Monday, December 26, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has a Christmas message

Thwarted terror plot draws Christmas crowds to St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne

The threat of terrorism at St Paul's Cathedral was not enough to keep the community away from Christmas Day morning services. If anything, it had the opposite effect.

"How dare they," said former policeman Tony Tulloh. "How dare they try to attack such a soft target; not just the building, but this community? They wouldn't try to target a battalion of tanks, would they? That'd be too hard."

Mr. Tulloh was visiting from New South Wales with his wife Trudie and their two sons. They had deliberated between attending an Anglican or Catholic church for Christmas during their five-day trip to Melbourne, and settled on St Paul's. Then, when they heard that a terrorist plot against the cathedral had been foiled, it reaffirmed their choice. "We came in defiance," said Mrs. Tulloh.

Andrew Boyd, who was visiting from Perth with his wife and three children, had not been so confident in his decision to attend. "At first, we were concerned about coming," he said, "but if you don't do this, what else don't you do?" In the end, he and his wife decided not to let fear stop them, "Otherwise the terrorists win."

Nonetheless, he wasn't at ease. "Seeing the police presence outside adds to the concern that there really is something going on here."

Not a moment went by on Sunday morning without at least one group of policemen standing by the stairs to the cathedral. Police vehicles also lined Swanston Street, directly opposite the iconic building, which had been named as one of three targets in what police said was a foiled Christmas Day terror attack.

Victoria Police said they had an "increased visible presence" in the city on Sunday, in an effort to reassure the public of their safety and encourage them to go about their Christmas celebrations as planned.

But a Metro staff member was blase. "Today is just another day," he said. "It's not the stuff you hear about that you should be worried about; it's the stuff you don't hear about."

Back at St Paul's Cathedral, Tracey Gay sat in the third row of the pews to hear her son sing in the church choir. "I wouldn't even consider taking him out," she said. "It's such an important part of his life." Her ten-year-old sang on Christmas Eve and during the morning service, too.

Ms Gay said the increased security presence this year made her feel safe. She was also touched by the overwhelming support the community had received in light of the thwarted attacks.

"There were members of other faiths, as well as the deputy police commissioner and consular general of the UK here last night," she said. "It sent a message of peace and solidarity."

"The message of Christmas is one of lasting peace," reiterated the Dean of Melbourne, Reverend Dr. Andreas Loewe. Yet, while he sought to spread a message of reconciliation, the threat of terror was front of mind.

He gave thanks to those who work to keep the community safe, urged those in attendance to consider their individual roles as peace creators, and prayed for the salvation of "any who would turn against their fellow humans, with hatred, to seek their harm."


Christmas in Adelaide hottest in 70 years

In case the Warmists get excited over this, I might mention that our Brisbane Christmas was unusually cool, helped, perhaps,  by some morning rain

Adelaide has sweltered through its hottest Christmas on record since 1945, while temperatures in some parts of Victoria hovered around the 40-degrees-Celsius mark.

The South Australian capital reached its forecast high of 40 degrees at 2:29pm, recording the city's hottest Christmas Day in 70 years.

Fortunately, South Australians will have a boxing day reprieve with "noticeably cooler" conditions and rain forecast for the capital.

In traditional form Australians have taken to the beach to beat the heat and shared the fun on social media.

Emergency crews were on standby across the country as heatwave conditions continued to impact on large parts of southern and eastern Australia in the late afternoon.

In Victoria, a maximum of 39.9 degrees Celsius was recorded at Hopetoun, while Melbourne reached 35.5 degrees at about 3:00pm.

Firefighters are battling a grass fire at Woomelang, north of Birchip in the state's north-west.

The fire at Kellys Road has crossed the Sunraysia Highway and A Watch and Act warning has been issued for Banyan, Curyo, Hopetoun, Marlbed, Watchupga, Willangie, Woomelang.


Queensland govt red-faced in rail fail

A Leftist government that cannot make the trains run on time.  Yet they want us out of our cars!

The Queensland government is offering free taxi rides for stranded public transport users after Christmas Day train services were cancelled because of “operational reasons”.

The number of cancellations has been revised up to 235, from the 150 expected earlier.

Queensland Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, already under pressure to retain his job after a series of scandals involving Queensland Rail, said he was “disappointed” by the latest cancellations.

The last-minute disruption to travel plans has impacted services across the rail network, including the airport line, Gold Coast line, Sunshine Coast line and Redcliffe Peninsula line.

Queensland Rail has confirmed the service cancellations were due to “resourcing issues that Queensland Rail have been experiencing over the last couple of months”.

Mr Hinchliffe, who said he was informed of Queensland Rail’s decision to cancel some Christmas Day services yesterday afternoon, described the cancellations as “entirely unacceptable”.

“Today, I have also instructed Queensland Rail to provide me with an urgent and comprehensive report detailing the circumstances leading to the cancelation of some Christmas Day CityTrain services and an explanation for the late notice given to passengers inconvenienced by Queensland Rail,” he said.

“I am disappointed by Queensland Rail’s decision and the inconvenience it will cause for rail passengers on Christmas Day,” he added.

“That’s why I have directed Queensland Rail to provide free Christmas Day travel for all passengers on all CityRail services.”

Queensland Rail acting CEO Jim Benstead said all patrons travelling on trains today would travel free. “I apologise to customers for the inconvenience,” Mr Benstead said.

“On Christmas Day, patronage is about 60 per cent less than an average Sunday, but of course many people will be relying on the train to get to festive celebrations which they won’t want to miss. “We are asking all passengers to check the TransLink website before travelling.”

Mr Benstead has ordered extra station staff work today to guide customers, and said Queensland Rail accepted “full responsibility for these service cancellations”.

Queensland Rail is offering taxi fares at stations for customers who are facing unacceptable wait times.

Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Powell said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should return from leave and “sack” Mr Hinchliffe, one of her key allies. “What should be one of the happiest days of the year has turned into a nightmare because of this Minister’s complete incompetence,” Mr Powell said.

“Stirling ‘I know nothing’ Hinchliffe has once again claimed he was the last to know, only receiving advice about the major cancellations yesterday afternoon — but Queenslanders are sick of hearing the same old excuse. “150 services have been cancelled, leaving families stranded from their loved ones and all the Minister can do is shrug his shoulders.”

Mr Powell said the Christmas changes, posted on social media by Queensland Rail last night, could mean Queenslanders won’t make it to Christmas events.

The TransLink website blamed Queensland Rail for providing them with late advice, meaning they could not update online journey planners.  “Due to the late receipt of advice from Queensland Rail, these changes cannot be updated in the journey planner,” the TransLink update said.


Video games website Steam fined $3 million for refusing refunds

Gaming company Valve Corporation has been hit with a $3 million fine after the Federal Court found its online games site Steam breached Australian Consumer Laws.

The court imposed the maximum fine requested by Australia's competition regulator because of Valve's disregard for Australian law and lack of contrition.

Valve's general counsel, Karl Quackenbush, told the court the company did not obtain legal advice when it set up in Australia, and did not check its obligations until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission got involved in April 2014. It only provided staff verbal instructions.

This lack of interest in Australian laws and lack of cooperation encouraged Justice James Edelman to impose a pentaly 12 times more than Valve Corporation suggested it pay.

"Valve is a United States company with 2.2 million Australian accounts which received 21,124 tickets in the relevant period containing the word "refund" from consumers with Australian IP addresses," Justice Edelman wrote in his judgement.

"Yet it had a culture by which it formed a view without Australian legal advice that it was not subject to Australian law, and it was content to proceed to trade with Australian consumers without that advice and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with Australian law the advice might have been ignored."

A court found in May that Steam's website breached Australian Consumer Law because it stated consumers were not entitled to a refund and had no access to minimum quality guarantees.

Steam must now introduce a compliance program and place a notice in size 14 type on its Australia website informing consumers about their rights.

Steam is an online games store where consumers buy access or downloads of games like Doom, Grand Theft Auto, or Fallout. Games cost up to $75.

Justice Edelman found the subscriber contracts on Steam's website were designed to ensure Steam did not offer consumers any refunds. Australian customers ticked a box agreeing to Steam's terms and conditions. It was ticked 24.9 million times between 2011 and 2014 and it was "impossible to calculate the precise number of consumers who were affected by the misrepresentations".

During the case the court heard Valve did in fact offer more than 15,000 refunds if a customer was unable to install a game, or unable to play it, or where a subscriber purchased the wrong version of a game by mistake.

Valve had suggested it pay a penalty of just $250,000 but Justice Edelman noted the penalty proposed by Valve was "not even a real cost of doing business. It would barely be noticed". Valve is a private company and its profits are unknown, but the court noted its worldwide income and revenue was "massive".

When the original decision was handed down in March, chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, said it reinforced that any foreign business selling goods or services in Australia is subject to local laws.

"In this case, Valve is a US company operating mainly outside Australia, but, in making representations to Australian consumers, the Federal Court has found that Valve engaged in conduct in Australia," Mr Sims said.

"It is also significant that the court held that, in any case, based on the facts, Valve was carrying on business in Australia."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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