Thursday, June 04, 2009

New News Ltd. Blog

As we know, most newspapers have blogs attached to them -- with the blogs sometimes being a lot better than the newspaper concerned. Of the Murdoch press blogs, I think Andrew Bolt's blog stands out. But the Murdoch press have recently been putting up a lot of references (with link) to a new blog called "The Punch" that is not obviously connected to any newspaper, though they do appear to own and run it. It is vaguely Leftist but seems principally to be an attempt to be funny. Surely Rupert is not trying to emulate was was REALLY one of the funniest magazines ever: "Punch", of London, now sadly deceased, long run by Alan Coren. Rather wonderfully, Alan Coren's son, Giles Coren, is also brilliant at British humour. You can often read him in "The Times" of London.

I imagine that "The Punch" will have some success but to me it lacks focus. If it is being run by paid journalists, it will die of financial failure. I can't see that it offers any more than many other blogs already do.

Australia Economy Grows despite worldwide slump

The story below is from the Wall St Journal, where it got more coverage than it did in the local papers, where it was barely mentioned

Australia's economy grew in the first quarter of 2009, defying a global slowdown to become one of the few developed nations to have side-stepped a technical recession. Australia's economic slowdown so far appears mild compared with other industrialized nations, but any jubilation is set to be brief as the first-quarter growth hinged almost entirely on a positive shift in the country's trade accounts. [Local reports said retail spending was also healthy]

The trade position offset a big slump in business investment and profits, but an expected deterioration in the trade picture is set to weigh heavily on the economy through 2009. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd welcomed the strong data, but warned the economy "is not out of the woods" yet and economic contraction in coming quarters can't be ruled out. "This is the worst global recession in three quarters of a century," Mr. Rudd said. "We will face higher unemployment in the Australian economy and we're not guaranteed we won't see negative growth in the future."

The average measure of gross domestic product rose 0.4% in the first quarter of 2009 from the fourth quarter of 2008 and rose 0.4% from a year earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. Economists had expected GDP to rise 0.1% on a quarterly basis and to be down 0.1% from a year earlier. The Australian economy contracted 0.6% in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, which was revised from the originally reported 0.5% contraction.

Few watchers of the commodity-rich economy dispute that a sharp rise in unemployment is likely in 2009 and 2010 as major economies find their feet only slowly. ANZ Bank senior economist Riki Polygenis said the result means Australia may avoid entirely a technical recession -- defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction in GDP -- but there won't be any sudden resurgence in growth either. Australia's business sector is clearly suffering, and the trade boost that saved the day in the first quarter "won't be repeated," she said.

Amid evidence that China, Australia's largest trading partner, is starting to respond to stimulus, the economy is expected to continue performing better than most.

Australia still faces a hefty fall in its terms of trade in the second quarter as sharply lower prices for exported coal and iron ore wash into the national accounts, likely snuffing out any trade bonus and further damping profits and plans for investment.

A strong Australian dollar, which rallied to a fresh eight-month high of 82.46 U.S. cents after the GDP data Wednesday, is also likely to squeeze exports, keeping a lid on growth in the year ahead.


The ABC really is sick

You have to be a totally insensitive Leftist to make fun of dying children. Still, I suppose that if abortion is OK, then dying children are of no concern either

Charity Make-A-Wish has savaged ABC's The Chaser for a sketch which made dying children the butt of a joke. The foundation says the Chaser’s "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation" skit could potentially traumatise families with children who have life-threatening illnesses. "One of the first things we were upset about was that a lot of our families and children would have been watching that,” Make-A-Wish communications general manager Janita Friend said.

Friend is also deeply concerned the skit portrays children wanting wishes as greedy and says it could stop parents applying to Make-A-Wish for wishes. "Some families will go, 'Oh my goodness, people will think I'm being greedy (applying for a wish)," she said.

In the sketch Chaser members Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor asked actors playing bed-ridden children what they wish for. When one little girl asks to meet Hollywood actor Zac Efron she is given a stick instead, with Taylor saying, "Why go to any trouble when they're going to die anyway?" When another child asks to go to Disney Land she was given a pencil case.

Taylor said the "foundation's" purpose was about "helping thousands of kids to lower their extravagance and selfishness in the face of death". "They (Chaser) haven't understood the reason behind why a wish is granted," Friend said. "Our mission is to grant wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions – not all of them pass away. "We don’t ever like to say it’s a dying wish but that’s really the message the Chaser were putting across which is really incorrect and unfair."

"It is interesting that they used the Disneyland example (as being unrealistic) because we do send lots of children to Disneyland”, Friend says. “We also have a lot of children who wish for very simple things like a party. Little children wish for puppies and cubby houses.”

The ABC was reportedly inundated with callers outraged by the skit. Angry callers swamped the ABC switchboard, describing it as "the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen on TV", "sick" and "disgusting". One father was left to console his seven-year-old terminally ill son after watching the skit. Another viewer wrote on The Chaser website: "I hope The Chaser guys have kids who have a terminal illness, the assholes."

They caused similar outrage after their The Eulogy Song in 2007 mocked dead celebrities including Peter Brock and Steve Irwin.


Public outrage eventually forced the ABC into an apology but that seems to be the whole of their response. They should fire the unfeeling animals responsible

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG calls the "Chaser" show "Un-Australian"

Public hospital paperwork kills woman

So much paperwork, the nurse missed the important bit

A nurse caring for a woman who died from excessive bleeding after undergoing a caesarean section had been too busy to read an operation report that identified a tear in the woman's uterus, an inquest has heard.

Rebecca Murray, 29, died a day after giving birth to her third child at Bathurst Base Hospital on June 24, 2007.

She had lost about one litre of blood - enough blood to soak through two pads, sheets and bed linen - and was forced to wait almost 20 minutes after nurses observed the blood loss before being given any fluids or before nurses called a doctor.

At Westmead Coroner's court today, Jane Thompson, an anaesthetic nurse who was present during Mrs Murray's caesarean and was responsible for her in recovery, said she had not been aware that Mrs Murray's uterus had torn during the procedure or that she had a low platelet count, which could result in severe bleeding if such a tear had occurred.

She said she did not "have time" to read completely a set of post-operative notes that included details about the tear.

"If I had time to sit down and read the notes I wouldn't attend to the patient," she said.

"I suggest to you, nurse, that the word 'tear' would have leapt to your eye ... and would have concerned you, being responsible in recovery for the patient," counsel assisting the inquest, Gail Furness, said.

Ms Thompson said part of the problem was that she had not been told about it.

She would have read the operation report in full "if I had time".

"Are you suggesting that with one patient in recovery you didn't have time to read eight additional lines?" Ms Furness asked.

"I had my own paperwork to complete," Ms Thompson replied.


Corrupt Victoria police now hurting the whole of Australia

Education is a major Australian export and that is now at risk

Using typical state Labor spin, with which we in NSW are all too familiar, Victorian Premier John Brumby this week announced his farcical response to the muggings of Indian students in Melbourne's crime-riddled western suburbs: a "Walk for Harmony". Oh, and some "hate crime legislation" to be rushed through Parliament. But if the Victorian police just did their job, the problem would be solved, without resort to new legislation and bogus symbolism.

As always happens when you allow a local crime problem to fester, it mutates into something worse. In Victoria, a policing failure has become an international storm, damaging Australia's reputation, with effigies of Kevin Rudd burned outside the High Commission in New Delhi and the Prime Minister forced to step in and assign Australia's national security adviser to fix the problem.

For almost a decade, Victoria has been in the grip of the Potemkin Village-style policing that almost ruined NSW in the 1990s, under then commissioner Peter Ryan, when supervising police were rewarded for reducing crime statistics - not the actual crime, just the statistics. The window dressing suited senior police and their political masters but the reality on the streets was a crime free-for-all.

In Cabramatta, then the heroin capital of Australia, police such as the former detective Tim Priest were told to turn a blind eye to the crime they saw every day. With police not recording crimes, effectively they did not occur. Thus, at a time when it was a lawless hellhole whose residents were terrified to leave their homes, Cabramatta was deemed on the NSW police crime index to be safer than staid Roseville on the leafy North Shore, where possums commit the worst crime. Thanks to Priest and the academic Richard Basham, the whistle was blown on the farce.

No such luck for Victoria, which imported the Ryan protege Christine Nixon from NSW in 2001. As the Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer reported in March, police have chronically under-reported crime for years, giving the impression the state has the lowest crime rate in Australia, despite the fact it has fewer police per capita than any other state and spends less on them. Unlike in other states, with crimes such as assault, unless the victim is willing to give evidence against the alleged offender, it is not recorded in Victoria as having occurred.

Brouwer found some police were also manipulating data to make it appear "more crime has been successfully solved than is actually the case". Brumby's reaction was to say, "Victoria is the safest state in Australia."

Tell that to 25-year-old Shravan Kumar, who is in hospital with critical injuries after being stabbed at a party in Melbourne last week. Tell that to another Indian student, Baljinder Singh, who was robbed and stabbed at a Melbourne railway station. Tell that to 20 other Indian students who have been robbed and bashed in the past month, according to Indian student leaders who also say victims are reluctant to report assaults because police never treat them seriously.

Last year the discontent of Victoria's frontline police was evident in a mass protest, amid accusations that statistics were being manipulated to hide growing crime rates. A survey by a Melbourne newspaper at the time found almost 70 per cent of officers did not support Nixon, and believed there were not enough police on the streets or on public transport. Nixon did not renew her contract and her deputy, Simon Overland, who has been as preoccupied as Nixon with corruption fighting, took over in March.

For at least two years Victorian police have been aware of the violent robberies occurring on trains late at night and in the western suburbs. It reached Indian diplomatic circles a year ago. Anyone on public transport late at night or in crime-ridden areas of Melbourne, especially if they are dressed well and carrying laptops, mobile phones and iPods, was a target in this lawless environment, regardless of skin colour. So we should thank the Indian students in Melbourne for doing what the rest of the city should have done long ago - demand their police provide basic public safety.

Security footage posted on YouTube of last month's attack on 21-year-old Sourabh Sharma on a train on his way home from a shift at KFC is a chilling slice of reality. Six youths wearing hoodies or baseball caps surround him, rob him of his backpack and mobile phone, then punch and kick him repeatedly in the head as he sits in his seat, not resisting. It should be pointed out the youths appear to be of various ethnicities, including Asian. But what is extraordinary is their sadism, their enjoyment and their obvious lack of fear of being caught. They left him for dead, unconscious, with broken teeth and cheekbone. At one point the security camera recording the assault zooms in. Was someone in authority watching and doing nothing?

At the time, police described bashings at Melbourne's western suburbs train stations as an "epidemic" - as if crime was a phenomenon out of their control. When did it become a good idea to turn police into process workers, who sit at desks ticking forms rather than walking the beat, showing a constant presence late at night on dark streets in seedy neighbourhoods, protecting the good guys from the bad guys?

Of course there are racists in Australia, as there are everywhere in the world, not least India, where not so long ago the cricketer Andrew Symonds was abused as a "monkey". But that is different from saying Australia is a racist country, which by any objective measure it is not. But if crying racism is the only way for Indian students to make their point, then all power to them.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Two problems with the Nurse and paperwork story. Recovery room + known caesarian and you ought to know straight up what you should be looking for. That said, if there was no verbal handover from the operating room to the recovery room nurse then that is a level of negligence already because the most effective steps to prevent further injury to the patient have not been taken and the Rec. room nurse hasn't been informed verbally. In the real world of nursing voice and emphasis will always trump a written note, especially in a culture where surgical errors are often mentioned almost casually among the routine notes of the procedure. (Sometimes this is because clerks transcribe reports and don't know what need emphasis and what doesn't). Ultimately though, it doesn't matter whats in the paperwork, if no-one was concerned enough to tell the Rec room nurse what happened, she will focus on the normal recovery process and will not be as vigilant as she otherwise may be if better informed. The paperwork defence doesn't really cut it, but the Recovery Nurse is not alone in the chain of negligence here by any means (assuming the full story is what is here).