Monday, December 24, 2012
His Emininence Archbishop Pell says sorry to abuse victims in Christmas message
Catholic Cardinal George Pell has used his Christmas message to apologise to those who have been sexually abused by Christians.
Cardinal Pell says he is shocked and ashamed by the abuse suffered at the hands of priests and teachers.
He says it goes against the teachings of Jesus and Christians need faith in God's goodness and love to cope with these disasters.
The Archbishop of Sydney says where there is evil, there is less peace.
"My heart and the heart of all believers, of all people, will go out to all those who cannot find peace at this time, especially those who have suffered at the hands of fellow Christians, Christian officials, priests, religious, teachers," he said.
"I am deeply sorry this has happened.
We need the hope that comes to us from Christ's birth with his call to conversion, to sorrow for sins and the necessity of reparation. "We need our faith in God's goodness and love to cope with these disasters, to help those who have been hurt. "We need the hope that comes to us from Christ's birth with his call to conversion, to sorrow for sins and the necessity of reparation."
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader have both made special mention of Australian troops serving overseas in their annual Christmas messages.
Tony Abbott was joined by his wife Margie for his message.
"All of us as Australians have much to be grateful for; we're an open, decent and generous people," he said.
Both leaders are spending Christmas with their families. [What families? Abbott has the blessing of children. Gillard does not]
Why call centres get my goat
I am so shat with call centres that I mostly just write a letter to the CEO of the company concerned these days. I get much better results that way -- JR
I WRITE this on behalf of the 3 million Australians who, like me, are fed up trying to have our domestic problems solved by doubtless well-meaning, but culturally challenged, people sitting in small cubicles in Third World countries. I am referring, of course, to the modern phenomenon of the call centre.
In my day (to use an old fogey's expression), when you needed help or advice from a company with which you were doing business, you could telephone it and be put through to someone who understood your problem and could help you solve it.
Not any more. It's almost as if businesses these days don't want to know you once they've sold you their product.
Here's a perfect example. My Outlook Express email suddenly refused, for no apparent reason, to accept my password, one that I had been using with no problem for three years.
After several attempts to solve the problem, I rang my service provider. A woman answered my call. "Are you in Australia," I asked. "No," she said, "I'm in the Philippines."
After 15 minutes of fruitless fiddling, the woman said the problem was beyond her and would have to be passed on to a higher-grade technician who would contact me in three to five working days. After I told her (in a somewhat ungentlemanly fashion) what I thought of the service, the waiting time was reduced to the next day.
Needless to say, no call came and the day after that I rang again. This time I got a man, also in the Philippines. "Can I speak with someone in Australia please," I politely asked. "Why?" he replied. "Because the lady I spoke to in your country didn't seem to know what she was about." "Oh," he said, "I can assure you I can deal with the problem" - which I thought was a bit rash since I hadn't yet told him what the problem was.
To his credit, he did solve the password problem.
That wasn't the end of the saga, however. I had foolishly mentioned in passing that I wondered if the problem could be connected with an inordinate amount of spam I had been receiving. "Probably not," he said.
The next day nothing worked: no email, no internet. Back on the blower to the Philippines again. Why wasn't it working, I asked. "Oh, we cut it off," was the reply. "Why?" I asked. "Because you said your computer was sending out lots of spam."
I rest my case.
Christmas wish appears in sky over mosque
The Lebanese Muslim Association says it arranged for a Christmas wish to be written in the sky above the country's biggest mosque, in response to reports it had banned Muslims from wishing people a happy Christmas.
Over the weekend, a message appeared on the Facebook page for Lakemba Mosque, saying that Muslims were forbidden from taking part in Christmas traditions or wishing people a merry Christmas.
The entry implied it was a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, and was based on a lecture given at the mosque during Friday prayers.
The Lebanese Muslim Association, which runs the mosque, says the comments were taken out of context and the group harbours no anti-Christmas sentiment.
Samier Dandan from the the Lebanese Muslim Association says a junior staff member of the association copied and pasted text from another website that the mosque had not endorsed.
"From our perspective this is an innocent mistake done by a youth member who's employed by this organisation," he said.
"We are basically not going to apologise for what I perceive to be an innocent mistake, which is not necessarily reflective of the true mindset and belief of this organisation."
This afternoon, the organisation arranged to have the words "Merry Xmas" written in the sky above Lakemba Mosque.
Earlier today, Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Keysar Trad said the fatwa was not valid, and described the Facebook remarks as damaging and divisive.
"These types of comments, unfortunately, do nothing to promote unity, and I'm glad they've been taken down," he said.
Ahmet Keskin from the Affinity Intercultural Foundation also spoke out against the comments.
"I have no problems passing on those well-wishes at times of Christmas," he said. "We should be looking to pass on comments to build relations, so I think any opportunity that we can get it's always great to pass on those well-wishes, so that we can get closer and seek greater understanding of each other."
WA ocean heatwave -- with cool pockets
You mean it's not global? Pesky!
The West Australian Department of Fisheries says it will conduct further research on a marine heatwave that has been linked to a recent spate of fatal shark attacks in Western Australia.
Scientists say the unprecedented heatwave occurred off the WA coast between 2010 and 2011, and could be responsible for declining fish stocks and increased shark activity.
Ocean temperatures rose up to five degrees last summer, and the Department says that has led to pockets of cooler water developing near the coastline.
The Department's research director, Dr Rick Fletcher, says this may be causing sharks to move closer to shore.
"If there is a relatively smaller area of cooler water inshore, then the sharks could be concentrated in that smaller area," he said.
Dr Fletcher says further studies will be carried out to determine the long-term effects of the heatwave on fish stocks and shark activity.
"If we actually understand a little bit more about what conditions are more or less likely to have concentrations of White Sharks or Tiger Sharks, than we can inform the public about what the conditions are likely to be," he said.
"Two years post that initial heatwave, what's happened both to the stocks but also what's happened to the oceanographic conditions, have they returned? Or has that change dissipated over the past two years."
There have been five fatal shark attacks along the WA coast in the past two years, prompting a raft of research aimed at trying to better understand the animals.