Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ecuador offers Assange refuge

Sweden, recently touted as a possible home base for Wikileaks, has condemned the release of confidential diplomatic communications as making the world "less safe". There's also the little matter of Swedish prosecutors issuing an international warrant for the arrest of Wikileaks' attention-seeking founder Julian Assange, prosecutors aiming to make the world's women safe from the alleged predations of the allegedly safe sex-shunning former hacker.

Never fear Lefties, a "progressive" state has offered Assange refuge:
An Ecuadorean minister has offered residence in his country to Julian Assange, the reclusive founder of WikiLeaks, without conditions.

"We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions," Kintto Lucas, the deputy foreign minister, told the website Ecuadorinmediato on Monday.

"We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the internet but in a variety of public forums."
Now there's a match made in heaven if ever there was one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sea Shepherd reveals new artificial reef

Sea Shepherd has unveiled an AU$4 million vessel destined to join the Ady Gil as a home for marine life at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. Paul Watson and comrades are to be applauded.

Quiggin wrong

Professor John Quiggin mentioned in September a post he’d written in 2007, in which he predicted that “the Liberal Party will never win another federal election”. Said the egomaniac: “It still looks as if I might be right.”

But Professor Quiggin didn’t link to that initial post. That’s probably because he got everything wrong. Some excerpts:
“The Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.”

“It would be better for the conservatives to start a completely new party, leaving their toxic existing structures to collapse.”

“The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century …”

“Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011 …”
Hopefully Quiggin's understanding of economics, his specialty, is better than his understanding of politics.

Commenters Seared

Following the poor showing of both the ALP and his beloved Greens in Victoria over the weekend, enlightened lefty Jeremy Sear issues an invitation at Pure Poison:
Celebrate, commiserate. Gloat or remonstrate. Get it out of your system.
So readers respond. After all, that’s what Jeremy asked for.

But then in comments he attacks and abuses them, whining about “spiteful rightwingers”, “fatuous” theories, “trolls”, “shit analysis”, “asinine advice” and people “projecting their hatred”.

Um, Jeremy. That would be you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Overland literary journal publishes semi-literate nonsense

Overland, "the most radical of Australia’s long-standing literary and cultural magazines", today publishes "The greatest irony of Western policy", which starts off:
After the US mid-term elections, President Barack Obama is severely weakened by the rise of the Republicans. His unwillingness or inability to pursue true justice and peace in the Middle East will only be worsened.
Thus are we informed of the nonsensical proposition that President Obama's "unwillingness or inability" to pursue Middle East peace will not increase, it will "worsen". You guessed it, this mangling of both thought and language can only come from independent journalist Antony Loewenstein.

The article gets no better following the introduction:
Tragically, despite the soaring rhetoric including the recent speech to the Muslim world in Indonesia, Obama’s presidency has been notable for its continuation of previous administration policies. Relations with the Muslim world remain dire because occupation has only deepened in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. For example, drone attacks have killed more civilians in Pakistan since Obama assumed office.
The greatest irony of Western policy towards the Middle East is its shortsightedness.
Policy towards? Why not straightforwardly write "Shortsightedness is the greatest irony of Western Middle East policy."?

Yet Loewenstein's article draws this comment at Overland:
What a succinct, compelling and chilling analysis of the impact and the consequences of western policy in the Middle East that would rarely, if ever, see the light of day in mainstream media. Indeed mainstream media are a huge part of the problem. Thanks Antony, thanks Overland.
Overland's claims to have published "‘culture that matters … since 1954" but in 2010 publishes semi-literate, irrelevant nonsense by Antony Loewenstein. Overland must be desperate.

Update: Loewenstein's factually challenged Monday Crikey article "Australian troops involved in covert and deadly operations for the US" draws savage responses from both Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association and Professor Douglas Kirsner, School of International & Political Studies, Deakin University. (Click the link and scroll down.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Animal drug" for executing animalistic humans

The ABC reports on a change of drugs for U.S. lethal injections:
A United States judge has approved a drug normally used to euthanise animals for use in capital punishment in Oklahoma.
The drug, pentobarbital, is indeed used to euthanise animals but has other uses:
Pentobarbital has also been used for physician-assisted suicide. It is used in the US state of Oregon for this purpose, and is also used by the Swiss euthanasia group Dignitas. Pentobarbital was also used for this purpose in the Northern Territory of Australia, prior to euthanasia becoming illegal in that region.

In the Netherlands, a pentobarbital elixir is used for physician-assisted suicide (an alternative to euthanasia for patients who wish to take the barbiturate needed for the lethal cocktail themselves, instead of having it administered intravenously, in which case thiopental is used). Pentobarbital has no current therapeutic use in the Netherlands, and is only used for this purpose.

Typically, when orally ingested for euthanasia purposes, an antiemetic drug is swallowed approximately 30 minutes before the lethal overdose of pentobarbital. This is done because large concentrated doses of pentobarbital may cause vomiting.

In this role, pentobarbital is highly sought after by people wishing to end their lives but not allowed to do so under their country's laws. It is therefore often smuggled across borders from countries where it is still available over-the-counter such as Mexico, or purchased through illegal mail orders.
Pentobarbital is used by those promoting and seeking a painless exit, so it is also suitable for executing those deemed to be deserving of elimination.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seventh century education for Muslim students

As is this is a surprise:
BBC Panorama found that more than 40 Saudi Students' Schools and Clubs are teaching the official Saudi national curriculum to about 5,000 pupils.

One text book shows how the hands and feet of thieves are chopped off.

The Saudi government said it had no official ties to the part-time schools and clubs and did not endorse them.

However, a building in west London where Panorama obtained one of the text books is owned by the Saudi government.
One of the text books asks children to list the "reprehensible" qualities of Jewish people. A text for younger children asks what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam - the answer given in the text book is "hellfire".

Another text describes the punishment for gay sex as death and states a difference of opinion about whether it should be carried out by stoning, burning with fire or throwing the person over a cliff.
The appropriate punishment for gay homosexuals is, or course, stoning, burning with fire and throwing the offender over a a cliff.

Hitchens interview

Despite cancer and chemo Christopher Hitchens is almost as combative as ever. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The kiddie-enticing taste of spirits

As we all know, spirits have a taste (plus the delightful mouth and throat-searing) children can't resist. It is therefore shocking to learn that Jim Beam and Bundaberg are offering Australian children alcohol-flavoured but alcohol-free fudge this Christmas:
Public health campaigners have accused alcohol companies of using devious methods to bolster brand recognition among young people in a bid to get around bans on advertising to children. Research shows that the earlier children are exposed to alcohol advertising the more likely they are to drink at harmful levels later in life.
Worse still, duped children will grow obese in their futile efforts to consume enough alcohol–free fudge to get even slightly tipsy. Jeez, and to think alcohol-rich vanilla essence isn't restricted to sale at bottle shops.

Al Jazeera hires Australian Photoshop expert

Jack of all trades, master of none, Scott "the editor" Bridges now works for al Jazeera. So, was the Arab network looking for someone who could subtly Photoshop a Pepsi bottle into a penis, or did they want someone who could find sexual humour in the oddest places? Hey, maybe they just needed someone experienced with filth to clean toilets.

It's like a comedy of errors

Not finding much in the way of Internet entertainment this weekend? Try the Pure Poison podcast featuring Dave Gaukroger and Jeremy Sear. There is much laughing and carry-on, this I suspect is related to hormonal disturbances as the two young Lefty bloggers fast approach puberty – listen in awe to Jeremy's voice, which will begin to masculinise any day now.

Update: For more Leftard fun, check out this Pure Poison post by an astonished Sear, who can't believe a possibly inappropriate comment slipped past Andrew Bolt's moderators. Then again, Sear is well acquainted with inappropriate comments, having himself stealthily deleted one of his comments questioning hottie Amanda Beard's female equipment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Watering bitumen

As a motorcyclist I'm acutely aware of the huge quantities of water wasted on lawns – water that fruitlessly ends up on pavement and on me as I ride past. With a strong easterly over the past few days, huge quantities of water ends up blown into the streets. Then there's the local council's park watering with large mis-aimed sprinklers active most mornings, directing huge quantities of water many meters out onto the bitumen making it impossible for passing vehicles not to get drenched. It's a cruel joke that precious water is being so wasted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Over-zealous government intervention

A must read 1997 Economist article on government meddling in matters that are none of its concern.

In intervening years the meddling has only intensified.

Ady Gil sinking

Maritime New Zealand decides that the masters of the Shona Maru II and Ady Gil are equally responsible for the collision:
A Japanese whaler did not deliberately ram and sink a Sea Shepherd protest boat during a high-seas confrontation in Antarctic waters early this year, New Zealand investigators found Thursday.

There was no evidence either the whaler Shonan Maru II or Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil deliberately caused the January 6 collision, which sheared the bow off the militant environmental group's hi-tech trimaran, Maritime New Zealand said.

Instead, the government agency blamed poor seamanship on both sides for the accident, which occurred as Sea Shepherd boats harassed Japanese harpooners in a campaign to prevent whaling in Antarctic waters.

"(It) appears to have resulted from a failure by both masters and the crew of both vessels to appreciate and react appropriately to the potential for the collision," the inquiry found.

But had Sea Shepherd vessels not been pursuing and harassing the whaling fleet there could have been no collision. Thus the ultimate responsibility for the collision must rest with Ady Gil master Paul Bethune.

Airborne activist pepper-sprayed

Or so this blog post intimates:
Pepper-sprayed for being a peace activist over Palestine
That's noted language-mangler Antony Loewenstein, who's also innumerate:
I spoke to countless union officials and leaders across the country and most refused to talk on the record about these matters, the AWU and Howes.
Oddly, the Australian population is countable as is the number of union members, much less their "officials and leaders" – keeping count is too much to ask, as is accuracy:
Crikey Ed: This story originally cited national occupational health and safety unit director Dr Yossi Berger in Victoria in relation to Zionist advocacy conducted in the AWU; this reference has now been removed due to inaccuracy.
A great big "FAIL" for Loewenstein's foray into investigative reporting.

Anyone paying Loewenstein anything for his writing is paying too much.

Lamborghini "hoon" acquitted

A Perth mechanic admits to driving a client's Lamborghini at 130km/h in a 90km/h zone and is still acquitted of speeding:
Magistrate Michael Wheeler admitted to being a Top Gear (UK motoring show) tragic and knowing all about the vehicle he described as a super car.

Mr Wheeler said it was named the Top Gear dream car of the year in 2006 and host Jeremy Clarkson “went out and bought one”.

“This particular model was used by the Italian police on the country’s autostrada’s (freeway system),” he said.

"With no disrespect to the Ford Falcon (the police were driving), it could not cut the mustard with the Lamborghini," he said.

Mr Wheeler said he did not have a problem with the officers' honesty or integrity but there where issues with their accuracy.

He said the police pursuit vehicle was simply too far behind to accurately measure how fast the Lamborghini was travelling.

“The officers proceeded gallantly and fruitlessly in pursuit. They were simply too far back to do a valid speed check and never got up to a constant velocity," he said.
Thus the magistrate did not accept that the Lamborghini was clocked at 160km/h. The accused was awarded $18,000 in costs.

The owner of the car – confiscated under anti-hoon laws for 28 days – is contemplating what to do next.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Never ending government responsibility

Kiddies don't know how to swim? It's not a parental problem, it's our problem:
It should be the responsibility of the Australian Government to ensure that every child in Australia has these vital swimming and safety skills.
Exactly what parents are responsible for is uncertain.

Update: A suggested pre-emptive strike on drink driving:
The Social Democrats have proposed that all new cars sold in Sweden be equipped with ignition locks to prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver is intoxicated.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wally willy worry

(Walter) Jeremy Sear is worried that "poorly educated, semi-fluent morons" employed by the Transport Security Administration might touch his penis in the course of a security search should he travel by air to the United States:
What other country offers travelers such an intimate “service” for free the minute they get off the plane? What other country is so excitingly dominant that it doesn’t care whether we consent or not? What other country shows everyone, regardless of gender, age, in such a physical way that it’s not just what’s on their outside that counts?
Sear, an attention-to-detail barrister, ignores that U.S. body searches are required only of those who decline body scans, which is also the case at Holland's Schiphol airport:
Is use of the security scan mandatory?

No, passengers are allowed to refuse to go through the security scan. In such cases, passengers are searched in full.
If Sear's brain is any indication of penis size, his willy worry is understandable.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lifestyle policed

Proposed lifestyle fascism in Sweden:
Future residents of a new "climate-neutral" Stockholm city district should face stringent regulations when it comes to their lifestyle and exercise habits, a number of governing Stockholm politicans have proposed.

Demands on prospective residents of the Royal Seaport (Norra Djurgårdsstaden) would include sorting waste, engaging in healthy eating habits, using public transportation or cycling, buying eco-friendly brands, exercising, participating in carpools and socialising with neighbours, newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) wrote on Tuesday.

Special courses would also be offered so residents could learn the latest in green-living techniques.
What, no requirement that residents are cat-owning Prius drivers?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Teenage target

Crikey targets a teenage McDonald's employee's youthful appearance with Pure Poison's Jeremy Sear adding insult to injury by making fun of the lad's name:
This might just be an ex-young-looking-teenager speaking, but it seems to me that Daniel Gooley, the McDonald’s employee (who is therefore at least 14), might already be struggling with issues relating to his not particularly mature physical appearance. (Also his surname.)
Lefties are ever so thoughtful.

Less work, more pay

West Australian Education Department director-general Sharyn O'Neill recently received a pay rise of roughly $50,000.00 taking her salary to well above $400,000.00. This pay increase coming in spite of a significant decrease in responsibility, with TAFE management now under control of the newly established Department of Training and Workforce Development.

In Western Australia's booming economy less work warrants more pay, at least for the state's top bureaucrats.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Travis Bickle's brother Nick

The Bickle family appears to have a thing for guns:
A Navy SEAL and two other men have been charged with smuggling illegal firearms, including AK-47 assault rifles, from Iraq and Afghanistan and then selling them to an undercover federal agent, the U.S. attorney's office in Las Vegas announced Thursday.

The SEAL, Nicholas Bickle, 33, is assigned to a SEAL team based in Coronado, Calif. He was arrested Wednesday and scheduled for federal court arraignment in San Diego on Friday.
Like Travis, Nick also has a Hollywood connection:
Perhaps most bizarrely, Bickle appears to have been working on the latest Michael Bay action flick. One of the ATF agents investigating Bickle found “photos taken on the Chicago set of ‘Transformers 3,’ which included an individual who appeared to be Bickle. Further, Bickle’s cellphone location and bank debit records correspond with the filming of ‘Transformers 3’”.
Maybe he was selling guns to those anticipating an extraterrestrial invasion.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Emails overwhelm

Whereas in the recent past writing a memo was something of a chore, anyone can now dash off an email, these often irrelevant missives cluttering up in-boxes and decreasing productivity. So absurd is the practice that workers now find themselves wasting time answering emails from co-workers who work at nearby desks, addressing in writing issues that could have been quickly resolved person to person.

Crikey rewrites history: insulation debacle a success

Crikey blogger Pollytics crunches the insulation scheme house fire numbers and comes up with a startling revelation:
That makes the insulation program around 8 times safer in terms of fire incidents compared to the state of the industry before the program. Even if we take the best absolute possible estimates of what went on before the program – say, 80 fires per year off 75 thousand installs – the program is still 7 times safer in terms of fire incidents than what occurred before the program.
This finding is just somewhat at variance with the Auditor - General's scathing report detailing the scheme's numerous shortcomings:
21. The $2.8 billion Home Insulation Program (HIP) was the major component of the Government’s $3.9 billion Energy Efficient Homes Package (EEHP) announced on 3 February 2009. Proposals for EEHP were developed with a sense of urgency by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) with limited consultation with the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA)16. HIP was designed to generate economic stimulus and jobs for lower skilled workers in the housing and construction industry, which was expected to be adversely affected by an economic downturn flowing from the global financial crisis. A secondary but important objective was to improve the energy efficiency of 2.7 million Australian homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

22. Under HIP, some 1.1 million roofs have been insulated at a cost of $1.45 billion. Due to a range of design and implementation matters associated with the program, as at March 2010, of the 13 808 roof inspections conducted, around 29 per cent17 had identified installations with some level of deficiency, ranging from minor quality issues to serious safety concerns. In addition, there have been cases of potential fraud identified. These deficiencies in the delivery of the program have meant that the Government decided to implement further measures to check and rectify the standard of installations. These new measures include the Foil Insulation Safety Program (FISP) and the Home Insulation Safety Program (HISP), which are expected to cost $424 million. In addition, the Government has committed to industry assistance programs18 expected to total approximately $56 million. The remainder of HIP’s budget will be used for activities undertaken post‐closure of the program, including the remediation and assistance programs, and any surplus funds will be returned to the budget.

23. The program was developed in a very short period of time between 3 February 2009 and 30 June 2009 as a stimulus measure to respond to the global financial crisis. In terms of outcomes, it has been estimated that between 6000 to 10 000 jobs have been created. While, clearly, the creation of these jobs was an important outcome in the face of the downturn in the economy, these jobs were shorter‐lived than intended due to the early closure of the program. There have also been energy efficiency benefits but these are likely to be less than anticipated due to the deficiencies in a significant number of installations.

24. In large measure, the focus by the department on the stimulus objective overrode risk management practices that should have been expected given the inherent program risks. Rather, the department intended to rely heavily on its compliance and audit program to address some of the risks identified, but the significant delay in implementing this element of the program meant that these risks were not adequately addressed. As time passed, the department realised that greater emphasis should have been given to program risk mitigation strategies, particularly those concerning installer registration requirements and compliance with quality and safety standards.
By November 2009, the volume of claims and increasing number of installations identified with quality, safety and potential fraud issues, overwhelmed the department and it was unable to recover the situation. There were insufficient measures to deliver quality installations and, when the volume of issues requiring attention by the department increased, the department had neither the systems nor capacity to deal with this effectively. The lack of experience within DEWHA in project management and in implementing a program of this kind were contributing

25. Overall HIP has been a costly program for the outcomes achieved, including substantial remediation costs. There still remains a range of safety concerns and coronial inquiries are yet to be completed in relation to the four fatalities associated with installations under the program. The fallout from the program has caused serious inconvenience to many householders, reputational damage to the insulation industry, and financial difficulties for many Australian manufacturers and installers. It has also harmed the reputation of the Australian Public Service for effective service delivery. This experience underlines very starkly just how critical sound program design and implementation practices are to achieving policy outcomes. There are important lessons here for those agencies with policy implementation responsibilities but also those responsible for policy development.
The insulationscheme was an unmitigated disaster and that's that.

If at first you don't succeed...

It looks like Melbourne barrister Jeremy Sear and significant other Keri James will take the plunge in 2011. Jeremy does have a thing for tarts.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Lefties carrying placards

The 100 best signs at the rally for sanity. The good thing about reading them is you don't have to listen to the Lefties carrying them.

Science lies

Despite its paramount importance to human well-being, it turns out that medical research is a pyramid of lies and exaggerations, the root of the problem grounded in the venerated peer review process:
Though scientists and science journalists are constantly talking up the value of the peer-review process, researchers admit among themselves that biased, erroneous, and even blatantly fraudulent studies easily slip through it. Nature, the grande dame of science journals, stated in a 2006 editorial, “Scientists understand that peer review per se provides only a minimal assurance of quality, and that the public conception of peer review as a stamp of authentication is far from the truth.” What’s more, the peer-review process often pressures researchers to shy away from striking out in genuinely new directions, and instead to build on the findings of their colleagues (that is, their potential reviewers) in ways that only seem like breakthroughs—as with the exciting-sounding gene linkages (autism genes identified!) and nutritional findings (olive oil lowers blood pressure!) that are really just dubious and conflicting variations on a theme.

Most journal editors don’t even claim to protect against the problems that plague these studies. University and government research overseers rarely step in to directly enforce research quality, and when they do, the science community goes ballistic over the outside interference. The ultimate protection against research error and bias is supposed to come from the way scientists constantly retest each other’s results—except they don’t. Only the most prominent findings are likely to be put to the test, because there’s likely to be publication payoff in firming up the proof, or contradicting it.
Could such issues extend to less critical areas; climate science, for example. You betcha.

Via reader minicapt.

Crikey sub-contractors discover real world sub-contracting

An almost exposé today at Crikey with two freelance journalists discovering that sub-contracting, under essentially the same terms which they're paid to write for Crikey, is widespread in the commercial provision of services, including the management of asylum seeker detention facilities. Whereas it's hinted that contracting and sub-contracting is somehow inappropriate in the provision of government services, the two journalists completely overlook the dubious nature of their employment by Crikey, which is apparently unwilling to put them on the payroll.

Update: One of the freelance journalists above makes a 15 second contribution to al Jazeera's Listening Post – pick it up at the 8:00 mark.