Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wed 5th Dec Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Alan J Tran andPradeep Garg. Born on the same day, across the years. Remember that birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.


Henry Knox's noble train of artillery




[edit]Holidays and observances


I apologise for this article but I have to get it off my chest. 

Idealogues and unlimited funds are a dangerous mix. Particularly when a simple Party-line vote apportions borrowings up to $300 billion to an intellectual and economic dunce. 

“I have steered this nation through a GFC”, said Wayne Swan. What a load of frog droppings! 

His hallowed 2012/13 surplus
 will be no more than illusory and entirely unrelated to our overall debt.

Swan was named the “World’s greatest Treasurer”. So was Paul Keating and it took a decade to recover from his profligacy.

Who votes for this title? No-one really, it’s just the opinion of the editor of “Euromoney Magazine”, an Aussie inspired low subscription monthly that flogs its list of subscribers to India’s telemarketers.

Coalition Treasurers don’t bother with these meaningless crowns of thorns, they don’t need to, they are too busy cleaning up after ALP cyclones and creating healthy surpluses.

David Copperfield’s helicopter mysteriously appeared on stage and the Gillard Government has mastered the art of similar illusions.

The AAA credit rating that Australia has always enjoyed is bestowed by the same corrupt Standard & Poor’s agency that vouched for US sub-prime contracts.

The World is currently in financial crisis due to unfettered corporate greed and socialist aspirations. The GFC was a godsend to all socialist governments because, in their minds, it justified reckless monetary stimuli.

Pet aspirational projects that had lain dormant for decades suddenly became a possibility, not because they were reparative but because “stimulus” was the socialists’ buzz word for “recovery”.

The Rudd/Gillard/Swan Government, in child-like excitement, embarked on a comedic spending foray from pink batts to $900 cheques, none of which stimulated anything.

Our economy was minerals-based and China-dependent. China suffered no damned crisis. Yet our mining sector continues to be injured and vilified by Swan at the very time it needed support. Too late now.

Mining projects are shelved weekly as Swan’s pipeline of investment is diverted to Africa, South America and Mongolia.

Australian miners are now raping Mongolia because they are not inhibited by Greens, high wages, Aboriginal land rights or retrogressive taxes. And Mongolia is but a rail trip from China.

Costello left Rudd a $57 billion surplus. Swan spent that and another $300 billion getting us to where we are now. Fornicating broke!

Obama spent $700 billion on his stimulus farce and now he’s broke and about to head over a fiscal cliff. But to understand the arrant stupidity of Rudd/Gillard/Swan, consider this:

The US has 350 million population, Australia 22 million.
The US suffered a monumental collapse of its financial icons, its massive auto industry and its housing market. It injected an initial $700 billion of printed and borrowed money into its economy with mixed results.

Australia, a mere 7% the population of the US, injected near to 50% of the US commitment ($300 billion and still going). And we were mostly China-insulated from the Euro/US GFC anyway. Now we are in trouble and the dumb socialists wonder why.

Our record low interest rate is a serious warning signal and reflects the state of the lack of confidence in our economy. (Have you noticed Swan for the first time admitted yesterday that, “some are doing it tough”?) Really Mr Swan? No-one believes your fudged figures anyway.

Next year, our interest rate will continue to decline, as it did to almost zero in Euro/US in fruitless attempts to kick-start growth.

Both continents are now far worse off and facing irreparable crises.

Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain are being forced into austerity measures in return for bail-out loans. But those enforced austerity measures ensure their inability to repay those loans. The Eurozone is doomed and on terminal life support.

Dismiss Swan’s dishonest rant! Rates between 1% and 3% on the back of historic levels of borrowings spells disaster.

The drop in the cash rate is designed to lift demand and if that is successful then rates will have to rise to dampen the ensuing inflation. Bonds become more expensive and interest effectively doubles the debt.

Gillard knows she is in trouble with her endless array of electorate-friendly “reforms”. Her solution is to have “trial periods” to keep the total costs off-budget and ensure the Opposition is left with an electoral backlash as is the case in QLD where Campbell Newman is left with an horrific debt of $60 billion. A cunning ploy.

Make no mistake, Julia Gillard is the most dangerous politician in Australia’s history. Wayne Swan the most dishonest.

With a toxic mix of criminality, incompetence, vanity and ideological, communist commitment, Gillard has led this country to unnecessary insolvency.

She is without principle or conscience and will not stop until she is stopped.

Now I can get back to drawing a cartoon.


Two faces of Labor on display

Piers Akerman – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (4:15am)

THE TWO faces of Labor were on display in Melbourne yesterday.
On one side of the city, Labor elder John Faulkner was outlining his plan to deal with corrupt ALP members, on the other, NSW MP Craig Thomson was lodging his 28-page defence to civil charges in the Federal Court.
Faulkner said any member of the scandal-wracked NSW branch found guilty of corruption would be expelled from the party, while Thomson formally denied spending union money on prostitutes and improperly using his position as Health Services Union national secretary.
Further, Thomson said some of the charges brought against him by Fair Work Australia following its three-year investigation into the HSU national office should be struck out for falling outside a six-year legal time limit imposed in NSW and Victoria.
Faulkner may or may not have had Thomson in mind, or NSW MLC Eddie Obeid, currently facing the subject of an ICAC investigation, or former NSW Labor Minister Milton Orkopoulos, currently doing time for child sex offences, but he did take a dim view of the culture within the NSW Labor branch.
Saying “"being caught out at sharp practices is worn almost as a badge of honour” within the branch, he urged the adoption of a “one strike and you’re out” policy towards corrupt conduct, declaring “our party would be immeasurably better off without such people”.
“It is time to publicly acknowledge that there have been some in our party’s ranks with neither political principles nor moral convictions to uphold,” the senator said.
He said to improve accountability and integrity within the party, the NSW branch needed to embrace fundamental reform to reduce the influence of the factions.
“In the case of the ALP, and particularly the NSW branch, the increasing limitation of those involved in decisions about rules, disputes, and preselections, as well as policy, has meant that our party’s actions reflect the stunted perspectives of just a few,” he said.
“I have said before that there is nothing wrong with people who share convictions on policy issues working together to progress those issues. There is, however, a great deal wrong with a situation where a Russian doll of nested caucuses sees a tiny minority of MPs exercising a controlling interest over the majority.”
He should know, having been party of a number of committees looking into the running of the ALP at the state and federal level.
Thomson, who was suspended from the party in April, was not as forward looking.
He attacked FWA which alleges he was responsible for 37 breaches of industrial laws and 25 breaches of HSU rules.
He argued that FWA’s claim for civil penalties should be dismissed because it lacked the proper jurisdiction or power.
According to FWA, Thomson used his union credit card for private expenditure on prostitutes, airfares for his then wife Christa and other friends and family, high living and his 2007 election campaign as the then Labor candidate for his NSW central coast seat of Dobell.
In his written defence, Thomson denies withdrawing union cash for his own personal benefit and denies that he was only permitted to use the credit cards for expenditure authorised by the National Council or the National Executive, or for the general administration of the HSU.
He admits travelling in February 2003 for a meeting of the HSU national executive, but denies he used a union-issued Commonwealth Bank Mastercard to spend $330 on prostitutes during the trip.
Mr Thomson has also denied using the CBA card and a Diners Club card to spend thousands of dollars on prostitutes from various escort services in Sydney and Melbourne, including A Touch of Class, Tiffany’s and The Boardroom between 2003 and 2007.
He also denies using his mobile phone to make two calls to Sydney Escorts Room Service late on the night of April 7, 2005.
Thomson did not deny but did not admit, allegations that he spent thousands on his credit card buying flights for Christa Thomson in 2005 and 2006, but has denied that the spending was unauthorised.
There will be a directions hearing in Melbourne in February.
Police in Victoria and NSW are also conducting investigations into the HSU, including allegations involving spending by Thomson while national secretary, and into allegations of corruption in the NSW branch of the HSU going back to the late 1990s, when he was the branch’s assistant general secretary.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been steadfast in her defence of Thomson – though she was quick to smear her former friend Ralph Blewitt and accuse him of visiting prostitutes when she was in attack dog mode last week.
Nor does her strident defence of the slush fund she helped her former boyfriend, the former AWU union boss Bruce Wilson, establish sit easily with Faulkner’s words about corruption.
One city, two stories, two sides of Labor.
One word – hypocrisy.


They would have more luck reading tea leaves

Miranda Devine – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (12:43am)

PEP Canadell rides his bike to work to save carbon emissions. Bully for him.
The ABC’s 730 program is impressed with such selflessness but, of course, it’s a lot easier to ride to work at CSIRO’s Black Mountain laboratory on Canberra’s bushland outskirts than to tackle the traffic maul on Sydney’s Pitt St.
The real reason Pep is the ABC’s pin-up boy this week is because the CSIRO research scientist is responsible for the latest armageddon update from the Global Carbon Project think tank he directs.
You know the script by now: Catastrophic global warming is imminent, CO2 emissions are skyrocketting, only now it’s worse than ever because we didn’t listen to Al Gore while there was still time.
We kept on with our air-conditioning and plasma TVs and so Hurricane Sandy, the Queensland floods and the Black Saturday bushfires are our comeuppance. Temperatures are now tipped to soar six degrees by the end of the century! Repent! Repent! The end is nigh!
The Sydney Morning Herald heard Pep loud and clear.
It’s “The End of the World As We Know it” screamed its front page on Monday.
The ABC was every bit as doom-laden: “A calamitous new forecast - A harrowing glimpse into the future.”
Matthew England, a climate scientist from the University of NSW, declared: “We need a sort of global-scale effort on this that is akin to preparing for a war.”
There is a reason for all the hysteria. By astonishing coincidence it occurs just as the latest UN climate talks, held in Doha, Qatar, fade into ignominious obscurity.
It’s a far cry from the pina coladas and mariachi bands of Cancun, or the ratf ... ing earnestness of Kevin Rudd at Copenhagen. Not even federal Climate Minister Greg Combet bothered to show up in Qatar, which, ironically, boasts the largest carbon footprint per person in the world.
The low turnout at Doha doesn’t stop authoritarian demagoguery at the UN, whose climate chief Christiana Figures this week declared the talks were about “a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world”.
Hence the scare campaign.
With the Kyoto protocol due to run out on December 31 we are witnessing the desperate last roll of the dice from climate alarmists who have cried wolf once too often.
This is the disease afflicting the formerly great institution of the CSIRO, where I once worked.
It is now preoccupied with the climate issues on which its government funding depends, as Tom Quirk writes in Quadrant magazine this month.
Where it used to provide inspired technical solutions for Australia’s agriculture and industry, the $1 billion scientific research organisation is rapidly becoming irrelevant.
That becomes clear when you look at this year’s annual report.
In 150 pages, the word climate appears 88 times, sustainability 61 times, carbon 57, emissions 34, and greenhouse 32.
By contrast, the things that actually drive Australia’s economy barely feature.
Wool is nowhere to be found, despite being among our top 20 export earners and despite CSIRO’s proud history of wool research - from Softly detergent to robot shearers.
Wheat appears 11 times, coal five times, iron ore, our top export, appears twice, cattle and natural gas appear once each.
The climate change gravy train is where the action is, judging by the CSIRO Twitter account. On Monday, after Pep’s report was published, there were 13 tweets, more than half about climate change.
But while the CSIRO was stoking a fear campaign, a global group of climate scientists, including former CSIRO principal research scientist Colin Barton, was busy with a bucket of cold water to throw on climate hysterics.
While Pep’s report says that emissions have risen by 54 per cent since 1990 there has been no corresponding rise in temperature, say the 129 scientists in a scathing letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon complaining about his alarmist climate rhetoric.
“There has been no statistically significant global warming for almost 16 years,” they write, citing data released last month from the UK Meteorological Office.
“The hypothesis that our emissions of CO2 have caused, or will cause, dangerous warming is not supported by the evidence.”
In other words, if it is the end of the world as we know it, we can all feel fine.
Why we adore babies royally
It’s funny how delighted so many of us are at the news that Prince William and his bride, the former Kate Middleton are expecting a baby.
But babies have that effect on people. I remember complete strangers on the street cooing over my newborn with a gentle proprietorial interest. A baby is the pure miracle that belongs to everyone. So it’s quite normal to be excited for two royal strangers on the other side of the world.
In every public outing since their wedding last year they have seemed blissfully well matched. At a time when marriage is under siege, and divorce and adultery the order of the day, it is heartening to see a young couple give the institution a good name.
And for William, who grew up in the spotlight of his parents’ tragic union, marital harmony must be especially precious.
If his devotion to his wife is any indication, William will be a doting dad, with reports he will take paternity leave.
Happily for the child, attitudes to fathering have evolved since William’s father Charles, and grandfather Prince Philip, were thrust inadequately into the role.
A new generation of men is embracing fatherhood with a passion once expected only in women, and what a delight it is to behold. Channel Nine boss David Gyngell this week fairly gushed when talking about his newborn son Ted: “I’ve always had my wife but now the nucleus of our family is there. It’s unbelievable ... unbelievable. There’s more important things in the world than just work.”
And Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman’s crooner husband, this week revealed a similar epiphany: “I was almost 40 and wasn’t sure if I was able to be a dad. I thought maybe it wasn’t my calling in life and I was OK with that because I’d met the love of my life and, children or not, everything was good.
“Then Sunday Rose (their first child) came along and it was absolutely life-changing in the most beautiful way.”
For men, their emotions towards their new baby can be more of a surprise than for mothers, who are already connected to the child through nine months of pregnancy.
Now, with more freedom to express their emotions, younger men in particular are showing a soft side, with one study this week finding that 65 per cent of Gen Y men say a serious relationship is very important to them compared with 53 per cent of young women. If women are toughening up, men have compensated.
And, happy as they are, for William and Kate the best is yet to come.



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (2:42pm)

As we approach Peak Doom, climate catastrophists are becoming even more gullible:

(Via CL)



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (2:28pm)

The genius of Clover Moore’s bicycle plan is now apparent
Operation Reliant is targeting cyclists who treat the city’s $76 million bike lanes as lawless express lanes - speeding through red lights and endangering pedestrians.
More than 150 riders have been fined and a further 40 warned since February, with 14 police officers on bicycles blitzing the city yesterday.
One team of two police fined 10 riders in just half an hour at one set of traffic lights in Oxford St. At least one cyclist ran the red at every change of lights. 
Next for inner Sydney: weight-guessing stations.



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (2:10pm)

He’d know
Former Labor leader Kevin Rudd says the party is ‘sick’ and urgently needs reform.
Mr Rudd, now a backbencher, was responding to a call from ALP stalwart John Faulkner calling for greater accountability and a lesser role for factions.
‘’There’s something sick which needs to be healed,’’ Mr Rudd said during a radio interview today. 
With an election year approaching, we may be looking at a repeat of Rudd’s previous campaign, as described by Wayne Swan
“He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott prime ministership, and now he undermines the government at every turn.” 
Let the man speak, Wayne. 



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (2:01pm)

Victorian academic Don Edgar is in love
Obama epitomizes a new model of manhood, masculinity forged not as an assertion of power but as an acknowledgement of mutual support and cooperation. He is a man formed not by his own efforts to succeed but from his ability to relate to other people (including his own wife) as equals, a President calling for justice within American society, for the validity of caring for those not as fortunate as ourselves and for true cooperation between political opponents where the social good of all people and the future of the planet are concerned. 
Well, of course. As spiritual experts have previously revealed, Obama is “a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (11:37am)

The SMH reports
A high-profile refugee advocate and specialist immigration lawyer has been charged with the sexual and indecent assault of two refugees and two former clients, dating back almost 17 years.
Some background
Between 1978 and 1983 he was an elected Paddington Ward Alderman on Woollahra Municipal Council representing the Australian Labor Party. 
(No comments)


The Dutch confront the racial divide too few dared speak of

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(9:01pm)

The Dutch film director Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim for making a film mocking Islam. Of the many troubling signs since of ethnic strife, this - if reports are correct - may have the most profound and possibly dangerous effect:
Richard Nieuwenhuizen was doing what he loved: watching his son play football and helping out his local club by running the touchline as a volunteer linesman.

On Monday the 41-year-old father’s passion for football cost him his life.
Prosecutors announced on Tuesday they were charging three players, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old, with manslaughter, assault and public violence for alleged involvement in a vicious attack on Nieuwenhuizen after a youth match between two local clubs, Buitenboys and Nieuw Sloten. The players, whose identities were not released, will be arraigned on Thursday at a closed-door hearing.
Prosecutors say a group of Nieuw Sloten players surrounded Nieuwenhuizen and kicked and punched him after the match against his son’s team on Sunday ... He died the next day.

Prosecutors released no details of a possible motive and the Buitenboys club chairman, Marcel Oost, said the reason for the attack was not certain. 
Almost all media reports, here and in Holland, have given no description of the charged players - avoiding the obvious.
But now the German newspaper Tagesspiegel notes a report in a Dutch newspaper.
That the attackers who have been arrested were three Moroccans, according to the “Algemeen Dagblad”, certainly does not make the case any easier. According to an Interior Ministry report from November 2011, 40 per cent of all Moroccan immigrants aged between 12 and 24 were arrested, sentenced or charged within the last five years. In city districts where people of Moroccan descent form a majority of the inhabitants, youth criminality already reaches 50 per cent.
The Telegraaf, too, allowed Marcel Oost to explain just what happened:
After the final whistle almost all the players shook the hand of the referee to thank him for his officiating. Only the three Moroccan players from Nieuw Sloten walked up to our linesman, pulled him to the ground and began to stamp on his head and neck.
This will galvanise Dutch debate. That immigration wasn’t better limited, integration better promoted and everything more honestly discussed from the start has left Holland dangerously at risk of social and ethnic strife. The reaction could be ugly.


Pure alarmism in the Sydney Morning Herald. But what’s new?

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:58pm)

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe is president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and responsible for what must kindly be called warmist drivel in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Fifteen years after the Kyoto treaty, the scientific evidence is becoming ever more alarming...
Our national government finally put a modest price on greenhouse gas release and implemented important measures like the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, in the face of vicious opposition from the Coalition parties.
“Vicious”? As in using knives and coarse language? “Modest”? A 10 per cent hike on power prices?  “Important”? A $10 billion clean energy fund that is expected to deliver no measurable change in world temperatures, with a lot of money steered towards uncommercial projectslikely to fail?
Meanwhile some state governments are irresponsibly approving expansion of fossil fuel exports, and we still provide billions of dollars subsidising supply and use of fossil fuels. If we were playing a responsible role, we would be phasing out those subsidies.
The current Doha meeting was preceded by three serious warnings. In September, the extent of Arctic sea ice declined to its lowest level since reliable records began. Just last week, an Alaskan study found new evidence that the Arctic permafrost is releasing huge quantities of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. These trends are what the science has warned about for 25 years: positive feedback effects that are hastening the rate of climate change.
Yet the world hasn’t warmed in 16 years, which is surely the truest measure of global warming. Why did Lowe not mention that?
This week’s data on fossil fuel use is the really scary piece of information. It shows global emissions are slightly higher than one of the United Nations’ top climate science panel’s particularly pessimistic curves and are projected to lead to an increase this century in average global temperature of between 4.2 and 5 degrees.
Yet, again, despite the unexpectedly big increase in greenhouse gases, warming has paused. That is not scary, unless you are scared that your warmist theory may be wrong. Other predictions have proved exaggerated: the “permanent drought” ended, the dams did fill again, cyclones did not get worse and the Barrier Reef is not bleaching every second year. 
The increase in severe weather events is a very serious problem. Every year we are now seeing what used to be once-a-century events: floods, droughts, heatwaves, severe storms.
There is little evidence of an increase in severe weather events. At best, the claim is highly contentious among experts, and no strong trend is advanced as proof of global warming.
One leading climate scientist said that the difference between 2 degrees of warming and 4 degrees is simple: “human civilisation”.
Pure alarmism. Increasing the temperature in Melbourne to closer to Brisbane’s will not end civilisation, even if it were to happen.
For example, the United Nations food agency has warned that it will be less and less likely that we can feed the human population if climate change continues on its present trajectory.
Rice and wheat crops - two critical staples - have set new records in recent years and show no signs of decline. 
The science is unambiguous: to have a chance of keeping the increase in average global temperature below 2 degrees, we need to be reducing the world’s rate of burning fossil fuels by 2020. That means countries like Australia should be cutting back now. But the pledges presented to Doha, by us and other nations, even if fulfilled, don’t go anywhere near far enough. The world is sleepwalking to disaster, obsessed by short-term economic considerations. 
Countries are finally accepting that the pain of the proposed cuts is not worth the minimal - or even non-existent - gain.

Our major political parties agree on the inadequate target of reducing our greenhouse pollution by 5 per cent by 2020. That modest gain is overwhelmed by our fossil fuel exports. Last year we exported about 300 million tonnes of coal. When burned, that produces more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - double our domestic production.... Increasing our fossil fuel exports is indefensible. In the medium term, we will need to phase out coal exports.
That’s cutting out around $40 billion a year in exports - which our customers will simply buy elsewhere. Cheap power is also critical for lifting poorer countries out of poverty - the real killer. 
While the state governments in NSW and Victoria have yielded to populist alarmism and restricted expansion of wind power, in the comparatively enlightened investment climate of South Australia the new technology has taken off. On September 5, wind supplied 55 per cent of the state’s total power consumption for the day, with the contribution peaking at 85 per cent in the early hours of the morning.
Yet on other days that wind power produces zero electricity, and backup power is constantly on standby to kick in when the wind drops. That makes South Australian power very expensive.
Around Australia, about a million households have installed solar panels, producing about 2000 megawatts of peak electricity and allowing old coal-fired power stations to be mothballed.
Solar power does not mean big coal-fired plants are mothballed, since solar is not a source of constant baseload power. In fact, Victoria today opened the largest gas-fired power plant in the state to deal with growing demand for electricity.
Despite the hysteria earlier in the year, it is clear that the modest carbon price had little economic impact.
Sure, the mining industry complains it’s killing investment - and therefore jobs - but apparently that doesn’t count. Nor does it matter than despite this hysterical promotion, the carbon tax has not cut the world’s temperature by a jot. It’s useless.


2GB, December 5

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(4:06pm)

With Steve Price from 8pm. Listen live here. 
Last night’s show:  finding Wayne Swan’s jobs, the interest rates cut, Terry McCrann explains and more. Listen here.


Growth slows again

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(3:58pm)

As I’ve said, the mining boom is ending with too little to replace it:

The annual rate of growth slowed to 3.1 per cent, having raced along above 4 per cent early in 2012, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics national accounts report released today.
The September quarter growth follows an unrevised 0.6 per cent rise in the June quarter.
Economists had expected GDP to rise by 0.6 per cent in the September quarter for an annual rate of 3.1 per cent, according to an AAP survey of 13 economists conducted on Friday.

Macquarie senior economist Brian Redican said the strength of the mining sector was tiding Australia over for the moment, but the economy was likely to weaken in the months ahead.
Growth of 3.1 per cent is not shabby, but it’s again less than predicted, unemployment will rise and the Budget surplus will not be delivered as so faithfully promised. Worse, even at the end of a colossal mining boom the Government has run through our savings, dug us into more than $150 billion of debt and left us little but trash (other than private investment in mines) to show for it all.
The economy isn’t sick, but the Government has squandered a brilliant advantage.


Rudd checks the maker’s name on the knife

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(3:55pm)

Senator John Faulkner - one of the party’s most respected figures - yesterday urged the ALP to abolish its factional system, declaring it had isolated the party from the broader community and allowed corruption to flourish.

Mr Rudd said: “He’s right. There is something sick which needs to be healed.”


Protesters now mob against Morsi as they did against Mubarek

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:57am)

The Arab Spring, which blew a Muslim Brotherhood president into Egypt, is over almost before it started:

Officers fired teargas at up to 10,000 demonstrators angered by Mursi’s drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on December 15. Some broke through police lines around his palace and protested next to the perimeter wall.

The crowds had gathered nearby in what organizers had dubbed “last warning” protests against Mursi, who infuriated opponents with a November 22 decree that expanded his powers. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the demonstrators chanted.


The complete certainty of a dangerously poor PM

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:46am)

Peter Gordon, who headed Slater & Gordon when Julia Gillard left under a cloud, having been found to be doing secret favors for her rorting boyfriend, noted this first:
...the key to Gillard, the politician and the person, is her unshakable sense of self-belief. Her resolute self-confidence means it is enough that Gillard says that she has done no wrong; and to hell with those who dare question her....

Her soaring self-assurance has seen her, on more than one occasion, act in a way that has damaged her, be it as a lawyer or as a politician.
As a lawyer, Gillard’s overconfidence meant she acted for her then union boyfriend when a more prudent lawyer would have handed the matter to another lawyer…
Gillard’s self-confidence also explains why voters have been treated with contempt. Broken promises about no carbon taxes under a Gillard government…
Gillard’s self-possession means she can accuse the Opposition Leader of being sexist and misogynist with the thinnest of evidence. It means making empty promises on the never-never to the preposterous point where, last week, the Gillard government introduced legislation for education reform that expressly said it did not contain one single legally enforceable law.
Gillard’s overconfidence means that when the AWU scandal was raised in the media last year, she went in with guns blazing, demanding journalists be sacked. Then she re-loaded, deciding that more bluster would end the story. It didn’t. And neither did Gillard’s arrogance. The PM’s ferocious, repeated denials that she has done nothing wrong, failing even to concede she made some very poor decisions as a lawyer at Slater & Gordon, means she has unwittingly upped the ante.

While the usual members of the media went ga-ga over Gillard’s blistering performance last week, Gillard’s perceived strongest card - her extraordinary self-belief - may well become her Achilles heel. Those interested in the substance of the scandal, rather than the PM’s theatrics, witnessed a not so clever PM. Staring down journalists who dared to question her, Gillard refused to answer direct questions about the nature of her legal advice, about her contact with WA authorities and about the purpose of the slush fund.
Then comes what seems a hint:

Asked about any contact her office may have had with Wilson who, after 17 years, fronted a TV camera to declare her innocence, she said “not to my knowledge"… If the Nixon rule applies, it may be that any cover-up by Gillard as a politician will cause her more damage than her imprudent behaviour as a lawyer.
Did someone from Gillard’s office really text Bruce Wilson before his TV appearance last week in her defence? 


Gillard’s biggest promise of all

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:35am)

Here comes another big-spending Labor scheme, bound to explode in red ink. Paul Kelly:

AS Julia Gillard escalates her rhetoric over Labor’s commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the task of devising a model that is properly funded, politically viable and satisfies current expectations grows more daunting…
But ... there are more than 800,000 people on the Disability Support Pension. A majority of these, about 500,000, will not be NDIS eligible. Given the expectation Labor has created, the risk of a backlash is real… History, however, highlights the risk of “eligibility creep” in such schemes…
The Australian Government Actuary, asked to report on the NDIS by the commonwealth Treasury, identified a number of risks. It said the debate “has undoubtedly raised expectations in the disability community”. Such expectations may be “unreasonably high”. NDIS costs would depend on “robust assessment systems” and there was “potential for significant cost overruns”. You cannot miss the warning bells.
The government actuary estimated the total gross cost in the completion 2018-19 year at $22 billion and the net full cost to the national government at $10.6bn in the same year.

The Centre for Independent Studies, in its recent NDIS analysis by Andrew Baker, concluded: “The NDIS will be a monster of a government program, the new leviathan of the Australian welfare state.”
The added danger is that Tony Abbott does not dare seem to oppose the NDIS in any way, although shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey at least is saying a Coalition Government will not fund it until healthy surpluses are restored.
Let’s hope. 


A question of partiality

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:25am)

If a leading journalist has led a surprisingly strident defence of Julia Gillard this year, should they declare a strong friendship with her partner, Tim Mathieson, involving multiple days together at the footy?
We are admonished to declare financial and political interests when writing on subjects where we may have a conflict of interest, but in my experience friendship is at least as powerful a vested interest.
I’ve never made any secret of my philosophical stance or personal ties to those I write about, believing it’s a fraud to pretend to complete impartiality. Besides, readers, listeners and viewers deserve to know, especially when reason alone does not seem to explain your stand.


Exiling the “scum”

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:14am)

Holland was famous for its well-ordered citizenry, but the great social fraying of the West - not least thanks to the fall of Christianity, rise of the welfare state and mass immigration - has taken its toll even there: 
Amsterdam is to create villages where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with “minimal services” under constant police supervision.

The new camps have been dubbed “scum villages” because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers…
The Dutch capital already has a squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six-month course on how to behave. Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam’s mayor, has tabled the plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often led to law-abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.


Not a cut to cheer about

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(6:05am)

Judith Sloan doubts yesterday’s cut in official interest rates to just 3 per cent will do much good: 
LET’S face it - the economy is as flat as a tack… Were it not for the marked fall in the rate of labour force participation, unemployment would be currently well north of 6 per cent…

What we had thought were emergency low interest rates occasioned by the exigencies of the GFC have returned at the same time the federal government thinks it is appropriate to return the budget to surplus… I am all for the government returning the budget to surplus, but the move should have been made two years ago when the mining investment boom was really cranking up.
But like a deflating balloon, the promise of an ongoing boost from mining investment is rapidly fading and there is nothing much in the wings to act as a driver of economic growth…

The immediate economic future looks quite ugly.


Freedom is the cause, and the Left is not its only enemy

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(5:57am)

Malcolm Turnbull is right, of course:
‘’We should not delude ourselves with political humbug into imagining the opponents of freedom - economic, social, political - are only to be found on what we like to call the left,’’ he said. ‘’Nor should we imagine that there are no advocates of big government to be found on what is called the right.’’


Lovely trees. Can we eat them?

Andrew BoltDECEMBER052012(5:53am)

Has the great sobering up begun? Pity, though, the reason for it - a great insecurity:
FORGET trees. The biggest concern for the next generation is finding a job to support their families.

The economy has overtaken the environment as the most pressing concern for the young, according to a survey of 15,000 people aged 15 to 19.

The environment was the top national concern in the past two National Youth Surveys conducted by Mission Australia but its 11th annual report found it had slipped to sixth place this year, with only 17.5 per cent of respondents saying it was the most important issue facing the country, compared with 37.4 per cent who made the same comment last year.
It’s all to late? Might as well relax, then, and just see what happens.  Nick Feik in The Age:

As reported by The Age on Monday, the world is on track to see an ‘’unrecognisable planet’’ that is between 4 and 6 degrees hotter by the end of this century. And the latest forecast doesn’t include the effects of thawing permafrost, a feedback loop the magnitude of which we’re only just starting to understand.

Trying to reduce emissions is not pointless; any reductions will help to some extent, and should be pursued. But reductions on a scale that’s now required? Almost no chance.
I wonder if Feik has ever figured how much difference to temperatures any reductions will really make, and checked cost against benefit.
He concludes: 

We need to ask why a political and social movement has failed to convert scientific consensus into action.
Here’s a wild guess. We don’t believe the alarmists, and figure the gain is not worth the pain.

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