Greg Combet on Insiders on Sunday:
[Australians] would prefer politicians to get off name-calling and get on with the business of government.
Someone forgot to tell the Prime Minister today:
“This is a very cowardly approach from Mr Abbott,” Ms Gillard said.
“Firstly looking at it through domestic eyes … what it means is that Mr Abbott doesn’t have the guts to raise with international leaders issues he says is important.”
Chris Bowen didn’t get the memo either:
He’s a lion in Canberra and a mouse in Indonesia.
Lewis Carroll had no idea he was writing a political strategy for the Gillard Government:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
But yesterday Workplace Minister Bill Shorten decided to choose what “misogyny” meant - only to find host Tony Jones and a member of the audience awake to such Humpty Dumpty tricks:
VINCE DEL GALLEGO: A lie is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive. A misogynist hates women and girls. Julia Gillard announced to Australia and the whole world that Tony Abbott is a misogynist, which is a false statement with deliberate intent to deceive. Is the real Julia Gillard a confirmed liar?TONY JONES: Bill Shorten.BILL SHORTEN: No. Let’s go through and what I understand to be the meanings of misogyny and sexism… I take the definition of misogyny - the old definition is do you hate women. I don’t think Tony Abbott hates women. But do I think in the vernacular that misogyny has moved to the following definition, yes I do and the following definition is - there are some people who say things to women which are frankly inadvertent. That doesn’t make them right but they’re capable of being corrected. You say to this bloke or this person, “That’s just not right,” and they change. Misogyny, to me, is a - in the language which I understand it to have been used most recently is a view that there are some people who have a prejudice about women in certain occupations and they have an unexamined view in their own head about the status of women and the equality of women to do a whole range of things…TONY JONES: I’m just going to interrupt. We will get to talk about some of these issues later on.BILL SHORTEN: I just was getting…TONY JONES: I mean you are broadening it out…BILL SHORTEN: ...to policy.TONY JONES: ...and you’ve already redefined a word that’s in the dictionary to suit your own meanings…BILL SHORTEN: It’s still a free country. I will work with you but they’re my views.TONY JONES: It is a free country and there’s a dictionary and you can look up the definition.BILL SHORTEN: Yep. Okay.TONY JONES: If you’re redefining it tonight, that’s a different matter.VINCE DEL GALLEGO: Excuse me, Tony.TONY JONES: Yes, sorry, go ahead.VINCE DEL GALLEGO: Just the question was actually to be answered as a yes or a no and, as Tony said, you’ve redefined the dictionary to suit yourself. What I’m asking is that if you say that Julia Gillard is not a confirmed liar then you agree with her that Tony Abbott is a misogynist. Now, if you agree with that, can you tell me and this audience and to the whole world that Tony Abbott is a confirmed misogynist?BILL SHORTEN: What I said to you - I did answer your question and I understand you’ve clearly got strong views but I do too on this.
VINCE DEL GALLEGO: I believe in integrity and I think the Prime Minister should have the integrity of this world.
The audience member was also too many for The Project’s Charlie Pickering, a trained lawyer unfamiliar with the definition of “liar” - and desperate not to have it attached to his Prime Minister:
CHARLIE PICKERING: Can you just give me your definition again of liar? You were specific with that and I…
VINCE DEL GALLEGO: A lie is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.CHARLIE PICKERING: Yeah, see I don’t think that the Prime Minister’s use of “misogyny” - “misogynist” was a deliberate attempt to deceive. I believe that she meant it.VINCE DEL GALLEGO: But misogynist hates women and girls.CHARLIE PICKERING: But you’re talking about a deliberate attempt to deceive. If we’re getting - really, really are getting bogged down in semantics a little.VINCE DEL GALLEGO: Well, not quite, I’m just sticking to the dictionary.CHARLIE PICKERING: Yeah, absolutely. I personally believe that once you accuse someone of being a misogynist that’s a big accusation. It’s like being…VINCE DEL GALLEGO: Well, she did that.CHARLIE PICKERING: ...accused publicly of being racist or, once upon a time, of being accused of being a witch. It’s one the accusation is made it’s very hard to argue you’re way out of that. Personally I don’t think the word misogynist was necessarily correct.VINCE DEL GALLEGO: But can you talk on behalf of the Prime Minister, she (indistinct)…TONY JONES: Okay. I’m going…
CHARLIE PICKERING: We will not talk on behalf of the Prime Minister.
But he did.
Just to help Shorten and Pickering:
Dictionary.com— nhatred of womennouna false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
On this expanded change-by-the-minute definition, does a misogynist include a male who abuses a female bakery attendant for not having his favourite pie?
This is a worry:
CHINESE warships, including two destroyers, have been spotted in waters near a Japanese island, the defence ministry in Tokyo says, further stoking tensions with Beijing over a disputed archipelago.
“A Japanese aircraft spotted seven Chinese naval ships in waters 49km south-southeast of Yonaguni island at 7am (local time),” a ministry official said.Yonaguni is an inhabited territory internationally acknowledged as Japanese…“They were in contiguous waters, 44km southwest of Nakanokamishima,” a defence ministry spokeswoman said separately.
Contiguous waters lie just outside territorial waters and are governed by international maritime law.
Craig Thomson allegedly hired even more prostitutes than long thought, using union members’ money:
CRAIG Thomson faces a costly legal battle after Fair Work Australia launched legal action against the independent MP, claiming he spent Health Services Union funds on a dozen separate engagements with prostitutes, and seeking orders that he pay back potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to the union.
The court statement alleges 25 breaches of union rules, which carry no penalty, and 37 breaches of duties of officers of registered organisations, which are punishable by fines of up to $6600 each.
If the court finds against Mr Thomson on all 37, he could face $244,200 in fines.
Fair Work Australia is also pursuing him to compensate his old union for up to $200,000 for spending HSU money on prostitutes, cash advances, travel for his wife and getting himself elected to the seat of Dobell in 2007.
The Labor Party, which had earlier picked up a legal bill of about $300,000 for the embattled backbencher, last night confirmed it would no longer pay his legal expenses.
The court hearings, plus any possible appeal, will probably drag on to the election unless Thomson cuts a deal:
The proceedings against Mr Thomson come before the Federal Court on December 7.
The extraordinary delays in investigating Thomson may prove extremely useful to him and to Labor:
MORE than half the allegations against former Labor MP Craig Thomson could be thrown out on the grounds that their statute of limitations has been exceeded, Fair Work Australia concedes.
The Federal Court is still considering an appeal in a separate case between the Fair Work Ombudsman and Toyota Material Handling, which found there was a two-year statute of limitations for actions under the former Workplace Relations Act, the provisions of which were rolled in the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.That is the same act Mr Thomson is alleged to have breached 37 times - each of which is potentially punishable by fines of up to $6600, a total amount of $244,200.
AdvertisementAll of those 37 alleged breaches occurred when he worked for the HSU, a job he left to enter Parliament in 2007.
If they were thrown out because they exceeded statute of limitations, Mr Thomson would continue to face 25 alleged breaches of the Health Services Union rules. They do not attract a financial penalty, although he could be required to pay compensation in relation to some of them.
Some people have all the luck.
I suspect Australian Financial Review columnist Catherine Fox needs to broaden her cultural reference group when determining the public response to things such as the Prime Minister’s speech last week:
I actually thought it was a wonderful speech and I think that we’ll remember that speech a lot longer than we’ll remember what was happening with Peter Slipper and I think, in fact, it had resonance for so many women and I think we’ve seen that because we know there were 1.5 million hits on YouTube. A lot of young people are discussing it. In fact my daughter was saying they were discussing it at uni today and just about unanimously in her tutorial group of young men and women they were all saying it was a quite amazing speech. So I think for a lot of people the message that she gave was long overdue.
Hillary Clinton takes one for the team:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Clinton insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, Clinton said.
They aren’t? Really? Don’t know whether I should be alarmed or relieved.
The Obama administration has been heavily criticized after Vice President Joe Biden said during last week’s vice presidential debate that the White House did not know of requests to enhance security at Benghazi, contradicting testimony by State Department employees that requests had been made and rejected. Following the debate, the White House said the vice president did not know of the requests because they were handled, as is the practice, by the State Department.
On July 18, Fairfax announced a massive reorganisation - involving the sacking of 1900 staff - to save the company and its flagship newspapers, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. I am afraid there is little sign of it working:
(Thanks to reader the Old and Unimproved Dave.)
The Australian calls out the Attorney-General:
Her conduct throughout the sexual harassment case against former Speaker Peter Slipper is a biased and unacceptable departure from the principle of fairness demanded of the nation’s first law officer… She will be remembered as the Attorney-General who diminished her office through a combination of political fervour, lack of self-discipline, poor judgment and factual errors…
She misrepresented a text message in the Slipper case to run a baseless smear campaign against the News Ltd journalist who had broken the story, Steve Lewis. She sought to portray a short text from Lewis—“We will get him”—as evidence of some sort of conspiracy. Now that the full context has been made public, and it is clear Lewis was referring to an attempt to find a particular driver, Ms Roxon’s actions have exposed the government to charges of hypocrisy. After what it did to Lewis (on a flawed interpretation of the text messages) it cannot be taken seriously when it refused to publicly debate Mr Slipper’s odious text messages or vote in support of a motion to sack him over these uncontested revelations—supposedly to avoid parliament becoming a “kangaroo court"…
She has already apologised to the Federal Court after her office arranged for Mr Slipper to have parking privileges—a privilege not extended to his accuser, James Ashby. But there’s more. Thanks to the lack of a confidentiality provision (an oversight by government lawyers) we now know the settlement offer to Mr Ashby appears to have breached the government’s own rules. That settlement cost taxpayers $50,000 and was supported by Ms Roxon.
How could Roxon have so misrepresented the Ashby case - and have kept defending Peter Slipper - when she knew four months ago about the texts he’d sent:
ATTORNEY-General Nicola Roxon has admitted being briefed on the lurid text messages that brought down Peter Slipper as Speaker before lodging court action claiming the case against him was vexatious four months ago.
After days of claiming that legal professional privilege prevented her from saying when she first knew of the messages, Ms Roxon last night confirmed she learnt of them between May 28 and June 15 when the government filed its application to have the case struck out claiming it was an abuse of process.
Roxon and the Government did not immediately settle with Ashby - or dump Slipper as Speaker. Instead, the Government - resorting to its ugly practice - sought to demonise and intimidate reporters as well as vilify Ashby. And it did so by referring to, and misrepresenting, the texts it now says it can’t discuss:
... the commonwealth launched a motion claiming that Ashby’s suit against Slipper was “an abuse of process” and should not be heard.
Referring to a “vast amount of material”, Roxon said (on June 15) there was a “clear intention to harm Mr Slipper and bring his reputation into disrepute, and to assist his political opponents; and that was the purpose for the bringing of this claim"…The following Saturday, June 23, The Weekend Australian reported the commonwealth’s case was “built on a trail of emails” that “was understood to have been lodged with the Federal Court” but not made public, and that “senior government ministers” were angry about the attack on Slipper.The story also revealed the texts indicated that Ashby had “extensive contact” with Sydney Daily Telegraph reporter Steve Lewis, who was accused of “collusion” to bring down the Gillard government…The following Tuesday in parliament, the Government Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese, accused Lewis of “again” being involved in “the attempted sabotage of a democratically elected government"…
But the commonwealth folded its case against Ashby in September, offering $50,000 and dropping its action to have his claim declared an abuse of process.
(Thanks to reader Peter.)
Jonathan Holmes on Media Watch last night shared my disgust with the media spinning of an Australian woman’s disgraceful abduction of her four daughters from their Italian father.
Why was the mother portrayed as the victim? How did the media become complicit in the manipulation of the daughters’ emotions?
But worse was to come. The Australian media followed the girls back to Italy. When Nine News arrived outside the father’s villa. Sophie Walsh reported, the two older sisters rushed out of the house, calling for help.
“Sophie Walsh: With tears running down her cheeks, one of the sisters grabbed hold of me saying she was scared she was going to be hurt and needed to be taken away. The eldest daughter was eventually dragged inside as her sister cried for their mum. The voice bringing them to tears.
(Mother on phone): It’ll be ok, come on baby be strong please ...— Channel Nine, News, 7th October, 2012”That’s right. Sophie Walsh has the girl’s mother on her mobile phone. Talk about a reporter becoming an active participant in a story.It may well be worse than that. In one of several live crosses from Italy to Weekend Today, Walsh explained her relationship with the girl’s mother ...“Cameron Williams: Have you heard from the girl’s mum?Sophie Walsh: Yeah I have, look I’ve been in constant contact with her since I’ve been over here....— Channel Nine, Weekend Today, 7th October, 2012”She’s been in constant contact. And when they arrived at the father’s villa, Sophie explained…“Sophie Walsh: The girls knew that we were there, and I think really they just seized the opportunity to try and escape, they came sprinting across the front lawn and through the gate.— Channel Nine, Weekend Today, 7th October, 2012”The girls knew they were there? We wondered how? Here’s what the father’s lawyer told the ABC’s The World Today ...“Paul Donnelly: Apparently one of the older girls had a mobile phone, she made a call to Australia, she received a call back, with that her and her sister then ran out of the front yard of the villa, pleading for the press to help them.— ABC Radio, World Today, 8th October, 2012”It f that’s true – and it may not be – it gives rise to the suspicion that Walsh told the mother that she was outside the villa, and someone in Australia then told the girls. Sophie Walsh goes on…“Sophie Walsh: One of the things the girls were saying to me was “we want to speak to our mum”, so I managed to get her on the phone I got her on speaker phone, there was obviously a big commotion the girls couldn’t hear her too well but what she did say, she said “girls I love you, please stay strong I am doing everything in my power to try and bring you home”.— Channel Nine, Weekend Today, 7th October, 2012”It’s amazing isn’t it? As with any such story, there are two versions of almost every aspect of the case. The Family Court has heard, and weighed, both sides. The public, through the media, has overwhelmingly heard just one.We asked Nine whether it had told the mother’s family that its crew was outside the villa. We got no response. But as Sophie Walsh says…“Sophie Walsh: Given what we’ve seen today it would seem this case still has a very long way to go until it is resolved.— Channel Nine, Weekend Today, 7th October, 2012”
...with the Australian media, helped by the mother, milking every extra day of these children’s distress. Frankly, it’s a disgrace.
I couldn’t agree more.
Julia Gillard speech vilifying Tony Abbott as a woman-hater may have helped turn the disaster of Peter Slipper’s resignation into a draw. Essential Media has the two party preferred vote unchanged at Labor 47 to the Coalition 53.
But I’ll still bet on the speech being a net negative.
But Media Watch host Jonathon Holmes is upset political commentators didn’t agree with the more ferally Leftist parts of the Internet and praise a speech most wrote off as unfair, deceptive and beside the point at hand - which was the removal of Peter Slipper:
The gallery was reflecting the political consensus in Canberra: that Labor’s month-long attack on Abbott’s alleged misogyny may well lose it as many votes as it gains.
Note to Jonathan: see poll above.
The problem was that the gallery was unanimous. Most didn’t even acknowledge the reaction to the speech in cyberspace. As blogger Tim Dunlop pointed out on the ABC’s opinion website…“When you have the likes of Michelle Grattan, Peter Hartcher, Peter van Onselen, Jennifer Hewett, Geoff Kitney, Phillip Coorey, and Dennis Shanahan all spouting essentially the same line in attacking the Prime Minister - a line at odds with the many people’s own interpretation of events - people wonder what the point of such journalism is.
— ABC, The Drum, 10th October, 2012”
If that disconnect continues, they may wonder, too, why they should pay for it - for newspapers especially, an ominous thought.
Could Holmes identify which of the above journalists should have written something other than what they thought, just to provide the desired lack of unanimity? Does Holmes’ demand for more diversity of opinion apply to the reporting of, say, global warming by the ABC? Does it apply to the appointment of Media Watch hosts, every one of whom has been of the Left? Is the “disconnect” Holmes deplores a disconnect with the general public, or just those parts of the social media Holmes prefers?
Is it not simply the case that Holmes is upset Canberra correspondents for once did not give Gillard undue praise for spin? That they for once saw through the abuse and deceit?
Note: here is Media Watch being used not to uncover sins against journalism, but to promote a particular point of view of the Left.
Mitt Romney can seal this deal with tomorrow’s debate, with polls showing he’s overcoming his own “women problem” - which is actually now Barack Obama’s “men problem”
Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.
As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men…
The USA TODAY findings are consistent with a nationwide Pew Research Center Poll taken after the first presidential debate and released last week. Obama’s 18-point lead among women in mid-September evaporated in Pew’s October survey, showing him tied 47%-47% with Romney among female likely voters.
The Romney team grabs Biden’s smirking and laughing and stuffs it down his throat:
End the name-calling! Insiders:COMBET: The Insiders is a show that is known to listen to a lot of this (politics), but people outside hear bits of it. And I think they would prefer politicians to get off name-calling and get on with the business of government.
End the name-calling? Leader of the house Anthony Albanese, Hansard, February 9, 13, 16, 29 and June 25:IN your guts, you know he (Tony Abbott) is nuts.Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare, Hansard, February 29:(ABBOTT) stands for nothing. He is the Nancy Reagan of Australian politics without the astrology: say no to everything, just rancid, dripping, relentless negativity.Julia Gillard, Hansard, May 28:(ABBOTT) is Gina Rinehart’s butler.Labor MP Richard Marles interview, May 29:TONY Abbott is . . . a dog of a candidate.Labor MP Rob Mitchell tweets, May 29:ABBOTT is a Neanderthal.The Sydney Morning Herald reports on posters on Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s walls, June 1:TONY Abbott: Note to ladies: Make me a sandwich.Tony Abbott: I’m threatened by boats and gays. Gays on boats are my worst nightmare.Wayne Swan, Hansard, June 18:THE Leader of the Opposition (is) a dodgy snake oil salesman.Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, Hansard, June 26:YOU’RE left thinking that (Tony Abbott) sees political advantage in people dying.The PM, Hansard, August 20:LIKE Jack the Ripper, he is going to be there wielding his knife.The Treasurer, Hansard, September 11:HE wants to go the biff day after day after day . . . His aggressive negativity, day after day, going the biff, showing aggression . . . He is a thug.Swan tweets, September 19:TONY Abbott is the poster child for the vile, bully-boy values.Gillard, Hansard, October 9:I WILL not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not—not now, not ever. If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he does not need a motion in the House of Representatives; he needs a mirror.Labor MP Steve Gibbons tweets, October 10:THAT douchebag Tony Abbott.
Gerard Henderson inspects the new art of taking offence, as demonstrated in Anne Summers’ absurd 2012 Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture:
The problem is that, at times, Summers goes right over the top. For example, she claims the word liar ‘’was not a term used against back-flipping male prime ministers’’. But it was. In the early 1980s, Bob Hawke called Malcolm Fraser a liar. Summers went on to work for Hawke. In 2006, Kevin Rudd called Howard a liar. There are all too many examples…
However, when I asked her if she had expressed such a view when Howard was called a liar, she declined to answer the question.Summers also takes offence that, on occasions, Gillard is referred to as ‘’she’’ or ‘’her’’ and maintains that ‘’previous prime ministers were accorded the basic respect of being referred to by their last names’’.
This is manifestly not so. Moreover, last Thursday Gillard used the words ‘’he’’ and ‘’he’s’’ in one sentence when referring to Abbott.
This is normal conversation.
It seems that Summers’s evident sensitivity has had an impact on Gillard. Last Tuesday, the Prime Minister complained that Abbott was ‘’now looking at his watch because, apparently, a woman has spoken for too long’’. In the 1992 US presidential campaign, George H.W. Bush was criticised for looking at his watch when debating Bill Clinton. This is not a gender specific act. Nor is being told to shut up. Nor is being called a ‘’piece of work’’. Last year I was called a ‘’piece of work’’ by the Sydney University academic Simon Chapman. It took me a full eight seconds to recover.
The problem with such over-readiness to take offence is that it can lead to setting impossible standards…
Gillard has suffered no greater abuse than that experienced by such predecessors as Fraser, Keating and Howard. Commentators who look at contemporary Australian politics and see wall-to-wall misogyny, diminish the very real achievements of Australian women in recent decades.
Henderson describes a branch of feminism in which grievance is sought and nourished, and used not to address a wrong but to scrabble for personal advantage. It locks women into the role of the victim, ever subservient.
When I hear Summers decrying even the most routine criticism of Gillard as wicked sexism and a crime against women, I think yet again how she attacked me in an essay for The Monthly by defaming and belittling my wife, and by smearing my late mother as the product of a Nazi town (actually in occupied Holland). Hypocrite is too kind a word.
I take offence at Julia Gillard’s phony “war on men”. It is a politically self-serving strategy that demeans all women…
The Prime Minister should be aware that widespread criticism of her has nothing to do with the fact she is a woman and everything to do with the fact she is doing a bad job. Hiding behind her sex is base hypocrisy. Under her new paradigm any criticism of any woman is off-limits…Those same MPs call Tony Abbott sexist for occasionally referring to the Prime Minister as a “woman” or “she"… What reasonable woman could take offence at being called a woman? And if these are the new standards, how can the Prime Minister point at the Opposition Leader and say she won’t be lectured by “this man”?Attorney-General Nicola Roxon ... concluded that Abbott was a misogynist because he didn’t say hello at social functions and sometimes turns his back on her in the chamber to consult his frontbench team behind him.When you are at the dispatch box you will always have your back turned to someone.
So under the Roxon rule, it is impossible for a man not to be a misogynist. This is terribly convenient for the government when the leaders of Labor and the Greens are women, while the Coalition parties are led by men.
What truly is sexist is for so many on the Left to cheer Gillard’s speech vilifying Tony Abbott as a woman-hater, excusing the crucifying of an innocent man on the grounds that other men are guilty. That is the true evil in Gillard’s speech. It is actually the very thing it claims to denounce.
A SIMPLE phone call establishes that the (Manly Women’s) shelter received $148,000 from (Tony) Abbott, raised through his annual Pollie Pedal fundraising event earlier this year . . . He recently participated in the Sydney Marathon, acting as a guide for a blind runner, Nathan Johnstone. This was also a fundraiser, with the funds going to the McGrath Foundation—specifically, to breast cancer care nurses . . . When asked her opinion on the allegations of misogyny on the part of Abbott, (Ellie Hunt, president of the Manly Women’s Shelter) was blunt: “You just can’t take them seriously.”
Peter Slipper gets an honor he does not deserve:
A PARLIAMENTARY portrait of former speaker Peter Slipper is set to be commissioned at a cost of $30,000 to taxpayers...
Mr Slipper went to the National Portrait Gallery with an officer from the art services branch to view portraits and select a short-list of possible candidates.Painted portraits of Speakers are a century-old tradition.
Just a splash of black paint would be cheaper and more educative for future generations, as Venice’s Doges decided when commissioning portraits for the Doge’s Palace:
The palace’s most impressive room, the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (the Hall of the Great Council), has a frieze of paintings of the first 76 doges … with the exception of Marino Faliero (or Marin Falier). The 55th doge was appointed on 11 September 1354 and by 1355 was plotting a coup, after which he would declare himself prince. Perversely this was fired by a hatred for the nobility, and more plausibly by his senility (he was already in his seventies). The hapless Falier pleaded guilty, was beheaded, mutilated and condemned to Damnatio Memoriae, whereby all traces of a person would be expunged from history or memory. His place on the wall of paintings is empty, covered by a black veil.
...the Opposition Leader did not raise the most contentious aspect of the Coalition’s border-security policies - turning asylum-seeker boats back to Indonesia when it is safe to do so - with the SBY administration.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who was in the meeting and has previously expressed Indonesia’s opposition to the tow-back plan, was asked afterwards if it was raised.“Not in that specific modality, that specific possibility, no,” Mr Natalegawa said.“But there was a good discussion on the problems and challenges of people smuggling.”
The Coalition’s silence on towbacks drew further taunts from the government, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen accusing Mr Abbott of lacking the “guts” to raise the policy, which Jakarta has publicly opposed.
Neither side discussing what could be tricky is a bit Javanese. But Abbott’s immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says tow-backs were raised with Natalegawa in a subsequent meeting.
Indonesia will want a reward for allowing boats to be turned back again, and will not want to agree too easily. But unless the boats are turned back, boat people will keep coming. For now, Abbott would prefer to have engagement, not confrontation, as he introduces himself properly to a president whose goodwill will be essential.
Greg Sheridan agrees Abbott has a very good platform of goodwill, shown by the fact Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono granted an Opposition Leader a private meeting:
Greg Sheridan agrees Abbott has a very good platform of goodwill, shown by the fact Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono granted an Opposition Leader a private meeting:
...very few Australian cabinet ministers, other than the prime minister, get to see the President individually in Indonesia.It reflects the view within the Indonesian establishment that Abbott is overwhelmingly likely to win the next election… Importantly, it is also the case that Abbott now has a more pro-Indonesia policy than the Gillard government…The Yudhoyono administration did not snub Julia Gillard by agreeing to see Abbott. Yudhoyono is Southeast Asia’s senior statesman and structurally pro-Australian, but the Indonesians were very comfortable with Rudd and before that John Howard. They have found the Gillard government erratic and unreliable.
The Indonesians are well aware of Abbott’s turn-back-the-boats policy and are formally opposed to it. But their willingness to embrace Abbott shows they will be keen to work with him on this problem in government.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday gave Abbott the serious fillip of treating him as the likely next leader of Australia, though neither would ever say that openly…This was Abbott’s first visit to Indonesia as Opposition Leader and Bishop’s second (her first was in May), and he particularly has ground to make up.His tow-back plan is unpopular here, as was his proposal last year to suspend Australian education assistance, particularly to Islamic schools.To Indonesians who notice these things, Abbott comes across more fretful about Indonesia as a vector of problems for Australia, than enthused by its potential. Yudhoyono yesterday gave Abbott the best opportunity he is likely to get to change his problematic image in Indonesia.
The Indonesian administration is taking steps to ensure a steady footing for early dealings with a Coalition government and implicitly endorsing Abbott’s relationship-building approach.
What exactly did Julia Gillard tell authorities about what she knew was actually a “slush fund” for her boyfriend?
OPPOSITION legal affairs spokesman George Brandis has called for an investigation into whether Julia Gillard may have misled the Western Australian Corporate Affairs Commission about the nature of a union association she set up two decades ago…
Ms Gillard has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. As a partner at Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s, Ms Gillard helped to set up an entity called the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association for her then boyfriend, former Victorian AWU secretary Bruce Wilson. The entity was used by Mr Wilson and his AWU bagman, Ralph Blewitt, to allegedly receive hundreds of thousands of dollars.But Senator Brandis has called for Slater & Gordon to release the file on the incorporation of the association which is reported to possibly contain Ms Gillard’s correspondence with the WA Corporate Affairs Commission…Senator Brandis said Ms Gillard’s alleged endorsement of the entity to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission in 1992 contradicted her claim earlier this year that she had “no involvement in the working of the association”.
“(If) at the time the Workplace Reform Association was created, she knew it to be a ‘slush fund’—her words—then it would not be possible for her honestly to have reassured the Western Australian Corporate Affairs Commission of its bona fides,” Senator Brandis said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility Monday night for any security failures leading up to the consulate attack last month in Libya that killed an the American ambassador, but she seemed to push back against claims of a cover-up, blaming the "fog of war" for the Obama administration's shifting explanations for the attack.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault on the consulate in Benghazi. Administration officials initially suggested that the attack was "spontaneous" violence that grew out of protests over an anti-Islam film, rather than a premeditated attack.
It later became clear that intelligence officials suspected terrorism almost immediately, and investigators now think extremists tied to Al Qaeda carried out a coordinated attack, with no evidence that the attack was preceded by a protest outside the consulate.
Clinton, however, attributed the administration's shifting story to "the confusion you get in any type of combat situation."
"Remember, this was an attack that went on for hours," Clinton said in an interview with Fox News during a trip to Peru. "There had to be a lot of sorting out. ... Everyone said, here's what we know, subject to change."
The Obama administration, in particular the State Department, also has faced intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill over the level of security at the consulate, with allegations that requests for increased protection were denied or ignored.
That question was a prominent topic during the vide presidential debate Thursday, when Vice President Biden denied getting any requests for increased security. The White House later clarified that Biden was speaking for himself and the president, not for the State Department.
Clinton seemed Monday to back up Biden's claims, saying decisions about diplomatic security are made by her department.
"I'm responsible for the State Department, for the more than 60,000 people around the world," she said. "The decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we're going to review everything to be sure we're doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment."
She also addressed the question of a June explosion at the consulate in Benghazi that some have argued should have raised a red flag about security.
"I can't speak to who knew what," she said. "We knew there were security breaches and problems throughout Libya. That's something that came about as the aftermath of the revolution to topple Qaddafi, with so many militias formed, so many weapons loose. ... It was taken into account by security professionals as they made their assessments."
Three Republican senators said Clinton's claim was "a laudable gesture," but they put the responsibility for the Benghazi attack and what they called "an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi" squarely on President Barack Obama and his national security team.
"If the president was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the president informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred," Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said in a statement released late Monday.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was never known for being soft on journalists during his time in office. On Monday’s "Starting Point" on CNN, Giuliani pushed back at CNN morning anchor Soledad O’Brien, who started their interview typically by offering the Obama talking points for Giuliani’s reaction.
But when O’Brien started insisting that the word “cover-up” was going too far, and started asking her assistant Miguel for all the Obama transcripts, Giuliani asked, “Man, am I debating with the president's campaign? I mean, the defense of the president is overwhelming.”
Giuliani simply did not believe that if the Obama administration had any savvy, they would believe that the terrorist attack on Libya erupted out of a spontaneous demonstration over an old YouTube clip uploaded from California. He thought U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should have known this public-relations line would flop before she announced it on five Sunday network news shows.
“Susan Rice goes on television four days later -- I was on CNN with her that morning. Says it was a spontaneous demonstration,” he said. “I knew it wasn't. I'm not part of the administration; I knew it wasn't the day after. And she had to know it wasn't. They were saying it wasn't, the national security adviser said it was a terrorist plot.”
O’Brien aired more of the administration spin: “So the White House now is basically saying the State Department dropped the ball, the State Department is looking and saying - listen, I'm just telling you how it goes - and they're saying there's intel issues.”
Giuliani shot back: “Who put Susan Rice on? The State Department? Or the political people? It was a political appearance on CNN. So what they're really trying to do is they're trying to run out the clock. They're going to have this investigation; the investigation will be after the debate, after the election is over, so what they're trying to do is cover up this scandal as much as possible."
O’Brien really started to protest.
“Calling something a cover-up kind of takes it a further step, don't you think?”
“No, wait a second," Giuliani replied. "There was - a statement was made, including by the president of the United States, that this was due to this terrible movie about Mohammed.”
Then O’Brien grew passionate: “But he actually didn't say it. The verbatim, the actual verbatim of what he said, he did not say it was something other than that, but it was mentioned. But he did not succinctly say, ‘This was due to a movie.’ Miguel, why don't you pull all these transcripts for me? We have them all in the back room, we can just pull them out.”
Giuliani insisted, “There was information both in the State Department and the White House that it wasn't [a protest]. There was no protest in advance. This sounds like a cover-up. I mean, if this weren't a Democratic president, I think all of you people would be crazy.”
There's plenty to make a careful journalist crazy. On CNN's own "State of the Union" program on Sept. 16, Rice announced, "let's recall what has happened in the last several days. There was a hateful video that was disseminated on the Internet. It had nothing to do with the United States government, and it's one that we find disgusting and reprehensible. It's been offensive to many, many people around the world. That sparked violence in various parts of the world, including violence directed against Western facilities including our embassies and consulates."
Rice was even clearer in misstating the problem on CBS's "Face the Nation."
“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video,” Rice said.
CNN would have a tough time locating something President Obama actually precisely said on Libya, and he often lumped that deadly attack together with protests at other embassies. But in a Sept. 20 interview with Univision, he said of Libya, "I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
"Miguel" could have shown Soledad this report from Libya by CNN's Arwa Damon from six days earlier: "Libyan security officials have been telling us that for months now they've been warning the United States about this growing extremist threat and that they have been growing ever more concerned about how little control they actually themselves have over the situation."
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and senior editor of MRC’s blog NewsBusters.
Alex. Barbara. Charles. Drake. Elvis. Eve. Fiona. Sam. Sonia. Tiffany.
What do all these names, some of which belong to popular singers, have in common? They're commands used by a new state-sponsored computer-espionage tool discovered by Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.
The espionage tool, dubbed "John" by its creators but "miniFlame" or "SPE" by Kaspersky researchers, appears to have come from the same malware factory that created Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame and Gauss.
"If Flame and Gauss were massive spy operations, infecting thousands of users, miniFlame/SPE is a high-precision, surgical attack tool," wrote an unnamed Kaspersky researcher in an official blog posting Monday.
Your tax dollars at work
Kaspersky's report, while exhaustive, discreetly avoids the elephant in the room: All the above-named pieces of malware, plus miniFlame, are probably the work of American intelligence agencies. All of them primarily target computer systems in the Middle East, and miniFlame is no exception.
We believe that the choice of countries depends on the SPE variant," the Kaspersky blog posting said. "For example, the modification known as '4.50' is mostly found in Lebanon and Palestine. The other variants were reported in other countries, such as Iran, Kuwait and Qatar."
The largest number of infected machines was found in Lebanon. Significant numbers appeared to be in France and the U.S., but Kaspersky discounted many of those as the result of proxy connections bouncing off servers in those countries while masking the users' true locations.
"MiniFlame is in fact based on the Flame platform but is implemented as an independent module," said the Kaspersky blog. "It can operate either independently, without the main modules of Flame in the system, or as a component controlled by Flame."
A Bunsen burner and a cigarette lighter
Flame is a very large, very sophisticated piece of spyware that Kaspersky and other research facilities discovered in May, though it is believed to date back to 2007. (MiniFlame may be a bit younger, with known versions created over a one-year period ending in September 2011.)
Flame infects a targeted computer by posing as a Windows security update — itself a remarkable feat — and then turns the computer into a massive spying device.
It secretly turns on the microphone and webcam to record audio and video, takes countless screenshots, maps out the local network (and infects other machines on it), captures email and instant messages, logs Web-browsing history and copies files. Then it sends all the recorded data to a command-and-control server before erasing itself.
MiniFlame does most of the same things, but with more precision, going after only certain files instead of harvesting everything. It also can send collected data to an attached USB drive if the infected machine is not connected to the Internet, in hopes the USB drive will eventually be plugged into a machine that is. (The Stuxnet worm used a similar "sneakernet" method of distribution.)
Last month, an analysis by Kaspersky and the American anti-virus firm Symantec of two of Flame's command-and-control servers, which had been seized by European police, revealed that the servers were coded to receive input from four existing pieces of malware: Flame and three others that hadn't yet been found. Kaspersky thinks that miniFlame is, in fact, one of those three.
Most interestingly, Kaspersky found in today's report that MiniFlame can be used with Gauss, a bank-account information-stealer that was found targeting Lebanese banks earlier this summer. Until the discovery of miniFlame, there wasn't anything solidly linking Gauss to the other pieces of state-sponsored malware.
Kaspersky earlier established that some Flame modules were used in an early version of Stuxnet, which crippled an Iranian nuclear-fuel processing facility in 2010. In June, government sources told the Washington Post that Flame was a reconnaissance tool used to "prepare the battlefield" for Stuxnet. Duqu is a seldom-seen information-stealer that shares much of its code with Stuxnet.
All of these pieces of malware may be part of "Olympic Games," a U.S. cyberintelligence operation directed against the Iranian nuclear program that the New York Times says was begun by President George W. Bush and accelerated by President Barack Obama.
Iran, currently battling crippling international sanctions imposed upon it for not giving up what appears to be a nuclear-weapons program, has a lot of money tied up in Lebanese banks and can be assumed to be using those banks to evade sanctions.
For American intelligence operatives, miniFlame would serve a double duty in both tracking the Iranian nuclear program and the money used to fund it.
- 10 Computer Threats You Didn't Know About
- FAQ: The Flame/Skywiper Virus and How to Protect Yourself
- 10 Best Computer Protection Software Products
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Radio talk show host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham was right when she confronted New York Times political reporter Jeff Zeleny on the set of "Fox News Sunday" this weekend:
"I would hope that the New York Times, as they camped outside of Scooter Libby’s house during the whole Valerie Plame thing -- are you guys camped out of the Susan Rice residence?” She said, “This is ridiculous and I think the press is partly culpable here.”
And she wasn’t alone in voicing that sentiment. Fox News' Brit Hume agreed with Ingraham during the same roundtable discussion on the program Sunday.
"I do think Laura’s made a good point. It shouldn’t be up to the campaign and candidates to try to get to the bottom of this before Election Day. This should be a job for all the good investigative reporters in the media to be out on this story, investigative teams such as they are should be all over this. This does have, it seems to me, an extremely strong scent of cover-up and it does looks like that it was engineered in some way. There’s just something about those five appearances on a Sunday with a story that they had to know was off base. That doesn’t smell right and ought to be exposed."
Both Ingraham and Hume are 100 percent right. Yet, if you look at the front page of the New York Times on Monday morning (view front page here), Libya is nowhere to be found. Yet, the Benghazi attack on 9/11 that killed our ambassador and three others was the topic of every Sunday talk show this weekend.
The New York Times still thinks of itself as "the paper of record"; it’s the one paper every network newscast consults on a daily basis. So why isn't Libya on the front page Monday morning?
Here’s why: The Times is so in the tank for the Obama administration it's scary. I've never seen anything like it. They are doing everything they can to protect the Obama White House over this disaster.
When are Republicans -- and all Americans -- going to call on the press to look into this outrage?
Patrick Caddell is a Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor. He served as pollster for President Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and others. He is a Fox News political analyst and co-host of "Campaign Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on "FoxNews.com Live."
MOST people can't wait to get off a plane after spending hours cramped in a cattle-class seat.
But Bruce Campbell just can’t get enough of the high life. Bored of bricks and mortar, the 62-year-old US engineer has spent a decade and $US220,000 ($214,000) converting a Boeing 727-200 jet into his dream home.
As he nears the end of his project he’s put a call out for any Australians who want to join him in creating another bigger and better plane home.
“I'm looking for a location and partners for a far more intelligently and elegantly executed Airplane Home v2.0 project,” Mr Campbell said.
“If anyone would like to see a beautiful Airplane Home in their community, they should contact me.”
Mr Campbell bought the plane back in 1999 for $100,000, with additional logistical costs of $114,000. But he says it’s all been worthwhile, as living in the plane full-time is “exhilarating”.
Tucked away in the woods of Oregon, US, the plane has been converted into a bedroom, lounge and office with its rows of seats ripped out.
Mr Campbell cooks his meals in the former cabin-crew kitchen and has also built a shower in the main cabin area. His possessions are stacked up in the cabin.
He enjoys spending most of his time in the cockpit.
Challenges he faced during the project included installing a working plumbing system and getting the three toilets working again.
He loves to give tours of the home and says many people fall in love with it.
“It’s not for everybody,” he said. “But I think it is for a lot of people and it is definitely for me. I absolutely love it.”
ARCHAEOLOGISTS are anxiously waiting to see if a skeleton dug up from a hole in a car park in the English city of Leicester is the remains of the much-maligned King Richard III.
More than five centuries after he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field by the armies of Henry Tudor, who later became King Henry VII, scientists believe they are close to making an identification.
Michael Ibsen, 55, a 17th generation nephew of the king, will have his DNA tested against the remains found in the humblest of settings but which could just prove to be the burial place of the last English monarch to fall in battle.
Ibsen, who was born in Canada and moved to London 27 years ago where he works as a carpenter, said: "The only line that they were able to follow through to current times was the line that leads to my mother."
The DNA testing is expected to be completed by December at the earliest.
"Obviously it would be a great disappointment if there is no DNA match, but fingers crossed. We'll wait and see," he said.
Experts have long thought that Richard III was laid to rest in Leicester in the church of the Franciscan Friary, or Greyfriars, after he was killed in battle in 1485.
However, stories dating to the 17th Century said that Richard's remains were dug up after the friary was dissolved and were then tossed into a local river.
For years, inaccurate maps and conflicting local legends obscured the trail, but this year archaeologists were finally able to narrow down the search after they found clues to the location of the church where Richard is said to have been buried.
The cloisters leading to the middle of the church was one giveaway, while a masonry bench indicated a chapter house.
"Many people hadn't really thought too much about whether the remains could actually still be here after all," said Richard Buckley, co-director of University of Leicester's Archaeological Services.
When Buckley's team descended into the trenches under the car park's tarmac, what they found was beyond their wildest dreams.
After only three weeks on site, a short stint compared to most excavations, the archaeologists found the bones of an adult man lying in a plain, simple grave.
"We can tell from the state of the skeleton that the burial was made shortly after death, and the body was not moved later," said Jo Appleby, lecturer in human bioarchaeology at the university.
"It seems to have been a careful burial, but not an elaborate one," she told AFP.
Scientists have already established that the skeleton showed at least two injuries on the skull, a wound on the back and curvature of the spine.
"He has what seems to be injuries consistent with a death in battle which we know is what happened to Richard," Appleby said.
"However it's a burial in a medieval church, and medieval churches usually have multiple burials in them so it is always possible that we have not found the right individual."
Time has been of the essence in solving the puzzle surrounding Richard, because the mitochondrial DNA that will be used for testing is only passed along the female line.
While Ibsen and his brother have the DNA link desired by archaeologists, only their sister could pass it on to an 18th generation, and she has no children.
Michael Ibsen hopes that identification of the king's remains could help the king to rehabilitate his reputation. After all, Shakespeare portrayed him as a power-obsessed hunchback who murdered his nephews to steal the crown.