Sunday, August 06, 2006

Seventy three year old man bashed by Muslim thieves -- news censored

Note the usual cowardly choice of targets

Police are appealing for witnesses to a violent robbery at Merrylands in Sydney's west overnight. A 73-year-old man was walking along Chetwynd Road about 10.30pm yesterday (Monday 31 July), when he was confronted by two men who demanded money. The elderly man handed over a sum of cash; however, the men asked him for more.

The victim was repeatedly punched to the head after telling the men he didn't have any more money. The offenders then ran from the scene and were last seen heading north along Chetwynd Road, towards Merrylands Road. The victim sustained head lacerations and was treated at the scene by ambulance personnel. Police from Holroyd Local Area Command attended and conducted inquiries.

The first offender has been described as being of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean appearance, 25-30-years-old, 160cm tall with solid build. He was last seen wearing khaki-green shorts and a blue jumper. The second offender has been described as being of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean appearance, 25-30-years-old, 180cm tall with slim build. He was wearing an orange T-shirt and trousers at the time of the incident.

The report above is from a police website. Media reports -- e.g. here -- omitted the details of the appearance of the offenders!

Leftist dithering on fuel problems

Labor has reversed its outright opposition to biofuels such as ethanol, with Kim Beazley now embracing it as the panacea to Australia's petrol price woes. The Opposition Leader adopted a scare campaign against biofuels in the 2001 federal election. But as the Howard Government considers ways to increase the take-up of ethanol, Mr Beazley is now calling for a long-term strategy to end Australia "being hooked on Middle East oil". Labor's alternative fuel strategy comes as government MPs are preparing to confront John Howard on Monday over the rising costs of petrol, particularly in regional communities.

Coalition MPs want the Government to consider measures to cut the price of fuel in the bush, a plan likely to be resisted by Peter Costello and Treasury. The Prime Minister has nominated high petrol costs - caused by the spike in the world oil price - as his biggest worry going into a tough election year. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is working on a plan to cut the price of ethanol at the bowser, in a move the Government hopes will lead to a small cut in the overall price of fuel, which is approaching $1.50 a litre in the capital cities.

Mr Beazley yesterday signalled Labor's support for an alternative fuels policy, reversing Labor's previous criticism of the ethanol industry. "The price of oil from the Middle East is going to stay high for a very long time, probably forever. And what we need is an alternative from being hooked on Middle East oil," Mr Beazley said. "Short-termism won't work any more." Australia's plentiful gas reserves should be used to develop a new alternative supply of fuel for cars and business, Mr Beazley argues. "When we have got gas coming out of our ears in this country, we've got the makings here of a massive gas-to-liquid conversion operation," he said. "It's not a technology that isn't proven; the technology is proven. A number of countries now do this - countries like uswhich have enormous reserves of gas."

Labor previously has castigated the Government for offering support to ethanol producer Dick Honan, whose Manildra company has a large share of the nation's production capacity. But Mr Beazley is now more supportive of supporting the ethanol "possibility" as part of a broader push on alternative fuels.

Mr Howard, meanwhile, rejected calls from the Nationals to beef up the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's powers, despite the watchdog saying it is powerless to quash profiteering. "Let's not get into the foolish situation of thinking we can cut the price of petrol by some amendment to a law when the manifest reason for the high price of petrol is the high price of crude oil," Mr Howard said. "We can only have cheaper petrol in Australia if there is cheaper crude oil around the world ... and I'd be misleading the Australian public if they pretended otherwise."


Windmills versus birds -- the right decision for the wrong reason

The Australian government banned a windfarm because it might kill a rare parrot. But Greenies want their windmills back and who cares about the parrot? The parrot was probably not endangered but so are many of the things that Greenies want to protect. Maximum disruption is all that the Greenies really want

So, the Orange-bellied Parrot might yet be forced to fly the gauntlet of the deadly wind turbines of Bald Hills. Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell yesterday set a course for abandoning the quixotic avian rescue mission he launched in April by blocking the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm. But, with his legal defence looking ever more wobbly, the minister yesterday invited the Bald Hills developers to resubmit their application to build 52 wind turbines in South Gippsland.

Campbell's dilemma illuminates both the dangers of belief politics and the end of certainty within the environmental lobby. The minister's problem is that he really seems to believe at least one or two of the rare parrots will be sliced and diced by the twirling blades of Bald Hills.

Had Campbell merely been wedging species-green against climate-change-green against renewable-committed state government, then John Howard might well be preparing to strike a medal in his honour. Instead the PM could soon be looking for a replacement. Because, whatever the outcome of his ministerial review, Campbell looks as endangered as his pretty parrot.

If, in the name of the parrot, Campbell sticks to his ban, then he will cop it from state governments committed to ambitious renewable energy targets and the developers riding on that policy. Less predictably, Campbell will also get it in the neck from elements of the environmental lobby who now reckon solutions to climate change take precedence over limited species protection.

For example, Greenpeace has called for the parrot-saving minister to be sacked. And not because he has opened the way for the extinction of the parrot. No, Greenpeace says Campbell must go for the flimsy evidence supporting his stand against wind power taking its proper place on the national energy horizon. The irony of Greenpeace's position will be naked to all those who, over the past 25 years, have spent millions defending projects from environmental challenges based on similarly gossamer evidence.

But a Campbell backflip, for all its intellectual necessity, will make him look even sillier than he did in April. Not only will he look weak but the Howard Government will become politically liable for every chopped-up parrot found at the foot of a Bald Hills turbine.

The sad twist in the debate is that the minister made the right decision but for all the wrong reasons. The Government should stop Bald Hills but only because it, like any other wind farm, fails any test of economic viability. Australia's commitment to wind power is little more than an expensive expression of feel-good politics. And power consumers will directly pay the price of the renewables policy.

There is no particular government subsidy available to the wind power industry. Rather, there are federal and state government targets that force power distributors to take whatever wind power is produced. This means the wind generators sell their power into the grid at the going price paid to all other generators. The renewables producers then receive a credit for each megawatt hour they produce. That credit is then sold for about $43 a megawatt hour to the distributors. That is then added to our power bills.

That is the untold story of wind power. In June, Access Economics estimated Victoria's then policy of producing 10 per cent of the state's power from renewables by 2010 would add about 10 per cent to the wholesale price of power. And yet, even in those states with the most ambitious renewables targets, South Australia and Victoria, the net effect of wind power on carbon dioxide emissions will be negligible, if not illusory. According to another recent study, if Victoria reaches its target of 1000 megawatts of renewable generation capacity by 2016 (the state currently boasts about 120MW of wind capacity), its share of national greenhouse gas emissions will fall from 32 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020. But in raw numbers, Victoria's power plants will be pumping out 24 per cent more carbon dioxide by 2020 than they do in 2006 because, quite simply, Victorians will be using much more power.

Interestingly, that same report, prepared for Sustainability Victoria, found flaws in the Government's greenhouse gas abatement model because the Government was assuming wind power would replace, predominantly, brown coal fuelled electricity. But the flukey nature of wind power, combined with the low-cost base of brown coal, means wind is far more likely to replace gas and black coal fired power. Both, but gas in particular, produce lower emissions than Victoria's brown coal. "Thus, a more sophisticated approach is required to estimate the level of abatement from wind generation," the report suggests. I would argue that a greater level of sophistication is needed at all levels of this debate.

Because the answers to our national greenhouse challenge do not lie in the wind. There is no way either wind or solar power can produce the levels of base load electricity capacity we need. The big solutions lie elsewhere and can only emerge from a broad and cohesive national energy policy directed at finding cleaner ways of producing base load power from known technologies. That means embracing the work being done on clean coal and low-emission power plants. And probably investigating nuclear options.


New UK ban on 'bloody' advertisement

Tourism Australia's TV advertisement faces a new ban in the UK, where it will no longer be shown before 9pm. The 'So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?' advertisement has been deemed inappropriate for children by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, according to a report in the Creative Bulletin.

The new ban has resulted from the objections of 36 viewers, including 16 who were concerned that children might see the ads and eight who believed they should not be shown before 9pm, the Creative Bulletin said.

The ad was initially put under a blanket ban in the UK because the word bloody was deemed offensive, but that ruling was overturned in March. In making this latest decision the ASA said that parents were entitled to expect that TV advertising should not appear to endorse or encourage swearing


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