Friday, April 25, 2008


Australia's main national day today, when we remember members of our families who died in the many wars where Australian troops have lent a hand to other people far away across the sea. And in one case -- the war with Japan -- we were actually threatened ourselves.

In WWII, the Japanese were stopped in their advance through New Guinea towards Australia by the CMF -- the "weekend warriors" of whom I was myself once a part. There are few weekend warriors any more. I myself served full-time for part of my enlistment and half of the American army in Iraq is made up of reservists. The CMF is now referred to simply as the "Reserves".

Commemoration of Anzac day traditionally includes attendance at an interdenominational "Dawn service" -- held at dawn to commemorate the time when the original Anzacs landed at Gallipoli. After that there is a huge march through the city featuring "ex-diggers" (former members of the military) and their relatives. It is a long time since I have attended the service or watched the march but my heart nonetheless goes out to the families who have lost loved-ones. Perhaps fortunately, the relatives I lost were distant ones whom I never knew personally.

But this evening I will do one very Australian thing: I will attend a family BBQ to celebrate a birthday. The picture above is from Brisbane's shrine of remembrance. It is most pleasing to note that the commemoration seems to get bigger every year -- with many young people involved.

"Right to speak extinguished"

The heading above appears today on an article about the progression of the Olympic torch through Canberra. But it could have been about lots of other places as well. The "right to speak" that was extinguished was in fact the right to harass and disrupt a legitimate and peaceful sporting activity. Like most people in the Western world, I think that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is deplorable but that the authorities have the obligation to erect barricades etc to protect the torch-bearers from aggressive Leftist demonstrators is also undisputable to any reasonable person. It was not the right to speak that was suppressed but the right to make an arsehole of yourself.

If attention-seeking Leftist demonstrators could be relied on to act peacefully, there would no doubt have been the right and opportunity to hold up any number of placards etc. but we know how peaceful the preachers of peace in fact are so if anybody suppressed the right of people to speak it was the thugs who made countermeasures to their aggression necessary.

And that the Chinese sent counter-demonstrators to protest against the protestors is entirely proper in a democratic society. It's an inevitable consequence of taking your politics to the street. But it was not the Chinese who initiated that. Both sides are entitled to their say and if one side uses disruptive tactics the same is to be expected back.

The writer of the article is however a depressed and alcoholic drug abuser so perhaps he can be forgiven his stupidity and bias. How a piece so lacking in balance and perspective got published in "The Australian" is the real mystery. I guess it was seen as something that would give Leftists a horn.

Only months in jail for participants in vicious pack attack

These sentences must be appealed

The ringleader of a vicious gang attack that left an off-duty police officer lying unconscious in a pool of blood has walked free from court. Appearing in Southport District Court yesterday, Tiani Slockee, 18, was identified as the instigator of a brutal and unprovoked attack on Constable Rawson Armitage and his girlfriend, Michelle Dodge, at Coolangatta in November. Three of the nine teens who pleaded guilty to the assault were sent to jail by Judge John Newton, who ruled that Slockee, who spent 91 days in custody after the incident, did not have to spend any more time behind bars.

Judge Newton was condemning of Slockee's role in the bashing but decided against further jail time. "Neither of these attacks would have happened if it wasn't for your disgraceful behaviour," Judge Newton said. The Chinderah teenager, who left the court in tears with her terminally ill grandmother, said she was sorry for her actions. But some of her colleagues did not appear as upset, laughing and joking as they smoked cigarettes with friends outside the building.

The court was told that after an initial altercation between Slockee and Constable Armitage, the rest of the group joined the attack "like a pack of animals", leaving Miss Dodge fearing her boyfriend had been bashed to death. Harley Trindall, 18, was ordered to spend the next four months behind bars, in addition to the five months he has spent in custody since November for being one of the main players in the bashing.

His girlfriend, a 17-year-old captured on CCTV footage leaving the scene with clumps of Miss Dodge's hair in her hand, sobbed when the sentence was delivered, although she escaped detention and was instead placed on two years' probation. Two other males, aged 15 and 16, were each sentenced to 15 months' detention for stomping Constable Armitage's head as he lay unconscious on the ground.

Judge Newton said the behaviour of the 15-year-old, who grabbed on to a nearby fence to gain better leverage to jump on the officer's head, was disgraceful. "Your conduct was the most despicable of the entire assault," he said. "How you can jump on a man's head on two occasions as he lies helpless on the ground simply defies comprehension."

Each will serve about half of that time behind bars. The others were placed on probation, while an 11-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to any role in the attack. He will face Southport Magistrate's Court next month.


Cancer patient at death's door as a result of gross public hospital negligence

A dying woman has won a settlement from the Melbourne hospital she says misdiagnosed the cancer that will soon claim her life. The 52-year-old has been told she will die in the coming weeks from pancreatic cancer, which she claims grew unchecked for a year after Western Hospital doctors noticed a lump but failed to investigate further. The woman won an undisclosed sum from Western Health, which she sued for robbing her of a chance to overcome the disease.

She is in hospital and too sick to be interviewed, and asked not to be named. But she asked that her story be publicised, so hospitals would be forced to be more accountable and other patients would not suffer through misdiagnosis. A statement of claim lodged with the Supreme Court this month alleged that the woman had gone to the Footscray hospital in August 2006 suffering abdominal pain, and that a CT scan revealed a 1cm lump in her pancreas. She claimed that despite recommendations for further tests, informal reports advising doctors to perform a biopsy and a surgeon later suggesting the mass may need to be cut out, the lump was not investigated; instead, she was diagnosed as having mild gastritis and duodenitis, and referred back to her doctor.

A year later, she went back to the hospital in crippling pain and the lump was found to have grown to 11cm. She claimed that on Christmas Eve, doctors revealed they believed that the mass was cancer, and was spreading. By January, it was confirmed as a metastatic adenocarcinoma with widespread tumours in her liver, and complications to her portal vein and spleen. Chemotherapy could not overcome the cancer.

Arnold Thomas and Becker solicitor Larry Dent said his client had made a determined stand for other patients. "It is important that the issue of patients being lost in the system and lost to follow-up is dealt with," he said. "The root cause of this problem is that this lady was lost to follow-up. "If anyone thinks there is something wrong, they should first seek medical advice, and then legal advice if they think they are not getting anywhere. And they should not let it go."

A spokeswoman for Western Health, which did not admit liability, said the hospital could not comment on the case or the confidential settlement of it. "We are extremely sensitive to what she is going through at the moment in terms of her cancer and the impact it is having on her and her family," Anne Learmonth said. "However, we can't say much more than that."


Warmist prophecies all washed up

RAIN sure is falling this week on the parade of our global warming alarmists. Wettest of all is Tim Flannery, who was made Australian of the Year last year for wailing the world was doomed. We were making the planet heat so fast with our filthy gases, Flannery insisted, that the ice caps were vanishing and we had to "picture an eight-storey building by a beach, then imagine waves lapping its roof". No scare seemed too absurd for this Alarmist of the Year. "I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis," he groaned. But buy his The Weather Makers before you flee.

Reporters solemnly reported even this: "He (Flannery) also predicts that the ongoing drought could leave Sydney's dams dry in just two years." And when did he say that? Oh, three years ago? Yet what do I read in my papers yesterday but this: "Sydney's run of rainy days in a row - 11 - is the most in April for 77 years." And Sydney's dams? Above 65 per cent capacity now, and rising.

How embarrassing for Flannery and others in the scary weather business. No wonder the NSW Bureau of Meteorology yesterday complained "the rain was getting people down". I bet. So it was probably no surprise Flannery didn't turn up at the Rudd Government's ideas summit last weekend to talk more about how warming was dooming Sydney, despite being issued a gold-edged invitation.

He flew to Canada instead to tell their yokels to cut gases like the ones he just blew out the back of his jet, and talked warming with British Columbia's Premier and businessmen. But once again Flannery picked the wrong time and place to preach his warming gospel. A local paper reports: "In some regions of usually balmy British Columbia, many were caught by surprise by a storm that moved in late Friday and set snowfall records in Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver."

How the weather mocks Flannery. He's flooded in Sydney, where he predicted drought, and snowed in in Canada when he predicted heat. It turns out, in fact, that Flannery is a metaphor for a wider phenomenon - in which our most honoured warming alarmists are finding the weather not conforming to what they predicted. Most significantly, the world has failed to warm above the record of 1998, and last year cooled dramatically, according to all four big monitoring centres.

And with solar activity now unusually low, a small but growing number of scientists is speculating we may be entering a period of cooling - far more dangerous than warming. Indeed, geophysicist Phil Chapman, the first Australian astronaut with NASA, this week put the likelihood of global cooling at 50-50.

Even Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for whipping up global warming panic, says he'd check the apparent pause in warming so far this century, asking: "Are there natural factors compensating?" Natural factors may indeed be at play, drenching Flannery in Sydney, chilling him in Canada, and giving a cold shower to the rest of us, warning us to at least check the predictions of a Flannery with the facts outside. Verdict? Cool it on the overheating.


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