Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One More Beer, Then You Can Kill Me

It's impossible to know if this is exactly what happened, or if the killer has watched too many episodes of The Sopranos. It reads like a deleted scene from Underbelly :

After he begged unsuccessfully for his life on a remote hill in Gippsland's Strzelecki Ranges, Stephen John Witham made two final requests.

Once he stopped crying and screaming and realised he was going to be murdered, Witham first asked his executioner, Michael Patrick Flaherty, for a beer.

Flaherty obliged and the pair sat and drank a stubby atop a steep incline in a dense pine plantation on August 12, 2006.

"I had a chat with him for a while," Flaherty told Victorian homicide detectives.

Resigned to his fate, Witham, 42, already injured from being beaten with a baseball bat, then asked that he not be shot in the face.

...Flaherty said Witham rolled over submissively.

"He realised that, you know, this is it, sort of thing," Flaherty told police.

He held the barrel of the shotgun to the back of Witham's head and pulled the trigger.

Playing Rugby League Now "Like Being In The Army"

This sort of overbearing control inflicted on the private lives of rugby league players, and plenty of other professional sportspeople, has gone beyond absurd and is now ruining careers and severely steaming the fan base, without which the sport wouldn't even exist.

Souths player Ben Rogers has been dumped from the first grade team for failing a breath
test :

"What, are we in the army?" Rogers asked. "If I'd gotten into trouble, got kicked out of a pub or started a fight, then I'd put my hand up and say I was in the wrong.

"That would be fair enough. But I wasn't drunk. I'm not real impressed and Souths know I'm not happy."

Souths fans also vented their frustration on the club's website and in calls to The Daily Telegraph - many believing the axings were extreme.

Rogers, Eddie Paea, Jaiman Lowe and Fetuli Talanoa have all been dropped for Saturday night's match against North Queensland after failing breath tests last Saturday.

"I find it hard to say I'm disappointed without getting angry," he said.

"Why can't we have a beer? That's what I'm upset about."

This may sound a little bit reckless in the age of corporate footy, but wouldn't players be prone to less injuries if they were a bit pissed when they played?

Anyone who's taken a fall down a flight of stairs after a dozen VBs will know what I'm talking about.

Monday, April 28, 2008

32% Of Australians "Sick Of Hearing About The Environment"

1 In 3 Believe Media Exaggerates Threat Of Global Warming

This story from the Adelaide Advertiser focuses on poll results that apparently show Generation Xers are "stressed, tired and insecure about their looks", but pushed the more interesting news to the bottom :

In another key finding, the Eye on Australia national survey of 689 adults also dispels the popular myth Australians are growing more environmentally aware over time.

The survey shows 32 per cent of adults are "sick of hearing about the environment" and 32 per cent believe the media exaggerates the effects of global warming.

Surprisingly, Generation Y is least concerned about the environment, with 17 per cent unconcerned about their carbon footprint compared with the national average of 12 per cent.

And this news, also from the poll, is excellent :

Overall, the survey shows 65 per cent of Australians are extremely or very satisfied with life, and 70 per cent believe we are living in prosperous times.

Of course, because good news is more often not news, the survey results would have to be re-intepreted this way to make for more tabloidish headlines :

4 Out Of 10 Australians "Not Satisfied With Life"

Only 3 In 10 Australians Believe We Are Living In Prosperous Times
The Universe Has Stopped Listening

'The Secret'
can easily lay claim to being the most successful independent book and DVD release in Australia's history.

Whatever you make of 'The Secret' and it claims that you only need to imagine what you want vividly enough and the Universe will deliver it to you, the DVD-that-became-a-website-that- became-a-book has generated hundreds of millions of dollars and more importantly proven that independent book and DVD distributors can do remarkable business outside the major retail chains.

The philosophical mess that is 'The Secret' claims that positive thoughts bring positive change to your life, while negative thoughts attract everything from bad dreams to cancer.

'The Secret', however, doesn't explain what kind of thoughts and emotions attract multi-million dollar lawsuits and extended bouts in courtrooms in Australia and the United States, as the principles behind the book, website and video, fight over 'The Secret's' Harry Potter-esque earnings.

From the New York Times :
Originally scheduled to have its premiere on Australian television, “The Secret” turned into a Web and publishing phenomenon. At one point the “Secret” Web site was selling as many as five movies a minute (either as downloads or DVDs), according to legal papers.

The book version has spent 66 weeks on The New York Times’s Advice best seller list, mostly near the top. Oprah Winfrey devoted two shows to it.

With an alleged $300 million fortune resulting from the phenomenal success of 'The Secret' to fight over, lawsuits are now flying between the DVD's director, the website's designer and Rhonda Byrne, the Australian woman who claims full ownership of 'The Secret' and all its secrets. And most of its earnings.

The suit alleges that Mr. Heriot worked on the screenplay, conducted most of the interviews for the film and supervised its editing and postproduction. The book, much of it a transcription of the movie, is based on documents Mr. Heriot created, the suit alleges.

Mr. Heriot wanted to make it clear that the problem wasn’t his lack of faith in the ancient mysteries. “To all who have been inspired by ‘The Secret,’ ” he said in a prepared statement sent by e-mail through his law firm, “please know that I am not suing the universal principles of ‘The Secret.’ Rather, I am suing the corporate principals behind ‘The Secret,’..."

You'd imagine the Universe would have some hefty legal representation and would not take kindly to being sued. If he truly believes his own guff, Heriot is right to exercise caution in trying to stir up trouble with the Universe.

The legal wrangling over the project began in July 2007, when TS Production applied for the United States copyright to the “Secret” movie and spinoffs. The next month Mr. Heriot applied for copyright to “The Secret,” claiming authorship of the movie and the screenplay.

Soon after that, TS Production filed suit in the Australian courts. Both Mr. Heriot and Ms. Byrne are Australian, and they began working on projects together around 2000.

In the Australian courts, TS Production has asked to be declared owner of all copyrights to the book and movie “The Secret.”

Mr. Heriot, the court papers argue, “directed the film under the terms of his employment under a contract of service” with Ms. Byrne’s company and is not entitled to any copyrights.

In its various forms, “The Secret” makes life look simple. “Ask, believe, receive,” the movie instructs. Legal fights are not always so straightforward. Ms. Byrne herself is scheduled to be deposed May 6 in Los Angeles in a separate case involving Dan Hollings, who helped develop the ”Secret” Web site.

The battle over proceeds seems a far cry from the munificent spirit Ms. Byrne espoused as her movie was first entering the self-help pantheon. In an interview conducted for The Times on the beach in Santa Monica in February 2007, she recalled how she had mortgaged everything she owned to finance the movie because she wanted to give the knowledge it contained to the world. Success was never about profit, she said, but about the journey of discovering what she was intended to do with her life.

“One of the big things in discovering the secret,” she said, “was discovering me.”

Finding her way through these lawsuits will also provide Ms. Byrne with plenty more opportunities to discover herself, particularly when lawyers start shredding her honesty and credibility.

The big question obviously is if 'The Secret' works, why then didn't Ms. Byrne engage her own master-rank "ask, believe, receive" influence over the Universe to get rid of the legal action?

You don't have to know 'The Secret' to know the answer to that question.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tony Abbott : The Secret Of Great Comedy

In January, Tony Abbott opened his heart to explain how difficult life was now the Howard government had lost power and how he had to make do on only $127,000 or so per year, plus the world's most generous superannuation benefits, a free car and petrol and office expenses in the five figures.

"What's it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, ie former Howard government ministers."

"You don't just lose certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference."

Millions of Australian families living it large on less than $50,000 a year expressed profound sadness at Tony Abbott's dire financial predicament. Imagine trying to survive on triple what the average Australian family earns, they emphasised, what with all the stress of trying to calculate how many millions his parliamentary super and pension will add up to, plus having to tolerate the imposition and hassle of a free car and free petrol.

Tony Abbott also complained that business executives earned much, much more than politicians do, and, you know, don't you think that's kind of wrong, too?

Despite being so poor he now has to handpaint colourful ties onto his shirts, Abbott has managed to resist all the offers of multi-million dollar executive appointments from the private sector that have tied up his secretaries since the election loss to continue his vow of poverty and remain in Parliament serving the people.

But for how much longer?

Abbott has apparently been working on a new career as a comedian, and his complaints earlier this year about the dry, stale crumbs that fill his parliamentary paypacket were not complaints at all. He was, it appears, just test-running some hilarious new material :

Mr Abbott tried to laugh off his complaints about the $90,000 pay cut he took when the Howard government was tossed out of office last year.

....he said he had been joking.

"I was asked a question, and I gave a jovial answer to the effect that one of the groups suffering mortgage stress thanks to the Rudd government were former Howard government ministers," Mr Abbott said, laughing.

"It was a light-hearted answer."

"And one of the reasons why politics is a genuine vocation, not always recognised by the public in those terms, but why it is in fact a genuine vocation - a noble calling - is because no one would do it for the money."

Funny stuff.

Here's some more examples of Tony Abbott's hysterical stand-up comedy routines from the 2007 federal election. If only we'd known he was cracking jokes and japing us, we all could have laughed so much harder :

Tony Abbott Threatens Voters With "Dire Consequences" If They Don't Vote For The Coalition

Tony Abbott Questions Whether A Dying Man "Is Pure Of Heart" Shortly Before His Death, Only Decides To Apologise After Seeing Headlines In Morning Papers

Tony Abbott Mystified, Horrified By Public Desire For Honest, Credible, Hard-Working Politicians To Serve The Public

Tony Abbott Says Women Who Don't Have Children Lack "Broader Lifetime Experience" And Won't Get Enough Votes To Win And Be Appointed, Say, Deputy Prime Minister

Tony Abbott Promises Liberals Will Be "Fair Dinkum" With Australian Voters

Tony Abbott Talks Up His "Reasonably Good People Skills"

Too much rain gets the mind thinking about West Australian beaches.
`You're Cross-Eyed, You're Horrible, You Have A Lisp, And You Suck"

Women presenting Australian morning shows and news broadcasts are discovering just how ugly it can get when viewers are able to instantly communicate their thoughts and opinions to the heads they see talking on the TV.

For presenters such as Sunrise's Melissa Doyle, being bombarded with unsolicited fashion advice via email has necessitated growing a thick, barb-proof skin.

"People don't mean to be nasty, but they just feel very familiar,'' she said.

Sunrise staff say thousands of fairly facile emails pour in daily, from the moment the presenters take their seats, and almost exclusively it's the women on the show who cop the criticism.

How much would it play on your mind to know, because you can read the e-mails, that literally thousands, which means tens of thousands or more, viewers on the real world side of the TV think that you show absolutely shit taste in clothes, shoes, jewelry, hairstyles, finger nail varnish, lip gloss shade, eyebrow colouring...

Do the men on the Footy Show get thousands of e-mails and text messages from blokes watching at home bitching about their appearance?

Hard core, abusive fashion hate of female newsreaders and morning TV presenters is most definitely a chick thing.

Last week, a serious Sky News political panellist wore a satin shirt and was accused by a viewer of dressing like "an adults-only Wiggle''.

The ABC's Leigh Sales says she is amazed at how people feel it is acceptable to pass comment on the appearance of presenters.

"I was filling in on the midday news and got this email saying, `You're cross-eyed, you're horrible, you have a lisp, and you suck','' Sales said.

"It was so extreme I was crying with laughter..."

Leigh Sales has had to cope with far too much, and highly inaccurate commentary, from her viewers.

"I was walking down the street one day and someone said: 'Oh, Leigh Sales from the ABC. Wow, you're much better-looking on television,'' she said.

"I'm on TV for three minutes a day, so that means I look like a dog for the other 23 hours and 57 minutes. Great.''

People can be so strange, and cruel.
Hoax The News

This is for all those who find the endless demands from network news and current affairs shows for viewers to become unpaid freelancers - "if you see news happening, send us your photos and video so we can sell it to Reuters!" - particularly annoying and ethically irritating, UK e-mail news sheet, PopBitch, heralds the arrival of a new artform that should send shivers down the spines of news executives and editors :
    The current trend in news journalism is to
let the viewers do the work. But the rise of
photos and videos from amateur mobile phone
cameramen is not without peril, thank God.
One 24 hour news network didn't spot that
someone was sending them in photos of the
London Olympic torch procession and photo-
shopping images of Maddie McCann into the
crowd. Oops.
Hoaxing the news networks via 'citizen journalism' is likely to prove extremely popular, being a solid challenge to the millions of PhotoShop and CGI addicts, and one where the hoaxer can easily show off what he or she has done for quick kudos. BoingBoing and Digg will love it. Your local online city newspaper? Not so much.

Friday, April 25, 2008

ANZAC Day : "90,000 Men Never Came Back Here"

The following are quotes from an interview with Peter Casserly, by the Australians At War Film Archive. Casserly was the last surviving Australian veteran of WW1's Western Front. Casserly served with the 2nd, 5th and 16th Railway Transport Units in France and Belgium, transporting ammunition, working almost constantly within range of German heavy artillery. He also spent many dangerous days with British forces fighting German forces in Amiens and Ypres :

Peter Casserly : The (ship) I was on...I was only two miles away from Melbourne, my mother...and I couldn't see her so as soon as we pulled anchor off, I went down below and wrote a letter to my mother. I put it in a bottle. I put it over the side and my mother got it again. It was washed ashore down around Esperance somewhere so I called it ocean post.

Q: How important were your mates during the war?

A: We were all like brothers together, all like brothers together.

Q: Was a good sense of humour important?

A: Well you really needed it, you really needed it but we were a crowd together. I never knew of any trouble in between us at all. All good mates right through. If you went out somewhere, if you had twenty francs and the other bloke never had any, you'd give him half of it.

Q: What did you think of the Germans?

A: Well just the same as our own blokes. Whatever you were, that's what you were but I had no great grudge against the Germans or anyone else. We were there to do that job and that's what we did and they were doing the same thing for their country, only they got sick of it at the finish.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A : Look, I don't think you could understand really what a warfare frontage looked like. I don't think you could quite understand it, no matter what I told you, about all I told you.

Q: How did you wash, did you wash?

A: Well sometimes you might chuck your shirt into something or hang it out somewhere... Had the same clothes when we come home as when we went there I think but it's very hard, very, very hard to explain to anybody what warfare's really like unless you see some of it, unless you see some of it.

Q: You were singing a cheery song earlier...

A: I was singing one about the warfare.

"Up to your waist in water, up to your waist in slush,
Using the sort of language that makes the Sergeant blush.
Who wouldn't be a soldier, tiddly I- di-i.
Pity the poor civilian, sitting beside their fire.
Oh oh oh it's a lovely war.
What do you want with eggs and ham,
When you've got plum and apple jam?
As soon as reveille has gone, you feel just as heavy as lead,
Until the Sergeant brings your breakfast up to bed".

Q: That's a beauty. Is there another one that you can sing?

A: There's plenty of them man, plenty of them. Like that one I sang here earlier, the French Tattooed Lady.

"I paid ten francs to see a French tattooed lady.
She was a sight to see, tattooed from end to knee.
On her left jaw was the Anzac Flying Corps,
Down her back was the Union Jack and a good old kangaroo
And right across her bits was a fleet of battle ships
And on her deaf and dumb was the digger's rising sun.
Right on her kidney was a bird's eye view of Sydney.
Around the corner, the jolly lorner, was my home in Tennessee".

Q: What did you do on Armistice Day, Peter?

A: Armistice Day? I've got a good one about that. We got on the bus. We had a night, a real night out round, just around our camp area and I seen a feller named Dave Thomas. He was a New South Wales feller, sitting down with his legs stretched out in front of him and I thought "What the hell's wrong with Dave?" and I went over to see him. I said, "What's wrong Dave?" He said "Don't stand on them Cass, don't stand on them." I looked down and he had a return of the swallows. He coughed up his teeth on the ground. Yeah, "Don't stand on them Cass." Anyhow, I had the nice job of sorting them out and cleaning them up and giving them back to him, yeah. That's on the night the Armistice was on...

Q: What does Anzac Day mean to you, Peter?

A: Nothing any different, only that I've never been to any Anzac Day turnout. I've never been to any but they're just their parades and everything just the same, their parades and everything just the same.

Q: It's not an important day?

A: Well it gives you a bit of back thinking to what went on and all the bloody millions of bloody men. There's 90,000 men, Australian men are still in France. They're the things you've got to think about...between there and Gallipoli, 90,000 men never come back here...

Casserly died in 2005. Here's his obituary.

You can read the rest of the interview with Casserly, completed shortly before he died, at the Australians At War Film Archive.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Canberra Swamped By Sea Of Communist China Flags

Chinese Embassy Helped Organise Pro-China Nationalism Psy-Op

There were a few moments when it looked like Australian Federal Police were considering hauling away the two Chinese paramilitary blue tracksuiters they allowed to escort the Olympic Torch through the streets, and past the monuments, of Canberra. The paramilitary eventually got the message and backed off, boxed in as they were for most of the 16 km run by police.

It didn't get too ugly in Canberra yesterday morning, unless you were a lone 'Free Tibet' protester, surrounded and swamped by dozens of yelling, shrieking Chinese students drowning you in huge Communist China flags.

Some 10,000 loud and proud pro-China supporters were bussed in, in a minutely co-ordinated exercise. More than 40 buses arrived from Melbourne. Even more buses journeyed down from Sydney.

The Chinese embassy in Australia were heavily involved in this very successful psy-op :

China helped to orchestrate the mass demonstration by thousands of Chinese students that turned Canberra into a sea of red for yesterday's torch relay.

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope confirmed the Chinese Embassy in Canberra was closely involved in helping transport up to 10,000 Chinese students, ensuring pro-China demonstrators vastly outnumbered Tibetan activists.

The revelation of official Chinese involvement in the demonstrations could trigger a diplomatic row with Australia's largest trading partner.

It is understood Beijing's officials in Canberra were in constant contact with travel companies and student leaders who were recruiting China's red army of young activists

Jon Stanhope : "...the ambassador has indicated that he was in contact with representative Chinese organisational groups, (for the) most part in Sydney and Melbourne. "

Asked if he believed China had helped to supply the thousands of professionally made flags and bunting, Mr Stanhope said: "I believe it must have been provided by a central agency."

The Chinese demonstrators appeared highly organised, with leaders sporting walkie-talkies and colour-coded uniforms.

Dozens of Tibetan protesters were surrounded by mini-mobs of Chinese protesters, who screamed "Liar, liar" and "One China forever" at them.

At one stage, near the National Library, the pro-China activists hurled water bottles and fruit at nearby Tibetan supporters.

In many instances, police ordered outnumbered Tibetan activists to leave sections of the relay route for their own safety.

The Tibetans were also told to leave the final stage because of concerns mass violence might break out.
But most of the pro-China students didn't resort to violence. They didn't need to. They had the strength of numbers.

Lone or small groups of pro-Tibet supporters were quickly surrounded by dozens of Chinese students with their huge flags on long poles. Naturally, a few pro-Tibet supporters got whacked in the head by those poles during the pushing and shoving.

The slogan shouting from the Chinese students was loud and intimidating for not only other protesters, but many of the local families who walked to the nearest corner on the torch relay route to find themselves pushed and jostled as packs of students ran screaming through the crowds.

You will see the exact same methods of non-violent but extremely intimidating protest suppression in Beijing in August. For starters.

Surround, drown and shout down : Chinese students use flag poles to box in a pro-Tibet supporter.

Sydney Morning Herald ;

Pro-Tibet protesters have reported being heavied by groups of Chinese students who were bussed to Canberra in their thousands to support this morning's Olympic torch relay in Canberra.

One woman called Marie said she was mobbed by screaming Chinese students as she tried to watch the relay go past. She had to be rescued and escorted away by police.

Alistair Paterson, 52, from Lake George outside Canberra, said he was standing with his seven-year-old daughter on Limestone Avenue with an older couple, their teenage son and two other young women when they were attacked by a group of about 50 people draped in Chinese flags.

Mr Paterson said he was holding a "Free Tibet" banner and the older couple also had a pro-Tibet placard, which angered the group as it ran along the crowd side of the barrier.

"I got a flying kick in the leg, another bloke was hit in the head with a stick with a Chinese flag attached to it and our banners were torn down," Mr Paterson said.

"When I looked around there were three or four guys who I can only assume were Chinese who wanted to fight me.

"This gang of thugs rolled right through us and we had kids with us. My daughter was still shaking an hour later..."

"We were just a small group of people basically exercising our right, our responsibility to say 'We don't think this is correct'," he said.

Another pro-Tibet protester, Marion Vecourcay, said she felt frightened and threatened by the Chinese demonstrators.

"They mobbed the sign, they were really aggressive, insulting and swearing," she said.

"They said we have no right to be here but I live up the street.

"It was just a mob mentality."

Pro-China demonstrator Jeff Li...said pro-Tibet protesters were ill-informed.

"These people are idiots, they know nothing about China's history," Mr Li said.

We're presuming Mr Li learned of China's history in Australia, not back in China, where the official histories tend not to focus on the imprisonment and execution of dissenters and political activists.

As for the sea of Chinese flags, hundreds were unrolled and unfurled during the singing of the Chinese national anthem, much to the surprise of Olympic organisers, in Australia at least :

Pro-China demonstrators turned out in force in what relay organisers have said was a co-ordinated attempt to "carry the day". A sea of red flags emerged when the Chinese anthem was sung to officially end the relay ceremony.

The pro-China and a rival group of pro-Tibet demonstrators hurled abuse and taunts at each other throughout the entire relay after police forced them onto separate parts of the route. Scuffles broke out and a Chinese flag was burned.

Near the end of the relay, the groups clashed again. Witnesses said pro-Chinese used their flags to hit pro-Tibetans before police again

The Chinese students were mostly non-violent, as has been said, as were the pro-Tibet supporters, but the pro-Tibet supporters didn't have the financial support, psy-op knowledge and bureacracy of a Communist state behind them to help organise and co-ordinate their activities.

And their flags were much, much smaller.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The above is a spectacular new NASA satellite image showing the infamous 'Spider Crater' in Western Australia :
"In this false-color image, the arid landscape appears in varying shades of crimson. Near the center of the image is the Spider, sunlight giving an oddly ghostlike appearance to the steep ridges that form its legs."

The structure of the crater, situated in almost inaccessible terrain, was for many years a mystery until the 1970s when "shatter cones" -- cone-shaped, grooved rocks known only to appear in craters left by meteor or asteroid impacts -- were discovered. The find led scientists to conclude the structure was that of an eroded impact area.

More on this here.

Detail :

WA's 'Spider Crater' has something of a geological twin on planet Mercury.
Book Wars : Howard Vs Costello

Biographer : "Howard Is This Automaton"

Costello The Messiah...No Wait, He's Not The Messiah

Former prime minister, John Howard, apparently has five publishers interested in his autobiography, but former treasurer Peter Costello has already got his deal done, the writing has begun and it is expected to briefly hog shelf space in bookstores from early October.

The betting, before the books are even completed, is that Costello will turn in the better tale, which will mostly be written by his father-in-law, Peter Coleman, a former editor of The Bulletin.

The hope is that the book's publication will mark the end of Costello's political career, instead of a new beginning. Why?

If Costello intends to take a run at leader of the Liberal Party (and really, why would he?), you would expect the book to go easy on Howard, on the Liberals in general, mock Labor generously and ramp up the potential of a victorious return to power for the Liberals, starting anywhere. That means, not a lot of sales outside the hard core ranks of Australian conservatives.

But if Costello is heading for the door (and really, why would he stay?) we might get a conservative rival to Mark Latham's spectacular napalming of Labor in The Latham Diaries, full of bite, bile and venom.

That is no doubt the hope of Costello's publisher, Melbourne University Press, and whatever newspaper will fork out $30,000 to $60,000 for the serialisation rights.

More here :

Peter Costello may finally take the top slot from his old boss John Howard in a battle of memoirs, according to a biographer of the former prime minister.

ANU academic Wayne Errington, who co-wrote last year's controversial John Winston Howard: The Biography, said Mr Costello was the more attractive prospect.

"Howard and Costello both gave us a lot of their time and, generally speaking, Costello was much more interesting," he said.

"He's more human. Howard is this automaton who is hugely focused and disciplined while Costello, and I know this is a terrible cliche, is definitely the bloke you'd rather have a beer with."

Interestingly, the writer of the Costello book, Peter Coleman, ripped into John Howard after the Liberal Party's election massacre.

"What was once seen as his gritty determination started to look like an almost animal egomania and he seemed to be blocking progress and regeneration, rather than advancing the cause," Mr Coleman said.

He claimed that Mr Howard destroyed Mr Costello's chance to be prime minister. "There is no doubt that this man of great promise and great ability was blocked by Howard's egomania," he said.

It'd be hard to imagine Coleman won't entrench those views, obviously shared with Peter Costello, in the new book. The publishers are clearly expecting this, and much, much more.

John Howard, eating his breakfast alone and reading the papers, as is his daily morning habit, must have a few seconds where he found it hard to swallow when he read the news of Costello's book.

What will he say about me? Howard must have wondered, What will he reveal?

Winter began early for Howard yesterday morning.

The best coverage on the surreal hyping of Peter Costello returning to lead the Liberal Party and the announcement of his book deal naturally comes from Andrew Bolt, the Murdoch paid Liberal Party propagandist, and talking points provider, who can't even rely on the Liberals to leak him early news of actual interest anymore.

This is fantastic stuff from Bolt. Hail! Costello The Messiah Returns!
Costello retains a lot of respect in the electorate, making him preferred as Liberal leader to Turnbull, who is still inexperienced, unwilling to take advice and an ideological work in progress.

A Costello/Turnbull team would give the Liberals terrific credibility...

Costello has to get over his past resentments and seize his future.

...the Liberals must en masse ask him to take over.

...the leadership is there for his asking. And truly, his party needs him.

What news that Bolt didn't know was coming could turn that rancid fluff into pure bogwater? This - Oh Wait, The Messiah's Not Returning And...He's Taking Cash From The Publisher of Mark Latham and Antony Lowenstein :

Costello might be about to burn bridges rather than build them, unless he resists the impulse to get square:

Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) today said it would publish Mr Costello’s memoirs of his 18-year political career.

But you can at least gather from this Costello isn’t going anywhere that will demand plenty of his time, if he’s settling down for a long write.

Absolute bollocks, but pure comedy gold.

Costello wouldn't get more than $50,000 for his biography (he's believed to be getting around $150,000) unless the publisher knew in advance that Costello was going to use the book to leave at least a mildly impressive trail of smoke-belching burning bridges in his wake, heartily embracing the opportunity to get square, in public, and well before Howard's own tome wheezes onto the shelves.

The best part of the 2007 federal election remains the moment when John Howard had declared defeat and announced he would back Peter Costello as the new Liberal Party leader, with Howard all but begging Costello to come up onto the stage and allow Howard to officially anoint him.

Cut to Peter Costello standing in the crowd, looking casual and pissed, grimly grinning his answer back to the man who had done so much to make his life a frustrating, humiliating existence : Not fucking likely, mate, not fucking likely.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olympic Torch Anti-Freedom Farce Continues

Media Banned From Torch Relay Through Nation's Capital

Australia will get to see what the evening TV news is like in China during the Canberra leg of the fiasco-harassed Olympic torch relay on Thursday, after Beijing insisted on banning the general media from the event.

Channel Seven will have journalists there, Radio 2GB will have journalists there. But seeing as Channel Seven and Radio 2GB have exclusive broadcast rights for the 2008 Olympics, will we actually see any journalism?

If thousands of pro-China and pro-Tibet protesters come face to face in the streets of Canberra and get into it, how will it benefit either Channel Seven or Radio 2GB to give the violence the coverage it deserves? Will Channel Seven provide the rest of the media with Olympic Games-related rioting outside the nation's capital footage if they decide not to air it themselves? They are utterly compromised, and Beijing is insisting no other media be close enough to the actual torch relay to show what really happens.

Beijing can't stop the protests, but they can to, and apparently are being allowed, to limit the coverage :

Council for Civil Liberties national president Terry O'Gorman lammed the arrangements, saying there was a "clear conflict of interest" in allowing media companies with broadcast rights to the Games to produce most of the coverage.

"They've got an interest in promoting the Games and minimising any negative impact that the protests would have on the Games coverage," he said. A wider array of journalists, including from the print media, should be given access. "A picture in this case doesn't tell a thousand words; you need the words to tell the picture," he said.

How will the rest of Australia's corporate media respond to this crackdown on their freedom to cover history in their own country? Will they boycott the Olympics in protest? Not likely.

Another "wall of steel" and massive police deployment unfurls in an Australian city, with a promise from the prime minister himself of beatings from police for protesters who get out of line :
A great wall of steel has been erected along the entire Beijing Olympic torch relay route in Canberra, with the Prime Minister saying police would "come down like a ton of bricks" on protesters planning violent demonstrations.

Kevin Rudd's warning came as the cost of hosting Thursday's event doubled to almost $2 million.

"If any protesters, irrespective of their political point of view, engage in unruly, disorderly or violent behaviour, then the police will come down on them like a ton of bricks," Mr Rudd told the 7.30 Report last night.

A waist-high metal grille surrounded landmarks such as Parliament House, the National Art Gallery and the War Memorial.

"It's quite a blow to the innocence of our city but we must do it," the ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope.

The Australian torch relay organiser, Ted Quinlan, could not rule out smuggling the torch on to a bus if protests in Canberra got out of control. "The flame has to be mobile," he said. "Any major disruption could kill it."

The Olympic torch is like a shark now, is it? It has to keep moving or it will die?

There is clearly a concerted effort by Olympic organisers in Australia and Beijing to confuse the public over just how involved the infamous blue-tracksuit wearing Chinese paramilitary will be during the Olympic torch relay in Canberra.

China is sending 30 of these official "flame attendants" to Canberra, and we are told they will follow the torch, in a bus, with at least one riding directly behind the relay runners on an ACT police motorbike.

The story, for now, is that the Chinese paramilitary will only come off the bus when the torch is handed from one relay participant to another, there is a lot of re-lighting to be done. But the torch changes hands about every 200 metres. Right. So every two hundred or so metres on the sixteen kilometre route, the bus will stop, the paramilitary will file off, stand around, attend to the flame and then it's back on the bus again, for another few seconds of travel.

They're going to get on and off the bus around 70 or 80 times, are they?

Of course they're going to be running with the torch, when it's not being transported on the bus that is. There will also be a solid turn out of Chinese security agents and videographers amongst the pro-Tibet protesters. Every single one of them have their image and movements captured by Chinese intelligence and immediately databased in Beijing.

The ACT and federal police, at least, do sound like they won't be putting up with any of the scenes in London and other city tours of the torch where the Chinese paramilitary took a front line role in violently dealing with protesters.

Police claim they will charge any foreign security agent who lays a hand on a protester. That's their job.

But if only Channel Seven and a radio station are allowed to directly witness what is actually going on inside the moving flesh wall of security, how will we know our police are keeping their word?

Let's hope it all goes down peacefully.

Monday, April 21, 2008

China Sends 30 Paramilitary To Guard Olympic Torch In Canberra

Police Threaten To Arrest Any Paramilitary Who Lays A Hand On Australian Protesters

A country quietly, steadily installing police state apparatus will, they claim, be protecting its people from an advanced police state security team, whose Quest For Fire-like mission is to keep a flame lit, while pro-Communist Capitalism and pro-democracy activists shout support and abuse at the flame as it's passed from one running person to another in the recreation of a sports-related ritual popularised by the Nazi German government in 1936.

The Olympic Torch relay in Canberra later this week has the makings of an utterly surreal, but hopefully not violent, mega-spectacle of the most bizarre kind :

Chinese officials have been warned their paramilitary "flame attendants" will be arrested and hauled away if they touch one of our citizens during the Australian leg of the torch relay.

Police are still keen to ban the attendants from escorting the flame at all.

Instead, runners will be protected by six Australian Federal Police officers: two behind; two alongside and two in front.

"The federal police have told the Chinese Embassy that the flame attendants will not have a security role," a source close to the negotiations said.

"They can't touch any member of the Australian public and if they do they will be arrested and charged under Australian law."

So 30 highly trained Chinese paramilitary will supposedly ride in a vehicle near the flame, while six Australian Federal Police provide running security, but should any of the foreign paramilitary engage in thuggish behaviour with a pro-democracy protester, the police will cause a (positive) international incident by arresting the foreign government paramilitary, who will probably then claim diplomatic immunity.

2008 has already proven to be an extremely weird year, and it's only going to get weirder from here on in.

Wait until you see the 'One World/Same World' Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and the incandescent rage from Chinese officials at the numerous pro-Tibet protests from athletes, and media.
Doctor Says Stop Terrorism And Criminal Networks By Legalising All Drug Use

In a summit full of ideas...well, 100 or so, including a few new ones, this idea was too shocking, too unimaginable for most to even blink at :
The use of dangerous, addictive drugs should be decriminalised, a medical expert says.

Prison doctor Wendell Rosevear wants Australian-made heroin to be given to addicts in government-sanctioned doses by 2020.

In an idea slammed by family groups, he used Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit to call for all drugs to be legalised.

The Queensland GP said keeping drugs illegal simply handed money to terrorists and criminals.

"I think it would be better to actually sell the opium that we grow in Tasmania and undercut the profits (of illegal drugs)," he said.

"Now, the profit margin is about 3000 per cent, from the farms to the street."

Dr Rosevear, who has 30 years' experience working in the jail system, wants safe and precise doses of drugs made available to users.

"People are taking unknown doses of unknown drugs from unknown sources, and they overdose and they die," he said.

Dr Rosevear said the change should apply to all drugs, including ecstasy, ice and marijuana.

Legalising all drugs is clearly insane.

The fallout from such a move would be catastrophic, and wide reaching.

Thousands of gangsters, distributors, street dealers and backyard chemists would be out of work, as the price of drugs plummet. Break and enters and car theft would decrease so dramatically that insurance companies would have trouble convincing people that they really need to insure everything in their homes, particularly their wall TVs.

And what about the alcohol industry? Most bartenders will tell you that stoned people drink less booze than the punters who walk in straight, and laser-eyed 20 years old on ecstasy don't drink any booze at all.

The alcohol industry would find its monopoly as legal non-pharmaceutical drug supplier to the nation being stripped away by real competition.

In a free market where most of the drugs now illegal were available to purchase, or consume in a legal venue, alcohol would have a hard time competing. Sales would plummet.

Imagine if one violent boozer, who medicated himself with alcohol, instead became a casual pot smoker? Imagine if 50,00 violent boozers ate so many hash-soaked cookies, instead of 20 schooners, every Friday and Saturday night that the only physical abuse they unleashed was on the XBox?

Ice is clearly nasty crap, illegal or legal. But a few thousand doctors, accountants and lawyers would sleep easier if they knew they could get a monthly prescription for morphine every month from their doctor.

It won't happen. Australians will instead have to make do with brain and society decaying levels of alcoholism, legal speed for attention problems and cheap, day melting doses of over the counter codeine from the local pharmacy.

The majority of Australians will continue to dose themselves almost every day with drugs, soft and hard drugs, because they want to alter their reality, or alter the way they feel, or the way they feel about themselves.

Australians enjoy getting high, and low, via plants, fermentation and chemicals, but the most important question remains how best to limit the addictions and the damage.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's 2020, And This Is Your Life

Well, it's May 19, 2020, and Australia is a very different country to the far more chaotic nation we knew back in 2008 when World Government President Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, drew together 1000 of the "best and brightest" minds to "shake the trees" and dream up a better tomorrow. This tomorrow, today, here in 2020.

It's Whitlam Day today and I woke up at 5am. I had no choice. Julia Gillard's voice blasted into the room, well every room, in every home, in every town, city and ecoville, to make sure none of us get up late or leave the house still sleepy. They had to turn down the standard volume after all those carbon credit earning suicides, so her voice doesn't always wake me right up.

I haven't paid my KevNet bill so the only free tele available while I'm eating my raw vegetable breakfast was old Kevin Rudd speeches on the KBC (Kevin Broadcasting Commission). I've already seen every speech he ever gave twelve or eighteen times each back in high school, when I was completing my Higher Kevin Certificate, so I read The Daily Kevin instead while I eat.

I've been saving up, so for lunch I'm going to treat myself to a $70 McDonalds Hamburger, with fries. I'll have to put up with the compulsory eduvid on why obese people are stealing our children's future but the hamburger's made from a cow that wanted to die, so it should still taste pretty good.

I'm still sleepy when I climb nine stories down the zero emission rope ladder from my apartment to the grass covered street. I would have a cigarette to wake up a bit more, while waiting for the multicycle (already loaded with ten of my neighbours) to arrive, but cigarettes were banned in 2009. Banning cigarettes was one of the most popular Ideas from the 2020 Conference amongst non-smokers. It doesn't matter of course, because cocaine, Kevoin and nano-speed is legal, and the prisons are only crowded now with lying politicians and the last of the Boltist conservatives rounded up by the first Australian republic president John Faulkner in 2014.

Anyone under 50 needs lots of nano-speed just to get all the work done. There's six million Baby Boomers to support. Most of them live as Grey Howards endlessly circling the country on Highway One. They refuse to work ("I'm 77 years old and I'm not going to farm carrots!"), and they refuse to die, even when told it is a "positive experience not to be feared", plus they keep cloning themselves.

I have a busy morning. I have to go to the Wellness Centre for my compulsory health test. It's an hour off work, but I do get paid for completing the test. Ten Carbons means for four hours I won't have to use pedal power to watch HoloTele tonight. There's a Kevin Vs Kevin debate from the 2012 election I haven't seen all sixteen hours of yet, and I'm not allowed to miss it.

I also have to find time in the afternoon to go visit my girlfriend. She's been suffering eco-anxiety (or Ecty as it's known in psychiatric circles) for a decade, but she had a total breakdown last month when state media reported that seven polar bears were found still swimming in the Russian Arctic two years after the final sliver of ice had melted up there. I thought the ice was probably going to melt anyway, eventually, and it was a bit of a miracle, maybe even of some religious significance, that the polar bears had survived for so long.

But as soon as I thought that, the alarm sounded (Julia Gillard laughing) and everyone in our building knew that I had both doubted global warming and viewed the polar bear tragedy as something other than a tragedy. I was named and shamed.

It was too much for my girlfriend. I was fined 100 Carbons and I was stripped of my citizenship. She checked into a More Than Wellness Centre. They said her recovery will be long, free and green.

It was my first major envirocrime, but that means next week I have to go to the We Owe Nature BigTime, You Bastard Centre and prove my environment-climate friendliness. If I fail I get sent to Flannery, the geothermal town in outback South Australia, where I will be re-educated for two months. Having to watch all those Flannery eduvids where he shouts how right he and Rupert Murdoch were on the dire, catastrophic changes of climate change might be harsh, but anything is better than going to prison and having to share a cell with all those lying politicians and those weirdo conservatives, with their endless quoting from the Holy Timran and their futile demands for KBC to air their bizarre and now mostly illegal ideas.

By the time I get to work, they should have unloaded the new supply of butcher's paper. We ran short last week and had to get six people on the treadmills to power a pre-Rudd era style PowerPoint presentation. We're having a What A Good Idea! meeting before lunch and we have to write our ideas on the butcher's paper and hold them over our heads to find others who agree with our ideas.

Tomorrow from here in the year 2020 I'll discuss my job, the environment, why you can now visit the beach and the Blue Mountains at the same time and how the shape of Peter Garrett's magnificent head came to inspire the design for the base-load producing solar panels that power this nation.

Sources :

2020 Summit : Death "The Positive Experience"

Jail Lying Politicians, Yes, Jail Them

'Vision For The Future', Sydney Morning Herald

Sunday Telegraph : "There Was Something Uplifting About Witnessing Such (An) Impressive Group Of Australians."

Annabel Crabb : The Great Butcher's Paper Sacrifice

Friday, April 18, 2008

ED Day : 'The End' Is Nigh

I'm a few days, maybe a week, away from The End of my online serialised novel, ED Day : Dead Sydney.

While I've always had a vague idea of how I believed the story would end, not writing to an outline means I've often been surprised at how the tale has turned out, chapter by chapter.

For example, (spoiler alert), the sniper murders of three key characters, a few chapters ago, wasn't something I planned, or even wrote in my mind. I didn't want that to happen to these people. I sat there, reading the words that appeared on the screen as they were slaughtered, as though I was reading the work of somebody else. A very strange experience indeed.

Most of the latest chapter now online, likewise, fell out of the brain dump in one fast 3am writing session after I tossed the chapter I had already written, and rewritten, and relentlessly polished until it was flat, sterile, fucking boring.

Where this new chapter leads the last part of the novel (maybe two more chapters) is not something I planned, or even now want to happen to these characters who have become so real to me in the past year. But I know if I delete this chapter and rewrite it to fit with how I originally thought this story would end, my brain will violently punish me by exploding a few blood vessels. And if I did slump dead onto the keyboard before I reach The End, there's about one or two hundred regular readers who I'm sure would dig me up to try and find out how it all ends.

This has been such a bizarre writing experience. I used to need drugs to trip myself out this much.

An excerpt from the latest chapter of ED Day : Dead Sydney :
There’s nobody to put out fires that big, and we don’t have the water to spare even if we had a volunteer firemen’s unit to activate.

Bookman had warned of all this. The destruction of our written history and culture, who we are, the story of how we got here, how we became a nation.

Bookman told me last week that 12 bookshops he knew of had been torched or burned, including antique shops loaded with rare books and letters. He made me promise him that if anything ever happened to him that I'd guard the Mitchell and State libraries with my life. I failed him. It's all gone.

I see it all now, what is happening here. We have a dangerous and destructive enemy, and this enemy is at war against us, the survivors of ED Day. They want to strip us of our history, and break us down, make us feel lost and helpless and cut off from our culture, who we are, where we came from.

They're winning.

You can read the rest of the latest chapter here. And feel free to leave a comment, as critical as you like (but make it a bit more insightful than "This Sux", okay?)

If you're not already reading ED Day, you can start from Chapter One here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Australian Researchers Discover Fun, Stress Relieving New Way To Fight Cancer

I look forward to seeing the Cancer Council's public awareness ads promoting this method of preventing prostate cancer :
Men could reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer through regular masturbation, researchers suggest. They say cancer-causing chemicals could build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly.

Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 who had not about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop the cancer. The protective effect was greatest while the men were in their 20s.

Men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

Red wine, dark chocolate, some sunshine, lots of sleep, cannabis cookies and now masturbation. Preventing cancer has never been so much fun.

Go Here For More On This
Key Terror Trial Witness Heard Birds Telling Him Their Problems

It's reassuring to see Australia's largest trial of suspected terrorists, you know the ones who are so allegedly dangerous they had to be separated from their wives and children for years and held in a Supermax Victorian prison, hasn't descended into a complete and total farce :

The key witness in Australia's biggest terrorist trial lived a life of luxury, communicated with birds and saw a she-devil, a court heard yesterday.

The witness, Izzydeen Atik of Newport, told the court on Tuesday the group's alleged leader, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, told him the group planned to attack the 2005 AFL grand final at the MCG and Melbourne's Crown Casino during the 2006 Grand Prix.

Mr Atik is a key witness in the trial of 12 men accused of being members of a terrorist organisation. All have pleaded not guilty.

Remy van de Wiel, QC, a lawyer for Benbrika, told the court of a psychiatric report in 2002 in which Mr Atik claimed that birds often told him their problems.

"If you spend a day with me you will see the birds follow me and talk to me," Mr Atik told the psychiatrist who compiled the report.

Mr van de Wiel told the court the report quoted Mr Atik as saying: "I see another one, a girl, not human, a devil. She says she loves me [and] she won't let me have a relationship. She scares me."

And it gets worse.

The police raids in November, 2005, that led to the arrests of the men now on trial just happened to coincide with the introduction of the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005,
Anti-Bogan Revolt

Residents in a Sydney suburb aren't too happy with the name of their street, Bogan Place, and they want it changed :

Tired of being smeared because of their address, 12 of the street's 16 residents have banded together to beg their council for a name change.

"The connotations associated with the word bogan are becoming increasingly ruder," resident Jim Patrick, a computer technician who works from home, said.

"When I give people my business card the reactions are amazing. People hit me and tell me I cannot be serious."

Self-confessed bogan, mayor Nick Ebbeck, said it was the first time the council had been asked to rename a street because it was offensive.

Mr Ebbeck said the constant theft of the sign was a drain on council coffers.

"It costs $500 per sign to replace including the labour and the template and it's not like they're mass producing Bogan Place. We are losing this one on a near monthly basis. It's unbelievable."

The residents of Bogan Street, Seven Hills are yet to petition their council for a name change. Nor have the residents of an entire NSW suburb called, wow, BOGAN GATE raised a fuss.

How's this for an address :

Bogan Gate Public School, Bogan St, Bogan Gate, NSW.

Nor are the residents of Bogan Place, Kaleen, ACT, or Bogan Street, Bogan Lane, Bogan Close, Bogan Road, all over Australia, demanding their streets be renamed. Though it appears Bogan dwellers in other states and territories also have to put up with the disappearance of their street signs.

I always thought Bongalong Road was the most stolen street sign in Australia.

The activist residents of Bogan Place, Wahroonga, should come clean about why they want the name change.

What do they Bogan Place renamed as?

Rain Forest Close.


Very likely because some local real estate agent has told them their properties are worth more if they have a 'leafy' street name.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bolt : My Readers Are A Pack Of Homophobic Arseholes

Dingbat Andrew Bolt pretends he never knew that a fat slice of his blog's readership are bigoted fuckwads. He posts on the decision Victorian schools to allow students to take gay partners to the formal dance, and gets bombarded with slabs of bile and disgust :

Some of the people against this idea should be ashamed of the way they express their opinions in comments below. Any young gays reading this would be horrified and intimidated by such gleeful mockery and hatred. Could the worst offenders reconsider the way they’ve expressed themselves, and post a clarification or even, dare I hope, an apology?

Yes, I'm sure there are just oodles of young, gay Australian conservatives reading Bolt's blog everyday. You know, all those pro-war, pro-Howard, anti-gay marriage, anti-gay rights, young gay men.

Bolt's bulb is so dim he doesn't even realise his blog is now Australia's number one clearing house for bigotry and intolerance.

Perhaps Bolt should inform his commenters that various police agencies and ASIO data-mine his site and build profiles of his most regular, hate-filled commenters. Unless, of course, Bolt is trying to draw them out. Nobody is anonymous on the internet anymore, as Orwellian as that is.

When the big push begins in Australia to force blogs to only publish comments by registered readers ('licensed' readers is probably closer to the mark), and the push will begin this year, comments found on Bolt's blog will be part of the 'Look At All This Filth And Hatred' marketing campaign by politicians to get it done.

UPDATE - Some examples of the Bolt Readers Revolt, and the downright revolting :

"...openly allowing it certainly runs the risk of pedophiles lurking."

"Good God, Andrew, I know you’re agnostic, but you’ve lost your marbles

"If you are born gay then you must also be born a paedophile."

"It is honorable of you to defend homosexuality because you have gay friends. How about defending the rights of others to reject it?"

"What about those boys who have meaningful desire for animals or prefer polygamous relationships? Why does homosexuality convey a superior moral stance
over bestiality, polygamy, necrophilia or polyamorism?"

"Andrew Bolt, you have clearly lost the plot on this one. No ‘conservative’ should ever encourage such a destructive assault against traditional, mainstream values. I cannot believe you have supported something as ill conceived as this in the name of ‘tolerance.’"

"If you honestly believe that such garbage should be allowed, you are about as far removed from any genuine conservative cause as the ‘progressives’ who openly proclaim their desire to dismantle our mainstream culture. Why Mr Bolt has sided with them on this one I cannot fathom."

"If homosexuality is quite acceptable, why isn’t people having sex with children, their siblings, their father, their mother or animals acceptable? From what or where do you derive your moral baseline?"

"Gotta laugh at the way the media keep on and on about these extreme minority perversions. “If we keep repeating it over and over people will start to think it is normal and acceptable”. How about a new slogan Andrew “Homosexual - so normal everybody should be one”. Could work for the incestuous couple too."

"...for someone who is supposedly a right wing conservative, it doesn’t make much sense to push the left’s agenda of forcing beliefs upon those who do not agree. Tolerance also means you respect the beliefs of those who are less inclusive."

" what is your position on other relationships like paedophiles with consenting children, mutually consenting bestiality and consenting incestuous couples? Is it the same?"

Mutually consenting bestiality, eh? Rightio!

"The eventual outcome is obvious, they wish to be seen as “normal”. Well I can tell them right now they are not, and never will be."

"Well i think kids that grow up in a gay relationship is wrong on the kids ,how can you subject the kids to something like that its not normal and its not right but then again krudd is leading by example with gays in government making decisions for families."

"We do not do our young people any service by approving and encouraging a sexually immoral lifestyle, any more than we help our young people by encouraging their passions for alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling and violence. We should be helping our young people to live in a way that is healthy and fulfilling."

It'd be fascinating to find out how many of these supposedly hardcore conservatives would drop their support for the Liberal Party if they learned that the ranks of Howard's government, and the current opposition, is dotted with homosexuals and bisexuals.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Howard's Helping/Non-Helping Hand

Back home after his trip to the United States to collect six figures worth of Iraq War blood money from his NeoCon backers, former prime minister John Howard has offered a "helping hand" to demoralised, PTSD-crippled Liberals.

But did Howard offer a "helping hand" to temporary Liberal leader Brendan "I'm Going Nowhere..." Nelson?

Sydney's Daily Telegraph says yes, he did :

Howard Offers To Help Embattled Nelson

FORMER prime minister John Howard says he is willing to help the Liberal Party and its embattled leader Brendan Nelson with the "difficult job" of being in opposition.
But The Australian newspaper says no, he didn't :

Howard Slow To Offer Helping Hand

JOHN Howard helped the Liberal Party raise much-needed funds at a dinner thrown in his honour in Brisbane last night, but there was no helping hand for his successor, Brendan Nelson, as he battles through a fierce bout of leadership speculation.
The Sydney Morning Herald offers up this Howard pearler from the speech :

(Howard admitted) his diplomacy needed work. Asked at a function at the George H. W. Bush presidential library in Texas to name his top three achievements, he started with gun control.

No-one in the Texas audience clapped.
Howard won't offer his total support for Brendan Nelson because he probably believes that if the chaos, back-stabbing and plunging poll numbers for Nelson and the Liberals continue, he just might get another shot at running for prime minister. Just like his hero Menzies.

He won't take the offer (well,probably not), but he sure is going to get a chub when they ask him, or when the rumours begin that Howard might be making a return to politics.

UPDATE : The Australian lead editorial sinks a hilariously righteous boot into Howard for being too conservative and not embracing the "symbolism" that is supposedly making Rudd so popular right now :

...the popularity of the Prime Minister and Labor is going through the roof because it has taken a whole lot of easy symbolic actions that were easy to identify years ago. Mr Howard's long-standing refusal to offer an apology to the Stolen Generations or sign the Kyoto Protocol may have limited his ability to act. A change of heart by Mr Howard on these issues may have been seen by voters as a sign of political desperation. But given the opportunity, Mr Costello may have been able to freshen up the image of conservative forces to reflect the expectations of modern Australia and take some of the easy benefits now being showered on Mr Rudd.

With Brendan Nelson struggling to get out of single figures in the opinion polls, what does this say about the long-term assessment of the Howard years? That by being too conservative and refusing to reflect contemporary views, Mr Howard has destroyed the conservative side he served.

The Australian rails on Howard for being too conservative....what more needs to be said?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Not Just Friends, But True Friends

Australian China scholar Geremie Barnie's views on PM Rudd's dealings with China during his visit last week were some of the more insightful, and went a long way to explaining Rudd's motives behind lightly, but significantly, chastising the Chinese regime over Tibet and what exactly he meant when he talked about "friends", "friendship" and particularly "true friends".

The Washington Post picked up on Barnie's comments, and asked if Kevin Rudd is the West's "new secret weapon in dealing with China" :

Rudd's brilliance in the speech involves turning the Chinese term "friend" on its head. Friend (pengyou in Chinese) and frienship (youyi) are two of the most distorted concepts in modern China culture. In modern China, a friend is someone who will do you favors and who expects favors in return. A "foreign friend" is someone the Chinese party-state expects will carry water for them and NEVER criticize them.

"To be a friend of China, the Chinese people, the party-state or, in the reform period, even a mainland business partner," Barme writes, "the foreigner is often expected to stomach unpalatable situations, and keep silent in the face of egregious behaviour. A friend of China might enjoy the privilege of offering the occasional word of caution in private; in the public arena he or she is expected to have the good sense and courtesy to be 'objective.' that is to toe the line, whatever that happens to be. The concept of 'friendship' thus degenerates into little more than an effective tool for emotional blackmail and enforced complicity."

So what did Rudd do? He went back -- way back -- into Chinese history, to the 7th century AD, and used another word for friendship (zhengyou).

"A true friend," Rudd said, "is one who can be a zhengyou, that is a partner who sees beyond immediate benefit to the broader and firm basis for continuing, profound and sincere friendship."

"Rudd's tactic," Barme wrote, "was to deftly sidestep the vice-like embrace of [the current] model of friendship by substituting another.

"A strong relationship, and a true friendship," he told the students, "are built on the ability to engage in a direct, frank and ongoing dialogue about our fundamental interests and future vision."

This type of engagement could be a model for how the West interacts with China.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bong Banning Fascists Pigs, Man

Hard plastic fruit juice and sports drinks bottles will soon see a sharp rise in sales in South Australia. At the same time, garden hoses left temptingly overnight in front yards will, each weekend, become a few inches shorter.

From the Adelaide Advertiser :
The State Government last night passed tough new laws so anyone selling cannabis bongs or drug implements will face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail.

One local drug expert, pharmacology associate professor Rodney Irvine, said users will seek other ways to inhale smoke and that could be more dangerous.

"When you close one loophole another one emerges, a different pattern of use emerges," he said

"They'll make them out of anything, obviously."
Vegemite jars, Coke cans, motor oil containers, fruit juice bottles, apples...
"I would say that there's a possibility those alternative homemade ones will have some problems."
Of course, getting a tight seal on a homemade bong is always difficult, particularly if you're an inexperienced teenager putting one together down the side of the family house, in the dark, with a mate holding the flashlight.

Dr Irvine breaks through the anti-bong hatred with a claim you don't even hear falling from the lips of health professionals :
Dr Irvine said smoking through a bong or water pipe was probably slightly less dangerous than using joints or pipes.

"Intuitively, I would say that smoking anything through a water pipe is a better option than smoking it in a joint or a spliff," he said.

"If you're smoking tobacco through a water pipe you've got cooler smoke. If there's cooler smoke, there are less volatile substances, therefore less tar."
Unfortunately, Dr Irvine didn't get a chance to air his opinions regarding the smoke temperature of The Bucket as an alternative to the "spliff."
Many cannabis smokers said they would simply make their own pipes from household goods.
The South Australian Attorney General seems proud that his government has found the time to take hard action against one of the true evils of society.
"The Rann Labor Government has banned the bong,'' he said.
Until now, courts had to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the person in possession of the equipment intended to use it in connection with preparing or consuming an illegal drug.
A young man is caught by police with a bong in one hand, a lighter in the other, and some toxic smell hydro stuffed into the cone. The cop asks, "Are you about to smoke that illegal drug?" The young man answers, "Not now."

Now the bong has been banned, South Australia will be free of serial killers, incest families and body-in-a-barrelers.

The online comment forum that ran with this story is one of the most honest and funny debates about the reality of dope smoking in Australia you'll ever see, with lots of jokes about shortened garden hoses of course.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Impressed, Your Journalists Are Like Frightened Sheep

Annabel Crabb wonders if Kevin "Total Control" Rudd privately oohs a little awe at how China keeps its media in check :

For publicity-conscious prime ministers (and which of them isn't?), repression really does take the legwork out of media management. Forget the endless round of wheedling, bullying, placating, cajoling and hand-holding that constitutes modern spin.

The whiff of "How would you like your entire family to go to jail?" is so much neater and more efficient, don't you think?

Imagine the thrill of simply running a red pen through anything that might have the effect of dimming your aura of brilliance! Within seconds, your shickered rampage through the fleshpots of New York becomes a beard-stroking mission to the United Nations.

Footage of your unfortunate earwax excavations disappears without a trace from the internet, replaced by endless video hours of troop inspection, and tiny children presenting you reverently with stuffed pandas.

Rudd doesn't have to worry about putting to use any media repression tricks he might pick up in China just yet, or the ones he didn't already know. For now, most of the major journalists seem to be firmly on Rudd's side.

That will change when the budget and the new opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, reset the media focus for the rest of 2008 to something with more claws and blood.
Super Fairy Penguin Survives Oil Spill, Doubles Life Span

A fairy penguin from a Tasmanian colony decimated by an oil spill 13 years ago has astounded experts by clocking up double the average living years of its kind, and returning to the scene of the disaster to die.

From The World Today :
Fairy, or little penguins, usually only live for six years but this one lived for more than 14 before it died.

The discovery of the penguin's body has delighted the scientist who plucked him from an oil slick in 1995.
Delighted? Fairy penguin scientists are hard men.
The male penguin was already an adult in 1995 when the bulk carrier the Iron Baron ran aground on the North Tasmanian coast spilling 325 tonnes of fuel oil.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 fairy penguins were killed by the oil slick.

Nick Mooney was the first biologist on the scene of the oil spill.

NICK MOONEY: It's fantastic to know that what we did worked. We studied them for some time after so we knew there was the recovery of the colonies. Birds came back, did some breeding. There was a slowdown in breeding because the whole process with oiling can damage the kidney and liver somewhat but it is fantastic to know that the birds are more or less living normal lives well after that oil spill.

Mr Mooney says the fact the fairy penguin lived for so long shows the value of rescuing birds from oil spills and just how tough the little penguins can be.
Don't tell Exxon. They'll use this information to claim that oil spills are actually quite good for fairy penguins, and really big oil spills have been known to double the lifespan of the cute little birds.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Murdoch Media Promotes Protests, Boycotts, Civil Disobedience

China's human rights record, for Tibetans, and millions more of its own people, is appalling, and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Australian coal sales is not reason enough to blind eye how China deals with pro-democracy advocates and dissenters. China's repressive regime and enthusiasm for human executions should have ruled it out of even being considered as a host city for the Olympic Games.

The Greens, more than any other political party in Australia, have been telling us this for years.

All pressure on China to shape up is positive, but it's still extremely strange to see anti-China boycotts, protests, civil disobedience and placard-waving-at-the-torch-relay being so heavily promoted by Rupert Murdoch's two biggest selling Australian newspapers.

From the Daily Telegraph today :

From Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun today :

Andrew Bolt is still to acknowledge that much of the philosophy he now eagerly espouses on China's human rights trampling has been a policy staple of The Greens, through leader Bob Brown.

As Anonymous Lefty points out, Murdoch newspapers also recently championed another policy staple of The Greens.

Here's how the Howard government dealt with China on human rights :

....June 28th, 2005...the Federal Government has come under fire for failing to question Chinese officials about claims that Chinese agents have persecuted political dissidents in Australia.

According to the report, at an annual and closed "human rights dialogue" on Monday, Australian officials did not raise allegations that the Chinese Government had persecuted

...the Foreign Affairs Department official who led the talks, said it was "not the forum" for tackling the allegations.

The report stated that the failure to raise the claims have fuelled accusations that Australia is taking a "softly softly" approach on human rights to keep good relations with China.

....yesterday reports emerged that Australia had refused to join "secret" US-led talks to discuss China's expanding role in the world, for fear of offending China.

Bob Brown from the Greens party accused the Australian Government of being cowardly.

Despite claims by Boltoids and desperate Liberals that Kevin Rudd would cower before China, he appears to be willing to tell China their human rights record is bogus, that Australia won't be bullied, and that our resources are not completely for sale :

Kevin Rudd has warned the Chinese Government he will "defend the Australian national interest" amid speculation that China is planning a stockmarket raid on resources giant BHP Billiton.

As Australian mining industry doyen Hugh Morgan warned China's move on BHP would "misfire" if the strategy was designed to secure assets for the resource-hungry nation, the Prime Minister made it clear in Beijing he would ensure all investments and takeovers of consequence in Australia would be examined.

Mr Rudd pointed to China's tough restrictions on foreign investment, and offered no sign of changes to Australia's foreign investment rules, which have prevented Chinese expansion into Australian interests.

....Mr Rudd said his job "as Prime Minister is to defend the Australian national interest and the Australian national economic interest, and I make no apologies for that while I'm here or elsewhere in the world".

"Australia is an open market when it comes to foreign investment and we have a history of depending on foreign investment," he said, adding: "We have always had the proper regulations to examine and advise on projects of consequence."

Rudd is going to lose a big chunk of his overwhelming support from the Australian public if he even appears to be backing down in his dealings with China in the weeks and months ahead.

Such pressure on China, particularly if the leaders of Australia, France and the US boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, will be vital in letting them know they can't be a part of the larger democratic world when they block proper elections and brutalise their own people and think they should not have to answer for it.

Rupert Murdoch lost about a billion dollars and a decade trying to sew up China's vast TV audience, and failed to nail it, and the Chinese government is making life difficult again by refusing to let Murdoch's MySpace snare a large, independent and more profitable share of China's social networking market.

Murdoch's newspapers are going to hammer China all the way to the Olympics.