me down with a feather. Produce a pile of high-priced, under-performing shit consumer durables and nobody will buy them. Strangely, you do not even need an economics degree to understand this. But, to believe otherwise, it seems, it helps to be a politician – or a car manufacturer chasing favours.
UPDATE

Meanwhile:
HOBART’S new rooftop wind turbines have stopped after two of the blades came loose after spinning out of control.
(Thanks to readers Peter and Nick.)
===
It’s no crime to quit serving cretins
Andrew Bolt

The man deserves a prize for resigning so creatively - and in such a good cause.
===
Give a prize for the tears of what’s-her-name
Andrew Bolt
The much-missed Professor Bunyip and been lured from his retirement by the splash of an Age, carelessly tossed into his billabong. Pulling apart the sodden pages, he reads of the Age Book of the Year finalists, and notes:
All women (nothing wrong with that), but each of the books is a study in victimology. Witness:
Women lead way on book prize list
JASON STEGER
August 2, 2010
WOMEN writers dominate the shortlists for this year’s The Age book of the year awards and have made a clean sweep of the non-fiction list, which is made up of five very differing memoirs.
That list contains Anne Summers’s account of a search for a portrait of her late mother; Kate Howard’s story of battling as a 16-year-old to prevent her baby from being forcibly taken for adoption; Sandy Jeff’s memoir about struggling with schizophrenia; Ros Moriarty’s account of her marriage with a Borroloola man and her experience of his culture; and Maria Tumarkin’s story of her return to her Russian homeland with her Australian-born daughter.
In fact they don’t merely dominate it, they represent it absolutely. Not one of the finalists has anything but XX chromosones. Talk about diversity.

What might make an item for you is the fact these gals are so, ahem, well known that Steger cannot even spell their names correctly. Of the five non-fiction finalists, he gets two wrong.

Sandy Jeff should be Sandy Jeffs.

Kate Howard should be Kate Howarth.

Neither of their books are worth a pinch of rocking horse poop, by the way, unless you delight in tales of suffering and victimisation.

More interesting, if you start to chart the social relationships between the nominees and their reviewers, you find they are all part of the same push, attend the same lit festivals and, one suspects, nominate each other for prominence and prizes within the tight little circuit of literary gab fests and wankathons.
A bit of Jeffs:

You weigh heavily on my mind

poems ooze out of me about you

it’s an obsession

I want the world to know

how awful it was

I want to exorcise my bitterness

I want to tell the children I never had

not to do what you did

===
And how many wires will Gillard stick in homes?
Andrew Bolt
And I’m sure the 7.30 Report’s Kerry O’Brien asked Julia Gillard how many tens of thousands of kilometres of fibre she’d need for her own NBN, and how many nodes:
KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. You’ve committed a billion dollars for a metropolitan wireless network in place of Labor’s commitment to build fibre delivering high-speed broadband to every metropolitan home. How many hundreds of thousands - hundreds or thousands of towers would you have to build? How many thousands of kilometres of fibre would you have to lay to connect them all? And what spectrum would you use to deliver the wireless network?

TONY ABBOTT: Kerry, look, just as the Prime Minister says, I say as well that I’m no Bill Gates here and I don’t claim to be any kind of tech head in all of this. But we are going to have broadband running past we say 97 per cent of households and, yes, we’re not guaranteeing 100 megabits, but we are guaranteeing upwards to 100 megabits. And as I said, we just don’t believe that re-creating a government-owned telecommunications monopoly is the way to go. We think that competition and diversity of technology is the way to go.
What a smart-arse questioning that was. No one could possible expect an opposition leader or prime minister to be across that level of irrelevant detail, and the question was asked only to make Abbott seem not across his brief.

That said, Abbott was indeed not as briefed as he should have been, and not as assertive as he should have been, either, in putting O’Brien in his place.

Here’s what he was selling:
AN Abbott government would enlist the private sector to upgrade internet services, rejecting Labor’s $43 billion national broadband network.

The government has strongly challenged Tony Abbott’s $6.32bn alternative policy, insisting it would deny fibre technology to at least 1000 cities and towns, including Darwin, Bathurst, Port Lincoln, Launceston and Toowoomba…

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the NBN was an example of Labor’s “tax, spend and borrow” approach to government. Rather than create a government monopoly and a “stodgy and cumbersome bureaucracy”, the Coalition was prepared to back the private sector. “We will embrace fierce competition, not stifle it,” he said. “There is a better way.”

Under the Coalition’s plan, 97 per cent of households will have services with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second—and a minimum of 12 megabits—by 2016 through a mixture of HFC cable, DSL and fixed wireless services. It would spend $2.75bn to create a nationwide competitive fibre-optic “backbone” by 2017, expecting it to attract $750 million extra in private-sector funding.

It would also spend $750m on existing fixed broadband services to increase the number of households that could receive a DSL service, and up to $1bn on new fixed wireless networks in rural areas. Up to $700m would support provision of improved satellite services to cover the remaining 3 per cent of the population.
I’m not sure this criticism is indeed a criticism, when the alternative is to spend $43 billion on something that isn’t commercial at all:
The Coalition’s policy was met with mixed reactions from industry observers, but criticisms of the proposal far outweighed positives.

“There is no vision, no leadership with this proposal,” telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said. ”It’s just a patchwork of old broadband technologies that will only ever be upgraded if the market believes there is a commercial reason to do it.”
UPDATE

Michael Porter:
I TOO would like a Ferrari, but why should it be subsidised by the government?

True, fibre is the long-term communications future for almost all of us, but not always at taxpayer expense, and not without a competitive business plan or cost benefit analysis of the suggested $43 billion of government outlays.

The tech heads who would love a big spend on a mandated high-speed information highway across Australia must explain why they should be subsidised relative to others who will get speeds of five to 10 times what they get now.
UPDATE 2

Terry McCrann:

THE Coalition’s National Broadband Plan is absolutely wonderful, simply because it’s ‘not the NBN’. It isn’t the government’s $43 billion-going-on-$60 billion insanity…

Further, the Abbott plan is a clear plus because it won’t lock us into a particular fixed broadband network…

No, it’s not going to deliver blistering 100 Mbps speeds to just about everyone - as the NBN will do; promises to do, some time in the next decade. But that’s because there’s no point in doing that. Most people neither want nor need it; and certainly not at the price they would have to pay to validate the spend.

===
Which visas should not have been issued?
Andrew Bolt
What interesting stories lie behind this new policy announcment from the Liberals?
As a priority, a Coalition Government will institute a comprehensive review of current systems for issuing visas at Australian overseas missions.

The review would carefully consider whether one of the major shifts in the staffing of our missions over the past two decades – the shift to an increasingly high proportion of staff being non-Australian, or locally engaged staff – has been in the national interest.

The Coalition is concerned about claims of bribery and fraud, as well as claims of systemic discrimination against classes of persons based on race and religion.

The review should consider whether the trend towards having locally-engaged staff make decisions on immigration and visa matters has gone too far.
(Thanks to reader Antony.)
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The price of the Greens
Andrew Bolt
The Master Builders Association tells me its 7500 members are scared. Hence this new ad campaign for the election:

Five consequences of Greens’ policies that all Australians need to consider on election day…

1 Housing affordability will reach crisis point
Availability of new land for housing will be restricted by Greens’ policies. Fewer new properties combined with higher business taxes will make homes more expensive.

2 Jobs will be lost
Greens’ policies will target construction, manufacturing and energy industries, making them less competitive. Job security for Australian workers will be put at risk.

3 Strikes and industrial thuggery will return
The Construction Industry watchdog, the ABCC, will be abolished. Building sites will be unprotected, exposed again to union bullies. Don’t let the Greens take Australia back there.

4 Construction of vital community infrastructure will be halted
New school, hospital, road and workplace projects will be delayed and blocked by the Greens’ proposed-planning policies. Our unique Australian lifestyle will suffer.

5 Economic recovery will be threatened
Greens’ policies affecting business, taxation, expenditure and industry will stifle the growth of the Australian economy. This will damage national prosperity and limit opportunities for our children.

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Gillard’s $2.6 billion bribe for Labor’s shakiest seats
Andrew Bolt
It’s Labor’s biggest single spending promise of the election - $2.6 billion to the five NSW seats it must hold to stay in power:
JULIA Gillard’s faltering campaign to woo western Sydney will be given a $2.6 billion injection - with the promise of a rail link between Parramatta and Epping.

The long-awaited 14km rail line would be completed by 2017. Following talks between Ms Gillard and NSW Kristina Keneally, the rail link leapfrogged several other more expensive major Sydney infrastructure projects including the M5 duplication ($5 billion), the M4 East ($10 billion) and the Northwest Rail link ($5 billion).
Here’s how craven is this promise of money for what should be primarily a state responsibility:
The Parramatta-Epping rail link will stretch between the Labor-held seats of Bennelong and Parramatta. It will also alleviate pressure on the city-bound western line which services commuters in other key marginal seats further west such as Lindsay, Greenway and Macquarie.
This is a federal Labor government spending federal funds to save its hide by promising what a state Labor government failed to deliver:
It also makes good on a state Labor government promise from a decade ago, but shelved earlier this year.
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The growing of Tony Abbott
Andrew Bolt
JULIA Gillard has proved what a astonishingly good leader Tony Abbott really is.

This is the secret behind a Liberal campaign more competitive than any supporter could have believed possible just nine months ago.

It’s a secret because Abbott’s deftness in keeping the Liberals together has been so counter to his image as an insensitive jock that it’s been almost entirely overlooked.

Doesn’t fit the script.

Yet contrast and compare. Gillard won the Labor leadership a month ago with the overwhelming backing of her MPs and the goodwill of many political journalists.

So clearly was she the choice of her party that her challenge to Kevin Rudd didn’t even need to go to a ballot.

Even better, she inherited the power of the office of Prime Minister, yet she’s since struggled to keep Labor from destroying itself in paybacks. Bitter supporters of the deposed Rudd have leaked against Gillard, and Gillard supporters have leaked back.

So poisonous has been this feud that Gillard had to humiliate herself by flying up to Brisbane last weekend to formally include Rudd in her campaign, posing next to a wrecker who refused even to look her in the eye.

Moreover, the policies Gillard has since released include several that in saner times would have her laughed out of office.

There was the boat people centre she was going to build in East Timor - announced without even asking the deeply reluctant East Timorese Government.

There was the 150-strong “citizens’ assembly” she’d create to natter about global warming - an insultingly transparent attempt to disguise the fact she was stalling on a great green tax she once claimed couldn’t wait “a day longer”.

And there was the $400 million “cash for clunkers” plan - a pretence to cut emissions by bribing people driving bombs into buying new green cars few could afford.

So disastrous was this spin-heavy muddling that an exasperated Gillard a week ago announced she’d try revealing the “real Julia” instead.

And despite the mockery, she’s delivered - cutting out more such beads-and-blankets stunts to concentrate on more substantial policies, particularly on education, a cause to best show her passion.

Had Abbott fumbled as Gillard has, he’d have been finished. Liberals are held to higher standards, since they stress performance over symbols, making them seem grubbier to a Leftist media, and more craven if they can’t deliver.

The stage seemed set for a pratfall, too, since Abbott won his own leadership on December 1 last year not by a Gillard-style acclamation, but by a single vote of a desperately divided and unpopular party.

In fact, he was the accidental winner, with not one defeated rival to deal with, but two.
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A culture of hate
Andrew Bolt
Guess what the following three people have in common.

First is writer Marieke Hardy, the only 34-year-old Australian woman still in pigtails, who this week tweeted: “Tony Abbott, I hope your c--- drops off and falls down a plughole.”

Second is writer and comic Daniel Burt, who this week tweeted this about the Opposition Leader’s deputy: “Call it maturity, but I have officially lost the desire to hate f--- Julie Bishop.”
And third is Catherine Deveny, another writer and comic, who tweeted this about Family First candidate Wendy Francis: “Get f----- you frigid mole. With a crucifix if possible.”

You’re right! All three barbarians have been hired and promoted by the ABC, once thought of as our cultural standard bearer, and not pallbearer.

Hardy is writing for Laid, a six-part “black comedy” for ABC television, and is also a book critic for its First Tuesday Book Club, proclaiming on culture.
Burt has been presented by Sunday Arts as a cultural guide to the glories of Western art, taking us through “the finer points of Caravaggism”.

And Deveny writes for the ABC’s new online site The Drum.

That all three should tweet as they do should not surprise the ABC.
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John Howard in a skirt
Andrew Bolt
Janet Albrechtsen:
Those who lay claim to reporting, analysing and explaining Australian politics need now only ask themselves one question: if Howard is such a fossil from the past why has Julia Gillard mimicked the former Liberal PM on the critical issues in this election campaign? When Gillard shelved the emissions trading system, she signalled she is browner than Howard. Likewise, Gillard copied Howard’s strong borders policy by proposing offshore processing of illegal immigrants and echoed Howard’s policies on Afghanistan and the US alliance. On ABC1’s Q&A on Monday night, Gillard—the architect of waste and mismanagement within the $42 billion schools building program—continued the me-too caper she started early on in the campaign, lining herself as the natural heir to Howard’s record of sound economic management.

In other words, Gillard knows this election will be decided in the homes of Howard battlers. Issues that concern Australians in the sun-belt seats of Queensland and western Sydney are very different to the left-of-centre agendas pursued by those in inner-city seats where our media elites work, live and practise pilates.
And no sooner observed than confirmed:

JULIA Gillard will today unveil new rules requiring parents of four-year-olds to take the children for health checks before getting benefits.
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Humbling fact not proved
Andrew Bolt
First, I don’t think newspaper columns change the opinions of many readers, as I said again in a speech only last week. Second, I don’t think this shoddy research by the Media Alliance - confusing news with columns - proves that point at all.
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The other election campaign: Oakes vs Latham
Andrew Bolt
And now Laurie Oakes hits back at Mark Latham for hitting back at Laurie Oakes for hitting out at Mark Latham.

The real story is not why Channel Nine is so irresponsible as to hire Latham, but why Labor was so irresponsible as to offer him as Prime Minister:
THE Nine Network last night refused to dump 60 Minutes recruit Mark Latham.

This news came despite attacking itself for paying the former Labor leader between $10,000 and $15,000 to report on politics during the campaign.

The Latham experiment has so far produced an ugly exchange of words between Julia Gillard and Latham; another between Nine’s politics editor, Laurie Oakes and Latham; and then, last night, Nine News got stuck into itself over the affair.

Nine News director Mark Calvert was shown on the Nine news, saying Latham’s bullying was turning the election campaign into “a circus”.
True, but in retrospect Labor will be grateful for that Latham monstering of Gillard. She stood up to it well and would have got a sympathy vote as well, especially from women. The confrontation also seems to have worked as the finale to any media hounding of Gillard, who is now looking stronger by the day.

In all, Latham may be the only man to have decided two elections simply with a handshake:


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Swann on song
Andrew Bolt

The Ashes could bring revenge for Britain for the ball of the last century:
An awful lot can happen in the next 89 years or so, it is true. But if Graeme Swann’s dream-like third delivery at Edgbaston yesterday does not remain a qualifier for ball of the century, then a fair amount of the action will need to be out of this world.

With Shane Warne and Mike Gatting – two men who were themselves involved in something rather memorable at Old Trafford in 1993 – among those present as England pressed for victory in the second Test, Swann conjured up a dismissal that will live long in the memory. And, most probably, give Imran Farhat nightmares for the rest of his career and well beyond…

“That’s the best one I’ve ever bowled,” said Swann. “You are not going to bowl too many that pitch outside leg and hit off stump, so I’m over the moon with it.”
To compare:
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