Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday 21st Oct Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Duyz Khalifa andTheresa Nguyen. Born on the same day across the years. Remember, Birthdays are good for you. Those with the most live longest.


Huge price to sit level with Rwanda

Piers Akerman – Saturday, October 20, 2012 (10:10pm)

Wow! Australia has been recognised by the UN with a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
It feels wonderful. We have finally achieved the same status as that other powerhouse of international diplomacy - Rwanda!
Australia spent some $24 million directly and diverted hundreds of millions in foreign aid to gain the right to play in the same room with the five permanent members of the Security Council as a backward African nation with about half our population and a reputation for supporting a rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a confidential report by the UN Security Council’s Group of Experts, seen by Reuters, Rwanda’s defence minister was relaying military orders to rebel leaders who have been fighting the DRC’s army since April. Its new seat on the Security Council will provide it with the convenient opportunity to block any proposed sanctions against its officials accused of supporting the rebel forces.
How did media-savvy foreign minister Bob Carr fail to mention this when he hit the airwaves on Friday to crow about Australia’s expensive new engagement with the historically corrupt UN? Carr said the win proved Australia’s values were respected and the nation was considered a “good global citizen”. What then does the support for Rwanda indicate about the global recognition of its values?
But an examination and comparison with our new UN panel partner was not the only commentary that the Gillard Labor-Green-independent minority government elected to deliberately ignore last week.
Whilst Prime Minister Julia Gillard was ensuring a headline in the Times of India with an honorary award for Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar she also gave a tentative green light to uranium sales to India in a speech which had Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh glancing at his watch (a clear sign of misogyny on Gillard’s recent definition).
Kevin Rudd was provoking renewed leadership speculation, and the opposition was looking at allegations relating to the use of the union “slush fund” which Gillard has admitted setting up for her former boyfriend, former AWU union boss Bruce Wilson, and examining the government’s record in office through the senate estimates process.
Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz said Gillard must say whether as a partner at law firm Slater & Gordon she wrote to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission vouching for the legitimacy of a “slush fund” she set up, the Workers Reform Association, after the commission questioned its bona fides.
According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the commission objected to the registration because the association appeared to be a trade union body which should have been registered under the more rigorous provisions of the Industrial Relations Act. It has been claimed that up to $672,925 allegedly stolen by Gillard’s then boyfriend was collected from companies for the association - purportedly for the purpose of ensuring safety in workplaces.
Abetz also said Gillard must address allegations from former AWU official Ralph Blewitt that she was not present when he signed a power of attorney giving Wilson authority to act on his behalf, despite her signature appearing on the document as having witnessed it.
Other questions hang over more recent legal actions, notably the $730,000 spent by Attorney General Nicola Roxon on 17 lawyers to reach a $50,000 settlement with James Ashby in his suit against former Speaker Peter Slipper and the Commonwealth.
Further questions have to be asked about Roxon herself, and her decision to comment on the Ashby case while it remains before the courts, her decision to assist Slipper avoid the media before his court appearance, and her decision to brief barrister Julian Burnside QC, who failed to win court approval to appear for the Commonwealth in the failed mediation talks between Slipper and Ashby.
It has also been revealed that Gillard’s own creation, Fair Work Australia, has spent more than $1.8 million on outside legal and accounting advice during its investigation of the theft of Health Services Union funds. That figure does not include the cost to taxpayers of the launching of FWA’s court action against Labor MP, Craig Thomson, who, with Slipper, provides the votes necessary to keep the Gillard government in office.
As grubby as the Slipper and Thomson matters may appear, it was even more disconcerting to learn there is no funding for the government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme beyond the current forward estimates. After all the sanctimonious posturing, the government has provided only a quarter of the funds needed for the first phase of the NDIS.
In all its announcements, the government sought to leave the impression it had committed to a full national roll-out of the NDIS by 2018-19.
In estimates, the Department of Finance confirmed it had not.
Treasurer Wayne Swan admitted on Lateline that far from being funded, the NDIS was, like the Gonski education reforms, “out there for public discussion” and current funding was only for trials.
Estimates also managed to partially lift the veil which has shielded the Not Bloody Necessary broadband program from scrutiny. Under questioning, it was revealed that after more than three-and-a-half years, the NBN Co has managed to sign up only 6400 households to its fibre network. That’s less than five households a day since the NBN Co was established in April 2009.
There are a total 24,000 households connected across the NBN’s three networks - fibre, wireless and satellite - and at least 9000 of those transferred from the Howard government’s Australian Broadband Guarantee program.
Still, as one opposition senator said, the customer service should be good. NBN Co has about one employee for every 15 paying customers.
Still wondering where your tax money goes? Consider that about $2 million has been spent flying 260 asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Nauru - an average airfare of more than $7600 per asylum seeker. By contrast, Qantas has return Sydney to London flights for less than $1800.
Every illegal people smuggler boat that arrives is now costing taxpayers $12.8 million, or more than $172,700 for every person onboard.
It puts the cost of cosying up to good global citizens like Rwanda in perspective.


Getting into our Psy-che

Miranda Devine – Sunday, October 21, 2012 (5:37am)

JUST before midnight, in the middle of George Street, Sydney, last week, a car stopped at a set of traffic lights with its windows down, and out blared the melody of the K-pop song, “Gangnam Style”, which has become one of the biggest YouTube hits of all time, with almost half a billion views so far.
Spontaneously, exuberantly, people on the footpaths started to dance, strangers united in perfect random choreography to a song that has captured the global imagination.
Onlookers smiled, the car moved on, the crowd dispersed.
But what that 30-second episode in the life of one Australian city tells you is how strong is the desire for human connectedness, the spark of joy it gives us when it happens, and how the internet has turbocharged the process.
It’s what David Brooks in his new book about brain science, The Social Animal, describes as the most compelling subconscious human desire – “harmony and connection” with other people.
By the time a viral video like Gangnam Style makes it onto Today Tonight and your Sunday newspaper, you know it’s pretty much run its course into mainstream popularity.
But the intriguing feature of “virality” is what it tells us about an emerging pop culture that is created from the bottom up, by people for people.
Even Gangnam Style’s creator, Korean singer Psy (short for psycho aka Park Jae-sang), who was in Australia last week to perform on X Factor, is bemused by the popularity of the song. He uploaded it onto YouTube in July, like he has done with songs on his previous five albums.
“I just uploaded video onto YouTube,” he told Channel Seven. “That’s all I did. And this happens and I’m here.”
And so he is.
If you are analysing the reasons for Gangnam Style’s popularity, Psy’s self-deprecating manner and non-pop star looks – he’s plump and at 34, virtually middle aged – are part of the video’s appeal.
He just looks jolly, and he’s a surprisingly fluid dancer.
The song is catchy, with a whooping refrain, and the video is joyful and hilarious, with a very cute little boy in a white singlet in the opening scenes, dancing like a miniature Elvis Presley. Psy in sunglasses dances and lives the high life with a series of characters, singing Korean lyrics and occasionally breaking into English: “Sexy Lady”.
The title “Gangnam” is puzzling at first but when you find out it’s the name of an upmarket Seoul suburb it gives you a piece of insider social information connecting you to a foreign culture. The global village gets closer.
Psy’s high-energy, original “horse dance” is so easy to mimic it has inspired hundreds of tribute videos.
One is an Australian self-parody from James Ruse High, a selective western Sydney school renowned for achieving top marks in the Higher School Certificate, and for having a high proportion of Asian students.
In “James Ruse Style” on YouTube, a dozen students in school uniforms, with teachers playing small parts, dance through the corridors and in the playground, rapping out their own lyrics in self-parody to the Gangnam tune: “We rote learn our essays even though our teachers hate it.”
“Time for maths, yay!”
The refrain is: “100 ATAR. 99.5. Not good enough.”
Good natured and funny, it has scored 48,000 hits since it was uploaded last month - not quite viral, but a modest success.
Then there’s a Romney-Style video parodying the US presidential candidate who dances among polo ponies and sings “Hey, wealthy ladies”, which has garnered almost 3 million views.
One of the criteria for a viral video is that it inspires others to get creative; the public appetite for variations on a theme seems infinite. There is the recognition of something human and authentic, and a release of exuberance at the common ground it finds.
Whatever inspires its popularity, an inspection of “viral” material on the internet provides an optimistic view of future pop culture, and reveals some pretty nice qualities of the human race.
For instance, there is the video, “Girl with a funny talent”, showing a little girl who raises each eyebrow, one at a time, which has had 47 million hits.
There is the Group Hugs video, uploaded onto YouTube in 2004 but still in the top 10, of a tall lonely man who goes into Martin Place with a sign saying “Free Hugs”. The video shows the public reaction, wary at first, then some smiles, and then, one by one, people hug him - old, young, male, female - genuine hugs, after which everyone looks delighted. The video has been watched 73 million times.
There is “Jill and Kevin’s Big Day”, showing a wedding in Minnesota in which the couple and their bridal party dance down the church aisle. Their spontaneous joy is infectious, and the video has been viewed almost 80 million times since 2009.
Whether it’s twin boys having a baby conversation, a computer geek describing the ridiculous homemade costume he’s wearing, the inspirational “Last Lecture” by the late university Professor Randy Pausch, or the Vancouver Riot Kiss, the number one criteria for “virality”, which guarantees millions of hits on YouTube, seems to be that it is sweet, funny, uplifting and connects humans through shared joy.
Aliens trying to understand us through YouTube’s viral hits would surely form an optimistic view of our species. The hive mind has a kind soul.


Real mistake is singling out Jones for punishment

Miranda Devine – Sunday, October 21, 2012 (5:32am)

THE Stalinist nature of the campaign against Alan Jones shows how weak Australia is at defending free speech.
The latest hit on the maverick broadcaster is a ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority that he must undergo “factual accuracy” training, and his radio station, 2GB, must institute procedures which impinge on its editorial independence.
Jones’ offence was to make an arithmetic error on three occasions in 2010 and 2011 about the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is produced by humans.
He said it was 0.001 per cent when the correct figure is 3 per cent. It was a stupid mistake, as he freely admits. He was castigated by Media Watch, corrected the error on air, and has provided the correct figure often since.
He made a mistake. His point remained valid, that carbon dioxide from natural sources makes up the vast majority and no carbon tax will curb it.
Yet, of all the fallacies told about climate change, Jones’ error is the only one officially punished by quango.
What about the incorrect labelling of carbon dioxide, a gas molecule, as carbon? That is a far more insidious error.
“Are the utterers of that untruth being lined up,” Jones asks. “It’s a mistake to talk about carbon dioxide as a pollutant. It’s a mistake to say the science is settled. Which mistakes are punished and which aren’t?”
It’s obvious Jones is unfairly being singled out for punishment.
The fact is that no one has to listen to him, or his station. He is a one-man opinion factory and people who listen are in no doubt about his point of view, just as those who listen to the ABC know they’re getting a green/left perspective.
In the end, the attacks on Jones just prove his listeners’ worst fears, that their opinions are being outlawed, and it makes them more committed to him.
Similarly, small businesses have defied social media intimidation to advertise with Jones. With much more to lose, their courage shames the big corporations. 


The moral certainty of the ignorant

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(5:28pm)

What never fails to astonish me is is the utter moral certainty of warmist journalists who by their own words make clear they do not even begin to understand the argument they abuse and dismiss:
In my view, global warming deniers, anti-vaccination crusaders, home birthers and Holocaust deniers are people who do not have a valid perspective becausethe objective facts show climate change is real, vaccinations save lives, home births can be deadlier than hospital births and that the Holocaust actually happened.
Could Susie O’Brien point out the people she claims deny “climate change is real” (seegraphic above)? Can she identify the sceptics who believe global warming has not occurred over the past century?
Anyone so utterly incapable of describing the real debate, and so quick to vilify far more informed people as the moral equivalent of “Holocaust deniers”, should take more heed of this (illiberal) line in the very same article:
...when it comes to opinions on real issues, then you should only express views you can defend on some objective or factual basis.
Had the author obeyed her own maxim, half this silly column would not have been written.
I hope the above piece meets the terms of the invitation in the headline:
If you think I’m an idiot ... you’ll have to tell me why 


Gillard attacked by another sexist

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:29pm)

Memo to McTernan: I don’t think screaming “misogynst” at McKew will work:

Former star Labor recruit and ABC broadcaster Maxine McKew has delivered the blistering assessment in a new book, Tales From The Political Trenches…

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the book accuses Ms Gillard’s supporters of cooking up a false story to trigger the leadership crisis.

The Prime Minister had long maintained her decision to challenge Mr Rudd for the leadership was only made on the day, a view Ms McKew dismisses as a fiction.
A bigger blast can be expected soon via disillusioned Gillard supporter Robert Manne, seen lunching very well with McKew last week.
More misogyny, no doubt, but if this is all McKew is actually demanding, Gillard will feel relieved:
MAXINE McKew has appealed to the ALP to bring Kevin Rudd back into the Labor fold in a year-end act of reconciliation, not as leader, but as a prominent public force in the party’s campaign to beat Tony Abbott at the next election...

‘’The public have never bought the demonisation of Rudd,’’ she said. ‘’Most MPs are still lining up to invite him into their electorates. As far as I know, Rudd’s got a full dance card, marginal MPs don’t think and say about him the things that were said about him by some ministers in February. 

‘’They actually line up to invite him into their electorates. So it makes sense to have your best player on the field.’’
FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd has shrugged off suggestions that he ghostwrote ex-MP Maxine McKew’s tell-all political book, saying the claim “verges on sexism”.

The denial came after Ms McKew, who at the 2010 election lost the Sydney seat of Bennelong which three years earlier she had captured from then prime minister John Howard, also rejected claims Mr Rudd had ghostwritten her book Tales From The Trenches.

“For anyone to accuse a prominent journalist such as Ms McKew of not being able to write her own book I think verges on sexism,” Mr Rudd told reporters today after giving a speech in Mandarin at a Chinese cultural event in Sydney.


The best news of the day

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(1:25pm)

Better news than anyone would have dared to believe:
The Pakistani schoolgirl targeted by the Taliban is ‘responding well’ to treatment in Britain for her gunshot wounds, doctors said last night.

Malala Yousafzai, 15, who was shot in the head and neck at point-blank range, is in a ‘stable and comfortable’ condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

She was gunned down as she returned home from school in the Swat Valley.

She had been demanding education rights for women in Pakistan and the attack has provoked uproar around the world.

Dr Dave Rosser, medical director at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, said Malala will need a significant period of rest and recuperation before she has reconstructive surgery…

Malala is unable to talk as she is still breathing through a hole in her neck following a tracheostomy and has been communicating in writing.
On Friday, she asked: ‘What country am I in?’ The hospital also confirmed she had been able to stand up…
Because her brain is still swollen, doctors do not yet know how damaged her brain will be…

Dr Rosser ... said: ‘She is writing very freely, she has had a tracheotomy as her airway was swollen by the passing of the bullet.

‘She’s not able to talk, but we have no reason to believe she wouldn’t be able to talk once this tube is out, which may be in the next few days.

‘One of my colleagues spoke to her in Urdu, although she is understanding English, and she is keen that I share the details and thank people for their support, as she is obviously aware of the amount of interest and support, and she is keen to thank people for that.’

There were widespread riots against the insult to Islam caused by some YouTube clip mocking Mohammad.
There have been very few protests against the insult caused to Islam by the gunning down of this astonishingly brave girl by Talibani convinced that education girls is unIslamic.


The Bolt Report today

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(11:55am)

 Bolt Report
Kevin Rudd’s re-election pitch - no more of Gillard’s divide and abuse:
Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis on two questions Gillard must answer about the AWU scandal, including over a document she claims she witnessed.  Plus the Liberals have had a huge moral victory in the ACT election:
Nick Minchin says the winning of a UN Security Council seat is actually a scandal, and the Government’s economic statement in the next few days will show it’s frittered away a fortune. Cassandra Wilkinson says we should let in hundreds of thousands more of the kind of people coming in by boat, and argues that if the UN Security Council seat forces us to confront China, then good:
Rowan Atkinson and the defence of Anthony Mundine’s right to be rude even about Aborigines with fairer skin:

Former Liberal senator Nick Minchin has labelled Australia’s successful bid for a seat on the United Nations security council as ”disgusting”.

Mr Minchin said the lobbying process, which cost about $25 million, was a waste of money because Australia’s spot was a temporary one.

“We will have no influence because all the decisions are made by the permanent members of the UN security council,” he told Network Ten’s the Bolt Report program on Sunday.
And on a program not acknowledged by the ABC:
Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis says yesterday’s result [in the ACT election] should be seen as a big win for the Coalition.

“What we saw yesterday was a swing to the Liberal Party of 6.5 per cent in Australia’s most left-wing city,” he said.

The Bolt Report repeat at 4.30pm on Channel 10.
(This is the only thread today on which comments are published, so fire away.) 


Shhh. Don’t let on the Budget has fallen down a well

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:58am)

THIS week the Gillard Government is going to unveil a “mini-horror mini-budget”.

The only reason it’s doing it this week is to avoid having to do a full-on horror mini-budget, if it delayed until it - and even more, its Treasury advisers - really knew what was happening to the economy.
This captures the two fundamental characteristics of the Gillard Government. First, everything it does is political… That leads to the second characteristic. Whether it’s asylum seekers, the carbon tax or the budget, the Government doesn’t do anything considered or substantive. It just keeps kicking the can down the road…
Does anyone seriously believe the tax hits and spending cuts we are going to see this week will be the product of serious, considered policy analysis? ... They are just to shuffle numbers around the fiscal chessboard, so they add up to a small bottom line black number…

We are getting [a mini Budget] this week so Treasury can still base it on relatively optimistic - and outdated - numbers for the economy.

A government that actually wanted to base its decision-making on the best and most realistic information would delay the mid-year update - and the policy decisions based on it - until at least December.


French mosque invaded

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:53am)

This could get ugly - but why do charges of “incitement to racial hatred” flow only one way when one hatred has begotten another?

Regional prefect Yves Dassonville said about 70 protesters travelled from around France for Saturday morning’s demonstration in the city of Poitiers…
Muslim leaders said they disrupted a prayer in the still-unfinished building.
Dassonville said that after police arrived, the protesters dispersed without resistance.

Three were detained to face accusations of “incitement of racial hatred” and damage to property. 


NBN spends 25 times more on salaries than it earns from broadband

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:42am)

Years to go, and everything pointing already to this being the most expensive government white elephant yet: 
EXECUTIVES at the company building the national broadband network pocketed more than $600,000 in bonuses in 2011-12 despite the project running a year behind schedule.

The opposition’s communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said the report, released on Friday night, showed the roll-out of the network was a year behind schedule with 24,000 homes and businesses connected to the national broadband network at the end of last month - about 10 per cent of the company’s original target. 


Judges walk out on yet another offensive dinner-party act

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:36am)

Attention Wayne Swan and Tanya PlibersekThis is how you protest against a very unfunny joke:

Australia’s Chief Justice of the High Court, Robert French, and his wife left the room in disgust after becoming offended by a comedy routine performed at a National Family Law Conference banquet in Hobart last Sunday.

The Sun-Herald understands the female comics acted out a sexually explicit sketch while wearing judicial robes and that when Justice French stood to leave, he was joined by many others throughout the room, including the NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, and his wife, as well as the Family Court judges Mark Le Poer Trench and Margaret Cleary…

It is the third time in recent weeks that widespread offence has been caused by inappropriate jokes or comments at high profile dinner functions. Earlier this month, Labor was forced to go into damage control after a comedian at the union’s dinner told a sordid joke about Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. Prior to that, talkback host Alan Jones was inundated with thousands of complaints after he made inappropriate remarks about the death of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s, father, at a Sydney University Liberal Party dinner.


Big swing to Liberals in ACT election

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(4:17am)

Huge moral victory to the Liberals in the most pro-Labor part of the nation:

TRIUMPHANT Liberal leader Zed Seselja says ACT voters have rejected a Labor-Greens alliance in the territory election.
But he’s stopped short of claiming victory, with the opposition falling one seat short of majority government in the 17-seat legislative assembly.,,
The Liberals, on the back of their biggest-ever primary vote, are on track to take eight seats to Labor’s seven giving them their highest representation in the 23-year history of self-government.

Labor leader Katy Gallagher ... noted more than half the electorate voted for “a progressive government”, referring to the combined Labor-Greens vote of 50.1 per cent. 
Yet more reason for Labor to fear what’s coming next year in the federal election.


Why do boats now bore the ABC?

Andrew BoltOCTOBER212012(12:07am)

Reader BGC is puzzled: 
Something appears to have happened to ABC Lateline’s news values when it comes to coverage of boat people.

We can compare the program’s coverage today with that in 2001/2, at the time of the Tampa incident and the introduction of John Howard’s Pacific Solution, courtesy of figures in Paul Sheehan’s book “The Electronic Whorehouse”.
Between August 17 2001 and May 15 2002 (including the summer break), there were 125 editions of Lateline, containing 125 items relating to some aspect of the boat people issue.
Government figures show that in the whole of 2001, 43 boats arrived, with 5,516 people aboard; in 2002, there were was one boat and one person, in the first half of the year.
In 2002, Lateline broadcast 49 items in the period to May 15, in the almost complete absence of boats arriving.
So far in 2012, 148 boats have arrived; Lateline has broadcast 192 programs, including 64 items relating to some aspect of the boat people issue. The programs have included 26 relevant items since the beginning of August.
Yet boat arrivals have averaged one a day since the beginning of August, a total of 82 boats.
Lateline appears considerably less interested in many boats arriving now than it did in 2002 when only one boat arrived.


Two off-duty Florida officers fatally shoot armed, naked woman


Do you believe in angels?

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