Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gillard government loses vote on first day of new parliament

This is no big deal but does not augur well for Gillard serving a full three year term:

The Government lost a division on the floor of the House of representatives today, the first to do so since 1941.

The vote was over a relatively small procedural issue which was part of proposed parliamentary reforms and did not affect Julia Gillard’s hold on power.

But the 73-72 loss by the Government was historic, and a boost to Coalition morale.

An unnamed Labor MP missed the vote. A government that can't marshal its members isn't capable of running the country.

Scantily clad female athletes upset feminist

Women's Electoral Lobby chair Eva Cox is outraged at the prospect of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, like the 2006 Melbourne games, prominently featuring scantily clad women competing against one another. Ms Cox going so far as to suggest that organisers "ought to get their heads read and their penises measured."

AP photo, Commonwealth Games 2006

Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006, AP photo

Ms Cox adding:

They're trying to play up on the sexuality of women and that's just really tacky. It's stupid. It's infantile.

Oops, my mistake, Ms Cox is actually complaining about the Gold Coast Surf Club's upcoming Bikini Track Sprint, which, unlike the Commonwealth Games offers a $5,000 cash prize rather than a fake gold medal. The other likely significant difference: it's safe to assume breasts at the Bikini Sprint will be larger, or as I prefer to think of them, more aerodynamic.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OH! MY! GOD! Pseudonymous hobby-blogger's identity revealed

The Left is experiencing fits of righteous near-hysteria in reaction to the outing of Canberra public servant Greg Jericho as the writer blogging as Grog's Gamut, a self-described hobby blog.

Here's the condensed version of the story:

PhD bureaucrat (Jericho) starts blogging (2008);

Jericho blogs on various topics with an emphasis on film (his specialty);

Jericho's readership remains tiny until he blogs about the media's coverage of the 2010 federal election;

The ABC takes notice of Jericho's criticisms;

Jericho is recognised as an astute political commenter but his blog traffic remains less than stupendous;

The Australian's John Massola outs Jericho as the writer of Grog's Gamut;

The Left goes nuts;

Jericho is famous.

Really, Leftists have their knickers all in a knot over nothing. Jericho is unlikely to have violated the public service's terms of employment and should be free to continue blogging, either pseudonymously or using his real name. And even if political blogging is found to conflict with his terms of employment it is highly unlikely that he will suffer significant sanction, and definitely should not be terminated.

PhD Jericho is a talented writier and his movie reviews are definitely worth reading – Hell, who can help but enjoy a knowledgable commenter who likes both North By Northwest and Mulholland Drive – but his views are typical of many Leftists who object to the prominence of Murdoch's News Ltd. outlets' right-of-centre views.

Regardless, Crikey's Leftists are especially vocal, with Jeremy Sear and Possum particularly indignant. Sear's objections to Jericho's outing are especially ludicrous in that he objects to my alleged use of a pseudonym in publishing personal information about him freely available to anyone with Google access.

I enjoy reading Grog's Gamut, wish Jericho well, and hope that he keeps writing but must say that the drama queen hysterics from the Left aren't going to work in his favour.

Update: Such is Grog's Gamut's influene that I this afternoon went out and bought Mulholland Drive and am about to watch it yet again.


Greens oppose new uranium mine

Ignoring the thousands of natural carcinogens to which humans are daily exposed, West Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam opposes a new uranium mine at Kintyre in the East Pilbara:

This company's product is carcinogenic, they're mining a carcinogenic product leaving huge volumes of radio-active waste behind at mine sites.

Those are the concerns that are being raised loud and clear.

Right, as if there is a local population that need worry over a very slight risk:

Inflation sucks

A slip of the tongue from France's former justice minister Rachida Dati:

I see some [foreign investment funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25% at a time when fellatio is close to zero.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mayonnaise causes Japan road chaos

An unusual traffic obstacle in Japan:

A load of mayonnaise that fell off the back of a truck has caused a multiple car pile-up in Japan.

Police in western Japan say boxes filled with mayonnaise bottles fell off a truck and the condiment was smeared all over the road by cars travelling behind.

Three people were slightly injured in the subsequent pile-up which involved five cars, two trucks and a motorcycle.

Jeez, I hope it wasn't a shipment of Best Foods mayo going to waste.

Andrew Bolt right, scientist Tim Lambert wrong

Conservative blogger Andrew Bolt infuriates the Left. Thus the rantings of Mr Lefty begat BOLTWATCH, which evolved into The Blair/Bolt Watch Project, which eventually joined forces with the infamous – and formerly deleted and now returned but highly sanitised – GrodsCorp, to become Crikey's Pure Poison, a site perhaps best known for its apologies to both Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair. resident computer nerd, political blogger Tim Lambert, is similarly obsessed with Bolt, one of Lambert's Bolt posts even receiving a nomination as one Australia's best blog posts of 2006. Lambert's much ballyhooed critique of Bolt is, of course, the same old misleading crap.

Amongst other claimed errors Lambert says Bolt is wrong in asserting:

[Al] Gore shows a series of slides of vanishing lakes (like Lake Chad) and snow fields (like Mt Kilimanjaro’s) and blames global warming for it all.

In fact, Lake Chad is so shallow it nearly dried out as far back as 1908, and again in 1984. So many more people depend on it now that the water pumped out for irrigation has quadrupled in 25 years. No wonder it’s drying.

And Mt Kilimanjaro was losing its snows more than a century ago, not because of global warming, but—says a 2004 study in Nature—largely because deforestation has cut the moisture in the air.

And that worrying picture Gore shows of vanishing glaciers in the Himalayas? Newcastle University researchers last month said some glaciers there are now getting bigger again.

According to a report in New Scientist – Kilimanjaro's vanishing ice due to tree-felling – Bolt was right all along. Will Lambert now post a correction or retraction as he so often demands of those he claims to have erred? Don't hold your breath.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beat me up, please

Sports news from Sweden:

Swedish boxer Mikaela "Destiny" Laurén took the World Professional Boxing Federation title in the welterweight class in Karlstad in western Sweden on Friday.

Sparring with "Destiny" would be worth the bruising.

Intellectual disconnect

Kill Your Darlings is a new Australian literary journal. Kill Your Darlings publishes an "essay" by famed semi-literate writer Antony Loewenstein. WTF?

Grand final thriller

Update: As noted earlier, the grand final replay will financially benefit the AFL with an estimated $19 million (US$18.2 million) income windfall.

After a magnificent fight-back, St Kilda has tied Collingwood 68 all, only the third grand final tie ever. The AFL championship replay will be next Saturday. The non-result disappoints both players and fans but will be a great money maker.

Denim stretched

Oh how things have changed when a single female Prime Minister and her boyfriend reside at The Lodge. One thing will never change, however: women with "ample" figures shouldn't wear jeans – deposing Rudd had to be easier than zipping up.

Update: the Sydney Morning Herald has a similar shot except that a strategic shadow hides the Prime Minister's poor trouser choice. There is still that jacket, however.

By the way, that particular female bulge is colloquially known as a "gunt".

Update II: a video report:

Emergency action shuts down coal exports

A small group of climate change activists is occupying coal loading facilities at Newcastle forcing a temporary cessation of exports:

Annika Dean, spokesperson for the protest organisers, Rising Tide Newcastle, explained the group's motivations: “We are staging an emergency intervention into Australia's number one cause of global warming.”

“Around the world, the early impacts of unabated global warming are beginning to emerge. 2010 has been a year of tragic weather disasters.”

“Thousands of people have died this year due to flash floods in Pakistan and China, and fires in Siberia. Millions of people are facing starvation due to a devastating drought in west Africa. These are the impacts of global warming that scientists have been warning us about for decades. Global warming is happening now, and it is killing people.”

At least some of these weather events are thought by scientists to result from variations in solar activity.

Tasers for teachers

Queensland Liberal National Party staffers with time to kill created a mock policy document proposing that Tasers be issued to teachers for managing student behaviour:

The document, which was shared among policy advisers, said giving teachers Tasers would provide a valuable discipline tool, allow control of the entire class without physical contact and ensure class concentration.

It also noted that the cost of a roll-out could be offset by financial and social benefits including decreased expenditure on stress leave for teachers and decreased rates of anti-social behaviour.

"The most common complaint from teachers is that there are no alternatives for discipline," the document said.

"In previous years, they had a choice - limited to wooden products but a choice none the less."

With plans afoot to issue these, teachers need no longer fear their students.

There is also this tried and true behaviour management strategy:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Leftists whine about public transport report

The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) is Australia's "peak industry group for the Australian tourism, transport, aviation and investment sectors." The TTF is a respected advisory group endorsed by Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government:

I have had a long association with TTF and they have always been fearless advocates for the transport, aviation and tourism sectors. They understand the need to balance commercial issues with public policy imperatives and have an innate knowledge of the business/political intersection in Australia.

The TTF report Innovation Needed In Public Transport Funding has not been well received by the Left, however, The Age reporting:

The report proposes launching a review to reduce concession fares by:

- Slashing the types of concession discounts available.

- Cutting the amount of money saved by concession fares.

- Tightening the eligibility criteria.

- Making concession fares valid only during off-peak times, to encourage people using concession tickets to travel when trains, trams and buses are less crowded.

Victorian Council of Social Services chief executive Cath Smith said trains and trams in Melbourne were already so crowded that people on low incomes or pensioners already travelled at off-peak times if they could.

Removing concession fares at peak times would disadvantage those that couldn't afford it, she said.

A prominent Greens supporter is somewhat more passionate in rejecting TFF recommendations:

First, we ignore everything you ever say for the rest of your nasty organisation’s pointless and unfortunate existence. We leave concession fares intact, and apologise to these struggling people for your unnecessarily mean-spirited suggestion. (I suppose we’re partly to blame for giving you the impression that we’re the sort of community that would respond positively to such utter bastardry.)

Then we remove “zones” from the public transport system, since they only punish the poorer inhabitants of outer Melbourne for not being able to afford to live in the much-better-served inner city. We expand the rail network to the many suburbs that don’t have any access despite growing populations and the fact that we simply can’t manage any more cars commuting to the city. We rebuild the railway lines to the regional centres that no longer have them, and we run decent reliable services to each. (By making it possible to commute from regional centres, we slightly lessen the demand on housing in Melbourne, and slightly address the housing affordability problem.)

It is doubtful that either Age reporter Clay Lucas or Crikey blogger Jeremy Sear has read the TTF report, however, which suggests means testing as the most equitable way to allocate transport concessions – thus insuring that wealthy pensioners do not receive unneeded concessions whereas the working poor do.

Also, the report's first two paragraphs recognise the importance of public transport systems:

An effective and efficient transport system, incorporating both public transport and the road network, is an important building block for Australia’s continued economic growth, environmental health and social well-being.

A well-utilised public transport system brings economic benefits such as cost savings associated with reduced congestion and improved job creation, competitiveness and liveability. Public transport also underpins Australia’s environmental goals, by helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and lessen our dependence on oil. In addition, a well-designed public transport system encourages greater social inclusion and results in numerous health and safety benefits.

The report also emphasises that only approximately 1/3 of Australia's annual $5 billion (US$ 4.8 billion) transport systems operating cost is recouped through fares, this differential sure to rise as the country's ageing population becomes eligible for concession fares. The Left apparently expects to fund this by tapping the "bottomless" pool of tax dollars.

In future it would be nice if Leftists did their research before spouting off.

Techno overkill

The other day I drove a friend and a mountain of luggage to her destination in her new car. On the way back to her place I decided to top up the tank; there was enough fuel to get the car home but I know that my friend doesn't enjoy fuel stops and would be pleased to see that the tank was full. So I pulled into a busy petrol station during evening rush hour.

I was immediately confronted with an insurmountable problem, however: I couldn't figure out how to open the fuel filler door. None of the numerous buttons opened the door, which had no visible lock on it. Under pressure from the car that had pulled up behind and not wanting to look like a complete idiot I started the car and drove it home.

My friend later had a good laugh about this as she too couldn't figure out the seemingly simple task of opening the fuel filler door and had to consult the owner's manual. It turns out the door is integrated into the cars electronic systems and all one need do is push the door to unlatch it. To prevent fuel theft the car automatically locks the door 10 minutes after the ignition is turned off.

In the 1970s I owned a car with one of the early electronic ignitions. The car one night unexpectedly stopped dead with no spark to the plugs. The car was towed to the nearest dealer, the head mechanic telling me the next day that the car worked fine and didn't need to be repaired. A few days later the car again stopped dead and was towed to the dealer. And again when checked by the mechanic the car worked just fine.

This cycle repeated a few times, causing quite a bit of strife: I had a car that was virtually useless but the dealer was really annoyed at the cost of repeatedly investigating what appeared to be an imaginary problem. Luckily I knew a mechanic at another dealership. I explained the problem to him and he took the car in for service with a thorough check showing the car to be in proper working order. But to be sure the mechanic took the car for a long drive, taking spare ignition parts with him just in case. Sure enough the car stopped and would not start. The mechanic started replacing various parts, after replacement trying to restart the car. It was eventually figured out that the ignition's electronic unit malfunctioned when it heated up through use and started working again when it cooled down. If the car hadn't been under warranty this would have cost me a fortune.

The electronic systems in today's cars are really great but I can't help but wonder what happens if they malfunction. For example, my welder recently stopped working due to a fault in its one and only circuit board. The problem was very easily fixed but a new board was more than half the cost of the welder. Luckily an electronics technician was able to fix the board cheaply and the welder now works. But such a fix wouldn't be possible for a car's elaborate electronic systems – the welder's circuit board only had maybe six components on it.

Maybe it's just a sign that I'm getting old but I reckon everything from cars to toasters is suffering from techno overkill.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Floating island

Shell plans to launch a 468 metre 600,000 ton floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) platform for use at the Prelude gas field almost 500 kilometres off the coast of Broome, Western Australia. If approved by the Australian government the mammoth vessel could be in place by 2015.

Electric rifle

A homemade battery-powered coilgun that packs a punch. It's no M16 but with further development could be a potent weapon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fringe journalist accuses mainstream journalists of not doing their jobs

An Australian "journalist, author, documentarian, photographer and blogger" provides an impressive resume:

He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian, Juan Cole, Mondoweiss, Washington Post, New Statesman, Huffington Post, The Daily Star, The National, Dawn, Haaretz, The Nation, BBC World Service, Adbusters, Al Masry Alyoum, Sydney’s Sun-Herald, New Zealand Herald, Sydney Ideas Quarterly, The Australian Financial Review, Melbourne’s Age, Brisbane’s Courier Mail, Canberra Times, Online Opinion, ABC Unleashed/The Drum, Amnesty International Australia, Green Left Weekly, Eureka Street, Adelaide’s Advertiser, The Bulletin, Znet, Overland, Sydney PEN, The Big Issue, Counterpunch and many others.

Yet despite these credentials this mutli-talented rising star expects the mainstream journalists he so often berates to do his job for him:

But what remains mostly ignored is the company that runs all of Australia’s detention centres, the British multinational Serco. In the past days, its name is mentioned in passing at best, save for statements such as this that featured in The Australian online on September 20: “Detention services provider Serco will provide a report to the police and the department on the circumstances surrounding the [Fijian] man’s death.”

But that’s it. Even when the Murdoch broadsheet sends reporter Paige Taylor to visit the remote Curtin detention centre in Western Australia, there is no mention of Serco; what it does, how it operates, how much more money the company receives now that the facility is being expanded or whether such places should be privatised in the first place. Today’s editorial in The Australian questions the adequacy of mental health services in detention but doesn’t name the company running the show.

Instead of whining about the mainstream media's failure to expose Serco's supposed abuses Antony Loewenstein should do his job and expose Serco's actual failures. Nah, continually harping about the company's alleged shortcomings is much easier than doing the investigative reporting he is "renowned' for.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

India's fear factor games

The Commonwealth Games, hosted this year for the first time ever by India and due to begin in Delhi on October 3, are beset by a host of problems:

With the opening ceremonies rapidly approaching it looks like the Delhi games will be one of the greatest sporting fiascos ever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dien Bien Phu's tragic consequences

France's defeat at Dien Bien Phu had tragic consequences not only for French forces in Indochina but also for Algerians thousands of miles away. Read it here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Woman in black

Imagine you're walking alone down the street after dark when up ahead you spy this emerge from the shadows walking toward you. Now you know it's highly unlikely to be Dr Doom out for his nightly constitutional and a bit of city-destroying mayhem but would you nonetheless not be frightened or at least tempted to cross to the other side of the street?

Hell, even in broad daylight a fully shrouded person is going to be at best intimidating. And really, isn't intimidation the real point of such dress? I mean, it's saying, "I can dress like this knowing you don't like it and there's nothing you can do about it. Nyah."

Warning: No other purpose not allowed!

A legal notice attached to photos of the very lovely Lebanese-Australian Daniella Rahme:

All photos are copyright and cannot be used for no other purpose .

And that purpose would be...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crack addicts

Antony Loewenstein makes a startling discovery during a visit to Sydney's Villawood asylum seeker detention centre:

They’re on crack.

It's no wonder then that they're held in detention.

Malaria, DDT and two idiots

Self-proclaimed malaria expert and political blogger masquerading as a science blogger, Tim Lambert, takes exception to the following from Indur Goklany:

For instance, malaria incidences in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) dropped from 2.8 million in the 1940s to less than 20 in 1963 (WHO 1999a, Whelan 1992). DDT spraying was stopped in 1964, and by 1969 the number of cases had grown to 2.5 million.

Lambert offering "what really happened in Sri Lanka":

With widespread resistance of A. culicifacies to DDT, malathion spraying was introduced in 1975 in areas of P.falciparum transmission affording protection to nearly one million people. Towards the end of 1976 DDT spraying was completely discontinued and during 1977 exclusively malathion was used as an adulticide.

Lambert doesn't seem to notice the two different time periods.

What's really interesting here, however, is Lambert's choice of reference material for events in Sri Lanka. In the past he has consistently linked to one of his earlier posts – Lambert is an habitual self-linker – citing "the definitive history of malaria", Gordon Harrison's Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man. Lambert has stopped relying on Harrison because the cited passage makes it clear Sri Lanka was under "manifold political and economic pressures to get off the DDT wherever it seemed even marginally possible." The political pressures undoubtedly came from environmentalists.

Following Lambert's exposure as an unreliable source on all matters of consequence he seldom blogs on DDT and malaria, largely restricting himself to attacks on the hapless Christopher Monckton. You know, posts that appeal to his faithful following of climate change true believers.

Anyway, Lambert only offeres his latest DDT post in attempting to save the bacon of protege Ed Darrell, an American educator who has yet again made a total fool of himself by accusing Anthony Watts of alleging that Rachel Carson is a "mass murderer".

You know, if you think about it, those claiming the Internet is dumbing us down could be right. The popularity of Lambert and Darrell proves it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lawyer aghast that West Australian criminals remain imprisoned

With a nasty spring cold making me even grumpier than usual I've decided to cheer myself up by flaying the inanities of blogging barrister Jeremy Sear, who continually writes about the raw deals accorded criminals by the justice system. Sear's latest whinge concerns parole in Western Australia, where a decrease in parolee numbers is contributing to a growing prison population:

This is what happens when the community lets itself, and consequently its representatives, be led by the nose by the “laura norder” charlatans. And it’s a perfectly self-perpetuating system: the more they take these counter-productive and expensive “lock ‘em all up” approaches that don’t address the causes of crime, the problem gets worse, which in turn is seen as a reason to get even tougher, which makes the problem worse, and so on.

Sear's main concern is the termination of face-to-face parole hearing interviews, a change supposedly wrought by 2009 Labor board chair apointee Narelle Johnson:

I wonder what kind of shrinking violets they have on that board, making those very serious decisions with which they apparently don’t feel comfortable. In courts around the country, every day, Judicial officers make decisions about offenders’ freedom, and they do it face to face. They have reasons for their decisions, they give them, and they are prepared to stand by them.

What kind of Parole Board is too gutless to give its decisions straight to the people affected?

Those familiar with Sear's writing won't be surprised that he's not totally honest in making his case: face-to-face interviews were terminated prior to Johnson becoming chair of the board and she has simply refused to revive the process:

Now in relation to the applications for parole, I'm informed by my staff that there was only ever a trial period of video link-ups for applications for parole, and that was at Casuarina. And that was in fact stopped prior to my appointment. But in any event, from the files that I dealt with at the board in the months after my arrival, I was very concerned about the quality of decisions made when the offender was there present at the time.

Barrister Sear also whines about paroled offenders being sent back to prison:

Apart from establishing a bureaucratic “we’ll decide without you present” system for assessing parole applications, Justice Johnson has also implemented changes such that parolees committing minor offences for which they would not previously have been breached, are now sent right back to prison.

This, of course, ignores that reoffending is a problem Australia-wide:

At least half of prisoners in all states and territories had a prior adult imprisonment under sentence.

Barrister Sear should concentrate his extraordinary lawyerly talents on keeping accused offenders out of prison rather than whining about their treatment post-conviction.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Human rights lawyer discounts sexual impropriety claims against Wikileaks' founder Assange

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson writes off complaints of sexual impropriety against Wikileaks mouthpiece Julian Assange lodged by two women:

Mr Assange has been the victim of utterly incompetent prosecutors who have severely damaged his rights — the rights that every person in Europe has granted to them under the European convention,” Robertson said, speaking exclusively to Crikey last week.

“The Australian government — now that we have a government — should carpet the Swedish ambassador and make a formal protest against the treatment of Assange.”

Robertson cannot conceive that the women's rights were violated by Assange, who admits to having sexual relations with the two:

According to accounts the women gave to the police and friends, Swedish officials said, they had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals for him to stop when it was no longer in use.

Prosecutors have continued to investigate the lesser charge of molestation, which covers a wide range of offenses and carries penalties of up to a year in prison, and they said Wednesday that they were expanding that inquiry to consider charges of sexual coercion and sexual molestation.

Mr. Assange has said the charges are politically motivated.

It's truly amazing that the left has written off these women as liars.

Update: Antony Loewenstein's endorsement of Robertson's remarks is proof  of their invalidity.


A great online source for BMW, KTM and Triumph parts and accessories

Looking for BMW, Triumph or KTM motorcycle accessories? Try Procycles, which has recently upgraded its site to offer online access to a wide range of products, including apparel, parts and excess and second hand parts.

Procycles' customer service is excellent, they can quickly order in any item they don't stock and they're willing – for repeat customers, anyway – to be flexible on price, So if you don't have ready access to a local dealer or just want to check out their prices, give them a try.

By the way, Procycles stocks a large range of BMW Motorrad's pricey but excellent apparel.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beware Greeks bearing debts

Furthering Islam through murder

The prosecution alleges that accused Muslim terror suspects now on trial plotted an attack on Sydney's Holsworthy Army base aiming to inflict "maximum body count":

Prosecutor Nicholas Robinson, SC, contends the men were prepared to kill as many people as possible in the attack to further their religion.

He told the court the men were planning to act because they were angry at the presence of Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and they thought it would advance the cause of Islam.

Mr Robinson said one of the accused, Fattal, went to the Holsworthy barracks to see whether it was a good target.

It is also alleged the men were unhappy with advice they received from religious clerics in Australia that violence was wrong, so they sought a fatwah from a cleric in Somalia.

There's something seriously wrong when Islam's adherents hope to further their religion through murder.

Muslims attack Christian worshippers

The controversy surrounding the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site has captured the world's attention while religious intolerance in Indonesia is largely ignored:

For the last few weeks, a group of Christians have been holding their Sunday prayer services on an empty plot of land - resulting in violent clashes between them and the majority Muslims.

On Sunday, a church member was stabbed in what some are calling the latest example of religious intolerance. It's not clear who is behind the stabbing.

The Christians say the land belongs to them, and they were given permission by the local government to pray here.

The Muslims say that according to Indonesian law, the Christians need to get the approval of residents in the area before they can make the land a place of worship.

They have even put up signs warning what will happen if the Christians continue to pray here on Sundays.

"If there is violence that results from this, then the Christians only have themselves to blame.”

"Stop these illegal prayers right now, or the public will take action," one reads.

Another proclaims, "The people of Bekasi reject the construction of a church on this land."

Those protesting against the New York mosque have so far managed to eschew violence.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

American barbarians

Guy Rundle equates American legal processes with those in Iran:

We need to remember that Iran does not have a monopoly on barbarism.

In an isolated prison cell, a woman sits, waiting to be executed. The method is one laid down by tradition. Reports say it can be excruciatingly painful and terrifying. There are doubts as to whether she received a fair trial, and most people regard the system under which she was convicted as hopelessly compromised. She is unlikely to receive mercy because the person who could grant it believes deeply that such punishments are ordained by God. Barred from sustained contact with the outside world, she waits, and waits.

Many readers might assume that I'm describing the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian facing death by stoning for alleged crimes associated with adultery. In fact, the woman in question is Teresa Lewis, now in a Virginia prison in the United States and scheduled to die by lethal injection on September 23.

Rundle, is wrong on a number of counts, of course.

The means of execution in the various U.S. states is specified quite clearly and is not merely a matter of tradition as is stoning or using a crane to lift the condemned into the air to slowly strangle.

Lewis did not receive a trial as such, she lodged a guilty plea and was sentenced by a judge. On the other hand, the details of the charges against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani are not known for certain and her trial, as is often the case in Iran, was held behind closed doors.

Lethal injection is not known, as Rundle later states unequivocally, to produce "excruciating, but silent, pain". Stoning, however, is designed to be excruciating painful with the stones specially selected to be small enough to require multiple strikes before inducing unconsciousness and then death.

The U.S. legal system is far from perfect but is as transparent and equitable as any.

Rundle provides no evidence that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell believs that capital punishment is "ordained by God."

Those wanting to read a more balanced account of Teresa Lewis's crimes and scheduled execution should read this Time summary.



Climate change review author Garnaut linked to ocean pollution

Professor Ross Garnaut's Climate Change Review recommends huge reductions in the amount of carbon dumped into the atmosphere. On the other hand, Professor Garnaut is the highly paid – roughly US$300,00 (AU$324,000) a year – chairman of Lihir Gold Limited, which dumps millions of tons of mine and gold extraction waste, including heavy metals and cyanide, into the ocean off Papua New Guinea, a practice that wouldn't be allowed off Australia.

Lihir gold dumps its wastes into the ocean for the same reason carbon is dumped into the atmosphere: it's the most convenient means of disposal. Garnaut insists Lihir is environmentally responsible but the jury's still out on his claim. Regardless, Garnaut is definitely a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do kind of guy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

For better or worse

The groom looks happy but the bride seems less than delighted – perhaps she has just realised what she has signed up to. The marriage has lasted 25 years, however.

Many happy returns.

Females sprouting penises from foreheads

A worrying report from Western Australia where Curtin University researchers discover "that most females had penises growing from their foreheads." That tributyltin (TBT) is some powerful stuff.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Great minds agree

Andrew Bolt is ridiculed for suggesting that Pakistan should spend less on bombs and more on flood preparedness.

Now Robert Fisk, of all people, pursues the same line of thinking as Bolt:

Before he resigned in 2008, President Pervez Musharraf was asked why nothing had been done to alleviate the plight of women in Pakistan. There was no money available, the General said. But Pakistan had to spend money on nuclear and conventional weapons "in order to live honourably". National honour, it seemed, mattered more than the lives and honour of the women of Pakistan.

When Bolt and Fisk agree on something, anything, it's gotta be a dead set certainty.

Australian American Palestinian Jew

Nominal Jew Antony Loewenstein proclaims himself an American Palestinian:

As Palestinians in the United States...

Despite Loewenstein's international journalistic prominence, real Palestinians have yet to recognise him as one of them, however.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Recidivism understandable

No chain gangs or solitary confinement at an Innisfail detention facility:

Authorities have shut down a controversial prison work camp and launched an investigation into claims by a former inmate that prisoners are living a life of luxury.

Among the perks prisoners enjoyed were:
• Roast chicken and Eagle Boys pizza for dinner
• Flat screen TVs with Austar access and DVD players
• Easy access to drugs, pornography and mobile phones
• Unsupervised trips for shopping
• Free time at the beach and waterholes every Sunday
• Unlimited visits from girlfriends
• Regular use of the work camp bus

What, no sauna?

Non-Europeans the real racist Australians

In an article in The Age, Emily Howie, director (advocacy and strategic litigation) at the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, argues that Australians are racists:

The reality, according to a 2009 VicHealth survey, is that nearly one in 10 of us do not believe that people of all races are equal or that inter-racial marriage should be supported. In the same survey, 37 per cent of respondents felt Australia was weakened by people of different ethnic origins ''sticking to their old ways''.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents said some groups did not fit within Australian society, with Muslim, Middle Eastern and Asian people cited most commonly.

Howie somehow manages to ignore the introduction to the Vic Health report, which reads, in part:

Victoria has a longstanding and positive record in welcoming newcomers. By-and-large we have enjoyed harmonious inter-cultural relations and benefited significantly from the social, cultural and economic contributions of migrants and refugees.

Also ignored:

Victorians were twice as likely to be concerned if a relative were to marry someone from an Asian than a British background (20% versus 8%), and were nearly four times more likely to be concerned if the marriage was to someone from a Muslim than a Christian background (43% versus 11%). About a quarter of Victorians express concern about inter-marriage to people from Indigenous or Jewish backgrounds.

So a sizable percentage of non-British Victorians object to marriage to British Victorians. Also, it's notable that more one in 10 Victorians object to a family member marrying someone from a Christian background.

Thus it's obvious that Victoria's minority groups are considerably more racist than are those of European background. It is therefore understandable that Howie does not link to the Vic Health study.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mum to the rescue

Footballers aren't the wild men they once were. West Coast Eagle midfielder Chris Masten gets in a fight outside a nightclub and after the incident "his mother came and picked him up". Oh to have been privy to the conversation between mother and son.

Mao: The evil equal of Stalin and Hitler

Mao, the greatest ever killer of Chinese:

In brutal fact, between 1959 and 1962, at least forty-three million Chinese died ... Most died of hunger, over two million were executed or were beaten or tortured to death, the birth rate halved in some places, parents sold their children, and people dug up the dead and ate them.

The cause of this disaster, the worst ever to befall China and one of the worst anywhere at any time, was Mao, who, cheered on by his sycophantic and frightened colleagues, decreed that before long China's economy must overtake that of the Soviet Union, Britain and even the US. Mao suggested that 'When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill,' and declared that anyone who questioned his policies was a 'Rightist', a toxic term eventually applied to thirteen million Party members.

The outlines and many of the specifics of this catastrophe have been known in the West for decades. A few brave Chinese, too, have exposed what they discovered. Mao's doctor, Li Zhisui, wrote about it from his exile in the United States, and some revealing local studies by Americans have made clear what happened in certain villages.

Now Frank Dikötter, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and at Hong Kong University, has laid out the vast horror in detail, drawing on local and provincial archives that have only recently become available to approved foreign scholars. In terms of Mao's reputation this book leaves the Chairman for dead, as a monster in the same league as Hitler and Stalin - and that is without considering the years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when hundreds of thousands more Chinese died.

Read the whole thing here.

Gravity overcome

Using complex computer modelling and design technology, advanced composite materials and the latest adhesives, engineers have constructed a weight-bearing structure capable of supporting a tremendous load.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Islam 'retarded' and 'violent'

In an interview broadcast in Australia, controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders labels Islam "retarded" and "violent". Determined to prove Wilders' point, Australian-born, Lebanon-based cleric Feiz Muhammad calls for Dutch Muslims to decapitate Wilders.

Australians encouraged to eat camel meat

Rather than shoot feral camels and leaving them to rot, Australians should eat more camel meat. If anyone has a stew pot the size of a small swimming pool and a really big barbecue, roast camel Saudi-style could catch on.

Female crashes high-powered car

Last night I heard fire brigade sirens in the distance; nothing unusual about that. A few minutes later more sirens. Over the next 15 minutes or so yet more sirens. Assuming it was a fire I continued reading – actually, re-reading, Paul Johnson's Modern Times. The distinctive sound of a passing helicopter – not the police chopper – made me put down my book and go outside for a look. The helicopter was circling in the distance, hovered and descended out of sight.

My interest aroused, I grabbed the camera and went to see what was happening. It took a while to find the action but with multiple emergency vehicles to follow I was soon on the scene of a car accident. Avoiding police lines I circled down to the beach and around behind where the action seemed to be, eventually coming upon the mangled remains of a late model Holden Commodore, it's roof peeled back to gain access to the car's obviously injured occupants

The car, bearing Mandurah plates, apparently being driven by a woman, failed to negotiate a bend in the wet road, mounted the curb, shredded a tree, sheared off a power pole, slid across the wet grass and through a wire fence (with a large metal pipe top piece), eventually ending up in the dunes. The male passenger suffering a major head injury.

Excessive speed might well be a factor in this crash; the car appears to have been travelling at a speed well above the posted 50 kmh limit.