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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Another good reason not to use commuter trains and buses, besides the fact that they are inconvenient, inefficient, dirty and generally poorly run.

South Australia’s Minister for Road Safety Tom Koutsantonis has a good record for saying the right things: `Extreme behaviour on our roads, such as speeding, is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.’ and ‘Unfortunately, you can’t legislate to avoid stupidity.’

You may not be able to legislate to avoid stupidity, but you can surely avoid appointing idiots to executive positions in government.

Mr Koutsantonis has been fined at least twenty-seven times for speeding, three times for running red lights, and once for driving while using a mobile phone. This is not just one or two incidents – careless moments which were out of character. This is a record of long term disregard for the law and for the safety of other road users. Tom Koutsantonis is dangerous and irresponsible.

As at this date he has unpaid fines of nearly $1000 dating back to 2007.

If the Rann Labor Government in South Australia has the slightest regard for road safety, and any respect for the people of South Australia, Tom Koutsantonis must be sacked.

Update:

As of about midday on Monday 20th, Tom Koutsantonis has resigned as Minister for Road Safety.

‘I probably should have resigned earlier,’ he said. ‘My past transgressions mean that I can’t go out and do my job properly.’

No kidding.

But we’ll still have the benefit of Mr Koutsantonis’ wisdom in other areas:

‘I will continue to my work in the areas of Correctional Services, Gambling, Youth, Volunteers and assisting on Multicultural Affairs.’

Well, what was he supposed to do?

Some of the criticism seems a little unfair – he couldn’t very well have refused to shake Chavez’s hand. He just didn’t have to look so jolly pleased about it.

Especially after Chavez’s recent remarks about the US during his very chummy visit to Iran:  “It’s a policy of permanent aggression, of war, of terrorism by the US empire. That’s the great guilty one, the great Satan, as they call it here,” Mr Chavez said. He also has been critical of Mr Obama, including calling him “ignorant” last month after the US president accused Mr Chavez of “exporting terrorism” and being an obstacle to progress in Latin America.

The problem is, you just can’t be chummy with everyone. You can’t be friends with everyone. And sometimes it is wrong to try, because if you are happy to be friends with the bully and the dictator, that sends a message to the bullied and downtrodden. It is not the message the US should be sending.

And Obama did look happy. Certainly happier than Bush when he met Rudd at last year’s G20.

Bush Greets Rudd

It is not clear yet whether Swiss Red Cross worker Andreas Notter was released, or left behind after police chased a group of terrorists who tried to break through the cordon surrounding their camp. The military has been drawing closer over the last few days after months long talks failed to produce any results.

One more (Eugenio Vagni) of that group to go. Still another twenty or so being held elsewhere in the Southern Philippines.

But it’s not our fault, says the Queensland Nurses Union.

We’re like, you know, really busy and that. Really. And really, it just looks like we lost more than twice as many as in 2006 because we’re, you know, taking the time to report these things. And getting better at reporting and that. But really we didn’t. Really.

I’m sure nursing staff having time to improve their incident reporting skills is a great consolation to parents who are given the wrong baby.

Perhaps if you are planning on having a baby in a Queensland hospital you should take your own luggage labels, or laundry marker, or tattooist.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot. Or whatever it was.

Ashton Kutcher of ‘That 70s Show,’ husband of Demi Moore, has beaten CNN to be the first Twitter ‘microblogger’ to reach 1 million followers.

For all that I prefer real blogging to that other kind, it is still a pretty remarkable achievement for one person against the massive publicity power CNN can muster.

But the reason I am mentioning this at all is that when he hit 1 million followers Kutcher gave $100,000 to Malaria No More. This will buy 10,000 mosquito nets.

A child dies from Malaria every thirty seconds, so this is a big deal.

You can help.

It’s a health risk, and endangers public welfare. Where did they read that – Dolly Magazine?

Carbon dioxide is not poisonous, and it is not a pollutant. It is as necessary to plant life as oxygen is for us, and vital for all life on the planet.

Contrary to some advertising claims, the trees will not thank you for reducing CO2 output, any more than we would be thankful for reduced levels of oxygen.

When most modern trees and flowering plants evolved, levels of CO2 were as much as ten times higher than they are now. Most plants now struggle in what from their point of view is a seriously CO2 depleted atmosphere.

Lower carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means less green, not more. More CO2 means more green, more forests, more productive crops.

We are warned that increasing levels of CO2 will turn the seas acid and destroy coral reefs. Coral reefs evolved and thrived during the Mesozoic Period, when atmospheric CO2 levels stayed above 1,000 parts per million for 150 million years and exceeded 2,000 parts per million for several million years, compared with 380 ppm now.

There is no evidence of any correlation between changing CO2 rates and changing temperatures in the 20th Century. And historical records show changes in CO2 concentration follow changes in temperature, not the reverse.

For more detail, with graphs and pretty pictures, read my Introduction to Global Warming Science.

And more science, less politics, please, you EPA guys.

With a conference to condemn Israel. You couldn’t make this up, honestly.

Hitler was born on 20th April 1889. 20th April 2009 is the first day of Durban II, the second United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Except of course it isn’t against any of those things. It’s just against Israel. And perhaps the US.

There is one country in the Middle East where people of any race and religion have full rights of citizenship. There is one country in the Middle East where human rights are guaranteed, where there is an independent judiciary, open press and freedom of speech. One country where men and women are equal under the law. One country with fully democratic government. That same country has a consistent record of accepting refugees, and delivering emergency and humanitarian aid around the world.

Of course, that is the only country in the world ever to have been condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council – on average once every two months since the UNHRC was established in 2006. The UNHRC once expressed some concern about Burma, but that’s it. No other country in the world – not Sudan, not Zimbabwe, not North Korea or Iran, has been considered worthy of attention.

Likewise, the only country condemned at Durban I was Israel. Some media opinions and comment at the time.

The US had already said it would not send delegates if Durban II were to be a repeat of Durban I. Austalia is dithering

Diplomats yesterday reached agreement on the text of Durban II’s declaration. In an effort to encourage the US, and any fence-sitters like Australia to attend, the text does not ake any specific mention of Israel or Zionism. But it ratifies the statements issued at Durban I.

I am glad Barack Obama’s administration has stood firm on this so far.

In addition, an ‘Israel Review Conference’ is being held in Geneva, starting two days before Hitler’s birthday, so people who want to review Israel can then travel straight across the road for the main celebration.

I’m sure Hitler would be delighted.

Further reading and resources on Zionism, anti-semitism, the UN and Durban.

So (blinding flash of religious insight) Barack Obama must be wonderful, and Sarah Palin is really, really bad.

Just overlook the fact that Bill Clinton was also a governor. Because he was like, you know, cool and stuff. And so supportive of women. Lots of them.

But just ask yourself: ‘Who of Obama or Pailn is more likely to ask himself (there’s a hint right there) “What is truth?” and then to wash his hands of it?’

I think when it comes to washing your hands because of condemning innocent blood surely this is the modern Democratic party. When it comes to abortion, cloning, ESCR, Euthanasia, and even some cases infanticide then surely you hear the sounds of washing hands from the likes of Obama and company. State Senator Obama determined that it was more politically expedient to let children die that were born alive after a failed abortion to protect abortion. Pilate would have understood Obama’s politically expediency since he did the same thing.

Historian and former teacher Frederick Toben has been found guilty of contempt of court because he continued to publish material claiming the Holocaust never happened, and that some people (notably some Jews) were making money out of keeping the story going.

Holocaust denial is stupid, and probably motivated by racism.

But fining people or putting them in jail for disagreeing doesn’t make sense. It makes the deniers look like victims of bullying. Even worse, it makes people wonder why free speech on this subject is not permitted, and then begin to wonder whether someone is hiding something that someone doesn’t want anyone to know.

You may remember this story: Fiji’s military strongman, Frank Bainimarama, has clamped down on radio and internet access in the troubled Pacific country, declaring free speech causes too much trouble.

He’s right. Free speech does cause trouble, because it means people can say things that are untrue, inconvenient, even harmful.

Look at Minister for Hot Air Penny Wong, for example.

She is free to say, despite the evidence of scientists like Professor Bob Carter, and the cautionary remarks of Labor’s hand picked guru Ross Garnaut, that the government is going to do as it jolly well pleases, and spend billions of dollars fixing a problem that doesn’t exist, seriously damaging our resource and energy industries, and further wrecking our economy in the process.

That is going to cause vastly more damage than some silly old goat saying the Holocaust didn’t happen.

With sometimes tragic results.

A boat carrying illegal immigrants exploded this morning as it was being escorted to Christmas Island by Australian naval ship HMAS Albany. It is not clear yet whether the boat was deliberately set on fire by the illegal immigrants, who had reportedly doused the small wooden boat with petrol.

Three are dead, two are missing, and most of the others on the boat at the time are injured, including four Australian navy personnel.

I’m not going to call these people asylum seekers – they are (apparently) from Afghanistan which means they have travelled half way round the world and through at least half a dozen countries to get to Australia. They are illegal immigrants, people who had enough money to try to push their way ahead of other refugees.

People who jump the queue take resources from those who don’t, because immigration, customs, naval and medical staff have to be diverted to take care of them.

There has been a substantial jump in people-smuggling into Australia over the last six months. Malcolm Turnbull says this is because the Federal Labor Government has quite consciously and deliberately given the impression that it is kinder and more accommodating than the former Liberal (conservative) government.

The end result is a government that feels virtuous, but causes more suffering for those who jump the queue and are still turned back. And because of the need to divert resources to process the queue jumpers, more delays and therefore more suffering for people who are in equal if not greater need, but do the right thing and go through proper refugee channels.

I doubt it. That was my first reaction anyway.

Much like this amusing summary from The Guardian, which asks why the tree looks green and healthy if it had never seen the sunlight. Good question.

Then I saw this video on the BBC website. It’s pretty gruesome in places. And sorry about the ads.

The surgeon looks convincing enough. I don’t think the Guardian’s scepticism about the reliability of non-English witnesses is fair. They really could have found a bit of fir tree in Artyom Sidorkin’s lung. But I think I am convinced by the Russian botanist, who says it is simply impossible for it to have grown there.

Impossible is a big word. But my last reaction is the same as my first. I doubt it.

Increasing survival rates by over 20% after three years in men with advanced prostate cancer which is no longer responding to hormonal treatments is a good result. Not dramatic or miraculous, but good.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australian men. As many men die from prostate cancer as women from breast cancer – about one every three hours – but prostate cancer receives only ten percent as much research and publicity funding.

Consequently community understanding of prostate cancer screening and testing procedures and their importance is much lower than for breast or cervical cancer.

One of the hopes is that results from this early research into using the body’s own immune system to fight prostate cancer may be transferable to other forms of cancer, and at earlier stages.

Good. The Rohingya are a minority Islamic people who live in the North of Burma, neighbouring Bangladesh. The Burmese military regime has treated them appallingly. $3.2 miliion in basic aid will help people to survive, and the more international aid and attention given to minority peoples in Burma, the more pressure there will be on the junta to change.

I just hope that Christian people groups in Burma, like the Karen, will not be forgotten. Their situation has been just as bad if not worse, over a long period of time.

You can help.

Oh please. I have no idea of the reasons for Mel and Robyn Gibson’s planned divorce. But I’m sure it has nothing to do with blonde russian pop stars.

There’s no reason why I, or anyone else, should know the reasons for their divorce. It’s their business, and that of their children.

The daily changing accusations about Mel, who is plainly not perfect (but neither am I) seem to me a bit like New Idea’s manky gossip inventions, which are designed to make money out of other peoples’ unhappiness, while encouraging readers and viewers to take pleasure in the failures of others.

It’s going to be a hard enough time for the Gibsons anyway. Why not just leave them alone?

Because there’s money to be made in not leaving them alone, obviously. And sadly.

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