Wednesday, September 21, 2011

News Items and comments

Dunce staff policy fails our children

Miranda Devine – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:33 pm)

IMAGINE running a business and not being able to choose your own staff. Instead you had to accept whoever some centralised authority imposed on you simply because the union demanded it.

I like Piccoli. I am sure he will make responsible changes. But he can't do it alone. He can't do it as a sole agent of change. I want to be of some help to him, but I am hamstrung by some common enemies. The issue of the death of Hamidur Rahman is related to the failure of the NSW TF to embrace change. They are not focused on teacher welfare or student welfare. They want the same thing the HSU wants, to engineer ALP power. - ed

Regarding Russ’s challenge to Tyler, Ron Muhlenkamp e-mailed to me these data showing that the average size of American households has been shrinking steadily since 1950. Mr. Muhlenkamp offers this plausible hypothesis (also from his e-mail):

The reason median household income has not grown is because we have far more households per capita than we used to.

One reason is because we have fewer children per household but we also have far more households with little or no earned income (retirees)

Where I grew up Midwest, a generation ago, it was normal for a senior to live with his/her children when they could no longer work to support themselves, (as did My grandparents). Today it is normal for such seniors to live in a separate household

I just sent you a table showing the growth per decade in population and in households.

Median income per capita has increased relentlessly (see also the chapter on consumer spending in my book) median income per HH has not only because (we can afford) more households.


How Markets Use Knowledge



If you are teaching Microeconomics or Principles this semester, please feel free to share this visual essay of mine with your students. It is my attempt to convey the lesson of Hayek’s Use of Knowledge in Society using supply and demand.


Here’s a letter to the Boston Globe:

David D’Alessandro argues that America’s economy would be strengthened if government forced suppliers to hire more workers to produce the goods and services that these firms sell to Uncle Sam (“Make ‘em hire,” Sept. 20).

That is, Mr. D’Alessandro wants to oblige certain firms to operate with inefficiently large numbers of workers.

If it’s true that the path to economic efficiency is paved with mandated inefficiencies, government should go beyond Mr. D’Alessandro’s relatively modest proposal. It should require also that, say, restaurants assign a minimum of three waiters to each table. That every taxicab be driven at each point in time by two drivers (one steers while the other operates the foot peddles). That barbershops designate two barbers to perform each haircut. That schools man each classroom during every minute of the school day with two teachers. And that newspapers publish only columns and op-eds written by at least two writers.

Given that profit-seeking producers greedily seek to operate as efficiently as possible, available opportunities to encourage economic recovery by prohibiting such efficiencies are legion!

Donald J. Boudreaux


My challenge to Tyler



There is a new theory from Noah Smith, for the alleged stagnation of America’s standard of living, the Great Relocation (HT: Tyler).

The idea, in a nutshell, is that economic activity is relocating from rich Europe, America, and Asia to developing Asia faster than technological progress can replenish it.

This makes no more sense to me than Tyler’s Great Stagnation story–but I will save that for another time. For this post, I want to focus on Tyler’s reaction to Smith’s story. His first point is this one:

1. Median income begins to stagnate in 1973, before this trend is significantly underway.

You hear this claim about median income all the time (and you are going to hear a lot more between now and November 2012) and I do not understand it. What is it supposed to mean? Does it mean that the person who was the median or family in 1973 continued onward at a constant standard of living without any gains despite enormous gains in per capita income? This is the way the story is usually told–the rich (as if they were a fixed group of individuals, an exclusive club) somehow managed to gain all of the gains of the intervening 38 years for themselves. This is clearly not true. If you look at any data that follows the same people over time, you will see that their lives improve as they get older and that they are typically better off than their parents. Better off in absolute terms, not relative ones. Some people move up relative to others. Some move down. But the entire distribution moves up.

Or does it mean that the typical family or individual in America today has the same standard of living as people back in 1973? Is the median a surrogate for the middle class? This is a different claim from the first one. The problem with this claim is the types of people in the middle in 1973 are different from the types of people now. There was a major demographic change in the 1970′s. The divorce rate exploded. Suddenly (and it was pretty suddenly) new households were created as couples divorced. The rate of household creation grew faster than population.

The effect of this increase in the divorce rate was to change who was at the median. A lot of below-median families were created in the 1970′s headed by recently divorced single women who suddenly found themselves wanting to be in workforce. They had not prepared for this. Their skills were different. Adding those families pulls the measured median down. That fall in the median does not mean that the family that was at the median was now worse off. It’s like the median height falling at the party when the Celtics leave. Nobody in the room gets any shorter. Similarly, in the individual data, people who weren’t working (their wages were zero but non-workers earning zero aren’t included in the measured median) were working unexpectedly. They were typically people with below-average wages. The measured median fell.

This of course created a lot of economic hardship. The surge in divorce rates made a lot of people poor. But you don’t want to conclude that the American economic system is broken because of an increase in the divorce rate. Most people, and I think this includes Tyler, don’t view the stagnation of wages or incomes as the result of a social change but as the result of a change in how the system treats someone today relative to yesterday. When you keep repeating that median income is stagnant, you usually mean that people are stuck or are not getting ahead.

The same phenomenon occurs when there is an increase in immigration by low-skilled workers. That reduces the median wage. That statistical change doesn’t make anyone worse off in and of itself.

I will also mention, as I have before, that the standard measures of median income understate growth because they overstate inflation and understate compensation–they leave out many forms of compensation that have grown more important since 1973.

Here has what has truly changed in the fabric of the American workforce since 1973. Before 1973 you could graduate from high school or not even finish high school and live pretty well. You could work in a factory or do a number of things that paid well in the relative sense–you could be somewhere near the middle.

That isn’t true any more. Not finishing high school is very bad for your probable place in the income distribution. And such a person may actually have a lower standard of living in absolute terms relative to 1973. Factory jobs are disappearing. Yes, some are part of the Great Relocation. But many or maybe even most are part of the great increases in productivity that have occurred since 1973. America manufactures more stuff since then with fewer people. There is no evidence there of a great stagnation but rather the opposite.

The difficult financial life of a high school dropout and even many high school graduates who do not go on to a college is a symptom not a cause of economic change. It is the symptom of a more productive economy based on knowledge and information. It’s an unpleasant symptom but the underlying cause is a good thing. The way to deal with the symptom is to improve the education system.

So my challenge to Tyler is to tell me what he thinks the stagnation in median income signifies. Has there been a change in the returns to education or creativity? Or is it mostly a statistical artifact? Whichever answer he gives, I would like to see him reconcile it with the panel data–the surveys of economic information that follow the same people over time. Others are of course welcome to chime in as well. If Tyler responds I will link to either his post or his email if he wishes.


Quotation of the Day…



… is from page 101 of Frank Knight’s exhaustive 1937 review, in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, of Keynes’s General Theory:

[M]any of Mr. Keynes’s own doctrines are, as he would proudly admit, among the notorious fallacies to combat which has been considered a main function of the teaching of economics.


But I doubt it will work

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:39 pm)

Someone’s tried to put Kevin Rudd back in his box. The Herald Sun has a story tomorrow that will stretch the tension in Canberra to close to breaking point.


Hepworth has history

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:33 pm)

One more reason to wonder why the media treats every contested thing Archbishop Hepworth says as the gospel truth, and why Senator Nick Xenophon even publicly named the priest Hepworth claims raped him as an adult, some 45 years ago:

The Adelaide-based archbishop who has rocked the Catholic Church with a series of sex abuse allegations against several priests has been accused of financial mismanagement in parishes in Victoria and South Australia.

Archbishop John Hepworth… claims his detractors are using the allegations to smear him as he battles the Archdiocese of Adelaide for action against one of three priests who allegedly abused him sexually more than 40 years ago.

Archbishop Hepworth claims he left the Catholic priesthood and fled Australia in fear and disgust to London after years of sexual abuse, including rape, in Adelaide, at several locations in Victoria, and in Europe.

But some in the Adelaide Catholic Archdiocese allege the real reason he left was because of financial irregularities at Glenelg, one of Adelaide’s biggest and wealthiest parishes where he was administrator between January and November 1974.

The archbishop, now leader of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion, has known about the Glenelg allegations since they first surfaced decades ago and has vigorously denied them.

Archbishop Hepworth said he had faced court in Ballarat about 30 years ago charged with misappropriating $1200 from the Anglican parish of Sebastopol to pay for his son’s baptism party.

‘’My marriage was breaking up. I was really gone to pieces. And yes, there was a court case. I pleaded not guilty. The magistrate refused to find any verdict. And that was the end of it,’’ he said.

‘’I was trying to stop the marriage breaking up. My then wife wanted a big party and I could not afford it…

‘’The [Anglican] diocese brought [the charge] because I had wrongly used ... [a parish account] and regretted it afterwards ... I had paid an account intending to pay it back. It was as common as that. And it was wrong.’’

To repeat what Hepworth says in the article: The magistrate refused to find any verdict against him, and he says he’d intended paying back the money.



ARCHBISHOP John Hepworth was offered an investigation into rape claims two years ago but only authorised the Catholic Church to proceed this year.

The church’s Adelaide Archdiocese has provided a letter to The Advertiser that shows Archbishop Hepworth only signed a request for the investigation in February this year despite receiving a request from the archdiocese to authorise the investigation in 2009…

Archbishop Hepworth has claimed that the archdiocese failed to properly investigate claims when he raised them in 2007.

The Senate was told last week Archbishop Hepworth allegedly was raped more than 40 years ago by priest and former Adelaide archdiocese vicar-general Monsignor Ian Dempsey.

Monsignor Dempsey categorically has denied the allegations.

Archbishop Hepworth’s claims of delay prompted Senator Nick Xenophon to raise the issue in the Senate. He used parliamentary privilege to name Monsignor Dempsey and to attack the Adelaide archdiocese for its handling of the case.

(No comments for legal reasons. Thanks to reader John.)


Swan is peer reviewed

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:00 pm)

Euromoney asks former Treasurers Peter Costello and Paul Keating how thrilled they are now that Wayne Swan has been named the magazine’s Treasurer of the Year. It does not go well, but at least the writer gets some free travel advice.


Mufti not nifty

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (05:54 pm)

My column on the Herald Sun iPad edition today: Why do our Muslims keep choosing the wrong Mufti?


The dissidents should take the argument to the people, before they take it to Abbott

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (05:50 pm)

Briggs is right on the principle, Abbott is right on the politics:

LIBERAL backbencher Jamie Briggs is openly defying Tony Abbott on industrial relations, saying his ruling out of statutory individual contracts will stifle flexibility in agreement-making.

As industry groups expressed disappointment at Mr Abbott’s politically cautious approach, Mr Briggs - who helped draft John Howard’s Work Choices laws - said statutory individual contracts should be made available to employers once again.

“You can’t have genuine flexibility without a form of statutory individual contract with a no-disadvantage test,” he told ABC radio in Adelaide.

The Opposition Leader told the ABC’s 7.30 program last night: “We don’t support statutory individual contracts. We did once but we don’t now.”

Mr Briggs defended his position, saying he would continue to argue his strongly-held belief in the importance of individual agreements.

Hope he does, The public needs to be half-way convinced that there is even an argument, before the Liberals can afford to adopt it.


Smith claims Fairfax sacked him for his politics

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (05:45 pm)

That’s interesting, certainly arguable but also professionally dangerous - or courageous:

BROADCASTER Michael Smith is taking Fairfax Radio to court, accusing radio station 2UE of dismissing him for his political beliefs.

Smith was suspended by the Sydney station earlier this month after he tried to air an interview with a former union official claiming allegedly fraudulent conduct by a former boyfriend of Julia Gillard.

It’s understood he will contest his dismissal under the Fair Work Act, alleging he has been victimised over his political beliefs.

The 2UE afternoon presenter told The Australian Online: “We are seeking an injunction to restrain my employer from dismissing me.”

The next time Fairfax approaches me, remind me why I should never put my future in its hands. In the meantime, I suspect it has a public relations problem on its hands.


Suddenly Labor’s joke falls flat

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (10:31 am)

Labor thinks this is funny:


Labor thinks this is not:


The Prime Minister’s depicted naked under an Australian flag. Do you think that’s appropriate?


Well I don’t think any politician can quibble with comedians. The Chaser have certainly done me over, over the years but frankly I don’t think from what I’ve seen of this that it’s all that funny and I do think there is a bit of a double standard operating here when it comes to our Prime Minister so that’s just my personal view.


Why is that? Is that because she’s a female?


Oh, I think a whole variety of reasons. I don’t think we would have seen this sort of programme on the ABC when John Howard was Prime Minister.


Does it degrade the office of the Prime Minister?


I think at every level it’s pretty poor comedy and in some pretty poor taste.


Several readers ask: how much more fuss there would be from the Left if the flag was an Aboriginal one instead?


The real omen is that magpies drive even a lawyer to the drink

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (10:25 am)

I noted an omen this week - that hawks were driving off magies. A Slattsnews reader counters with his own:

Last week I was walking along on a pedestrian/cyclist shared pathway on the yarra river. I watched a handsome and proud male magpie swoop a fully suited and well heeles cyclist. The cyclist, in his fright veered off the path and ended in the drink,

I helped him out of the water, gave him my hand and sat with him on the bank. He was in shock though after he finally calmed down I established he was a lawyer from Hawthorn.

Go Pies!


Europe downs tools

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (10:22 am)

From the Wall Street Journal:

In 1965, government spending as a percentage of GDP averaged 28% in Western Europe. Today it hovers just under 50%. In 1965, the fertility rate in Germany was a healthy 2.5 children per mother. Today it is a catastrophic 1.35. During the postwar years, annual GDP growth in Europe averaged 5.5%. After 1973, it rarely exceeded 2.3%. In 1973, Europeans worked 102 hours for every 100 worked by an American. By 2004 they worked just 82 hours for every 100 American ones.

(Thanks to reader Rob.)


The great green swindle

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (10:15 am)

James Delingpole uncovers another rogue trader:

A rogue trader at one of the world’s largest banks (USA Inc., second in economic power only to China Inc.) has been exposed as the biggest fraudster in the history of mankind. The fraud – conservatively estimated at $38.6 billion, though others believe it could be at least 20 times bigger once his secret trading accounts in a file mysteriously marked “Stimulus Package” are fully investigated – comfortably exceeds the paltry $2.3 billion losses run up by UBS trader Kweku Adoboli.

Though full details of the Uber Rogue Trader – known only by his initials B.O. – have yet to be released, he is believed to be either of Hawaiian or Kenyan birth, with a plausible speaking manner and a deceptive aura of competence and gravitas. He is said to be “coolly unrepentant” about his crime, which, he claims, he was only doing to provide “hope and change” to his 200 million victims.

The fraud appears to have centred around an arcane taxpayer-swindling system first devised by Kenneth Lay of Enron known as “Clean tech” or “green jobs.” B.O. – who joined the bank in January 2009 – is believed to have persuaded colleagues and shareholders that he could boost the institution’s flagging profits by spending $38.6 billion on a “loan guarantee program” for clean tech start up companies. He also claimed that in the process he would create “65,000 jobs”.

Correctly anticipating that in the open market no one would actually want to buy such overpriced, economically inefficient energy as solar or wind, B.O. hit on the ingenious scam of ramping up demand by spreading misleading rumours. He persuaded high-placed friends at institutions including NASA, the EPA and the IPCC to promote junk-science data grotesquely exaggerating the dangers of carbon based energy and the benefits of “renewable” energy. BO then poured sums of up to half a billion dollars into Ponzi schemes – aka Green Tech – run by sympathetic friends.

Unfortunately, the scam was exposed when one of B.O’s Green Tech Ponzi schemes – a solar energy company called Solyndra – collapsed with losses which could cost USA shareholders as much as $527 million.

(Thanks to reader Mal.)


Grow north, young man

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (07:52 am)


THE green madness is lifting. The green grip is loosening from our throats.

Proof: we dare dream again of using the huge north of our land to feed the world.

The Federal Opposition on the weekend said it had a plan to double Australia’s agricultural production by 2050, using new dams in the Top End to grow fruit, vegetables and grains.

Actually, plan is too strong a word for a dream that comes without a budget.

But don’t knock it. Just to talk about this helps to free us from an ideology choking our imagination and our future.

An Opposition committee led by finance spokesman Andrew Robb and including Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has tramped around the country blowing dust off schemes to develop our underpopulated north.

They’ve checked out ideas from the third stage of the Ord River project in Western Australia to dams on Queensland’s Gilbert and Flinders rivers that have yellowed on the drawing board.

And Robb says that with political will - and cash - we could create a “mosaic” of irrigation and agricultural projects in the north that would double the food we produce, so we could feed 120 million people.

“There really are millions of hectares, which, if you add water, you’ve got dramatically improved productivity and all sorts of agricultural opportunities open up that wouldn’t exist,” he told The Australian.

“There are huge quantities of water in Australia. It is just harnessing it at the right time that is the issue.”

The business logic is inescapable. The world’s population is predicted to rise from nearly seven billion now to probably more than 10 billion this century.

That’s not just millions more mouths to feed, but less land to grow the food on, as cities expand over farmland.

Many of those new appetites will be in Asia, close to the northern ports of this great continent, and that’s an invitation begging for us to accept.

In fact, we’ve had people who saw this as our destiny generations ago.

Explorer John McDouall Stuart, who crossed the continent from Adelaide to Van Diemen Gulf and back again, already declared in 1862 that the north “could be the finest colony under the Crown - capable of growing any and every thing.”

In 1954, American tycoon Alan Chase, egged on by the Menzies Government, said he’d create the biggest rice-growing region in the world at Humpty Doo, south of Darwin, and save Asia.

“Hunger in Asia breeds communism, and I believe that we have here the means of removing that hunger.”

But Chase’s paddies were trampled by buffaloes, his rice was eaten by magpie geese, and his project was starved of capital, so that when I was a boy in Darwin, Humpty Doo was held as proof of the folly of farming in the Top End.

Around the north, other plans withered for lack of money, people, pest control, transport and water in the dry season.

But with better technology, more capital, genetic engineering of crops, smarter farming, more effective pesticides, faster transport and more demand, a lot that was impossible is now not - if we let ourselves think big.

Already in Humpty Doo, those failed rice paddies have been replaced by mango plantations, and horticulture in the Northern Territory is expected by next year to have jumped 50 per cent in value over just five years.

What now holds us back - or maybe finally not - is our mad green faith.

The most scandalous evidence of that came only last year, from the Rudd government’s Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce, which declared that turning our north into a food bowl was just crazy. Impossible.


Labor gets a new whiteboard

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (07:09 am)

Labor and its mates have half the seats, but more than two thirds of the funding:

THE Gillard Government has been accused of “overwhelming” pork-barrelling by funnelling nearly 70 per cent of $200 million in regional grants to seats held by Labor and independent MPs.

Evoking memories of the “regional rorts” scheme that scarred John Howard, Labor MPs in Victoria secured four out of five projects funded by the Regional Development Australia Fund…

It was just as cosy in NSW, where Labor MPs secured seven of nine projects.

The three independent MPs who back Julia Gillard - Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie - have also been rewarded handsomely, securing $60 million in regional grants for their electorates.

Of the $199 million so far allocated through the RDAF, about $135 million has been allocated to Labor and independent MPs, making a mockery of Regional Development Minister Simon Crean’s vow to stamp-out pork-barrelling…

In Tasmania, only two projects were funded and they were both in Denison, the Hobart-based electorate of independent Andrew Wilkie.


(Thanks to reader CA.)


There will be no deal with a non-signatory under a government I lead

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (07:04 am)

Julia Gillard, July 2010:

I would rule out anywhere that is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention.

(Thanks to reader Erin.)


Swan wins, and let’s hope the judges got it right for once

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:57 am)


Reader Sherro gives credit where it’s due:

Congratulations to Treasurer Wayne Swan for winning the Euromoney 2011 Award for Best Finance Minister! May I also take a moment to congratulate some former Euromoney Award Winners:

Euromoney 2006 Best Investment Bank - Lehman Brothers (Busted 2007)

Euromoney 2006 Best Equity House - Morgan Stanley (Bailed out 2007)

Euromoney 2006 Best at Risk Management - Bear Stearns (Busted 2007)

Euromoney 2006 Best at Investor Services - Citigroup (Bailed out 2007)

And I’d like to note the favourable Euromoney commentary on AIG’s future, 2007 (bailed out 2007)

Hmmm… should we be worried?


Right on cue:

THE International Monetary Fund has slashed its economic forecasts for Australia, warning of a new global recession that would hit commodity prices and drive millions worldwide into unemployment....

The fund says Australia will grow at only 1.8 per cent this year, down from its previously forecast 3 per cent. The figure is way below the May budget forecast and only half the most recent Reserve Bank forecast, suggesting it will be harder than expected to reach the promised budget surplus in 2012-13. For 2012 the fund forecasts 3.3 per cent, down from 3.5 per cent.

But it points out that these are best-case forecasts, made on the assumption that almost everything goes right.


Will the AFL now give Gillard the boot?

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:53 am)

JULIA Gillard’s future may be about to get punted by the AFL, which will have more on its mind in Grand Final week than football.

Nine of Victoria’s 10 AFL clubs have poker machines, and all will lose big money thanks to a promise Gillard gave to become Prime Minister.

To get the vote of independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Gillard promised to introduce mandatory pre-commitment technology to limit losses on poker machines.

Wilkie last month repeated his threat that if Gillard did not deliver on this promise by May, “I will withdraw my support”.

Gillard must give Wilkie what he wants, or face an election in June, on the eve of her carbon dioxide tax, which will utterly destroy her Government.

So far, it’s been the NSW clubs which have stoked most of the fury against Wilkie’s plan, which would force punters to sign up to bet on “high intensity” poker machines, and name a limit, or force clubs to install new machines that take only $1 bets and offer only a $500 jackpot.

The protest rallies have been so heated, with Labor MPs jeered and heckled by Labor voters, that as many as 25 Labor MPs are threatening to vote against the pokies deal in caucus.

But across the border, the AFL and its clubs have so far said little against these “reforms”, and I’m betting their near-silence can’t last much longer.

The AFL board may be close to Labor, and Collingwood’s influential president, Eddie McGuire, may be a Labor supporter, too, but Victorian AFL clubs control about 6 per cent of the state’s nearly 30,000 pokies, and many badly need the money.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett warned in April that capping losses on the machines could wipe out some poorer AFL clubs. AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou denies this, but says junior clubs could go out of business.

Even Collingwood, rich as it is, cannot afford this risk to its own pokies earnings of more than $23 million a year, and if forced to choose between his beloved club and Gillard, there is no doubting what McGuire would do.


Chinese emissions don’t stink to a warmist

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:38 am)

A metaphor for the folly of the carbon dioxide tax:

UNIONS have gone on the warpath after learning that the new headquarters for the federal Climate Change Department will use cheap Chinese aluminium, which they say is dirtier to produce than the Australian product.

The national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, raised the matter with Julia Gillard yesterday during a meeting of the unions, industry, the Prime Minister and senior ministers to discuss ways of helping the struggling manufacturing sector....

Mr Howes said the contract was for 80 tonnes of aluminium extrusions, valued at about $5 million. ‘’Emissions for aluminium made in China are around 50 per cent higher than Australian aluminium,’’ he said.


If cost is the issue, throw him out

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:28 am)

If we’re more worried about cost above justice, then let’s throw out all illegal immigrants without appeal:

RADICAL Muslim cleric Abdul Benbrika has escaped trial over his plot to bomb Australia and he could walk free from jail in only six years. One of his co-accused Melbourne terrorists already has been released and the other two are eligible to be freed in November.

The decision to abandon the case was made despite terror cell members associated with Benbrika ordering or buying all the chemicals and equipment needed to make a “Mother of Satan” bomb capable of killing hundreds....

The police and legal costs associated with trying to get Benbrika and three of his followers to trial on conspiracy to commit a terrorist act charges were at least $20 million.

Algerian-born Benbrika was an illegal immigrant who was ordered out of Australia in 1990, 1994 and again in 1995 before winning an appeal to stay.

Benbrika, 51, a professed religious sheik, and six of his Melbourne cell members were jailed in 2008 after being found guilty of being members of a terrorist organisation.

He and Melbourne terror cell members Aimen Joud, 26, Fadl Sayadi, 31, and Ahmed Raad, 28, were due to face trial this year on the more serious charge of conspiring to commit a terrorist act in Australia, which carries a maximum jail term of life.

Five cell members in New South Wales have already been jailed for between 23 and 28 years on the same charge, over the same conspiracy and on similar evidence to that against the Melbourne terror cell members.

But Victorian Supreme Court judge Terry Forrest recently granted a defence application to permanently stay the conspiracy case against Benbrika, Joud, Sayadi and Raad, saying it would be “oppressive” to subject them to a second trial....

In handing down his decision to abandon the conspiracy to commit a terrorist act charges, Justice Forrest said if it had proceeded it would be ”lengthy, complex and expensive”....

“The public interest in bringing the accused men to trial is diminished by the fact that they have already been prosecuted and punished for most of their criminal conduct and that they will not receive significant additional terms of imprisonment.


Don’t laugh if they’re Green

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:21 am)

Gerard Henderson isn’t the first to note how the green movement has borrowed the apocalytpic rhetoric and tropes of old-time Christianity:

Once upon a time, when people said, “The end of the world is nigh,” they were figures of fun. They were all Christians walking around in odd clothing. Now, people who walk around in odd clothing and say “The end of the world is nigh,” vote Greens and often work at the ABC or somewhere else.


How dare we debate this Government’s faults?

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, September 21, 11 (06:14 am)

Janet Albrechtsen on the Greens’ Gillard Government’s media inquiry:

It is a mix of political opportunism, revenge and ideology

At the macro level, the very public protests against News Limited point to an all-too-familiar disregard for open debate. As former foreign minister Alexander Downer told The Australian last week, the Labor government is echoing the ideology of most leftist movements, which “expect a certain level of obedience from the media and when they don’t get it they get terribly angry”. That anger, so evident in comments from Gillard, her ministers, backbenchers, the Greens and their supporters in the media and academe, has the whiff of totalitarianism.

Jonathan Holmes warns that the Government is considering already a state media authority with far too much power over what is printed.

If Obama can't kill all the inmates by then, will he pardon them?
Even though the Obama administration failed to close Guantanamo Bay's detention facility by its self-imposed deadline of January 2010, it is now pushing to close it before next year’s election in a clear appeal to the president’s domestic base as well as countries critical of American detainee policy.
It isn't about his fitness. The sport is inappropriate for school children.
Darren Lockyer has withdrawn from the Brisbane Broncos team for Friday night's match against Manly after 72 hours of deliberation.
None of the changes are wise?
I've never seen a president less in a hurry to get things done -- or as quick to display his deep reservoir of self-pity. Social Security's "lockbox" structure is being picked apart, but the pundit class is more interested in examining whether a certain GOP candidate should use the term "Ponzi scheme."
Hang on, Snoopy, hang on.
A team of astronomers are planning an epic quest to track down the 42-year-old lunar module that's adrift in the solar system.
Obama will pardon them.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday that his panel will probe government loan programs that benefit private companies in light of the scandal over a now-bankrupt solar firm which received nearly $530 million in taxpayer loans.
a mistake any AGW fool could make
Publishers of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World on Tuesday scrambled to correct a controversial statement made in which they suggested Greenland lost 15% of its permanent ice cover over the last twelve years.
Obama has shrunk in office
The author of an explosive new book offering an inside account of the Obama presidency is fighting back against charges that he plagiarized material and falsely accused the White House of creating a "hostile" work environment for women.
Reba Meager gets more
AN ITALIAN porn actress-turned-politician is set to get a taxpayer-funded pension of 3000 euros ($4000) a month.
Tip of ALP iceberg
THE Gillard Government has been accused of "overwhelming" pork-barrelling by funnelling nearly 70 per cent of $200 million in regional grants to seats held by Labor and independent MPs.
Can I do that for my touch?
TECH-savvy student housemates helped police nab three alleged burglars by using an iPhone tracking app.
A good Premier.
SWIFT law changes initiated by Premier Barry O'Farrell's own department ensured the weekend's epic Davis Cup world group play-off tie stayed in Sydney after planning regulations threatened to have it ...
THE chances of organ transplant rejections could be dramatically reduced after a new discovery by scientists in Sydney about how the liver works.
The BER failed here
SCHOOLS could be forced to adopt new "thermal comfort" measures instead of getting airconditioners this summer.
Simpler to just give their money away.
AFTER several failed attempts to convince their 41-year-old son to leave the nest, a Venetian couple have hired a lawyer in a last resort bid for domestic peace and quiet.
SPACE tourism is closer to reality after the completion of an $US8 million ($7.8 million) Mojave Desert production plant where the world's first fleet of passenger-ready spaceships will be built.
If they don't deal well with stress don't send them.
PARENTS are being panicked into lodging appeals and medical claims to get their children into selective high schools - with 906 such bids since 2010.
How old is it? 21 is young to be away from home.
THE Wests Tigers didn't think their season could sink any lower than the final two minutes against the Warriors on Friday night.
But his "I've done nothing wrong" evidence was devastating.
BESIEGED union boss Michael Williamson admitted to the Industrial Relations Commission that he gave false evidence in a sworn affidavit 12 years ago but no action was ever taken against him.
The cat fur is real
THERE'S not much former model and TV host Ruby Rose hasn't done to attract the lens of a camera - except strip naked.
McDonald salads? The tick sounds like a waste. If they won't give a tick to good McDonalds food I won't respect the tick.
FAST food giant McDonald's will lose the right to display the National Heart Foundation's healthier food Tick on its burgers, salads and other popular lines.
Team bragged under him he wasn't Buchannan. He certainly wasn't successful like him.
TIM Nielsen has quit as Australian cricket coach, claiming he feels like he has been kicked in the guts.
April fools
WAYNE Swan has chalked up the award that eluded Peter Costello for his almost 12 years as Australia's treasurer.
Get 'em
DETECTIVES have reformed a strike force targeting arsonists as firefighters battled to contain several bushfires yesterday.
No. There is such a thing as mental illness. This looks like munchausens.
A MOTHER whose 10-year-old son accidentally hanged himself with a dog lead has spoken out about her anguish at trying to get help for the boy.
Make mine black.
Amnesty international oppose it. So it must be right.
Georgia's pardons board rejected Tuesday a last-ditch plea for clemency from death row inmate Troy Davis despite high-profile support for his claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.
Sadly many cars are effectively driverless because those with the keys are off their face. Also describes the Australian economy.
THE future of public transport has finally arrived with Heathrow Airport officially unveiling laser-guided travel pods.
Gillard is drowning, liker her victims.
A CATHOLIC priest has been quizzed after three asylum seekers went missing as they attended church.
The bogan couple traveled o/s as a couple, much to the discomfort of many. So why not sex under a foreign flag, wiping sweat with a Koran?
DEFIANT ABC boss Mark Scott says he will push ahead with tomorrow's broadcast of the panned comedy At Home With Julia which depicts the PM having sex with partner Tim Mathieson under the Australian flag.
Liked on
In only 2-minutes you'll learn the history of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) that you have probably never heard.

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