Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gender difference in number of hospital inpatient days 2005- 2010

Between 2005–06 and 2009–10, patient days in all hospitals increased by 9.8% for males, and by 7.4% for females (Figure 7.3). The relative size and direction of change in patient days varied by sex and age group.
Click on graph to enlarge

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Poll shows more people now want Gillard Government to run full term

Essential Report* on 30 April 2012:

48% think the Labor Government should run its full term until the 2013 election and 42% think an election should be held now.
10% don’t know.

*This report summarises the results of a weekly omnibus conducted by Essential Research with data provided by Your Source. The survey was conducted online between the 25th and 29th April and is based on 1,051 respondents.

Maccas not winning hearts, minds or money in 2012

In April 2012 The Sydney Morning Herald showed that the McDonalds fast food behemoth is living in hope in southern climes:

AUSTRALIA'S love affair with Big Macs and french fries may be waning, with McDonald's growth in the region sliced by more than half.
The fast food giant's global chief operating officer, Donald Thompson, described the local market as ''challenging'' and getting worse.
To counter the sales downturn across Australian stores, McDonald's has introduced initiatives including the launch last month of its Loose Change menu, which offers a range of items under $2 and its Value Lunch deal.
Releasing its first-quarter earnings results in the US on the weekend, McDonald's said sales at its US stores were up 8.9 per cent for the quarter, while comparable-store sales rose 5.5 per cent in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region (APMEA), which takes in Australia………………….
Only a few years ago, following the global financial crisis, Australia was one of the best-performing regions for the restaurant chain. In 2009 the local operation posted sales growth of 6 per cent, nearly double the global rate of 3.8 per cent.
The stronger performance was driven by an image overhaul, including a revamp of its menu to offer healthier alternatives as well as gourmet-style burgers, such as the Angus Burger, which proved a big hit.
The Australian spokeswoman said the local business had improved in the past two months and managers expected it to match global growth rates as the year continued. McDonald's is estimated to have a 46 per cent share of the quick-service restaurant category in Australia. It is planning to open 35 stores this year to take its Australian portfolio to 900.

One could speculate that its ongoing heavy-handed site development tactics in the face of community opposition contribute to the sales down-turn it is experiencing.
However, customer dissatisfaction, as well as health and safety issues, also may play their part in this marked decline.

A McDonald's social media promotional campaign at the beginning of the year was pulled after two hours  and Twitter 'sanitised' because the company's hashtag #McDStoriese produced tweets like these. While its televised advertorial in the same month fell flat.

Again in January, Perth Now reported that McDonalds was being fined for more convictions concerning food quality and preparation. In NSW the company was fined in August 2011 for Fail to maintain the food premises to the required standard of cleanliness - accumulation of rubbish, food debris, grease and dirt on floor  and in March 2012 for Fail to maintain the food premises to the required standard of cleanliness - accumulation of dirt, grease and food waste, previous warnings given  at two of the fast food outlets it manages itself.

ABC News on 11 January 2012 also indicated that customers were being systematically defrauded by staff:

A 33-year-old man is on trial in the District Court in Perth accused of involvement in a multi-million-dollar card skimming scheme involving customers of fast food company McDonald's.
The scheme led to a total of $3.5 million being taken out of the accounts of thousands of West Australians.
It is alleged Navaneeth Ponnabalam was one of many people who took part in the scheme, which involved swapping EFTPOS pin pads at McDonald's stores with ones that could record the bank details of customers.
The court was told customers who used the drive-through had details of their accounts copied by the machines and then money was withdrawn from their accounts interstate and overseas.

In 2012 McDonalds outlets continue to attract antisocial and criminal behaviour, such as stabbings, robbery, violent confrontation with police and assault.

Talented kids (and parents)

Yamba Public School's traditional annual Easter hat parade was held recently and demonstrated, yet again, there's heaps of talent in the district. (pics sources from YPS Newsletter)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

CGS FREE! Northern Rivers. In solidarity with those citizens raising their voices in Sydney on 1 May 2012

Will it be tears before bedtime for Australian Governments lured by SAIC's siren song?

SAIC Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) registered in Queensland since 1990 and located in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. Ii appears to do business with the Commonwealth and state governments.

According to IT News For Business on 16 April 2012 SAIC has plans:

Science Applications International Corporation has revealed plans to create a regional cyber security research and development centre in Melbourne.
The R&D centre will create 50 jobs over the next three years, according to a statement by the Victorian State Government.
The jobs will be in the areas including high-end defence simulation and "related defence areas".
Specifically, the centre will research data mining and analysis systems, such as SIAC's enterprise search tool TeraText, and its subsidiary's deep packet inspection software, CloudShield……
SAIC has an existing office presence in Queensland and Victoria, and 41,000 employees worldwide.

Then there was this potted history of the corporation in The Washington Post on 22 April 2012:

Last week in these pages, The Post ran a profile of John Jumper, the straight arrow former Air Force general who was brought in as chief executive of local contracting giant SAIC in the wake of an embarrassing overbilling scandal involving bribery, kickbacks, foreign shell corporations and a safe deposit box stuffed with $850,000 in cash.
A year ago company officials were publicly denying that there were any problems at all with its contract to build a new timecard system for New York City, which by then was so late and so over budget that “CityTime” had become a frequent target for the New York tabloids and political embarrassment for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
It was just last June that SAIC executives and directors first informed shareholders that there might be a little $2.5 million overbilling problem with the contract and that federal prosecutors had brought criminal charges against six employees of an SAIC subcontractor. Shareholders had to read deep into Note 9 of that quarterly report to learn that there might be “a reasonable possibility of additional exposure to loss that is not currently estimable” that “could have a material adverse impact” on the company’s finances.
It was just six months ago that SAIC got around to firing the three executives who were supposed to oversee the New York operations and letting shareholders know that the board of directors had formed a special committee and hired a couple of law firms to get to the bottom of things.
And it was a month ago that SAIC, acknowledging its responsibility in failing to detect a bribery and kickback conspiracy going on right under its corporate nose, agreed to repay the city $500 million of the $635 million it had received for the completed CityTime system. The settlement will allow SAIC to avoid criminal prosecution and the almost certain debarment from government contracting work that would follow.
Now with the appointment of a new chief executive, SAIC wants to assure everyone that the problems have been fixed and that the company has regained its “entrepreneurial spirit” and returned to its “core values.”……

This is what SAIC told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications in a submission on 19 February 2011:

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) was founded in 1969 by Dr. J.Robert Beyster on the premise of attracting creative and pragmatic technical people to solve the world’s most difficult problems. Today it is a diversified technical company with business in energy, health, national security, environment, and critical infrastructure. SAIC’s 43,000 personnel are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and growing technology markets. The company is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and we have business operations in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and Queensland among other locations around the world.
Since the 1990s, SAIC has been involved in high-speed networking and high performance computing initiatives, and through our “spun out” subsidiaries (i.e., Network Solutions, Telcordia, ANXeBusiness, etc.) we participated in the growth of the Internet into its now critical place in global communication, economic, social and information infrastructure. As the Internet has grown, we have worked to develop applications that leverage these capabilities to help government improve service delivery (including eGovernment, education, etc.), and help critical infrastructure industries (energy, health, etc.) enhance their effectiveness. SAIC has also been a leader in the rapid development and integration of cybersecurity systems and components that have become required underpinning frameworks for the expansion of these large scale network architectures.

While this is what is telling the world on its Federal Contractor Misconduct Database:

SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) is a scientific, engineering and technology applications company. It works extensively with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the intelligence agencies. Founded by J. Robert Beyster, Ph.D., and a small group of scientists in 1969, SAIC and its subsidiaries now have approximately 41,000 employees worldwide.
Federal Contract $: $6861.6m
Total Number of Instances: 13
Total Misconduct dollar amount: $ 533.3m

Can Australian governments afford this corporation?

North Coast Voices in May 2012

Due to a combination of illness, family commitments and travel, most of North Coast Voices regular contributors will be missing for much of this month.
Leaving me to do a daily post or two over this period.
I will try to cover the topics usually written about by my compatriots, however I hope regular readers of this blog will bear with me if I do not manage to explore these subjects as fully as they have come to expect from this blog.