Friday, June 19, 2009

Killer Queensland police goons: 'I begged them to stop'

A woman claiming to have witnessed a fatal Taser incident in north Queensland last week says she begged police to stop continuously zapping him with the electric stun gun moments before he died. Antonio Galeano, 39, died after being shot with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun during a violent confrontation with police at a unit in Brandon, near Townsville last Friday. Police initially said Mr Galeano was shot three times but data recorded by the Taser showed it operated on 28 separate cycles during the confrontation.

The Australian newspaper says a post-mortem examination by pathologists found the man - had a pre-existing heart condition - died in handcuffs just 10 minutes after being shot with the Taser. A police source told Mr Galeano was "talking and lucid" before he suffered the heart attack.

Brandon woman Sandra Winn - who has made a statement to the Queensland Police Ethical Standards unit - reportedly said she saw police Taser Mr Galeano seven times, and begged the officers to stop. "The police officer states that he only used that Taser ... three times," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "He hit him through the window here, the first time, hit him in the chest. "Toni fell down, he hit the ground, I heard him."

Ms Winn declined to speak to when contacted this morning, as she was on her way to Mr Galeano's funeral, to be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ayr. Mr Galeano's parents Carmelo and Agata said their son was "dearly loved". His son Blake and sister Giovanna and extended family will pay their final respects at Ayr Cemetery.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson last week said Mr Galeano, who was clutching shards of glass and an iron bar, had assaulted a woman before she ran to a nearby unit and called police. However, police have been unable to confirm how many people were in the unit at the time of the incident.

"I stood up on that chair (and looked through the window from outside) by that time they'd gone in," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "The police officer was standing over him and going (makes Taser motions) on his back. "I was screaming (at) this window ... at the police officer stop, stop, stop you are supposed to be helping me. How many times can you hit him with that before you're going to kill him?"

Ethical Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin said an investigation into the man's death would endeavour to compare the number of Taser "bite marks" on Mr Galeano's body with the data obtained from the Taser.


Wong is wrong

Actually, she is just a loyal apparatchik doing the bidding of her political master, Kevin Rudd. She is completely out of her depth in anything other than politics

By Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth

Steve Fielding recently attended a climate change conference in Washington, DC. Listening to the papers presented, the Family First senator became puzzled that the scientific analyses they provided directly contradicted the reasons the Australian government had been giving as the justification for its emissions trading legislation. Fielding heard leading atmospheric physicist Dick Lindzen, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, describe evidence that the warming effect of carbon dioxide was much overestimated by computer climate models and remark: "What we see, then, is that the very foundation of the issue of global warming is wrong. "In a normal field, these results would pretty much wrap things up, but global warming-climate change has developed so much momentum that it has a life of its own quite removed from science."

Another scientist, astrophysicist Willie Soon, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, commented: "A magical CO2 knob for controlling weather and climate simply does not exist." Think about that for a moment with respect to our government's climate policy.

On his return to Canberra Fielding asked Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to answer three simple questions about the relationship between human carbon dioxide emissions and alleged dangerous global warming. Fielding was seeking evidence, as opposed to unvalidated computer model projections, that human carbon dioxide emissions are driving dangerous global warming, to help him, and the public, assess whether cutting emissions would be a cost-effective environmental measure.

After all, the cost to Australian taxpayers of the planned emissions trading bill is about $4000 a family a year for a carbon dioxide tax of $30 a tonne. The estimated benefit of such a large tax increase is that it may perhaps prevent an unmeasurable one-ten-thousandth of a degree of global warming from occurring. Next year? No, by 2100. The questions posed were:

* Is it the case that CO2 increased by 5 percent since 1998 while global temperature cooled during the same period? If so, why did the temperature not increase, and how can human emissions be to blame for dangerous levels of warming?

* Is it the case that the rate and magnitude of warming between 1979 and 1998 (the late 20th-century phase of global warming) were not unusual as compared with warmings that have occurred earlier in the Earth's history? If the warming was not unusual, why is it perceived to have been caused by human CO2 emissions and, in any event, why is warming a problem if the Earth has experienced similar warmings in the past?

* Is it the case that all computer models projected a steady increase in temperature for the period 1990 to 2008, whereas in fact there were only eight years of warming followed by 10 years of stasis and cooling? If so, why is it assumed that long-term climate projections by the same models are suitable as a basis for public policy-making?

As independent scientists attending the meeting, we found the minister's advisers unable, indeed in some part unwilling, to answer the questions. We were told that the first question needed rephrasing because it did not take account of the global thermal balance and the fact much of the heat that drives the climate system is lodged in the ocean.

Que? What is it about "carbon dioxide has increased and temperature has decreased" that the minister's science advisers don't understand?

The second question was dismissed with the comment that climatic events that occurred in the distant geological past were not relevant to policy concerned with contemporary climate change. Try telling that to geologist Ian Plimer. And regarding the accuracy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's computer models, we were assured that better models were in the pipeline. So the minister's advisers apparently concede that the models that have guided preparation of the emissions trading scheme legislation are inadequate.

These are not adequate responses.

It was reported in the Business Age last July that the ministry of climate change's green paper on climate change, which was issued as a prelude to carbon dioxide taxation legislation, contained scientific errors and over-simplifications. Almost 12 months on, our experience confirms that the scientific advice Wong is receiving is inadequate to justify the exorbitantly costly upheaval of our society's energy usage that will be driven by the government's ETS legislation.

All Australians owe Fielding a vote of thanks for having had the political courage to ask in parliament where the climate empress's clothes have gone. Together with the senator, and the public, we await with interest any further answers to his questions that Wong's advisers may yet provide.

Geologist Bob Carter, carbon modeller David Evans, hydrologist-climatologist Stewart Franks and meteorologist-climatologist Bill Kininmonth attended the meeting between Steve Fielding, Penny Wong, Chief Scientist Penny Sackett and ANU Climate Change Institute executive director Will Steffen. Sackett has so far declined to answer Fielding's questions on this page.


How times have changed: Chinese give PM Kevin Rudd lesson on neoliberalism

KEVIN Rudd has been accused by a leading Chinese economist of being "either short of economic knowledge or misleading his readers" in his famous essay attacking neoliberalism. In a scathing assessment, Xu Xaonian, economics professor at China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, lambasts the essay, now translated and published in China, as "shallow and crude", The Australian reports.

Dr Xu says "Lu Kewen" - Mr Rudd's Chinese name - made a "big, big mistake" in forming his "confident opinions" based on "the observation that the crisis came as a result of neoliberalism and the absence of supervision".

Dr Xu, one of China's leading liberal economists, has savaged the Rudd essay in the weekly Chinese newspaper The Economic Observer after the Prime Minister's work was translated and reprinted in China's leading business magazine, Caijing. Dr Xu, who has a doctorate from the University of California and was formerly managing director of the country's biggest investment bank, says it is not time to resurrect Keynesianism, as Mr Rudd proposes. "Instead, it's time to announce Keynesianism's failure, time to announce the emperor Lord Keynes has no clothes."

He says the Prime Minister "has used electioneering-style tactics to brand neoliberalism as dogmatic, to paint a clownish portrait of it, seeking to pioneer popular antipathy to this artificial enemy, casting a moral verdict without seeming to care about truth or logic". Dr Xu says: "Lu Kewen defined Alan Greenspan as a neoliberal, and claiming that his failure and that of the neoliberals is a failure of the market.

"Lu is either short of economic knowledge or is misleading his readers. Greenspan is a Keynesian, and a thoroughgoing one, not a neoliberal. Lu smartly transformed a failure of government into a failure of the market - a form of propaganda by him and his social democrat comrades which now looks as if it is working."

Dr Xu says that Mr Rudd "views himself as an heir of Franklin Roosevelt and Keynes - he wants to use expansionary financial policies to pull the economy out of recession". "Instead, it will only add a fresh failure to the Keynesian list, while piling up votes, in the meantime, for the social democrats," he says. "Although filled with conclusions contrary to facts and unfounded policy prescriptions, it represents a popular post-downturn trend, especially because it comes from a country's prime minister."


Amazing: Tough new Australian laws to make homebirths illegal

Only a few generations ago, all of us came into the world at home. How can something so natural be made illegal?

HOMEBIRTHS will become illegal under tough new laws that prevent women using midwives to have children outside hospitals. The move is set to drive homebirths underground, with expectant mothers and their babies at risk. There are fears women determined to have a homebirth will "go it alone" like birthing advocate Janet Fraser, whose baby died during a natural water birth in April, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Under the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, released last week, a midwife cannot be registered unless she has insurance. But with insurance companies and the Government so far refusing to include homebirths in the indemnity scheme, midwives will face being de-registered if they attend a homebirth.

Women's groups accuse the Rudd Government of stripping women of rights by forcing them into hospitals. Australian College of Midwives boss Dr Barbara Vernon said the Government's intention was obvious. "I had been optimistic until now when you can see it in black and white," she said. "Even though only less than half a per cent of women have homebirths, they should have the same rights as a woman who chooses to have a caesarean. Homebirths won't stop."

About 150 midwives do homebirths in Australia. Called independent or private midwives, most do not work in a hospital and are uninsured. But from July 2010, they will no longer be able to call themselves midwives even though they are trained. Only those insured and registered can use the term midwife, otherwise they face a $30,000 fine.

There are about 700 homebirths a year but some say this may be as high as 2100 as they are under-reported. For TV presenter and marriage celebrant Elizabeth Trevan, giving birth to her 18-month old twins Nash and Harvey at home was an "overwhelming experience." "It breaks my heart to hear that the Government will do this," she said. "This is about choice. "The Government should be driving this and helping midwives who want to (do) homebirths. They will never be able to afford insurance."

Home Births Australia secretary Justine Caines said the new law took away the rights of women. "It technically makes homebirthing illegal," she said. The Royal Australasian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is against homebirths. [Well, they would be, wouldn't they? It is competition for them]


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