Thursday, 31 July 2008

US 08: Monkeying about with the presidential candidates

With many of the published images and cartoons becoming rather vicious (in political comment surrounding the U.S. presidential race), it is nice to see an equal opportunity look at candidates McCain and Obama which is nothing but light-hearted.


Images from Celebrity Apes.





The Libs decide to protect the planet and Nelson acts the fool for Kerry O'Brien

Well now we know, confusion over the Federal Opposition's position on emissions trading is over - because the Liberal Party announced yesterday that it was all about Protecting the Planet:

The Coalition Joint Party Room has today unanimously agreed to key principles in relation to climate change.
We give the planet the benefit of the doubt and support action on climate change. [my emphasis]
We support in principle an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as part of a three pillars approach to combating climate change:
Clean Energy Policy;
International Pressure; and
An ETS.
The Coalition has deep suspicions about Mr Rudd and his ETS model and we will vigorously scrutinise the Government’s legislation based on:
The detail;
The modelling;
The impact on the cost of living; and
International developments.Australia must be part of a global response to reduce emissions however:
An ETS should commence when it is ready in an orderly, methodical and responsible manner which enjoys the broad support of Australian industry and protects vulnerable Australian households – not before 2011 and probably by 2012;
The design detail of an Australian ETS must be informed by the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting at the end of 2009;
The carbon price must be set at a level that reflects action by the rest of the world; and
If no action is underway – Australia must start an ETS slow, and low on price.
But Mr Rudd and his Government are on notice – the Coalition will not support a flawed Emissions Trading Scheme, nor will we support an ETS too far ahead of the rest of the world.
We will not sign a blank cheque on Australia’s future and will not support a scheme that will disadvantage Australia’s national interest and competitive advantage.
We properly reserve our position on Labor’s legislation until it is before the Parliament.
We will stand up for Australia.

It was almost painful to watch last night's ABC TV 7.30 Report and Brendan Nelson's attempt to put flesh on this announcement while justifying his weakening hold on the Liberal Party leadership.

Who is the Hon Robert Shenton French?

I have to admit that I had never heard of Rudd's appointee to Chief Justice of the Australian High Court, Robert French, until now.

Here's his entry on the Federal Court website.

"Robert Shenton French was appointed to the Federal Court in November 1986.
He graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws. He practised for 11 years as a barrister and solicitor and then at the Western Australian Bar for 3 years. At the time of his appointment he was Chairman of the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal of Western Australia, a Member of the Law Reform and Legal Aid Commissions of Western Australia and an Associate Member of the Trade Practices Commission.
In 2003 Justice French was appointed as a permanent non-resident member of the Supreme Court of Fiji and in 2004 as an Additional Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. In 2005 Justice French was appointed as a Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal."

What is fascinating about this brief CV is the fact that, once upon a time, appointment to the Supreme Court of Fiji signalled that a judge was forever lost in legal backwaters.
It seems times change.

Case law involving French J
here.

That Tampa refugee case in which French and others found for the Howard Government is
here and here.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Stub smoking out

Hip! Hip! Hooray!

At long last the NSW Government is moving to introduce tougher smoking laws.

The move comes two years after the NSW Parliament moved to establish a joint select committee to inquire into tobacco smoking in NSW.

The Committee received 70 written submissions, conducted four public hearings with 40 witnesses, held a public forum and conducted two site visits to the respiratory unit at Concord Hospital and a licensed venue (the Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomoolo).

The Committee's report, which contained 26 recommendations, was tabled on 30 June 2006. The Government then had six months to respond. Read the Government's response here.

Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The new measures approved by NSW cabinet include fines for smoking in cars in which there are children under 16 and a ban on cigarettes being displayed in shops.

Heart Foundation NSW chief executive Tony Thirlwell said smoking was the single biggest cause of heart disease and cancer.

"These measures are a major step forward in protecting young people from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke," he said on Wednesday.

Putting tobacco products out of sight in shops was the most important measure in the package, which also includes a ban on buying cigarettes using shopper loyalty points, Mr Thirlwell said.

"Cigarette packets and displays are powerful forms of tobacco advertising and significantly influence the uptake of smoking among young people," he said in a statement.

"Tobacco kills 15,000 Australians every year and worryingly, nine out of ten smokers start when they are children."

Quit also welcomed the proposed measures, saying other states should follow suit.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said it was important the NSW government had proposed a total ban on the display of cigarettes, rather than leaving room for some displays.

Under the measures, large stores will have six months and smaller shops a year to put tobacco products out of sight.

"You'd be naive to think these tobacco displays in shops are anything other than showy advertisements for a product that will eventually kill half of long-term users," Ms Sharkie said in a statement.

"They are the first thing most people see when going into a shop, usually near ordinary items like newspapers, bread and lollies.

"This gives the false impression that these products are harmless."

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NSW said taking tobacco products off display would be a powerful disincentive to children.

President Brian Morton said the association also welcomed the ban on smoking in cars with children.

"The confined space of a car means young lungs can inhale high concentrations of tobacco smoke," he said.

"We hope the other states and territories which have not already done so will follow with similar laws."

The laws are expected to be introduced in the spring session when parliament returns from recess.

The only time mention of NSW Planning Minister Sartor is funny


Joke found while browsing the online newspapers.
Q: How many votes could Frank Sartor muster in a leadership coup?
A: If you count Frank, Frank and then Frank, that would be one.

Which rather sums up how many in the Northern Rivers think of the Minister for Overdevelopment.

Just how average are you?

SHOPPERS too lazy to walk to the supermarket add nearly 1.9m tonnes to our greenhouse gas emissions each year, a survey has found.

A national audit into everyday shopping habits by online search directory
TrueLocal (owned by the publisher of the Herald Sun) also found shoppers who travelled outside their local area to make their purchases were robbing local businesses of up to $92 billion a year in revenue....
The study revealed that over 12 months, the average Australian made more than 43 trips, travelling up to 477km outside of their local area and spending more than $7000. Collectively, this generated 7.3 billion kilometres of extra travel, the study found.
So said reporter Chelsea Mes at News.com.au yesterday.

According to TravelSmart
40 percent of all car trips are less than two km, and 66 per cent of all car trips are less than five km in Melbourne.
While in Brisbane an
individual makes an average 835 car trips per year as a driver and/or passenger.
By comparison in the United States
Americans average 9.7 trips per day per household or over 3,500 trips each year and in the U.K. it appears that each person makes over 1,000 car trips annually.

Thankfully, on the NSW North Coast, there are many who either 'let their fingers to do the walking' or make most of their trips to the shops on foot.
As a nation we appear to be doing a bit more walking than the two countires we usually compare ourselves with, however there are obviously not enough of us regularly leaving the car behind or the Australian average number of trips would be lower.
Are you doing your bit for the climate?

Update on U.S. numbers here.

Nelson takes 20 steps back, but the troops refuse to follow

Leader of the Federal Opposition, Brendan Nelson, has briskly taken 20 steps back (one for each of the last twenty years) when announcing his 'new' climate change policy.

Yesterday the Herald Sun reported:

"BRENDAN Nelson has foreshadowed a tougher line on emissions trading that hinges on action by big polluters including China and India.
Announcing the policy shift,
Dr Nelson said Australia must move ahead with an emissions trading scheme, but insisted that it "must be informed by what the major emitters throughout the world choose to do". He said Australia must "methodically and responsibly" implement its scheme with a price on carbon. "Australia must act with the rest of the world, but not be so far in front of the major emitters that we risk Australian jobs and we don't do anything for our environment," he said this afternoon. Coalition sources told The Australian Online earlier that hardliners in the shadow ministry were claiming a victory after today's meeting and claim the "big shift" was from frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt."

However, it seems the troops are still wedded to Howard's tardy timetable for an emissions trading scheme and didn't take to Nelson's even tardier conditional scheme.


In another ratchet to leadership tensions, the
Libs are once more floating the idea of nuclear power.
Is Deputy Leader Julie Bishop deliberately seeking to undermine Nelson's earlier anti-nuclear stance or is this an issue she just doesn't want to let go of.
Either way
the Opposition has absolutely no way of pushing such an unpopular idea onto the Australian people.

Who'd have thought that those right-wing goose steppers who created fear when in government would turn out to be as amusing as a barrel of monkeys once in opposition.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Is this the shape of things to come if 'hie heidyin' Iemma gets his way over privatisation of NSW electricity supplies?

With Morris Iemma due to meet with the ALP administrative committee next week, after previously attempting to smooze State President Bernie Riordan, I would like to remind Iemma, Costa, Sussex Street and the Coalition Opposition that voters are still watching their manoeuvres.

Thus far, none of those pushing for the sale of NSW power assets (or
those Nationals currently pretending to oppose the idea) have been able to satisfy that the following will not come to pass.

Dozens of governments have embarked on the pathway to electricity deregulation and privatisation since the mid-1990s. It has become the accepted wisdom amongst governments and opinion leaders despite the consequent price rises and disasters that have followed in its wake: the series of blackouts that have been experienced from California to Buenos Aires to Auckland; the government bailouts of electricity companies that have been necessary in California and Britain; the need for electricity rationing in Brazil; and the fact that it has become too expensive for millions of people from India to South Africa.

Electricity deregulation and privatisation is referred to as ‘liberalisation’ by its advocates who use the term to disguise what is in essence a massive shift of ownership and control of electricity from public to private hands, in the name of economic efficiency and in the cause of private profits. ‘Liberalisation’ has meant that maintenance teams that were once fully staffed have been dramatically cut leading to frequent equipment failures. It has meant that privately owned electricity conglomerates are able to blackmail governments into bailouts and high prices with threats of blackouts. And it has meant that the planning function of electricity authorities that once ensured adequate generating reserves for times of peak demand, and kept infrastructure up to date in developed countries, have been abandoned to market forces. Because of market forces electricity prices are based, not on the cost of production, but on how desperately consumers want electricity and this has led to sky-rocketing prices whenever private companies have been able to limit supply in times of high demand.

The privatisation of electricity is not something that citizens have demanded nor wanted. In general, there has been very little public participation in electricity reform decisions and as the consequences are observed, there have been many bitter protests against electricity privatisation.
[From Sharon Beder,
'Critique of the Global Project to Privatize and Marketize Energy', June 2005, pp. 177-185]

One more Australian creature is about to join the red list of those which may disappear because of climate change

If anything was needed to convince Australian governments and all domestic political parties that this continent has run out of time to fiddle about over decisions to back climate change mitigation measures, then the ABC News report on this little marine snail might do the trick.

Tasmanian scientists are concerned a microscopic marine snail species found in the Southern Ocean may soon die out due to climate change.
The scientists say it is field evidence that sea life in the Southern Ocean is being affected by warmer water....
"Many researchers have been assuming we would see this kind of result for the past 50 years and this is the first time we've got a measured response to the changing of the ocean chemistry," she said.
Dr Roberts fears if the snails die out there could be dire effects on the food chain.
"It's interesting to know what's going to happen to commercial fish that eat them because a change in their diet might mean a change in where they actually are living, so it's not just we might loose one variety of snail it actually could change the whole eco-system of the southern ocean.
"That's what we're most worried about that it could completely upset our commercial fish stocks."

I would like to remind Federal Nationals MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, that the regional economy of the NSW North Coast relies on both commercial and recreational fishers.
Perhaps he might also remember that the many low-income families in the area supplement their diet with fish they catch themselves.

Mr. Hartsuyker needs to think of both his electorate and the nation, before he decides to participate in any stalling tactics that the Federal Opposition may think fit to indulge in when Parliament considers the proposed national emissions trading scheme.


Sadly, this small mollusc joins a long list of Australian species, that are now on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and which may become extinct due to climate change.

Australian 2007 list
here.

Monday, 28 July 2008

First round of Federal Government climate change advertising is missing the mark?

Federal Leader of the Opposition (for now at least), Brendan Nelson, has accused the Rudd Government of missing the bigger picture in its multi million dollar climate change ad campaign.

Missing the bigger picture? The current televised ad is nothing except the Big Picture.
A big picture of which 99 per cent of all Australians would already be well aware.

Now is the time for advertising that actually tells us something about the finer details of how global warming is expected to affect our regions and communities.
Now is the time to go into more detail about how the Federal Government intends to proceed.

Whoever convinced the Rudd Government that it should run such a generic and simplistic presentation of the issues has, in my opinion, got it badly and expensively wrong.

As for the Coalition objections to this ad. I doubt whether Howard's planned
Clever Climate advertising would have been any different and, this is what makes the Rudd-Wong televised advertisements so disappointing - they weren't elected to be a mere mirror of the Howard Government.

A new hybrid animal sighted roaming the political neighbourhood

Mal (B)rough has taken his bat and ball onto a plane for home, now that the Queensland Liberals and Nats have created that strangest of political hybrids, the Liberal National Party (LNP).

At it's new website the LNP promises:
"Government that is open and honest;
Government that has plans for the future, not just for the next five years but for the next 50 years;
Government that is caring and empathetic;
Government that is in touch and understands what life is like for Queensland families;
Government that builds for the future today, not just talks about it...
And that is what your new LNP will deliver."


A two-man executive currently musters this mob.
X marks the spot of the Draft Constitution and the lengthy amendments are here.

I think that Bleak's daily cartoon in The Australian has it about right.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Slate's interactive guide: Who in the Bush administration broke the law, and who could be prosecuted?

A little 'light' Sunday reading from Slate online magazine last Thursday.

What kind of lawbreaking has happened on President Bush's watch, among his top and mid-level advisers? What hasn't? Who is implicated and who is not? Despite the lack of or*l s*x with an intern, the past seven years have yielded an embarrassment of riches when it comes to potentially prosecutable crimes. We have tried to sketch out a map of who did what and when, with links to the evidence that is public and notes about what we may learn from investigations that are still pending....

Click here for the diagram, and here for a text-only version.

They're at it again! Pollies editing Wikipedia

No wonder Aussie politicians have reputations lower than a snake's belly.
Certain pollies, their staff and advisers have again been sprung editing Wikipedia, to change or remove parts of entries with which they disagree.
Being ably
assisted in this by staff at the Australian Parliamentary Library, who should have known better than to advise such a risky course of action censorship.
What was left of Wikipedia's rep has, along with the previously considerable reputation of the Parliamentary Library, flown out the window with this latest news.
Clocking up hours at taxpayer expense to edit a charitable organisation's website will not win any points with voters either.
It seems that a change of government did not in fact alter the habits of those scurrying about Roaches Castle on Capital Hill, Canberra.
If you didn't keep a record last time, here is the Wikiscanner website which will allow you to back track suspicious entries and edits to their source.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

We all need to get out more...

It seems that we all might need to get out more (and that includes advertising whiz kids).

At http://www.howdoyoulikeyourvegemite.com.au/ we are logging on to tell the world just how we like to spread our Vegemite.

There must be something about this humble yeast spread that taps into our lyrical selves.

Here is an Ode to Vegemite, A Tribute to Keats [1] courtesy of Sydney Poetry Blog and Becca Callaway.

O! Vegemite.
That molten onyx,
Oozing over the rough
Crumbling toast.
As my stainèd teeth
Rip into your skin,
As my blackened tongue
Pierces your sticky centre.O! Vegemite.
Oh, oh Vegemite.
As peristalsis
Takes its tangy toll.
As you slither down my oesophagus,
Whole.
O! Vegemite.
O! Sweet choking Vegemite.
Soothe the acids of my gut.
Writhe inside my big fat pot.
O! Vegemite
O! Vegemite.

Ode to Vegemite [2] here

Natural artists of the Clarence Valley

Clarence Valley sisters

Doris and Gladys O'Grady
who lived between
1894 and 1994.



Images from Grafton Regional Gallery

Aunty ABC presents iView with teething problems for consumers

So Aunty is giving Australia free internet streaming on six channels with iView.

Five of the channels are showing 'catch up' programmes, which is the spin for repeat programmes and the sixth appears to be an 'ad' channel for the ABC Shop.

iTWire tells us that
"iView uses a Flash-based player which may not be everyone's ideal, but at least it's available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The main menu page is a fairly hefty 2.3M (the bulk of that being the various XML files), and the episodes burn around 5M per minute. Clearly, this is not for people on 400M/month Internet plans. Oh, and the ABC recommends available bandwidth of at least 1.1Mbps for smooth playback. "

However, there is little to celebrate yet as so far only iiNet has reportedly agreed to place these ABC channels on the 'unmetered' download list.
Can anyone really see the Telstra board and CEO coming to the party?
Telstra has to be close to the biggest ISP based on broadband market share, so pigs might fly sooner.

As PC Authority puts it
"Telstra would rather you buy content from Bigpond Movies than watch iView for free, which is why it gives its customers such measly download limits but doesn't count data used downloading content from Bigpond. It's a de facto walled garden - you don't need walls when you cut people off at the knees so they don't have a high enough data allowance to go anywhere else. "

Friday, 25 July 2008

Wall Street Journal McCain v Obama July poll

The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

WASHINGTON -- Midway through the election year, the presidential campaign looks less like a race between two candidates than a referendum on one of them -- Sen. Barack Obama.
With the nominations of both parties effectively settled for more than a month, the key question in the contest isn't over any single issue being debated between the Democrats' Sen. Obama or the Republicans' Sen. John McCain. The focus has turned to the Democratic candidate himself: Can Americans get comfortable with the background and experience level of Sen. Obama? It's still looking like a toss of the coin in the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign.

We are halfway through Echidna breeding season - drive carefully

Photo from the ABC

Echidna breeding season still has around six more weeks to run. Please take care when driving on rural roads or near bushland in your area. An amorous Echidna doesn't look both ways before crossing the road!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Grab your flack jacket - Australia's under attack!

When out surfing the Net last night I came across the Global Terrorism Database.
Opening the tab GD2 I received something of a shock. It seems that Australia has had 63 terrorist attacks up to 1997, many involving fatalities.

Does anyone remember an attack on 19 August 1996 which targeted government and saw 60 people injured?
Or four days earlier the indigenous community of Halls Creek conducting a terrorist attack on multiple fronts?
A terrorist assault on business on 28 February 1997 which saw 19 hurt?


Here are the website's details:
Copyright © 2007 National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism START: A Center of Excellence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA 301.405.6600
Last Updated: May 14, 2007

The methodology is here.

Call 000 if your laughter threatens to become terminal.
Updated GD2 webpage for Australia showing 9 more terrorist attacks between 1998 and 2003.

Prime Minister Rudd is being cute as he again approaches the subject of a republic

Oh dear, Kevin Rudd is at it again.
On the surface it seems that yesterday he had "agreed to start a consultation process about Aboriginal recognition in the Constitution."
Does anyone really think that Rudders and cronies would stop at limiting constitutional change to this recognition?
The daft idiot obviously thinks that under the cover of what is essentially a moral as well as a legal issue, the Labor Right can attach a republic.
Sorry, mate. In this house a republic is not on - I wouldn't trust any modern pollie with pen and ink around the Australian Constitution.
With Australia 2020 showing what an elitist idea you have of the consultative process, I specifically wouldn't trust you, Kev.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Obama presidential campaign encapsulated or why George Dubbya still counts

Peter Martin points out an uncomfortable flaw in the national emissions trading scheme

Peter Martin in his blog yesterday pointed out a flaw in the proposed national emissions trading scheme which makes many uneasy.
This monumental elephant turned up in Australia's living room because the Rudd Government is like it's predecessor in many respects - it also appears to think that Australia is solely big business and industry.
When in fact the major polluters are frequently multinationals operating under multiple flags, to whom no-one owes a living least of all the Australian citizen, voter and taxpayer.

This column is about the coal-fired power industry, but it could have been about the asbestos industry, or the tobacco industry.

Never once on the countless occasions that Australian governments have restricted the sale of tobacco have they felt compelled to compensate the manufacturers for ''significant reductions in their profitability''.

Why would they? The cigarette manufacturers knew what was coming (and had decided to invest anyway) and were blessed with rusted-on customers.

But there was another more important reason why our governments didn't offer ''compensation'' to the industry they were trying to cripple.

To do it would have been to accept that the existing tobacco manufacturers had continuing ''rights'' that the government had to buy out in order to proceed.

It would have helped create a precedent that would have undermined the right of Australia's parliaments to act as they saw fit.

It would have undermined our sovereignty as voters...

The Government's independent climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, saw the danger clearly in his interim report delivered earlier this year.

As he put it, ''There is no tradition in Australia for compensating capital for losses associated with economic reforms.''

Is this a 'binge drinking' first?

You can tell The Daily Examiner has a former jock as its new editor.
During Grafton's July Racing Carnival the newspaper has Track Gossip on the front page.

The second trivia item was; "An 84-year-old woman in one of the hospitality tents was shocked by the waiter when she asked for a bottle of champagne.
'Sorry, Madam, I can't give you that, it's classed as binge drinking,' he told her.
The spritely pensioner told him that in all her life she had never been classed as a binge drinker and wouldn't cop it now.."

Apparently the waiter would allow her 2 glasses of champagne, which she took sans strawberries.

Stone the crows! At 84 years of age this woman lived through The Great Depression, the Second World War and every national upheaval thereafter.
She deserves to party at race time in her retirement years.

Bet that mongrel waiter went home and had a relaxing beer or three or four - with never a thought as to how his political correctness had humiliated one of his elders.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Stop laughing; they're serious about national carbon trading!

The Liberals Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt approve of an national emissions trading scheme and, rather belatedly, so does their leader Brendan Nelson.

However, the Rudd Government timeline for implementation is just too, too fast for these gentlemen.
Start up in 2010? No, no, and no.

It's hard not to laugh at these Coalition politicians, who complain bitterly of matters being rushed.
None of the four seem to think that voters can count.
Nelson, Turnbull, Abbott and Hunt have all conceded that the Howard Government actually received advice that it could
commence such a scheme by 2011 if it so desired (with the bureaucrats allowing that 2012 might be a better date).

I'm betting that what "too fast" actually boils down to is less than 12 months between the start up date Rudd finally announces and 2011.
Perhaps at little as 6 to 8 months.

Hardly an earth shattering difference and one that doesn't justify the obstructionist position that the Opposition appears bent on taking.
But then, I don't think that the Opposition has taken on board the fact that ordinary Australians (as opposed to business leaders) want to see government begin to tackle climate change mitigation asap.

I suggest that all four MPs take a look at
Behavioral Economics and Climate Change Policy, it might give them a small hint about human nature.

But greed and accumulation are only a part of the richness of human behavioral patterns.
These have come to prominence because they have been rewarded through an incentive structure that grew hand in hand with the production bonanza made possible by fossil fuels. Types of behavior conducive to cooperation, doing with fewer material
possessions, and recognizing the necessity of shared sacrifice are also part of the human experience.
[Gowdrey, John M,January 2007]

Launch of Unions NSW maternity leave campaign at Ballina

In The Far North Coaster online magazine yesterday.

"The Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, says it is appalling that in 2008 Australia has no universal paid maternity leave.
At the launch of Unions NSW maternity leave campaign at Ballina’s Fox Street Pre-School today, Ms Saffin said she agreed that six months paid leave would be the ideal because it was consistent with breastfeeding.
“I support the Government in referring the matter to the Productivity Commission because that’s the best way to investigate the social and economic costs and benefits,” she said.
The Productivity Commission Inquiry is to identify the models for paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.
Ms Saffin said there needed to be public funding.
“In Page, we have about 10,000 small businesses and they can’t afford to be paying the costs of maternity leave,” she said."

I don't think the Page electorate is in any doubt that we now have a federal member who is willing to go to bat for us all and, one who has quickly established a good relationship with Northern Rivers media.
Her first eight months on the job have been remarkable for the level of positive media coverage.
Having a former editor on staff helps I'm sure.

Monday, 21 July 2008

WYD 08: Pope warns world against the dangers of Angel Food Cake!

On SBS World News Hour last night an excerpt from the papal mass was shown in which the world heard Pope Benedict (with an unfortunate stress on the first syllable) warn the young about a growing spiritual dessert [sic].

In the interests of public safety, posted below is the likely culprit - Black & White Angel Food Cake.
Please report any sighting immediately to the nearest bishop.

Photograph from Culinary in the Desert Country.

Another round of free energy audits for low-income households and supply of some energy saving devices

If you have a Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs Pensioner Concession Card and haven't has your house audited to see how you can save energy and money, here is your chance to participate this year.

According to the NSW Dept. of Environment and Climate Change [June 2008] it will begin free audits on the NSW North Coast in November.

NSW households spend as much as $32 per week on gas and electricity, on top of transport fuel costs. Over the next five years the NSW Government will help the most vulnerable households to save energy and money to buffer them against rising energy prices.
Through the NSW $63 million Low Income Household Refit Program, 220,000 households will receive an energy efficiency audit, refit kits that include water and energy saving devices and advice, and information on purchasing more efficient appliances.


Quoted in The Daily Examiner last week, a departmental spokesperson also included draught-proofing doors and windows in this offer.

Contact details were listed in The Daily Examiner as:
Phone 1300 631 967 or email ccf@environment.nsw.gov.au and put "household refit" in the subject line.

Nice work if you can get it: ANZAC Top 40 rich list

t#1 Andrew Forrest
Net Worth ($bil): 6,600
More on Andrew Forrest

#2 Graeme Hart
Net Worth ($bil): 5,400
More on Graeme Hart

#3 James Packer
Net Worth ($bil): 5,300
More on James Packer

#4 Frank Lowy
Net Worth ($bil): 4,400
More on Frank Lowy

#5 Harry Triguboff
Net Worth ($bil): 2,700
More on Harry Triguboff

#6 Gina Rinehart
Net Worth ($bil): 2,400
More on Gina Rinehart

#7 Richard Pratt
Net Worth ($bil): 2,100
More on Richard Pratt

#8 John Gandel
Net Worth ($bil): 2,000
More on John Gandel

#9 Kerr Neilson
Net Worth ($bil): 1,900
More on Kerr Neilson

#10 Stanley Perron
Net Worth ($bil): 1,800
More on Stanley Perron

Rest of the Australia-New Zealand Top 40 at Forbes.com
here
With pictures of what super-rich looks like.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

US08: Blog lusting for Barack

I suppose it had to happen. Someone fell in love with Barack Obama's butt at Bloglusting for Barack, because his sexy deserves a forum all its own.

i love barack obama.
he is an astounding man of great character, sterling principle, sound ideas, endless hope, and boundless ability.
and he’s also pretty freakin hot. we don’t discuss that enough.
i know im not the only one who feels that way; most of the people who found my main blog got there via searching for sexy pictures of barack, so i know the demand for this sort of forum is out there.
i will scour the net for beautiful, delicious pictures of our love, barack obama, and put them all here for your bloglusting convenience.
additionally, you can email me your own pictures, love letters, poems, etc, at
BarackIsSexy@gmail.com and i will post them here as well. it will be the sexiest shrine to positive political change ever.
so ladies, gaydies, and all those in between… let’s get it poppin
.


This blog also solicits donations for Obama, but does not appear to have been active past the month it was created.
An Obama for America campaign team idea which was mercifully allowed to wither on the vine or just an over enthusiastic supporter?

North Coast shark rescue


Sharks get such bad press generally, so it was nice to see a Grey Nurse Shark rescue receive world-wide coverage this week.
A big well done to all those involved.


Divers near Byron Bay, 500 miles (800km) north of Sydney, attempt to capture a grey nurse shark, above, that has a grappling hook lodged in its digestive tract, leaving a metal handle sticking from its mouth.
After it was captured and placed in a holding tank, rescuers pushed a plastic pipe into its throat and the veterinary surgeon David Blyde reached between the jaws of the 10ft shark, through the pipe, to free the hook.
“As a veterinarian you often end up putting your hands in places that people find somewhat unattractive,” Dr Blyde said.
The grey nurse shark is not considered a threat to humans but its bite could do serious damage. It is one of Australia’s most endangered marine species after being fished to near-extinction.

Tony Abbott's take on an emissions trading scheme

Tony Abbott was a one stop ride when asked about the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme on ABC Lateline last Friday.
However, you just have to admire Tone's dogged persistence at getting across his 'message' and managing a gratuitous mention of Evans' dodgy opinion [See
WaterDragon's post].
According to Tone the Moan, Penny Wong all but stole the emissions trading scheme, lock, stock and barrel, from the former Coalition government.

Somehow I think Abbott's words may come back to haunt him during the next parliamentary sitting period.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, no. Well, no, I'm not. I mean, these are the guys - it's the Rudd Government that wants to take a Howard Government program and rush it into practice and no doubt maladminister it, even though the science is evolving. These are the guys that are going to muck things up and I think it's only right and proper that they should be held to account and put on the spot....
TONY ABBOTT: Well, I mean, the now Government says that the Coalition doesn't take this issue seriously and yet they've actually taken up the Howard Government's plan, except they want to rush it in too early, even though the situation is evolving. Now ...
TONY ABBOTT: Because the emissions trading system that Labor is proposing is essentially a carbon copy of what the Howard Government proposed only we wanted to wait and see what happened until 2012. We didn't want to rush it in as an act of theology in just a couple of years' time, when the expert advice that we got was that it was impossible to bring in an emissions trading system safely and fairly in the time frame that Labor is now pursuing...
TONY ABBOTT: So did you read the article by David Evans in the paper today? ...
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Tony Abbott, you're ducking and weaving here, I mean...
TONY ABBOTT: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, I...
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Yeah, but there's enough out there at least for you to say, "No, that won't work, this will?"
TONY ABBOTT: Well, as I said, it's not for us - I mean, the Howard Government put forward a policy. Essentially it's been adopted by the Government.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Starwatching on the weekend


Starwatching from XYCD
Click image to enlarge

Who should we believe on climate change?

It didn't take long after the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water announced the green paper on a national emissions trading scheme for a section of the media to find it's anti-anthropomorphic climate change position.

The Australian lead the charge yesterday with this from Dr. David Evans.

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.
FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.----

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Now Dr. Evans has a perfect right to his own opinion. However, there is one question that comes to mind; is this opinion worth considerable weight?

I honestly don't know, but I suspect that a man whose biography shows that his Phd was in electrical engineering, whose forte is mathematics and computer programming, whose first love appears to be his investment portfolio and the stock exchange and who has a company to promote, may not be the person with the last reliable word on climate change theory.

Dr. Evans also appears to be a fan (perhaps also a member) of The Lavoisier Group which was founded in 2000 as a group of people who were concerned about the drift at that time towards ratification of Kyoto and the decarbonisation of Australia.

So, in the end, perhaps David Evans is not "the rocket scientist".

Friday, 18 July 2008

Best World Youth Day photo of the week

Darth Vader gets into the act in this photo posted at Larvatus Prodeo during Catholic World Youth Day 2008.
Hats off to ProjectEye for the original.

Worst World Youth Day quote of the week

Original picture found at Google Images

Bishop Anthony Fisher making a mockery of the pain and suffering experienced by sexual abuse victims and their families.

A thought to ponder as the politicians argue about climate change

In the Herald Sun yesterday.

"NATURAL disasters killed at least 150,000 people in the first half of this year, more than in the whole of 2004 when south-east Asia was struck by a tsunami, a top insurer said today.
The figures came from German re-insurance group Munich Re which warned that the pattern this year fitted a trend of worsening weather-driven catastrophes, and the company called for increased efforts to fight climate change.
Specialists at the German group recorded about 400 natural catastrophes in the first half of 2008, with overall losses so far estimated at $US50 billion ($52.48 billion).
In 2007, a total of 960 disasters caused about $US82 billion in damage, of which $US30 billion was covered by insurance."

Perhaps Nelson, Turnbull and Co. might like to think on this, as they baulk at beginning to implement solutions.

With most of the Australian population living within seven kilometres of the coastline and therefore in some of the most vulnerable areas of the country, there is no more time for these politicians to play petty games.

The poor will always be with us and poorly compensated for social and economic change

There is a lot of nonsense being talked about people living on or below the poverty line being adequately compensated by government, for rising costs due to the introduction of a mandatory national Emissions Trading Scheme.
This will not happen.
Any individual or family compensation will follow an historic pattern of an increase in benefit, allowance or tax rebate, which will have its real worth whittled away over time because the frequency of cost of living rises either markedly outstrip government expectations or government does not attempt to fully match post-ETS CPI rises.

Renters will be even worse off because it is highly unlikely that landlords will install water and energy saving devices in existing housing.
Any pensioner can tell you that the lag, between real cost increases and increases in pensions or allowances, mean that bills are often being met from dwindling resources.
So I have little sympathy for business or industry bitching over the 'sweet' deal they are getting from the Rudd Government.
Their own company bottom lines are unlikely to suffer - they will all make sure that the poor cough up to pay their increased fees and charges.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Free to a good home. One red-neck editor

If anyone in the Clarence Valley was surprised at either the increasingly strident editorials coming from the pen of new The Daily Examiner editor, Peter Chapman, his tabloid-style of journalism or the fact that he attacked one letter to the editor writer (critical of his fear mongering) by name in an editorial - be surprised no more.

It seems that the ABC's Media Watch
1999 archives may give a measure of the man that APN News & Media Ltd has foisted on our unsuspecting valley communities.

Richard Ackland: The flack asking the questions was the public relations manager of the Canberra Raiders, Peter Chapman.

Chapman and Pearson nutted out the questions and answers in advance of it being recorded, and released it to the over-excited news services.
No journalist got within cooee of a question.
But that wasn't the only deception.
Much of the video "press release" centred on the leak, and who had leaked:
Chapman: "Who had a copy of that statement?

Pearson: "Ah two people initially had a copy of that statement. "(Channel 10 News, 4/8/99)
Richard Ackland: Well, that was three.... And there was more probing:
Chapman: "Have you asked who released it?

Pearson: "Um, I've queried and I can only put two and two together."(Channel 10 News, 4/8/99)
Richard Ackland: I hope he got four. Then there was the immortal:
"How do you feel about the leaking of this confidential document?"(Channel 10 News, 4/8/99)
Richard Ackland: We know of at least two sources, and neither is the NRL's lawyer. One was Kennedy's manager, John Fordham.

But the other was much closer to home.
Peter Chapman was the confidential Raiders' source who had selectively leaked to the 'Canberra Times'.
The same Peter Chapman who asked all those "wide-eyed" questions which suggested the leak was a terrible betrayal.
It's all smoke and mirrors in the fabulous world of public relations.
Until next week, goodnight.

APN's current share price listed on its website last night was:
Australia 3.28 (0.01% change)
New Zealand 3.90 (0.00% change)

Some in the Valley are betting that, with editors like this, APN Australia is about to take a bath.

National carbon trading: Penny Wong's progress

Well, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper (full report) is out.

Excerpt:

Mechanics of a cap and trade emissions trading scheme
Step 1:
Significant emitters of greenhouse gases need to acquire a ‘carbon pollution permit’ for every tonne of greenhouse gas that they emit.
Step 2: The quantity of emissions produced by firms will be monitored and audited.
Step 3: At the end of each year, each liable firm would need to surrender a ‘carbon pollution permit’ for every tonne of emissions that they produced in that year. The number of ‘carbon pollution permits’ issued by the Government in each year will be limited to the total carbon cap for the Australian economy.
Step 4: Firms compete to purchase the number of ‘carbon pollution permits’ that they require. Firms that value carbon permits most highly will be prepared to pay most for them, either at auction, or on a secondary trading market. For other firms it will be cheaper to reduce emissions than to buy ‘permits’.
Certain categories of firms might receive some ‘permits’ for free, as a transitional
assistance measure. These firms could use these or sell them.

What can one say about this?

It is looking increasingly likely that this reduction scheme will be riddled by free permits and high levels of get-out-of-gaol-free pollution allowances for certain industries.

The only way the Rudd Government will avoid committing many of the same errors as Europe (when it first approached a mandatory scheme) is if the Australian electorate makes its views known and, signals an unwillingness to tolerate up to 20 per cent of permits being given away for free or exporting industries being allowed up to 90 per cent of their emissions to be exempt from the scheme.


See The Australian article
yesterday.

The Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, states that submissions on the Green Paper will be accepted.

Organise a group of friends and lodge a submission before the 10 December 2008 deadline.

Submissions can be forwarded to:
emissions trading@climate change.gov.au or
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper
Submission
Department of Climate Change
GPO Box 854
Canberra ACT 2601

Download the full report - Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper

Time to get out the butterfly net, Julia Gillard and capture that flighty PM

Original photo from Google Images

Extract from edited version Kevin Rudd's speech at the official opening of Catholic World Youth Day 2008 found at the Australian Prime Minister's website.

"Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st Century. I say they are wrong. Some say that faith is the enemy of reason, I say, also they are wrong.
Because faith and reason are great partners in our human history and in our human future. Rich in humanity, rich in scientific progress.
Some say only that which they see wrong in Christianity and in the church, I say let us speak also about what is right in Christianity and the church."

With so many Aussies now having a religion that isn't 'christian', only paying lip service to their family's religion or having no religion at all, this is a perfect example of an increasingly evangelical Rudders on an electoral losing trail.
Julia, you delivered the party votes to this egotistical idiot - rein him in before he promises Bene and George that we will become a theocracy!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Satirical or tasteless? You be the judge

Image found at Globeandmail.com

Myself, I think that the team's sense of humour has flown out the window. Perhaps they should stick to the incessant fund raising that they do so well.
Anyone for a fridge magnet?

NSW North Coast annual humpback whale count up

In the Byron Shire Echo yesterday.

A total of 1,183 humpback whales was counted during Southern Cross University’s annual Cape Byron Whale Research Project, which ended on July 6.
The 16-day survey was conducted by researchers from the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre and a crew of 25 volunteers.
The survey, which has been conducted off Cape Byron since 1995, is run in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, Cape Byron Trust, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Marine Parks Authority and the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium.
Project coordinator and PhD student Dan Burns said the number of whales counted as they passed Cape Byron on their journey north to the winter breeding grounds was well up on previous years.‘
Our previous record for the most whales in a day before this year was 102. We broke that four times this year. Our new record is 124 whales counted in one day,’ Mr Burns said.

Picture from Connie Talk

How many 'pilgrims' does it take to make a circus?

I have to confess to having a bit of a grin on my face whenever a spokesperson or apologist for Catholic World Youth Day 2008 congratulates themselves on a combined estimate of domestic and international 'pilgrim' numbers, ranging from 100,000 to 160,000 so far.
They obviously think that everyone has forgotten that the original numbers, with which the Catholic Church wooed the Iemma Government, were in the vicinity of 225,000 pilgrims/tourists.
How much debt did the Church leave behind in Toronto in 2002 - around $24 million wasn't it?

What doesn't bring a smile to my face is Morris Iemma's statement that; "My faith directly influences my Government's policies in areas like mental health, disability services and housing for the needy and homeless."

Think I'm somewhat in sympathy with the sentiments expressed by Rod of Grafton who comments;
"If Dilemma feels so strongly that his policies are directed by religion then no wonder the state is in ruins. Take all your other highly religious cronies with you Morris and go and become a priest. Good riddance to all of you."
And agree with Ken L. (Road to Surfdom) when he opines;
"I can’t be bothered writing much about the Vatican Circus that’s hit Sydney. I’m sure the indulgence stalls in Hyde Park are doing a roaring trade and the crowds are queueing to see a coffin with a saint inside and crowds of good-natured happy-clappy-Catholics are terrorising passers-by with chants of ‘Jesus Jesus Jesus, Oi Oi Oi!’."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Take that Morris Iemma! Rachel Evans deals a body blow to World Youth Day regulations

BBC NEWS today:

A court in Sydney has struck down a controversial state law that made it illegal to "annoy" pilgrims gathered for a Roman Catholic youth festival.
The judges ruled that the law, which allowed the police to fine people protesting over the Vatican's stance on various issues, limited free speech.
The ruling came as the World Youth Day festival opens. It will be attended by Pope Benedict XVI later this week.
The challenge to the law was brought by a coalition of protest groups.
Activists say they plan to hold a rally on Saturday at which they will demonstrate against the Church's stand on homosexuality and birth control, by handing out condoms and wearing provocative T-shirts.
Civil liberty groups had denounced the New South Wales state law - which threatened fines of up to A$5,500 (£2,680) against anyone causing "annoyance" to pilgrims - as unnecessary and repugnant.

The Sydney Morning Herald
today:

Annoyance clause invalid
The judges said that the interpretation of clause 7.1 of the act, which allowed regulation of conduct deemed to be a cause of "annoyance", was invalid because it "affects freedom of speech in a way that, in our opinion, is not supported by the statutory powers".
There was "no intelligible boundary" on what "causes annoyance".
The regulation relating to annoyance "could be expected to have a chilling effect upon the exercise of their freedom of speech because of the very uncertainty about the degree of its infringement upon that freedom", they said.


Well done Ms. Evans. I hope you
stand for election again in the future.
Australia needs its fighters.

National Tree Day Sunday 27 July 2008

On Sunday 27th July 2008, Australians will come together once again to plant native trees in their local areas for National Tree Day.

School's Tree Day will be held two days earlier on Friday 25th July 2008.


So don't forget to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and get involved.


Last year trees were planted all over the NSW Northern Rivers region.
Contact your local council or Planet Ark to see where you can join in the plantings this year.

Photograph found at Ecostruction

Big Brother dies - hurrah, hooray!

That Channel 10 program Big Brother, which notoriously ran overtime again and again as well as having the dumbest premise of any teev show, is finally ending next week.
Television bosses now have an opportunity to fill around 120 hours of air time with decent viewing.
When last I looked the
Herald Sun poll was running at 87% agreement with the proposition that television would be better off without Big Brother.
Oi Nick, mate, you're Ten's chairman - make sure that something decent is purchased for that vacant space.

Ten's pitching to the lowest common denominator is enough to bore the pelt off a dingo.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Interpretation of an Internet moment

Is this the future of the Murray Darling Basin?

Satellite image from Environmental Graffiti

This is an image taken from space of the Great Sandy Desert.

Drainage is limited to short ephemeral creeks and rivers, which only flow after heavy rainfalls. The bioregion comprises two ancient inactive river basins that are divided by a low watershed. The watershed is a lateritic surface that forms the Anketell Range in the west and Southwest Tableland in the east. North of the watershed Sturt Creek (now only visible from satellite imagery) once flowed across the desert to Mandora on the 80 Mile Beach. The southern basin contains Percival Lakes which represent a river system from the past (Beard, 1990). Calcrete and evaporite outcrops are associated with palaeodrainage systems that traverse the desert.
The headwaters of the Rudall and Cotton Rivers are in the northern limits of the bioregion in Western Australia. The Rudall River is a significant wetland/ecological refuge, which contains major permanent waterholes and soaks. The Rudall River flows approximately 120km into Lake Dora (30, 000ha) in the Western Australian sector of the bioregion.
In the northwest of the bioregion is Dragon Tree Soak, a 5ha swamp regarded as a relict of the riverine vegetation found along the palaeo-river in the wetter climates of the early to mid Holocene. The soak is a fresh water spring that supplies freshwater to the marsh and peatland.
Lake Amadeus is a massive saline lake in the Northern Territory, which has no significant surface inflow. The main inflow of water is via groundwater seepage.

Are we looking at a window into the future showing us all what will become of the southern half of the Murray Darling Basin?