Monday, March 31, 2008

Stone 'Enge

By December 21, Australia will have its own full-scale replica of Stonehenge, amongst the wineries of Margaret River, WA.

December 21 is the completion day chosen by former brewer Ross Smith because it marks the next summer solstice. Bloody pagans.

Smith is promising a 101 stone replica of the legendary 'Enge, which will be built from 2500 tonnes of Esperance granite, with stones standing eight metres high. It will cost Smith about $1.5 million to build on his Margaret River property.
It would replicate how the British structure stood about 5000 years ago.

Mr Smith said no one had ever tried to replicate Stonehenge in granite and the project’s location had been changed because of the high cost of a bitumen road and due to neighbours’ objections.

“It’s a standing circle of stones 33m across and I had to laugh when some people said in their opposition to it on the other property, ‘What does Stonehenge have to do with Margaret River?’,” he said. “Well, I can say, 25 years ago what did grapevines have to do with Margaret River?”

Smith has cracked onto a very good idea. Remarkably, there doesn't exist a full-sized replica of Stonehenge anywhere in the world, despite it being one of the most famous of all the ancient monuments, according to Smith.

"I'm doing it because I can," said Mr Smith...

...The Henge, will include 101 granite stones arranged in an inner and outer circle and a central altar.

Unlike the original Stonehenge, guests will be encouraged to play around the new monument, which will also have an interpretive centre and a children's playground.

Mr Smith said The Henge would be a business venture, to be hired out for weddings and other events.

If the popularity of WA's Wave Rock is anything to go by (hours of driving to see a rock that looks like a wave. Sort of), the 'Enge will be a massive 'it with tourists.

Smith should be seriously looking into booking Spinal Tap for the opening of The Henge. They'll supply the midgets.

UPDATE : Ross Smith is wrong, there are other full-sized replicas of Stonehenge, including Maryhill Henge in Washington, built in the early 1900s as a memorial to the dead of World War I.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour Daily

I wasn't exactly paying attention to news stories on Earth Hour on Saturday and Sunday, preferring to watch ants dismantle a cockroach in a dark corner of the kitchen, but did I really hear a news reader say that the original idea was to get 'Earth Hour' to become a daily event, and that was still on the cards?

An hour each day when all the lights at home, or in the office, are switched off. Perhaps compulsory? A fine arriving in the mail because the monitoring of your electricity usage shows no drop during the daily scheduled 'Earth Hour', meaning you have broken international carbon control laws?

I must be getting old, but having the lights off at home when there wasn't blinding sunlight, or when it wasn't the middle of the night, wasn't called Earth Hour when I was a kid. It was called "a blackout."

Of course, governments having a free hand to introduce compulsory 'Earth Hour' blackouts will be a great way for unprepared electricity suppliers and the responsible government departments to gloss over their failure to deliver 24 hours a day energy to the home at a reasonable price.

When power shortages start hitting the grid in a very noticeable way, they can make 'Earth Hour' a mandatory daily event.

"Blackout? Whaddayamean 'blackout'? This isn't a blackout. It's Earth Hour."

By then it will probably be called something else, like 'The No Power Hour.'

UPDATE : Apparently, the participation in Earth Hour across Australia was equivalent to the shutting down of two major power stations. Temporarily.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

March 22, 2008

Photos by Darryl Mason

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It Sure Beats TV

Are you one of the majority of Australians who now spend more time online than flopped in front of the TV?

According to this story, in 2005 Australians spent an average of 8.9 hours online each week. In 2006, the time online was 12.5 hours. In 2007, Australians had ramped up their online activities to almost 14 hours a week.

We supposedly watched an average of 13.3 hours a week watching TV.

The decrease in TV watching time was a possible early warning sign Australia was approaching the feared "media saturation point'', said Tony Marlow, Nielen Online's Asia-Pacific associate research director.

"At saturation, it becomes difficult for consumers to take on any extra media activity without sacrificing something else - posing new challenges for marketing professionals," he said.

Do you live in fear of reaching a "media saturation point"? No, that would be the advertisers.

Apparently Australians devote almost 85 hours a week in total to leisure and soaking up media, up by some 13 hours since 2006.

...the increasing amount of time spent online was not at the expense of other media usage.

People were simply consuming more than one medium at a time, the research showed, with 58 per cent of Internet users saying they had watched TV while online and 48 per cent saying they had listened to the radio.

And that probably explains how most Australians use the internet at home in the evenings. The TV is on, but is no longer the sole focus of attention for most of the evening. Laptops are humming away in our living rooms, snatching our attention away from six minute blocks of blaring ads and TV shows that can no longer dominate our interest now so many of us have this remarkable access to a world of information and media on the coffee table in front of us. Between our brains and whatever is on the TV screen.

As with the music and film industries, the TV industry has also been stupidly slow to work out that the internet would kick its flabby, 20th century butt.

Until it becomes part and parcel of our internet habit, TV as we know it now will continue to lose its already dwindling audience.

We've simply got more interesting ways to spend our time in the evenings and on weekends now. Having to watch a TV show at a set time with 30 percent of that time soaked up by ads, seems almost prehistoric, and pathetic.

We are no longer a captive audience.
Help, My Brain Just Melted

Andrew "The Iraq Was Is Won" Bolt splutters with helpless fury at Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson's new mantra on climate change :

For heaven’s sake. Brendan Nelson gives a speech to define the Liberals’ identity, and winds up channelling Al Gore instead:

Dr Nelson said the challenge of climate change and the need for a genuine global solution was the “most important economic, political and moral challenge to face our generation”.

Moral challenge? A scientific, technological and economic challenge, maybe, but moral?

With that one stupid word, Nelson damns the better-qualified sceptics in his party (and those silent ones in Kevin Rudd’s ministry) as not just wrong, but immoral.

One of the reasons, one of the many but certainly a key reason, why John Howard lost the election was he didn't keep up with the changing national belief and debate on climate change. One of the main reasons Howard did that is because he believed Andrew Bolt was right, and that Australians would always see global warming as a Green Conspiracy to take away their big screen TVs and make them live by firefly illumination.

When Howard was still claiming the debate was not yet over, and all the facts weren't in, the consensus amongst voters had already settled that climate change was real enough for them to believe that it threatened the livelihoods of their children and grandchildren and, therefore, was not an issue to be ignored. Or denied. Or mocked.

Some Howard advisors, like a good number of his personal staff, found refuge in 2006 and 2007 with Andrew Bolt And The BoltOns, where they mingled online with a small slice of the minority of Australians who sincerely believed that Al Gore was almost Hitler-evil, and that climate change really was a Green Conspiracy that would have us all living in bark shacks without electricity and flush toilets and sustaining on mung beans and tofu within five years.

But the real kick in the guts for Howard, and for Bolt, came when Bolt's boss Rupert Murdoch (who Howard once referred to as "God") announced in mid-2007 that he believed climate change was real, that it posed "dire consequences" and that most of the Murdoch media around the world would begin full-blown promotion of climate change as a reality that cannot be ignored.

Howard didn't see that coming, and obviously wasn't told in advance what Murdoch was going to announce, and so he was caught out with no time to prepare, or to soften up his Liberals for a superbackflip and spectacular "Me Too!" on dealing with climate change. That came only weeks out from the November election.

The Liberals know all too well now what happens when they take Andrew Bolt-approved conspiracy theories to the Australian people. They lose government. Which is why Brendan Nelson doesn't parrot Andrew And TheBoltOns the way Howard, Alexander Downer and Tony Abbott used to. They learned their lesson.

Bolt's fury is not so much directed at Nelson as it is towards himself for being left so far behind on the climate change issue, for being so out of tune with the majority of Australians, for having so much less impact and influence on the Australian mind than Al Gore, or Tim Flannery, and for helping to destroy the Liberal Party.

Andrew Bolt knows this, all of this, of course, but is not yet man enough to admit his vital role in the downfall of John Howard and the immolation of the Australian conservative movement.
Libs Cry Poverty Over $150,000 Pay

Even though they are earning more than triple the average Australian wage, and have more perks and privileges than a flake-cocaine dealer in the film industry, the Coalition in opposition now bleats that they aren't earning enough. And they want more. Of course they do.

Interesting they never rallied to fight for better pay for opposition MPs when they were in government.

Annnabel Crabbe :

Coalition frontbenchers, still stinging from the financial blow of slipping from government into opposition, have launched a quiet campaign for a pay rise.

It is understood senior shadow ministers have sounded out the Government on the possibility of a significant pay boost for Opposition frontbenchers, who are paid a standard backbench salary despite their increased workload.

Former ministers have taken huge pay cuts since their election defeat in November. The former health minister Tony Abbott, for example, went from earning a total package of $250,000 to just under $150,000.

Mark Vaile, the former deputy prime minister, lost half of his total package of about $300,000.

Only $150,000 a year?

If Labor really wanted to decimate the ranks of the Liberal Party in opposition, all they'd have to do is lower the pay of these poverty-riddled conservatives. Give them, say, the same amount that the average nurse or policeman or firefighter earns in a year and watch them bail in panicked droves on their service to the nation.

Shit pay is, of course, why so few 'Liberal' conservatives dedicate their lives to teaching in schools, which is also why they also piss on and on about how many Evil Lefties there are in front of the whiteboards. They don't actually want to live within sight of the poverty line to educate children, but they sure do love putting the boot into those that do.

The standard argument from conservatives in particular is that our politicians are sacrificing massive seven figures salaries they could easily earn in the private sector to serve the Australian public.


Well, sacrifice no more. Don't let your utterly selfless service to the nation hold you back from that $3 million a year gig with the Macquarie Bank. They must be ringing you every week, begging you to come on board. Right Peter Costello?

Bail on us and ditch that pitiful six figure salary. The millions of families almost getting by on $40,000 a year will understand.

I'm sure we'll survive without you.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Libs Now Taking Question Time 'Requests'

The Liberal Party is the party of ideas, or so they like to claim. That doesn't mean they've got a lot of ideas, but they like ideas in general. Now they want your ideas. But they just don't want your ideas, they want you to write questions for them to read out during Question Time in Parliament House.

Submit your QT questions here and you too could enjoy the vicarious thrill of having Tony Abbott read your submission in the nation's Parliament.

All for open and digital democracy here, but maybe the Libs should be reading out the really good public-submitted questions with a "Sarah from Quakers Hill would like me to ask the prime minister about..." intro. Credit where it's due, particularly when the public deliver questions that launch a negative-Rudd issue into the headlines for the Liberals.

Of course if you're a real bastard, you can submit the kinds of questions to the Liberal Party that will get them all very excited and send them dashing about digging through records and files for a few days, only to discover they've been sent on a pointless treasure-free hunt.

But I'm sure Labor has more than enough extra staff right now to fuck around the Liberals like that.

Now Labor digital operatives don't have to bother posting false leads to Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman blogs to get the Libs to blow dozens of hours searching for facts inside mostly fictitious accusations and briefly promising Rudd scandals.

Hell, if they're really clever about it, some Labor staffer might even be able to use the Liberal Party's 'Submit Your QT Question' page to get Brendan Nelson himself all damply furious enough about a billboard-bright potential Labor controversy to recite a fake question during Question Time.

The challenge is on.
Murdoch's Lite Porn Meat Market

A reader forwards the below screen capture from a story page earlier today. 'Gussal' went to look at this readers comments page about why PM Rudd must show backbone on dealing with China, after they slaughtered more than 80 Tibetan protesters. Here's the big ad box that accompanied this serious news :

Gussal : "Are the 'Monster Peenus' and 'I'm Dirty Wendy' spam e-mails following me online now? Why am I being targeted by porn ads? What the fuck is this about?"

Tits N' News. It's the Rupert Murdoch way.
Christ Compels Government To Fund Exorcisms For Young Women

You're Not Mentally Ill, You Are Possessed By Demons

I wonder what the non-Evangelical population of Australia (that would be almost all Australians) think about their taxes being used to fund exorcisms and anti-demon counseling programs?

A secretive ministry with direct links to Gloria Jean's Coffees and the Hillsong Church has been deceiving troubled young women into signing over months of their lives to a program that offers scant medical or psychiatric care, instead using Bible studies and exorcisms to treat mental illness.

Government agencies such as Centrelink have also been drawn into the controversy, as residents are required to transfer their benefits to Mercy Ministries. There are also allegations that the group receives a carers payment to look after the young women.

Naomi Johnson, Rhiannon Canham-Wright and Megan Smith (Megan asked to use an assumed name) went into Mercy Ministries independent young women, and came out broken and suicidal, believing, as Mercy staff had told them repeatedly, that they were possessed by demons and that Satan controlled them.

Hello Mercy Ministries, welcome to the 21st century.

...the program is focused on prayer, Christian counselling and expelling demons from in and around the young women, who say they begged Mercy Ministries to let them get medical help for the conditions they were suffering, which included bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and anorexia.

Mercy Ministries are proud to admit they practice exorcisms, anti-demon counseling and Bible studies to help young women cope with mental disorders.

Not only does Mercy Ministries appear unconcerned by the allegations, it is mounting an aggressive expansion campaign. Peter Irvine, its former managing director, now director of corporate sponsorship, confirmed it was opening houses in Adelaide, Perth, Townsville, Newcastle, Melbourne and another Sydney house, in the southern suburbs.

Allan Fels, dean of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said if Mercy Ministries had made false claims about its services it would be in breach of the law and could face injunctions, damages and fines.

"Both the federal Trade Practices Act and the relevant state fair trading acts would seem to apply to the situation since income is being received by Mercy Ministries. Both laws prohibit misleading and deceptive conduct."

Right. Now that's a court case I'd like to see : Mercy Ministries having to prove in court that demonic possession leads to anorexia and the use of exorcisms is an effective method of curing bipolar disorder.

"I call to the witness stand...Satan!"
Supreme Court Cites Climate Change As Reason To Ban Houses By The Beach

This story's a few days old now, but it didn't get much attention from the mainstream media. Strange, considering it sets a precedent for less homes being built near Australian beaches and along our coastlines :

In a portent of how climate change could transform town planning along the nation's coastlines, the South Australian Supreme Court has ruled that predicted sea level rises are a valid reason to reject beachfront housing developments.

The rejection of a subdivision on Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, is likely to be repeated across the country as councils progressively write climate change provisions into their planning regulations.

The South Australian Supreme Court cited local sea level rises of 30cm over the next 50 years in ruling yesterday against Northcape Properties' plans for 80 holiday homes at Marion Bay, 150km west of Adelaide.

Judge Bruce Debelle endorsed earlier decisions by the state's Environment Court and Yorke Peninsula Council, which is one of the first coastal districts to incorporate stringent climate change clauses into its planning rules.

In ruling against Northcape's appeal, Justice Debelle confirmed the Environment Court's conclusion that the Marion Bay waterline would "recede inland by 35-40m" in the next 100 years.

Council chief executive Ricki Bruhn was delighted the court had vindicated his council's decision to add climate change clauses to its development plan in 2004.

"We're aware of rising sea levels and erosion in that area now," he said. "And being surrounded by water on three sides, we bear the brunt of any storm surges."

It's not just the courts (one court so far) that use climate change projections in deciding such matters. Whether you believe climate change will adversely impact Australia or not, most insurance companies now figure in the presumed effects of climate change in devising home insurance policies for the next decade or two.

That is, we will soon see a day when insurance companies will refuse to insure homes on beachfronts, or close to our coastlines, and make it harder to insure homes against what will be battled in courts as something like "climate change-related damage."

In a few years, if you own a home along a stretch of coastline predicted as likely to be hit by tidal surges, you will likely pay heavily in insurance premiums. If you can actually get insurance, that is.

The great Australian dream of owning a home by the beach is already almost out of reach for most Australians, with beach and coastal property prices on the east and west coasts mostly staying strong.

If Australian courts are now more likely to rule out beachfront and coastal developments because of climate change, a beach house for most Australians in the future will go from a perhaps reachable dream into the realm of pure fantasy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Norway's black metal legends Immortal, Sydney's Metro Theatre, March 15, 2008


All photos by Darryl Mason

Friday, March 14, 2008

Report : 300,000 Families Will Face Losing Their Homes This Year

What sort of breakdown of society, and community, results from such hardship inflicted on so very, very many Australian families?
An alarming 300,000 households will be under severe mortgage stress by mid-2008 and at risk of losing their homes as interest rates and living costs rise, a new report shows.

The new report, based on the results of telephone interviews with 26,000 Australian households, estimates more than 700,000 households will be experiencing some form of mortgage stress by June this year, a four-fold increase on last year.

It said mild stress was epitomised by households which prioritised or cut spending to pay their mortgages.

About 300,000 households will be experiencing severe stress, meaning they will have missed repayments, be in the process of refinancing or have received a foreclosure notice.

The report also pointed to a rise in "affluent stress" of high net worth borrowers suffering from rising rates, school fees and share margin calls.

We don't even yet know the full scope of how the US subprime mortgage obliteration will impact on Australian banks and investment funds. There's a lot of worthless debt out there no-one wants to claim ownership of, because sticking your hand up for those mortgages may hammer your stock price.

If you don't have a mortgage, if you don't have credit card debt, if you don't owe thousands of dollars to anyone or any institution, you can soon call yourself wealthy, at least compared to the million or more families now stuck with rising mortgages for homes that are losing value.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Howard Speaks...More Guff And Twaddle

'Conservative' Losers Claim Victory, For Losing

By Darryl Mason

John Howard has given his first interview since his humiliating election annihilation in November last year. Don't get too excited there, Howard's interview is about as dry and lifeless as a warm glass of salt and sand. But then, that shouldn't come as a surprise.

More interesting than most of what Howard has to say, is who he decided to say it to. That would be Janet Albrechtsen of The Australian newspaper.

You remember Janet, surely? She was the one who told Howard a few months out from the 2007 election that he had to quit, for the good of the Liberal Party, and for the ultimate benefit of Australian conservatism.

Here's a little flashback from Janet :
Under Howard it became cool to be a conservative. He rebuilt a political philosophy of individual responsibility for a new generation. His legacy is profound...
But now he must go. The Howard factor is there. Where once it meant success, now it presages defeat.
Of course, that column from Janet, back in September, 2007, didn't come as a complete shock to Howard. How could it? Janet rang Howard's office to let him know what she was publishing, before she even wrote it :
She's not an independent columnist, with scant regard for the impact of her opinion, as a truly fearless and uncompromising columnist must be. She is a propaganda outlet for John Howard, and has been a key player in the current game of "Howard Must Quit"/"Howard Must Stay" that has dominated political media coverage for the past eight days. The Game that is meant to show just how tough and resilient Howard can be, and how ready he is for the Big Fight in the coming election. And it all took place just when Howard needed it the most, when he is absolutely tanking in the polls....
In trying to fill in the gaps around the dull Howard quotes in her story - it being painfully obvious that he has little of anything fresh or interesting to say - Janet sprays a fresh coat of much-needed varnish on her Monty Python-absurdity level theory that Howard's hammering in the election, and the evisceration of the Liberal Party in general, actually means that conservatism is victorious in Australia :

Howard’s critics still don’t get it. In the sweep of history, conservatism has triumphed.

Since the election of the Rudd Government, the familiar refrain is that conservatism is beat. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that the right-left labels no longer apply. Yet, Rudd eagerly embraced much of the conservative agenda.

Yes, she's right. Rudd did embrace "much of the conservative agenda". That would be the "conservative agenda" of saying 'Sorry' to Aborigines, ratifying Kyoto, culling politicians' perks, pulling combat troops out of Iraq, nixing nuclear power, ramping up renewable energy programs, rewiring the Australian economy to deal with climate change, embracing carbon trading, obliterating WorkChoices and on and on.

You know, the 'New Conservatism'. It's not much like the old Howard conservatism, but it's far more popular and reflective of the Australia that most Australians want to live in.

Janet actually sums up the John Howard of 2008 perfectly in the story's intro :

For Howard, it is history that counts. And he is confident that history is on his side.

As long as people like Janet are writing the history, that is.

Some more desperate myth-making from Janet :

To be sure, Howard bears much of the blame for the final stain that tarnishes his record. After all, a leader is inevitably defined by their last act in office. Howard’s failure to heed the advice of his senior Liberal colleagues to hand over the leadership to Peter Costello last September will always be remembered as a final act of hubris. Deciding to stay on, preferring to be remembered by history as a fighter, not a quitter, knowing that electoral defeat was ahead, his leadership record would be indelibly marked down.

Keep spinning the myth, Janet, that if Costello became leader in September, election victory would have been in the bag. Dozens of polls in Janet's own newspaper reported all through 2007 that while Howard remained largely popular with voters, the Liberal Party, as in the primary political entity of Australian conservatism, was dying a long overdue death.

If the following quote from John Howard is anything to go by, he might want to check with medical professionals to see that at least a few of his neural pathways are still lighting up before he opens his mouth :

“The most constant comment made in the lead-up to the last election is that Rudd was trying to be a younger version of me. And there is some truth to that ... He did not win because he was different. He won because he was like me.”

Actually the most "constant comment" in the lead-up to the last election was that Howard was a tired old man, fresh out of ideas.

Poor John. He really did believe all that crap about Rudd being "a younger version of Howard" spouted by the likes of Janet, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and most of the op-ed writers of The Australian.

For those who were recently claiming that John Howard will never become like former prime ministers Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, popping up in the media waffling embarrassing piffle, it's too late. Howard's clearly ready now to take his place in the all-singing, all-dancing cast of Nutty Old PMs Who Can't Stop Talking Absolute Bollocks.

It's hard to decide what is more pathetic, and sad. The delusional propaganda from media-stacking conservatives like Janet Albrechtsen that they really won the election by losing the election, or the fact that Howard now clearly believes the line that Rudd is "a younger, better looking Howard" and that's the only reason why Labor was victorious.

Doesn't John Howard know that irony-rich line was dreamed up and distributed, via phone calls and boozy lunches to Howard Huggers, like Janet, by his own media strategists?

They say you shouldn't believe your own press. But in Howard's case, he shouldn't believe turd-polishing propaganda that originated from his own office and PR people, no matter how attractive and ego-inflating it may be.

Expect John Howard to be writing a weekly column for The Australian by June. He should feel right at home.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"We're Not Dead Yet"

Panicky kids. A retired couple can't even go away for a weekend without the cops being called and a police media conference being held at the couples' "abandoned" house. Good thing the "missing", presumed murdered, old couple turned up when they did.

Just as the "we think they're dead" media conference was about to start.

A fantastic good news story, with some of the best quotes of the week :
The signs weren't good. The couple had been missing since Thursday, their house was unlocked, their pet dog abandoned, and their home in disarray. But with the Homicide Squad about to make a media appeal for information, in drove the couple in their orange Kombi van, blissfully unaware of the fuss they'd caused.

The disappearance was out of character, so police rallied the media at the couple's house, and were just about to begin their public appeal, when who should appear. As the faithful orange Kombi chugged into the driveway, Mrs Ostell was just as shocked as the strangers on her lawn.

HEATHER OSTELL: Oh look, my heart just went down to my feet. I just couldn't imagine what had happened.

First Mrs Ostell had to weather a chiding from her daughter, who sprinted through the media pack to meet them.

HEATHER OSTELL: She screamed at me (laughs). She just screamed at me, "where have you been?" And she's very upset naturally and shaking, and so I'm going to have to make my peace with her in a moment.

The daughter asked the question usually reserved for parental inquisitions, why didn't they call?

HEATHER OSTELL: Would you believe we forgot the charger? (laughs)

The Homicide Squad's Charlie Bezzina was relieved at an outcome he rarely gets to enjoy.

CHARLIE BEZZINA: These are the good news stories we like, and it's just a breakdown in communications....I'd rather be inconvenienced nine times out of 10, rather than get bad news.

Mrs Ostell says she did feel odd hearing police were looking for her body, but she was proud of their work.

HEATHER OSTELL: Yes, but at least they'd picked out a nice photograph. I thought, "Well if I was dead, I'm glad they picked out a nice picture".
Do you have a nice picture of yourself ready and waiting for the police to hand to the media if you're ever abducted, murdered in a forest or disappear forever into a chink of the space-time continuium? Your relatives can't be trusted not to pick that photo of you blind-drunk and passed out on the lounge from Christmas Day, 1992. How else do you think some of those horrendous photos of missing people get into the newspapers and on the evening news?

An MP3 of the story can be snatched here

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt panicked after The Orstrahyun picked up on his libel here and wrenched his weekend blog post about prime minister Kevin Rudd's visit to Papua New Guinea, where Bolt accused Rudd of "overlooking" alleged pedophilia and corruption in PNG because the locals clapped loudly when he visited an isolated highlands community.

This is Bolt before The Orstrahyun story :’d think that strained relationship was all due to Howard being mean, instead of PNG being notoriously corrupt and also hiding an (sic) pedophile now facing trial in Australia...
This is Bolt after The Orstrahyun story :’d think that strained relationship was all due to Howard being mean, instead of PNG being notoriously corrupt and also hiding a man now facing trial on charges of child sex abuse in Australia.

Hilariously, after tagging an unconvicted man as "an pedophile", and changing the line without making it clear he had done so, Bolt then berates his readers for daring to do what he had done, only a few hours earlier :
I should also stress that Mr Moti is charged with sex offences, but says he is not guilty and nothing yet has been proven against him. He must therefore be presumed to be innocent.
Likewise, any claims that the PNG Prime Minister is corrupt have not been proven anywhere to my knowledge and he, too, must be presumed to be innocent. Therefore any readers who make such allegations in comments below will be and have been snipped.

What Bolt actually meant was that anybody who tried to point out on his blog that he libeled Julian Moti, and caused injury to the likelihood of a fair trial in Australia for alleged underage sex crimes, would not make it onto his comment boards. Bolt must be "snipping" more comments than he publishes these days.

More incredibly sloppy journalism, libel, back-tracking and personal white-washing from Bolt, as he becomes more shrill, sneaky and hysterical by the day.

It's almost entertaining.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ned Kelly's Remains Found In Prison Mass Grave

The Ned Kelly death mask, freshly cast off the corpse

The remains of Ned Kelly, one of the most legendary men, and most famous criminal, of Australia's short history, were dumped into a mass grave outside the prison where he was executed in 1880. His bones have recently been uncovered, though the skull is still missing. Wonder which family has been quietly passing that unique piece of Australiana from generation to generation?
The grave site of Australia's most notorious bushranger was discovered after historians and archeologists unearthed an old Department of Justice document yielding a vital clue.

Bone hunters during the week finally found an unknown mass grave where the remains of Kelly and other executed prisoners - removed from the Old Melbourne Gaol when it closed in 1929 - were interred at Pentridge.

"We have still some testing to do, but it's pretty clear we have found them," Heritage Victoria Senior Archeologist Jeremy Smith said yesterday.

Plans for the remains have not been finalised, but a publicly accessible cemetery and rose garden will be created at Pentridge.

Kelly was hanged at Melbourne Gaol on November 11, 1880, for crimes including murder.
Must be time to attempt to clone Ned Kelly by now. When the clones grow up, they can go on tour through our shopping centres and malls, perhaps a musical. Or just focus on TV. Ned Kelly Idol? Dancing With The Neds?

Australians loved, and still love, their bushrangers, even the cop killers.

Here's a clip of Heath Ledger in the sadly under-rated Ned Kelly movie, by Gregor Jordan. This is the last minutes of the movie :

A more traditional image of Kelly.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Andrew Bolt : Clap Loudly Enough And Prime Minister Rudd Will Overlook Your Pedophile Problem

UPDATE : As of 3.27pm Saturday afternoon, Andrew Bolt has apparently pulled his story 'PNG Applauds Rudd's Easy Cash', which is quoted below, from his blog site at the Herald Sun. That's why the links below, at the time of posting, go an empty page. But you can see the full piece that Bolt has disappeared at the bottom of this post.

I think this is the third or fourth blog post Bolt has tried to delete in the past 12 months, after he has been called to account for his statements and claims by The Orstrahyun.


Murdoch star hack Andrew Bolt slips back into his creepy old Howard-era dementoid mindset for some light hysteria on prime minister Kevin Rudd and Australia's hopefully more positive relationship with Papua New Guinea :’d think that strained relationship was all due to Howard being mean, instead of PNG being notoriously corrupt and also hiding an (sic) pedophile now facing trial in Australia...

Yes, forget about all those thousands of pistols and shotguns collected in Australia during John Howard's post-Port Arthur Massacre buy-up that somehow, miraculously, escaped the crushers and re-appeared in PNG highlands, where gun-violence is rising.

There’s nothing that PNG can’t overlook if the price is right, claims Bolt.

Rudd has decided to ramp up funding to PNG presumably in the belief that they might be able to better tackle their horrific AIDS problem. With the highest rate of HIV in the Pacific, Rudd is handing over $13 in extra funding to deal with the crisis. Overall, Rudd has increased Australia's aid contribution to PNG by $25 million.

Bolt appears to be neither proud nor glad that Australia is helping to fund anti-AIDS programs for the people of one of our poorest neighbours. What?

Bolt concludes that there is :

...nothing Rudd won’t overlook if the applause is loud enough.


Obviously Bolt is not talking about Rudd overlooking the AIDS epidemic in PNG, because he's just quoted a positive story where Rudd has increased funding, so Bolt must be talking about the child sex abuse case against Julian Moti, which he refers to earlier.

What a scoop!

Being such a credible, well researched and thoroughly sourced journalist, unlike the legions of Evil Lefties at the ABC and The Age, Bolt must be sitting on one hell of a story seeing as he is trying to link Rudd to covering up, or "overlooking" at the very least, pedophile-related crimes in Papua New Guinea.

Of course when challenged on these claims at his blog, Bolt will retreat to his usual cowardly ambiguity on what he really means, or he will claim he never meant anything at all, and readers are projecting.

It's becoming a tired, downright pathetic Bolt ruse to stir up his regular commentors, the Evil Lefties anyway, who will then be accused of trying to smear Bolt or of simply being paranoid.

You will need to challenge Bolt on this, if you think it necessary, because he's banned me from commenting. Mostly because of blog posts like this.

Bolt is losing it.

Here is the full copy of the 'PNG Applauds Rudd's Easy Cash' smear job by Andrew Bolt that he has deleted (for now) from his blog. Click the screengrab for a larger version :

I've emailed Bolt to find out why he has deleted this post, but I don't expect to hear back from him any time soon. I've offered to include his right of reply on this in a further update.

UPDATE : The deleted Bolt blog post can also be viewed at Google Cache.

UPDATE : Half an hour after I emailed Bolt for an explanation on why he deleted the above post, it reappears on the site. Bolt's explanation?
Sorry for taking this post off line for a few hours. Pure accident.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Big Loser Speaks

John Howard : proud recipient of treasured NeoCon-approved crystal salad bowl

John Howard gleefully accepts a big fat NeoCon pay cheque for forcing Australia into adding some international legitimacy to the Iraq War, against the will of the vast majority of Australians, and finally speaks to his the United States :

'I'm Absolutely Shameless And You're The Only Friends I Have Left, Please Pay Me $50,000'

Unfortunately for the Liberals, and conservatives (we'll list them as separate to the "we're with you Mr Rudd" Liberal Party because it seems to make the conservatives happy) who were hoping the Big Loser would light their way forward with some much needed illumination, and inspiration, Howard is still flogging the same load of old wank that lost him the election.

American NeoCons like to reward their international lickspittles with 'tours' of US 'think tanks'. Of course Howard got a hero's welcome at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday. Why wouldn't he? The American war industries that fund so many of these 'think tanks' have seen profits soar majestically since 9/11, while other American industries have spluttered to a halt and laid off millions of workers.

The AEI loves Howard. He's as hollow and shameless as they are.

Howard did what he was told in Washington in the days after September 11, 2001, and committed Australia to the War On Iraq without consulting his own government, the opposition, or even engaging the Australian people and asking what them what they thought.

Now Howard is getting his blood money.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Is It Even Possible To Be This Unpopular?

Opposition leader Brendan Nelson is the preferred prime minister in the minds of only 7% of Australians, and the Coalition is the preferred government of a mere 31%.

The new poll reveals that support for the Coalition has plunged a mindblowing 25% in three months.

Have I missed something? Have Coalition shadow ministers been videod clubbing baby koalas or eating whale meat kebabs?

The truth is, of course, that John Howard really was the vote catcher of the Coalition. He was their messiah and their antichrist. Even people who hated John Howard still found reasons to vote for him, or at least agree with him. With Howard gone, we now see exactly how popular the Liberal Party is in Australia. About as popular as the Bush administration is in the United States. About as popular as a kick in the nuts.

Losing Howard and gaining Nelson as leader is like sending The Rolling Stones on the road without Mick Jagger. Sure, some people will still go to see Keith Richards play, but you won't get a fireworks show, and your wife and most of your friends probably won't want to come with you.

It must be almost embarrassing for Kevin Rudd and Labor to discover how much of the country is behind them, and so very supportive during the new government's first 100 days in office, despite interest rate rises, housing shortage horrors, a plunging stockmarket and Rudd turning out to be even more dull and droll than he was as opposition leader.

73% of Australians favour Rudd as prime minister, and 51% prefer Labor over the Coalition.

7%. Nelson isn't leadership material, but how can his ratings be so utterly apocalyptic?

After all, he's not Tony Abbott.

Or Alexander Downer.

Maybe Nelson should get back on his motorbike and start popping a few monos outside Parliament House for the media. Hell, maybe he should just try and Knievel his way right over Parliament House while standing on the handlebars.

Such a stunt couldn't make him any more unpopular than he is right now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Not Too Subtle

The Jubilee Fountain was removed from Sydney's Rushcutter's Bay Park many decades ago. Can't imagine why...
1 Million Sydneysiders Want Out Of 'The World's Best City'

Only two days after Sydney was declared the world's best city (through a poll that placed Melbourne at #6), another poll reveals that one in five people who call Sydney home want to leave. Permanently.

Brilliant. A simple solution to rental shortages and fury-inducing traffic crawl presents itself : don't build more apartments and add new lanes to busy roads, just offer incentives to help the one million people who want to leave to get the hell out.

Problem solved?
Bali Bombers Will Soon Be Shot Dead

The morning after the Bali bombings in Kuta

Three of the key terrorists responsible for the Bali bombings are now waiting to die on an Indonesian prison island. Their executioners are camping outside the prison, and have been there for two months, waiting to do their jobs. There will be no clemency given by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and their current appeals will fail. All three should be dead by the day, October 12, of the sixth anniversary of the bombings.

An extraordinary encounter with the three key Bali bombers :

Imam Samudra, 38, was the planner who chose the targets in Bali and organised two suicide bombers to carry out the attacks.

Ali Ghufron, 48, better known as Mukhlas, was the financier who once met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan while making his own pilgrimage from theologian to jihadist.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, 46, dubbed "the Smiling Bomber", was the village mechanic who bought the explosives and the Mitsubishi van used as a car bomb.

The first suicide bomber walked into Paddy's Bar and set off a bomb in the middle of a crowd of customers. The second bomber waited for people to flee into the street, then detonated the Mitsubishi, packed with more than a tonne of explosives, outside the Sari Club. The victims were incinerated or flayed, died of shock or perished later from their burns and injuries.

The three men in the room with us were caught, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. They said they had been stripped naked, beaten, given electric shocks and plunged into baths of water to make them talk.

"People called me the mastermind of the Bali bombing," (Samudra) said. "Maybe right, maybe wrong. My only mission was to help the Muslims."

And then he said something extraordinary. He claimed the bombers never meant to kill so many people. What happened at Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club was "unacceptable", he said.

Had he made the bomb? "No, no, no," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't help to make it, and who made the bomb and when I don't know."

The second explosion was much bigger than they had expected, he said.

The only explanation, he suggested, was that "the CIA or KGB or Mossad" - those familiar bogeymen of the conspiracy theorist - somehow tampered with the bomb. "It is very possible," he claimed. "I learned about explosives in Afghanistan. As you know, I may be an expert."

The truth may never be known.

Two months before the bombing, he said, he had studied tourist literature to narrow down the list of targets.

Once on the scene, he said, "I observed Zionists. I knew they were using it (the bar) and then also I know I could spread this, with Australia, with Aussies."

Samudra denied bin Laden paid for the bombing, saying: "The money came from other people.

"Some try to make a link between al-Qa'ida and us. Now I don't know about this. We are not linked. The only link is faith and teachings."

Mukhlas, who prosecutors say raised the funds, also denied receiving money from bin Laden, saying: "I collected it from supporters in Malaysia and Indonesia."

It was almost a relief when Amrozi came over, sat down and squeezed my leg in a friendly manner. "My smile is my weapon," he said. "It makes my enemies upset. This is a special weapon for jihad."

What a different world it would be if terrorists attacked with smiles instead of bombs and guns.

The Full Story Is Here

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