Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Caring" and "idealistic" Leftists at work

They are just authoritarian thugs beneath their propaganda camouflage. And what were they "protesting" so violently about? Amid all the evils in the world, what they were protesting about was a meeting: People getting peacefully together to talk. The hate-filled thugs should have been locked up and the key thrown away

A police officer says her career and personal life are in tatters as a result of injuries she received in the G20 riots. Sen-Constable Kim Dixon is considering civil action against protesters who hurled a plastic barricade at her, seriously damaging her elbow. Four demonstrators who threw the barrier were convicted this week over the incident. They avoided jail, but a magistrate imposed fines ranging from $2000 to $4000.

Career police officer Sen-Constable Dixon, 41, wants her attackers to know the depth of her personal suffering, and how it has affected her husband and sons, aged 5 and 2. Torn tendons in her left elbow have left her unable to perform routine tasks, such as pushing her youngest son's pram or hanging out washing, without suffering pain. "You think to yourself, 'Do these people really know what they've done?'," Sen-Constable Dixon said. "The protesters can't see me out there with my family. We are not just police. We do take our uniform off and we are human. "I was only doing my job. This has affected my life dramatically . . . and the protesters need to know that."

The dedicated officer of 22 years faces the prospect of being pensioned off because she can no longer drive a manual patrol car or type up incident reports. "I may not have a job in the long term because of this injury," she said. She is receiving WorkCover payments, but the loss of penalty rates while she is on restricted duties has left Sen-Constable Dixon and her husband struggling to pay their mortgage. ''It is a struggle. I don't get shift allowances or overtime. They were the extras that helped with the basketball fees or the birthday party or the interest rate rises," she said.

The strain on her marriage is evident. "My husband has got to do more work to make up for the shortfall. The children don't see as much of him. It just all adds up. Hopefully it's not all going to come crashing down," she said.

Son Ben, 5, asks every day if she will get better - a question to which she doesn't know the answer. "I feel this injury has not only taken its toll on me, but, most importantly, my children," Sen-Constable Dixon said. "I have been unable to enjoy the most simple of activities with them without being in some type of pain."

Sen-Constable Dixon wishes she were on frontline duties instead of being confined to a desk handling basic inquiries and paperwork. She is reduced to two six-hour shifts a week, and has missed at least one pay rise through being unable to complete more training. A police medical officer recently declared her injury "chronic". Sen-Constable Dixon fears her file will soon be stamped "ill-health retired". "I love being in the (patrol) car and working the street. I don't want to be stuck behind a desk," she said. She does as much paperwork as she can, but feels guilty at her restricted duties.

In a Victim Impact Statement sworn on January 27 this year, she admits to feeling as if she is "letting the team down and not pulling my weight". She fears that being pensioned off could put her at long-term financial disadvantage. The chronic pain means Sen-Constable Dixon must take painkillers every day. She may yet require surgery.

One of about 20 uniformed police behind a barricade on Collins St in November 2006, she had no idea her efforts to protect society would attract what the magistrate this week described as "defiant and aggressive behaviour". "We copped an absolute quilting," she said of the ugly scenes involving demonstrators opposed to the Group of 20 nations summit.

Sen-Constable Dixon was not offered counselling or debriefing after the attack on her and often re-lives in her mind the chaotic scenes. "We held the line 28 minutes, which is a long time to be fighting," she said. Video footage presented in court came as a shock. "A lot of the footage we hadn't seen. We were astounded as to the violence," she said.

Ben recently saw some images on the TV news. "He asked, 'Is that what they did to you?'. He's not old enough to realise the impact," she said. "But he gets frustrated . . . he would like Mum to do things that I can't do any more, like riding a bike or playing basketball."

Sen-Constable Dixon has submitted a victims of crime application and expects to get $2000 or $3000 at most. She is considering suing some of the protesters, but worries they do not have enough assets to bother. She is still seeking legal advice about taking civil action against Victoria Police or Melbourne City Council.

Though she has tried to remain tough since her injury, Sen-Constable Dixon admits to some teary outbursts. She cried when she heard this week protesters had been given suspended jail terms: "I was really upset." ... In the wake of the sentencing of the protesters this week, she notes she is yet to receive an apology. "Not one (protester) has said sorry to me," she said.


And this is ridiculous

A G20 rioter is receiving a $35,500 taxpayer-funded salary as a trainee legal aid lawyer despite a conviction for attacking police. Julia Dehm, 25, of Brunswick West, helped hurl a barricade at policewoman Sen-Constable Kim Dixon. On Tuesday, the would-be lawyer, familiar with both sides of the dock, received a seven-month suspended jail sentence and $3000 fine. She has been convicted of two counts of riot, one of recklessly causing injury and one of intentionally damaging property for her actions in the riot. Dehm was involved in pushing barricades at police during the attack on an unmanned police brawler van.

But Dehm was back at her Victoria Legal Aid office on Friday. "I don't feel I can comment on this at this stage thank you," she said. Victoria Legal Aid managing director Tony Parsons said the government body knew Dehm was facing charges when she was hired. He said a decision would soon be made on her future now she had been sentenced. But Mr Parsons would not say whether Dehm would be retained or sacked. "We're reviewing her position . . . we haven't finalised that review," he said.

"She's been here on an articled clerk's program for a month. She got here by an extremely competitive process. About 200 people apply for five or six positions here every year. "She was one of the successful candidates. "She did everything we asked of her in terms of disclosing her problems. We knew precisely that she had charges. But she, like all people, are presumed innocent," Mr Parsons said. "We said to her when she was offered the job of articles a year ago we would support her. And we would retain the right to review her position at the end of the proceedings. "Now I've got a full brief of what happened in the case, what her position was, what the penalty of sentence was. I'm just going through a process of consideration about what I do with her in light of the outcome of the case."

The legal aid chief would not say if G20 protesters had received legal aid funding for their court hearings. "I can't disclose that. The legislation requires confidentiality," he said. Defence lawyer Rob Stary, who represented 11 of the G20 protesters, but not Dehm, also refused on confidentiality grounds to say if the public had paid for their defence. He said he believed one of Dehm's Legal Aid co-workers had provided her with a reference for court, but didn't know whether it was tendered.

Dehm was supporting a friend on G20 charges in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court when police realised she was also one of the G20 rioters and arrested her. Dehm, a Melbourne University law graduate, was described by the sentencing magistrate as one of four rioters with the most serious charges.


Nazism reinvented: The Kruddites want a smoking ban and fitness tests for everyone

SMOKING would be banned for everyone born next year, junk food would be taxed and everyone would be subjected to a fitness test by 2020. By comparison, the cost of healthy food, including fruit and vegetables, would be reduced to reflect its low environmental impact and obvious ["obvious"? It is not at all obvious in the mortality statistics] health benefits.

These are just a few of the ideas from 100 of the nation's health experts who discussed the best way to combat obesity, reduce illness and promote a healthy lifestyle. Health Minister Nicola Roxon said one idea put forward in a submission was an annual national fitness test where citizens would receive a financial incentive if they pass.

Health stream participants in the 2020 summit also discussed increasing public education about how death can be a "positive experience" to avoid patients panicking when they reach hospital emergency departments.

Health participant, Meredith Sheil, a former Westmead Children's Hospital pediatrician, said many participants had suggested a ban on cigarette sales by 2020. "A lot of the health submissions suggested a ban on smoking by 2020," she said. "You would say, 'OK, from now on everybody born after 2008, you are not allowed to sell cigarettes (to)'."

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton suggested increasing the cost of artificial and packaged food. "I actually think we need to price foods according to their environmental and health impact, rather than harping at people to eat this or that," she said. "All the artificial foods would become very expensive and the healthy foods would be cheaper." ....

Ski champion Alisa Camplin suggested expanding the active after-school communities program to ease the burden on the health system. "Creating a national program focused on physical activity would provide a pro-active framework for Australians to attain greater general well-being and receive preventative, rehabilitative and curative health support," Camplin wrote in her submission.

More here

Reality bites Australia's Green/Left

Plastic bag defeat; Price-control defeat

The two ministers set on an inevitable collision course by a contradictory pre-election promise by Kevin Rudd were both mugged last week. Rudd had pledged to simultaneously reduce the impact of climate change and bring down the cost of living for families. In the case of Environment Minister Peter Garrett, it was at the hands of his own state Labor colleagues. In the case of Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Bowen, it was by reality.

First to Garrett. In January he boldly declared he wanted to phase out single use plastic shopping bags by the end of this year. He wanted a plan for how to do this ready for a meeting of federal and state environment ministers last week. For Garrett the deadline turned into a disaster and public humiliation. His Labor colleagues dealt him a brutal lesson on Realpolitik that exposed Garrett's failure to either consult properly with the industry or negotiate effectively with the states.

Instead of a decisive move towards a ban in the form of a retail charge on plastic bags at the check-out -- the outcome Garrett wanted -- Thursday's meeting more resembled a policy version of a splatter attack. South Australia is now going it alone with a proposed ban. Victoria has offered to trial a retail charge in consultation with the big supermarkets. And there's to be a working group to look at raising the use of re-usable bags and biodegradable bags. Twisting in the wind, Garrett emerged from the meeting with a bunch of weasel words declaring the result to be "substantial and positive". "We felt a mandated charge on plastic bags is another cost for Australian communities who are feeling the pinch," Garrett said.

It was all bollocks, of course. Garrett felt no such thing -- at least until he got into the meeting. A retail charge was always his preferred option. It was what his department was costing behind the scenes, despite his public denials. The fact is that having ruled out an immediate ban, and having also ruled out the Commonwealth imposing a levy, the only option left was a check-out charge.And it wasn't Garrett who was alert to the fact that this would cause financial pain to families. It was the states, led behind the scenes by New South Wales Treasurer Michael Costa and Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings, with support from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

Costa got into the act after Garrett's plans for a bag charge were revealed last month. And he wasn't having any of it, immediately talking with the big food chains to see where they were with Garrett. That wasn't very far because, according to sources in the retail sector, he had barely bothered consulting them. Costa and the rest of the states quickly woke up to the fact that Garrett's plan required all the states to pass uniform regulations to put it into place. But that would mean the states would also have to police what would effectively be a new tax, and wear the political backlash that would inevitably follow.

On Thursday they made it clear that wasn't on. For Garrett to save some face, Jennings stitched together a deal for a trial in Victoria. The research into bio-degradable bags had been something the supermarkets had been pressing for some time. It should have been the threshold question for the entire debate. The result? Although Garrett wouldn't say it publicly, his office sheepishly admitted late on Thursday that the minister's bold plan to phase out plastic bags by the end of the year could not now be met.

Now onto the minister at the other end of the environment debate, Chris Bowen. He's the minister responsible for trying to bring down the price of petrol, which if he achieves it, of course, will increase greenhouse gasses. As Consumer Affairs Minister, he is also the one trying to bring down the cost of living while Garrett is trying to push it up via a charge on bags. Bowen's contribution last week was to unveil a national FuelWatch scheme to cut pump prices.

Well kind of. Before the election Labor promised to put "a cop on the beat" when it came to oil companies ripping off motorists. Now facing the reality of actually having to do that -- and bombarded with concerted questions about whether FuelWatch actually works to bring down prices --Bowen's rhetoric has substantially changed. Suddenly price wasn't the main reason for introducing FuelWatch. "The much more important reason for doing this is to give consumers more information," Bowen said.

Rudd too was laying on the caveats with a trowel: He said the aim was to help families "get the best possible prices for petrol when they go to fill up". "We can't promise the world," he said. "We can't promise the impossible." It's now the "best possible" price for petrol, not the "lowest". Mugged indeed. And playing the voters for mugs as well.


Negligent public hospital kills little kid

Every day Katey Locock looks at her baby daughter Jasmine and her heart breaks. Seven months ago Mrs Locock and her husband, Gayvn, were overjoyed at the birth of Jasmine and her twin Gemma, sisters for two-year-old Amber. But last month Gemma died of heart failure after acquiring Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory condition, which can be treated simply if detected. The Lococks say doctors at John Hunter Children's Hospital in Newcastle failed to diagnose the condition, despite telltale symptoms - and they want to know why. "Every time we do something for Jasmine we know we should be doing it for Gemma as well. It breaks our hearts," Mrs Locock said. Jasmine knows something's wrong. She has not been the same since her sister died, her parents say.

Gemma spent four days in hospital after she became ill with what her parents say were distinctive symptoms of Kawasaki disease, including a persistent high fever for more than five days, severe rash, red lips, red eyes and peeling skin on her hands and feet. Her parents say they were told to take their daughter home. Six weeks later she died. "The doctors kept saying it was a mystery and just gave her Panadol. They only ever ran one blood test," Mrs Locock said from her Belmont home. "But she had at least four symptoms [of Kawasaki disease]. If they had done their job properly, Gemma would still be with us today."

Kawasaki disease, an uncommon illness that mostly affects children under five, causes inflammation of small blood vessels known as vasculitis. In extreme cases the coronary arteries swell, which can block the blood supply to the heart. Most children recover after receiving a simple intravenous drip of gammaglobulin - an ingredient of the blood that helps fight infection - and a high dose of aspirin to reduce the risk of heart damage.

The Lococks say doctors failed to order an echocardiogram, which would have shown the heart damage. Mrs Locock also made two visits to the family GP, which resulted only in a prescription for reflux medication. On March 16, Gemma began having breathing difficulties and within two hours she was dead. "It was such a shock, it all happened so fast," Mrs Locock said.

The day after Gemma's death, Jasmine and Amber were summoned to the hospital for blood tests. When Jasmine's test showed abnormalities, the Lococks say they were forced to wait another day for her echocardiogram because no one was available to do it. "We'd already lost one baby and time was crucial but they still made us wait," Mrs Locock said. Jasmine was eventually given the gammaglobulin drip as a precaution and is healthy.

Gemma's great-grandfather, Terry McCormack, said her death had "devastated our family". He has launched a blog - - inviting parents who have had "unsatisfactory dealings" with the John Hunter Children's Hospital to contact him.

"This is a devastating situation and we understand and share the grief that the family is experiencing," the hospital said in a statement on Friday. It said Gemma displayed only one clinical feature - skin rash. "It would be extremely difficult for any doctor to diagnose Kawasaki disease solely by the presence of a skin rash in the absence of the other signs of the condition," it said. The hospital said the Locock family had been invited to meet senior doctors once the final post-mortem examination report was completed.


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