Sunday, May 31, 2009

Severe acute respiratory syndrome?

Americans find the name of the above drink hilarious

It is however a favourite drink in Queensland ("Golden Circle" is a Queensland brand) and I drink it myself. The name is an abbreviation of "Sarsaparilla", related to the American "Root Beer". Coincidentally, Australians tend to find the name "Root Beer" rather amusing. "Root" is an Australian euphemism for sexual intercourse.

The SARS epidemic of 2003 was pretty nasty, killing a majority of old people who got it.

NSW police goons again: Drunk driver's rampage ended in brutal police beating

They think they are judge and jury. Note that the man has been judged NOT guilty of resisting arrest and that police deliberately obstructed video of their unlawful actions. They should all be fired. The guy they bashed was scum who should be locked up for good for the safety of the public but that does not absolve the police from acting lawfully

POLICE officers who dragged a drunken driver from his car and bashed him with their fists, boots and batons are being investigated by the NSW Police Professional Standards Command and the NSW Ombudsman. The investigation will determine whether unjust force was used during the arrest of Mount Druitt man Sione Peaua, 43, who was beaten by as many as five police officers following a 45-minute car chase on May 25 last year.

Video footage from a police patrol vehicle and the Polair police helicopter was tendered in court on Friday during Peaua's trial for serious traffic offences, The Sunday Telegraph reports. The videos show Peaua being dragged from his four-wheel drive after it hit a power pole, then being punched, kicked and bashed with retractable batons as he struggled on the ground.

Peaua - a Tongan father of six who works as a boilermaker and a local rugby league coach - had a blood alcohol reading of 0.13 when he went on a high-speed rampage through the streets of Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill in a Toyota LandCruiser. For the early part of the chase - during which speeds of 145 km/h were reached - Peaua had his six-year-old daughter in the vehicle.

On Friday, he was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to driving with a suspended licence, mid-range drink-driving and dangerous driving.

Police prosecutor Alan Baghurst unsuccessfully argued in court that incriminating video footage should not be released to the public and described it as "not a pretty sight". He said both sets of footage were being investigated by the NSW Police internal affairs unit.

Ian Lloyd, QC, representing Peaua, told the court both sets of video were the subject of a NSW Ombudsman inquiry. Peaua would be making a statement to the inquiry, Mr Lloyd said. The court heard that Peaua did not receive any lasting injuries from the beating. Mr Lloyd, however, called it a "savage and unjustified attack" and said police "may have been frustrated at being taken for a merry ride through the western suburbs".

A statement from Commissioner Andrew Scipione's office said the investigation had been initiated by police and was being "closely oversighted by the NSW Ombudsman". "Now that a person has been convicted and sentenced, the police investigation into matters in the immediate aftermath of the arrest can now be completed," the statement said.

Both videos were tendered to the court, along with photographs of Peaua's injuries. He suffered severe bruising to his upper arms and thighs, as well as an injury to his hand and left forearm, which was bandaged and plastered. The Sunday Telegraph understands Peaua is considering launching a civil action against police in relation to the injuries.

It is also understood a female constable who was at the scene contradicted the statements of other officers involved that Peaua had resisted arrest and assaulted police before they used force to subdue him. Two charges of resisting arrest and assaulting police were dropped by the police prosecutor, and Peaua's legal defence received a $41,000 cost order as a result.

A police fact sheet tendered to the court said Peaua was also sprayed with a "burst" of capsicum spray, but does not mention Peaua being punched and kicked. The fact sheet also said Peaua grabbed one officer's left foot "with both hands" and had "continued to pull away from police, swinging his arms around forcefully".

Several critical moments of the beating were missed because the Polair crew panned the helicopter's camera away as police lashed out and used batons. Nor is it clear why, at the beginning of the beating, three police officers stand in front of the police patroller's video camera, obscuring vision of the incident. The statement from the Commissioner's office says: "Standard operating procedure for police helicopters involved in pursuits is to resume patrol once an offender is in custody."

In the sound track of the incident, a police officer can be heard saying, "Don't you f****** move" before telling Peaua to lie on his side. Peaua then screams, "Get me out of here" and is told by the officer: "You shut the f*** up, c*** and lay there."

Peaua: "You know what I'm going to do to you." The officer then tells Peaua: "Let go of my f***ing leg." Peaua can then be heard screaming, "What the f*** are you doing to me?"

Close examination of the Polair vision reveals four officers standing over a handcuffed Peaua and attempting to hold him down when one officer kicks him twice in the back of the thigh. The same officer then punches him and kicks him again in the back of the thigh before punching him in the vicinity of his arm. The vision then cuts to a wide shot where two officers can be seen punching and kicking. As the shot becomes wider, it appears one or more officers are using a retractable baton.

Police began the pursuit when Peaua refused to stop after they saw him hit the kerb while making a turn in Zoe Place, Mount Druitt. During the chase, Peaua ran seven red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road 11 times and knocked down two give-way signs before slamming into a power pole on the Great Western Highway at Rooty Hill at 8.25pm. He was stopped when police deployed two sets of spikes that blew out all four of the vehicle's tyres.

Court documents state that at one stage during the chase, while his six-year-old daughter was in the car, he had the 4WD up on two wheels and "almost rolled when he crashed into a roadworks area at 70km/h," a police fact sheet said. Of Peaua's reckless driving, Mr Baghurst said: "The potential to kill people was in the extreme."

Peaua, who was still serving a licence suspension from 2006 and had a prior drink-driving conviction, pleaded guilty to charges of driving with a suspended licence, mid-range drink-driving and dangerous driving. He was sentenced to four months' jail and suspended from driving until 2014. Peaua has lodged an appeal which will be heard in the District Court later this year. He was granted conditional bail.


More feelgood but brainless legislation from Rudd

Credit law revamp could cost jobs

MOVES by the federal Government to tighten up on bad loans could backfire with a new study forecasting that 24,000 jobs could be lost as a result. The measures could also dramatically push up the cost of loans for items like whitegoods and televisions by more than $280 over the life of the loan due to increased compliance costs, the study by Price Waterhouse Coopers says.

Retail tycoon Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman has been quietly lobbying the Government behind the scenes to have the proposed laws changed.

The new government measures are designed to stop retail credit providers and banks pushing unwanted cards and increased limits on to customers who can't afford them. The laws, which are due to be introduced by the end of this year will see lenders who breach the new laws lose their lending licences, including banks. The key change is that the onus for proving credit worthiness will shift from the customer to the lender. So if you sign up to a credit deal which you clearly cannot afford it will be the bank, or retailer that has to repay the loan.

However, according to the PWC study, the changes will have unintended consequences for small business people, such as electricians and plumbers, who provide so-called "point of sale" credit. These small businesses have access to credit through a wholesale provider. They often sign up customers to credit deals on the spot, particularly in emergencies. But the new laws will shift the legal onus of credit provision back onto such tradesmen who are not trained in financial planning or documentation.

Similarly retail staff at chains like Harvey Norman will have to receive financial training, and engage in extra paper work, all of which will add to the cost of lending.


Regulator to probe Keddies conduct

About time these sharks were hauled in

DISCIPLINARY proceedings have been launched against three partners and a senior lawyer at Keddies, the state's largest personal injury firm, for unsatisfactory or professional misconduct.

Almost a year after the Herald first revealed allegations of overcharging at Keddies, the Legal Services Commissioner has launched disciplinary proceedings against Keddies' managing partner Russell Keddie, partners Tony Barakat and Scott Roulstone, a former member of the Law Society's Professional Conduct Committee, and senior solicitor Philip Scroope.

The matter is listed before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal on July 1.

The allegations against the four Keddies lawyers relate to accusations of gross overcharging in the case of a woman who was rendered a paraplegic in a bus crash in South Australia seven years ago. While the women's injuries were catastrophic, her legal case was relatively straightforward as there were no issues relating to liability. Her case was settled with the insurers without going to court.

However, the woman told the Herald she did not receive a bill from Keddies and it was not until she complained to the Legal Services Commissioner that she discovered Keddies had charged her $800,000 in legal fees. This represented a quarter of her total payout of $3.5 million, which was to provide medical expenses for her disability for the rest of her life.

Legal experts asked to review the case by the Herald estimated the reasonable legal charges should have been between $80,000 to $120,000. After reviewing the woman's bill, the expert said Mr Scroope, the senior solicitor who had carriage of the matter, would have had to work on that case alone full-time for more than a year to justify such high fees.

The woman was angry when she discovered her case was used in Keddies promotional material.

Last year Mr Keddie was found guilty of professional misconduct, fined $10,000 and publicly reprimanded over his firm's breaches of advertising regulations.

In a statement to the Herald yesterday, Mr Keddie said: "We are extremely disappointed this action has been commenced but look forward to the opportunity to respond before the tribunal."

He said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case in question but said that "over the past year, Keddies has been in dispute with four former employees whose employment was terminated in 2006. Those employees have generated a large number of allegations which were referred to the legal regulator. All of those complaints so far investigated by the regulator have been dismissed with no adverse findings against our firm".

Keddies did not want to comment on whether any other matters were before the regulator.

The Legal Services Commissioner would not comment on the proceedings yesterday. Its website says:

"Disciplinary proceedings must be instituted … where the commissioner is satisfied there is a reasonable likelihood that the practitioner will be found guilty by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct."


Australia's immigration limits do not indicate racism

By Barry Cohen, who was a minister in the Hawke Labor government between 1983 and 1987

In the late 1890s, Moishe Koziwoda departed Russian occupied Poland in a vegetable cart to escape 30 years' national service in the tsar's army. Being Jewish, he was guaranteed the filthiest and most dangerous jobs. Few Jews survived.

From Germany he travelled to England where he found safe haven enabling him to send for his wife Zelda. After having three children in England they sailed to South Africa where they had a further three. Restless souls, they departed South Africa for Australia. Later they tried Canada and the US before deciding Australia was the country for them. Those of his family who did not have his prescience perished in the gas chambers of Chelmno and Auschwitz.

So what's special about the Koziwoda family? Only that they were my grandparents.

Almost a century after they left the villages of Pajeczno and Dzialoszyn, I "returned"..

Thanks to the generosity of the Polish Government and the mayor of Pajeczno, who opened the village archives, we departed with a treasure trove of my family's history.

"When the Nazis arrived in Dzialoszyn in June 1940, they took all the Jews out in the fields and shot them immediately," the mayor recounted. The matter-of-fact way he said it chilled my blood. "However, in Pajeczno they kept all the Jews - numbering about 500 - in a ghetto in the Jewish quarter bordered by Kosciusko Street. They remained there for about one year until one day they rounded them up and put them in the church, where they kept them for a week. While they were there, the Polish people tried to help by smuggling food to them but eventually trucks took them all away. Most were never seen again." Pajeczno and Dzialoszyn had been made, as Hitler promised Europe, "Judenrein".

It is difficult to describe my emotions at the time. At first I was numb, trying yet again, to comprehend how people - any people, let alone the most sophisticated in Europe - could behave this way to fellow human beings. Then my numbness turned to bitterness, anger and frustration. Bitterness at what those monsters had done, anger at the Allies' failure to do more to rescue those whose lives were in peril, frustration that so many of the perpetrators had escaped without trial or punishment.

To this day I cherish a fading sepia-toned photograph of my great uncle and aunt Mendel and Mindel Koziwoda and their children: Itzik, Charna, Malka, Mania, Yidel, Moishe and Faigele. Only Itzik (Jack Cousens) survived Auschwitz to be granted refugee status in Australia where he raised a family and lived into his early70s.

No one should be surprised therefore that I have sympathy for those now seeking refuge in Australia. Had Australia and other democracies shown a similar generosity of spirit to the millions of Jews desperate to escape Nazi Germany, many more would have been saved.

At the Evian conference in France, in July 1938, 32 countries met to see what could be done to help European Jewry. Former Australian PM and then high commissioner to Great Britain, Stanley Bruce recommended that Australia accept 30,000 over three years. On December 1 the then minister for the interior, and later PM, John McEwen, announced Australia would accept 15,000.

In the parliamentary debate that followed, Albert Green disgraced the Labor Party with an anti-Semitic rant that would have been more apposite in Nuremberg. Unfortunately, neither John Curtin nor Ben Chifley, who followed Green in the debate, bothered to disown him. That was left to Labor's William Maloney and United Australia Party's Percy Spender.

Kristallnacht in November 1938 and the outbreak of World War II ensured only a fraction of the 15,000 made it to Australia. Our bureaucrats were not a great help. Only Jews with sufficient money were eligible for visas. If they had sufficient money they were branded as "criminals" in Germany and prevented from emigrating.

How many should Australia have taken: 30,000, 300,000, three million? There was always going to be a limit that would be too many for some, too little for others. Which brings us to the present debate in Australia about refugees, illegals, asylum seekers; call them what you will. It's still a matter of numbers.

Since World War II Australia has taken some 700,000 refugees and people in humanitarian need. Australia's record of taking refugees is one of the best in the world. The target this year is 13,750.

That won't satisfy those in the media and academe who seem intent on proving that Australia is a deeply racist and xenophobic nation. For them, our treatment of Aborigines and the White Australia policy is proof positive of that. The abandonment of the White Australia policy by the Holt government in 1966 and the continuing efforts of successive governments to improve the lot of the Aborigines is conveniently overlooked.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the reaction to John Howard's statement: "We will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come". For the chattering classes this was final proof that Howard was a racist. What they overlooked was that his words could have been used by every PM from Edmund Barton to Kevin Rudd.

When challenged to name one government since Federation with a different immigration policy, they mutter about "compassion". I'm all for compassion but tell me what that means in numbers? Howard could have chosen his words more carefully but he merely reiterated the policy of his predecessors. No Australian government, and for that matter, no government in the world has an "open-door" policy.

The immigration debate has always been about numbers but it's about time those who wail about Australia's lack of compassion look at our record in providing a welcome to the world's dispossessed and tell us precisely how many more refugees they would admit. Double, treble, quadruple? I'll go along with that, but spare us the hypocrisy of indulging in the politics of the "warm inner glow". Tell us, how many or if they would prefer an open-door policy?


Saturday, May 30, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is rejoicing at the slow downfall of Australia's Warmist laws

Rudd embroiled as tensions rise over racist attacks on Indian students

Despite the predictable official denials, these attacks are overwhelmingly by young African "refugees" that the government has kindly lumbered us with. Not only do the Africans contribute little themselves (they are mostly on the dole) but they attack those who do -- greatly damaging Australia's reputation in the process. Education is one of Australia's major export industries and it is under attack by these criminals. Letting moronic and useless thugs loose on the students concerned is disastrous. The thugs concerned should be relentlessly rounded up and jailed for long periods instead of being treated "sensitively" because of their origins. But that would depend on a sudden influx of honesty into the corrupt Victoria police and that is a big ask. The deliberately blind Victoria Police are letting the whole of Australia down at the moment

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has spoken to his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, amid growing anger in India over attacks on Indian students in Australia. The issue has raised diplomatic tensions between the two countries. In a telephone conversation, Mr Rudd congratulated Dr Singh on his recent re-election but the pair also discussed the recent series of violent assaults, sources told The Age. A statement released last night indicated Dr Singh spoke strongly to Mr Rudd about the attacks. The Indian Prime Minister had "suitably" conveyed his concerns about the vicious attacks, it said.

The Indian foreign ministry called in Australia's high commissioner to India, John McCarthy, yesterday to discuss the matter. "I told him that the Australia Government is also very concerned, that Australian ministers had expressed this, and that we are doing everything we can to address the issues," Mr McCarthy said. Mr Ravi conveyed to Mr McCarthy the Indian Government's "deep anguish and continuing concern" about the welfare of its students in Australia, a statement released last night said. It was the first time Mr McCarthy has been called in by the Indian Government since the 2007 arrest of Muhammad Haneef, an Indian doctor working in Australia, on terrorism-related charges.

As the diplomatic temperature rose yesterday, Indian Foreign Minister S.N. Krishna spoke to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith about the issue. Mr Krishna said the Australian Government had assured him that steps were being taken to protect Indian students. "We hope these aberrations that have taken place will be dealt with," he said. "They said that they are going to take stern steps and they have assured us that every student from India will be adequately protected."

Meanwhile, agents in India who arrange student placements have warned that Australia's lucrative education industry could pay a high price for the attacks. "These attacks will definitely have an impact on the market because parents are calling me up and they are very concerned," said Bubbly Johar, who runs a Delhi education consultancy and is vice-president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India. "The media coverage here is encouraging parents to rethink whether they should send their children to Australia for studies. We can't assure them that they will be safe."

In Melbourne, India's high commissioner to Australia said Victorian police were insensitive towards some Indian crime victims. Sujatha Singh said many students felt insecure and some were unhappy with police treatment. Her comments came as Victoria Police again denied that the increasing attacks — which the Indian student community claims could be as many as 70 in 12 months — were racially motivated.

Mrs Singh said the Indian high commission in Canberra had received complaints from students about police. When an incident was reported, there was a perception that there was sometimes "a delay in reacting and … perhaps a lack of sensitivity dealing with the issues".

Mrs Singh flew to Melbourne from Canberra to meet Premier John Brumby and police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland following the attack on Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 24, last weekend. He was allegedly racially abused and stabbed with a screwdriver at a party at a house in Hadfield, near Glenroy. Last night he remained in a coma in intensive care at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. A 17-year-old from Glenroy has been charged with attempted murder. It was the third serious attack this month.

In two of those, the victim or witnesses have told The Age of specific racial abuse. But Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said yesterday he had "no specific data" on that. [He doesn't want to hear it] "They (Indian students) are seen as vulnerable soft targets … I don't deny it may have happened but my sense is that these are opportunistic crimes, not racially motivated crimes." Mrs Singh said she had told police about the racial element in some attacks. She did not believe Australia was racist but "some of these attacks have not been opportunistic".

Trauma psychologist Dr Michael O'Neill, who works with Indian victims of crime in Melbourne, said he saw on average one bashed student a week and about half of those attacks were racial.


Nasty Health Dept. bureaucrat trying to destroy a popular and hard-working family doctor

Bureaucrat George Cerchez tried to get the doctor for wrongly treating 4 patients but when that failed Cerchez suddenly came up with another 19 allegations. No patients have complained and the other doctors in the area disown all knowledge of the complaints. It's just Georgy boy at work. A fine example of government regulation at work

PAUL McGinity is an old-style country doctor, so dedicated to his 3000 patients that he is berated by colleagues for working too hard, never refusing a home visit in the early hours and taking too few holidays. After 32 years of service to the rural community around Scottsdale, a timber town in Tasmania's northeast, Dr McGinity's career has come to a humiliating halt.

He has been linked to the death of seven patients after complaints to the Medical Council of Tasmania, which has suspended the general practitioner's registration pending an investigation. However, far from being treated as a pariah, Dr McGinity has the unwavering support of his patients, including at least one whose treatment forms the basis of a key allegation.

What's more, Dr McGinity is turning the tables on what he claims are "vexatious" accusers. He claims his chief accuser -- Department of Health and Human Services primary health adviser George Cerchez -- has a potential conflict of interest. Dr McGinity and his supporters claim his only crime is to be a thorn in the side of plans for a new $1.2 million clinic for Scottsdale.

A recording of a telephone conversation obtained by The Weekend Australian reveals DHHS secretary David Roberts saying Dr Cerchez was "not acting for the department" -- casting doubt on comments made in parliament by Health Minister Lara Giddings. While most politicians would run a mile from a doctor facing such serious allegations, the state Opposition said there was such a "stench" about the case that it should be subject to an independent review.

There are complaints against Dr McGinity relating to 23 patients, but unusually none is made by them or their families. Dr McGinity has been led to believe that all but four complaints were submitted by Dr Cerchez. Dr McGinity was notified of the further 19 cases at the same time his suspension over the first four was being successfully challenged on a technicality in the Supreme Court. The suspension was later reinstated.

Dr Cerchez, with whom Dr McGinity has a history of dispute, is also on the board of local doctors' group GP North. GP North has obtained federal funding of $500,000 to build a $1.2million medical complex in Scottsdale. Dr McGinity is not interested in joining the new clinic, preferring his old style of solo operation. The other four complainants are GPs at Scottsdale's other practice, despite their insistence yesterday that they had "nothing to do with" the allegations. It is expected the four will move to the new medical centre, which -- if Dr McGinity loses his registration -- will take his 3000 patients.

The 68-year-old told The Weekend Australian he was confident he had not made "any mistakes". And while accepting the medical council's obligation to investigate the complaints, he believed there should be an inquiry into the manner in which the allegations were made. He was "very concerned that there is an ulterior motive behind this" and that Dr Cerchez had a potential conflict of interest: "There are three factors: he is on the board of GP North; GP North wants to build a clinic; I've got lots of patients -- 3000; they haven't asked me to join the clinic but they need those patients." He said he also had a long history of "disagreements" with Dr Cerchez, including a dispute over the management of a case at the Scottsdale hospital in February last year. Dr Cerchez had transferred a patient against his direction, undermining his position, he said.

In the recording of his conversation with Dr McGinity, Mr Roberts says Dr Cerchez was "absolutely ... not" acting for the department in making the allegations. This appears to be a direct contradiction of advice given by Ms Giddings to parliament that Dr Cerchez "made the complaints as the longstanding medical adviser". Yesterday, Ms Giddings deferred to Mr Roberts, who said he had never meant to suggest Dr Cerchez was not acting for the department's primary health section. Instead, he had simply meant to convey that the "central department", which had to be divorced from such operational matters, was not involved. "The department is not trying to distance itself from Dr Cerchez ... I have been strongly supportive of the actions George has taken," he said.

Questions to Dr Cerchez were answered by DHHS deputy secretary Alice Burchill, who suggested concerns about a potential conflict of interest were "without foundation". "Dr Cerchez ... does not practise in the northeast and cannot personally benefit from the development," she said. "There is no underlying professional dispute between Dr McGinity and Dr Cerchez."

The Weekend Australian has a document naming the four GPs from Scottsdale's Victoria Street surgery who raised allegations against Dr McGinity: Linda Clow, Jim Wilson, Natalie Burch and Gretchen Stone. However, when asked to comment yesterday, Dr Clow said on behalf of the practice, they had "nothing to do with" the issue. "I don't know where you got that idea from, but we've got no comment," she said. "On behalf of the whole practice, we have not and will not make any comment. We've got nothing to do with this and we want to stay out of it." She would not say whether she and the other doctors at the surgery intended to shift to the new medical centre.

GP North chief executive Phil Edmondson would not say whether the four Victoria Street doctors had indicated a willingness to join the new medical complex. Nor would he say how many patients the new centre required to be viable. When asked whether he was confident the allegations against Dr McGinity were not related to plans for the new centre, he said: "I have no knowledge of the nature of the complaints against Dr McGinity. From the perspective of GP North, there is absolutely and categorically no link whatsoever between the matters."

The medical council, negotiating with Dr McGinity on conditions under which he might be allowed to return to practise while the allegations are investigated, could not be contacted yesterday. However, it has previously insisted its handling of the case has been appropriate.

Opposition health spokesman Brett Whiteley said Ms Giddings should address the "possible conflicts of interest" and order an independent review. "They came up with 19 new allegations -- they didn't say they came from one bloke, and they said 'they include seven people who died'," he said. "How alarmist is that? Who are these dead people? When did the first person die? Were there inquests? And if there were, why didn't the coroner report them? This whole decision needs a new set of eyes cast over it."


Moronic NSW education department

Banned heaters still in NSW schools. Is someone getting a kickback? Using heaters that need the windows wide open is amazingly counterproductive. Most of the heat flies right out the windows. Greenies would have a fit!

THE NSW Government will continue to fit out public schools with gas heaters that have failed World Health Organisation tests, as it awaits further tests taking place in schools this winter. The unflued gas heaters, which emit carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, carbon dioxide and formaldehyde fumes, can only be used safely if classroom windows and doors are left open.

Michael Coutts-Trotter, the Director-General of the Department of Education, said he had been told by NSW Health that the heaters were safe. That contradicts the results of a 2004 Health Department study.

In the meantime, the department has authorised a new $2 million study, despite existing Australian and international research which has led to the heaters being banned in other states and many other nations. "We're looking for research and evidence on which we can base our decisions," Mr Coutts-Trotter said. "My judgment was that we did need to do more research … we did need to fill that gap."

Mr Coutts-Trotter said public school students who had to have windows open in winter had it no worse than his own experiences as a child at school in Britain. "There was snow outside a lot of the time, and the windows were open. We wore a jumper," he said. [Mr Trotter should trot off into the sunset -- and take his cooties with him]

Parents of some students are fighting to have the 51,000 heaters in NSW replaced, a process that would cost $400 million, which the Education Department says is the equivalent of building 20 new schools.

They also raised concerns that the latest government study, being undertaken by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, would not be truly independent. It is being co-ordinated by a senior NSW Health official, Dr Wayne Smith, who has previously advised the Government that the heaters pose no risk. "I can't see how the process could be called independent," said Richard Kalina, who is part of a concerned parents group. "They are really hiding behind another study when there have been 35 years of studies, and most of the rest of the world has already banned these heaters," Mr Kalina said. "I just want my daughter, my children, and anybody's children, to be safe when they are dropped off at school. They're not safe."

Mr Coutts-Trotter said Dr Smith was a recognised expert in environmental health and would be completely impartial. He said the department was listening to parent's concerns but wanted to reassure people that there was no risk. "Low emissions heaters, properly maintained and properly operated, are perfectly safe," he said.

Teachers have complained to the department about the heaters several times over the past two years, but say their objections are yet to be heard. A spokesman for the NSW Teachers Federation said the issue was symptomatic of a lack of public school funding. Unflued gas heaters are generally not used in private schools, on the recommendation of NSW Health.

A spokeswoman for the Education Minister, Verity Firth, said the minister was unable to comment because she was visiting schools in rural NSW.

A government study undertaken in Blackheath Public School last year found that 30 per cent of the classroom areas tested returned nitrous oxide levels above World Health Organisation guidelines.


Writers festival gags student critics

They can't stand being laughed at. Since most of them will have been Leftists, the solution was obvious

Since 2004, UTS [University of Technology Sydney] journalism students have, for the few days the festival, produced a free daily, Festival News. Last year, the festival confiscated the first issue, declaring itself unhappy with both the students' behaviour and the content of their organ which was, the director, Wendy Were, wrote, "riddled with disparaging content about the festival and its supporters". In particular, the festival rejected a report that the arts minister, Frank Sartor, had been "booed" (the current online wording is "greeted with grudging applause") in presenting the Premier's Literary Award. There was passing mention of Morris Iemma's conspicuous absence and some gently gleeful discussion of Macquarie banker Bob Carr's declaration he didn't read Australian books.

Pretty mild stuff. Refreshing, compared with the usual pap, if perhaps a little undergrad. Given that both Arts NSW and Macquarie Bank are major funders, it makes you wonder. Was the festival just another "be nice to sponsors" week?

This year, it happened again; students and others had their paper impounded and their persons allegedly threatened with arrest. Excuse me, what? Are we suddenly transported to Burma? The festival's droll manager, Ben Strout, may argue "free voices does not mean freedom to blurt … whatever … wherever". The Walsh Bay precinct manager, Luke Mead, who apparently gave the order, may yell down the phone at any who ask that "it's private property and we'll stop people handing out papers if we want to". But in truth, they're both wrong. Free speech does mean pretty much whatever, wherever, and the festival wharf - unlike much of Walsh Bay - is still public domain.

The students, understandably, claim harassment and censorship. They point out the paper was wholly UTS-produced and funded, and a disclaimer distanced its views from the festival's. More importantly, they defend their independence. "We're journalism students," writes one, "not public relations students".

The UTS humanities dean, Theo van Leeuwen, attempted to make peace, posting an apology on the festival website, but only poured kero on the embers. The students felt betrayed. Their professor, Wendy Bacon, defended them, and free speech, only to find herself promptly banned from a panel on radicalism, when she'd simply been polishing her credentials. The festival denies the ban, but emails make it clear her presence was not acceptable.

All looking strange indeed, until the explanation emerged that puts both parties in a bizarre light. A contract - titled "Education Partner Agreement" - signed in 2006 by van Leeuwen (for UTS) and the then festival director, Caro Llewellyn, commits UTS journalism students to produce Festival News at UTS's cost. The contra for UTS includes their writers' involvement in festival panels, the festival launch of a UTS student anthology and the UTS logo on the festival website. Neither the staff nor students producing News knew of the contract's existence.

What are two supposed bastions of intelligent and unfettered debate doing colluding in the first place, in a covert sweetheart deal that leaves the university looking like a PR firm and the festival like some tacky trade fair?

They need their heads knocked together if they cannot see that teaching journalism students to think like copywriters is quite as dangerous and more insidious than fettering them to a military junta.

Postmodernism loved to blur boundaries - between disciplines (viz neurogeography), between races and cultures (Eurasian, Spanglish), between genders (metrosexual, retrosexual) and also between journalism and PR.

More universities are merging journalism into PR and "communications" faculties, as though who pays the piper matters not a jot. This is almost as ugly, and parochial, as a writers' festival stifling criticism.


Warmism: A vitriolic climate in the academic hothouse

By Ian Plimer, emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne. Plimer once again has the temerity to mention some of the "missing facts" that Warmists ignore

It is well known that many university staff list to port and try to engineer a brave new world. The cash cow climate institutes now seem to be drowning in their own self-importance. In a wonderful gesture of public spiritedness, seven academics who include three lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a former director of the World Climate Research Program wrote to Australian power generating companies on April 29 instructing them to cease and desist creating electricity from coal.

In their final paragraph, they state with breathtaking arrogance: "The unfortunate reality is that genuine action on climate change will require the existing coal-fired power stations to cease operating in the near future. "We feel it is vital that you understand this and we are happy to work with you and with governments to begin planning for this transition immediately. "The warming of the atmosphere, driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, is already causing unacceptable damage and suffering around the world."

No evidence is provided for this statement and no signatory to this letter has published anything to support this claim.

These university staff are unctuously understanding about the plight of those who face employment extinction in the smokestack towns of Australia. They write: "We understand that this will require significant social and economic transition that will need to be managed carefully to care for coal sector workers and coal-dependent communities.". This love for fellow workers brings tears to the eyes.

The electricity generating companies should reply by cutting off the power to academics' homes and host institutions, forcing our ideologues to lead by example. Some 80 per cent of Australia's electricity derives from coal, large volumes of cheap electricity underpin employment and our self-appointed concerned citizens offer no suggestion for alternative unsubsidised base-load power sources to employ Australians.

The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history, yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma. To demonise element number six in the periodic table is amusing. Why not promethium? Carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless, harmless natural gas. It is plant food. Without carbon, there would be no life on Earth.

The original source of atmospheric CO2 is volcanoes. The Earth's early atmosphere had a thousand times the CO2 of today's atmosphere. This CO2 was recycled through rocks, life and the oceans. Through time, this CO2 has been sequestered into plants, coal, petroleum, minerals and carbonate rocks, resulting in a decrease in atmospheric CO2. The atmosphere now contains 800 billion tonnes of carbon as CO2. Soils and plants contain 2000 billion tonnes, oceans 39,000 billion tonnes and limestone 65,000,000 billion tonnes. The atmosphere contains only 0.001 per cent of the total carbon in the top few kilometres of the Earth.

Deeper in Earth, there are huge volumes of CO2 yet to be leaked into the atmosphere. So depleted is the atmosphere in CO2, that horticulturalists pump warm CO2 into glasshouses to accelerate plant growth.

The first 50 parts per million of CO2 operates as a powerful greenhouse gas. After that, CO2 has done its job, which is why there has been no runaway greenhouse in the past when CO2 was far higher. During previous times of high CO2, there were climate cycles driven by galactic forces, the sun, Earth's orbit, tides and random events such as volcanoes. These forces still operate. Why should such forces disappear just because we humans live on Earth?

The fundamental questions remain unanswered. A change of 1 per cent in cloudiness can account for all changes measured during the past 150 years, yet cloud measurements are highly inaccurate. Why is the role of clouds ignored? Why is the main greenhouse gas (water vapour) ignored? The limitation of temperature in hot climates is evaporation yet this ignored in catastrophist models.

Why are balloon and satellite measurements showing cooling ignored yet unreliable thermometer measurements used? Is the increase in atmospheric CO2 really due to human activities? Ice cores show CO2 increases some 800 years after temperature increase so why can't an increase in CO2 today be due to the medieval warming (900-1300)? If increased concentrations of CO2 increase temperature, why have there been coolings during the past 150 years?

Some 85 per cent of volcanoes are unseen and unmeasured yet these heat the oceans and add monstrous amounts of CO2 to the oceans. Why have these been ignored? Why have there been five significant ice ages when CO2 was higher than now? Why were warmings in Minoan, Roman and medieval times natural, yet a smaller warming at the end of the 20th century was due to human activities? If climate changed at the end of the Little Ice Age (c.1850), is it unusual for warming to follow?

Computer models using the past 150 years of measurements have been used to predict climate for the next few centuries. Why have these models not been run backwards to validate known climate changes? I would bet the farm that by running these models backwards, El Nino events and volcanoes such as Krakatoa (1883, 535), Rabaul (536) and Tambora (1815) could not be validated.

In my book, I correctly predicted the response. The science would not be discussed, there would be academic nit-picking and there would be vitriolic ad hominem attacks by pompous academics out of contact with the community. Comments by critics suggest that few have actually read the book and every time there was a savage public personal attack, book sales rose. A political blog site could not believe that such a book was selling so well and suggested that my publisher, Connor Court, was a front for the mining or pastoral industry.

This book has struck a nerve. Although accidentally timely, there are a large number of punters who object to being treated dismissively as stupid, who do not like being told what to think, who value independence, who resile from personal attacks and have life experiences very different from the urban environmental atheists attempting to impose a new fundamentalist religion.

Green politics have taken the place of failed socialism and Western Christianity and impose fear, guilt, penance and indulgences on to a society with little scientific literacy. We are now reaping the rewards of politicising science and dumbing down the education system. If book sales, public meetings, book launches, email and phone messages are any indication, there is a large body of disenfranchised folk out there who feel helpless. I have shown that the emperor has no clothes. This is why the attacks are so vitriolic.


Friday, May 29, 2009

A warning about online computer and electronics retailer OzDirect

Report from a customer

I ordered a video camera from Ozdirect on 17/03/09. It was listed as 'in stock' and the website seemed to indicate that it would ship 48 hours after funds cleared and take 24 hours by courier to reach me. I paid an additional $20 (percentage of total) to use my credit card and thus speed up funds clearing. They debited my credit card in 10 minutes flat. After a week of waiting I started to enquire where my order was. They were slow to reply and then said there were delays in the warehouse. Another week went, by...more emails...nothing changes...another week goes by...more emails...nothing changes...I start to get angry, and they finally (after 3 weeks waiting) offer the option of cancelling the order and getting a refund...It takes another week of emails to get a response. 10 days later no refund... now they tell me it can take 30 days to refund money! They have had $600+ of my money for over 5 weeks now and I have nothing to show for it.

I lodge a complaint with NSW Office of Fair Trading...a week later they tell me they can get no response from Ozdirect, so there is nothing further they can do!! In 12 years of shopping online this is the worst experience I have ever had! Nothing else even comes close. For displaying absolute contempt for customers, Ozdirect are in a league of their own!

SOURCE. See also here

Australian immigration unlikely for Tamil Sri Lankans

Given that Tamils tend to be a very aggressive lot, this is a welcome decision. Perhaps even the Leftists of the Australian government saw that violent clashes in Australia (some of which we have already seen) between Tamils and Sinhalese were best avoided

Australian immigration officials has spoken out at media reports the country will be welcoming Tamil Sri Lankans displaced by recent violence to move to Australia. The news follows reports in Australia and Sri Lanka of an Australian immigration humanitarian program that while not wholly inaccurate, ‘may have unnecessarily raised some people’s expectations’.

"The target of Australia’s humanitarian program is those applicants who are outside their home country and who are subject to persecution or substantial discrimination in their home country,” said a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman.

The developments concerning Sri Lankans wanting to move to Australia has been defended by Australian immigration authorities who are keen to emphasize the views of the Australian public and consulting with refugee organisations and the UN are priorities when considering any humanitarian program.

"While applications for Australia’s humanitarian program may be lodged at the Australian High Commission in Colombo, the large majority of people who apply from within their home country will be disappointed with the outcome.

“The immediate humanitarian priority for the international community, including Australia, is to support the population in north-east Sri Lanka displaced by the conflict by helping to provide food and shelter and other assistance to stabilise living conditions.”


"Green" Labor party trading Australia's future away with very poor politics

Piers Akerman

CLIMATE Change Minister Penny Wong says the Federal Government is determined “to keep, continue to press forward” on emissions trading legislation because “it is the right thing to do”.

No, it is the Wong thing to do.

Of all the useless things the Rudd Labor Government has proposed - and we could cite many - the ETS is the most dangerous and damaging to Australia. Yet an ETS would not alter the climate. That Wong is flying the flag for this meaningless gesture and is prepared to sacrifice the jobs of Australians to this empty goal is the height of vanity politics. Both the Government and the Opposition claim they want to give “business” certainty so it can plan for the future. They should think of their other constituents.

The “business” community has no natural national interest. It has shown time and time again, through companies like Bonds or James Hardie, that it is prepared to take jobs offshore if the bottom line is at stake. Their responsibility is to shareholders, not citizens. Strip away business arguments and the proposed ETS legislation is exposed as futile. It won’t affect the Great Barrier Reef, as Kevin Rudd claimed. Or put more water in the Murray-Darling or change the weather.

The Government’s claim that the Great Barrier Reef would be saved if Australians sacrificed the equivalent of $1-a-day is an absolute nonsense. Every MP who spouts this bilge should have their mouths rinsed out with untreated effluent and be charged with false advertising. It is just not true.

What it will do is take jobs away from the mining sector at the very time Australians are looking to the miners to rebuild the economy. It will drive energy-intensive industries offshore to developing nations.

The legislation is based on the assumption that human activity is a major factor in climate change. This remains unproven and contentious, although the Rudd Government does not want to engage in this debate. Instead, it has put forward a model for an ETS that is among the most ambitious in the world. It would require that 70 per cent of carbon permits be purchased. By comparison, the US is looking to have 15 per cent of permits purchased and the European model calls for 4 per cent of permits to be purchased. It can only be concluded from proposing such a fanciful target that the Rudd Government wants to grab the international spotlight when it goes to the Copenhagen summit at the end of this year.

But the assumptions behind the Rudd Government scheme only get worse, as it is based on the hope that the US would sign up to an equivalent scheme next year, China by 2015 and India by 2020. As Opposition spokesman on emissions trading Andrew Robb has said repeatedly, none of this is remotely possible.

Rudd and his ministers are trying to nail the Opposition for deferring this ridiculous legislation but it is the Labor Government which should be put through the wringer. Labor has been so delinquent in its role to present reasonable policy that it has not even factored the impact of the global financial crisis into its climate change proposal.

An analysis leaked from the NSW Government revealed all major regional centres - the Hunter, Gladstone, Central West Queensland, Illawarra, the Kimberley, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Geelong, Gippsland and parts of Tasmania - would shrink by 20 per cent or more under the scheme. Who do they really think they are kidding with their phony protestations of good governance and concern for the future? The flaws in the scheme are obvious. It is the greatest threat facing our economic recovery, and it is coming from Canberra.


Rudd is an unpleasant person in private

There have been statements to that effect ever since his time in the Queensland bureaucracy but below is the latest episode. He sent his former chief foreign policy adviser to the diplomatic equivalent of Siberia and now nobody else wants the job

ONE of the most prestigious diplomatic jobs in Australia - foreign policy mandarin in the Prime Minister's Department - has been vacant for months because no one approached so far is willing to take the post, which involves working closely with Kevin Rudd. The Prime Minister's office confirmed last night the vacancy - first assistant secretary in the international division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet - had been filled in an acting capacity since the departure of Hugh Borrowman, the diplomat Mr Rudd vetoed as next ambassador to Germany.

The Australian understands two senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrats had rejected approaches to replace Mr Borrowman.

Nominated earlier for the top job in Berlin by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, Mr Borrowman was vetoed by Mr Rudd on the grounds the diplomat - a university classmate - lacked the necessary language skills.

A former senior foreign affairs official with a close knowledge of the post told The Australian nobody of any seniority wanted the job because of Mr Rudd's micro-management. "They've offered that job to several senior diplomats, all of whom have rejected it. "They have offered that position to two people now, senior people in DFAT, and both of them rejected it on the grounds they weren't going to work in that environment. "Both of them said they would not take what is one of the most prestigious jobs in Australian diplomacy because they didn't want to have anything to do with Rudd."

Yesterday, Mr Smith played down damaging claims of a rift between himself and Mr Rudd over the appointment. "There's no dispute as far as the Government is concerned," he told ABC radio. "The recommendations I make in terms of our ambassadorial appointments are to the governor-general and Executive Council. "I've made a number of points about this in recent days. "Firstly, I don't get into pros and cons of various potential candidates for ambassadorial positions."

Mr Smith's predecessor, Alexander Downer, Australia's longest-serving foreign minister, was more forthcoming. In an interview with The Australian yesterday, Mr Downer said that, unlike Mr Smith, he experienced no problems with his diplomatic recommendations after they were given to John Howard. "I usually made about 10 appointments at once," the former foreign minister said. "I didn't do them one at a time so they'd be done in blocks. "I'd write to the prime minister informing that I had appointed the following people. Now, if he had any objection, he would ring me up, but did he ever? "He basically left the appointments to me. Now there is an exception for the ambassadors to Washington, the high commissioner in London or our ambassador in Jakarta, the prime minister and I would have a chat about it."

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said she would raise the issue in question time today.

Mr Rudd's claims on Tuesday that he rejected Mr Borrowman's credentials for the Berlin post because of inadequate language skills was contrary to a statement five days earlier from Mr Smith singling out his proficiency in German, Swedish and Mandarin, Ms Bishop said.


Reading syllabus hijacked by fringe groups as basics ignored

THE nation's most respected remedial reading experts have criticised the National Curriculum Board for caving in to the demands of a fringe group of university academics and teachers who argue against a back-to-basics emphasis on phonics in teaching reading. The board, which is charged with writing the national guidelines on teaching from kindergarten to Year 12, has been accused of ignoring key players in drafting its latest advice on the shape of the proposed new English curriculum.

Researchers have told federal Education Minister Julia Gillard that the board, headed by chairman Barry McGaw, has failed to consider recommendations of the national inquiry into teaching literacy, which insists that the "explicit and systematic" teaching of the letter-sound relationships is required to learn to read.

The letter to Ms Gillard accuses professional associations representing English teachers and literacy educators of hijacking the national curriculum to remove the emphasis on the teaching of phonics as the essential first step in learning to read. The 20-plus signatories also say no recognised reading researcher or infant-years expert was consulted when the board produced the framing paper.

Among those unhappy with the position of the curriculum board - which will frame a national approach to English, maths, science and history teaching for all students by next year - are the researchers who sparked the national reading inquiry in 2004, including the Macquarie University group that developed the MULTILIT program being used with great success in indigenous communities.

The reading experts say they were locked out of the consultation process and no recognised expert was consulted "despite written requests, which included the names and contact details of recognised reading researchers".

"Any individual who can read themselves can claim to be a reading researcher, but the term 'recognised' reading researcher refers to those academics who have undertaken evidence-based research in the area of learning to read and write and how these skills are best taught," they say.

The letter says the teacher professional associations - the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, the Australian Literacy Educators Association and the Primary English Teachers Association - do not represent classroom teachers but are controlled by academics in university education faculties with little experience in teaching children to read.

All three organisations are members of the international Whole Language Umbrella group of reading and literacy associations run out of the US. "(They) have very limited membership among classroom teachers," the letter says. "According to their own published annual general reports, these associations are better known to politicians and the media than to classroom teachers and their membership base amongst classroom teachers is so low that their existence is threatened. "Executive positions on these associations are mostly held by academics from schools and faculties of education or by individuals with no expertise in basic research on learning to read and write and how these skills are best taught."

National Curriculum Board general manage Rob Randall defended the draft curriculum, saying the the research and findings of the national inquiry into teaching reading would be evident in the curriculum, which was yet to be written.

The framing paper was written by Sydney University education professor Peter Freebody, whose appointment was criticised for his association with the whole-language approach to teaching reading, which holds that phonics are not always necessary in learning to read.

The initial advice paper on English released by the curriculum board last October contains a half-page discussion about the teaching of reading in the early years of school under the subheading "beginnings and basics".

"The explicit and systematic teaching of sound-script correspondences is important, and not just for students who are in their first year or so of schooling, or for whom English is not a first language," it says.

"The explicit teaching of decoding, grammar, spelling and other aspects of the basic codes of written English will be an important and routine aspect of the national English curriculum. It should be planned, put into practice and consolidated as part of a program in English education, and it should be available to students throughout the school years."

In final advice to the curriculum writers released at the beginning of the month, reading is mentioned in the general context of literacy referring to "reading, writing, speaking, viewing and listening effectively in a range of contexts". "Many students when learning to read need systematic attention to fundamentals like phonological and phonemic awareness, and sound-letter correspondences as well as the development of skills in using semantic and syntactic clues to make meaning," the paper says.

The reading researchers argue the reference to the need to develop skills in using semantic and syntactic clues, such as the syntax of the sentence and the picture on the page, "invites confusion" and could be read as supporting the "debunked three-cueing system which confuses the skills needed for reading/decoding and the skills needed for comprehension".

The letter was sent to Ms Gillard and Professor McGaw, with copies to Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, NCB director of operations Rose Naughton, Professor Freebody and the NSW representative on the NCB, Tom Alegounaris, who is the newly appointed president of the NSW Board of Studies.


There is some accountability in government health systems after all

Nurse fired over baby left at Airport, though it seems that the aircraft pilot was also partly to blame. Any repercussions for him? None that we know of

A NURSE has been sacked and another has resigned over leaving a five-day-old baby with a stranger at regional airport in South Australia. In January, The Advertiser revealed the two nurses were suspended after they left the premature baby with a young woman at the Port Augusta Airport instead of delivering him to the hospital. The baby's father, Shahzad Hassan, said at the time that it had happened on Christmas Eve because the nurse was "in a hurry" to get back to Adelaide.

The baby, Rayaan, was left for about 10 minutes before hospital staff arrived. He was born six weeks early, which put him at risk of a range of complications and he had been sent home to Port Augusta by plane with the nurse while his parents drove.

The Government Investigation Unit confirmed last night that the nurse had resigned, while her superior – who gave her permission to leave the baby and return to Adelaide – was dismissed.

Child, Youth and Women's Health Service chief executive Gail Mondy said the staff had failed to follow proper procedures for the transfer of a baby, putting it at risk, and that they had apologised to the parents.

"We've taken steps to learn from this serious incident," she said. "We have apologised to the baby's parents and we very much regret that on this occasion the two staff involved failed to follow the hospital's and the Department of Health's patient-transfer procedures, which are designed to protect patients' safety and wellbeing."

When the plane landed in Port Augusta at about 7.40am, there was no one to meet the nurse accompanying the baby and the pilot told the nurse he needed to return to Adelaide immediately. The nurse became upset, at which point a young woman – believed to be a teacher – offered to mind the baby.

Mr Hassan said he welcomed the resolution of the case. "I can't really say anything else," he said. "I can only say that they did what they thought was right." Asked whether he was upset at the five months it took to finalise the case, he said: "I think they had to make sure of what they were doing."


Thursday, May 28, 2009


A feast of news today about some of the wonderful government "services" that you pay for via your taxes. We start below with three current articles about our fine police services

Abusive police in court

I can see no reason why police should abuse suspects so I hope they lose this one. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and in this case the accused WERE innocent. There was not even enough evidence to take them to court. Unless they are being physically attacked, the police should be polite at all times -- as in the old British tradition

THREE men questioned by police on Sydney streets are suing the New South Wales Government, saying the officers made defamatory comments about them within earshot of passers-by. Alleged statements such as "we are stopping you because you guys were ... intending to steal" could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and restrict the way police conduct routine investigations, The Australian reports.

The NSW Government recently tried to have the men's cases thrown out of court. However, a NSW District Court judge not only gave the two separate cases the go-ahead, but ordered the Government to pay the men's legal costs. Payouts of up to $250,000 can be awarded if comments are found to be defamatory.

In both cases, none of the men can identify any members of the public who are said to have heard and witnessed the alleged defamatory comments made by the officers, but the court ruled they did not have to provide further details because it would be an "unnecessary expense" at that stage of proceedings.

In the first case, David Moses and Tangiwai Kawenga are suing the police for defamation over an incident in inner-city McEvoy Street in September last year. Police arrived after receiving a call that a criminal offence had taken place and arrested and charged the pair. At the time, one of the officers allegedly said to Mr Moses: "You're robbing women", "you're a thief", and "you have stolen from women". Mr Kawenga claims a police officer said to him: "You're under arrest -- you're a piece of shit ... you're f**ked -- you're going to jail."

The pair say officers were speaking "in a loud voice within the hearing of passers-by and residents of premises adjoining George Street, many of whom were standing at and near their front fence observing the police and (Mr Moses and Mr Kawenga)", according to court documents. Mr Kawenga tried to argue that the words "you're under arrest" were also defamatory but this was knocked out by judge Judith Gibson last week and he and Mr Moses were ordered to pay costs.

The charges against the pair were later dropped and no further action was taken against them.

In the other case, police were called to the exclusive watch store TAG Heuer, in Sydney's King Street luxury shopping precinct, in June last year. Staff had pressed the "hold-up button" while Michael Lassanah and another man were in the store. Police arrived shortly afterwards.

Mr Lassanah said he was defamed when police spoke to him on the footpath outside and allegedly said: "The manager of the TAG shop said you were intending to steal from the shop. We are stopping you because you guys were in the TAG shop intending to steal. You were intending to steal. Don't go into that shop. You were intending to steal."

Mr Lassanah is suing for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment and says police kept him on the footpath for an hour and searched him "in the presence of the general public".

Seeking to have the cases dismissed, the NSW Government unsuccessfully argued in the District Court that it was protected by defences available to the defamation laws. The matter will return to court in September.

NSW Police have yet to give their version of events. But a spokesman said yesterday: "It should be noted that this is an interim finding only and not final, and police will leave it in the hands of the courts to make a decision. The NSW Police Force has always stood behind its officers who carry out their duties in good faith."


Murder calls to police emergency number ignored

A CIVILIAN police radio operator in Queensland ignored two triple-0 calls which may have helped save a man's life, it has been revealed. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said the calls were received at the Maroochydore Police Communications Centre on Monday night, about 10 minutes apart. Both calls are believed to have been made by a woman screaming that someone was in trouble.

Mr Atkinson said it was "highly likely" both calls related to the death of a 48-year-old man whose body was found near a Nambour creek about 6.30am (AEST) on Tuesday. James Albert Madden, 23, of Nambour, has been charged with the man's murder. Kilah Johnelle Jones, 17, of Yandina, faced Maroochydore Magistrate's Court yesterday charged with being an accessory. Jones was granted bail, while Madden did not appear yesterday and his case was adjourned for six weeks.

Mr Atkinson yesterday admitted it was his "biggest fear" that the man's death could been prevented had information from the 000 calls been relayed to police. "The person who took the calls is a civilian radio operator . . . who has been in that position for six months," Mr Atkinson said. "He brought the matter to light today when he became aware of the murder charge and related it to the two phone calls he received on Monday night."

An inquiry has been launched by the Ethical Standards Command. "The investigation will focus on the origin, nature and appropriateness of any response to any such call," Mr Atkinson he said. He said a civilian radio operator usually would pass on such information to the duty sergeant at the communications centre. "It's early days yet but it doesn't appear as though that happened," he said. "We have grave concerns that this information that was provided at the time was not acted on." [I'm guessing that the operator brought the matter up because he DID pass the info on to the cops]


More useless police

Emergency calls 'not answered'. It is common in the USA for police to arrive within a couple of minutes of a robbery call, often quickly enough to catch the robbers. That's a dream in Australia

South Australia's Police Minister has ordered a review of the emergency response to an armed hold-up at Torrensville in Adelaide. Witnesses to the robbery at Grech Jewellers on Monday afternoon say they were put on hold for up to 10 minutes when they tried to telephone 000. When shop owner Bruce Bubner heard a gunshot at the jewellery shop, he says he called 000 straight way. But he says he waited eight minutes, then hung up.

"It was worrying that David (jeweller) could have been lying in there waiting for the police to arrive, you know, he could have been injured," he said. "I saw other people on the phone as well and I figured that they had made contact. "As it turns out, when I talked to Theresa at the snack bar, she hadn't made contact either."

Opposition police spokesman David Ridgway says the lack of response is a worry. "The system if it can't cope then it needs to be upgraded or there needs to be a full explanation about why that happened," he said.

Witnesses say police took 20 minutes to arrive. SA Police Minister Michael Wright has ordered a report on the response. "I don't think we should make any assumptions at this stage. What we do know is there was a very high volume and that may have caused the difficulty," he said. Police are searching for the two men armed with a shotgun and a tomahawk who robbed the store.



Three current articles below

Publicity squeezes some decency out of NSW Health

NSW Health will pay for the accommodation costs of a Melbourne family forced to quarantine themselves in a Sydney high-rise apartment at $300 a night.

The D'Arcy family were on board the Pacific Dawn, which berthed in Sydney on Monday despite suspicions two young boys on board had the swine flu virus. The ship is now en route to Port Douglas, after skipping scheduled stops in the Whitsundays. Passengers will be unable to disembark until test results are known.

Nicholas D'Arcy, 6, was diagnosed with influenza A while on board the vessel, but was allowed to disembark with his family on Monday with other cruise passengers despite the possibility he had swine flu.

At 8.30pm (AEST) that day his parents Fiona and John were eventually told by NSW Health that Nicholas had the A(H1N1) virus - after a day spent taking in Sydney tourist attractions such as the Opera House, Chinatown and Paddy's Markets.

The family of four are now quarantined in their World Square apartment in central Sydney, where they have complained of having to pay the $300 a night bill and $150 for room service. NSW Health had refused to help them, the family told The Daily Telegraph.

However, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant apologised to the D'Arcys today for their treatment, and offered to pay for the next four nights. “Last night we had contacted the family to indicate that we would pay for the next four nights accommodation,” Dr Chant said. “(We said) we would obviously pay for room service or groceries, and that we'd also look into some special requests in relation to toys for the young child.”

NSW now has a total of 18 confirmed swine flu cases, with a further 265 people awaiting test results. NSW health authorities are under fire for letting passengers disembark from the Pacific Dawn. Eighteen swine flu cases have now been recorded from that cruise ship, including six Queensland residents who have returned home.


Broke NSW government hospitals

SOME of Sydney's largest public hospitals frequently run out of medical supplies because they have debts of millions of dollars and the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopershave been called in to help stop the problem deteriorating. The authority running western Sydney's public hospitals owes suppliers nearly twice as much as previously acknowledged, according to internal figures that reveal for the dire state of its true financial position.

Doctors say unpaid bills mean hospitals frequently run out of supplies such as pathology chemicals and glucose tests for pregnant women, putting further stress on overworked staff. As of Tuesday, the troubled Sydney West Area Health Service - which runs Westmead, Nepean and other hospitals across western Sydney and the Blue Mountains - owed $43.7 million in invoices unpaid for at least 30 days. This included $14.6 million invoiced 90 days or more earlier, according to the figures obtained by the Herald.

The amount is far in excess of the $27 million a spokeswoman said remained unpaid at the end of April. About 400 suppliers are understood to have negotiated arrangements with the service, allowing them to be paid later than normal 30-day trading terms.

PricewaterhouseCoopers had been appointed to "provide financial management support", an area spokeswoman acknowledged yesterday, in a sign that administrators' are struggling to control their budgets.

The medical equipment supplier Synthes, which provides plates and pins for orthopedic surgery, the heart device supplier Medtronic and medical imaging company Olympus, are understood to be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in one case more than $1 million. None of the companies would comment yesterday. A Medical Technology Association of Australia spokeswoman confirmed Sydney West was still paying 54 per cent of its invoices after the 30-day due date - compared to a 43 per cent state average - though this had improved since January, when the Government ordered all area health services to reduce their debts.

The appointment of external financial management is in addition to an external inquiry into the management of Westmead Hospital and the area health service, ordered by the Government after doctors complained their clinical expertise was being overridden by bureaucrats. According to a submission to that inquiry by Westmead's medical staff council, obtained by the Herald, staff morale was "at its worst point in the 30-year history of Westmead" as doctors and nurses distrusted management and were excluded from high-level decisions.

Andrew Pesce, chairman of Westmead's medical staff council, said the hospital frequently ran out of important supplies, such as reagent chemicals for diagnostic tests and bottles of glucose to test for diabetes in pregnant women, after unpaid suppliers refused new orders. "There's no more fat left in the system. We can't make any more progress by trimming here and there and drawing out creditor payments," Dr Pesce said.

Nepean Hospital was forced to suspend elective surgery yesterday morning when it ran out of supplies of essential anaesthetic equipment. But the area spokeswoman said this was caused by, "inadequate stock management" that did "not relate to the withholding of stock by suppliers." An inadequate supply of props to hold open patients' airways during surgery led doctors to halt surgery, resulting in several operations being delayed and one cancelled.

Dr Patrick Cregan, Nepean's clinical director of surgery, said the hospital was operating, "on paper-thin margins". Supplies of equipment necessary for patient safety were constantly on the verge of running out and doctors were unable to get authorisation to order new stock, he said.


Go to hospital. Catch swine flu

Queensland Health in its usual fine form

POTENTIAL swine flu victims are mingling with other out-patients at the first specialist clinic set up by Queensland Health to deal with the H1N1 flu crisis. The clinic, which opened yesterday at the Gold Coast's Robina Hospital, is in an area separated from the main accident and emergency ward only by a room divider.

While medical staff and paramedics wear full bio-suits and protective masks when dealing with potential swine flu victims, general outpatients enter through the same door as those visiting the flu clinic and are not issued with masks. The flu clinic waiting area is only a few metres from the outpatient waiting room. Queensland Health yesterday refused to let the media film inside the flu clinic because of the risk of infection.

Lee Daley, who was taking her 11-year-old daughter Taleea to the ward to have a broken arm checked, was frightened they could be exposed to swine flu. "I just think the clinic should be in an isolated room, not in the accident and emergency ward where people who might have swine flu are mixing with other outpatients," she said. "Everyone knows how germs can be spread through air-conditioning." Mrs Daley and her daughter opted to wait outside the hospital and were given face masks only after they requested them.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said the clinic had been established to take the concentration of people with flu-like symptoms away from the Gold Coast Hospital emergency department. Dr Young said individuals will be asked to go to separate waiting rooms when presenting with flu-like symptoms. She said the clinic's waiting room was "appropriately signed to ensure individuals presenting with flu-like symptoms are in a contained area".



Two current articles below

NSW: Young boy raped while in custody of notorious child "protection" agency

It took the police to rescue the boy after the agency did nothing

A YOUNG boy was raped and abused by a foster carer after Department of Community Services failed to act on a father's warning that his son was being invited into the pervert's bedroom at night.

The Daily Telegraph reports DOCS' shame will be complete tomorrow when the pedophile foster carer, who cannot be named because of a suppression order, is sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court for having sex with a child under the age of 10 years and two counts of assault with an act of indecency on a child.

It is all too late for the father, from St Ives, who first wrote to DOCS on September 26, 2006, almost 18 months before the pedophile foster carer was arrested. "My son has lost his confidence. The world troubles him. He is afraid of people around him."

DOCS director-general Jenny Mason was forced to apologise to the boy's father yesterday and Community Services Minister Linda Burney admitted she only learned of the case when told by The Daily Telegraph.

In a letter sent in 2006, when his son was just seven years old, the father wrote to the department: "(My son) has told me that he sleeps in (the foster carer's) room. "I find this very strange and of great concern. (My son) has told me that (the carer) has been buying him gifts and toys and taking him on outings to the park and internet cafes. My prime concern is the safety and welfare of (my son) and request you take all steps necessary and possible to investigate these concerns."

He said yesterday a DOCS worker called him and assured him there was no reason for concern because the man in question was a "registered DOCS carer". The man continued caring for his own two sons and the foster son given to him by the department and through a private arrangement he said his former wife had made.

Most of the abuse took place after the letter was sent and it only stopped when the boy confided in his father early in 2008 and the DOCS carer was immediately investigated by Dee Why police.

After learning of the case late last week, Ms Burney ordered the chief of her department to meet with the father to apologise. "The outcomes of recent criminal proceedings have shown that in hindsight the concerns raised by the child's father could have been dealt with differently," she said.

The father met with Ms Mason yesterday and said he was assured there had been a change in procedures to prevent another child suffering like his son. DOCS said in a statement last night staff were "deeply sorry for the pain and suffering experienced by both the child and his family as a result of the sexual abuse". A spokeswoman confirmed measures had been taken "to improve the consistency and timeliness of investigations of allegations against foster carers".


Victoria: Relaxed child protection agency took over a year to act while children were being tortured

TWO children were allegedly tortured with pliers, kicked in the ribs and beaten daily by their stepfather for more than a year after their teachers alerted authorities. The boy, 8, and girl, 7, had bones broken, eyes blackened, lost teeth and had bruises all over their faces and bodies, allegedly as punishment for telling lies or not doing chores. The man pleaded not guilty to 58 charges relating to abuse of the children.

A court heard the children would often return to school from absences of several days with new injuries and implausible explanations for them. Two teachers kept a log of the children's injuries and repeatedly contacted the Department of Human Services. The first report was made in August 2007.

But the court heard the children were not removed from the stepfather's care until October last year, despite several visits by DHS workers to the home and the dozen or more reports by the teachers.

When doctors finally examined them, the boy had a broken left femur and rib as well as five other possible rib fractures, and 29 bruises. The girl had three fractured ribs and 44 bruises, including extensive bruising covering her entire shoulders.

The children's mother said in a statement tendered to the court that she started seeing the man in April 2007 and he began smacking the boy six months later. "I felt powerless and sat there and cried," the mother said, recalling the first time it happened. She said the stepfather began taking both children into their rooms and hitting them every day. "I suspected that the kids were having trouble walking because he was beating them but I never said anything to him or the kids," she said.

She said her partner was a violent man who manipulated and controlled the family, deciding what they ate and forcing the children to sit in a corner all day with their hands on their heads.

She said that when DHS workers visited they were told the injuries were from childhood accidents, or that the boy was harming himself. In October 2007 the boy was taken to hospital with a genital injury he said happened when he "stacked his bike". The boy later told a relative the stepfather had inflicted the serious wound - which required surgery - with pliers.

The stepfather was remanded in custody to face the County Court in August.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Three current articles below

"Prodos", global warming and the CIS

"Prodos" is a flamboyant Melbourne libertarian of Greek extraction who has done some good work in publicizing libertarian ideas but who is in my view a bit too sensationalist for me to take much notice of. For that reason, I don't think I have ever linked to any of his writings. On his occasional blog, however, he has recently put up an attack on Greg Lindsay, head of the Sydney-based "Centre for Independent Studies" claiming that Greg is a supporter of global warming. Greg is an old friend of mine and I was one of the first donors to CIS so when Gerry Jackson of Brookes News sent me a link to the Prodos article, I immediately emailed Greg expressing amazement that he had fallen for such humbug.

Greg emailed back noting that he has NEVER personally taken any position at all on global warming but referred me to a post on the subject by John Humphreys, which in turn links to his CIS monograph on the subject.

The work of CIS is to offer scholarly contributions to public policy debates from a free-market viewpoint and CIS publications often get respectful mentions in the press. And on this occasion, Humphreys took as a starting point the apparent intention of both major Australian political parties to implement global warming laws of some sort. From that point he set out to argue for the least harmful set of laws that could be adopted.

And that is what Prodos objects to. He thinks that CIS should just oppose all global warming laws and thus have no influence on what laws are adopted. I think Prodos's ego has run away with him. He thinks that his own approach is the only defensible one, whereas it is my view that you are more likely to defeat the enemy if you attack him from all sides. And the currently-proposed Warmist laws would certainly be a major enemy of Australia's prosperity. So I welcome the CIS approach and deplore the narrow-minded hostility of Prodos towards an organization that is much more influential than he is. And putting a picture of Greg Lindsay at the top of his post when Greg has never said a word in public about the subject is just plain dishonest.

Global Warming Pauses

By His Eminence Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney

The tide on climate change is starting to turn. The Australian government is becoming more cautious. It is rare to read a new book likely to make a huge difference to public opinion. Professor Ian Plimer's 500 page book with 2300 footnotes "Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science" is such a book. 30,000 copies were sold in its first month.

Plimer is not a climate change denier, because history shows the planet is dynamic and the climate is always changing, sometimes drastically. Ice Ages have come and gone and we don't know why. History has seen glaciers at the equator and at one time Scandinavia was under 5 kilometres of ice. Sea levels have been 130 metres lower than today. Some consolation comes from the fact that ice sheets predominated for only 20 per cent of the earth's history.

Plimer demonstrates that a considerable amount of scientific evidence has been produced to counter the still predominant view that human activity, especially through industry, has polluted the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which will produce disastrous climate changes including a rise in temperature, a melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels.

Contrary evidence is already changing the debate. Australia, with its tiny economy, is no longer aiming to lead the world. The threat of massive job losses and increasing awareness of new evidence will provoke even greater caution in the future.

Originally we were warned about the "greenhouse effect"; then it was "global warming", followed in turn by "climate change". Now we talk about reducing the "carbon footprint". The light is dawning and 30 per cent of scientists are sceptics or deniers.

Non-scientists should not blindly follow expert opinion and this includes Plimer. To the extent we can, we should examine their evidence. While it is still early days in the debate, Plimer's critics have been heavy with the abuse and short on counter evidence.

We should also look back at history for more accurate information and ignore computer models of the long-term future. Climate models making claims for decades into the future cannot work, because we do not know enough about many factors which influence weather, such as the level of activity of the sun, the earth's orbit and wobbles, the level of cloud cover, volcanoes.

One basic claim of Plimer is that an increase of carbon dioxide does not cause temperature rises, but might follow such rises. What do we make of these facts? The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise, but the world's temperature has not risen since 1998. In Roman times and in the Medieval Warming (900 - 1300 A.D.) temperatures were higher than today by five and six degrees Celsius. No industries then! In different Ice Ages the earth's atmosphere contained five and ten times the amount of carbon dioxide today.

Evidence shows the wheels are falling from the climate catastrophe bandwagon.


New election needed to pass Warmist laws

VOTERS are closer to an early election after every federal political party yesterday manoeuvred to ensure the defeat of the emissions trading scheme. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull raised the stakes yesterday by proposing the Government defer the vote of its ETS legislation until after global climate change talks in December. But he failed to secure numbers in the Senate, which means the legislation will be brought on in June and defeated.

With the gun now half-cocked and the Bill set for defeat, the second and final trigger for a double dissolution will be sounded if the legislation is re-introduced within three months and voted down again. The election is due in November next year but can be held as late as April 2011. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Mr Turnbull and all the cross-benchers have lined up for a game of chicken, warning they would be willing to go to an early election if they cannot get what they want on climate change.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne, who wants the Bill defeated in exchange for greater mitigation, said the Government's policy stance was untenable and she was ready for an early election. "If the Coalition and the Independent Senators have a three-month delay or a six-month delay, it is dead as far as the Government is concerned . . . (and) let's bring it (an election) on," she said.

Mr Turnbull said he would give Mr Rudd a bi-partisan mandate to take to the meeting in Copenhagen so he could argue for targets of 5-25 per cent and urged him to wait for the advancing US legislation next year. But he said he would not vote for it in its current form. He also outlined a plan to set up a Government-authorised voluntary carbon market from January so business could start banking carbon credits.

Despite knowing the Bill is set for defeat, Mr Rudd has refused to delay it and accused Mr Turnbull of being at the mercy of climate change sceptics within his own party. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon will not support the Coalition's ploy to delay the Bill and wants the vote in August or September, but he has no support. He also plans to defeat it in its current form. Family First's Steve Fielding, who does want the Bill delayed, will vote against the "dog of a policy" when it is introduced in the week beginning June 15.

At the heart of Mr Turnbull's position of trying to delay the Bill until after Copenhagen is his untenable position of trying to unite his party.


Apprehended illegals to get an immediate right to seek employment in Australia?

The Federal Opposition says a proposed overhaul of the bridging visa system would further soften Australia's border protection policies, sending the wrong message to people smugglers.

A Parliamentary inquiry says there need to be changes to how the system works, including offering applicants increased assistance to health care, legal services and accommodation.

The Greens say the changes do not go far enough, the Opposition's immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone says the recommendations would allow people into the community before they have had their identity and security status checked.

"That is just another message right now that I think is very unhelpful as the people smugglers literally get bigger and bigger boats, and become more and more active in what is a very dangerous and inhumane trade," she said. "The message says, 'Look, we're not even going to complete all of your identity checks before we pass you into Perth or Adelaide or some other community where you can work, where you'll be given unemployment benefits if you can't get a job, where we'll find you decent accommodation'."


Swine flu family slams treatment at Gold Coast hospital

A GOLD Coast family struck down by swine flu has slammed Queensland Health's handling of their plight as "Third World". Newlyweds Nik and Kiralea Campbell, who contracted the disease on the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn during their wedding voyage, said the Gold Coast Hospital was "totally unprepared" for the 13 suspected swine flu patients who arrived on Monday night. "Dogs would have received better treatment," Mrs Campbell said last night from her Oxenford home where she and her family were under quarantine.

She hit out as it was revealed the number of swine flu cases in Australia doubled to 50 in just 24 hours.

The Campbells fell ill on the cruise the day after they were married in Vanuatu last week. They flew home to the Gold Coast on Monday after the Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney and were later taken by ambulance to hospital as the Pacific Dawn swine flu crisis deepened. Mr and Mrs Campbell, their sons Trae, 2, Jordan,15, and Josh, 16, and Mr Campbell's mother Gloria, 67, were put into a small room at the hospital with one bed and a chair.

"They were totally unprepared for us – we were given no blankets, no food or medication," Mrs Campbell said. "Our three sons had to lay on the floor. It was terrible, especially the way we were feeling. Queensland Health should have been far better prepared."

Mrs Campbell said they were "filthy" that P&O had allowed them and other passengers to leave the cruise ship. "We were tested for swine flu on board but no one stopped us leaving," she said. Mr Campbell feared his sons and mother also had swine flu but had to wait until today for results. His Gold Coast friend Stephen Till and three members of his family, had also tested positive for swine flu after also going on the cruise.

Queensland Health yesterday said the five who had tested positive for swine flu at Gold Coast Hospital were all passengers on Virgin flight DJ531 from Sydney to Coolangatta on Monday and advised other passengers on that flight to call 13Health (13 432584) for advice.


Youth allowance criteria face Senate review

THE Coalition and the Greens have teamed up to frustrate a budget measure pushed by federal Education Minister Julia Gillard to tighten the work criteria for the youth allowance, agreeing to press for changes and to establish a Senate committee investigation.

The Rudd Government has proposed doubling the number of hours students must work to prove they are financially independent of their parents and qualify for the youth allowance independent rate of support.

The Coalition is concerned because many rural students take a gap year before starting university to earn enough money to qualify for the independent rate. Greens education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said her party would refer the budget changes to a Senate inquiry and move to amend the legislation in the Senate.

"The Education Minister's dismissive response shows how ill-thought-out and unfair this policy is, and that the minister is out of touch with the realities for these young people and their families," Senator Hanson-Young said.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said MPs had been overwhelmed by concerned students and parents after the changes were announced. "Many young people in the regional areas have told us they will not be able to pursue further study, purely because they can not afford to do so," Mr Pyne said.

The Government argues the budget has boosted the parental income threshold from $32,800 to $42,559 next year, meaning 68,000 more students will qualify for support and another 35,000 will receive higher payments.

"This change will increase access to student income support, including for students from rural and regional areas," Ms Gillard said.