Tuesday, 3 February 2009

'Truffles' Turnbull's latest tack

Dear Voter,
I'm writing to let you know that Edward Gough Whitlam is alive and well and heading the country as Australian Prime Minister in 2009.
You may have been a little confused because his official biography doesn't mention him being a rather younger, chubby fellow hailing from Queensland.
But do not be fooled - the PM is really Gough after a clever makeover paid for by Unions Australia.
If Gough-in-disguise comes to your door asking for your vote it would be wise to have lots of garlic and holy water handy to ward him off.
Australia's economy depends on returning to government all those politicians who so enthusiastically supported a deregulated global financial system.
Julie, Joe and Tony join me in saying: Remember, greed is good for the nation.

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull

This letter was paid for by donations from my friends Bankers International and Big Business.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Storm Financial: if it looks too good to be true then it is

Storm is one of Australia's largest and fastest growing Financial Services firms. Our strength comes from providing services and advice, based on sound research, which integrate smoothly with your life goals and ambitions.
Investing successfully is about fulfilling your full financial potential; not about being constrained by the limits of your present position.
We take the confusion and complexity out of investing and provide free investor education so you can make informed choices to create the quality of life you desire.

So said Storm Financial (formerly Ozdaq Securities and Cassimatis Securities) in 2005.

Supposedly the principals now have to sell all after the company's financial collapse leaves them facing personal bankruptcy.

Though the media have been somewhat silent about another company Ignite Financial Systems & Research Pty Ltd (formerly Storm Financial Research and Ozdaq Research) apparently owned by Storm principals and rumoured to be operating in Victoria as well as in Queensland and, which has Storm Financial as a client.
It is not clear whether this firm has been protected from the financial meltdown or indeed if any of the other companies which appear to be associated with Storm are not at risk.

It has also been reported that the Financial Planners Association has terminated Storm's membership with some stern words.

Matters are likely to go from bad to worse for Storm clients, for besides having to meet horrendous margin calls it is possible that the Australian Tax Office may come calling about how various advisers structured their tax.

Legal action by former Storm clients against everyone they can think of may be the only way to stave off further loss/debt.
At last count their combined debt was estimated at $100 million.

Courtesy of The Wayback Machine here are website screen shots from October 2007 and January 2009.




Scorching Australia: interviews with Wong, Lindesay and Evans on climate change

Photograph from the ABC

Australia's southern states are struggling through what is likely to be a once-in-a-century heat wave. ABC's Canberra correspondent, Linda Mottram in an extended interview with Doctor Janette Lindesay, associate professor of climatology, Australian National University last week.
Interview can be heard here:
Windows Media

An earlier interview with Julie Evans, meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Sydney, Penny Wong, Australia's Climate Change Minister, Doctor Janette Lindesay, associate professor of climatology, Australian National University can be heard here:
Windows Media

ABC News report on last year's southern heatwave.

How Rudd & Labor can lose the 2010 federal election

What with Turnbull and Truss still rummaging around for a hat to match that Coalition overcoat, it looks nigh on impossible for the Rudd Government to lose the next federal election.
Ah, but wait.
Every Australia Day the ugly little republican imp is let loose and the media delightedly stir the common pot.
According to the Canberra Times the Australian Republican Movement wants Rudd to fire the starter's gun so voters can decide if Australian is to be a republic.
The BBC weighs in with a little ambivalence on the subject.
For once David Flint writing for the ABC News hits the nail on the head with a piece titled Republican push divisive, expensive and irresponsible.
The Courier Mail baldly says that Rudd has ditched the plan because of a feared voter backlash.

Faced with the increasingly nasty effects of climate change and in a long period of economic uncertainty affecting every facet of life; all Australia needs to turn it snarling on the ruling political party is for that party to decide that we need more disruptive change and insist the country debate and vote on a republic.
If Rudders resists the urge to begin this republican debate then all will be well.
If not - then bring on the next federal election and I for one will delight in voting the bustards out 2010.
We need the short-sighted and naked self-interest of pollies messing with the Australian Constitution like we need the discovery of mad cow disease within our borders.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

First bumper stickers, t-shirts and coffee mugs - now Obama is a worm!

During the 2008 presidential election campaign the Obama for America team branded almost everything that moved with logos and slogans promoting Barack Obama.

During the transition period for President-elect Obama his face began appearing on even more merchandise.

Now as President Obama his face appears on PC monitors if these have been infected with an Obama Worm.

The worm spreads via USB drive, using the Windows autorun feature to install itself automatically on any drive it connects with. Unlike most of today's profit-driven malware, the Obama worm doesn't steal your credit card number or turn your PC into a remote-controlled zombie system. In fact, it isn't designed to do anything besides float a small picture of Obama at the bottom right corner of your desktop all day every Monday.

Unfortunately, it is so badly written that the worm gradually renders any PC it is run on completely useless, according to Rob Koliha, Walling Data's director of innovation. "It will basically prevent execution of any kind of files."

Because antivirus programs don't detect it yet, it's also hard to know when you've been infected, except on Monday.

Australian genetically modified foods update

This post is by way of a catch-up on news about genetically modified (GM) food and crops in Australia.

ABC News reported last week:

When New South Wales and Victoria dropped their bans on genetically modified canola crops, GM supporters claimed farmers would have greater yielding crops as a result.
However recent trials showed there was little difference between the two.
So why bother growing GM canola if you can't get anything extra out of it?....

Chris Preston is associate professor at the School of Agriculture at the University of Adelaide.
He says trial results depend on region and climate, and the drought hampered the GM canola trails.
He says the trials do give an indication how canola performs in drought conditions, and if that's where it's being grown it's probably not worth growing GM canola variety. xxxx

WA Business News also ran this short article on 16 January:

Genetically modified canola crops in Victoria have performed no better than their non-genetically modified counterparts as Western Australia prepares to hold trials later this year.
Results from Grains Research and Development Council showed the yields, from the first independent trial crops in Horsham and Forbes in Victoria, were 0.7 tonne per hectare for GM and 0.8t/ha ha for non-GM.
The results are not good news for those wanting to farm GM canola, as to break even with the technology, profits must increase by up to 16 per cent.

Comment on the Business News article:

This article talks of yields, but what about sales? Thanks to this environmentally toxic rubbish being foisted on us Australians I simply boycott everything with Canola in it now because no-one can quickly prove to me it's GM free.

I'm not going to waste my time trying to find out either as you either encounter people who don't have a clue or spin doctors.

I'm becoming more aggressive with fish shops etc too, if they are using canola or cottonseed oil, the food could be GM contaminated.

We Can't Eat A Scorched Earth! Climate change and food security
Free public meeting promoted by Gene Ethics
Thursday 5th February 2009
5.45 pm for 6.00 pm talk start, concluding 7.15pm
NSW Teachers Federation
23 - 33 Mary St, Surry Hills Sydney - (between Albion & Reservoir)

Australian Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) list of genetically modified product approvals:
GM products approved as food, food additives and processing aids (PDF 79 KB)
GM products approved as therapeutics (PDF 19 KB)

OGTR current list of applications and licences to release GMO into the environment, laboratory trials and low risk dealings.

* This post is part of North Coast Voices' effort to keep Monsanto's blog monitor (affectionately known as Mr. Monsanto) in long-term employment.

Bernard Keane on Turnbull & Bishop is my quote of the week

Bernard Keane writing an open letter to Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop in Crikey (arriving via Peter Martin's blog) contains what has to be my favourite quotes this week.
The entire letter is well worth a read.

"But you seem determined to maintain the fiscal hairy-chestedness. As part of that, you like to maintain that when you were in Government, you were the height of fiscal responsibility.

That's complete bollocks and I'm sick of hearing it. The first two Howard Budgets were excellent. They cleaned up the profligacy of the last Keating budgets and began seriously implementing a small-government agenda of the sort a lot of us had been looking for for years. But after that, you dropped the ball. Subsequent budgets got slacker and slacker, especially once the mining boom kicked in. After 2001, your budgets got downright bad as you shelled out money to buy votes. After 2004, you were shovelling money out the door so fast slow-moving people were getting buried under it.

If you'd had just a little regard for the longer term you could have used the boom years to hand out tax cuts and built the surplus up further, or make a serious start on fixing our infrastructure, or get an ETS up and running so we had it built into our economy before the crisis hit.

But no, you died vomiting money to anyone registered to vote."