Except that it isn’t.
Nick Xenophon has called the increased allowance a back door pay rise, but he knows very well it is not. That is just popularist grandstanding.
It is an increase of 17% in their electorate allowance. MPs cannot use that money as disposable income. It must be used to meet the cost of providing services in their electorate. A large part of what (good) MPs do is provide an information and advocacy service to people in their area.
17% may sound a lot, but this is the first increase in the allowance since 2000. If it were a pay rise for teachers or dockers, I doubt their unions would consider this an adequate increase over the same period.
“Australians have two choices,” said Coalition spokesman on matters of state, Michael Ronaldson. “MPs either set their own terms and conditions or an independent umpire does. I suspect the community would be very much in favour of the latter.”
It’s just that the timing could have been better.
Hipness is what it is. And he’s got it.
Watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes…
Obama used his personality — the smile, the jaunty stride and the hip-hop verbiage — to disarm critics, charm supporters and persuade fence sitters to elect him president. In an against-the-odds campaign, Obama never lost his poise as he forged a rapport with a new generation of voters while keeping old heads on his team…
Wait a minute. Am I drooling?
No warmth, nothing to buy, no transport, no hope.
The joys and triumphs of socialism …
Documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve visited North Korea posing as a businessman looking to open a chocolate factory. Despite 24-hour surveillance by North Korean minders, he was able to take some remarkable photos of Pyongyang and its people. Photos can be viewed on the Foreign Policy website. Don’t look for happiness here.
Via Small Dead Animals.
Hilary Clinton said that the Iraqi government had “come a long, long way” and that the bombings were “a signal that the rejectionists fear Iraq is going in the right direction.”
Perhaps not such a good sign if you are one of the people who has been killed or injured.
It is just as likely that the renewed violence is because Iraqi terrorists have new confidence because they perceive the current US administration as weak and not having the will to take them on.
And why did Hilary need to reiterate to Iraqi leaders that the US would not abandon Iraq, if, as the Democrats insisted before the elction, the Iraqis couldn’t wait for US forces to leave?
The objection is not that Panayiotis Zavos claims to have cloned human beings. Others have done that. Nor is it that he claims to have made hybrid human-animal clones by putting human DNA into cow eggs. Others have done that.
As far as the medical establishment is concerned making human clones, even human animal hybrids, is fine as long as you kill them soon afterwards. They can made to be destroyed for research, or to harvest stem cells.
What Dr Zavos has done that is so disturbing is to claim to have created human clones which were implanted in otherwise infertile women with the hope that they would grow to full term.
He was wrong to do so. Although some would argue otherwise; clones occur naturally – that’s what identical twins are.
But although Zavos’ actions were wrong, creating cloned humans to be members of loving families cannot be any more wrong than creating human clones – living members of the human species – just so they can be destroyed for research.
Tests on two Queenslanders thought to have contracted Swine Flu after visits to Mexico and the US are negative.
New strains of flu emerge every year. What is worrying about this apparently new version of swine flu is not the transmission rate, which is about average, but the fact that it is so deadly – about 6 deaths for every 100 people infected in Mexico. Mortality rates seem to be lower – between 1% and 4% – in more developed countries.
The virus was originally passed from pigs to people, and is easily transmitted from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or even shaking hands with an infected person. You can’t get it from eating pork.
There is not yet an effective vaccine for the current strain.
This could turn out to be another baseless scare, like the 1976 Swine Flu panic.
But it won’t do you any harm to be cautious.
A 23 year old male student who returned from Mexico on Wednesday suffering from a fever, has tested positive for the virus. Another 17 possible cases are being investigated. At this stage none is thought to be life-threatening.
Eight school students in New York have also tested positive for the disease, with another possible 140 also sick, all from the same school, St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.
There is no doubt the new strain of swine flu will make its way to Australia.
But there is still no reason to panic. Reasonable precautions should minimise any risk of catching the disease.
Even if you do catch swine flu, the indications are that if you are in good health to start with, and have access to good medical care, the mortality rate is very low. Higher of course for elderly people, young children, those in poor health or with impaired immune systems. People in those groups should take extra care.
Still raining on Kangaroo Island, which is great – we have no mains water, only what we catch and store ourselves. The tanks are starting to fill. They were virtually empty five days ago, and are now at about one third of capacity, which is pretty good for one weekend.
What is not so cool is that has been so blasted cold – unseasonably cold for April.
Kangaroo Island is not the only place where it is colder than usual:
The first snow of the season fell on NSW yesterday, the first time in 13 years ski resorts had experienced snow in April. Charlotte Pass recorded more than 25 centimetres by early yesterday evening.
A spokesman for Charlotte Pass Ski Resort, Joshua Elliott, said people there were expecting bigger snowfalls before the season compared with last year, and hoping for an earlier season. “We’re definitely gearing up for a bumper season this year,” he said. “There’s some serious snow up there at the moment.”
Still a very dangerous situation, but I think this is cool – and it seems to be working.
The Phillippine government refused to negotiate with the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, and flatly told them to sod off when they demanded a multi-million dollar ransom for the return of three kidnapped Red Cross workers. ‘Give them back or we will hunt you down,’ seemed to be the government line. One of the hostages was released, another was rescued.
Last week Sulu provincial Governor Abdusakur Tan ordered troops to rescue the final hostage, Eugenio Vagni.
Troops clashed with terrorists in the days following. Then, on Thursday, in a move reminiscent of the Mel Gibson movie ‘Ransom’, National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa offered P500,000 to anyone who provided information leading to Vagni’s recovery.
Governor Tan says information has been pouring in from locals who are fed up with the terrorists anyway.
Outstanding! I hope it works, not just for Vagni, but as an example which will cause Abu Sayyaf and others like them to think again about future kidnapping plans.
At least, she never complained then. This was the year after 9/11 after all.
The three prisoners who were waterboarded were Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda operative also involved in 9/11, and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi believed to have had a leadership role in the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.
Nancy Pelosi was briefed, along with a number of other Democrats, on methods of interrogation being used and proposed to be used:
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who in 2002 was the ranking Democrat on the House committee, has said in public statements that she recalls being briefed on the methods, including waterboarding. She insists, however, that the lawmakers were told only that the C.I.A. believed the methods were legal — not that they were going to be used.
By contrast, the ranking Republican on the House committee at the time, Porter J. Goss of Florida, who later served as C.I.A. director, recalls a clear message that the methods would be used.
“We were briefed, and we certainly understood what C.I.A. was doing,” Mr. Goss said in an interview. “Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough.”
Current House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) agrees Pelosi knew what was happening and raised no concerns at the time.
“All of this information was downloaded to congressional leaders of both parties with no objections being raised,” he told reporters, specifically citing Pelosi as someone who received the briefings. “Not a word was raised at the time, not one word.”
So what’s the story with her now vitriolic denunciations of what she at least tacitly approved at the time? And is she including herself when she demands that those who knew about or carried out those high-level interrogations be prosecuted?
Well, duh, no, because now she is saying she didn’t know. Not really. Sort of. Just thought it was talk, you know. Not that anyone was actually, you know, doing anything.
More from former CIA Director Porter J Goss:
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
A B-50 Superfortress, a plane that went out of service in the late fifties, and which matches the description of a plane lost in 1948, lands in a storm near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland in 2001.
If the King Bird 50 story is true, then some very weird things are going on in our universe, and there are some very weird questions that need answering. Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell thinks the US government already has the answers.
Edgar Mitchell is no idiot. Well, he has degrees in aeronautics and astronautics, so he shouldn’t be an idiot.
Mitchell has never made a secret of the fact he believes we are being visited by aliens. But last week he claimed the US government has also known this for many years, and that it was time they shared their knowledge and research with the world.
It would be silly to think there was no other life in our galaxy. We know that anywhere on Earth there is liquid water, there is life. We are reasonably certain there is another planet with large amounts of liquid water about 20 light years from us.
Some scientists have estimated there are at least 360, and possibly many more, civilisations in our galaxy.
I don’t believe any alien species advanced enough to visit us will be out to destroy us or raid our planet’s resources. Based on Earth’s history, any civilisation capable of extended space flight has to have high level skills in co-operation and resource management. Raiding or dictatorial civilisations simply never get to the point where they are sufficiently stable, and able to organise and work together on a large enough scale, to develop the technology and resources needed for long space expeditions.
Nor do I believe that older alien species are out there watching and waiting to see if we are sufficiently peaceful and advanced to be able to join the galactic federation, or whatever it is. That is cargo cult thinking.
We are not alone. We know the galaxy well enough to be certain of that now. But are we being visited by aliens, and is the government covering it up?
That’s a whole different question, and well above my pay grade!
Canon Barry Greaves pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court last Thursday to seven counts of indecent treatment of boys under 17 and two of indecent treatment of boys under 12.
I was sorry to read this. I know Barry a little, and had always liked and respected him. He seemed a straightforward, caring and intelligent person.
Barrister Mark Johnson said Greaves was deeply ashamed and sorry for what he had done to the boys. Mr Johnson said Greaves was also remorseful for the shame he brought upon himself, his family and the Anglican Church. ‘He deeply regrets what’s happened,” he said.
Any kind of sexual interaction with children is appallingly wrong. And in Barry’s case, a betrayal of the trust of the church, and of the boys and their families.
But in a way I cannot help feeling sorry for Barry and others whose sexual attraction is towards adolescents.
No one would choose to have those kind of feelings. I have visited protection prisons including Ararat in Victoria. Most of the convicted child sex offenders I spoke to there had struggled all their lives to overcome or redirect that attraction, and were deeply ashamed of the times they failed.
Most of them had naively hoped that the boys (it was usually boys) returned their affection, and enjoyed the attention. Often they did, but harm was still done.
Boys (and girls) in their early teens and younger cannot give meaningful consent to sex with an older person. Even if they seemed to consent at the time, even if they seemed eager at the time, they almost always ended up feeling used, sullied and hurt.
No matter how willing the young person seemed to be, harm was done. It was up to the adult to set the boundaries and keep to them. There is no excuse for not doing so.
Some of those who ignore those boundaries are monsters who knowingly and uncaringly hurt children and use them for their own pleasure. Such people deserve our anger and condemnation.
But not all are monsters.
Most people who are disorded in their affections, and whose only feelings of sexual attraction are towards young people, know all of the things I have written above. Many go their entire lives without any genital expression of their sexuality at all. This seems to me an almost heroic level of self-denial – one we would not expect of any other group.
It is easy to judge – and sometimes that judgement is right. But it is not so easy to know, if we were in their place, whether any of us would have the strength of will required to deny ourselves any form of physical expression of our sexuality for the whole of our lives.
I am not surprised that some fall, and while I condemn their behaviour, I cannot so easily condemn them.
From Rasmussen Reports.
President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are virtually identical to those of George W Bush at the same point in his presidency.
Pakistan is one of at least five Muslim countries in which the number of Muslims deliberately murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in the past year exceeds the number of Palestinian civilians killed in the Hamas conflict with Israel. In the last 12 months, Islamists killed over thirty Muslims for every civilian casualty of Cast Lead.
Monthly Jihad Report for March 2009 Jihad Attacks: 169. Countries: 19. Religions: 5. Dead Bodies: 686. Critically Injured: 953
ReligionofPeace.com has announced its Dhimwit of the month for March 2009 is President Barack Obama.
One of the reasons: Backing the Swat Valley ‘Peace for Sharia’ Deal with the Taliban. Actual peace lasted about five minutes. That’s how long it took the Taliban to explain how Islam requires the implementation of Sharia in all parts of Pakistan.
I’m not sure ‘Backing the Swat Valley ‘Peace for Sharia’ Deal’ is a fair summary of the Obama administration’s view, but given Obama’s enthusiasm for opening discussions with terrorists and dictators, Pakistani authorities may have thought they were taking a leaf from his book.
Instead of laying down their arms as promised, the Taliban used the stand down of Pakistani forces in Swat to take over ever-larger areas. The 6,000 to 8,000 fighters even came within 60 miles of the nation’s capital this week.
Given how fragile the situation in Pakistan is, and how dangerous radical islamist control of power in that country would be, any legitimisation of islamist forces by Obama’s administration, whether disguised as negotiations, discussions, or anything else, would be disastrous.
Sulu provincial Governor Abdusakur Tan has ordered troops to rescue kidnapped Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni.
Vagni was kidnapped with two other Red Cross workers, Filippina Mary Jean Lacaba and Swiss man Andreas Notter on the island of Jolo on January 15th. The terrorists released Lacaba on April 2nd. Notter was rescued last Saturday.
The order to rescue Vagni was given in the light of after growing concerns for his health – he has a hernia and suffers hypertension – and after talks with Abu Sayyaf failed following the refusal of the Red Cross and Philippine authorities to negotiate the payment of a ransom.
Refusing to pay a ransom was a scary decsion, but was absolutely the right thing to do. Paying terrorists encourages an industry of kidnapping, and enables them to purchase arms and support.
As at Saturday, troops have already clashed with Abu Sayyaf, but there have been no sightings of Vagni.
One hopeful sign. Governor Tan said said he was grateful to “a great number of local residents” who have been providing information on the movements of the Abu Sayyaf. He said they wanted to end the crisis as soon as possible. Even the civilian volunteers who joined the operation said they already want to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf and get Vagni safely.
Support for Abu Sayyaf has come from the largely Muslim local population. If the locals have had enough of terrorists in their midst, their time is coming to an end.
On the 25th April 1915 troops from Australia and New Zealand landed north of Gaba Tepe in Turkey at a spot now known as Anzac Cove.
2,000 men from Australia and New Zealand were killed on the first day.
More and more Australians are attending ANZAC services each year. The ANZAC campaign is considered by most ordinary Australians to be the time when we came of age as a nation.
This idea is rubbished (of course) by the trendy elite. We became a nation at Federation. The ANZACS were defeated. It wasn’t our war. We were fighting for the British Empire.
Nitwits like Marilyn Lake seem to think we are celebrating war, or our subservience to England, or the privileges enjoyed by males, or whites, or something:
When participation in foreign wars becomes the basis of national identity, it requires the forgetting or marginalising of other narratives, experiences and values. The Anzac myth requires us to forget gender and racial exclusions, the long history of pacifism and anti-war movements, the democratic social experiments and visions of social justice that once defined Australia; to forget that at Gallipoli we fought for “empire” not the nation, symbolising our continuing colonial condition.
As we prepare to inaugurate a republic, she says, we should move on from this redneck racist view of history, and of our identity, into a more inclusive way of seeing ourselves and the way we relate to the world. People like Professor Lake cannot seem to abide the thought that people might not share her passions, and see things her way, or be thinking about her issues, even for a minute. They should be made to. For their own good.
I am not at all distressed or alienated by the fact that Australia is part of an international community – the British Empire, now the Commonwealth of Nations – which has brought higher standards of living, education, rule of law and stable government to many nations and many millions of people around the world. I am proud to be part of that family. The constant blathering by Australian republicans about the need to cut our apron strings to Britain and form our own identity seems more like teenage rebelliousness than maturity or vision.
The ANZAC campaign was a failure at many levels – politics, planning, local command. Foolish, ill-informed choices were made. Thousands of young men were killed in a campaign that probably made no difference to the outcome of World War One at all. None of that should be celebrated, and it isn’t.
But here’s the thing. We made a commitment and we kept to it. The young men from Australia and New Zealand who landed on that beach had every reason to complain, to refuse to comply, to rebel. But they didn’t. They endured cold, poor food, poor command. Many of them endured grievous injury and death. And in all of that they were courageous, disciplined, purposeful. They cared for one another, they did not give up, they sacrificed their own hopes and even their lives for the sake of others.
We became a nation at Federation. We showed what kind of nation we could be at Anzac Cove. The qualities shown there – discipline, self-sacrifice, courage, persistence – are exactly the qualities we need now. They are what defines us at our best. They are our best hope for the future.
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.