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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Some people just need to cool down and get a grip.

The CeBit Australian IT business exhibition is on in Sydney. Australian domain services retailer NetRegistry dressed its staff as doctors and nurses for the event.

It was a way to have a bit of fun, and draw some extra attention to their exhibit. They certainly got the extra attention.

IT worker Kate Carruthers said NetRegistry’s depiction of women at a trade show was unacceptable. “I was there and didn’t like what I saw,” Ms Carruthers, who is a member of Females in the Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Shades of something nasty in the wood shed. The blokes were dressed up too, Kate.

NetRegistry chief Larry Bloch defended his company against claims the stunt was distasteful.

“I think there are some people out there that just need to relax,” he said. “It was a bit of harmless fun.”

Mr Bloch admitted the IT industry was challenging for women, but offered no apology for his marketing department’s strategy.

It sounds like the whole concept of humour is a bit challenging for some people as well.

A couple of busy days, lots of catching up to do, plus a headache today, have meant that I have not had an opportunity to post today.

A couple of beers and an early night should help.

In the meantime:

 Donald Trump says Carrie can keep her crown. Well done Don!

Andrew Bolt has a good selection of journalistic comment on the Australian Federal budget. Pretty much as expected. Some minor spending cuts outweighed by vast spending, to produce a record deficit. No good news at all for anyone who works or has any entrepreneurial ambitions. If you want to start a business, move to South Korea.

President Obama is also spending other people’s money like there is no tomorrow.

Readers are happy to pay for quality news content on the web.  Readers are not willing to pay for news content on the web. Depends on the quality of the reporting, I guess. There are some news sites I don’t read even though they are free, and others I already pay for, so things will pretty much go on as normal for me.

The Catlin Ice Survey team has quit, after discovering that the Arctic is still a bit chilly. While they were getting frostbite trying to prove how warm things were and how thin the ice was, a sophisticated aerial survey was gathering evidence showing the ice was twice as thick as expected.

In a move guaranteed to win him sympathy, holocaust denier Frederick Toben has been sentenced to jail for continuing to publish material questioning the nature and extent of the holocaust. If freedom of speech does not include the freedom to say things that are offensive, what does it mean? I don’t know who’s more stupid, Toben or the judge.

Now, where’s that beer?

I would really like to believe that Samson and Delilah, a new Australian film produced on a very low budget with inexperienced actors, is the masterpiece some reviewers claim it is.

But I am not hopeful.

A friend who saw it told me that it was dull in the extreme, and that the only reason the critics are enthusiastic is that its central characters are aboriginal, and that the whiteys are pretty much all bad guys.

That Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton both gave it five out of five is another reason to be suspicious.

It gives audiences a ‘no holds barred look at the problems facing remote Indigenous communities – violence, substance abuse and poverty.’  Oh dear.

I wonder if it continues the trendy line of blaming the white establishment for these problems. A line that disempowers aboriginal people by pretending they are so victimised there is nothing they can do to improve their circumstances.

Or if it gives indigenous people hope, empowering hope, by suggesting that they have the answers, that things could change for them if they were willing to change.

If you want things to be different, do something different.

So convinced of its value is first time director Warwick Thornton that he says ‘I want mainstream to see it, I want the whole of Australia to see it. If it doesn’t appeal to them, well I’ll jam it down their throat.’  Oh dear.

Most of the story is told without dialogue; a natural fit for a story of teenage love, says Thornton.  Oh dear.

You can almost guarantee Samson and Delilah will be required viewing at Australian high schools for years to come. And probably an official year twelve ‘text.’ Students will be bored out of their brains, and even more resentful than they are already.

I’ll see it. I make a habit of seeing new Australian films. I’m used to disappointment.

Actually, I don’t think she’s made any. Apart from some very mild topless photos with not a nipple in view anywhere.

Miss Rhode Island – Alysha Castonguay – also had some semi-semi nude shots taken. But no one has a problem with those.

Alysha says she believes the problem is not with the barely bare photos Carrie had taken a couple of years ago, but with Carrie’s opinions.

Donald Trump, who is co-owner of the Miss Universe organisation, which includes the Miss USA pageant, is going to announce his decision tonight about whether Carrie will remain Miss California and runner-up Miss USA. He’d be dumb to fire her.

Given that Australian Erin McNaught was still allowed to compete in 2006 despite having posed topless for ‘Zoo Weekly’ in 2004, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Alysha is right, and that Carrie is being punished for her opinions, not for past photographic indiscretions.

The Miss California directors have blasted Carrie and her views and anyone who shares them. All in the name of ‘diversity’ of course.

They are so much in favour of diversity they cannot bear anyone speaking a view which diverges from their own. Free speech is fine, diversity is great. But if you disagree with anything we say, we will publicly humiliate you and call you an idiot.

And, for heaven’s sake, it is not as if she volunteered her opinion. She was asked. By one of the hosts. As part of the pageant.

Hawaii has no Christianity Day, no Judaism Day, no Buddhism Day. But it is going to have an Islam Day.

Well, fair enough, maybe. Most major public holidays are based around Christian holy days, so I have no problem in principle with having a public holiday for major feast days of other religious groups.

If, and I think this is a reasonable if, that religious group is present in sufficient numbers for those holy days to be considered an important part of the identity of the community as a whole.

According to these figures from the Honolulu Star Bulletin, Muslims are approximately one half of one percent of the population of Hawaii:

Religious Groups in Hawaii as a Proportion of Population

Religious Groups in Hawaii as a Proportion of Population

Half of one percent might be stretching things a little. If I lived in Thailand, where there are about the same proportion of Christians as there are Muslims in Hawaii, I would not expect the government to set aside Christian feast days as public holidays.

But Hawaii wants to have an Islam Day. OK.

What day to choose? An Islamic feast day? A day commemorating some event in the life of Mohammed?

The day chosen is Gregorian date September 24th. This day corresponds to no holiday in the Islamic calendar.  But in the Julian calendar it is September 11.

For more detail, see  this article from Canada Free Press.

If you can buy the same product or service from two different suppliers, and one is cheaper than the other, which do you choose?

If you can set up a business in two different states, and one has tax rates and procedures which make it easier and cheaper to run your business, which do you choose?

Increasing business taxes and compliance costs in Australia or in the US (or anywhere else) means businesses will choose to do whatever they can somewhere else.

Punishing people and businesses which are successful (ie, they produce useful goods or services, employ people, make a profit, pay taxes) will encourage them to go away, taking jobs, production and tax revenue with them.

The key to renewing economies is not giving other people’s money away, but making it as easy as possible for businesses to employ people and make a profit.

It is a pretty simple lesson – one Sam Walton learned selling panties.

From the Beaufort Observer.

Is he for releasing Guantanamo prisoners, or not?

Is he for higher taxes, or not?

Is he for Israel, or not?

This excerpt is a good summary of why higher taxes and ‘stimulus’ spending just don’t work:

Also, he said that Obama has plans to raise taxes on US companies by $190 billion. And there’s when I quit, just gave up. If Obama raises corporate taxes, who does he think will pay them? Big companies don’t pay taxes. They just add them to the product they manufacture and pass it on down the line, When Wal-Mart receives that product, they add on a bit for profit and an extra bit to cover the higher cost and then stack it on the shelves. Then Susie Shopper comes along and buys it, paying the accumulated taxes along with the store’s profit. Or maybe Susie doesn’t buy it ’cause the extra few cents make it too expensive for her budget.

When gas was so high last year, the price of Georgia peaches went up. The price went up because the price for the gas to run the truck to bring the peaches to the grocery store went up. I knew the reason – all of us shoppers knew it. Raising prices at one end of the process simply raises the cost of the product when it gets to the consumer. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that raising taxes on companies will raise the price of the end product and consumers will have to pay that price to get the product. Maybe the President just never shopped for groceries. Maybe the President just doesn’t understand how things work after all.

I would add that there are two other things companies can do in response to higher taxes (and therefore less cash available to run their business).

1.  They can reduce the number of employess, which creates more unemployment. Which means a greater burden on the tax payer.

2.  They can reduce profits, which means less income for superannuation funds, which means more need for government support for retired people. Which means a greater burden on the tax payer.

The same observations apply equally in Australia.

My advice to President Obama and Kevin Rudd, and Gordon Brown: If you don’t understand something, leave it alone.

Ill-planned tinkering in the financial system caused this crisis to start with. More ill-informed tinkering is not going to get us out of it.

Another boat load of illegal immigrants has been interecpted of the coast of Australia – the 12th boat this year.

According to Home Affairs Minister Bob Doofus, all the passengers are male, and all are from Afghanistan.

As usual, these are not the people most in need, the people a compassionate immigration and refugee policy would be focussing on. They are simply those with enough money or influence to push themselves ahead of anyone else, and pay to travel half way around the world.

Rudd’s new ‘softer’ approach is making things worse for the people who most need our help, and endangering the lives of those who don’t, but turn up anyway.

But of course.

Australian treasurer Wayne Swan says that tough measures to be introduced in tomorrow’s federal budget, are the fault of John Howard’s big spending policies.

When John Howard and Peter Costello’s government left office there was zero public debt, a substantial surplus (about $22 billion) lower taxes, record low unemployment, and higher real wages.

But it’s not our fault, say Rudd and Swan. It’s the wrong trousers. And they’ve gone wrong.

According to Swan ‘The opposition does not understand that the planned deficit is not a consequence of government spending.’  Ah. Right. OK then.

In February Peter Costello predicted the Labor government would never deliver a surplus budget. And of course was told he was a dinosaur, out of touch.

I agree with some of the measures to be introduced in tomorrow’s budget. The government shouldn’t be handing out money to people who don’t need it.

There is no reason why people on substantial incomes of $120,000 or more need me to subsidise their health care, or insurance, or home purchase, or baby clothes. Welfare and government support should be kept for those who really need it.

The Labor government is right to limit that kind of pointless spending – even though doing so is a breach of campaign promises.

But the savings will be minimal in terms of the overall budget. As will the increase in revenue from increasing the tax paid by the small percentage of successful people who already pay most, both in dollar terms and as a proportion of total taxes paid.

The real problem is massive and counter-productive ‘stimulus’ spending which will saddle ordinary Australian families with a debt amounting to between $10 and $15 thousand for every person living in this country.

If figures from the UK apply here, there will be another $10 to $15 thousand per person to meet Kyoto and ETS costs.

Rudd, Swan and their honchos are hopelessly divorced from reality.

One can only hope that some sort of cognitive dissonance will set in, and changes be made, before the Australian economy becomes a mess to rival the Augean Stables.

And more people, possibly millions, will die as a result.

Every 30 seconds someone dies from Malaria. The same number as were killed in the 9/11 attacks every day and a half.

Most of these deaths – millions over the last 30 years – could have been avoided, and Malaria largely eradicated, through consistent and careful spraying with DDT, along with other protective measures.

At the UN’s  Stockholm Convention in 2001, 12 chemicals were banned, including DDT. The convention declaration permitted limited use of DDT for Malaria control.

DDT has actually been banned in a number of countries including the US, since the early seventies. A de facto ban has effectively been enforced in developing countries since then because foreign aid, including food and medical aid has been provisional on the non-use of DDT.

Some environmental activists and others have claimed that no ban, de facto or otherwise, ever existed. JF Beck has answered some of those claims.

There has never been any recorded case of DDT causing harm to any person, and no evidence that it causes any harm to anything other than insects.

Despite efforts to find alternatives, there is nothing as fast and as effective in controling malarial parasite carrying mosquitoes as DDT.

Spokesmen for Greenpeace and the World Wildife Fund have agreed that where there are no alternatives, DDT should be used.

But now another UN conference of over 150 nations has agreed that DDT must be phased out over the next few years, despite the fact that there are no effective alternatives to the use of DDT.

The UN and the World Health Organisation have lost the plot, with one commentator claiming the worst emerging disease threat facing the world is incompetent and obstructive WHO bureaucrats:

UN agencies’ virtual ban on DDT for mosquito control and their stultifying regulation of agricultural biotechnology are lamentable examples. The result is a more precarious, more dangerous and less resilient world. Why is there such relentless incompetence within the sprawling organization?

For more information, I recommend Paul Driessen’s book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death which catalogues in detail the hunger, sickness and death which are the frequent result in developing countries of ill-informed western environmental activism.

Or see this earlier post for another book recommendation on a similar subject.

Possible good outcomes for everyone except the bad guys, that is.

There is strong local support for the government’s attack on islamic extremists in the North West Frontier province of Pakistan.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said last week the army was aware of the gravity of the threat and would “employ requisite resources to ensure a decisive ascendancy over the militants”.

A quick defeat of the Taliban in Swat would allow the army to move on to tackle militant strongholds on the Afghan border, such as North and South Waziristan, part of a region from where the Taliban orchestrate their Afghan war and where al Qaeda plots violence. Public opinion is generally behind the offensive and quick success would reassure the many who are sceptical about the alliance with the United States. It would also bolster support for unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari.

But all depends on the willingness and ability of the government and military to move with sufficient force and determination to eradicate the Taliban before costs in life and cash, and strains on infrastructure to support refugees, become too great to sustain.

The problem, even now, is that many Pakistanis believe India (or Jews) to be a greater threat than the Taliban.

The Australia Federal Opposition (The Liberals, which means the conservatives, or would do if they had any backbone) is planning to offer an alternative to the government’s proposed emissions trading scheme.

Unless their proposed alternative is to scrap the whole stupid idea, they all deserve a kick in the pants, and we would be better off if the Wiggles were running the country.

We would definitely be better off if Chuck Norris was running the country, but he is probably too busy kicking someone else in the pants.

If you were trying to come up with another scheme as pointless and expensive as the ETS, you would have to imagine something like the government deciding that in order to save a newly discovered worm from extinction, it would completely fill in the Sydney Harbour with large concrete blocks.

The Liberals proposed alternative is like someone saying: ‘Hey no, concrete is the wrong colour, you should be filling up the harbour with shiny plastic blocks instead.’

This wouldn’t be funny if the guy had been hurt. But he wasn’t, so it is:

When a shark began to chew on the boat’s outboard motor, the man tried to fend it off with an oar. The man dropped the oar into the water and then fell in while trying to retrieve it.

“So he’s now in the water, his boat’s in gear and it’s heading off.”

Fortunately the shark, a Great White, merely circled the man a couple of times before heading off itself.

An entirely unrelated and probably photoshopped image of a Great White Shark and some divers somewhere in Australia: 

Great White Shark and Divers

Great White Shark and Divers

She caught it overseas, didn’t know she had it, and was better by the time she got back to Australia.

Of course the headline is ‘Health Chief Warns of More Swine Flu’

A six year old girl was listed as a ‘suspected case,’ the Herald Sun article tells us, to squeeze out the maximum scariness, just before admitting that in fact the girl doesn’t have anything at all.

Sorry guys, we’re not buying it any more. Time to go back to global warming.

Update.

Andrew Bolt points out that three times as many people (183) have died in the last six months in the Australian state of Victoria from medical blunders, than have died from Swine Flu in total, everywhere in the world.

This graphic from GlobeandMail shows the amount of  ‘stimulus’ spending in selected G20 countries in dollars and as a proportion of GDP. I have linked to GlobeandMail, but article content is subscription or pay per view.

Stimulus Spending as a Proportion of GDP

Stimulus Spending as a Proportion of GDP

Australia’s spending is proportionally higher than the US (though not by much), which means the amount of debt incurred for each citizen is higher. Which you would expect to mean a longer recovery.

But in spite of this absurd level of ‘stimulus’ spending, and directionless economic policy by the current Federal government, Australasian Investment Review believes that Australia is better equipped to cope with the global recession than most other advanced nations.

Surely the previous government’s careful economic management and years of surplus budgets wouldn’t have anything to do with that?

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