June 29, 2011

Criminal twitchy and stressed

The head of the notorious crime family under siege in the latest gang feud says police aren't offering his family enough protection.

Abdul Tiba said nobody was prepared to protect his family.

Although there was a large police presence outside his Guildford Avenue home in Coolaroo, with uniformed officers doorknocking the area, Mr Tiba said not enough was being done.
Sucks to be the victim of crime, even worse when it's your family's safety at risk, hey?

Dozens of police working to keep this simpering criminal and his innocent neighbours safe, as we speak.  (They knocked on more than 600 doors talking to the locals.  Not doing enough?)

But, seriously, he does have a point:
He said he had been living in his car with his wife, and in motels.

"They gave me two days in a motel like a f**king gypsy," Mr Tiba said.

"I've had enough of this stress.

"No one helps in this country. No police, no community, no St Vincent's (de Paul Society), nobody.

"I tell them I want to protect my family. No one cares about this. They want to give all the responsibility for this (to me). I know nothing and I've given them my statements.

"I tell them I want to go back (to Lebanon). I don't want to stay in this shit country. No one ... can spend $1000 to save my family."
Arh, that would be $1000 a day to tuck him and his family away into luxury accommodation, right?  

Of course!  Because that's what is on offer in all civilized countries when criminal families who get caught up in their own criminal actions.  Sure it is.

Crime clan chief stressed by attacks

Wednesday Wisdom

We all have big changes in our lives and are more or less given a second chance. 

Harrison Ford

June 26, 2011

First selection criterion

From The Age (Sunday, 26 June 2011) - headlines you won't see this week:

"Government eager for new police commissioner to look "a bit like Anthony LaPaglia". 

Or maybe Bruce Willis, from the days when he had hair.

June 22, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

The way to make money is the buy when blood is running in the streets. 

John D. Rockefeller

So now you know.  
Almost makes money making sound like a cruel and nasty enterprise.

June 18, 2011

Old scores settled

"There was only one person at yesterday's public hanging who acted with dignity and that was the victim himself."
One good man sacrificed, a pile of rotting old scores settled.  That's all I can figure.  
BTW - nothing damning, or even interesting, in the Ombudsman's report

The Age (hypercritically) finally finds someone with something sensible to say - all too late

June 16, 2011

Collingwood Membership Application

Malcolm Turnbull Comments

If you've been wondering what Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal member for Wentworth, Australia, was doing at 7:21 am on June 8th, 2011, wonder no more - he was busy being the first commenter on an opinion piece in The New York Times.
Sobering stuff. Recently I was visiting with an Asian Environment Minister I knew well from my own days as Australia's Environment Minister. We discussed these issues and he said to me "My conclusion is that the short sightedness and greed of mankind - especially in the rich developed world - is so great that in a hundred years this planet will be uninhabitable for billions of people." I don't share that gloom and remain optimistic that before it is too late we will cut global greenhouse gas emissions and contain, if not stop, global warming. But there are some environmental challenges which are profoundly existential. The unsustainable extraction of water from aquifers in North China and Northern India (for example) will result in large areas of irrigated agriculture being no longer productive.And while water can be pumped long distances and/or desalinated the cost of doing so precludes its use for growing wheat and other crops. So a large agricultural region goes out of production. On that score it is worth noting that Anatol Lieven in his excellent new book on Pakistan "Pakistan- A Hard Country" identifies climate change and water scarcity and volatility as the greatest existential threat to that country. In my own country and indeed in the United States we tend to focus on the water scarcity problems we face domestically- I fear that it wont be long before water scarcity on either side of the Himalayas is more significant to each of our nations than the very serious challenges of water scarcity at home.
The Earth is Full 

Post comments 

June 15, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes. 

Henry Thoreau

June 14, 2011

Weiner's Woes Worsen

Yes, I'm cashing in while I can - and so should we all - before Weiner's woes vanish from the headlines, at which time news will become a little less cheery than it was.

More photos add to weiner's woes

June 13, 2011

More brassy than golden

 I thought California's economy was cactus, but never mind, The Economist has high hopes that with a little bit of self-confidence Australia could become the next golden nation - much like California.

We could too, we always could have, but we miss the boat, more often than not, preferring to lurch from mediocrity to sub-optimal.

Not convinced we needed The Economist to tell us that our pollies are not up to the task.  We figured that out for ourselves a long time ago guys, but thanks for playing.
Many Australians do not seem to appreciate that they live in an unusually successful country. Accustomed to unbroken economic expansion—many are too young to remember recession—they are inclined to complain about house prices, 5% unemployment or the problems that a high exchange rate causes manufacturing and several other industries. Some Australians talk big but actually think small, and politicians may be the worst offenders. They are often reluctant to get out in front in policy making—on climate change, for instance—preferring to follow what bigger countries do. In the quest for a carbon policy, both the main parties have chopped and changed their minds, and their leaders, leaving voters divided and bemused. There can be little doubt that if America could come to a decision on the topic, Australia would soon follow suit. 

Its current political leaders, with notable exceptions, are perhaps the least impressive feature of today’s Australia. Just when their country has the chance to become influential in the world, they appear introverted and unable to see the big picture. Little legislation of consequence has been passed since 2003. A labour-market reform introduced by the Liberals was partly repealed by Labor. A proposed tax on the mining companies was badly mishandled (also by Labor), leading to a much feebler one. All attempts at a climate-change bill have failed. The prime minister, Labor’s Julia Gillard, admits she is unmoved by foreign policy. The leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, takes his cue from America’s tea-party movement, by fighting a carbon tax with a “people’s revolt” in which little is heard apart from personal insults. Instead of pointing to the great benefits of immigration—population growth is responsible for about two-fifths of the increase in real GDP in the past 40 years—the two parties pander shamelessly to xenophobic fears about asylum-seekers washing up in boats.
 We are less than impressive, definitely no hues of gold at this time.

The next golden state 

Intelligent woman forced to express shame that she doesn't tweet

The first woman editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, was subjected to this weird - and entirely serious - exchange upon her recent appointment to the top job:
Abramson is in an awkward place when it comes to all this. She can hardly criticise Keller's take on Twitter, as she hasn't even got a Twitter account to call her own. She rather sheepishly admits that she has just set one up, but when I ask her when she did so she says: "Today, or yesterday."

Isn't it a bit weird, I suggest, that the next editor of America's most important paper, the person vested with the crucial task of steering it through a period of unparalleled digital change, hasn't even yet sent her first tweet?

"It may be weird," she says. "But I haven't felt the need until now. I'm an interior kind of person."
Sheepish, because she doesn't toss-off banal 140 character thoughts?  A skill required, apparently, of top journalists and serious thinkers. 

Fucking spare me!

First woman editor of the New York Times

June 12, 2011

Don't hold the salt

Much in the way that cholesterol levels have an assumed (but not a proven) causal link to dropping dead, so too, salt has long had bad press.  

Hypertension kills people, apparently; one of those eerily silent destroyers of the human body, but before it kills, salt is traditionally the first victim:  as in - remove salt from your diet, or you will die

Not so, according to the latest:
A new study found that low-salt diets increase the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes and do not prevent high blood pressure, but the research’s limitations mean the debate over the effects of salt in the diet is far from over. 
The investigators found that the less salt people ate, the more likely they were to die of heart disease  ... they were no more likely to develop hypertension. 

“If the goal is to prevent hypertension” with lower sodium consumption, said the lead author, Dr. Jan A. Staessen, a professor of medicine at the University of Leuven, in Belgium, “this study shows it does not work.” 

Dr. Alderman said, the new study is not the only one to find adverse effects of low-sodium diets. His own study, with people who had high blood pressure, found that those who ate the least salt were most likely to die. 

Dr. Alderman said that he once was an unpaid consultant for the Salt Institute but that he now did no consulting for it or for the food industry and did not receive any support or take any money from industry groups. 

Lowering salt consumption, Dr. Alderman said, has consequences beyond blood pressure. It also, for example, increases insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
“Diet is a complicated business,” he said. “There are going to be unintended consequences.”
“Observational studies tell you what people will experience if they select a diet,” Dr. Alderman said. “They do not tell you what will happen if you change peoples’ sodium intake.” 

What is needed, Dr. Alderman said, is a large study in which people are randomly assigned to follow a low-sodium diet or not and followed for years to see if eating less salt improves health and reduces the death rate from cardiovascular disease. 
“The low-salt advocates suggest that all 300 million Americans be subjected to a low-salt diet. But if they can’t get people on a low-salt diet for a clinical trial, what are they talking about?” 
As is most often the case, the study method has been criticised.  

Meanwhile, first world populations becomes ever more dithery over how to feed and hydrate themselves, yet, as seen by the collective weight gain, eat and drink quite a lot.

Low salt diet ineffective

Arse-about logic

Following the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, the earthquake and tsunami-free Germany got hysterically skittish about nuclear power and has vowed to cease using that evil, life-threatening energy source. 

Despite the deaths, pain, uncertainties and deprivations suffered by the Japanese during the natural disasters of three months ago, so far, no Japanese have died from radiation poisoning.

During the last two weeks, however, the body count for Germans dying from E.coli acquired from eating organic bean sprouts stands at 30.

Dead bodies demand organic food moratorium

Germany to end use of nuclear power by 2022

It's our fault

As usual, little Aussies are punching above their weight, having invented planking (or the "lying down game" as Wikipedia calls it, which makes it sound much less exotic, adventurous and intellectual than it is).

We are so proud.

What do you call 100 plankers in a blender?


The planking generation

June 9, 2011

The non-believers

Only seven per cent of voters believe Julia Gillard's claim that little Aussies will be better off with a carbon emissions tax, that is,  after the redistribution of wealth to accompanies the package.

Interestingly, around 50% of Australians do believe the climate situation is so dire that the government must "immediately" do something about emissions.  Clearly, most of those people do not agree that a tax on emissions is the appropriate vehicle for action.  They're right too, but the decision-makers aren't listening.

Meanwhile, right-wing darling, Janet Albrechtsen, offers up some data to illustrate how little the price people are willing to pay for carbon emissions - bugger all, basically, with hardly anyone (mostly corporate fliers, we could guess) being prepared to pay the extra $1.82 or  $1.96 to off-set the carbon emissions of their flying habits.

She also offers some wonderful quotes from Irving Kristol, from forty years ago, which illustrate how little anything changes, no matter how much we think they have (ok, so we now have iPads and an iCloud ... meh ... ):
Irving Kristol, the American writer who died in 2009, knew something about reality principles. The editor of Commentary magazine, Public Interest and National Interest once remarked that bad politics is like bad poetry, which as Oscar Wilde said, doesn't get any better just because it springs from genuine feeling. In 1972 Kristol wrote: "It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves."

The insistence, said Kristol, was "revealing, in the public realm, one's intense feelings" . We must care; we must be concerned; we must be committed. Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.

Yep.  Same old, same old.

Hard time warning to PM

Mind the gap on climate - Janet Albrechtsen

Traditional killing season for pollies

The recent round of pointless polling has led the SMH to conclude that a year of Julia Gillard has made not a jot of difference to the federal ALP's primary vote, nor to the popularity of the ALP PM, which remains abysmal.  True enough, but not true to suggest that the debacle of the last 12 months has made no difference at all.  Odds are fairly good that one K.Rudd would not have been fluffing about and negotiating away his ideological soul in a minority government, and possibly would not have lost the senate majority. 

Gillard made the ultimate sacrifice (knifing Rudd and making herself PM) for the good of the country.  She need not have bothered.

Far more exciting than re-stating the obvious (ad nausea), The Australian brings us a startling assertion:
In recent internal discussions, backbenchers have set December - the traditional killing season for political leaders - as the first timeline for any move against her, with the default position being early in the New Year. 
There's a traditional killing season for pollies - and it's December? 

Someone forgot to tell Julia.

Gillard's winter of discontent

The year that made no difference

June 8, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

We flatter those we scarcely know
We please the fleeting guest
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best. 

Edna Wheeler Wilcox

June 7, 2011

Whatever happened to "all thinking Australians"?

Remember back in the day, when Hawke or Howard would preface almost everything with "all thinking Australians will agree ..." (or some variation on that phrase), thus manipulating all non-thinking Australians into nodding vigoroulsy in agreement with whatever crap was being uttered?

It worked a treat.  We were a happy, thriving country for near on a good couple of decades.

Not now.

Our current bunch aren't even trying to manipulate us.  They're not even pretending that Australians think, and certainly not for themselves.  
Mr Swan will unveil new data saying that national income would be $8000 per person higher by 2020, even after the [carbon emissions] tax.

By 2050, national income was tipped to increase by $30,000 a person, a rise of 56 per cent.

"Our economy will continue to grow solidly while making deep cuts in carbon pollution," Mr Swan will tell the National Press Club.
No one has argued that the economy won't continue to grow.

No one has argued that incomes won't continue to rise.

(Destroy our economy, relative to others, yes, but that's a more sophisticated argument, and our current bunch of federal pollies have never been accused of having sophisticated intellects.)

WTF has this got to do with their case for an inefficient and ineffective carbon emissions tax, designed solely to redistribute income - at huge administrative cost?

Swan is unapologetically treating us as if we are stupid.

How about Mr Swan and Ms Gillard now add to their point and tell us by what percentage household expenses  will increase during those same periods of time - by what per cent will the cost of living increase? Without that data, the assertions and figures claimed for income growth are nothing more than insulting waffle.

I'm starting to miss Hawke - and Howard.

The good ol' days, when our pollies at least pretended that they didn't believe the voting public were twits. 

Swan says income growth won't be scarified

June 3, 2011

Duck Friday

Portrait of a bunch of ducks running away: by Kae 

(authentic date stamp an' all)

June 2, 2011

Criminals Frolick at BBQs

The Herald Sun continues its long series of exposes into the joys of doing jail time.
Barwon Prison's notorious Hoya unit, which houses monsters ... are treated to pool and carpet bowls competitions, pottery and music classes and special activities on public holidays.

Documents obtained by the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information laws show inmates congregated for a bocce competition on Anzac Day last year, a game of giant chess in June, and frolicked with their families during Father's and Mother's Day barbecues.

The Barwon documents reveal inmates from other units enjoyed:

A mid-year children's carnival party.
A Christmas party for children.
Cricket, soccer, basketball and badminton.
An end-of-year barbecue.
Criminals enjoy 'disgusting' perks

There goes democracy

''We think it's a great idea to seek public opinion … but we feel it is very dangerous to let the court of public opinion be the last word in relation to such a complex issue,'' she said. ''It's too simplistic to say there's a crime and there's a punishment and that will always be the case.'' 

The survey, on the Department of Justice website in July, has also been criticised by polling experts, who warn it is almost certain to produce skewed results that were out of step with community norms.
By the same logic, those occasional elections in which we take part are a dangerous court of public opinion in relation to a complex issue.

Although, based on the outcomes of the last federal election, that's probably true.

Lawyers slam sentencing survey 

June 1, 2011

Fuck it

If Kevin Rudd visits Victoria - a lot - we're going to be a very wealthy state.
Under the definition of "public place" in the Act, swearing is illegal on any public highway, road, street or bridge, which is bad news for frazzled motorists unlucky enough to have a twitchy policeman as a passenger.
  • It is also illegal in any "race-course, cricket ground, football ground or other such place", which spells trouble for the Collingwood cheer squad but may come as welcome news for AFL match officials (aka "you f---ing idiot, umpire")
  • Also out of bounds is any "wharf, pier or jetty", which means fishermen may need to call upon some fresh words when dealing with tangled lines, lost hooks and the one that got away.
  • Swearing is also prohibited in "any public hall, theatre or room while members of the public are in attendance". Whoops. There goes the next Malthouse season.
  • Oh, and swearing is not permitted at "any licensed premises". Frankly, a pot without a potty mouth is just un-Australian. It's enough to make you wonder what's the point in even going out? 
In a much-noted ruling in 2002, NSW magistrate David Heilpern observed of the F word that "one would have to live an excessively cloistered existence not to come into regular contact with the word, and not to have become somewhat immune to its suggested previously legally offensive status".

Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark acknowledged yesterday that community standards relating to profanity had changed, but said the government still wanted to send a message that bad behaviour in public would not be tolerated.

"Victorians ought to be able to go out at night, to be able to go out with their families and not be ... offended and have their trip made miserable by the obnoxious and offensive behaviour of louts," Mr Clark said. "We are going to give the police the power to issue infringement notices to send the message that this sort of obnoxious and antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated."
Surely Victorians ought to be able to go out, night or day, and not have their ordinary gatherings and conversations interrupted by the issuing of fines for the use of language that is so common  even members of the constabulary and former Prime Minister have been known to use it.

$238.90 on the spot fines for offensive language in Victoria - Australia

Honesty in advertising

 Let's talk about Julia Gillard's carbon emissions tax for a moment (the tax by any other name that will always reek of wealth redistribution by stealth).
Prof Garnaut was upfront with the fact that, eventually, households would bear the "full cost of a carbon price", and that people on incomes as high as his would "pay the price".
Under his plan, payments for people in those income bands would ramp up in time, from 55 per cent of money raised from polluters, to 60-65 per cent within 10 years.

At the same time, money for business to adapt would decline. Money would also be funneled to people on benefits, such as pensioners or families with children.

"There should be full compensation (for pensioners) but not over-compensation," he said.

The Opposition seized on the report, which also savages the Coalition's direct action approach.

"The report has defined rich as anyone earning $80,000, and he wants them to miss out on the compensation," environment spokesman Greg Hunt said.
That would be the never ending compensation, like when pensioners were compensated a few dollars a week to help them cope with the introduction of the 10 per cent GST.   They're still rolling in it, those old folk.

Wednesday Wisdom

Any artist should be grateful for a naive grace which puts him beyond the need to reason elaborately. 

Saul Bellow