I have some sympathy for Albanese’s argument, but I would point out that Wong, albeit popular in media circles, has a curious ability to be fluent without being persuasive:
The Labor Party has exploded into open warfare at the highest levels following the defeat of the senior cabinet minister Penny Wong to the number one Senate ticket in favour of one of the lesser known faceless men who helped install Julia Gillard to the Prime Ministership in 2010.
Right-faction powerbroker Don Farrell defeated Senator Wong in a ballot today by 112 votes to 83 with the Finance Minister to be listed second on the South Australian Senate ballot paper at the next federal election.Senior Labor frontbencher and left-faction figure Anthony Albanese let fly today at ‘‘union powerbrokers’’ saying Labor’s ongoing factional wars were evidence of a broken internal system.Accusing his party of ignoring the electorate in favour of its own ructions, Mr Albanese said he will demand this week that the ALP national executive overturn the decision and promote Senator Wong to the number one spot.
Advertisement He labelled the move as ‘‘gross self-indulgent rubbish’’ taken by ‘‘those who should care more about the party and less about themselves.’’
Molly Hemingway notes a contrast between how big city media grills Barack Obama and how some out-of-town reporter does it:
Matt Welch absolutely humiliated Douglas Brinkley by quoting the first five questions he asked President Obama for the recent Rolling Stone interview:1.Let’s start with how the campaign has been going. Ever since the first debate, Romney has abruptly shifted his position on a whole host of issues, from his tax plan to financial regulation.
2.Many observers have commented on how Romney has misrepresented or even changed his positions in this last leg of the campaign – that he’s been like a chameleon on plaid. Do you feel that he has lied to the American people?3.Where were you when you first saw Romney’s speech in Boca Raton about the 47 percent? What was your first reaction?4.What has surprised you the most about the Republican campaign this year?5.Do you have any fear that Roe v. Wade could be overturned if the Republicans win the presidency and appoint another Supreme Court justice?
And here are the only four questions local reporter Kyle Clark asked the most powerful man in the country earlier today:1.Were the Americans under attack at the consulate in Benghazi Libya denied requests for help during that attack? And is it fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and we’ll all find out after the election?2.Were they denied requests for help during the attack?3.In a national address, you touted the stimulus money going to Abound Solar - a Colorado company connected to one of your billionaire fundraisers. Now, as you may know, Abound Solar is out of business and under criminal investigation. The jobs are gone and
taxpayers are out about 60 million dollars. How do you answer critics who see Abound Solar as Colorado’s Solyndra - a politically connected clean energy company that went under and took our money with it?4.Mr. President, you’ve called for more civility in our nation’s political conversation - and much has obviously been made about the tone of this race. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, you called Governor Romney a “bullshitter.” What did you mean and why did you choose that word?
When a local news reporter shows up the entire national media enterprise, I’m impressed.
President Barack Obama would not directly address questions from 9NEWS on whether Americans under attack in Libya were denied requests for assistance during the September 11th terror attack.
On the show on Channel 10 tomorrow: Peter Costello, Michael Costa and Judith Sloan try to figure how this government managed to run out of money in a mining boom, create a tax that raises no cash and implement a carbon tax that doesn’t change the climate.
Plus boats, bungles, Craig Thomson and something Mitt Romney could teach Tony Abbott. We’ve also asked on Wayne Swan and other Labor ministers.
Some disruption this week to our schedule, thanks to sport:
SYDNEY: 10am (no encore)MELBOURNE: 10am (no encore)BRISBANE: 9.30am (encore at 4.30pm)ADELAIDE: 10am (encore at 4.30pm)PERTH: 2pm (encore at 4.30pm)
It is a story so sensitive that China’s censors blocked it from being read on the Internet in China just hours after it was published by the New York Times:
The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.
But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.
In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.
Wen was meant to be the honest one:
The revelations come as a particular embarrassment for Wen, who is the standard-bearer of the Communist Party’s reformist wing and has campaigned against the rampant corruption that infuriates many ordinary Chinese.
In a speech published in April, he said official corruption was “the biggest danger facing the ruling party” and warned that “those who hold political power may perish” unless it is addressed.
It was a week in which:
- Treasurer Wayne Swan confessed his Budget was already in trouble and he needed to raise another $10.5 billion.- Swan claimed to raise that $10.5 billion though “savings” when in fact most of it came from tax increases and charges.- Business groups abandoned the Government’s business taxation review, saying its proposal for a tax cut funded by offsets was unworkable.- Swan and Julia Gillard’s new mining tax was revealed to have raised not one dollar in its first three months.- Inflation jumped higher than expected, thanks in large part to the carbon tax.- The Government cut its growth forecast to 3 per cent, and cut its promised surplus to $1.1 billion - a figure widely condemned by commentators as far too optimistic.- Craig Thomson’s house was raided.- former Labor MP Maxine McKew’s new book accused Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard of treachery and deceit towards Kevin Rudd.
So plenty for Laurie Oakes to get angry about in his column. And he is predictably scathing:
Astonishing. Just astonishing.
But, wait! Oakes does mention Swan twice in this column. How could he not, after such a disastrous week?
The measures are part of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s effort to bring the Budget back to surplus this financial year.... Swan - to his credit - has at least started the process of curtailing middle-class welfare in a number of areas.
But what do you expect?
(Thanks to reader AbbottToBeBlamed.)
Three out of four seats lost in the ACT as the Greens suffered yet another reversal:
The ACT Greens gave up all hope last night of avoiding a near-electoral wipe-out with party leader Meredith Hunter saying she was ‘’pretty sure’’ there would be just one Greens MLA left in the Assembly...
The shattered party, which went into Saturday’s election with four members of the Assembly, will meet tomorrow to discuss strategy and how best to use its balance of power status before formal negotiations with the two major parties begin next week.
The tide of unreason is at last in retreat. Is pragmatism the new black?
The Australian Greens are determined to blame their party’s drubbing in the ACT election squarely on local issues… But behind closed doors, the party is fearful its influence on national politics will also be severely diminished at next year’s federal election…
‘’If we couldn’t attract a decent vote in Canberra of all places, well, it just doesn’t bode well for the federal election,’’ one Greens member said.‘’Expect to see a lot more of Christine out there stressing points of differences between Labor and the Greens.’’
Oh, I do hope the strategy really is to show voters more of Milne.
(Thanks to happy readers Hmmm and Peter.)
American blacks have gone backwards under Obama at an alarming rate. This is not exactly Obama’s fault, certainly not in any racial sense… But it demonstrates the false promise of symbolism.
In the middle of last year, black unemployment was 16.2 per cent, about double that of the national average, and more than double that of whites. Between 2005 and 2010, the net wealth of black households fell by just under 60 per cent, a staggering figure. The net worth of white households fell 18 per cent. The median white household had 22 times the wealth of the median black household…Blacks make up a little over 11 per cent of the workforce but 21 per cent of postal employees and 20 per cent of government employees generally. Government is the biggest employer of black men and the second biggest employer of black women. The government cutbacks are now making many of these jobs unsustainable…There are powerful social and economic dynamics which are bad for middle-class and under-class blacks. Some of these are longstanding, some new. According to poverty expert Robert Woodson, also writing in The American Interest, since the war on poverty was launched in the 1960s, $US15 trillion has been spent on anti-poverty programs but the incidence of poverty has risen. Woodson writes: “Welfare policies have undermined healthy communities by erecting disincentives for work and marriage.”
Some of Woodson’s figures are startling. In 1954, 96,000 blacks were in jail. This corresponded roughly to their share of the population. Today, there are 900,000 blacks in jail, about three times the number that would correspond to their share of the population. During the Depression of the 1930s, blacks actually had a higher marriage rate than whites. Up until 1965, the black marriage rate was more than 80 percent. Today marriage, especially stable marriage, has collapsed in the black underclass.
Welfarism, economic weakness, the decline of lower-skilled jobs, the collapse of the family unit and the rise of a rejectionist black street culture has deepened a divide already dangerous.
And all these billions of dollars do not change the temperature a jot:
SUBSIDIES for the Gillard government’s rooftop solar scheme are threatening to blow out to $3 billion as households rush to install panels to beat price hikes related to the start of the carbon tax.The Clean Energy Regulator has again raised its forecasts of the liability that electricity retailers face to comply with the scheme for small-scale solar panel, hydro and wind systems - which are passed on in power bills…Industry sources estimate that a typical residential customer will be paying $50 for the subsidy next year…
NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said the combined impact of the carbon tax and the RET added $270 to NSW household and small business annual electricity bills and the state government wanted the RET closed.
It gets worse for Obama’s security credentials - which amounts to the boast that he authorised the killing of Osama bin Laden, but not of the people killing his ambassador:
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi thatan urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied...In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours—enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators…
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.
Vice President Joe Biden outdoes even himself:
”Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?” — Vice President Joe Biden to Charles Woods, grieving father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, during a memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
“When [Obama] came over to our little area” at Andrew Air Force Base, says Woods, “he kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’ His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye. And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died,’ but it was totally insincere, more of whining type, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Woods says that shaking President Obama’s hands at his son’s memorial service was “like shaking hands with a dead fish.”“It just didn’t feel right,” he says of his encounter with the commander in chief. “And now that it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening,” Woods says, he wants answers on what happened—and why there was no apparent effort to save his son’s life…Woods says he was told by military officials that the military could have “come above [the area] and completely carpeted area,” and therefore saved the officials in Benghazi, Libya. But that someone gave the command for the American military not to save the lives of the Americans under attack.
“When I heard, you know, that there’s a very good chance that the White House as well as other members of the military knew what was going on and obviously someone had to say, don’t go rescue them. Because every person in the military--their first response [would be], we’re going to go rescue them. We need to find out who it was that gave that command--do not rescue them.”
(Thanks to reader Matt R.)
That first and fatal debate was on October 3. Peggy Noonan:
Why was the first debate so toxic for the president? Because the one thing he couldn’t do if he was going to win the election is let all the pent-up resentment toward him erupt. Americans had gotten used to him as The President… What he couldn’t do was present himself, when everyone was looking, as smaller than you thought. Petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself. He couldn’t afford to make himself look less impressive than the challenger in terms of command, grasp of facts, size.
But that’s what he did…Maybe what happened isn’t a mystery at all.That, anyway, is the view expressed this week by a member of the U.S. Senate who served there with Mr Obama and has met with him in the White House...The senator said, I paraphrase: ....I know him, and that was him. That guy on the stage, that’s the real Obama.Which gets us to Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics,” published last month. The portrait it contains of Mr. Obama—of a president who is at once over his head, out of his depth and wholly unaware of the fact—hasn’t received the attention it deserves.... Mr. Obama is portrayed as having the appearance and presentation of an academic or intellectual while being strangely clueless in his reading of political situations and dynamics. He is bad at negotiating—in fact doesn’t know how. His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.
He misread his Republican opponents from day one… Business leaders and mighty CEOs felt patronized: After inviting them to meet with him, the president read from a teleprompter and included the press. They felt like “window dressing."… In negotiation he did not cajole, seduce, muscle or win sympathy. He instructed. He claimed deep understanding of his adversaries and their motives but was often incorrect. He told staffers that John Boehner, one of 11 children of a small-town bar owner, was a “country club Republican.” He was often patronizing, which in the old and accomplished is irritating but in the young and inexperienced is infuriating. “Boehner said he hated going down to the White House to listen to what amounted to presidential lectures,” Mr. Woodward writes.
I suspect we’ll hear more about this:
Nicholas Mockford, a British executive for the oil company ExxonMobil has been shot dead in front of his wife in an assassination-style killing in Brussels…
The executive was shot three times, once as he lay on the ground, after leaving the Da Marcello restaurant in Rue de Beyseghem at around 10pm on Oct 14.His wife, Mary, was left beaten and covered in blood… According to reports, two men were seen running away carrying a motorcycle helmet…The Belgian prosecutor’s office said last night that there was a “judicial instruction” from Martine Quintin, the investigating judge, that meant they could give no “explanation” and no detail about the killing…
A family member suspects an assassination:
‘He was shot so calmly and so quickly, it smacks horribly of a professional hit, but we can’t fathom why. He isn’t the type to cave in to blackmail and it just doesn’t compute.’
A spokesman for his employer, ExxonMobil, said the company is devastated by the murder but confirmed it does not believe the shooting was related to his job.
Scientist Michael Mann, whose work on climate change led to contentious litigation over access to his emails, filed a libel lawsuit yesterday against National Review, accusing the conservative publication of defaming him by accusing him of academic fraud.In the complaint (PDF) filed in District of Columbia Superior Court, Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, claimed that a July 15 article not only falsely accused him of misconduct, but crossed a line by comparing him to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football assistant coach convicted of child molestation....Mann was one of the researchers behind the now-famous “hockey stick” graph showing a jump in global temperature at the end of the last millennium. He was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1999 to 2005, and became the subject of litigation when the Virginia attorney general’s office launched an investigation into his use of government grant money. Mann and his supporters charged that the investigation was part of a politically motivated effort to discredit climate change science.
The National Review article at issue by writer Mark Steyn, entitled “Football and Hockey,” called Mann “the man behind the fraudulent climate-change ‘hockey-stick’ graph.” After emails surfaced that raised concerns about data manipulation by climate change scientists, including Mann, Steyn questioned the reliability of a Penn State investigation that cleared Mann of wrongdoing. He noted that the Mann investigation and a university inquiry into Sandusky’s behavior both took place under former President Graham Spanier. “And, as with Sandusky and [former football coach Joe] Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing,” Steyn wrote.
I can’t believe anyone took Steyn’s reference to Sandusky as anything other than a satirical reference to the reliability of the Penn State inquiry, rather than to child molestation, for heaven’s sake. Which suggests Mann’s real beef is in having his science doubted, not his character. And surely a debate on climate science should be as free as possible, given the very profound consequences to public policy.
But in the very second paragraph of his complaint, Mann already scores a spectacular own goal. In defending his credibility, he makes this incredible claim:
Mann won the Nobel? In fact, it was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As the Nobel committee says:
Steyn gives a little context:
In 2007, Dr Mann was one of approximately 700 reviewers to review the findings of approximately 600 authors of one working group of the Fourth Assessment Report. However, he was one of a select group of a mere 2,000 people to receive a “commemorative certificate of involvement” — not from the Nobel committee, but from Dr Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC.
Cooke: I was wondering, has Dr. Michael Mann ever won the Nobel Peace Prize?
Nobel Committee: No, no. He has never won the Nobel prize.Cooke: He’s never won it?Nobel Committee: No.Cooke: Oh, it says on his-Nobel Committee: The organization won it. It’s not a personal prize to people belonging to an organization.Cooke: Okay. So if I were to write that he’d won it, that would be incorrect?
Nobel Committee: That is incorrect, yes.
Now what kind of scientist would exaggerate something to make himself look better?
More than 2000 boat people arrived last month alone. The Government’s solution? Let’s fly in another 6000 a year instead:
AUSTRALIA will accept an extra 6,250 refugees in 2012/13 from source and transit countries, as part of the government’s plan to discourage irregular boat arrivals...
The Gillard government announced in August it would increase Australia’s annual humanitarian intake from 13,750 to 20,000, and to 27,000 within five years.Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the extra resettlements will come from priority regions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia…
“We are providing more opportunities for vulnerable and displaced people to pursue safer resettlement options in Australia as part of an orderly humanitarian program.”
Don’t worry about national interest, assimilation issues or even, dare I say, whether such a loftily cerebral plan will actually stop what’s now 20,000 people a year from hopping on a boat. Indeed, in the two months since the increased intake was announced, we’ve seen not fewer boat people, but more.
Bottom line: this won’t work. We’ll just get more refugees, at more cost.
AREAS TARGETED IN THE 2012/13 REFUGEE HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM- Up to 2000 Africans, including people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Eritrea
- Up to 3800 Iraqis from Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon
- Up to 2000 Afghans from countries in the region
- 1350 Burmese, Afghans, Iranians and other refugees in Malaysia
- Up to 1200 Bhutanese from Nepal
- Up to 800 Burmese from Thailand
- Around 600 Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians in Indonesia
- Around 200 Burmese from India
- Around 200 UNHCR referred case-loads outside these target groups
Will the Government turn this boat around?
ONE of 10 asylum-seekers suspected to be heading for Australia on a fishing trawler they violently hijacked off Sri Lanka had voluntarily flown back from Australia last month on the promise of a $3300 government resettlement package he was later denied.
The Weekend Australian has learned that K. Ranjith Nishantha, 39, was among a group of 18 mostly Sinhalese Sri Lankan men who chose to return to Colombo late last month after being informed by Australian immigration officials they were to be sent to the Nauru processing camp with little hope of a successful outcome.At the time, the federal government hailed the men’s return as proof that its tough new stand on asylum-seekers would help stem the flow of boat arrivals.Documents obtained by Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that three weeks after his return, Nishantha (known as Kumara) was among the 10 armed asylum-seekers from the southern Hambantota district, the electoral heartland of President Mahinda Rajapakse, who boarded the Chejan fishing trawler on October 14 by force and steered it towards Australia…
Nishantha was one of seven returnees who found only on arrival in Colombo that they were to be denied the financial assistance promised in Australia because they were deemed to have acted as crew.
This leads to the kind of despair that becomes politically dangerous:
SPAIN’S jobless rate has broken the 25-per cent barrier for the first time in modern history as austerity cuts squeeze the recession-struck economy.
And there’s a great danger in this for Europe.
I hope the paper isn’t as inane as it is being sold:
JULIA Gillard’s Asian Century white paper will commit Australia to a “higher-skill, high-wage economy” and set a goal of one in three board members of the top 200 listed companies and one-third of the senior leadership of the public service having a “deep knowledge and experience of the region”.
We should be a higher skill, high-wage economy? Gosh, and there we all were, thinking it would be best to low-paid coolies instead.
One in three board members of top companies should have deep knowledge and experience of Asia? I think that’s something we should to those companies to decide their best interests, don’t you?
One in three senior leaders of the public service should likewise have deep experience in Asia? It would be enough for me that that they can run a public service that is efficient and helps deliver good schools, hospitals and roads.
Unfortunately, we could go on:
A key challenge to be addressed by the white paper will be that, having benefited from Asia’s appetite for raw materials and energy, Australia must examine how it can benefit from what Asia will need next.
Peter Hartcher says the Government thinks the white paper is actually useful - for diverting attention from former MP Maxine McKew’s new book, which describes Gillard as disloyal and mendacious:
Knowing the publication date for McKew’s book weeks in advance, the government has decided to deliver its long-delayed Asian Century white paper on Sunday. This is transparently an effort to drown McKew’s accusatory voice, to stop the story rolling into the new parliamentary sitting week.Gillard plans simply to roll over McKew.
It takes a special kind of blindness, married to its close cousin smugness, to write somethingas profoundly silly as this to a curious ABC listener:
From: John Mulhall
To:Sent: Tuesday, 23 October 2012 2:08 PMSubject: ABC News queryDear Mr Parker,Thank you for your email regarding Mr Blewitt’s statements. The ABC is aware of these statements but we do not at this stage believe it warrants the attention of our news coverage.To the extent that it may touch tangentially on a former role of the Prime Minister, we know The Australian newspaper maintains an abiding interest in events 17 years ago at the law firm Slater and Gordon, but the ABC is unaware of any allegation in the public domain which goes to the Prime Minister’s integrity. If indeed Ms Gillard has had questions to answer, ABC News reported those answers from her lengthy media conference of 24/8/12 in which she exhausted all questions on the issue.However, if any allegation is ever raised which might go to the Prime Minister’s integrity, the ABC would of course make inquiries into it and seek to report it. As for matters concerning Mr Bruce Wilson, ABC News will cover the case against him as it proceeds.Once again thank you for your query.Best regards,
News Editor, ABC News
Note to Mulhall:
I understand from your email you have zero interest in pursuing a story of which you appear to me to understand little and want to know less. I am not entirely sure why you seem to wish this story away, although I harbor one or two suspicions.
But to blithely assert Gillard “exhausted all questions on the issue” in her one press conference is to merely regurgitate Labor spin. Or, excuse my bluntness, a Labor deceitor even lie. Many reporters have put many questions about this issue to Gillard which we can state with complete confidence have not been answered at all.
Since that press conference, very serious additional questions have been put by veryserious journalists (not just from The Australian, which you seem to hold in the fashionable disdain promoted by Labor). Here are the most pressing two. The Opposition has also asked questions about the matters I identify. The shadow attorney-general will assure you Gillard has as a matter of plain fact not answered them.
Should you keep asserting, after reading what I’ve supplied, there is nothing alleged against the Prime Minister, no questions to her left unanswered and no story to report, you will not be expressing a statement of fact but of desire, in my opinion. You will not be merely failing to report, but refusing to. And not because there is no story, but because there is.
In my opinion.