Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News Items and comments


Tim Blair – Monday, August 22, 11 (08:23 pm)

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jacqueline Maley is scared of Alan Jones and Canberra rally attendees:

There was booing and some in the crowd yelled at Maley, who said: “I found the whole experience extremely intimidating – having your name yelled out by Alan Jones in such a hostile way, to such a hostile crowd, who had already been whipped into a frenzy, and which contained some very extremist elements was frightening.”

We await evidence for those highlighted claims.

(Via Tom D.)


What works and what doesn’t

by RUSS ROBERTS on AUGUST 22, 2011


Here is a provocative piece by William Deresiewicz in the New York Times (HT:Dan Pink) on the symbolic power of a military uniform in today’s America. Toward the end of the piece, Deresiewicz writes:

As the national narrative shifts from the war on terror to the specter of decline, the uniform performs another psychic function. The military is can-do, the one institution — certainly the one public institution — that still appears to work. The schools, the highways, the post office; Amtrak, FEMA, NASA and the T.S.A. — not to mention the banks, the newspapers, the health care system, and above all, Congress: nothing seems to function anymore, except the armed forces. They’re like our national football team — and undisputed champs, to boot — the one remaining sign of American greatness.

I would suggest that the institution that gave us FUBAR and SNAFU doesn’t really perform anything like we might like to think it does. We do more than romanticize the uniform, we romanticize the armed forces generally. But what is more interesting to me is Deresiewicz’s list of stuff that doesn’t work very well:

The schools, the highways, the post office; Amtrak, FEMA, NASA and the T.S.A. — not to mention the banks, the newspapers, the health care system, and above all, Congress

Except for the newspapers, they have one thing in common, they aren’t very competitive. They are either run by the government or they are ruined by government intervention–government intervention that removes the power of competition.

But newspapers are the exception that proves the rule. Yes, newspapers don’t function very well any more. With the exception of a handful of papers (WSJ, NYT, WaPo) they are mediocre. But who cares about newspapers? I care about information and being informed. There has never been a better time to be alive than today if you’re interested in information.

What is working well? The Apple Store, access to food and clothing, private high schools, Amazon.com and everywhere else that there is competition.

As the economy slinks along or dips down, we’re going to hear continued talk of the decline of America. But what has always made America great is its economic system–a system that let’s competition work. If we want to be great again, all we have to do is remember what made us great before.

Our biggest challenge as a nation is our political system. We have overpromised and a democracy that ignores its Constitution isn’t very adept at taking away goodies from the masses. I am very worried about how that is going to turn out. We need to share the pain very widely and that too is not the strong suit of democracy.



by RUSS ROBERTS on AUGUST 22, 2011


This week’s EconTalk is Brendan O’Donohoe of Frito-Lay talking about the snack business–how chips are made, shipped, and sold. The podcast was made after a tour of a local Safeway and Brendan let me see the store through his eyes. Amazing. I also discovered how they make sure that bad chips don’t make it into the bag. Hard to believe. But evidently true. Listen in.


I’m honored to have a column in the new monthly magazine President & CEO. Here’s my inaugural effort.


Quotation of the Day…



… is from page 69 of The Impossible H. L. Mencken (Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, ed., 1991); it originally appeared in Mencken’s 1935 Baltimore Evening Sun essay entitled “The Constitution”:

Every right that anyone has today is based on the doctrine that government is a creature of limited powers, and that the men constituting it become criminals if they venture to exceed those powers.


Thomson quits committee

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (06:14 pm)

Craig Thomson has just announced he’s reisgning as chairman of Parilament’s economics committee.

Julia Gillard should have demanded this last week, not been pressured into this today.


Combet smears: it’s racist to oppose his carbon dioxide tax

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (06:07 pm)

Exactly how desperate is Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to reach for this slur:

Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of having a racist climate change policy.

Mr Abbott has warned that Australian businesses buying carbon permits under an emissions trading scheme could be conned by unscrupulous international traders…

Mr Combet described Mr Abbott’s position as “economic xenophobia” in an address to the National Press Club.

“It sends the signal that it’s somehow dubious to trade with foreigners. It’s typical dog-whistle politics, trashing the commitment that’s existed for many years on both sides of politics to economic liberalisation and open trade,” he said.

“It is in effect a white carbon policy designed to harvest more votes no matter what the cost.”

The man is mad. I wonder how many poor Nigerians he’s helped out with his banking details.

Combet’s plan involves sending an insane $57 billion a year to carbon traders overseas by 2050. Does he really not know that such a torrent of cash could be scammed? Has he really not heard of this:

The European police agency Europol has today revealed that the fraudulent trade in carbon credits that affected a number of countries over the past few months is far more widespread than previously thought and could have cost EU taxpayers up to €5bn in lost revenue over the past 18 months.

(Thanks to reader Alan RM Jones.)


The independents won’t punish Labor for ditching Gillard

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (09:53 am)

Labor can risk changing leaders, because the independents would hate to make Tony Abbott Prime Minister.

Niki Savva has actually asked them:

Observers and her own backbenchers believe Gillard is protected as leader because any move against her risks losing the support of the independents.

It ain’t necessarily so.... It is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which the Greens would vote in the Coalition if caucus were to replace Gillard. If the new leader postponed introduction of the carbon tax, the Greens would have to choose between a delayed tax or no tax…

So it is the other three, Andrew Wilkie, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who matter most in the Labor leadership scenario. It is clear after talking to two of them—Wilkie and Windsor—that they would look at negotiating new agreements with a new Labor leader. So would Oakeshott, according to one source....

Wilkie says he wants stable government, plus he wants his mandatory precommitment legislation on poker machines to be legislated next year…

At first he says: “I genuinely would be hard-pressed to support her replacement.” Then he adds: “I am not ruling it out, and it depends who might replace her and who the opposition leader might be."…

Windsor told me: ... “I will reassess if something happens.”

According to one MP, Oakeshott has made similar comments, making clear that if Gillard were replaced, “negotiations would start again”.

Oakeshott, who did not return calls, has also apparently floated a survival plan for the government if it gets careless and loses a member—Craig Thomson, for instance…

What is certain—as much as anything can be—is that while Tony Abbott leads the Liberals, those three independents are almost 100 per cent guaranteed not to support the Coalition. They might be tempted if Malcolm Turnbull were leader.


Premier considers giving an al Qaeda trainee a $15,000 prize

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (07:11 am)

Reader IfsAndButs:

On a day when Australia loses its 29th young soldier at the hands of the Taliban, we hear that our very own turbaned freedom fighter, David Hicks, has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.

How do you think the Premier responded? “Take his name off the list or take my name off the awards”? Not quite.

Anna Bligh: ”I think it’s important that we not get in the way of that”.

If Hicks wins, he gets a $15,000 prize. That’s money taken from the taxpayers that the al Qaeda terrorists who trained Hicks wanted to kill.


Red Cross should be embarrassed

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (06:58 am)

Pathetic, and a sneaky attempt to legitimise an attack on John Howard:

A pair of shoes infamously thrown at former prime minister John Howard on live television are about to go up for auction.

The sale starts on Friday and has Mr Howard’s blessing, with all proceeds to be directed to the Red Cross’s aid efforts in Iraq.

Howard’s “blessing” is something he could not afford to withhold without seeming churlish. This auction shames the participants, including the ABC, which had possession of the shoes.

What next: will the ABC organise an auction of a “Ditch the Witch” sign? Let’s ask the Red Cross boss:

Robert Tickner took up the position of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (Secretary General) in February 2005.

Prior to taking up this appointment he was the CEO of Job Futures Ltd. Robert served as Federal Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs from 1990-1996 and is Australia’s longest serving Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

A former Hawke and Keating Minister? Ah.


Labor sneers at those it once fought for

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (06:46 am)

I’m astonished that Labor now mocks the very kind of people - truckies and battlers - it was once proud to represent:

Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese: Mr Speaker, the Convoy of No Consequence where a couple of hundred people gathered with no support from the mainstream organisations: the people who believe in one world government, the people who believe in a conspiracy along with the Leader of the Opposition… The convoy of no consequence outside! (Laughter from Labor.) The convoy of no consequence, Mr Speaker! (Sound of applause and booing from people in the gallery.)

Gerard Henderson:

What was striking about the “Convoy of No Confidence” that rolled into Canberra yesterday was how many protesters looked like one-time traditional Labor voters. Not many employees or independent contractors can find the time or the money to travel to Canberra for a demonstration and the turnout was not large.

Nevertheless, the convoy symbolised how Labor - under pressure from its own left wing, the Greens and the independents - has alienated much of its traditional voting base.

On ABC radio yesterday, Deborah Cameron described the convoy as “anti-everything”. This misses the point. Sure, elements of the convoy oppose the carbon tax and/or the ban on live cattle exports and/or the proposed restrictions on gambling in licensed clubs and/or same sex marriage. But what united the convoy is that - to a man and woman - all the protesters want an election. Now.

ABC host Jon Faine tries to explain to a truckie why he’s wrong to be in the Convoy of No Confidence, protesting against this capable government.


Unions feast on Labor’s green madness

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (06:32 am)

Too good a deal to complete:

THE builder of the troubled Wonthaggi desalination plant has accused its electrical workforce of sabotaging the project by refusing to work and using intimidation to engage in a co-ordinated ‘’go slow’’ campaign.

In an extraordinary attack, Thiess Degremont project director John Barraclough said the Electrical Trades Union workforce had intimidated supervisors and other workers to co-operate in slowing the project.

‘’It is outrageous that we have had to chase employees out of crib sheds after rest breaks and supervise them constantly to ensure that they are working productively when they are being so well paid,’’ he said.

‘’In addition, the workforce is actively working against the project through the constant blurring of safety and industrial relations issue, intimidation of supervisors and threats to other employees if they are not cooperating with the union-endorsed ‘go slow’.’’

Let’s sum up.

Labor refused for years to find other sources of water for booming Melbourne, because it had got the green bug and thought it could simply force people to use less.

Labor then refused to even consider a new dam, because it would steal water ”currently used by the rivers”.

Labor then bought the claims of alarmists such as Tim Flannery that global warming had dried out the rains for good.

In a panic, it commissioned a desalination plant that was four times the cost of a dam, but supplied just a third of the water.

Still in a panic, it demanded deadlines for the plant that forced the builders to offer sky-high wages and conditions.

And then the rains returned, and the workers were left to feed on a plant which no one but the builder needs to be built any time soon.

A perfect disaster. Brought to you by the alarmists whose legacy will be your sky-high water bills.


The Thomson affair: the cover-up is the issue

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (05:59 am)

The Health Services Union refuses to ask police to investigate why the credit card it gave Craig Thomson, now a Labor MP, was used several times to pay for prostitutes:

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione is refusing to proceed with a criminal investigation into Mr Thomson, despite a written request from shadow attorney-general George Brandis.

In his letter, Senator Brandis said there “is sufficient evidence to establish that a criminal offence or offences have been committed in NSW” which ought to be investigated by the police.

Mr Scipione said he would be “happy” to investigate the claims, but that would require a complaint from the Health Services Union.

Mr Scipione’s decision means any criminal inquiry in NSW is subject to the approval of the head of the union, Michael Williamson.

Mr Williamson is vice-president of NSW Labor and a former ALP national president whose daughter, Alex, works as a staffer for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Mr Williamson, as party vice-president, is one of those senior Labor Party officers who signed off on paying Mr Thomson’s legal fees for his cancelled defamation action against Fairfax.

This stinks of a coverup. Who here is looking after the HSU members, whose funds were ripped off by whoever used Thomson’s card?

It’s not as if the union can afford to be ripped off:

THE health union previously headed by the Labor MP at the centre of a storm over alleged misuse of a union credit card for prostitutes is broke, according to its financial records, and official auditors have refused to verify its books.

In just lodged four-year-old financial statements for the Health Sector Union, the chartered accountants charged with auditing the books have declared they cannot say if the financial report for the Health Services Union for 2007-08 “is in accordance with the Workplace Relations Act”.

The books also disclose unusually high levels of bad debt for the union.


Thomson’s implied defence - that someone else must have used not only his cedit card but his phone - looks even less plausible now:

CALLS made from Craig Thomson’s mobile phone appear to cast more doubt on the embattled Labor MP’s denial that he was responsible for using his Health Services Union credit card to pay prostitutes…

But the Herald can reveal that the phone used to contact escort agencies was also used to call senior Labor and union figures.

Court documents show that on April 7, 2005, Mr Thomson’s phone was used to call escort agencies at 11.12pm and 11.13pm, and again at 12.05 the following morning, April 8.

The same phone was used to call a media contact for the Labor MP Stephen Smith at 6.43pm and 8.25pm on April 7, and in the previous 24 hours the phone had been used to call Michael Williamson, the then general secretary of the Health Services Union.

As the Herald revealed, Mr Thomson’s card was used to pay $2475 to an escort agency on April 8.

Early on the morning of August 16, 2007, Mr Thomson’s phone was used to call two escort agencies. In the two preceding days the same phone had been used to contact two staffers of the Health Services Union, a close friend of Mr Thomson’s and a staff member of Labor MP Mark Arbib. Also on August 15 a payment of $385 was made to an escort agency from Mr Thomson’s credit card.

So many questions, but Labor refuses to answer them:

THE Government has blocked an attempt by the Coalition to force embattled Federal Labor MP Craig Thomson to make a personal explanation to the Parliament.

Leader of Opposition business Christopher Pyne this morning called for a suspension of the house requiring Mr Thomson to appear to explain allegations levelled against him - including the alleged use of a union credit card to pay for escort services when he was the health services union secretary.

The government shutdown the debate, with Labor MP Mike Kelly and Leader of the House Anthony Albanese moving motions that Mr Pyne no longer be heard…

Mr Thomson, the member for the Central Coast seat of Dobell, has denied the allegations and has insisted that the credit card, which was accessible to a number of union officials at the time he was secretary, was used by someone else.


More refusals to answer:

Senator Arbib, who was one of three NSW Labor powerbrokers thanked by Mr Thomson in the first minute of his maiden address to parliament in 2008, yesterday refused to answer questions about whether he had helped broker a deal for the NSW branch of the Labor Party to cover legal costs relating to Mr Thomson’s withdrawn defamation action against Fairfax Media.

Senator Arbib told the Senate the questions were entirely unrelated to his portfolio responsibilities and were matters for Mr Thomson and the NSW Labor Party.


Another question is suggested by these payments - and the fact that one was five or six times higher than all the others:

In February 2003 the union card bearing Thomson’s name took a $330 hit from North Sydney’s Aboutoun Catering, an escort service.

In the same year, a payment of $570 was made to a Surry Hills escort agency.

On April 9, 2005, a $2475 fee was paid to the same escort agency. A brothel called Tiffanys, also based in Surry Hills, charged $418 for services rendered in June 2005.

On April 5, 2006, someone reportedly contacted the Young Blondes escort agency and another agency called Confidential Models from Thomson’s Melbourne hotel room, using Thomson’s union credit card.

On June 7, 2006, an unknown individual phoned Melbourne escort service Bad Girls (again from Thomsons hotel room and again using his card). On August 16, 2007, a fee of $385 was recorded on Thomson’s card following another outsourcing episode with an escort agency in Sydney.

Was that $2475 payment for services provided only to whoever used Thomson’s credit card, driver’s licencee, signature and mobile phone that day, or were other men also shouted a good time?

If so, who?

(No comments for legal reasons. And remember: no allegations are being made here. Questions are being asked which deserve an answer.)


Newspoll: Labor just 43 to the Coalition’s 57

Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, August 23, 11 (05:52 am)

I’m not sure how often Labor needs to be told it’s time to drop Gillard and her tax, since nothing will save either:

JULIA Gillard and Labor have lost the slight gains earned with the announcement of $15 billion in household carbon tax compensation and crashed back to rock-bottom levels of support…

According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last week, ... satisfaction with (the Prime Minister’s) performance fell from 33 per cent to 29 per cent, while dissatisfaction rose three points to 61 per cent.

Ms Gillard also equalled her lowest rating as preferred prime minister of 38 per cent with the Opposition Leader just one point in front at 39 per cent… Labor’s primary vote has dropped back to its lowest level on record of 27 per cent, with the Coalition unchanged on 47 per cent…

On a two-party preferred basis, using preference flows at last year’s election, the Coalition edged up one point to 57 per cent to Labor’s 43 per cent


Afghanistan claims another of ours

Andrew Bolt – Monday, August 22, 11 (08:11 pm)

Another loss:

THE 29th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed today by an explosion while on a night-time patrol.

The soldier, whose identity has not yet been released on the request of his family, was on his first deployment in Afghanistan but had served previously in East Timor.

It is national rail safety week.
NEW footage has been released showing the terrifying moment a boy ran in front of a speeding train at Mawson Lakes.
If a stranger sent me that in the mail I would be intimidated.
A MUSLIM man allegedly describes a Jewish soldier as a "dirty animal" who is "a thousand times worse" than a pig, in letters he sent to politicians and members of the Jewish community.
The law doesn't apply to him? Or he wants to go to jail.
DISGRACED former AFL player manager Ricky Nixon faces up to four months in jail after allegedly being caught driving while disqualified.
Gillard reveals her plan to force her ridiculous tax from her illegitimate government on Australian people.
TONY Abbott today told his troops there would be no leave from Parliament during the debate over carbon pricing legislation and pointed to a show-no-mercy campaign against the bills.
There are better alternatives.
A MAN who has developed a cannabis-based medicine is calling for the New South Wales Government to approve his application to manufacture and distribute the cure-all.
The mother should serve time too, as an accessory, imho
A BRISBANE mother proceeded to marry her long-time fiance in spite of her daughter's revelations the man had subjected her to two years of rape and molestation from the age of 12, a court has been told.
Hey! I do window shopping ..
IT'S no fun for anyone but the daily grind of travelling to and from work is seriously affecting women's mental health.
That's hot ..
A WOMAN who doused a man in petrol and set him alight after finding out he had touched her breasts has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Gillard must be giving non vocal support now .. in the interests of justice.
NEW South Wales police say they will investigate allegations that federal Labor MP Craig Thomson misused his union credit card.
Winslet heroic
KATE Winslet carried Sir Richard Branson's 90-year-old mother Eve to safety after a fire ripped through the Virgin tycoon's luxury island home and burnt it to the ground.
It is unfair on the constituents of Dobell to leave it in office.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says it would be unfair to comment on new allegations against embattled Labor backbencher Craig Thomson.
Was there a collar nearby?
A COMMUTER train has been evacuated after an "unidentified object" with the word bomb written on it was found on it just after 9am.
Group hug
Facebook has sent notes of apology and is changing automated systems that blocked environmental activists and other people from posting on like-minded Facebook pages.
Some more movies. Good ones are hard to find .. still .. because of rights issues.
In its largest movie-streaming endeavor to date, Facebook has partnered with famed film studio Miramax to launch an app, paidContent reported Monday.
Obama does not know who is in charge of Libya.
President Obama said Monday that Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime is "coming to an end" but the fighting is "not over yet," as Libyan rebels brought Qaddafi's forces to the brink of collapse.
A socialist leader .. exploiting a worker.
DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn and the maid who accused him of sexual assault did have what appeared to be non-consensual sex, but the maid's history of lying means that charges cannot be pressed, prosecutors said today.
I am sure his mother loves him. I am not sure the bureaucracy that one woman was heard to call for would be appropriate.
A MOTHER made her child sit in public with a sign pinned to his shirt that said: "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief."
I look forward to it.
Rove: Palin Definitely Running for President

He is hiding in a girl's dorm?
WITH exultant rebels claiming control of virtually all of Tripoli and the reign of Muammar Gaddafi irreparably smashed after 41 years, the hunt for the dictator has intensified.
Gillard's negative campaign of never having a policy fails.
JULIA Gillard and Labor have lost the slight gains earned with the announcement of $15 billion in household carbon tax compensation and crashed back to rock-bottom levels of support.
Only now is it apparent Thomson committed fraud. Apparently it had been covered up.
THE health union previously headed by the Labor MP at the centre of a storm over alleged misuse of a union credit card for prostitutes is broke, according to its financial records, and official audito...
I love it that this is researched.
CATS and dogs are digging digital TV.

Open and transparent government, long despised by the ALP
THE Liberal Party has turned to newspaper advertising to attract its next generation of MPs in a twist on the usual situations vacant notices.
We don't have the kind of poverty we used to during the start of the industrial revolution. That skews the science.
RESEARCHERS have known for decades that the age of puberty for girls has dropped over the centuries, and now there's evidence boys reach sexual maturity years earlier than they did 200 years ago.
Sounds good.
NEW direct buses to Sydney Airport should be introduced and the $11.80 access fee for the airport rail link scrapped, according to a scathing report into traffic congestion by the Productivity Commiss...
Clover policy failure
SYDNEY City Council spent almost $400,000 in a single month spruiking its $76 million bike paths - including $1300 for free chocolates and bells for riders.
No less a monster than Che
WITH a talent for riding BMX bikes and motorcycles and a willingness to buy alcohol and cigarettes, it was easy to see why Andrew Dean McIntosh was able to befriend plenty of young boys.
A failure of journalism to fail to note the success of the meet. Organizers made sure that Canberra would not be blocked and the gutter press used that to claim it was a failure
ORGANISERS of yesterday's Convoy of No Confidence in Canberra said it was a runaway success, while the federal government and the Greens laughed it off as a flop.
PM is resigning?
TWO hundred workers set to lose their jobs at a BlueScope Steel plant in Victoria have been allocated $2 million in the Federal Government's assistance package.
Maybe FB can have a site dedicated to tracking racists?
VULGAR photographs and racist posts have ruined a Facebook tribute site dedicated to the little girl mauled to death by a dog last week.
It was an accident. His nationality is not an issue.
AN international student whose driving killed three people and left two children orphaned has been jailed for at least seven years.
How about a good policy instead?
A $150 million floating detention centre to transport new asylum seekers is being considered by the government - despite claims the Malaysian solution will stop boats.
They tried to make an explosive. It worked. Tragically.
UPDATE 12pm: TWO men critically injured in a backyard explosion in Cannons Creek last night were making a home-made explosive, police say.
Bad times under ALP government
WHEN the dust settled and the last hammer fell on The Block, it looked like fan favourites Polly Porter and Warwick Jones would be the only ones to share in Channel 9's renovation riches.
Gillard's Fair Work is a failure
MORE than 100,000 jobs could be lost across the Australian economy with analysts predicting the unemployment rate could hit 6 per cent by next year.
Obama has no policy for this time.
SIX months after Libya's uprising began, rebels last night reached the compound of Muammar Gaddafi in the capital Tripoli, claiming victory in their bid to oust the Libyan strongman.
If we don't support them they shouldn't be there.
AUSTRALIA suffered its 29th fatality in Afghanistan early yesterday morning when a soldier from the Townsville based 2nd Battalion was killed in action after being hit by an insurgent bomb.
A lying pimp still has the full support of Gillard.
BESIEGED Labor MP Craig Thomson allegedly tried to cover up payments for prostitutes by reversing finance charges on his union credit card and processing them on a different card.
Don't assassinate him. Prosecute the case.
THE International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking the transfer of Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity, the court's spokesman said today.
An ALP award, not for merit.
THE extra publicity could prove financially pointless, but David Hicks' controversial book has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards.

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