Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sat 17th Nov Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Ray Lam. Born on the same day, across the years as when Elizabeth 1st was made Queen. Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.


Victoria Falls





[edit]Holidays and observances


Marine park lock-up is a national folly

Piers Akerman – Saturday, November 17, 2012 (8:14pm)

LOCKING up more than 2.3 million square kilometres of ocean around Australia is not the act of a world-leading smart nation, it is the folly of the world’s leading stupid nation.
We already import more than 70 per cent of our seafood, much of it grown in dubious conditions in the murky waters of Asian nations that don’t pass any environmental muster.
In the future we will import more tasteless coarse fish grown in muddy ponds, while the Gillard government panders to local and international green movements and penalises Aussies who want to eat tasty fresh fish from our own waters.
Environment Minister Tony Burke says the move, which came into effect at midnight on Friday, will make Australia the world leader in marine protection - but increasing costly seafood imports can only make us look dumb.
There is no point in having one-third of the world’s marine parks right off our own beach when it means we have to bring fish in from other nations. The great marine park lock-up has been perpetrated without any proper consultation, peer-reviewed scientific study or social and economic impact assessments.
Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell, who warned of this disaster, says there will be immediate damage to commercial and recreational fishing businesses.
It is no cause for celebration for the families in fishing sectors, allied marine industries, tourism or coastal communities, for whom it will be a tragic day when their investments, skills and life experience will be further devalued by a government desperate for Green support, at any cost.
Since the management plans will not be finalised until mid-2013 and won’t take effect until July 2014, it means the Labor government will not pay any compensation to fishers for 12 to 18 months. This is something else Labor is putting on the credit card.
“Regardless of that,” Boswell said, “it has pushed ahead with the declaration. Why? Because the government depends on the Greens politically and it panders to environmental activists. Our fisheries management is internationally recognised as amongst the very best in the world. These commercial and recreational fishing bans are completely unnecessary.”
Boswell said government ministers had talked about $100 million in compensation but past experience demonstrated that would not be enough money and it would not be available to enough businesses.
Professional fishers directly impacted have been told they will be able to apply for some compensation but charter-boat operators will miss out entirely and so will all the related businesses, such as tackle shops, seafood processors and wholesalers, ships’ chandleries, repair facilities, and all the other suppliers of goods and services. Nothing about the lock-up of the seas makes sense.
It is as flawed as the carbon tax which has seen Australia move from being a low-energy-cost nation to a high-energy-cost nation - and lose industry, income and jobs in the process. It has no strategic underpinning, making us more reliant on imports than ever. It has no intellectual structure, being based on thought bubbles from environmental groups funded by overseas interests like the Pew Environment Group.
As Burke was unveiling his marine parks plan, Prime Minister Julia Gillard presented her Australian Education Bill based on the Gonski review. But opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said there was nothing but motherhood statements in the 1400-word Bill. “All foam and no beer,” was his description.
Since there is no mechanism for funding described in the legislation, the bill actually includes a section making it not legally binding.
“If the Prime Minister wanted to slap the schools sector and state governments in the face and insult the intelligence of Australians, then this Bill delivers on both counts,” Pyne said.
The marine national parks, the education Bill, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the royal commission into child sex abuse are all just part of a string of distractions being run up the parliamentary flagpole by a desperate Labor-Green-independents government eager to distract the public from its failures.
Chew on that the next time you spit out a piece of unappetising Asian catfish bought at your local beachside fishos.



Tim Blair – Saturday, November 17, 2012 (3:35pm)

Big claim
If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month …
Emphasis added. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. That’s beyond astonishing. 
Depends on where you live, I guess. This alarmist call obviously doesn’t apply to residents ofMelbourneSydney or Perth, and probably one or two other areas.


The AWU scandal: how many Labor colleagues did Roxon ask?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(2:10pm)

 The AWU scandal
Did the Attorney-General first check with the Labor ministers who may actually know a bit more about the AWU slush fund scandal?
Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says allegations against Ms Gillard are unwarranted.
Can Roxon explain how, as Attorney-General, she reached the conclusion that nothing improper was done? What inquiries did she make to become “totally” satisfied? What evidence did she consult?
A lot of people in this Government might well be able to fill in some details, including Roxon herself. Which did she interview? 
Prime Minister Gillard: was a partner in Slater & Gordon, the solicitors acting for the Australian Workers Union. Also secretly acted as the lawyer advising Bruce Wilson, her boyfriend, on the setting up of the “Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association” slush fund and on the creation of power of attorney to buy a house with some of the fraudulent proceeds. (She says she knew nothing of the frauds or the operation of the association.)
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon: as a lawyer with Maurice Blackburn worked on the AWU account after Slater & Gordon discovered the slush fund, invited Gillard to leave and ceased having the AWU as a client. Roxon handed over sensitive documents to an investigation into the scams.
Workplace Minister Bill Shorten: was an official of the AWU during the scam (but not involved). He was among those warned in 1996 that a royal commission into the scandal had to be headed off or “we are all history”. Took over the AWU branch Wilson had recently led. Became AWU national secretary.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig: was an employee at the time of the AWU, whose president then and now was his father, powerful Labor identity Bill Ludwig, a key Gillard backer. He was contacted in 1996 by a company that had paid $29,000 into Wilson’s slush fund, thinking it was legitimate, and had then asked by a union official if it “would be prepared to say that the $29,000 that had been paid was a donation”.
Former Attorney-General and now backbencher Robert McClelland: As a solicitor advised then AWU national secretary Ian Cambridge to try to recover stolen stolen money and to call for a royal commission. Has said the experienced convinced him of the need for tougher laws to recover money from crooked union officials. Said an unnamed “third party” may have benefited from Wilson’s scams.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson:
 was president of the ACTU until 1996, in which time the Keating Government was asked by the AWU’s Cambridge to set up a royal commission into the AWU scandal. ACTU secretary Bill Kelty was warned by other ACTU officials the commission proposal had to be stopped, and was reported to be “supportive”. He mediated in the scandal.  Cambridge was appointed to the NSW Industrial Relations Tribunal that same year. (There is no suggestion at all that Kelty was involved in that appointment or acted anything less than honorably.)
Backbencher Chris Hayes: Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement. Was assistant national secretary of the AWU when he counter-signed redundancy cheques to get rid of Wilson and bagman Ralph Blewitt, now seeking immunity in exchange for giving evidence on Wilson’s scams.
Senator David Feeney: Faction boss. Was a Transport Workers Union official who in 1995 asked Gillard to explain why a builder wanted AWU payment for work done on her house. Gillard told Slater & Gordon she spoke to Feeney about her renovations to reassure him, and he in turn spoke to Bob Smith, the AWU secretary who ousted Wilson over his rorts. 


The Bolt Report tomorrow

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(12:13pm)

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop, Peter Reith and Cassandra Wilkinson.
On the the royal commission into sexual abuse of children, the AWU scandal, Gillard’s appeal to business and more. Plus: should Tim Mathieson get a job?
We’ve also invited (yet again) Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who once complained he might have to ”storm the studio” to get on. We’ve also invited Martin Ferguson and, of course, Julia Gillard, who has a standing invitation. Hoping to get a yes from at least one.
On Channel 10 at 10am and 4.30pm.


No country would tolerate this

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(11:55am)

A rocket from Gaza has now hit Israel’s capital and biggest city:
The military wing of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza said it fired the rocket at Jerusalem, the first from the territory ever to strike the outskirts of the Holy City…
Police said it hit in the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements that stretches south of Jerusalem past Bethlehem from just five kilometres (three miles) beyond the city limits.
Tel Aviv, Israel’s second biggest city, has also been hit. No country can tolerate having so many of its people in danger from rocket attacks.
The argument stops there. The shooting comes next. 


Clarissa’s England

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(9:36am)

I had one of the most frightening adventures of my life there. I turned off the ring road because there had been a car crash and I wanted to avoid being stuck in traffic, and soon found myself lost. I couldn’t tell you where I was but it was not terribly far from the city centre.
As we know, Leicester has a very high Asian Muslim population and I found myself in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas and walking slightly behind them.
None of the men would talk to me when I tried to find out where I was and how to get out of there because I was an English female and they don’t talk to females they don’t know, while if the women could speak English they weren’t about to show it by having a word with me.
Eventually I had to stop at a newsagents and the only way I could discover my location was to buy a map of the city. Somebody, very reluctantly, pointed to where I was and then I had to work out the rest for myself.
I am not a particular admirer of Islam or indeed, I should add, almost any other religion, but I have many good acquaintances and even some friends among the Muslim community, yet here I was in the heart of city in the middle of my own country a complete outcast and pariah.
If multiculturalism works, which I have always been rather dubious of, surely it must be multicultural and not monocultural… So thinking back to the East End of London of my childhood, I can only hope that in generations to come there will be a merging of the cultures and not the exclusion zone that is the ghetto.
(Thanks to reader Iain.) 


If $1 billion can’t save them, stop

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(9:28am)

Subsidising dying car firms means taking money from businesses that still do have a future - if they’re not crippled by high taxes and other costs:
FORD Australia’s president has tried to hose down concerns that it will close, despite having sacked one-tenth of its Australian workforce…

Federal opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the job losses were evidence that ‘’protection is not the answer’’ for a thriving Australian auto industry. 
$1 billion in subsidies to help make 140,000 cars works out to more than $7000 a car. If we still can’t compete even with that huge help, forget it. 


It’s not all racism. Where is the love?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(8:48am)

Put crudely, in 1788 all Aborigines were very black. Whites arrived, and with them, rape, seduction, enticement and misrepresentation by white males.
The result was pregnancies and, typically, mum doing the bringing up of the ‘’half-caste’’ who was paler but still brought up Aboriginal. 
In subsequent generations, more rape, seduction, enticement and misrepresentation by white males resulted in more pregnancies (including those of half-caste and quarter-caste women) and more offspring being brought up by Aboriginal mothers.
Wow. More than half of the marriages made by Aborigines are with non-Aborigines. Hull seems to suggest no such relationships have ever involved love, mutual companionship or even Aboriginal men marrying non-Aboriginal women. No, it’s all about “rape, seduction, enticement and misrepresentation by white males”.
I’d suggest this is a racist stereotype and offensive to the many who married across the racial divide.
For over thirty years, Dave, an Irish Catholic from Newcastle and Bess, a Walpiri woman from Yuendumu, have been married, raising a family, and working for the betterment of Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory. .. Their bi-cultural marriage has been a learning curve from both sides, but one they both feel proud and grateful to have taken…
Rachael Kohn: Bess, your husband Dave is a whitefella. Can you go to him for support in these very personal family issues? Is he part of the family?
Bess Nungarrayi Price: He is. He’s been a part of the family for 33 years. And most of my family’s out in the Warlpiri country in the Territory itself, all know him and more or less think of him as not a whitefella. It’s good to have Dave…
Dave Price:  Always number one concern for me was keeping the family together and protecting our household. So we regard this household as an island of safety and civilisation, if you like, when things get bad. And Bess’ family have always supported us in doing that....
Rachael Kohn: ... How did you meet and what were the circumstances of that?…
Dave Price: ...Well, I negotiated with Bess’ family and asked their permission. I wasn’t going to take Bess anywhere without their permission… When I met Bess she was a 16-year-old with a two-year-old son and she was literally, I’d say, the most emotionally mature and strongest person I’ve ever met. And I was ten years older. So apart from the fact that she’s gorgeous, of course, which helps, I was hugely attracted to her as a personality and the strength she had in her.


Already a victim of the witch-hunters

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(8:23am)

Yet another warning in this fervid witch-hunting time that allegations are not proof, victims aren’t always to be believed, and it’s easier to destroy the innocent than restore their reputation.
AT LEAST seven victims of abuse by Catholic priests have lodged complaints with the Psychology Board of Australia against the Melbourne church’s psychologist employed to co-ordinate their care.
The first was in 2001 and the most recent last month, in which a victim says the psychologist, Susan Sharkey, sat in on a meeting with the psychologist she appointed for him and later edited the transcript to fit her own diagnosis.
Each victim has had complaints of abuse upheld by the Melbourne Response.
Allegations against Ms Sharkey include conflict of interest, breach of trust, breaking confidentiality and disrespectful and coercive conduct. 
On 27 March 2012, The Age published a story ("Sex abuse victims claim conflict in care process") in which it reported complaints concerning the conduct of Susan Sharkey. Those allegations included that Ms Sharkey had engaged in gross professional misconduct in her role as the coordinator of Carelink – the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese’s counselling service for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The Age accepts that Ms Sharkey did not engage in such conduct.
The Age unreservedly apologises to Ms Sharkey.
Over the past few days I have heard the media uncritically report claims of sexual abuse by priests that are so lurid, and so in conformity with the most viciously anti-Catholic stereotypes of depraved priests making mock of their own church rituals, that I find them very hard to believe. There is an edge of hysteria to some of the reporting this past week that is very ugly and bodes very ill.
Susan Sharkey will not be the only victim of the witch-hunters - the only person to pay for her faith and her willingness to help.
The Age more than most should know better than most than to vilify people on the basis of victim allegations not properly tested - and chiming too closely with a prejudice: 
It didn’t matter that the accuser, let’s call her Helen, was an “entirely unreliable witness”, as magistrate Peter Reardon last week found.
It didn’t matter that she at times was barely “clinging to reality, if not her sanity”. Nor did it matter that the prosecution case built on her allegation was rightly described by Reardon as “inherently weak”, lacking “credibility, reliability and truthfulness”.
No, it was enough that Theophanous was accused of rape, which in this age of victimhood means guilt is assumed and the accuser not questioned....
Indeed, at every stage it seemed Theophanous was there just to be buried. The Age, for instance, allowed a journalist to write a front-page denunciation of this innocent man even before he was charged - and without disclosing she was Helen’s friend.


The AWU scandal - the frauds of Gillard’s boyfriend

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(7:54am)

 The AWU scandal
Bruce Wilson [Gillard’s then boyfriend and client] ... had two scams going - in Western Australia and Victoria…

In Victoria, where Wilson was a branch secretary [of the Australian Workers Union] after leaving Perth, he used secret bank accounts bearing the AWU’s name (but which were not known to the union). These were Wilson’s Victoria slush fund accounts.

These accounts received huge funds for the time - about $200,000 from major builder Thiess, the oil and gas producer Woodside, and other companies.

The cheques would be sent to Wilson and deposited in the AWU Welfare Association No 1 account at the Commonwealth Bank.

The cleared funds would then be taken out by Wilson with multiple and significant withdrawals…
THE scam in the west was similar…

Before Wilson left Perth (where he was AWU branch secretary) to go to Victoria for the union, he and his bagman Ralph Blewitt were in control of a secret entity. It was called the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc, and because of its legal status it required approval and registration by the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs in Western Australia, under certain legislation.

The association was a fund-raising vehicle with a deeply misleading name - “Workplace Reform Association”. The documentation ...  stated that it was dedicated to workplace safety…
Wilson and Blewitt then created paper invoices with the same title as the association. Those works of fiction billed Thiess for $400,000 for work that never occurred…
The tipping point for [Slater & Gordon, the legal firm representing the AWU] in severing its ties with Gillard [then a Slater & Gordon partner] was the revelation that she had helped establish the AWU Workplace Reform Association in early 1992 for Wilson and Blewitt. She had told nobody else at the firm about it. She had not opened a file, which meant the work could not have become known to any of her partners. She said she had sought no advice from anyone at the firm before doing it. The AWU’s national leadership did not know about it; only Gillard, her boyfriend, and Blewitt knew…
There is no evidence that Gillard had any knowledge of the frauds.

The transcript [of a record of interview between Gillard and her partners] reveals Gillard telling [partner Peter] Gordon that the association in Western Australia was a “slush fund” for the elections of officials (raising questions of why it was passed off as something different)… She says she had no knowledge of the operation of the fund.
A third set of files has gone missing, apparently during a transfer:
CRUCIAL court files detailing the Australian Workers Union’s discovery of internal fraud 17 years ago and the fight to overturn redundancies to dodgy union officials - including Julia Gillard’s former boyfriend Bruce Wilson - have mysteriously vanished.
Yesterday the Federal Court confirmed that key documents filed in the Industrial Relations Court’s Queensland registry in 1995 by then AWU national president Bill Ludwig had been lost in the past nine months.
Julie Bishop called yesterday for a police investigation into their disappearance… “Unless there are plausible explanations as to why official records would go missing from record-keeping institutions, such as WA state archives and the Federal Court, this is starting to look like a sinister cover-up...,” the Deputy Opposition Leader said…
The Australian revealed last month that the file held by the State Records Office in Perth on the AWU Workplace Reform Association was empty… Slater & Gordon also has disclosed that it cannot find its file on the association, which the Prime Minister helped set up as a salaried partner at the law firm and later described as a “slush fund”.
In The Age, Mark Baker has another summary of the case so far, plus the cast of characters and the three most pressing questions for Julia Gillard.
(Thanks to reader Peter and others.)


The AWU scandal - and the journalists who refused to notice

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(7:36am)

 The AWU scandal
Chris Kenny is right.  And when the rest of this AWU scandal is finally dragged into the light, there will be a full accounting of the senior journalists and media organisations which tried so hard to keep it secret:
[Many journalists] averted their eyes from the Australian Workers Union story that is troubling Julia Gillard.
What’s worse is some journalists - senior reporters among them - were campaigning against the AWU story. Yes, that’s right - journalists arguing these revelations should not be aired…
We have had journalists saying that unless someone can produce a “smoking gun” or make a clear allegation against the Prime Minister, the story should be dropped.
This is a cowardly logic that turns the whole basis of investigative journalism on its head. The idea is to pursue the facts - not lay a charge…
The ABC’s myriad news and current affairs programs, on radio, television and online, who thrive on daily political jousting, have all but ignored [this scandal]… The story emanates from the “hate” media, is damaging for the Prime Minister, and the government says the caravan has moved on. So ABC journalists, en masse, comply…
The unwillingness of the Canberra Press Gallery and the ABC to follow through on this issue is illuminating. It hardly needs saying but we all know similar revelations about Abbott would produce a feeding frenzy.
Hedley Thomas is also astonished how wilfully incurious some senior journalists are(not least in the ABC) - and how quick they are to buy the Government’s spin: 
THE tactic of the Prime Minister’s new communications head, John McTernan, is to challenge journalists to make “allegations” against the PM, thus trying to put them on the defensive.

Questions are put by journalists to many politicians every day, and allegations of wrongdoing sometimes follow the answers - but McTernan and Gillard seek to switch the chronology of this custom, and many journalists are going along, wondering aloud about the whereabouts of a “smoking gun” while not bothering to ask.
For such people Thomas provides a handy list of questions true journalists should be asking Gillard at any and every opportunity: 
HAVE you ever received funds into your bank account from the association or any other account owned or controlled by anyone from the AWU? Have you ever made inquiries as to whether that occurred?

Was the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs in Western Australia misled as to the true nature of the AWU Workplace Reform Association, given you later described it as a slush fund?

Was the unauthorised description of the slush fund as being a related entity of the AWU misleading and deceptive?

What was your precise role in the registration of the association?

When did you first become aware that the inclusion of the AWU’s name in the title of the slush fund enabled cheques intended for the AWU to be deposited into accounts operated by the association?

Was this the only such incorporated re-election fund that you helped establish for union clients as their solicitor?

Did your failure to open a file at Slater and Gordon prevent your fellow partners from ascertaining a conflict of interest?

Did your failure to open a file and your decision not to render a bill to the AWU for your work prevent the AWU from finding out about the unauthorised passing-off of its name?

Do you accept that as a solicitor acting for the AWU that you were in a position of trust to the AWU?

Before you helped Ralph Blewitt purchase an investment property in Melbourne, what inquiries were taken of his capacity to repay the loan?

When did you discover this was a sham transaction with Blewitt the purchaser in name only, who never provided funds for the purchase, while Wilson controlled the asset with a power of attorney you witnessed?

Why did neither you nor Slater & Gordon - on being made aware in mid-1995 of fraud concerns related to Wilson over the Victorian slush fund - not alert anyone in the AWU to the existence of the association you had helped to establish, and which bore the name of the AWU (the firm’s client)?
Mark Baker of The Age boils down the questions to his top three:


Howard puts Keating and Gillard in their places

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(7:22am)

John Howard looks better by the day than the Prime Ministers who came either before or after: 
Mr Howard rejected the idea that his nearly 12-year prime ministership was less successful in Asia than Mr Keating’s four years at the helm, or that it was compromised by closeness to Washington. “Our influence in Asia at the end of my time in office was far greater than it had been for a long time,” Mr Howard said.
“For a start our relationship with Indonesia was closer than at any time since independence… We managed to lift our relationship with China notwithstanding our closeness to the US. We had begun a breakthrough with India.
“The relationships with Indonesia, India, China, Japan were all in very good shape. They are certainly in no better shape now and with Indonesia the relationship is in a worse state.”..
Mr Howard criticised the Gillard government, which “does seem to be back-tracking” on enhanced military co-operation with the US. He described the move as “pathetic”.
Indeed. And it’s a view shared by some in the Gillard Government. 


A populist witch hunt

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(7:16am)

Paul Kelly on a royal commission that already demonstrates the worst of Gillard Labor:
THE dismal, populist and doomed quality of Australian governance has been on display this week with Julia Gillard announcing an in-principle royal commission into child sexual abuse, a panicked Tony Abbott falling into line and an ignorant media offering cheer upon cheer.
This is the way Australia now works. The quest is for popular approval, moral legitimacy and gesture politics. Labor took this decision flying completely blind. Gillard’s media conference last Monday was a serial exercise in populist politics and policy ignorance. She knew next to nothing about the royal commission she was announcing. What counted was framing herself as the arch opponent of this “incredibly evil thing” determined to expose those who have “averted their eyes” and allow victims to “tell their story”.
Gillard’s decision is classic shoot now and pass the mess to others to sort out, in this case, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. This decision has plunged Australia into a multi-jurisdictional, multi-institutional, state-church, high-cost shambles where nobody knows how the massive expectations of victims can be satisfied.

It is, however, a perfect fit into Gillard’s political strategy. For Labor, that’s what counts. The media loved it - the combination of a moral crusade, a cast of victims and coming systemic dismantling of the Catholic Church.
Much sense from Peter Craven, not least on attacks on the seal of the confessional seeming attacks on the Church itself. And there’s this point - that the Church is most vulnerable to claims of pedophilia precisely because it is most likely to be helping children in the first place:
One of the things we know about pedophilia is that the sexual abuse of children is likeliest to come from a family member or family friend. Maximum risk, for what it’s worth, comes in the vicinity of maximum care.
And this is, of course, pertinent in the case of the church. The Catholic Church is a massive organisation that in its time has done great good and great ill, but it is involved in every level of humane care - from nuns saving children in war-torn Africa to the great teaching hospitals of Melbourne and Sydney.
We should beware of witch-hunts, more particularly in a climate where we fear witches.
The sorry likelihood, after millions and millions of dollars are expended on a royal commission, is that we will discover what we more or less know: that wherever there is great and genuine care for children there will be risk of abuse.


Who edited the CIA’s talking points on Benghazi?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(6:57am)

Who in the White House removed the CIA’s reference to al Qaeda from the “talking points” issued to explain the Benghazi attack?
Former CIA Director David Petraeus stoked the controversy over the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya terror attack, testifying Friday thatreferences to “Al Qaeda involvement” were stripped from his agency’s original talking points ..., according to a top lawmaker who was briefed.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News that intelligence officials who testified in a closed-door hearing a day earlier, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, said they did not know who changed the talking points. He said they went out to multiple departments, including the State Department, National Security Council, Justice Department and White House.

“To me the question right now is who changed those talking points and why. ... I’d say it was somebody in the administration had to have taken it out,” King told Fox News…
Lawmakers are focusing on the talking points in the first place because of concern over the account [Ambassador to the United Nations Susan] Rice gave on five Sunday shows on Sept. 16, when she repeatedly claimed the attack was spontaneous—Rice’s defenders have since insisted she was merely basing her statements on the intelligence at the time. 
MS. RICE: ... The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.
But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack.
The new sexism of the Left -to claim criticism of an incompetent or apparently mendacious political figure of the Left is sexist if that person happens to be a woman: 
Republican senators’ angry criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice over her initial account of the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya smacks of sexism and racism, a dozen female members of the House said Friday.

In unusually personal terms, the Democratic women lashed out at Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham who earlier this week called Rice unqualified and untrustworthy and promised to scuttle her nomination if President Barack Obama nominates her to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“All of the things they have disliked about things that have gone on in the administration, they have never called a male unqualified, not bright, not trustworthy,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the next chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. ”There is a clear sexism and racism that goes with these comments being made by unfortunately Sen. McCain and others.” 


The politics of personal destruction

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(6:52am)

JULIA Gillard’s negative media campaign against Tony Abbott is among the most relentless in recent political history, targeting her opponent twice as frequently as John Howard did in his final years as prime minister.
Analysis of archived media transcripts by The Weekend Australian reveals the Prime Minister has named the Opposition Leader an average 2.1 times in each interview published on her website between November 2010 and this month.
That was 75 per cent more frequently than Kevin Rudd named Malcolm Turnbull in media interviews, and more than double the mentions Mr Howard made of Labor leaders’ names during his final two years in office… 


The smearing of Cardinal Pell

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER172012(12:04am)

7.30 leads with a report of Cardinal George Pell’s media conference held earlier that day.  It turned out that, in full prosecutorial mode, Leigh Sales not only presented the segment. She also filled the role as Pell’s interviewer…
In her role as presenter, Sales proceeded to do a hatchet job on Pell – focusing on the fact that he had accompanied Gerald Ridsdale, a priest who was convicted of paedophilia, to court in Victoria in 1993.  Pell, who is on record as describing this action as a mistake, has always said that in 1993 he did not know of the enormity of Ridsdale’s crimes – they were revealed in full at the time of his conviction and after.
Sales then cut to sexual abuse victim Stephen Woods, who had appeared on 7.30 the previous night.  Not surprisingly, Woods declared : “I think Cardinal Pell needs to resign.” No contrary view was heard.
Sales then went on to refer to the Melbourne Response, which George Pell set up in 1996 when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. This was one of the first procedures established by the Catholic Church in Australia to handle clergy sexual abuse cases.  This is what Ms Sales had to say: 
Leigh Sales: At an earlier press conference in 1996, George Pell announced the so-called “Melbourne Response” to handle victims’ complaints and compensation claims. The Towards Healing process, set up the following year, handles complaints in the rest of the country. In Victoria alone, more than 600 cases of criminal child abuse have been upheld in the past 16 years. Not one of them was referred to police.
Note that Ms Sales, in full prosecutorial mode, referred to “the so-called Melbourne Response”.  It was not the “so-called Melbourne Response”. Just the Melbourne Response…
Leigh Sales’ claim that not one of the 600 cases of child criminal abuses upheld in Victoria in the past 16 years was referred to police, is misleading.  She neglected to mention that in these cases either the complainants did not want the matters referred by the Catholic Church to the Police or the matters had already been dealt with by Police.
7.30 then interviewed two critics of Cardinal Pell. Namely Helen Last (victims’ advocate) and Andrew Morrison (Australian Lawyers Alliance).  No other view was heard. The program continued:
Leigh Sales as presenter: Today Cardinal Pell was continuing to deny the Church has been involved in any sort of cover-up.
Leigh Sales as interviewer of George Pell: How about the case of Father F who testified in court under oath that he had abused boys, and that he had told three priests about that in the early 90s, yet he remained a priest until 2005?
In fact, Fr. F was sacked as a priest in 1992.  Ms Sales and Ms Neighbour should know this, since it is on the public record.  Moreover, both should be aware that the Church’s handling of the Father F case is the subject of an independent inquiry by former judge Antony Whitlam, who is not a Catholic. 7.30 should not be in the business of anticipating the outcome of a properly constituted legal enquiry.
Finally, Prosecutor Sales declared: 
Leigh Sales: Today, Cardinal Pell said priests who confessed child sex abuse to other priests were still entitled to the seal of the confession box – a comment that met with disapproval.
Leigh Sales failed to mention that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the confessional was in existence before George Pell was born and he has no authority to overturn it.  As the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Pell reports to the Vatican.  Moreover, there is no evidence that paedophile priests and brothers confess child sexual abuse in the confessional.
The segment concluded as follows – with Ms Sales showing footage of the media conference where she queried Pell: 
Leigh Sales: Will you lift confidentiality agreements with people who have already struck settlements with the Catholic Church so they can testify?
George Pell: I’m not sure how many of those exist in this part of the world at all. People are free to say what they want. That’s the way – [interruption].
Leigh Sales: So people aren’t bound by confidentiality agreements that they’ve signed in the past?
George Pell: I don’t know anything, I, if it’s – As far as I was concerned there would be no problem with me. If there are with other people they will have to answer.
The fact is that the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney has no authority with respect to any confidentiality agreements signed by any Church leaders in the rest of Australia.  Once again, Ms Sales and Ms Neighbour should know this.
This is witch hunting.

from Larry Pickering
BOB KERNOHAN... paying the price of integrity

When the curtain comes down on Julia Gillard and the dust has settled. When the books have been written and mini series shown, one man will be left standing. Only one man will be able to hold his head high and look you in the eye.

Bob Kernohan, battered and bent but unbroken, can tell the true story of comrades who deserted him in the trenches. They left him alone, under fire, then turned and trained their guns on him.

Choose your trench and comrade well when dealing with the ALP.

Bob is in and out of hospital again, suffering from the stress of seventeen years of savage vilification at the hands of his own party.

In December, 1996, Bob boasted 400 Xmas cards. All were proudly displayed on a continuous, happy string around his living room. In December 1997 he received four Xmas cards. That’s what really hurts Bob. Those who he thought were true blue Labor men deserted him in droves... that’s the real pain for Bob.

He still shakes when he describes the savage beatings he suffered. He can’t describe the assailants but their boots were imprinted on his mind as he crouched on the pavement trying to protect himself.

He can vividly recall the bullets he received in the mail and how relieved he was that he lived alone each time his phone rang.

His nervous fear turns to anger at the mention of the names Gillard and Wilson. “How could they do this?” he asks. “Aren’t we the party that represents and cares for the workers? How did it come to this?”

Bob was the only man they couldn’t buy. The only man they couldn’t silence with bribes or threats. An offer of a seat in Parliament held no interest for him.

His greatest love was his union but that now lies waste in a sea of endless corruption. His bewildered members are still there, too frightened to speak out or even call him.

What happened seventeen years ago may be ancient history for Gillard but it’s been an endless nightmare for Bob.

I asked him how he feels now that the end is near. “An enormous weight is lifting from me”, he said. “I want what’s left of my life back. I want to see the union movement as it once was, strong, honest and rich in shoulder-to-shoulder comradeship. I want those who rode the corruption trail to the highest offices in the land to go. I want to be able to turn on the 6pm news and not feel ashamed anymore.”

I asked him what he would do as a free man. His eyes lit up a little: “I want to be a counsellor to young people suffering stress. I have learnt a lot about that. What not to do and the best way to handle it. Kids committing suicide as a way out... I know I can help them. I have taken steps down that road already and I know I will be good at it.”

Barcaldine now nurses a diseased, dying Tree of Knowledge. It no longer causes hearts to beat faster. It should be hewn and its remains cremated along with the union disease that killed it.

A far more fitting emblem to replace it?

A bronze statue of Bob Kernohan where schoolchildren can gather to honour a lone man who bore a bloody cross to Calvary in the pursuit of redemption for his beloved movement.

Where brothers in arms can be reborn in solidarity for the greater good of many rather than the evil of an opportune few.
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