Sunday 28 February 2010

Sunday 28 Feb 2010: Marine Tsunami Warning issued for Australian east coast from Point Danger QLD down to Banks Strait TAS

At 5.30 this morning the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued the following information for New South Wales:

MEDIA: No use of the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS)

TSUNAMI WARNING NUMBER 9 FOR NEW SOUTH WALES Issued by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC) at5:30 AM EDT on Sunday 28 February 2010
Tsunami warning for the marine environment for NEW SOUTH WALES.
Threatened areas extend over all New South Wales coastal areas from Gabo Island to Point Danger.
Possibility of dangerous waves, strong ocean currents and foreshore flooding throughout the day from 08:00 am (EDT) Sunday.
Sea level observations HAVE confirmed a tsunami has been generated.
For further details visit the Bureau web site Next update due by 7:00 AM EDT on Sunday 28 February 2010
DETAILS: Tsunami waves are more powerful than the same size beach waves, with the first wave not always the largest.
First tsunami effects are expected as follows:
Gabo Island after 08:00 am (EDT) Sunday
Sydney after 08:45 am (EDT) Sunday
Crowdy Head after 08:45 am (EDT) Sunday
Coffs Harbour after 09:00 am (EDT) Sunday
Byron Bay after 09:15 am (EDT) Sunday
Tweed Heads after 09:15 am (EST) Sunday
Check that your neighbours have received this advice.
Boats in harbours, estuaries or shallow coastal water should return to shore.
Secure your boat and move away from the waterfront.
Vessels already at sea should stay offshore in deep water until further advised.
Do not go to the coast to watch the tsunami, as there is the possibility of dangerous, localised flooding of the immediate foreshore.
For emergency assistance, call NEW SOUTH WALES STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE on 132500
Maps showing the affected areas are on the Bureau web site For a repeat of this warning call 1300 TSUNAMI (1300878 6264).

*TSUNAMI SOURCE: An undersea earthquake of magnitude 8.8 occurred at 5:34 PM EDT on Saturday 27February 2010 near THE COAST OF CENTRAL CHILE (latitude 35.320S longitude 72.930W )
*The JATWC is operated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia

State/Territory Warnings
Norfolk Island Marine Warning issued 6:01 AM local time on Sun 28 Feb 2010
Lord Howe Island Marine Warning issued 5:31 AM EDT on Sun 28 Feb 2010
Tasmania Marine Warning issued 5:31 AM EDT on Sun 28 Feb 2010
Victoria Marine Warning issued 5:30 AM EDT on Sun 28 Feb 2010
New South Wales Marine Warning issued 5:30 AM EDT on Sun 28 Feb 2010
Queensland Marine Warning issued 4:30 AM EST on Sun 28 Feb 2010

Which Witch? or Rumours To Spell By

The ladies at the croquet club have been looking at me with strange sideways glances since Bob’s encounter with the bunyip.
The story spread faster than dog fleas.
Bob’s fight with the dark dastardly bunyip grew to heroic proportions.

It seems my spell expanded as well. It is now known that I danced naked around the shed while reciting words from an ancient mystic language, only the last part of which could be understood by Bob the Valiant. Gigantous robusta meaning big strong spell was what he heard chanted. {Not grevillea robusta the botanical name for silky oak}.

An esky full of beer was made to taste like water, but Bob was safe in the shed, not a bunyip in sight and the next morning he emerges at dawn feeling great with hardly a hangover at all.
It seems that spell must have had hangover protection properties as well!

Graphic from Google Images

From the 'way too much information' file

What on earth was the real estate agent and the property owner thinking when a particular Canberra house was listed for sale online, with multiple large, glossy detailed photographs displaying the interior attached.
Did we really need to know that the somewhat notorious alleged Liberal Party mole Godwin Grech obviously has a passion for collecting antique clocks, a penchant for decorating with gilt cherubs and reads books about Hitler?
Nup, didn't think so.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Dividing the GST pie in 2010

Just goes to show - if you whinge long enough and hard enough you're bound to be heard.
New South Wales finally gets a slice of the GST pie which begins to reflect the amount of this consumption tax we Welshies pay.
From the Commonwealth Grants Commission media release on 26th February 2010:

"The Commonwealth Grants Commission has released its advice on how GST revenue should be distributed among the States and Territories in 2010-11. .....Under the Commission's recommendations for 2010-11, Victoria and New South Wales, and to a lesser extent Queensland and South Australia, receive larger shares of GST revenue compared to 2009-10, while Western Australia, and to a lesser extent the Northern Territory and the ACT, receive smaller shares. The share of Tasmania would stay unchanged. The Chairman of the Commission, Alan Morris, said, "This review takes into account the significant changes in the fiscal circumstances of the States since the Commission's last review in 2004. At the time of that review, New South Wales and Victoria were fiscally stronger than the other States. While their fiscal capacities are still above average, those of Western Australia and Queensland have strengthened quite dramatically over recent years as a result of strong increases in their revenue raising capacities, principally from mining royalties. The fiscal capacities of these two States are now the strongest. These four States now share the cost of raising the fiscal capacities of the four weaker States to the average. "Fiscal equalisation is designed so that, as a State's own capacity to raise revenue, or its cost of delivering services, diverges from the national average, there are compensating adjustments to its GST revenue", Mr Morris said. "That is what has happened in recent updates, and in this review."

2010 CGC Review final report here.

Dividing the Goods & Services Tax according to Granny Herald:
NSW + $1.07 billion
Victoria + 872 million
Queensland + $545 million
S. Australia + $357 million
Tasmania + $91 million
NT + $78 million
ACT - $30 million
WA - $223 million

The Big Joke Comedy Festival returns! 18-21 March 2010 at Bangalow NSW

The Big Joke Comedy Festival brings the laughs to the Bangalow A and I Hall. Featuring international headline acts, stand up comedy by kids, emerging comics battle it out for the Village Idiot crown and a women's comedy breakfast. The best comedy experience outside a capital city, No wait, better. No traffic, no long waiting lines, village atmosphere with a holiday begging to be taken, the funniest comedians on the planet WHOM actually want to have a beer and chat with the audience after the show, autographs, photo's, parking, relaxed and painless but really, really memorable.

When: 18 March to 21 March 2010 starting at 11:00 AM
Where: A and I Hall,
Bangalow, NSW
Contact: Tel: 02 6629 1457 Email:
Festival program details and online booking details here

Rudd Government and Woolworths partner in 2010 Food Rescue Campaign

Food Rescue Campaign

Woolworths supermarkets, together with the Federal Government, have launched a year long campaign to rescue a record amount of surplus food from the waste stream and turn it into meals for the needy. With a target to provide two million meals for those in need and $2 million for those food relief charities who serve them, the campaign aims to address an underlying social problem in Australia. The Australian Government will partner with Woolworths to advise on the allocation of the funding. The Woolworths Fresh Food Rescue campaign will support food relief charities at two core levels:

  1. Expanding food rescue and food donation schemes from Woolworths stores to charity groups. With 687 supermarkets already participating in some kind of food rescue program, Woolworths wants to substantially increase its partnerships with local food relief charities or soup kitchens. Woolworths' target is to turn its food surplus into two million meals for the needy in 2010.
  2. Building additional capacity amongst charity groups through a major grants scheme Woolworths will contribute $2 million to help charity groups expand their operations and ensure thousands more people can access healthy, nutritious food.

Each year households, retailers, restaurants and businesses throw out millions of tonnes of food which then finds its way into landfill sites. Although not always fit for sale, much of it is good quality and could easily be rescued and turned into nutritious, healthy meals for the needy or vulnerable in our society.
Organisations such as Foodbank, OzHarvest, FareShare, Food 4 Life and SecondBite and others work hard to turn excess food into nutritious meals for the homeless, the vulnerable and the needy.

These charities are primarily staffed by volunteers and only have limited resources to provide the help that is required. Food is not the only thing they need, the sector is also crying out for vehicles, storage, refrigeration and other facilities to maintain and expand their operations.
FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho says there's no shortage of quality surplus food in Australia, however sadly local charities have lacked the means to handle the food donations on offer.

Godinho says the program will help charities to receive, store and hand out hundreds of tonnes of quality food and help the growing number of Australian families who are struggling to afford three meals a day, seven days a week.

OzHarvest Founding Director Ronni Kahn says the unwanted food is there and Australians in need are there. OzHarvest is only limited by lack of funds to enable us to collect more food from more stores to deliver to more people. An injection of funds like this to the food rescue sector helps all of us to share the surplus food with those in need.
SecondBite also supports the Woolworths initiative to expand the provision of surplus fresh food and donate $2million dollars to the food relief sector.
Food Program Manager Russell Shields says that with SecondBite's focus on providing recipient agencies with fresh food and innovative food relief programs that provide long term preventative solutions to families in crisis, this funding will help us to collect and redistribute over 900 tonnes of fresh food in 2010 across Victoria and Tasmania.
Foodbank CEO John Webster describes the initiative as a wonderful adjunct to the current Woolworths' program to capture and distribute surplus packaged goods from individual stores and distribution centres.

He says Woolworths is already their single largest national food donor and this will assist in expanding donations as they strive to meet the demands of the 2,200 welfare agencies that they provide food to across the country.

Woolworths says it is working toward an ambitious target to reduce organic waste to zero by the year 2015. In 2009 the company was one of Australia's largest food donors, providing 1.35 million kilos of consumable food which is the equivalent of 1.5 million meals. Woolworths will be consulting with a number of current charity partners to understand how the grant scheme can best address their needs. Further details, criteria and eligibility will be released later in the year. Enquiries can be made by email -

(From Northern Rivers Social Development Council Feb/March newsletter)

Friday 26 February 2010

Flying foxes - let's get it right

It is disturbing that incorrect information about the bats in Maclean has been widely circulated. The management of urban flying-foxes is complex.

The community is entitled to be presented with information that is free of hysteria, stereotypes and political manoeuvrings.

Research, that can be verified, indicates that most efforts to relocate flying-foxes in Australia, including Maclean have been unsuccessful e.g., despite over 10 years of disturbance at Maclean the flying-foxes return annually, and due to their fidelity to camp sites are likely to return for many more years, maybe indefinitely.

Relocation attempts are often extremely costly e.g., over $400,000 at Maclean since 1999 and $3 million at Melbourne. Relocations need to be considered by the broader community, not just immediate communities, as relocations have the potential to shift the flying-foxes to other urban areas.

It is highly probable that the flying-foxes from Maclean have relocated to Iluka causing conflict with those residents. Further relocations at Maclean have the potential to increase conflict again in Iluka and fragment the animals into other urban townships such as Ashby and Yamba.

Given the high costs and uncertainty of relocation, it is very clear that other options such as community education, revegetation of buffer zones and modifications to buildings are also considered.

Flying-foxes are a native species and they are responsible for the propagation of our iconic forests. It is important that we recognise the intrinsic value of our Australian wildlife. To do less is a sad indictment on all of us.

Imelda Jennings

Secretary, Wildlife SOS

* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak at live dot com dot au for consideration.

Bravo Patricia! Proud Yaegl woman socks it to Sydney media in defence of Yamba

In The Daily Examiner on 24 February 2010:

THE riot in Yamba on February 14 has attracted plenty of unwanted attention for the holiday town. A report in the metropolitan media at the weekend pointed the finger at Yamba's Aboriginal population as the cause of the town's problems. Today, Yamba Aboriginal leader and NSW Aboriginal Land Council member PATRICIA LAURIE responds.

IN the past week, mainstream media reporting of my community of Yamba has been inaccurate, sensationalised and ridiculous.

The reports relate to the arrest of 15 people on February 14 following a party at an industrial area on the edge of town.

During the incident several police were allegedly assaulted and two vehicles damaged.

Some media are calling it the Valentine's Day riots.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported over the weekend, 'Holiday haven one day, riots the next'.

'A thin strip of barbed wire running along a high fence-top behind The Sands resort says everything Yamba residents will not: this is a town divided', the report read.

'On one side of the street is a three-storey, gated complex of luxury villas and apartments with a lap pool, tennis courts and spa, and spacious private houses with neat gardens behind tall wooden barriers.

Across the road is a derelict moonscape; a barren paddock of dishevelled brick homes and abandoned weatherboard cottages.

Welcome to Yamba, one year ago declared Australia's best tourist destination ahead of Byron Bay and Port Douglas.

Last weekend the once sleepy North Coast fishing village at the mouth of the Clarence River was the scene of a riot in which party-goers allegedly danced on a police car, pelted it with bricks, then set it alight after being asked to turn music down at a shed on the fringes of town.

Publicly, locals put crime down to the sporadic police presence.

A dozen officers are expected to cover a population of roughly 20,000 spanning three towns and can take more than an hour to respond to triple-0 calls.

Privately, two groups are blamed: the local Indigenous population and the children of low-income seachange families.'

Unfortunately, the facts of this incident have gotten in the way of a story.

So here are a few inconvenient truths for media planning to visit Yamba in the future.

Firstly, of the 15 people arrested by police on the night, only three were Aboriginal.

Of the three arrested this week, only one is Aboriginal.

That means 14 of the 18 are non-Aboriginal.

Secondly, figures from 2008 from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) reveal that the Clarence Valley Local Government Area – which takes in Yamba – has an assault rate below the state average.

Our region is not racked with violence. Our town is not divided.

It is calmer and more peaceful than most of the state.

The figures also reveal that assaults against police are below the state average in the Clarence Valley. But where's no news in that.

The headline 'Yamba a safer town than state average' is nowhere near as interesting as 'Community in crisis' or 'Town divided' or 'Beautiful one day, rioting the next'.

Here are a few more inconvenient truths.

The Bega Valley, way down on the Far South Coast of NSW, has almost precisely the same relative crime statistics as the Clarence Valley.

Can Merimbula – another coastal tourist town – expect the arrival of busloads of Sydney journalists determined to prove it's a community divided by race wars and juvenile delinquency?

The assault rate in Cessnock is higher than it is the Clarence Valley.

It's higher in Coffs Harbour.

It's higher in the Cooma-Monaro region which takes in the Sydney crowd heading to the snow in winter.

It's higher in Glen Innes, a sleepy country town due west of Yamba.

It's twice as high in Inverell, another sleepy country town due west of Yamba.

The rate of assaults is also almost twice as high in Campbelltown; in Manly on Sydney's lower north shore; in the Byron Shire.

But wait for it: the rate of assaults in the Botany Bay area – where the resident MP is the premier of NSW, Kristina Keneally – is higher than in the Clarence Valley.

Where are the headlines about NSW burning?

Surely our state's a tinder box?

A powder keg of racial violence waiting to explode?

Or maybe the media is just looking for something sensational to report, rather than wade through piles of crime statistics which tell different tales to those reported.

The rate of assaults on police in the Clarence Valley is identical to the rate in the Wingecarribee Shire, home to the wealthy Bowral community.

But there's no 'Bowral divided' story in the weekend edition of the SMH, just a piece about some shopkeepers lobbying to keep St Vinnies out of the main street.

In the Mosman area – another of Australia's most privileged regions – the number of 'liquor offences' is more than three times the rate of the Clarence Valley and four times greater than the state average.

So why no media campaign for a Federal Government intervention to stop the rivers of grog on the lower north shore?

It would have more factual basis than the rubbish we're being dished up about Yamba.

The facts are, the mainstream media coverage of the 'Yamba riots' has mostly been garbage.

It's designed to sell newspapers or improve ratings. Yamba has the same tensions all average Australian communities face.

Nothing more, perhaps a little less. The real beat-up is the mainstream media's coverage of our community.

Yes, there are occasional tensions in the town, just as there are in all Australian communities.

And, yes, those tensions sometimes run along racial lines.

Yes, Yamba has its share of assaults just like every other community in Australia, coastal or otherwise.

But is there room for improvement? Of course there is, just like there is in every other community in Australia.

And that's precisely what Yamba residents are working to do.

On the whole, our community is peaceful and cohesive.

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people work hard at maintaining respectful, meaningful relationships.

The media will be disappointed to learn that no amount of misreporting is likely to change that.

Microsoft threatens & Networks disables whistleblower website, but......

Everytime one turns around some government or multinational corporation appears to be gathering data concerning our lives and habits and, in the process attempting to treat citizens/customers as though they have little or no right to know the extent of these activities.

This time it was Microsoft's turn to be outed and Cryptome posted a downloadable file titled Microsoft Spy Guide which contained the company document Microsoft Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, March 2008.

This document opens with information concerning its online Free Email Services, Authentication Service: Windows Live ID, Instant Messaging: Windows Live Messenger, Social Networking Services: Windows Live Spaces & MSN Groups, Custom Domains: Windows Live Admin Center & Office Live Small Business, Online File Storage: Office Live Workspace & Windows Live SkyDrive, and Gaming: Xbox Live :

Microsoft Online Services will respond to emergency requests outside of normal business hours if the emergency involves "the danger of death or physical injury to any person…" as permitted in 18 U.S.C. § 2702(b)(8) and (c)(4). Emergencies are limited to situations like kidnapping, murder threats, bomb threats, terrorism threats, etc. If you have an emergency request, please call the law enforcement hotline at

(425) 722-1299.....

Microsoft has established local contacts within your country or region to handle legal process related to Microsoft Online Services. If you are not already familiar with your local contact, please e-mail the Global Criminal Compliance team at, and you will be directed to the local contact handling requests from your country.

All legal process for criminal matters from non-U.S. law enforcement, prosecutors and courts must be directed to Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 and not to Microsoft's local subsidiary as all Microsoft Online Services customer data is stored in the U.S. Your local contact will be able to educate you as to what local process must be followed in order to obtain online services customer account records from Microsoft.

Details of the war of words between the whistleblower website and Microsoft can be found at The People's Forum. Cryptome itself is no longer accessible on the Internet as of yesterday 25 February 2010.

However, as usual netizens reacted and now the original Crypotme document (1.75MB PDF or 29KB TXT) can be found at Scribd here.

Why the Microsoft Corporation feels that its customers should not be aware of the extent of their potential exposure (due to company policy and legislated requirements under U.S. law), or why it wants to embarrass itself by drawing attention to a posted copy of the document it was wishing to conceal, remains a mystery.

This desire to hide from the general public its ability and willingness to data gather and store information over long periods is an attitude it appears to share with other big corporations and government agencies around the world.

Aw tell me it ain't so, Stevo! You haven't gone and nobbled a government website?

This is the content of the very small tag cloud found on the Dept. of Broadband, Communications, Digital Economy and Compulsory National Censorship webpage Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy,Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate:

NBN Broadband
National Broadband
Network ABC
Broadcasting National Broadcasters
SBS Digital Switchover
Digital Television Youth Advisory Group
Internet Budget E-Health
Mobile Services

Looks unexceptional don't it?
Then someone on a Whirlpool forum asked themselves a question. Why isn't the search term "ISP filtering" or similar up there somewhere?
After all that term is found in about 63 media releases archived on the website and presumably cyber visitors go looking.

Oh noes! came the answer, the word cloud has been nobbled!

Filtering already begun! :)

User #185532 8 posts
Forum Regular

I find this one rather humorous, on Conroy's website, if you take a look at the right hand side there is the "cloud" for searched items, the more searched the phrase or word is, the larger the item is.

Looking at the source code of the site, there is the entire list of words that the script uses to determine the cloud words and how prevelant they are. Basically breaks it down to an array, counts and then sets the size based on how frequent it is etc...

In the script that generates the cloud, there is a line that says basically if the seach term is "ISP Filtering" to skip and go onto the next.

In the time I was on the site, there were about 16 instances of "ISP Filtering" in the cloud, and only about 5 instances of E-Health, though ISP Filtering did not show in the cloud....

Anyway just a funny, and some food for thought! :)

//for(var i=0; i<unique.length; i++)
for(var i=0; i<=15/*<-Important! increase this value by 1 everytime a keyword is excluded below*/; i++)

var z=0;
for(var j=0; j<split.length; j++) {
if (unique[i]==split[j]) {
counts[i] = z;
var size = getTagClass(z);
//Customise the tag-cloud to display what shows up
if (unique[i] == "ISP Filtering")
document.write('<a class="'+size+'" href=\"'+unique[i]+'">'+unique[i]+'</a> ');

EDIT: Thought I should add the URL of the site, incase people get confused with :) This is on the minister for broadband and other random crap that he has no idea about site.... URL:

Thursday 25 February 2010

State of Play in the Climate Change Cyberspace War

In ABC online The Drum's Unleashed four articles have been posted by journalist and former Greens candidate for the seat of Higgins Clive Hamilton this week as part of a series of five:

Who's defending science? (update - last article in series)

Reading these in conjunction with Jonathon Holmes' Malice, misquotes and Media Watch and an earlier The Punch article by Paul Coglan The holy war on climate change and a picture of the Australian state of play emerges in what has to be seen as an ongoing war on science.

The comments sections on these mainstream media webpages are littered with climate change denialists and this particular comment directed at Hamilton is fairly typical in attitude of the whole which survive after moderation for offensive language, defamation, hate speech etc:

moredissent4u : 23 Feb 2010 9:46:36pm

Clive Hamilton cannot countenance that his tome, Death Rattles of the Climate Change Sceptics, has come back to bite him. Sceptics who baulk at dire predictions of apocalypse are branded as heretics and deniers.
Hamilton is yet another egregious elite who cannot abide any dissent from his thought bubbles. The pathetic prohibition banner on this site screams censorship. Clive has proclaimed that Andrew Bolt is the enemy who will lead us astray. To exorcise the devil incarnate, Clive decrees we proles are forbidden from partaking of the fruit.
Like many who are sceptical of the exaggerated impact of AGW, I am neither paid for my stance nor will I be bullied into abjurement by battalions of sanctimonious self appointed censors. Hamilton's current obdurate diatribe reeks of a petulant, self-righteous boy who will not accept he too is fallible.
Whilst I do not condone any threatening of scientists or journalists by anyone, I noted that comments on Bolt's Blog deemed threatening by Pitman, demonstrates that precious Pitman borders on becoming paranoid.
I cannot wait to discover exactly whom Hamilton will traduce in his next noxious edition!

What set off these claims of screaming censorship and decree forbidding to him/her the fruit of Andrew Bolt's 'wisdom'?
Why this November 2009 graphic downloaded from kathleenjoyful's Flickr photostream and pasted alongside Hamilton's second article:

It seems that she has now become collateral damage in the climate change cyberspace war.

Japan rapidly becoming a rogue state on the high seas

Photograph from The Sydney Morning Herald on 24 July 2007

From an article in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday 25 February 2010:

Australia has been urged to harpoon a proposal which could see Antarctic whaling continue for years - and become more legally secure.
A group of nations, which includes Australia, has issued a proposed deal-breaker on the vexed international issue of whaling.
The draft deal would lift the ban on commercial whaling, while reducing the total number of whales killed each year by ending so-called "scientific" whaling.
There are indications key nations support the deal and it could succeed.
Conservation groups are angry and want Australia to use its position to fight against the proposal.
The deal has been issued by a "small working group" of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which includes Australia and Japan.
It is a draft deal which has not yet been approved; it is understood Australia will not support it.
Currently, commercial whaling is banned but countries can hunt whales in the name of science. Up to 1900 whales are killed each year.
The proposal would lift the commercial ban. Japan would legally be able to hunt whales without relying on the "science" justification.
The pay-off is that the proposal says the number of whales hunted would be significantly reduced from current levels.
The new deal would appear to allow for the hunting of minke whales, fin and humpback whales in the southern hemisphere.
It would come into force on November 1 this year.

There is a high degree of probability that Japan would seek to raise its kill quota in the future if this proposal passed.
The Government of Japan already appears to believe it has the divine right of kings when it comes to the world's oceans.
It's whaling fleet has been reported as indulging in indiscrimate killing of whale females in calf.
Right now Japan is floating the possibilty that it will refuse to abide by any European Union ban on commercial blue fin tuna fishing.

Japan is a already a bad neigbour to Australia and the rest of the world and, is rapidly becoming a rogue state on the high seas.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd needs to fight the Government of Japan on the matter of pseudo scientific-commercial whaling. He needs to do this swiftly and strongly.
It's time he stopped allowing himself to be held to ransom on the basis that any escalation of our continued firm opposition to killing whales would offend a major trading partner.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Saffin on capital punishment and torture

Janelle Saffin Labor MP for Page on the NSW North Coast on her feet in the Australian Parliament, 22 February 2010:

I speak in strong support of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009 for a number of reasons. Firstly, I oppose the death penalty. I oppose torture and other forms of degrading treatment. And I do so on moral grounds. We come to this place with a whole lot of roles. But we are also law-makers and as a law-maker I do not have the right to pass a law that would allow the state to execute another citizen or subject another citizen to torture or other forms of degrading treatment. I do not see that any lawmaker, in Australia, in any country, has that right. It is not a right that is given to us. We have to protect life and we have to protect human beings and human dignity. So it is totally on moral grounds that I oppose those things.

Full speech at OpenAustralia

Ms. Saffin's second reading speech was unequivocal in its opposition to the death penalty. In this she supports the Rudd Government move to remove the death penalty as a potential option for both the Commonwealth and the states.

In marked contrast to Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott who appears to waiver on the subject - this month declaring that execution may be a fitting punishment for those responsible for mass death.

Whether this was just another Abbott grab for a media moment or something he clearly thinks should be debated will only be shown by what he says and how he votes in the House of Representatives torture and death penalty debate.
Oh wait, it looks like he won't be speaking on the subject in parliament - preferring to dog whistle instead.

Something another North Coast MP, the Nationals Luke Hartsuyker, appears to be emulating in that he too has been rather silent in the House on this subject so far, intent as he is on beating up on vulnerable flying foxes at public meetings in his electorate.

It is good to see at least one local MP taking human rights seriously.
I commend all those members of the federal parliament who have spoken out against the death penalty over the last four years.

The anti-science winged nuts are at it again

If you think your blood pressure can cope with a snippet from one recent anti-science email newsletter, read on:

The Next Climate-gate?

The global warming scandal keeps getting worse. But probably the most damaging report has come from Joseph D'Aleo, the first Director of Meteorology and co-founder of the Weather Channel, and Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and founder of In a January 29 report, they find that starting in 1990, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began systematically eliminating climate measuring stations in cooler locations around the world. Yes, that's right. They began eliminating stations that tended to record cooler temperatures and drove up the average measured temperature. The eliminated stations had been in higher latitudes and altitudes, inland areas away from the sea, as well as more rural locations. The drop in the number of weather stations was dramatic, declining from more than 6,000 stations to fewer than 1,500.

For the full report see

I'm sure that these practicing ratbags have been breeding in dark corners for years unnoticed until now. Is it time to bait with 1040 yet?

Tuesday 23 February 2010

It's the greed, stupid!

It's a tragedy that men have died installing government subsidized roof insulation and that some homeowners have had house fires as a result of faulty installation.
However banging on about ministerial responsibility and calling for Environment Minister Peter Garrett's resignation allows the real culprits off scot free.
It was those business owners who contracted with householders to install roof insulation (and sometimes then sub-contracted the work to unskilled individuals) who are responsible for the dangerous manner in which some of this insulation was laid down.
Their greedy desire to gain as many customers as they could, do as many jobs as humanly achievable in the least possible time with insulation material which gave them the biggest profit margin, which led to the deaths and housefires as surely as night follows day.
They cared for nothing except their own bank balances and should be publicly condemned.
Tony Abbott won't bay for their blood though because most of these business owners will be voting at the Australian federal election this year and he wants to be the next PM.


* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak at live dot com dot au for consideration.

Tony Abbott only winning back some of the once rusted-on Coaltion voters?

From an Essential Report poll of 1,834 respondents released on 22 February 2010:

Approval of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott

Voter approval comparison between Turnbull and Abbott as Coalition leaders.
Click on table to enlarge

Just under half (45%) of those surveyed approve of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader, 36% disapprove and 18% don't know.

This gives Tony Abbott a net approval rating of +9%.

This is the highest approval rating that has been recorded for Abbott in the Essential Report thus far and higher than Turnbull ever scored in our polling.

Results followed party lines – Coalition voters were more likely to approve of the job Abbott is doing (79%), while Labor voters were more likely to disapprove (58%). 28% of Labor voters approve of the job Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader.

68% of Green voters disapprove of the job Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader and 19% of these same voters approve.

People aged 65 years and over were more likely to approve of the job Abbott is doing (68%), while younger voters were more likely to indicate they don't know (37%).

Males were more likely than females to approve of the job Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader (47% v 43%).

Over half (57%) of Australians surveyed think that if Tony Abbott and the Liberals win the next election it is likely that they will introduce at least some parts of WorkChoices, 23% think it is unlikely and 20% don't know.

77% of Labor voters, 65% of Green voters and 50% of Coalition voters think that it is likely that at least some parts of WorkChoices will be introduced if Abbott and the Liberals win the next election.

People aged 45 – 55 were more likely to think that if the Liberal party wins the next election, at least some parts of WorkChoices will be introduced (68%), while people aged 65 years and over were more inclined to think it is unlikely some parts of WorkChoices will be introduced if the Liberals win the next election (32%).

A tweet whip around on Peter Garrett

Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage, the Arts and shaved heads everywhere, Peter Garrett, is getting mixed reviews on Twitter as the Opposition and Tony Abbott continue to pound him in Parliament:
Really - "Peter Garrett should resign because he couldn't force some installers read instructions"? Is that what we have devolved to?
Garrett's approval rating: 56% approve, 28% disapprove
charlottevale_j: how come most journalists are pronouncing peter garrett's insulation as "inshulation" (and not just those on channel 9)?
P_Stevenson: I think the system has let Peter Garrett down even though he may have some faults in what has happened.
GiantGuineaPig: If Peter Garrett can't insulate his own head, how did we trust him to insulate Australia? #ithinkididapoliticsjoke
nikki_isabel: Ten months, 87+ fires, and 4 deaths too late, Peter Garrett finally sees the warning? Well done, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
s2chig: Question time i.e. public scolding session of Peter Garrett was great. Tony Abbott has got some lungs on him
zombiemao using the death of others to score political points is the lowest of the low #qt

Monday 22 February 2010

Talking of trees and local councils......

The perennial arbor fight between residents and council workers continues as this report from The Daily Examiner online 22 February 2010 indicates:

CLARENCE Valley Council stirred up a hornet's nest when its workers removed a 15-year-old flame tree from outside Matt Clark's Bacon Street residence last week. Mr Clark, a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger and an acknowledged expert in the identification and propagation of native flora, is furious with the council over what he says is a stupid decision that flouts council regulations and due process.

My sympathies are with Matt Clark as I have seen the former Maclean Shire Council insist that two mature trees (not blocking the footpath or invading drains and definitely not impeding overhead powerlines of which there were none or impacting on visibility for passing motorists) be removed from a property/footpath boundary of an elderly neighbour - only to have the same council return two to three years later and plant other trees on the footpath as part of a street tree planting program. Those two new trees of course did not thrive and later died so that section of the street remains treeless to this day.

The Daily Examiner is to be congratulated for bringing this attitude to street trees to the forefront.

Stat dec to Clarence Council published in that newspaper.

(This is an accurate account of a conversation between George Nowak CVC, and myself on the 27th August 2009, transcribed on the afternoon of his departure & the following morning, without embellishment or fabrication. This is my statement for a statutory declaration I am providing Mr Nowak's supervisor).

Sometime in late July 2009 during roadworks on corner of Villiers & Bacon St, a CVC employee noticed the street trees outside my house. George Nowak subsequently telephoned me on 26 August & left a message identifying himself and said "I need to organise a meeting with you about your house at 78 Bacon St". He then visited me at home on the afternoon of 27 August 2009. He commenced the conversation by saying: "Those trees out the front, they've got to go."

I said "Why? It's a nature strip isn't it? Trees are part of nature & they provide food and habitat for all the birds around here."

He said "They're not approved by council, you shouldn't have planted them".

I replied "well since the council leaves it to the residents to maintain, this is how I choose to maintain it. It's better than mowing it."

He talked on about that area being Council land and I shouldn't have planted the trees.

I responded that at least one, possibly two were planted by CVC about 15 years ago, just like all the others up & down the street. I only bought the place in November 2006, complete with Council certification, and the trees beautify the area which was one of the attractions for me buying the place, so it's a bit late now."

He replied "They're impeding the drainage. They've got to go."
I said "I don't know who told you that George, but that's not correct, they're not a problem". He then repeated his claim about the drainage and added "we need to get a machine in there to clean the drains out."
I said "the drain is only a foot wide, you can do that with a shovel."
He said "no-one cleans drains with a shovel anymore. It has to drain from the street. We have to use a machine"
I said "Well I do, I've been cleaning it out with a shovel since I've lived here. I make sure the drains aren't blocked, the water flows, and any ponding at the culverts here is no worse than any ponding anywhere else in the street – come around after rain and see for yourself if you want to claims like that. Have you ever been here after rain? And anyway, Council's done no maintenance on the drains here for at least 15 years, they don't to, because they work perfectly."

I went on to say "How about this, as long as I own this place, I undertake to keep the drains clear and flowing." [which I have done]

Mr Nowak then said "They're going to grow into the powerlines."
I replied, "No they're not, let's go down and have a look."
He pointed to a number of trees, saying "those ones have got to go, you shouldn't have planted them".
I said "I didn't plant them, look at the size of them, I've only been here about two and a half years, some of them would have to be 10 years old. I admit, I wouldn't have planted that one in that spot, but it doesn't affect the drainage, and it's not going to grow into the powerlines. It's a Tristianopsis laurina or water gum – but it's not a gum tree." Then I added, "In the Newcastle City Council area, where I used to work, they actually plant them as street trees now, because they found they only need to be lopped or pruned once and they change their shape forever. They're actually great for under the lines. We did some planting for them back in the mid-90s"
He then pointed at 2 others and said "that's a Tuckeroo and that's a lilly-pilly, they've got to go, they'll both grow into the lines."
I replied, "No George, you're wrong on both counts – that one's Arytera divaricata, common name Coogera; and that one's Cryptocarya laevigata or glossy laurel. I selected them because they're both small, bird-dispersed local rainforest trees that will never reach the lines. This is the sort of trees that everyone should be planting to help beat the bird-dispersed weed problems like we've got on Susan Island. This is what you guys at Council should be doing everywhere around town, not planting weeds like that one over there." [being golden rain tree – Koelreuteria elegans].
He said "Cryptocarya laevigata. That's one of the ones they recommend to plant as replacements for camphor laurel."
I said "do you mean that species list in the camphor laurel control kit?
He said "yes"
I said "Well, I wrote that. There's actually several species of Cryptocarya, and that is the smallest of them. The only similarity it has is that it produces fruit for birds." I showed him a nearby tuckeroo (planted prior to my purchase of the property), and said "this is a Tuckeroo, see the difference? There's actually two Tuckeroos here, I'll take both of them out, as well as all those two (pointing to Alectryon coriaceus) they're all coastal species, I wouldn't have planted them here." He asked what species a few of the others were, and I agreed that only one (Livistonia australis – cabbage tree palm, offset from the lines by 2m) might have the potential to get that big. I then said, "but even if that were to happen George, we won't have to worry about it cause it will take about 50 years, it's the slowest growing one of the lot. I actually planted that one, not just because it's a local fruiting species for the birds and the flying foxes, but because the drunks had ripped out some by the roots a few times & I thought if they wanted to rip that one out in the dark, it' will fight back. Just a way of protecting them from vandals."

I then explained to him that contractors from Asplundh (a vegetation management company contracted by Country Energy) were here only 2 weeks ago, and we inspected the plantings together, and I asked their opinion. They made it quite clear that they didn't think they were a problem, and even added comments along the lines of "we're not worried about those, and even if they're going to be a problem, they've got a long way to go yet and they're pretty slow growing. We'll be coming around each year anyway. Country Energy has contract with us to maintain the lines." I then said, "it doesn't even sound like its Council's problem to me. Country Energy pays these people to do it, and as far as they're concerned it's not a problem. They even delivered all that woodchip mulch for free [about 1 tonne] a couple of days after their inspection!"

Despite that, Mr Nowak then said, "Well I wouldn't like you to come home and find all your trees gone."
I replied "That should never happen George. I doubt they'll ever be a problem, but anyway, if it keeps you happy, just like the drains, I undertake to maintain all of these trees while ever I own this place to make sure they don't foul the lines."

After further brief conversation I added "I know trees. I chose them because they're local species & because of their characteristics. They're not a problem." I then asked him "what about the Koelreuteria over there? The golden rain trees that Council planted, they're one of the weediest species around and have been on the national weed Red Alert list for at least 15 years. When are you going to take them out? I get hundreds come up in my yard each year, and so does everybody else around here. It's about time you removed them isn't it?"
He replied "we've got other weed priorities."

Mr Nowak then said, "And what about the parking? You've lost a parking space."
I said "well, that's my problem, I'm not worried about it, there's still plenty of parking around here – enough for 4-5 cars and that is only one parking space. Like I said, there were already plenty of trees here when I bought the place. No-one's parked there for 10 years."

Mr Nowak then said, "And then there's the issue of pedestrian safety." (!!!!!)
I said "Interesting that you should mention that George, because one of the reasons I planted these two here & that Lomandra is because a friend who came around to visit me nearly broke his leg when he stepped off the side into that drain just on dark one time. It's a two foot drop! I thought if I planted these things here, that would never happen again, so don't talk to me about pedestrian safety when there's no footpath, and no street lights on this side of the street. That's ridiculous!"
He said "no, safety for people walking past."
I said "what do you mean?"
He said, "Assaults. We had an incident in a South Grafton street recently where someone was hiding in the bushes and ambushed a pedestrian."
I replied, "Well, streetlights would fix that."
He said, "No it happened in broad daylight. Someone could hide in there."
I said, "If someone wanted to do that, there's plenty of other places they can hide around here. I think you're clutching at straws."

After further brief discussion I promised to "thin them out, and take all the coastal stuff." Within thirty minutes of Mr Novak's departure, I had removed 5 trees (3 tuckeroos & 2 beach birds eyes), as well as pruned the Lomandra back to ground level. I never heard from Mr Novak again, and naturally assumed he had been satisfied with the work I completed, as we agreed.

Graphic from Google Images

Tall tales and true from the legendary Land of the Free and Home of the Brave - litigation gone wild

It has to be true if Justia lists it on the U.S. court dockets - this month an obviously intelligent, articulate American woman living in an extended-stay hotel and who does not appear to be currently employed is suing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Affiliates, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Office of Inspector General, Federal Reserve Board, United States Congress, George Bush, Jr., Laura Bush, Joshua Bolten and Police and Trooper Departments of the United States in a civil rights application over what she insists is the overuse of virtual technology to access living beings, as well personal harassment by littering, being video monitored at the direction of a government agency etc., and is seeking $950 trillion in damages.

Unfortunately I haven't access to Pacer, however the Denver Westword carries details of the story here and links to an original court document here.

Here is a teaser of what is reported to be in the twenty-six page complaint:
I believe the Department of Justice and affiliates listed above permit overuse of virtual technology to access living beings. This is to control information, behavior, physiology, reproduction (DNA cloning), longevity, conduct harassment, conduct punishment through controlled life conditions that act as a virtual court of law, discriminate that defines life destiny, access intellectual property to control thought and innovations, conduct investigations that lead to a defamation of character, manage daily operations of living capital to secure the globe with the intent to condition the Federal Reserve when in fact their activity erodes societal values, privacy and precipitates a global recession.
Examples of virtual technology utilized:
Hidden camera
exposed camera
DNA-based brainstem software
Infrared technology
Thought monitor
Emulating software
Thought monitor
Telephonic eavesdropping and controls
Nerve Center
Manipulate body temperature to create cold hands and feet to precipitate peripheral vascular disease
Administer a conference bridge on my brain as a forum for 2 years in spite of my constant written and verbal requests to permanently disconnect it
Insert/force pictures and/or video of dysfunctional pictures in my brain

Apparently in America one is almost never seen as a frivolous or vexatious litigant because earlier in the year the same woman filed against U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and Company, JPMorgan Chase and Company and American Express Company in another civil rights application and in 2009 appears to have lodged at least three civil rights actions one of which had to do with colours and patterns.

The application against the DoJ et al speaks volumes about how dysfunctional the American system of justice has become, when it will seriously docket for consideration a case where reality has left the room in relation to the complaint and, an damages claim amount is also listed which exceeds the 2009 U.S. Gross Domestic Product and must be perilously close to exceeding the combined annual GDP of the world's principal national economies.

It appears to be a worthy successor to that other classic piece of delusional litigation UNITED STATES ex rel. Gerald MAYO v. SATAN AND HIS STAFF, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971) except that in this present case the plaintiff is obviously in great distress and probably not receiving appropriate assistance elsewhere.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Want to know Abbott's 2010 election campaign battle plan?

Tony Abbott only has one endearing character trait from this blogger's perspective - he loves to talk a lot.

So long before he actually looked like winning party leadership and becoming Leader of the Coalition Opposition he virtually told the Australian electorate that it could find his basic election campaign tactics and principal policy intentions within the covers of his book Battlelines.

Excerpts from Tony Abbott's National Press Club notes when puffing up his about to be released book in July 2009 [my emphasis]:

The Howard era should be the yardstick against which the Rudd government is judged but it won't be the blueprint on which the next Coalition government is modeled. Under Howard, there were 2.2 million more jobs, real wages grew by over 20 per cent and Australians' individual wealth doubled. This happened, not because of the China boom, but because Peter Costello's first budget sliced almost one per cent of GDP from public spending so that government would live within its means. It happened because workplace relations reform reduced third party-interference in how businesses worked, making them more productive and more rewarding for their employees. It happened because the former government understood that the world owes no one a living so expected people to work for a wage or to work for the dole. The former government didn't talk about tough decisions; it made them. It didn't borrow against the future to line people's pockets now but funded lower taxes and higher spending from the proceeds of a strong economy. Still, the Coalition won't deserve to win the next election if it is merely a tepid version of the Howard government.

Because "governments lose elections, oppositions don't win them", the principal obstacle to the Rudd government's reelection will be the government itself. The opposition's challenge is to make the government's conduct the issue, not its own, and then to persuade voters that it has some sensible policies that address their problems and are based on their values. In Battlelines, I put forward some proposals which could form the basis of the Coalition's future appeal. They tackle the biggest problems facing Australia in ways which reflect the values of the Coalition parties and, in my view, can touch a chord with the Australian people.

If the prime minister's political agenda is any guide, apart from good economic management, voters' principal concerns are health and education.....

The Coalition should especially beware of sloganeering against so called middle class welfare. A universal payment to families with children is not middle class welfare but a tax cut for kids. The consequence of the campaign against middle class welfare has been to trap people on social security where they are an economic burden on others rather than to facilitate lower taxes. Being against middle class welfare means being in favour of means tests. In a tightly targeted system, these often ensure that welfare recipients trying to get ahead face effective marginal tax rates in excess of those faced by highflying businessmen. It's not surprising that the Labor Party, now as much a welfare party as a working class one, should tolerate such arrangements. The Coalition, by contrast, should not put any structural obstacles in the path of people trying to better themselves. Trying to ensure that at any given level of income and in any household type, people keep a reasonable proportion of any extra income they earn should be the Holy Grail of Coalition policy....... position has shifted from philosophical federalist to pragmatic nationalist as experience has trumped intellectual prejudice....... Notional bulwark against improbable tyranny, the states may well be but, in Australian practice, they are far more often a handbrake on effective government.....

In Battlelines, I propose a mechanism for actually bringing this about. It's not to abolish the states or readily to interfere with the way they do things. Rather, it's to give the national parliament much the same power over the states that it currently has over the territories.

So there we have it. The thumbnail plan appears to be to offer the electorate a return to Howard-era middle class welfare handouts at each federal budget while quietly cutting public spending, possibly lowering taxes for a few sometime in the future, doing something not yet specified about health and education, curtailing workers rights to a fair pay for a fair day's work, making life difficult for people receiving welfare benefits (with the exception of old age pensioners) and a more centralised form of federal government which overrides state decisions on anything and everything as the whim takes it.

Think I'll go down to my local library and order in the updated copy of Abbott's book to see how else he intends to make life difficult if he were to win government in 2010.
I'm sure the introduction of hanging judges, forced pregnancies and public whippings of single mothers, re-education camps for the homeless and unemployed and chemical castration of undesirables and atheists are probably in there somewhere! [wink,wink]

An edited extract from Battlines published in The Australian on 27 July 2009 here.
Transcript of 7.30 Report interview with Tony Abbott on 27 July 2009.