Tuesday 30 September 2008

Just how transparent is the expression of interest process for sale of council land in Maclean?

The Clarence Valley Council business paper for today's ordinary monthly meeting lists three businesses interested in leasing/purchasing public space in Maclean which is currently being used as free public car parking.

Expressions of Interest have been received from:

Holder Baker Enterprises

Woolworths Limited

Buildev Development (NSW) Pty Ltd

But who is Buildev Development representing?

This is what this company says about itself:

The Buildev Group has extensive experience within all spectrums of the property development industry.

We manage the development process including recognising opportunities, securing development sites, approval processes, right through to marketing, finance and construction.

Our disciplined approach to site investigation and risk minimisation combined with an intuitive ability to realise development opportunities ensures positive outcomes for clients and stakeholders alike....

The Buildev Group is a growing force in the Australian property industry. A Newcastle based property investment, development and construction company investing in communities throughout New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.........

The value on completion of current projects undertaken by The Buildev Group stands at over $1billion in Queensland
Extracted from ASIC's database at AEST 08:28:49 on 30/09/2008
ACN 115 089 122
Type Australian Proprietary Company, Limited By Shares
Registration Date 01/07/2005
Next Review Date 01/07/2009
Status Registered
Locality of Registered Office Raymond Terrace NSW 2324
Jurisdiction Australian Securities & Investments Commission

North Coast Voices has previously reported that Buildev Development (NSW) Pty Ltd has made political donations to the NSW Government and Crikey reports that this company donated $40,000 to the NSW Liberal Party.
Due to the fact that not all councillors appear to have declared their 2008 campaign contributions to the NSWEFA yet, the Clarence Valley electorate has no way of knowing if Buildev or either of its two fellow competitors made political donations to councillors.

The way in which corporations and/or their clients having business before council are described in business papers/attachments are a test for the newly-elected shire councillors who are meeting for the first time this morning.

Transparency demands that Clarence Valley residents and ratepayers be fully informed about all entities seeking to benefit from the lease/sale of public land.

They deserve to know if Buildev is acting on behalf of its shareholders, has another managed investment fund up and running or if it has been contracted by another party altogether.

If there is another party, is that party Coles or Target? If so, what would happen to the Coles and Target outlets at Yamba (which is only a 25-20 min ride away from Maclean) if Buildev were successful?

This is what Buildev proposes for Woolgoolga:

Dear Kevin, I second the sentiment......

With the Lowy Institute Poll 2008 being touted in the media as showing that we have rather taken our eyes off the climate change ball when that is not exactly the case according to its own survey(though listening to Lowy representative interviews I suspect that this particular think tank is not loathe for us all to believe so), it was gratifying to find that the Prime Minister had received the following letter with which I heartily concur.


The Hon. Kevin Rudd, MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Australian Parliament

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2600 September 26, 2008

Dear Prime Minister,

The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by hundreds of climate scientists and representing a consensus view of the best available peer-reviewed science, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is primarily due to human activities.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising at an alarming rate due to human activity - currently by over 2 parts per million per year. The concentration of several other important greenhouse gases is also increasing rapidly.

If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people from around the world will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, fire, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, vector-borne, water- and food-borne diseases will spread rapidly, food yields and water supplies will be impaired in many regions, and many ecosystems, plant and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction. Some of Australia's natural assets such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Daintree World Heritage areas, which bring great wealth and recognition to our nation, could be damaged for all time.

Australia is especially vulnerable as pointed out by Professor Garnaut in February when he says we "would be a big loser--possibly the biggest loser amongst developed countries--from unmitigated climate change. The pace of global emissions growth under "business as usual" is pushing the world rapidly towards critical points, which would impose large costs on Australia directly and also indirectly through the effects on other countries of importance to Australia." (Garnaut, February 20, 2008, Interim Report).

The critical next round of focused negotiations for a new global climate treaty is now underway. The prime goal of this new regime must be to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature, a limit that has already been formally adopted by the European Union, South Africa and a number of other nations.

Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the long run, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at a level well below 450 ppm (parts per million; in CO2-equivalent concentration). In order to stay below 2°C, global emissions must peak and decline before 2015, so there is no time to lose.

As highlighted by the Garnaut Review: "... analysis suggests that a global objective of 450 ppm, with discussion of transition to 400 ppm once the 450 ppm goal is being approached with confidence, would better suit Australian interests." This statement, taken from the "Targets and Trajectories Report", is consistent with the climate science cited above. Indeed, there is broad agreement in the reputable science community regarding these targets.

The Garnaut Review concluded that an emission reduction target for Australia of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 would be an equitable contribution to the international effort required to achieving this outcome. As a group of Australia's leading climate change scientists, we urge you to adopt this target as the minimum requirement for Australia's contribution to an effective global climate agreement.

Failure of the world to act now will leave Australians with a legacy of economic, environmental, social and health costs that will dwarf the scale of national investment required to address this fundamental problem. Other nations have taken action and have committed to further action. We urge you to act decisively to maintain global momentum and to protect Australia's future.

Sincerely yours,

Professor Nathan Bindoff, University of Tasmania

Dr John Church, Immediate past Chair of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme

Professor Matthew England, ARC Federation Fellow and joint Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Professor Dave Griggs, Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University

Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, Immediate Past Executive Director, World Climate Research Programme, Macquarie University

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Centre for Marine Studies, University of Qld

Professor Lesley Hughes, Director, Climate Risk Concentration in Research Excellence, Macquarie University

Dr Roger Jones, Co-ordinating Lead Author, IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

Professor David Karoly, ARC Federation Fellow, University of Melbourne

Professor Amanda Lynch, ARC Federation Fellow, Monash University

Professor Tony McMichael, NHMRC Australia Fellow, Australian National University

Professor Neville Nicholls, ARC Professorial Fellow, Monash University

Professor Graeme Pearman, Monash University

Professor Andy Pitman, Convenor, ARC Research Network and joint Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Dr Barrie Pittock, Lead Author, IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

Dr Michael Raupach, Co-Chair, Global Carbon Project

Cc: Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water;

The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Bravo to the boffins!

PETA loses credibility as it loses touch with reality

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has published this letter on its Media Centre webpage.

September 23, 2008

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Cofounders
Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.

Dear Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield,

On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters, I'd like to bring your attention to an innovative new idea from Switzerland that would bring a unique twist to Ben and Jerry's. Storchen restaurant is set to unveil a menu that includes soups, stews, and sauces made with at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk. If Ben and Jerry's replaced the cow's milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers--and cows--would reap the benefits.

Using cow's milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customer's health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's leading authority on child care, spoke out against feeding cow's milk to children, saying it may play a role in anemia, allergies, and juvenile diabetes and in the long term, will set kids up for obesity and heart disease--America's number one cause of death.

Animals will also benefit from the switch to breast milk. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months. After several years of living in filthy conditions and being forced to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally, their exhausted bodies are turned into hamburgers or ground up for soup.

And of course, the veal industry could not survive without the dairy industry. Because male calves can't produce milk, dairy farmers take them from their mothers immediately after birth and sell them to veal farms, where they endure 14 to17 weeks of torment chained inside a crate so small that they can't even turn around.

The breast is best! Won't you give cows and their babies a break and our health a boost by switching from cow's milk to breast milk in Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Thank you for your consideration.


Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

The response from Ben and Jerry and others came via the media:

While co-founders Mr Cohen and Mr Greenfield are famously environmentally and ethically aware – they established a "Climate Change College" which encourages grass-roots action on climate change, and go by the slogan "Milking happy Cows, Not the Planet" – they baulked at the suggestion. "We applaud [the group's] novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesperson.
And then there is, as Mr Locher found, the problem of supply. As 50 per cent of each 500ml tub of ice cream is made from milk and cream, finding enough human milk to sustain production of Ben & Jerry's would be a challenge.
The suggestion that cows' milk has a detrimental effect on health provoked anger this weekend among dairy farmers, who have been hit by falling prices and the increasing popularity of non-dairy alternatives such as soy milk.
"Dairy foods have been in the diet for thousands of years," said Dr Judith Bryans, director of the Dairy Council. "The reality of chronic diseases is that they are an interaction between genes, the environment and the diet, and these negative stories about dairy are a misrepresentation of science."

It is truly sad to see an animal rights lobby group disintegrating to the point of suggesting the bizarre proposition that women should become commercial cows.

Wrong side of the great divide perpetuated by Rudd Government

Rudders and Jackboot Jenny Macklin still haven't got the message it seems.

Despite Kevin Rudd's public apology to the stolen generation, there is a very ethnocentric view of Australia alive and well in the corridors of Parliament House and no amount of solemn prime ministerial 'air-chopping' in front of the cameras will change that sad fact.

On Monday The Sydney Morning Herald ran this story which illustrates the point:

"The Laynhapuy Health Service told the intervention review panel it was "beyond belief" that Centrelink came into the communities and signed people up for welfare quarantine programs.

"Residents travel up to 210 kilometres, paying $1400 for a return [taxi] trip to town, to buy groceries," the service said. "Taking into account that most people on CDEP and Centrelink benefits earn less than $20,000 a year and that grocery prices in Nhulunbuy [the nearest supermarket] have recently been reported as being 25 per cent above those in Darwin, it is a wonder that children get fed at all."

In its scathing submission to the intervention review panel, Laynhapuy Homelands said the intervention was not based "on an accurate understanding of the situation on the ground or the real issues that affect child welfare and wellbeing in many areas, especially homelands/outstations". Yananymul Mununggurr, the Laynhapuy Homelands' chief executive, told the Herald that the intervention had tackled the wrong issues and was "making life harder for us". "We want to develop education resources, our ranger programs and business enterprises in our homelands and create our own opportunities out here," she said. "Our land is who we are and it is important for us to remain there."

The Laynhapuy submission said the intervention had created "a sense of disempowerment and confusion and therefore stress among Yolngu about where things are heading". It said the income management imposed hardship and did not effectively handle issues of substance abuse, child neglect or gambling. "The ban on investment in new housing in homelands will prevent the welfare of children and others in overcrowded houses being addressed."

The submission said direct Commonwealth involvement in the intervention should be wound up and resources transferred to the Territory Government to expand its "closing the gap strategies".

We drove with Barayuwa Mununggurr for 90 minutes from Yirrkala along a dirt road to Garrthalala, a cluster of seven neat houses overlooking the sea.

The Yolngu leader and traditional owner, Multhara Mununggurr, told us her people were fed up with indigenous leaders from elsewhere speaking on their behalf and influencing government opinion. One leader did not speak for all Yolngu, she said."

Monday 29 September 2008

Google Inc. gets hot under the collar over California's Proposition 8

It's Goggle Inc's 10th birthday and, apart from explaining the birthday logo and a brief post on the presidential debate, the only Press Center release on its blog site last Friday is about California's Proposition 8 (Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act) on the ballot for the November general election which seeks to remove the right to same-sex marriage in that state.

Our position on California's No on 8 campaign

9/26/2008 03:23:00 PM
As an Internet company, Google is an active participant in policy debates surrounding information access, technology and energy. Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, all religions and no religion, straight and gay -- we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. So when Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, it was an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on.

However, while there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text -- it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

As there does not appear to be majority support for this proposition among Californian voters, one wonders exactly how this issue might affect Obama and McCain.

It appears that Obama has publicly opposed Proposition 8. However, this runs contrary to attitudes to gay marriage among demographic groups which are his strong supporters.
McCain flatly rejects gay marriage.

Another curly one for candidates in the run up to November 2008, which makes for an interesting national poll.

Remember when palm oil and the patriarchal society went hand in hand?

Palm Oil is found in a wide variety of cosmetics, personal hygiene items, foods and other products.
On average it is an ingredient in 1 in every 10 items found on supermarket shelves.

You can do your bit to help by reducing the number of groceries you purchase which contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives.

Fielding crows atop the muck heap

Like a skinny rooster crowing on top of a muck heap, the unrepresentative Senator Steve 'I'm the boss of you' Fielding, uses his balance of power position to redraft the already shonky Medicare logo until it begins to look like the one on the left.

This lone Family First member of the federal parliament is becoming a figure of fun because of his juvenile publicity stunts and truly loathed for his frankly ill-informed stance on many issues.

"FAMILY First Senator Steve Fielding seems the least likely figure to become a one-man government.
He is gaunt and harried-looking and darts from newspaper office to TV studio in Canberra's Parliament House with the urgency of a man pursued by the terror of letting a chance slip by."

Elsewhere it points out that Fielding brought a pup when he brought the argument put up by the Coalition and medical insurers to fight the Rudd Government's Medicare bill:
"The Howard government introduced three principal measures to boost the coverage of health insurance. The levy surcharge was introduced on July 1, 1997, (when coverage was 32%) but did not stop its membership decline. Two years later (June 1999) coverage was 30.6%. The taxpayer-funded rebate on the cost of private health insurance was introduced on January 1, 1999, with additional rebates for those aged over 65 from April 1, 2005. The rebate managed to persuade only an additional 0.8% of the population to take out private health insurance in its first year. Lifetime health cover was introduced from July 1, 2000, under which people joining funds are penalised an additional 2% of the premium for every year they delay joining above the age of 30. Of all these measures, it was lifetime health cover (the one that cost taxpayers nothing) that had the biggest impact — health insurance cover rose from 32.2% in March 2000 to 45.8% in September 2000. If the surcharge didn't encourage anyone to take up health insurance, why would its adjustment induce an exodus?"

For some strange reason known only to himself Fielding appears to believe that the only thing which will raise the cost of medical insurance in the immediate future is the raising of the surcharge threshold to $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for couples.
The medical insurers are laughing all the way to the bank now he has needlessly locked around 330,000 people into private insurance schemes, but their retention on the books will not stop insurance rates rising because in the end they are not an expansion of business.

Perhaps Steve should remember that in much of this country skinny roosters end up in the Sunday pot.

Logo is from Evidence Based Only.

Sunday 28 September 2008

"Moggy Musings" [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

An end of the Beijing Olympics musing:
AUSTRALIAN taxpayers forked out almost $17 million towards each gold medal won by the nation's Olympic team in Beijing according to online news.
Veronica Lake, my canine friend and I agree - something is wrong with the world when children live in poverty but money is splurged on bits of jade and gold.

A property wanted to buy musing:
Happy Paws Haven, a Clarence Valley animal welfare charity is looking for a new home urgently. Preferably in the Grafton area, with at least a half-acre of flood-free land having a 3 bedroom house and large shed.
Ph: 0419 404 766 if you have a suitable property for sale or rent.

And I thought I was brave musing:
DJ a 20 month-old tenterfield terrier has just been skydiving on the Gold Coast. This young pup did his long dive for the All Saints Anglican School fete on Saturday 2 August 2008.
Well done, DJ.

A competitive musing:
New Zealand will meet Australia under lights in one of two tests at an Aussie Rules stadium for the trans-Tasman sheep dog trial test series in northern Tasmania on October 4 2008. Be there to see our dogs whup the Kiwis!

An international affairs musing:
I hear that Barack Obama doesn't have a pet. If he wins the US presidential election this November, will that make him the first modern president to enter the White House without a pet? Hmmm, must investigate....

How well do you know your accountant?

Attending university is taboo for Australia's 15000 Exclusive Brethrens

Consequently, the Brethren produce heaps of accountants but no doctors, lawyers or teachers.

That may explain how the Brethren have been able to shovel piles of cash in the direction of the conservatives (i.e. the right wing side of politics = the Coalition mob, not the left wing Labor lot!) in Australia.

Yep, that's right, chances are that your accountant is an EB. Well, there's a higher probability that your bean counter rather than your local GP is an EB.

tvnz.com.nz reports that children of the Brethren attend well-equipped schools with low teacher-student ratios and solid HSC results, but none of them will be going to university. ... for them university is taboo.

They can study at TAFEs and other tertiary institutions, but not at universities.

You won't find Brethren children watching TV programs, either, or going to the movies, or visiting google on the Internet.

It's all part of their belief in separation from the sinful world around them, and elders admit that can mean they can grow up ignorant of the extent of that wickedness.

The university ban is one aspect of the Brethren lifestyle that outsiders, known as "worldlies", find hardest to understand.

It means that the 15,000-strong Australian Brethren community is producing plenty of accountants but no doctors, lawyers or teachers.

Which means, ironically, that no Brethren teachers are tutoring the 2,300 students at 43 Australian schools run by the Christian sect, which was described by Labor leader Kevin Rudd last year as an "extreme cult" that broke up families.

Every teacher is a worldly.

"I would say it's not much different from teaching in any other school," says Ewoud Vogel, principal of the original Brethren school at Sydney's Meadowbank, founded in 1994.

"In fact I would say it's my most positive teaching experience in Australian schools," says the South African-born teacher after stints at a Greek Orthodox school and another Christian school in Sydney.

"The students are most compliant to work in the classroom."

Meadowbank has 120 students, 80 in high school and 40 primary.

It has a well-equipped science lab, food tech kitchen, computer room, playgrounds and other facilities.

The teacher-student ratio of less than one to 10 at Brethren schools around Australia is up to three times lower than public schools.

The principal, who also takes geography, has a current HSC geography class of six students.

"I have not found my teaching restricted in any way, or had to change any of my programs," he said after leaders of the secretive Brethren sect went public to correct what they said was years of untrue and negative stories about them.

"About the only difference is that I can't just pull a video off the shelf and show it to students without first having its contents scrutinised.

"And that's probably a good thing."

The school's televisions are used only for showing educational programs.

"I can't come in and ask my students if they saw reports of Hurricane Gustav on the news last night, because I know they haven't," said Mr Vogel.

"So I just open up the newspaper, and we talk about it that way."

Even Disney films are out.

"They're really just entertainment value," said Mr Vogel.

"Some of our children are reading Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at present.

"They won't be going to see the movie, but I think their imagination is enhanced and heightened by reading rather than seeing the movie."

Internet use on the computers is strictly controlled.

Rather than applying filters that block out certain subject material, the Brethren has gone the other way, allowing access only to approves sites and links.

Clearly, the almost ubiquitous google search engine is a no-no.

"From an educationist's point of view, it's great," said Mr Vogel.

"The kids don't get distracted or waste hours on unnecessary material," he said, though he conceded Brethren students may not have as much practice in digging out information as others.

"I am a Christian by faith so I enjoy teaching in a Christian atmosphere," Mr Vogel said.

"I believe in what they (the Brethren) basically stand for, even if I may not believe in all of their interpretations of the scriptures.

"We all believe in the same Bible and the same God."

Brethren schools receive government funding in line with other non-government schools, but overseer David Stewart denies they get any special treatment.

He says the curriculum of all schools is approved by the Board of Studies.

The Meadowbank school ranked 96th of 800 in NSW in terms of HSC results, he said, but that won't lead to university for any of the students.

A chat with senior elder Daniel Hales makes it clear the hippie generation of 1960s and 70s changed all that.

"Universities were once Ivy League bastions of conservative Christianity," he said.

"Then came Flower Power and professors advocating drugs, and so on.

"They became the vanguard for re-engineering society."

"I was enrolled myself once," said the 58-year-old father of five.

"I was going to study law or medicine.

"Then I thought it all through, and I realised it would draw me away from my Christian faith and my family."

"We feel our children would find their faith being challenged (at universities).

"The first thing they learn at university is to question everything.

"We are not afraid of them but we don't see why our children should be subject to that."

"We're not goody-goodies. I have tried cigarettes, and I have seen movies in my wayward youth."

Quotes of the week on the US finacial crisis and Bush bail-out

So this rescue won't bail out the Ship of Fools, but it will make the American Ship of State even more insolvent than it already is. Aggregate US government debt is now running at 92% of GDP (the Federal component is 53%), and another $700 billion will push it closer to 100%. As Michael West concluded yesterday with profound understatement, "America is in trouble".
By Associate Professor Steve Keen, School of Economics & Finance, University of Western Sydney writing in Crikey.

"History does not repeat, but it rhymes," as Mark Twain said.
Peter Hartcher writing in The Sydney Morning Herald

"If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down."
George W. Bush quoted ad naseum everywhere

"The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end America's financial crisis. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the White House cabinet room, warnings from an angry President and pleas from a Treasury Secretary who knelt before the House Speaker and appealed for her support.
S.G. Stolberg & A.R. Storkin writing in the Sydney Morning Herald

"The American people are angry about executive compensation and rightfully so," ... "We must find a way to address this in the legislation without undermining the effectiveness of the program."
Henry Paulson, U.S. Treasury Secretary quoted on executive compensation caps in Time Magazine

"It's the law of unintended consequences."
Charles Elson speaking of executive salary packages and golden handshakes in the Time article.

"I am who I am."
Australian Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, former investment banker and multi-millionaire, quoted in The Canberra Times

It's Sunday - kick back & relax

Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) Grafton, Friday 24th October

In 2008 the award celebrates 20 years of promoting innovation and excellence in Australian drawing and has increased to $30 000 to coincide with this important anniversary. The major award of $15,000 is acquisitive, along with further acquisitions to the value of $15,000.
Hendrik Kolenberg, Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours Art Gallery of New South Wales, is the judge for this year's prize. Entries to this prestigious award close at 4pm on Friday 1 August 2008.
Acquisitions from the Jacaranda Drawing Award (JADA) enter the Grafton Regional Gallery’s nationally recognised collection of Australian contemporary drawing.
A selection panel will select between 45 and 55 works for the award. The exhibition of the selected entries opens at the Grafton Regional Gallery Friday 24 October. It is from this exhibition that the judge, Hendrik Kolenberg, will select the overall winner.
One of the outstanding features of the award is that entries selected for award will tour regional and metropolitan galleries along the east coast throughout 2009-10.
The Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award was originally an open national art award, the Jacaranda Art Prize, that ran from 1961 to 1987, the drawing award was established in 1988. The drawing collection includes works by Maria Kontis, Michael Zavros, Gordon Bennett, Godwin Bradbeer, Andrew Browne, Luke Doyle, David Fairbairn and Deborah Klein.

US 08 is better than vaudeville

This last week Democrat candidate, Barack Obama, made much of the need for presidential candidates to understand the current US financial crisis and share that knowledge with American voters.

The media gave considerable air time to his statement as Foxtel demonstrates:
“It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” Obama told reporters."

One blogger was quick to jump on this naive and misleading statement:
"Well, here is the thing… a new president won’t be “responsible” for any decisions until January of next year.
Sure, in 40 days we will be going to the polls to vote for a new president. But he won’t take office and, therefore, won’t be responsible for anything until he actually is sworn into office in January of 2009.
So, no, Baarack. In 40 days we will NOT have a new person “responsible for dealing with this mess.”
So, why has the Old Media decided not to lambaste this man who obviously has no idea when he might take office if elected?"

I'm now waiting for the Obama camp to start quibbling about how long the "approximately" string really is.

As political theatre the televised and online reporting of this presidential campaign sure beats those late night variety shows which the free-to-air TV channels inflict on us all.
Which's better - because it's not our country the angst is lower when listening to the typical and very ordinary political posturing (until you remember that these days the US acts like a rogue state in the international arena).

Saturday 27 September 2008

US 08: If you missed the first debate battle of the predictable and boring........

If you missed the first McCain-Obama presidential campaign debate on radio or television, the transcript is now online:
All 27 pages are here
What this debate clearly demonstrates is that there will be no brave new beginning for the United States of America after the November election.

"More than ever, the great challenge of our time is economic management" Malcolm Turnbull

New federal Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, is becoming very serious about the economy.

Gone are the factitious comments about inflation, now we are facing "great challenge".
Why we may even have to arrange for the Australian Government to organise a US-style bail out of financial institutions.

According to The Australian:

Mr Turnbull had suggested the Government back financial institutions with liquid assets....

On Sunday Mr Turnbull said banks were finding it harder to refinance mortgages.

``In other markets, the government, particularly in the US, is taking a role, proposing to buy some of these securities, in effect to provide additional liquidity to take the pressure off mums and dads,'' Mr Turnbull told the Nine Network.

``That's something I'd like to talk to the Prime Minister about to see if we can agree on some bipartisan measures.''

Hold on, the only big collapse which sent so many mums and dads to the wall happened when HIH folded years ago and Malcolm Turnbull was smack in the middle of that mess along with Adler and Co.

Yes, credit is drying up as everyone speculates about what will happen next.
However I can't help but wonder if Turnbull's urging of federal government intervention is more to protect the value of his own holdings and that of his business associates.

If a global recession really hits then Treasurer Wayne Swann's intervention will mean little to those same mum and dads.

Turnbull is also quoted as saying in an article at News.com.au:

Mr Turnbull, a former merchant banker and partner of Goldman Sachs Australia, said he agreed with US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that there was plenty of blame to go around for the current financial mess.
"I agree with those legislators in the US who say that executives of financial institutions should not be rewarded – indeed they should get nothing out of this," he said.

He goes on to try and distance himself from the present debacle by saying that he only worked in the corporate advisory side and not in an area of investment banking.

How he thinks to get away with such hairsplitting when the whole of Australia knows that he was a managing director, partner and major shareholder in JB Were Goldman Sachs (Australia) during the 1990s through to early 2000, when his investment bank was so clearly in the area he now denies.

Turnbull also pretends that the Prime Minister should not have left Australia because of the global volatility.
This exposes him as a buffoon comparable with the recently departed leader he deposed.
As though where Kevin Rudd physically is this week will forestall Australia being impacted by the ailing American behemoth.

While his Fraser-style obstructionist stance on bills before the House, personal behaviour in Parliament over the last ten months and his comments about Question Time, show him for the arrant political hypocrite that he is.
This man is all about the 'divine right' of the Liberal party to rule, gotcha politics and posturing for the Question Time cameras.

I never thought that I would see the day that I would become nostalgic about Peter Costello's time in the limelight - Turnbull's performance as leader makes me so.

Lord luv a duck! Coon cheese is under attack, again

I have to declare an interest here - I grew up eating Coon cheese and never once made any connection with a racist slur of any sort.

But apparently once Stephen Hagan grew up he objected to this brand name for a cheddar cheese.

"Mr Hagan said today he would now focus on fighting Dairy Farmers' Coon cheese.

"Initially, Dairy Farmers said it was named after Edward Coon, who revolutionised the speeding process of making cheese," he said.

"But I've questioned the authenticity of that story."

Mr Hagan, said the cheese, formerly manufactured by Kraft, used to have a black wraparound and was named Coon as a joke.

"I want Dairy Farmers to show me the evidence of Edward Coon being honoured an honorary doctorate and what year he received that honorary doctorate," he said.

"If they can prove to me that Edward Coon was a famous cheesemaker, I will drop my campaign.
"If they can't do it, I'm going to fight them all the way...."

Unfortunately for Mr. Hagan, he opened his mouth without even the most preliminary investigation.

It took me 10 minutes to find Free Patents Online and this historical patent; United States Patent US1579196, application filed 27 February 1926, serial number 91,262. PDF image of 2-page original published document.

This patent was taken out by Edward William Coon, a citizen of the United States, of 29 South Water Street, Philadelphia in the County of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania, who states he has invented certain new and useful improvements in the process of ripening cheese.

Fulton History displays an image of a newspaper page in August 1923 which has an article reporting that E.W. Coon, maker and shipper of cheese of Philadelphia, had sold five of his numerous milk plants to the Dairymen's League Co-operative Association Inc.

In 1920 Coon was reported as advising other cheese makers to export their mature cheese product as there was high overseas demand.

Steve, mate - it's a case of Occam's pure and simple.


From Taylor Book:

"The picture of the plant at the top of the page is of the cheese storage and curing plant. The buildings were originally built by the Reiland Packing Co. It operated successfully for several years under that title. The primary mover in the packing company was Nicholas Reiland, who has been a well known butcher and operated a meat market here. In 1924 the Reiland plant was taken over by E. Coon Company, and after a change in name and owners, became the Dairy State Cold Storage Co. with R. T. Gillespie as manager. The plant is located 2221 Gaynor Avenue."

The above is a factory site possibly belonging to Edward Coon.

In 1918:
The Times says: The Watertown
cheese market was firm on Saturday
when sales of 7,419 boxes were made
at 22% cents and better. As usual
better than the bulk of the cheese sold,
while the "Coon specials" sold for a
cent better th,an all others. The Coon
specials are made-by E. W. Coon,, of
Philadelphia, they are a firmer cheese
with more stock than the general run
of cheese. The price paid was the same
as a week ago, but the offerings were
somewhat smaller as the week (before
the sales aggregated 10,297 boxes.

In 1928:
Official announcement is made of"
the acquisition by the Kraft-Phenix
Cheese Company of several of. the^
larger chese companies of Lewis';
county and northern New York. • \i
These include purchase of the Interests
of R. M. Mills, of Watertown,
the St. Lawrence Milk Company of;
Massena, the Potsdam Creamery Company
of Potsdam, the E. W. Coon
Company of Philadelphia, Pa., and
Cape Vincent. » •.-;;
Sale of most of the companies was.
announced before, but It just became,
known that the Mills interests are included

Friday 26 September 2008

Monsanto introduces Australian farmers to seed servitude

The Canberra Times reported yesterday:

Australian farmers signing up to grow genetically modified canola are exposing themselves to ''onerous'' obligations, an international law expert says.

Duncan Currie says the contract between biotechnolgy firm Monsanto and GM canola growers bars farmers from selling their land to anyone without a Monsanto licensing agreement.

Monsanto described the claim as ''ridiculous''.

The contract, obtained by The Canberra Times, shows that if the land is sold up to two years after the agreement expires, contractual obligations are passed to the buyer, who could be liable for the former owner's contract breaches.

Monsanto reserves the right to take legal action against any farmers who possess its patented canola without a licensing agreement.

If GM canola is found, the land owner must prove whether its presence was intentional or due to inadvertent contamination.

Under the contract, farmers give Monsanto the right to ''inspect, take samples and test all of the grower's owned and/or leased fields and storage bins'' and to obtain copies of all operational documents for three years after they buy GM canola.

Mr Currie believes the implications for farmers are dire.

''In general this is a very one-sided agreement,'' he said.

''[One provision] is particularly onerous [and] includes liability for payment of Monsanto's legal and attorney fees, including expense incurred in enforcing Monsanto's rights and investigation expenses.'' ......

NSW and Victorian farmers are now harvesting Australia's first GM canola crops after a moratorium on GM crops was lifted in both states earlier this year.

The crops contain resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in many non-selective herbicides. A member of the Concerned Farmers Network, Donald McFarlane, said canola crops were hard to contain in one location.

''Farmers of canola will know that it's almost impossible to stop the spread of [canola] seed,'' he said.

''Every year, up to 13per cent of a crop will escape to end up god knows where.''

He was concerned if a farm sold land within three years of planting GM crops, the contract did not ensure the new owner would be trained to prevent crop contamination.

The NSW Farmers Association would not comment on deals between Monsanto and individual farmers.

Its president, Jock Laurie, advised farmers to seek legal advice before signing any contract, GM or otherwise.

Yet another thing that the former neo-conservative Howard Government and the majority of it's State Labor Government counterparts wished on the Australian people.

One has to wonder at the role of the Farmers Association in all this.

Given the fact that prime farmland within 100 kms of the Australian coastline and similar land on the fringes of inland towns and cities is often sold-on or developed for urban-rezoning to supply farmers with a retirement income (especially in areas such as the NSW North Coast), one has to wonder how prospective buyers will feel about inheriting a legal obligation to Monsanto.

Surely this will affect local agricultural property prices and how many 'treechangers' and seachangers' view property on offer.

Joint Select Committee report to Tasmanian Government on GMO seed, crops and food, August 2008, supporting a GM-free state.

Look who is politicizing Bill Caralis' Radio 2GF

This is the man, one Steve Cansdell MP, who appears determined to politicize Radio 2GF as a by-product of the North Coast Nationals drive to place breakfast radio host Richie Williamson in the Clarence Valley mayoral chair.

Why he thinks it wise to advertise the Williamson bid for mayor in this way and, virtually draw attention to the possibility of a conflict of interest which could bedevil 2GF and Bill Caralis in the future, I am at a loss to understand.

The ABC was much wiser when faced with the fact that an
on-air employee was elected to Bathurst Regional Council.

Eventually Janice McGilchrist was told privately that it was a choice of her ABC job or being on council - she couldn't have both.

Cr McGilchrist will cease her official duties with council by the end of the week.
Her resignation follows weeks of discussion about a possible conflict of interest between Cr McGilchrist's role as ABC radio's new Central West and Tablelands morning show host and her role as a local councillor.

On 19 May 2006 she resigned from council.

Obama for America - who has a ticket in this lottery?

Strewth! This American presidential election gets confusing.

There are Irish-Americans for Obama, Asians for Obama, Muslims for Obama, Ethiopians for Obama, Iranian-Americans for Obama, First Americans for Obama, Native Americans for Obama, Greek-Americans for Obama, African Americans for Obama, Italian Americans for Obama, Non-Americans for Obama, Korean Americans for Obama, Armenian Americans for Obama, Haitian Americans for Obama, Texans for Obama, All Women for Obama and even Republicans for Obama.

The list goes on and on...........
So many people appear to think that they own a piece of this politician that the disappointment will be severe and widespread when he turns out to be a very ordinary president if he gets into the White House.

Clarencegirl tells me that she heard from a well-known Aussie blogger that Obama's 'troops' are even trawling in Australia for the 100,000 Americans here that are eligible to vote.
When I heard that I went hunting and sure nuff, Americans in Australia for Obama popped up on the monitor.

Pic chart found at my.barackobama.com