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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

A crime gang (OK, two guys) which stole over $800,000 from Brisbane city parking metres has been busted, according to Queensland police.

How do people think of these things? How did they do it? Why didn’t anyone notice before? And how much does the Brisbane City Council make from parking meters?

Andrew Bolt points out that Chinese born Australian business woman Helen Liu is a leading member of organisations dedicated to promoting the Chinese military and Chinese re-unification (which means the absorption of Taiwan).

Joel Fitzgibbon has lied about the extent of his links to her, and the gifts he has received from her. He is Australia’s Minister of Defence. The Opposition should, must, keep asking questions about this.

Fitzgibbon may genuinely have forgotten how well he knows Ms Liu, his visits to China with her, the functions he attended with her, and the gifts he has received from her. In that case he is an idiot and cannot be trusted with the Australia’s defences.

Or he lied about them. In that case, he thought he had something to hide. If he thought he had something to hide, he probably did.

The delightfully named Heidi Virtue, Australian Channel Nine’s director of publicity, has declined to comment on very un-ladylike behaviour by all but one of the stars of Aussie Ladette to Lady. This show takes ordinary sheilas who don’t have much idea of decorum, manners or what contstitutes lady-like behaviour, and puts them through a finishing school type process, where they learn to talk, dress, walk, and generally behave in a way which would be acceptable in society. A bit like My Fair Lady, except that Eliza, for all her rough edges, was really a lady to start with.

Despite all the effort, money, and publicity, these girls seems not be ladies even at the end of the process.

Far from being models of deportment, as Nine would have viewers believe, a hotel source confirms the ladettes drew at least a dozen complaints after having a topless romp in the hotel swimming pool at 1.30am, throwing objects from windows and trashing a hotel room, resulting in a cleaning bill worth several hundred dollars.

This was just after filming of the final episode, which was meant to show how far they had come. Not content with that, the girls then hit the night clubs, and bared their breasts to bus drivers in an effort to get free lifts back to their hotel.

You can take the girl out of Cunnamulla, but you can’t take Cunnamulla out of the girl. Sad, because most Australian women are not like this, and this kind of behaviour just confirms the stereotype of the loud, rude Australian.

It is hard to see how rebel catholic priest Peter Kennedy can believe he is doing the right thing. For years he has refused to teach the catholic faith, offering instead his own version of easy to digest do-it-yourself Christianity mixed with popular psychology. He has refused to accept guidance about why what he is doing is wrong, and refused to stand aside so that the people of his parish could have what they are entitled to – a priest who will teach and live the faith.

Now after reaching a mediation with church authorities which will see him replaced at St Mary’s South Brisbane, he has announced he intends to set up a church of his own (and that’s what it will be, his church, not Christ’s church) only a few hundred metres away.

A priest is supposed to be a father to his congregation, is supposed to protect and care for them, is supposed to teach them the faith so that they may be nurtured and grow in Christ. He is entrusted, and this is a solemn trust which ought to make every clergyman tremble, with the spiritual well-being of his people.

Clergy have crises of faith all the time. Occasionally clergy go off the rails. Very occasionally a priest will lose his faith completely. Clergy are human. As I have said before, I do not object to someone believing something other than the catholic faith (though I think they are losing out if they do).

The problem here is that Peter Kennedy is instead insisting on his ‘right’ to teach the people of St Mary’s South Brisbane his own philosophy, which seems to be a bizarre collection of every currently trendy notion, while telling them that this is the catholic faith. This is simply dishonest.

His beliefs are not the issue. His integrity is – if he had any, he would have left long ago.

A man stole a ring worth a million dollars by breaking a hole in a shop window and reaching in. The shop is in the Melbourne CBD and was open at the time.

I’m guessing their insurance company will be asking some questions.

The Conficker Worm itself does not seem to do much harm. It’s just a competent piece of programming which is hard to detect, and which so far, seems not to be malicious. It sounds to me like the work of a couple of smarty-pants but good-natured high-schoolers. It will modify itself on Wednesday to make its masters harder to find.

People with genuine copies of Windows who get automatic updates, and have some good anti-virus software, have nothing to worry about. Since it doesn’t seem to do anything, probably no-one has much to worry about.

But the scareware makers will have a field day. Vastly more harm will be done by fake warnings about the conficker worm, either as emails or pop-ups, than will be done by the worm itself.

To repeat my advice of a few days ago, ignore and delete any emails containing breathless warnings about the worst virus ever, and ignore and immediately leave any website which tells you your computer is infected with the conficker worm or any other virus. These things are a con. Even warning emails from friends are a time wasting annoyance.

Just keep Windows updates and anti-virus software up to date, and run a full scan every week or so.

Gold Coast GP Michael Tait, 76, is accused of flouting Queensland Medical Board guidelines by administering the worthless anti-cancer drug Ukrain to almost 150 terminally ill cancer sufferers.

I don’t know enough about this case to offer an opinion one way or the other, and it would not be fair to do so before the tribunal’s decision anyway.

But I do know that fake, quack, charlatan, greedy, dishonest, ‘medical’ practitioners are a major problem.

As a clergyman caring for chronically or terminally patients and their families, I was horrified by how often these vulnerable people were targetted by people offering expensive and utterly worthless treatments they claimed had been suppressed by the mainstream medical community because curing cancer, epilepsy, psychiatric illnesses, motor neurone disease, or whatever it was, would put doctors out of business.

I hated seeing desperate and often lonely people spending their last money and their last hopes on vicious scams. So if that is what Tait was doing, I hope the tribunal will have the courage to say so, and stop him practising ever again.

Update

The Queensland Health Practitioners’ Tribunal has found Michael Tait guilty of ‘serious professional misconduct.’ Tait will not be able to register as a medical practitioner for three years after making $1.7 million giving patients the fake anti-cancer drug Ukrain, which contains ingredients also found in dish detergent and toilet cleaner.

OK, good. But isn’t there more to it than this? If some of his patients had been treated properly, would they still be alive? Drug dealers normally have their assets confiscated. Will that happen here? If not, why not?

To answer my own question, because there are no laws in place that would allow the courts to do so. But that really is not good enough. Michael Tait was caught because he was trading on his medical qualifications to sell fake anti-cancer drugs. But he didn’t need to be a doctor to sell people those drugs anyway, and may very well continue to do so.

There are thousands of quacks in Australia who cheat and deceive vulnerable people every day, often in ways that contribute to their death or ongoing ill-health. Please let’s put some laws in place which will proscribe such behaviour, and which have penalties of sufficient substance that they will convince these vicious rip-offs that it is not in their best interests to continue.

Well they would be, wouldn’t they, given that public education in Australia seems to be about developing the ‘right’ opinions rather learning to think.

New Zealand isn’t much better. While there I heard a radio ad for Earth Hour which said ‘Turn off the power, and see the world in a new light.’ Well, yes, if darkness is a new light. A sign of things to come if this idiocy continues.

Why not support Toad Day Out instead? Catch some cane toads, turn them into fertiliser, and actually do something useful for Australia and the environment. Cool.

If it is true that maintaining good trading relationships with China is more important to South Aftica than an open commitment to human rights, and that this was the reason the Dalai Lama’s visa was refused, then the government of South Africa should be very embarrassed about this.

As South Africa should know from its own experience, giving in to bullies does not work.

There are clear, long-recognised links betwen HIV infection and infection with other opportunistic infections such as TB. It is these secondary infections which normally kill HIV/AIDS patients. It is interesting, however, that monitoring of TB deaths indicates that as many as 25% of such deaths have an underlying HIV infection.

TB, HIV and Malaria are terrifying killers in tropical regions. Only a lack of clean water kills more people. All these problems could be effectively erradicated with a well funded global response. So why aren’t they?

One reason is that vast amounts of money are spend by governments on utterly pointless non-problems such as global warming.

There is no evidence that the minor warming of less than one degree over the twentieth century was anything other than normal natural fluctuation. There is no evidence of unusual sea-level rises or arctic sea ice reduction. The world has been cooling for the last ten years.

Yet in response to media and special interest pressure, governments allocate billions of dollars to come up with solutions that won’t work, to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Similarly with stimulus plans, and especially those which use tax payer funds to create pointless ‘make work.’ This money would be better left in the hands of tax payers, where it is used to create real jobs and generate real production. But even if the govenment really believes it knows better than the people who make and earn the money, why not spend where there are real needs – increasing numbers of nurses, eradicating AIDS, malaria, TB, providing clean water to poorer regions in developing nations?

But instead of forming well-rounded plans of action which would address these problems, organisations like the International AIDS Society, go ballistic when Pope Benedict says something perfectly sensible and obviously true, namely if people would keep their pants on and have sex only within the bounds of marriage, there would be no AIDS problem.

The Church says that using a condom to attempt to avoid disease is a sin. First note that the only people remotely likely to take any notice of this at all are catholics. The Pope is not telling anyone else how to behave.

Secondly, many catholics (sadly) routinely ignore the teaching of the Church on matters of contraception. The more likely they are to ignore the Church’s teaching in one area, the more likely they are to do so in others – namely that sex outside of marriage is wrong. In other words, even in catholic countries it looks to me like telling people they should feel free to ignore the Church’s teaching in the area of contraception is likely to encourage, not discourage, risky behaviour.

But finally, does anyone really imagine that someone who is out to commit adultery, who is going to steal from his wife and family to pay a prostitute, who is going to have sex with another man in a public toilet, is going to be so troubled by his conscience over wearing a condom that he will refuse to do so, while still proceeding with the other mortal sin?

No, the problem here is that the Pope has the audacity to tell people that they can and should keep their sexual desires under control, and that good health, responsibility to others, and respectful, lasting relationships depend on their doing so.

You cannot spend your way out of debt.

If debt is the problem, to the extent that neither lenders nor borrowers are confident, then manipulating the economy to increase debt, hoping thereby to encourage spending and so stimulate economic growth is not going to help. What is needed is removal of barriers to increased production and employment.

So far Gordon Brown’s government seemed to be accepting this advice. Let’s hope they continue to do so in the face of mounting pressure from the US for a ‘global response’ to the recession.

Egyptian police have seized half a ton of TNT and 500 sheep being smuggled into Gaza.

One of my WoW characters is an engineer. I can make exploding sheep. They are fun, but not very useful, except as a distraction.

Any TNT being smuggled into Gaza is no fun at all. I am glad the Egyptian police are as watchful as they are. I think I would have let them keep the sheep, though.

And that demonstrates clearly just what the problem is.

The Palestinians make demands. ‘Just give us this and there will be peace.’ And everyone says that would be lovely, if only the Jews would agree. And Israel gives in.

And then the terrorist attacks begin again. And there is another demand.

The reality is that Palestinian leadership will not be content until, as they themselves have said many times, Israel ceases to exist.

Countess Marie Douglas-David wants her pre-nuptial agreement torn up and her divorce payout doubled to $100 million plus $130,000 a month. Her expenses are more than she thought.

Meanwhile, his expenses are higher than hers, but include $67,000 a week maintaining his wife’s residences. And $95,000 a week keeping his yacht up to scratch.

It’s a hard life.

Stephanie Marsh suggests there is a darker side to Austrian culture. The Fritzl case is proof. Well of course there is. There is a darker side to every culture.

Australian generosity and mateship can descend into boorishiness and violence. But newspaper reports about Ivan Milat and the backpacker murders are not the place to learn about Australian culture. Every nation has its share of racism. Every nation has its share of monsters.

Austria is not alone in these things, and suggesting it is, as this Times article indicates Marsh’s book does, is a kind of racism itself.

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