Thursday, 26 June 2008

Our apologies

We are experiencing some technical difficulties with posting to our site.
Please bear with us while this is rectified.

Pretty in pink on the North Coast

Untitled by Debrah NovakAn verandah by Anthony Nugent






Frangipani by Wolfram Borgis

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Hogarth's attempt to stifle Chile conference just another step in covert US-Japan move against anti-whaling nations?

It shouldn't come as any surprise that International Whaling Commission (IWC) Chair, Bill Hogarth, is attempting to stifle debate and voting at the IWC conference in Chile.
 
It was only late last year that the US Dept. of Commerce through NOAA (for which Hogarth then worked) issued a press release which indicated a close relationship might be developing between the U.S. and Japan over future international commercial whaling.
 
The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs appears to confirm this in a December 2007 official transcript of interview which indicates that Japan has some expectation that Hogarth is pursuing "normalisation" of the IWC which is expected to occur within 2 years.
 
The insertion of a U.S. based organisation, Pew Charitable Trust, into negotions over whaling led to the March 2008 closed-door IWC meeting which appeared ready to support Japan.
Indeed, Pew's involvement might be the vehicle being used by the U.S. to further Japan's aims.
 
But Japan is expecting more than a reform of tone. It wants to see some sign of progress towards the eventual approval of sustainable commercial whaling.
If it does not get that, it is likely to explore further the option of leaving the IWC and setting up a separate organisation of like-minded countries.
The Pew symposium suggested that some members of the anti-whaling bloc might not have too many problems with that, providing an extensive checklist of safeguards is introduced, possibly including elements such as
  • limiting the species hunted
  • deciding catch sizes internationally
  • insisting on the observation of whale sanctuaries
  • bringing scientific whaling under international oversight
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the U.S. is not adverse to assisting Japan broker a trade-off which would allow it to increase its coastal whaling in return for minimum concessions on its 'scientific' research.
 
Japan Today reported on 22 June 2008:
Even anti-whaling countries have shown concern about the course of the IWC, with some, including the United States, seeking establishment of a working group of 10 to 15 countries to discuss coastal whaling and research whaling.
 
Japan is currently Vice-Chair of the IWC and its veiled threat to withdraw from the commission is now firming into a public stance.
 
In Chile this week Japan continues to try and isolate Australia.
 
Australia is not a big export market for Japanese goods and services, nor does Japan invest heavily in this country.
How little importance Australia now holds for the Government of Japan is indicated by the schedule of VIP visits found at its own Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The imbalance is clear over the last decade (list does not include Rudd, Smith and Crean visits to Japan since the November 2007 change of government in Australia). 
 
From Australia to Japan
Year Name
1957 Prime Minister Robert Menzies
1970 Prime Minister John Gorton
1973 Prime Minister Edward Whitlam
1976, 1978, 1980, 1982 Prime Minister John Fraser
1984, 1986, 1987, 1990 Prime Minister Robert Hawke
1992, 1994, 1995 Prime Minister Paul Keating
1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 Prime Minister John Howard
From Japan to Australia
Year Name
1957 Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi
1963 Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda
1967 Prime Minister Eisaku Sato
1971 Prince and Princess Mikasa (international conference)
1971-73 Prince Katsura (study)
1973 The Crown Prince and Crown Princess (the current Emperor and Empress) (goodwill visit)
1974 Prince Naruhito (the current Crown Prince) (tour)
1974 Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka
1980 Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira
1982 Prince Katsura (tenth anniversary of establishment of the Australia Japan Society)
1985 Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
1988 Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita
1992 Princess Sayako (tour)
1993 Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa
1993 Prince and Princess Tomohito of Mikasa (discussions about educational assistance for children with hearing or sight impairments)
1994 Princess Tomohito of Mikasa and Prince Katsura (charity event to provide educational assistance for children with hearing or sight impairments)
1995 Prince and Princess Akishino (official visit)
1997 Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
2002 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Water raiders, nuke backers

A 'Not Happy, Chall' letter to the editor in yesterday's The Daily Examiner.

IN an effort to differentiate themselves from the regionally unpopular Liberal Party, the NSW Nationals went to the support of their federal counterparts contesting the November 2007 federal election by promising that rivers on the NSW North Coast would be safe from water diversion schemes and backing away from calls to place commercial nuclear power plants in the Northern Rivers region.
Less than seven months later the story changes.
According to the Tweed Daily News on June 16, the Nationals NSW secretariat (at its conference last weekend) resolved to 'support greater efforts to reduce eastern water lost to the ocean and more in-depth ways to turn water inland'.
The party's newly elected vice-chair, Jeremy Challacombe from Grafton, tries to present himself as a new-style National but just parrots the same old line from party diehards on water and energy.
Indeed, in The Daily Examiner (June 18) Mr. Challacombe had the gall to try and present the Lithgow-led push to once again grab Northern Rivers fresh water supplies as 'the motion was more about better water management than river diversion'.
Mr. Challacombe would be well aware that water in the Clarence catchment area (the principal target of would-be water raiders) is very well managed for sustainable outcomes.
His willingness to support investigation of 'nuclear options' is also disappointing for many in the Northern Rivers region.
It is strange that North Coast Nationals MPs, who would have been aware of both motions long before the conference started, either did not attend or made little effort to form a counter-lobby to either the Lithgow water raiders or Dubbo nuclear power plant proponents.
Saying that you would have 'howled them down' if you'd been there (Steve Cansdell) and that this would happen over your 'dead body' (Geoff Provest), or even that the parliamentary arm of the party would likely 'block the plan' (Don Page), may have made for good media copy.

However, it failed to impress this voter.

JUDITH M. MELVILLE
Yamba

'Round the traps this week


Losin' my religion....

In this ultra-conservative, religion-raddled world we now seem to live in, it's beaut to see that the secular jibe is alive and well at The Quotations Page.

"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck."
George Carlin
Late US comedian and actor

Obamarama?

Obama leads McCain by 3 points in Oregon and 15 points in Washington according to a SurveyUSA for June 17-19.
McCain leads Obama by 28 points in Utah according to a Dan Jones survey for the same days.
From Vote from Abroad yesterday.

Best blog pic this week

One of the few things
cities do better
than the country -
toilet door commentary.

Pic found at PollieGraph

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Hubris on the US08 presidential campaign trail

It takes a healthy ego and full measure of arrogance to stay the course in any U.S. presidential election and, Barack Obama obviously has both.
He has built himself a considerable nation-wide volunteer campaign team, but is he in danger of losing control of this political beast or did he really O.K. the disastrous faux seal shown in this photograph?

The Los Angeles Times reports that Obama has been widely mocked for the seal.

Obama's people are in damage control.
From Mark Ambinder's blog yesterday:

Photograph from The Los Angeles Times.

A message to the people of Japan in June 2008

Photograph from Mail Online

This mother and child are not meant to be food for an ancient and civilised people or the domestic pets they keep.

The member for the Planet of the Apes interjects....

I opened the Clarence Valley Review the other day to find one of those dob-in-a-terrorist-or-the-neighbour-you-don't-like adverts taking up a good half of page 17 in the last issue.
This money wasting exercise featured a tag cloud in the shape of Australia which highlighted such gems as I know this person who has downloaded a lot of documents from suspicious websites and I can't shake the feeling something's wrong.
Well, I thought, what a yawn - the internet filters installed on Federal Parliament PCs seem to feel that half the political blogs written by Australians are suspicious and the President of the Senate and the Black Rod appear to think that all internet activity by elected senators is inherently dangerous.
But then I read the adverts' main blurb; So if you see or hear something that just doesn't feel right, please call the National Security Hotline and keep the information flowing.
Now there's a thought! It's hard not to see and hear things that aren't quite right in Canberra these days, so perhaps I should let my fingers do the walking and inform on...........
Luke Hartsuyker, Nationals MP for Cowper, for this inane remark demonstrating a waste of space; The member for the Planet of the Apes interjects.[House of Reps 29 May 2008]
Tony Abbott, Liberal MP for Warringah, for these bon mots; Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Shortland is wasting our time raving on about people going surfing. If she has a question to ask the minister, she should ask it. and Mr Deputy Speaker, I am not making any personal aspersions against the member for Maribyrnong. [House of Reps 5 June] and Mr Speaker, I said that she was a liar and I withdraw that. [26 March 2007]
Wilson Tuckey, Liberal MP for O'Connor, for insulting peanuts; Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to refer you to standing orders 88, 89, 90 and 91 relating to disorderly conduct. If you want disorderly conduct in this place, let that peanut carry on with matters that have nothing to do with the question. [House of Reps 18 June]
Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal MP for Wentworth, for the crime of over-explanation; Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. [House of Reps 19 June] and Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation [19 June] and again Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation [17 March] and yet again Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. [12 March]
Julie Bishop, Liberal MP for Curtin, for copying Malcolm Turnbull's homework: Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation [House of Reps 19 June] and Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. [18 June]
Brendan Nelson, Liberal MP for Bradfield, for his daffy ways and disrespectfully using the term "silly idiot"; Mr Speaker, just to assist you: if I have said anything at all which is in any way offensive to the Deputy Prime Minister, I withdraw. [House of Reps 18 June]

* A big thankyou to the four blokes and a sheila at OpenAustralia who have just made hunting political snipe that much easier! And quite seriously, have made Hansard searches a little less daunting when looking for your local member's contribution to debate.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Predator Tweed needs rubbing out

The Australian Government would do well to take a big stick to predatory share trader David Tweed and others whose actions suggest they possess morals akin to those of ally cats.

Tweed, who changed his name by deed poll from David Tschernitz, preys on sha
reholders who have little awareness of the value of shares they own.

Tweed's companies, which include Direct Share Purchasing Corporation (DSPC), obtain copies of companies' share registers that show the names and addresses of shareholders and then use a mass-mailing strategy and post unsolicited offers buy shareholders' stocks for less than market value.

The Australian reports Tweed has had a victory in the Federal Court with a ruling that he can buy copies of share registers for a fraction of the cost of producing them.

Tweed's DSPC took legal action against financial group Axa Asia Pacific Holdings, alleging Axa had overcharged for a copy of its share register.

Axa argued that it was merely passing on the $17,195.39 charge levied by registrar Computershare, but judge Ray Finkelstein ruled on Thursday that this was not a reasonable amount and that Axa could charge only $250.

Axa has been ordered to refund $16,945.39 to Mr Tweed and pay his legal costs.

The decision removes one of the few barriers between Mr Tweed and the small shareholders he regularly targets with unsolicited offers to buy their stock for less than market value.

A brief lesson in humility for our political leaders


"kevin rudd" "brendan nelson" "god"


With populism, political expediency, paternalism and pomposity continuing to be the order of the day in Canberra, Google Trends offers a different perspective from the perennial opinion polls.
Full worldwide breakdown here.

Iemma jacks up electricity price ahead of planned privatisation of NSW power industry and pensioners shiver

NSW North Coast low-income earners, retirees and pensioners can expect their household electricity bills to rise by between $31 and $90 a year on average depending on which power company supplies the house.
This represents a rise of around 4.8 to 8.5 per cent, commencing on 1 July 2008.

With the inevitable network charges/service costs rise which would accompany the Iemma Government's planned privatisation and the expected steep rise in actual cost of electricity per kilowatt hour when emissions trading comes into being, North Coast residents may soon find that this essential service is moving beyond the limits of their pocket books.

Water use costs have also risen, so that in another four years it is likely that the Centrelink utility allowance will make barely a mark on the average household electricity and water bills of the elderly or disabled.

Many North Coast residents are permanent renters and therefore cannot take advantage of renewable energy rebates for energy saving systems which their landlords currently have no incentive to have installed in the first place.
The only option, for many elderly or chronically ill people surviving on low incomes, will be to cease making themselves hot meals or heating their homes on those cold winter nights.

Thanks, Messrs. Iemma and Costa and, thanks in advance to Mr. O'Farrell as it is obvious that the Liberal-Nationals Coalition intends to join in selling us all down the river to assist those big business political donors.


Photograph from ABC News

Whatever happened to the Aquanator? The sad history of 'green' technology in the Northern Rivers

The Australian reported last Friday that the Ballina-based company Permo-drive, which is developing a hybrid drive system for trucks, may be going into voluntary liquidation leaving 1,900 shareholders in the lurch.
The company had apparently placed considerable reliance on receiving up to $5 million in a grant from government and blames the Rudd Government for its current financial woes.

This put me in mind of the
Aquanator, another NSW North Coast 'green' venture developed by Atlantis Energy Ltd based in the Clarence Valley at Maclean.
This company received considerable assistance from the then Howard Government by way of tax deferral, but quickly fell off the local radar thereafter.

It was also given support by prominent North Coast Nationals.

The technology is now formally owned by the Singapore-based
Atlantis Resources Corporation, which does not indicate that this particular form of wave energy technology has been commercially established anywhere.
However the Victorian Government has allowed a
5-year longer term trial of the Aquanator which started in March 2008.

Coincidentally, the Aquanator was also a project of Permo-drive inventor, Matthew Perry, who had a
very different view in 2004.
Then he was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald; "Mr Perry's first job as an auto-electrician led to his first successful invention in 1998, a device known as the Permo-Drive, which can cut fuel consumption by up to 40 per cent by capturing and storing energy normally wasted in the hydraulic braking systems of heavy trucks.
The system is manufactured under licence in the United States, has been adopted by the US Army for its huge fleet of heavy trucks, and is at present being tested by the US Postal Service."

Although it's unfortunate that Kevin Rudd has so easily abandoned alternative energy development as a genuine national priority, the situation for local entrepreneurs is a lot more complex than simply one of the level of government support.
I think that Federal Labor MP for Page, Janelle Saffin is right -
you can't blame the government for these problems.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Possum Comitatus nails it on the preferred PM nonsense

From Possum Pollytics today.

The Preferred PM rating is essentially a meaningless beauty contest which has no statistical bearing on the vote. It either moves with changes in voting intention and satisfaction ratings, or lags behind them, and the relationship between the vote and the PPM is pretty tight as far as polling relationships go.----
Nelsons PPM is where we would expect it to be with him leading a party currently experiencing a 19 point TPP vote gap.
 

Google Trends: Obama outranks God in 2008

A little bit of weekend silliness courtesy of Google Trends.
From Washington to Raleigh, English-speaking American internet users were
more interested in Barack Obama than looking for God.
Whereas God did John McCain down every time.
Has Google predicted the outcome of the 2008 US presidential race?



*Obama *God

A Sunday smile from the blogosphere


Popped up at Speak Media

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Who's taking who for a ride?

Last month I went by cab from Ryde to Mascot domestic terminal, cost $72. My fare from Mascot to Coffs Harbour was $69 with Virgin Blue Airlines.

Now we find that our incompetent governments are allowing our taxi companies to increase their fares as a result of an increase in fuel prices.

Most of the cabs run on gas, my question is, "with all of our huge gas reserves who's taking who for a ride?"

Appsie
Clarence Valley

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents.
Email ncvguestpeak at live dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

Another skirmish in the war against bloggers

Excellent post on the Associated Press (AP) move to charge bloggers fees for what appears to be legitimate fair use quotes:
Lauredhel at Larvatus Prodeo.

Of course when the mainstream media takes a breaking news story straight from a blog and syndication has it turning up on multiple newspaper sites (eg., a North Coast Voices blog entry posted at 00.15am AEST on 12 June 2008 about Trujillo's legal letter to Wikipedia) one doesn't actually see them jumping up and down with glee at getting a story for only the effort of rewording the original post and making the odd 'phone call, but I'm sure that editors love such low-cost articles.

The majority of Australian blogs at least acknowledge where their information is sourced from and, for the most part, try not to breach any copyright which might be thought to exist.
I agree with Lauredhel - AP is trawling for increased revenue.

Bucket rating for Associated Press:






Postscript
AP has a history of asserting an incredibly broad definition of copyright.
In 2003 it sent a Cease and Desist letter (found at Chilling Effects) which read in part:
Therefore, any use of AP content on your Internet site, whether verbatim, rewritten or simply as a source for information contained in another story, can infringe AP's copyright, and other legal rights....
AP demands that you remove any and all AP content from your Internet site, including any archives, as well as from any site that mirrors or caches your site, that you cease and desist all use of AP copy -- whether verbatim or rewritten -- as well as all use of the facts contained in AP material, and that you confirm for me that you have done so within fifteen days from the date of this letter.

Pull the other one, Nicola - it has bells on its tip

Graphic from The Age.

Minister for Health Nicola Roxon has rather
breathlessly endorsed the fat bomb thrown by the Baker IDI
Heart and Diabetes Institute
into the middle of the Federal Government's Inquiry into Obesity.
Is there nothing that Our Nic doesn't think is the end of the world for Orstralya as we know it?
More people are likely to die from the effects of social isolation, poor medical services outside the big cities and a lack of access to public dental services, than will turn up their toes because of a bit of a belly and a double chin.
If 4 million Aussies spend a lifetime being seriously obese that may turn into a public health problem, but it is much lower down the average voters list of health fears and immediate problems.

Out here in rural and regional Australia we're just as likely to die because of a lack of highly trained doctors and adequate health services.

Friday, 20 June 2008

US08: Will the real Barack Obama please stand up?

Yesterday Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was quoted on his approach to the misnamed US War on Terror and Osama Bin Laden.

"What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he's engaged in and not to make him into a martyr, and to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism," Obama said.
Obama was questioned about bin Laden after he met with a new team of national security advisers. The meeting came after rival John McCain's campaign said Obama had a pre-9/11 mind-set for promoting criminal trials for terrorists.
"I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States," Obama said in opening remarks that in part referred to the Iraq war. He was standing before 17 American flags and a sign that said "Judgment to Lead." He was surrounded by national security experts who had formerly served in Congress and the Clinton administration and will be advising his campaign — an effort to bring foreign policy experience to a candidate who has served just three years in Congress.
[my emphasis]

This aforementioned quote is supposedly Obama now.
The excerpt below was
Obama quoted in the New York Post less than a year ago.

Presidential candidate
Barack Obama warned yesterday that he would use American forces to invade U.S. ally Pakistan if its leaders weren't doing enough to catch terrorists on their soil.
"Let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans," Obama said.
"They are plotting to strike again . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will."
The stunning call to arms against a U.S. friend comes less than two weeks after Obama publicly agreed to meet -- without any preconditions - with the dictators of dangerous rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea.
Fleshed out in yesterday's speech, Obama's foreign policy is shaping up to be a "talk to your enemies, invade your friends" approach to American relations abroad.
Analysts say U.S. military action could risk destabilizing Pakistan, breeding more militancy and undermining Musharraf.
[my emphasis]

When the real Barack Obama finally reveals himself will he actually represent any difference from George Bush and John McCain, in matters of foreign policy and international affairs?

Clarence Coast whistles in the dark over climate change

The Daily Examiner yesterday assured the world that coastal sand erosion caused by king tides and big swells was a case of "relax, it's nature in action".

The combination of king tides and big swells this year have stripped sand from beaches, exposing rocks that have been buried for decades, and eroded sand dunes.
Affected beaches include the Angourie and Brooms Head back beaches and Spookys....
At Spookys Beach a large rock shelf has been exposed for the second time this year, revealing hundreds of rocks that would usually be covered in metres of sand.
John's mother, Dianne Webber, said in 27 years she had only seen the rock shelf as exposed as it was in January a handful of times.
"The sand did come back a couple of months ago, but now it's gone again," she said.
Mrs Webber said the sand was always shifting and she had faith it would return.
Further down the coast at Brooms Head, Daphne Giese has also witnessed decades of sand movement and erosion.
Mrs Giese said the back beach had a lot of sand on it and other parts of the main beach continued to be eroded.
She said 40 years ago they used to take their kids camping between the Caretaker's Cottage and the Bluff.
"You can't even camp there now because it's gone," Mrs Giese said.
"With the weather being so unpredictable you never know what the future could bring.
"But right now it looks beautiful out there," she said looking out her window at the ocean.

Meanwhile The Sydney Morning Herald told us yesterday that:

OCEANS have heated up much more rapidly in the past four decades from global warming than scientists had thought.
An Australian and American research team found that between 1961 and 2003 the rate of warming of the upper ocean layers was about 50 per cent higher than was estimated in last year's report by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
A CSIRO scientist, Catia Domingues, of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, said her team's finding helped solve a big problem for climate researchers.
They had been unable to fully explain why sea levels had risen so rapidly in this period, but this could now be largely attributed to the expansion of the warming oceans. "For the first time we can provide a reasonable account of the processes causing the rate of global sea-level rise over the past four decades," Dr Domingues said.
Sea levels rose about 1.6 millimetres a year between 1961 and 2003.

It doesn't take a genius to see that although Clarence Coast ocean processes are 'natural', it doesn't rule out the possibility that an increase in the number and strength of very high tides and change in wave action due to climate change may have begun to be felt.

How we rate our Aussie politicians

Readers Digest has its fourth annual Most Trusted Poll up online.

Have a look at who rated below 50 - every politician on the 100 well-known people list and a few surprises.
I can understand Sol Trujillo an also ran at 95, Pell logged in at 75 and Keelty coming in at only 52, but Gleeson at 54? Is our High Court considered the realm of used car salesmen now?

51. Naomi Watts - Actor
52. Jessica Rowe - TV newsreader
52. Mick Keelty - Commissioner, Australian Federal Police
54. Andrew Symonds - Member of Australian cricket team
54. Murray Gleeson - Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
56. Mick Fanning - World Champion surfer
57. Natalie Bassingthwaite - Actor, musician, TV host, So you think you can dance
58. Bert Newton - TV host
58. Karl Stefanovic - TV host, Today
60. Kerri-Anne Kennerley - TV Host, Mornings with Kerri-Anne
61. Bill Granger - Chef, TV Host and Author
62. Kevin Rudd - Prime Minister
63. Chris Lilley - Writer and comedian, Summer Heights High
64. Mel Gibson - Actor and director
65. Keith Urban - Musician
66. Jana Rawlinson (nee Pittman) - Olympic runner
67. Maxine McKew - Former journalist, Federal MP
67. Russell Crowe - Actor, businessman
69. Julia Gillard - Federal MP, Deputy Prime Minister
70. Greg Norman - Golfer
71. Lleyton Hewitt - Tennis player
72. Noel Pearson - Lawyer and activist
73. Therese Rein - Wife of Prime Minister, businesswoman

74. Janette Howard - Wife of former Prime Minister
75. Cardinal George Pell - Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
76. Peter Garrett - Federal MP, ex Midnight Oil musician
77. Lara Bingle - Model
78. Andrew Johns - Former rugby league player
79. The Chaser Boys - Comedians and satirists
80. Alan Jones - Radio presenter
81. Bob Brown - Federal senator, leader of the Australian Greens
82. Peter Holmes a Court - Businessman, owner South Sydney Rugby League Club
83. Glenn Stevens - Governor, Reserve Bank of Australia
84. Lachlan Murdoch - Businessman
85. Bob Hawke - Former Prime Minister
86. Rupert Murdoch - Media mogul
87. James Packer - Businessman
88. John Howard - Prime Minister
89. Kyle Sandilands - Radio personality, TV judge Australian Idol, TV Host, Big Brother
90. Malcolm Turnbull - Federal MP, Shadow Treasurer
91. Paul Keating - Former Prime Minister
92. Peter Costello - Federal MP, former treasurer
93. Brendan Nelson - Leader of the Opposition
94. Tony Abbott - Federal MP
95. Shane Warne - Former cricketer
95. Sol Trujillo - Telstra CEO
97. David Hicks - Confessed terrorism supporter

98. Ben Cousins - Suspended AFL player
99. Wayne Carey - Retired AFL player
100. Rodney Adler - Former director of telecommunications company One. Tel and insurance company HIH

Thursday, 19 June 2008

"Moggy Musings" [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

A global warming musing:
A cat has a smaller ecological pawprint than the average human footprint. It rarely overeats, never forgets to turn out the lights, mostly walks everywhere it needs to go, and doesn't buy needless 'stuff' just to keep up with the Joneses.
A Good Dog musing:
In the last week of April Shep the German Shepherd barked out loud and strong until he woke the neighbours of an elderly woman who had fallen and broken her hip. Shep's feat was extra special because he wasn't the woman's dog.
100 cats and dogs musing:
100 cats, dogs, kittens and puppies are looking for homes as part of the worldwide 2008 Adoptathon on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 May at South Grafton Veterinary Clinic between 11am - 5pm (Sat) and 11am - 4pm (Sun).
All animals vet checked, immunised, de-sexed and microchipped.
A lost and frightened musing:
Kuin
the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is missing from her Grafton home. This rare bird went missing on Saturday 3 April 2008. If you see this 6 year-old female would you contact NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service or her owner on 0409 906637.
A You're My Hero musing:
Carts
, the NSW police dog who died from wounds received on duty last year, was posthumously honoured with a bravery award by the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia on 3 May 2008.
A tickled pink musing:
Early on the morning of 13 April 2008 North Coast Voices received its 10,000th visitor. Not bad for an obscure little blog which has only been up and running for 31 weeks. Of course we three amigos; Clarrie's faithful old hound, Roo's music-loving poodle and I take full credit for the entire effort.
Pets rule OK!

The Coalition revisits 1972-75 and thinks voters won't notice

The Federal Liberals and Nationals are nothing if not predictable.
Today in the Senate they revisited the tactics used to destabilise another duly-elected Labor federal government in the 1970s.
If anything was needed to confirm an intention to wreck and spoil,
yesterday's Hansard offered ample proof.

The
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2008 was a case in point and, although Labor's Senator Faulkner made as much political capital as he could about the Coalition move to take this bill off the current agenda he was more right than wrong when he said:
"Today we see the true colours of the coalition. I particularly
want to concentrate on the decision of the opposition
to block the Commonwealth Electoral
Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures)
Bill 2008. To delay the bill by more than 12 months
reveals, on the one hand, all the opposition’s hypocrisy
and willingness to sacrifice the health of our democracy
on the alter of partisan politics. On the other hand,
the government is committed to a transparent and accountable
electoral system. To achieve this, we have
introduced the bill that I have mentioned. This bill contains
five urgent measures to address critical weaknesses
in the act’s current funding and disclosure regime.
These new measures include ensuring all donations
over $1,000 to political parties and candidates are
subject to proper public scrutiny and that donations are
reported in a more timely manner.
The bill also bans overseas and anonymous donations
and prevents political parties and candidates from
making a profit from public funding. These measures
are straightforward, they are positive, and they ought to
be uncontroversial. But the opposition, under Dr Nelson,
want to use their Senate majority to block these
necessary and urgent reforms to send them to a committee
until, at the earliest, the financial year after
next—in other words, to send this bill into legislative
limbo. They want one whole year—a minimum 12
months—to pretend to look at this simple bill. This
charade clearly shows their contempt for our electoral
system and their determination to turn their backs on
any effort to clean up the system. It proves that the opposition
clearly do not support transparency and accountability
of our electoral laws. This proves the opposition
do not want the Australian public to know who
gives how much money to which party.
The decision to block this bill raises two questions
for Dr Nelson. The first is: does Dr Nelson honestly
think that less accountability, less transparency, less
integrity benefits our democracy? The second is: what
do Dr Nelson and the opposition have to hide? Clearly,
the answer to the second question is a lot of money ..."

The blogosphere today: religious and ethnic sensitivity in action

There has been some mention across the blogosphere of Macleans.ca and Mark Steyne's legal problems with the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) under Section 7.1 of the BC Human Rights Code.
Andrew Coyne at Macleans has
live blogged one day of evidence before the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Having read the published excerpt from Steyne's book The future belongs to Islam which is the subject of the complaint, I am truly puzzled by all the subsequent and definitely belated hysteria.
Having then gone on to read the CIC 60 page
Report on Macleans Journalism I have to confess that I am still at a loss.
The Congress may be in the process of attempting to carve out a political presence for itself in Canada, but it is going down a rather strange path to further this legitimate aim.
Quite frankly many opinion pieces by Australian newspaper journos would be more likely classed as 'hate' pieces than that excerpt from Steyne's book.

Perhaps CIC should try another tack and take a leaf out of SBS TV Salam Cafe's unique book instead and laugh at what presumably offends them.

Photograph Which way is up? found at Club Troppo's Missing Link.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Learn how to 'Sweet Talk Your Local Media', 23-25 June 2008

Click on lower left corner to enlarge

A chance for Clarence Valley local business, community groups and aspiring lobbyists to find out how to establish and maintain effective relationships with the media.
Workshops will be held at Grafton, Maclean and Yamba between 23-25 June and are run by a great local communicator, Debrah Novak.
Deb can be contacted for details by phoning 1300 783 396
or emailing info@womedia.com.au

Nicola Roxon has only herself to blame for that binge drinking hangover

The Federal Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, has only herself to blame for the hole she teeters on the edge of over the excessive use of that ill-defined, social (not scientific) term binge drinking.

Although to be fair, every frontbencher from the Prime Minister down appears to have been eager to blow the same moral dog whistle.

Although the
draft revised Australian alcohol guidelines for low-risk drinking is littered with the term binge drinking (and cites at least one study where this is defined as more than 4 standard drinks per day), it is careful to acknowledge the difficulties in using such a term.

Intoxication
‘Intoxication’ is a widely used term with no consistent or formally agreed definition. It is usually taken to describe when a person’s blood alcohol concentration is elevated to a level at which they cannot function within their normal range of physical and mental abilities. Levels above about 0.05–0.08% are sometimes taken as a proxy measure of intoxication (see Section 3.3). In lay terms, intoxication is a subjective feeling, the experience of a substantial effect of alcohol on mood, brain function, and psychomotor function. However, there are
marked variations in the amount of alcohol different people need to consume in order to experience intoxication.
Binge-drinking
This term is avoided as far as possible in these guidelines because its meaning is ill-defined and unclear. It was formerly used to refer to an extended period (usually more than a day)devoted to drinking at levels leading to intoxication. However, more recently, it has been used to describe single-occasion drinking of a substantial amount, particularly by adolescents and young adults.

In Crikey yesterday,
Geoff Munro takes the media to task and states; Despite Albrechtsen et al, the NHMRC draft did not employ the term binge drinking because medical scientists do not agree on how many drinks constitute a "binge", or the period of time in which they must be consumed to qualify as a binge.
Which makes me wonder if the pre-24 November 2007 draft differed in some respects from the archived community consultation draft now displayed on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) website.

What is glaringly obvious is that a new government rushes to redefine social problems at its own peril.

For once it wasn't Brendan's fault....

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has received another slap in the face from the latest Newspoll.
Wee Brennie is now trailing as preferred prime minister at a dismal 13%, but is it all his fault?
I suspect that he is suffering a negative washback from voter judgments about Julie Bishop's prissy attempts at political point scoring on the floor of the House and elsewhere, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott's whiteanting in the media, and Joe Hockey's ridiculous, time wasting, televised 'points of order' that aren't.
Bren, mate, it's just as much the Liberal Party's fault as it is yours.

The recent attempt to make political capital out of Iguana-gate exposed the party's weakness and lack of coherent strategy.
However, with these inflated egos in full cry I doubt if you can rein them in before they cost you the leadership.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

I'm with you Barack: Al Gore

Al Gore is now emailing for Obama.
Below is today's email to the faithful.

Dear [edited],
A few hours from now I will step on stage in Detroit, Michigan to announce my support for Senator Barack Obama. From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected President of the United States.
Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges -- including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy, and solving the climate crisis. Barack Obama is clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America.
This moment and this election are too important to let pass without taking action.
That's why I am asking you to join me in showing your support by making a contribution to this campaign today:
https://donate.barackobama.com/gore
Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement. He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill. It begins when people stand up and take action.
With the help of millions of supporters like you, Barack Obama will bring the change we so desperately need in order to solve our country's most pressing problems.
If you've already contributed to this campaign, I ask that you consider making another contribution right now. If you haven't, please take the next step and own a piece of this campaign today:
On the issues that matter most, Barack Obama is clearly the right choice to lead our nation.
We have a lot of work to do in the next few months to elect Barack Obama president, and it begins by making a contribution to this campaign today.
Thank you for joining me,
Al Gore
LIVE TONIGHT -- 8:30 p.m. EDT: Watch streaming video of Al Gore and Barack Obama at a rally in Detroit, Michigan:
http://www.BarackObama.com

What if a cartoonist became the US President?

From XKCD.COM

Is it a nerd? Is it a pain? No, it's SuperRudd!

SuperRudd has unleashed his rather mindless razor gang on everything that moves, except those silly dob-in-a-terrorist TV ads which seem to be running each day this week and obviously costing unnecessary dollars because Australia's domestic terrorism threat level is still where it was in 2002 - at an arbitrary "medium" level.
The Nerd of Steel is also understood to have enlisted the help of the Attorney-General to see how much more money can be wasted on this redundant campaign to promote the National Security Hotline.
If ASIO's 2006-07 Year in Review figures are to be believed, this national hotline is so popular that half of the country must have its freecall number tattooed on their foreheads or still have Howard's fridge magnet in plain view.
Time to get back in the phone box, Kev. You're expecting an irate call concerning the cost of government advertising in a year where pensioners and working families are tightening their belts.

Monday, 16 June 2008

The butler says he didn't do it

In a tale that has all the elements of a mystery that only Agatha Christie's Miss Marple could solve the former royal butler Paul Burrell has rejected claims that he boasted about having sex with Princess Diana.

The Australian newspaper reports
Mr Burrell said he was "sad and hurt" by claims made by his brother-in-law Ron Cosgrove, who told a British newspaper that the former butler confided to him 15 years ago about his intimate relationship with the princess.

The former butler also denied Mr Cosgrove's claims that Mr Burrell had told him he had seen the Queen naked at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Burrell said there was "not one shred of truth" to what Mr Cosgrove had told the News of the World tabloid and that his brother-in-law could have decided to "invent" the claims because he had refused to lend him money.

"Myself and my wife Maria feel tremendously sad and hurt that he has resorted to such vengeance by way of response," Mr Burrell said.

"Anyone who knows me, who knew the princess, and who understands the boundaries and decencies of royal service, as well as the integrity and trust which existed within our working relationship at Kensington Palace, will know just how fanciful, distasteful and malicious these claims truly are."

In a lengthy interview published yesterday, Mr Cosgrove said Mr Burrell had told him during a conversation in a pub in 1993 about he and Diana "did it in the bedroom, the bath, everywhere".

Mr Cosgrove said Mr Burrell had also claimed to have seen the Queen naked after chasing a royal corgi into her bedroom at Buckingham Palace.

Show and tell in Federal Parliament?

Will the flood gates open in Australia's Federal Parliament today when Belinda Neal, the Member for Robertson, is expected to be in Parliament for the first time since the Iguanas nightclub incident?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a spokesman for Federal Opposition leader Brendan Nelson said, "We expect Mr Rudd to call on Belinda Neal to go into the chamber and explain what happened."

According to the
Herald, Nelson is set to exploit the MP-behaving-badly issue and press Mr Rudd to require Ms Neal to explain to Parliament her side of the story over the fracas with staff at the Gosford nightclub.

Comment:
MPs behaving badly? Brendan Nelson should be very careful. His side of the House has more than its fair share of MPs whose unacceptable behaviour could be highlighted.

Fight for the right of your community to have a say in local development - go to www.keepitlocal.org.au and have your say

It's time to step up and support the push for a NSW Upper House inquiry into Frank Sartor's draconian, pro-developer changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
Go to www.keepitlocal.org.au and follow the links to its email page.
To make it easy the Local Government and Shires Association has produced a template email letter.
The need for an inquiry into the 200 pages of changes to planning laws will be debated in the Upper House tomorrow, Tuesday 17 June 2008.
 
 
 
A parliamentary committee has raised serious concerns about the proposed New South Wales planning laws.
The cross-party committee, which included four Labor politicians, found 20 problems with the new bills, including that they could provide Planning Minister Frank Sartor and the planning commissions with oppressive power.
It also found the laws could compromise people's rights and liberties, and remove procedural fairness.
Local Government Association president Genia McCaffrey says the findings vindicate her call for an Upper House inquiry into the bills.
"We've been saying this is going to remove the rights of people to protect their homes," she said.
"The parliamentary inquiry is confirming exactly what we're saying when it says they're concerned that the rights of local residents will be seriously under threat."
 
More on the subject from The Northern Rivers Echo here and The Byron Shire Echo here.

US08: political attitude in the race for the White House



Bumper stickers available online from what appears to be a pro-McCain website Fredstates.com .


Moving from the bitter to the politically sugar-laden. Click onto Cats for Obama



An ongoing difficulty for a less than rational world

Jonathon Mahler in Week in Review examines "Why This Court Keeps Rebuking This President".

“The most important thing we do is not doing,” Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said of the
Supreme Court’s abiding humility, its overwhelming preference to allow the people, through their elected representatives, to govern themselves.---
And never is the court more reluctant to act than when faced with a challenge to the president during wartime.---

So it is extraordinary that during the Bush administration’s seven years, nearly all of them a time of war that began on Sept. 11, 2001, the court has been prompted to push back four times. Last week’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush, in which the court ruled that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have a right to challenge their detentions in the federal courts, marks only the most recent rebuke."

This presents a somewhat reassuring view of America and seems to support the pious hope of justice prevailing.
However, for the international community which has watched George Dubbya circumvent the US Courts time and time again, the difference in response from both presidential candidates leaves an uncomfortable notion that the fate of human rights in America is still very much up in the air.

"Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama have both long advocated closing the Guantánamo detention center but have disagreed on the rights of prisoners there.
Mr. McCain said here Thursday morning that he had not had time to read the decision but that “it obviously concerns me,” adding, “These are unlawful combatants; they’re not American citizens.”
Mr. McCain said he thought “we should pay attention” to the dissent by Chief Justice
John G. Roberts Jr., which argued that the steps established by the administration and Congress in creating review tribunals run by the military were more than sufficiently generous as a way for detainees to challenge their status.
Still, the senator said, “it is a decision the Supreme Court has made, and now we need to move forward.”
Mr. Obama issued a statement calling the decision “a rejection of the Bush administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantánamo” that he said was “yet another failed policy supported by John McCain.”
“This is an important step,” he said of the ruling, “toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting
habeas corpus. Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy.”

Sunday, 15 June 2008

So, the butler did do it

WARNING

Some readers may find the following news report offensive.


********
The Australian newspaper's breaking news reports that the former royal butler Paul Burrell boasted to relatives about having secret sex trysts with Princess Diana.

In a sensational newspaper interview published in Britain today, Burrell's brother-in-law Ron Cosgrove revealed how the butler told him in 1993 about how he had bedded the princess while he worked for her at Kensington Palace.

Mr Cosgrove also claimed that Mr Burrell had told him he had accidentally seen the Queen naked and that after Diana's death Mr Burrell asked relatives to hide three bin bags filled with clothes, jewellery and mementos belonging to her.

The 61-year-old furniture dealer said Mr Burrell met him at a Cheshire pub in 1993 and told him that he had been having a sexual relationship with Diana.

"He said they did it in the bedroom, the bath, everywhere,'' Cosgrove told The News of the World.

"He claimed Diana liked to be domineering.

"Paul told me that he'd get a call from Diana in the middle of the night specifically to have sex with her. He said she was very sexually demanding - `a bit xxxxing kinky' were his words - and if you worked for the princess you worked for her 24/7.

"I told him if it was true I was disgusted with him because he was married to my sister and cheating on her with another woman.

"But he didn't see that as a problem. He just replied, `Yes, but it IS the princess.' I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe what he was telling me.''

Mr Cosgrove said Mr Burrell had also claimed to have seen the Queen naked after chasing a royal corgi into her bedroom at Buckingham Palace.

"He barged in to grab the dog and was greeted by the Queen who was standing there with no clothes on,'' Mr Cosgrove said.

"Her only concern was that the dog would not get its muddy paws on her bedsheets.''

Mr Burrell also was accused by Mr Cosgrove of hiding bag loads of Diana's belongings in an attic and garden shed after her death in a Paris car crash in August 1997.

Mr Cosgrove said Mr Burrell ordered a relative to take three sealed bags from Kensington Palace and "keep them safe and out of the way''.

"The relative later told me Mr Burrell had said there was royal memorabilia in them, like dresses and hats,'' he said.

Mr Burrell was charged in 2001 with stealing 342 items belonging to Diana and her sons Prince William and Prince Harry.

But his trial collapsed after the Queen said she recalled Mr Burrell telling her he had kept some of Diana's belongings for safe-keeping.

Unforeseen consequences for indigenous communities from Howard/Rudd NT Intervention?

ABC News reports:
The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) says there has been an increase in racial discrimination in communities since the Commonwealth Intervention was launched last year.
NAAJA and Central Australian legal group CAALAS has handed a submission to a Senate Committee Inquiry into the effectiveness of the Commonwealth intervention.
The submission described the intervention legislation and policies as inherently discriminative and says they have produced "unforseen consequences" on the ground.

Full June 2008 21 page joint submission by the NNAJA and CAALAS
here.

Excerpt:

A typical example is the comment by a particular community that the "white cops are going over board" and are treating the community members as though "we’re criminals". The community members stated the problem was with the new recruits, rather than with the older police, and gave the following examples of their concerns:
· As soon as some people are seen drinking, all of the houses in the community are searched.
· Police are searching the houses without even explaining what they’re doing or finding out who owns the house or who lives in the house.
· Police have been conducting searches on houses in the community when they are in the community looking for someone on a warrant or a summons.
· When conducting searches, police have been breaking sacred items that are used for ceremonies because the police view these items only as weapons.
· Female police have been looking at sacred objects that women are not allowed to see. This is being reported back to communities, making problems for the community members in relation to witchcraft.
· Aboriginal women and their bags are being searched by male police officers.
· There have been a lot of instances in which unopened alcohol has been destroyed by the police outside the boundary of the community.
· At the local bus-stop, Aboriginal people’s bags are searched purely because they’re Aboriginal.
· Police know that taxis and mini buses are bringing alcohol into the community but taxi drivers and mini bus drivers are not being caught by the police nor having their vehicles confiscated.
· Intoxicated people are being taken into protective custody while sitting on the verandahs of their house.
· Police are refusing to give their rank number when they’re asked.

Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities
There have been 29 submissions received here. Including submissions from Amnesty International, Rio Tinto and the Minerals Council of Australia.

Last word on Belinda Neal?

THERE should be at least one change for the third State of Origin match - Belinda Neal in the front row.

ANTHONY McMAHON
Chatsworth Island*

*Letter to the Editor in yesterday's The Daily Examiner, Grafton

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Grow up Christopher Pyne

Viewers of ABC TV's Lateline on Friday 13 June can be excused if they thought Liberal front bencher Christopher Pyne is related to Alexander Downer or went to the same schools the Member for Mayo attended.

Pyne, described by ABC's Virginia Trioli as "the Opposition's well-mannered Shadow Minister for Justice" debated recent political issues with Craig Emerson, "the ever-polite Minister for Small Business".

Pyne was pompous, arrogant and downright rude.

Among other things Pyne, in classic à la Alexander mode, remarked:
Well, the
Troy Buswell story is done and dusted. ... He put his leadership to a vote in the Western Australian Liberal Party and the Liberal Party voted to continue with his leadership.

Enough said!

World prefers Obama

US citizens would do well to read the following article by Anne Davies of London's Telegraph. It appears in The Sydney Morning Herald.

If Barack Obama were running for leader of the world, instead of leader of the US, he would probably romp home.

The annual global survey of attitudes by the independent Pew Research Centre shows that the Democratic nominee for president has won the confidence of people in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia and is strongly preferred as president of the US over his rival, the Republican John McCain.

In Australia, 80 per cent of participants said they had confidence in Senator Obama, against 40 per cent for Senator McCain.

Similar results were reported from Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Tanzania.

American participants in the survey gave the two senators roughly equal scores.

The poll results came as a presenter on Fox News television was taken off air after she accused Senator Obama and his wife, Michelle, of greeting each other with a "terrorist's fist jab".

E. D. Hill made her comment after the presumptive Democratic nominee and his wife affectionately bumped fists on stage last week as he prepared to make his victory speech.

Read the Pew Research Centre's findings here.