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An earlier headline said that services around the nation were expected to bring comfort to those who had lost homes or loved ones in fires in Victoria two weeks ago.

Expected by whom the headline did not say. There is not much that can compensate for the death of someone you love. But the milllions of dollars raised, the thousands of services around the nation, and other public expressions of sorrow and support, are an indication of real care. And perhaps the knowledge of that care may bring some small light of comfort. I hope so.

Cornelia Rau was briefly detained in a detention centre for illegal immigrants by Australian offcials four years ago. She did not appear to speak English, said she did not have Australian citizenship, had no identification, and could not explain how she came to be in Australia. It was soon recognised that she had a mental illness and treatment was provided.

Her family, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, made a thundering row about her having been illegally detained (it turned out she had dual German and Australian citizenship) and Cornelia was granted $2.6 million dollars in compensation. It was never quite clear to me how the government or people of Australia (the compensation money comes from tax payers) had done anything wrong.

Now she has travelled to Jordan, where her behaviour has caused her to be arrested. She has refused Australian assistance. Yet somehow this is all still Australia’s fault.

But if you can’t or won’t teach the Catholic Faith, you have no business being a Catholic priest.

If you want a do-it-yourself faith, and a do-it-yourself Jesus, why not be an Anglican?

A Poem for Amanda

Dressings for windows and watches and wounds
I think all my zebras are coming home soon.
I asked my friend Millie the mincer to fix
But she sits on the mantelpiece playing with sticks.
I have to fix, have to fix, have to fix up
The casserole system inside the blue cup.
And please Daddy, please won’t you take me home soon?

My brain is combusted and crumples the moon
The nurses keep playing their pipes out of tune.
The lint on the window sill’s starting to stare.
I am heavy as death, so light I’m not here.
The sheets have gone pickled and prickle my feet
Someone keeps stealing the food that I eat
And please Daddy, please won’t you take me home soon?

The worms in my porridge sing nursery songs.
Who’ll feed the elephant now that I’m gone?
I don’t like the man where the wallpaper bends.
It’s dark where I’m buried here under my friends.
Mustn’t think bad things, they’ll come back and tie me
With eyebrows and pinecones and spiders inside me.
And please Daddy, please won’t you take me home soon?

My arms and my life are all flaked and corrusted
The men in the other place cannot be trusted.
I must be in prison, I know I’ve been bad
The walls are so high, and my friends look so sad
But if you put pineapples back on the wall
I promise I’ll try really hard to be small.
And please Daddy, please won’t you take me home soon?

Who would have guessed?

Alarmingly this simple fact still seems to be escaping the current US administration.

Kelsey Grammer is absolutely right. The ‘stimulus’ package is about rewarding people who are unproductive, or who have been irresponsible, by taking money from people who are productive and responsible.

This has two effects.

First it discourages responsibility. Why should states, corporations or individuals bother to save money, spend wisely and live within their means, if when they do so money is taken from them to give to states, corporations and individuals who have not?

Secondly, taking money from those who are productive, who are generating wealth, investment and employment, means that investment and employment will be reduced. And this in turn means the recession will be deepened and prolonged. And this means that the people who are most in need will suffer more and longer.

You can’t spend your way out of debt. Even when it is other people’s money you are spending.

I am still In Wanganui in New Zealand, still caring for Amanda. But we seem to have settled into a routine now, and I have found a decently quick internet caff, so posting should be back to normal over the next few days.

According to the Australian ABC, MacDonalds is doing well in Australia, so soon everyone will be obese.

This is another one of those increasingly frequent (especially when it comes to health and climate scares), headlines that look alarming, but when you read the story, you find that nothing has happened at all. It’s just some ‘expert’ saying ‘If this happens, then this might happen.’

Let me know when it does, and then I’ll start worrying.

This is an article I have just written to send to the Wanganui Chronicle. It is about Amanda, but may be of wider interest.

I apologise for the lack of posts over the last few days. Things have been pretty intense here.

Thanks for your support.


Just after 5pm on Thursday 29th January, my beloved sister Amanda jumped from a fourth floor fire escape in a building at the Wanganui Hospital.

She broke her spine in two places, fractured ribs and pelvis, tore her liver, ruptured her spleen, and may have permanent brain damage.

A few weeks before, in consultation with her own psychiatrist, she had checked herself into Terror Fina, sorry, Te Awhina. She did this so she could be in a safe and helping place to come off a complex and ineffective mess of medications that had been prescribed to help her cope with depression.

A safe and helping place! What should have been a routine process of care and support for an intelligent and capable young woman turned into a nightmare of….

No, wait. Instead of talking about Terror Fina, let me talk about residential pysch units in general.

Anyone who has seen the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ or read the book, would have been horrified by that portrayal of the vindictive, bullying manipulation of people lost in a vicious system and unable to speak for themselves.

Psychiatrists and mental health workers have enormous power over their clients. In my experience, people drawn to those professions are equally divided between those who genuinely wish to help people in distress, and those who see that distress as an opportunity.

In every psych unit there are psychiatrists and other staff who expect instant and unquestioning compliance. Anything else is a challenge to their authority, is taken personally, and considered behaviour which must be punished.

These ‘therapists’ use a variety of techniques to maintain their power over clients who are not appropriately deferential, or if the therapist is male, female clients who do not find them sufficiently attractive. Clients may be told they have a personality disorder. They may be made promises about treatment or other processes which staff have no intention of keeping. Their medication may be increased till they are effectively zombified, they may isolated, belittled, or bullied in other ways.

People who are treated in this way are significantly more likely to self-harm or to commit suicide.

When this happens, the therapist’s first priority will be to come up with a story that casts him in a positive light, while destroying the credibility of the client. The client’s alleged personality disorder will be emphasised, she will be described as erratic, high risk, or ‘treatment resistant.’ It may be claimed that she had a plan, that she self-harmed or committed suicide deliberately to embarrass the therapist. So even after death or serious injury the client’s pain and loneliness and suffering count for nothing. According to the therapist, he is the victim, he is the one who has been inconvenienced. It’s all about him.

The therapist’s behaviour is typical of people who are sociopathic or narcissistic. It is not the client who has a personality disorder.

Let’s imagine that on the morning of the 29th of January a meeting is held at a psych unit somewhere in New Zealand. We need to call this meeting something, so I’ll call it a Malevolently Dysfunctional Team meeting, or MDT for short. Ruling over this particular MDT is a Dr Bastaard. There’s no such person of course.

There is a client at the meeting. She is an intelligent and capable young woman with good insight into her illness. She is also deeply distressed. She has written down her feelings of loss, of abandonment, of confusion and despair. She reads this to the team. She asks for help. None of them respond. Some of the team members smirk at one another. Dr Bastaard, who has been playing with his laptop computer while she speaks, does not look at her or acknowledge her. The meeting continues as if she did not exist.

Is there anyone at the meeting who should be speaking for the client? Perhaps, but they don’t. Is there anyone at the meeting who has a glimmer of care for the client? Perhaps, but any concern for her welfare is less important to them than the approval of their peers. So no one says anything. No one does anything.

These are mental health professionals. They know her feelings and state of mind – she has just told them. They know the impact and likely outcome of such utter rejection. If any harm comes to her after this meeting, it will not be because of an error in professional judgement, or even because of negligence. This is deliberate and culpable malice.

Imagine that during the day, friends who are concerned for the client ring the psych unit to ask that she be cared for, because she has talked about suicide. Their concerns are dismissed. Imagine that another friend waits for an hour in a psychiatrist’s waiting room, so she can tell him that the client is despairing, in danger. Imagine that just before 5pm another friend rings the psych unit to check on the client and to make sure the staff are aware of her state of mind, that she is being watched carefully, only to be told that staff have no idea where she is.

Just after 5pm on Thursday 29th January, my beloved sister Amanda jumped from a fourth floor fire escape in a building at the Wanganui Hospital.

We intend to seek an enquiry into what happened to Amanda. There are lots of different kinds of enquiries. There’s the kind where staff get together and decide that really when all things are considered, they did OK, and issue a statement like this: We’re very sorry your loved one died because we were watching reruns of the Simpsons instead of doing our jobs. But heck, you know, everyone makes mistakes, these things happen sometimes, and it was probably her fault anyway, so please go away and stop bothering us.

We don’t want that kind of enquiry.

We want an enquiry that will make a difference, not just to Amanda, but to the delivery of Mental Health Services, and perhaps even a broader enquiry into the politics and culture of health care in Wanganui.

We have spoken to previous and current Mental Health Care clients and to former staff. We are gathering material to submit to the media, to the Minister for Health, and to ACC.

If you have a story to tell, please email me, Peter (Amanda’s brother) or write to me at 74 Pitt St, Wanganui, NZ.

Amanda is being flown up to Wanganui in the next hour. I will drive up – about three hours – and be there tonight.

Posting will resume tomorrow.

Run the race. Keep the faith.

Staff at the Intensive Care Unit in Wellington told us this morning that Amanda is to be transferred today to the ICU in Wanganui.

It is clear she is going to require a long period of support to heal, and perhaps permanent care, depending on the extent of spinal injuries and brain damage.

For most of her life, she has been a bright, beautiful, insightful, creative and caring young woman. Somehow twelve years ago her mind took a wrong turn, and she has just never been able to get back. During that time she has persistently self-harmed, and made three major suicide attempts, culminating in this most recent, when she threw herself off the top of a four storey building.

She desperately needs family near. I am the only possibility, and I will stay with her as long as I can. But I cannot stay for more than another few days without income. I have a computer repair shop in Australia. It is only a few months old, and although business was building, it cost a great deal to set up and income is still limited. Unless I am there working it costs me about $400 per week.

If I return to Australia to work for a few weeks Amanda will have no support from family for the coming three or four crucial weeks. She needs this.

I need about $2500 to cover immediate costs, and about $25,000 over the next six weeks to stay with her, and to help her get well enough to move her to Australia where I hope I can care for her and run my shop at the same time.

Can you help?

I have Muslim friends, but am convinced that while there are reasonable and moderate Muslims, there is not and cannot be a reasonable and moderate Islam.

For Muslims, Mohammed is the perfect example of a life well lived. You canot criticise the prophet publicly without risking death. Yet Mohammed, as I have noted before, had sex with a nine year old girl, tortured his enemies, and was a mass murderer who in between killing Arabs who disagreed with him, decapitated several hundred Jews.

Unless Muslims are willing to repudiate Mohammed’s example, and that would mean disowning the prophet – impossible! –  an Islam which claims both to follow his example and to be moderate will simply be an impossibility.

Some interesting comments here about the film Islam: What the West Needs to Know.

By the time the twenty-three year old Charles Darwin reached New Zealand he had definitely had enough.

Despite its natural beauty and fascinating birds and insects, Darwin wrote of the Maori people:

“Their persons and houses are filthily dirty and offensive. I should think that a more war-like race of people could not be found in any part of the world than the New Zealanders. We were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place”.

In fact the Maori are a brave and noble people who had complex agriculture and buildings, and were frequently far more generous with European settlers than the settlers deserved.

Via Kathy Shaidle, this story from the Toronto Sun.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has time to investigate and comment on stories published in national magazines over which it has no jurisdiction. It has time to condemn writers like Mark Steyn because their criticisms of radical Islam makes them Islamophobic (whatever that means – being critical of something doesn’t mean you are irrationally afraid of it).

But investigate and comment on honour killings in a state where they do have jurisdiction and could make a difference?

Sorry, too busy. From the Sun article:

It was her response to Steyn’s criticism of OHRC’s silence on honour killings that shocked me.

“There are thousands of things that happen in the province of Ontario on a daily basis and we don’t comment on all of them,” she said.

But, I spluttered, women are being murdered.

“As I said, we are a small commission.

“There are many problematic things that happen in our community and we have to make choices because we can’t respond to everything,” Hall said.

So honour killings are merely “problematic”?


The people who lit the fires are immediately responsible. But a measure of responsibility also lies with environmental activists who pressured local councils and other governement agencies to reduce or disallow prescribed (that is controlled protective) burning and other clearing of highly flammable scrub from residential areas. 

‘The green movement is directly responsible for the severity of these fires through their opposition to prescribed burning,’ said David Packham, former supervising meteorologist for fire weather nationwide at the Bureau of Meteorology.

At a community meeting in Victoria yesterday, Warwick Spooner, whose mother and brother were killed in the fires, told council members ‘We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down.’

Meanwhile, another family who disobeyed government regulations, cleared bush from around their home, and were fined $50,000 for doing so, said that their home and lives were saved because of the action they had taken – action which is simply reponsible in high fire risk areas.

The argument is that clearing of bush around residential areas reduces bio-diversity and increases the risk of extinctions of native animals through loss of habitat. This is nonsense. The areas cleared in prescribed burning are very small – just enough to prevent fires jumping to buildings. The real risk to native wildlife is massive uncontrolled fires like those which have just occurred.

Via Dissecting Leftism, this article from The American Spectator, saying what I have been saying for the last several weeks. See here and here, for example, that the proposed US economic stimulus package will not and can not work, because it is based on a toxic combination of wishful thinking and economic theory known to have no relationship to anything that happens in the real world.

Please somebody stop this package. It will deepen and prolong the recession. This will be painful for the US. But because the US is the economic lead dog, and what happens there is maginified in its effects on smaller economies, the effect on smaller, more vulnerable economies will be devastating.

Common sense from Qando:

It’s pretty silly to think you can solve a problem created by too much borrowing and spending by doing a lot more borrowing and spending.

If everyone followed that logic in everyday life, imagine the results:

“Gosh, I’m forty pounds overweight now. I better start eating more.”

“Honey, you’re getting too many speeding tickets.” “Well, then, I better start driving faster.”

“That girl says I irritate her, but I really like her. I guess I should start being more obnoxious.”

“Oh, dear, the roof is leaking again. I better make the hole bigger.”