Monday, April 06, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG sees the Sydney blackouts as a warning of worse to come

NSW police goons again

The gutless wonders claim they were "afraid" of an elderly Muslim lady. At least they didn't shoot any innocent people this time I suppose. But victimizing elderly ladies does seem to be their form. A safe way to get their rocks off, I guess. A foolish person might think that the police would treat an elderly person with respect and restraint -- but that would be very foolish indeed. That politeness works wonders is an old British policing idea but the NSW police have obviously never heard of it

A GRANDMOTHER who stabbed a child's football and threatened to do the same to two children is suing police after they entered her house, crash-tackled her and shoved her wheelchair-bound son. Bankstown magistrate Jacqueline Milledge said officers behaved "like paratroopers" when they kicked in Najla Salman's door and assaulted her and her teenage disabled son. The court threw out police claims Ms Salman, 55, had assaulted them and the family is now pursuing the maximum compensation of $750,000.

The ball had hit the woman's Regents Park house while a neighbour's 12-year-old daughter and friends were playing in late 2007. Ms Salman seized the ball, stabbed it with a kitchen knife and threw it down in front of them. She allegedly said to the girl and her cousin words to the effect: "Next time you hit my house I'll stab you in the stomach."

The frightened children called triple-0 and police rushed to the home, where they knocked on the door and entered the house. Senior Constable Simon Moore then asked her where the knife was. "And this is where it all goes pear-shaped," Ms Milledge observed.

Constable Moore said he told Ms Salman she was under arrest and to wait where she was but then claims she "shoulder-charged" him, forcing him to "check-drill" her, grabbing her shoulders and pushing her back. Ms Salman protested that she needed to care for her paraplegic son and attempted to get past Constable Moore, whereupon he tackled her again. The officer claimed she shoulder-charged him and he feared she was trying to attack him.

Ms Milledge rejected this as "nonsense". "Is she really shoulder-charging the constable because she wants to get to the knife to use it as a weapon? I don't think so," she said.

When Ms Salman's wheelchair-bound son Qutaiba Alsaad entered the room he saw his mother on the floor with police wrestling with her and trying to handcuff her. He too was pushed by a different police officer to get him out of the way - which Ms Milledge said she could understand.

However she said police had behaved appallingly. "This was a terrible, terrible incident handled badly," she said. "To suggest she was shoulder-charging him to get him out of the way to get to the knife first is just a nonsense and then for Mr Alsaad to come out and see his beloved mother on the ground with police officers on top of her, trying to handcuff her. Over what? A ball. A ball. It honestly defies commonsense and belief ..."

She found Ms Salman guilty of common assault in damaging the ball but dismissed all other charges.


Public hospital bed shortage as deadly as road toll

HOSPITAL emergency department overcrowding is responsible for at least as many deaths every year as occur on Australian roads, doctors say. In a damning series of reports in the Medical Journal of Australia, emergency medicine specialists suggest about 1500 Australian deaths could be avoided each year. The specialists say caring for patients waiting for a hospital bed represents about 40 per cent of the workload in major emergency departments, and up to 70 per cent in some.

They are critical of politicians and bureaucrats who deny that hospital overcrowding has major adverse effects on patient care. Ideally, for a hospital to function effectively, the doctors say occupancy should be no more than 85 per cent to allow for fluctuations in demand. But the Australian Medical Association says hospitals such as Townsville, in Queensland's north, operate at more than 100 per cent capacity "most of the time".

Australia has 2.6 hospital beds per 1000 people - far short of the average of 3.9 per 1000 for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. A snapshot of overcrowding in accredited Australian emergency departments at 10am on June 2 and September 1 last year, found more than half the patients in non-NSW emergency departments were waiting to be admitted, three-quarters of them for more than eight hours.


Telstra complaints are up by 240 per cent under CEO Sol Trujillo

Why am I not surprised? Trujillo fired a lot of Telstra staff and helpline staff seem to have been among them. And that would explain the comment highlighted below -- a complaint that coincides with my experience

CUSTOMER complaints about Telstra's phone service rocketed by a massive 52 per cent in just 90 days, company statistics have revealed. And over the three-year reign of Telstra boss Sol Trujillo, complaint levels have risen by 241 per cent, figures from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman show.

Mr Trujillo has been paid about $30 million over the same period, and is to receive a $3 million golden handshake when he steps down in June. "It's frustrating because you can't get through and when you do no one can tell you anything," Telstra Bigpond customer Michael Murray told The Courier-Mail.

Between October last year and the end of 2008 Telstra received about 236 complaints a day, or nearly 10 an hour, about landline and mobile phone services over the three months, for a total of 21,283. In the previous three months the phone giant received 14,014 complaints.

Over the same period, complaints about Telstra's Bigpond internet service climbed 65 per cent, from 3382 to 5607. Mr Murray complained after his internet connection was down for four days last week, calling Telstra "10 to 12 times" asking when the problem would be fixed.

Telstra executive director of corporate complaints Chloe Monroe said the company "acknowledged these are not good results". She said the company had put more resources into taking customer calls. Ms Munroe said it would be "drawing a long bow" to see a connection between Mr Trujillo's time at the top and the number of complaints. [What or who else, then??]


A parable of modern times

Once upon a time there was a Pharaoh – let’s call him Pharaoh John. Pharaoh John was helped by a Vizier called Peter. Peter was a hard man who was feared but respected by his people. Each year the people worked hard – they ploughed the fields, sowed the seeds, harvested the crop, sifted the wheat from the chaff and stored the wheat in silos. In the good years, they produced more than they consumed – and the surplus was stored away. The wise Pharaoh knew that in some years, the rains didn’t come and the fields didn’t produce enough to meet their needs. Under the Pharaoh’s leadership the grain silos were always in surplus – and so they had enough to eat during the lean years.

When the wise Pharaoh passed on, he was succeeded by a prodigal Pharaoh. Let’s call him Kevin. Kevin wanted the people to like him. He said it was time to party. Don’t worry about work, it’s boring. Kevin said “There’s so much grain in the silos that we can afford to give everyone a bonus hand-out for free. Have a party on me!”

The people loved him. They stopped working – and why wouldn’t they when they got grain for free? Kev was the most popular Pharaoh the nation had known since Pharaoh Bob! (Pharaoh Bob was a hard act to follow after he said that any Scribe who sacked a worker for pulling a sickie after the nation’s sailing win was a bum!)

It had taken Pharoah John and his Vizier Pete 10 years to replenish the nation’s grain silos after Bob’s reign. Pharoah Kev emptied them out in 8 months! The people rejoiced with wine, women and song. And they bought up big – particularly with imports from the mysterious nation of the Orient.

The Wise Men of the East who were exporting their goods to Kev’s people thought that Pharaoh Kev was just great, he made them very happy indeed.

One day Kev’s Vizier Wayne went to the silo for the next hand-out. He was shocked to see the grain-store was empty! So Wayne called the Wise Men from the mysterious oriental nation in for a secret meeting. It was so secret the nation’s Scribes weren’t allowed to talk about it. Pharaoh Kev and Wayne begged the Wise Men from the East to lend them grain. The Wise Men agreed but they demanded very generous terms in return.

Kev and Wayne couldn’t believe their luck! Sure enough, the Wise Men from the East delivered on their promise – they filled the silos with grain. As fast as they could deliver the grain (via a tender every Wednesday and Friday) Kev and Wayne handed it out to the people and the party went on and on and on! The people couldn’t believe their luck! Kevin smiled and spoke in mysterious tongues – the people couldn’t understand where the grain was coming from but Kev said it was the right thing to do and he would know!

One day the Wise Men from the East came calling again. This time no one was smiling. They held a big meeting and everyone was invited. The Wise Men brought out the parchment that Kev and Wayne had signed. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Wise Men brought their own Viziers, Scribes and Pharisees. Soon everyone was speaking in the mysterious tongue of the East. And the people were forced to get used to working again – this time for the Men from the East. And try though they might, this time there was no Moses to lead them from slavery.

Kev and Wayne sailed off with Bob into the sunset to a lovely future on the speaking circuit. They told tales of the good old days when money was free and the economy was stimulated to within an inch of its life! And the Wise Men from the East smiled knowingly.


For non-Australians, the story refers to conservative prime Minister John Howard paying off Australia's national debt and building up a reserve instead. Within about a year, the new Labor Party government had squandered the reserve and incurred a massive national debt -- mostly funded from China

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