An email to 2GB’s Andrew Moore who is filling in for Alan Jones today
Good morning Andrew,
You posed an interesting question at the top of the hour about whether supporters of a republic would take advantage of the Queen’s Birthday public holiday. I support the monarchy, but I’m working today…where’s the Republican to do my shift today (but I’ll keep my public holiday penalty rates).
As for Kevin Rudd, I agree with you that if he takes over the Labor leadership he will immediately call an election. But I don’t think the public will fall for it and it would result in an even bigger loss for Labor…perhaps that would be a good thing.
Happy Birthday! (that’s the greeting today isn’t it?),
WASHINGTON (AP) – The National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to a report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
The order was granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and is good until July 19, the newspaper reported Wednesday. The order requires Verizon, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies, on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
The newspaper said the document, a copy of which it had obtained, shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens were being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.
It’s not surprising that a British newspaper broke this story as many of the stories of problems with ObamaCare and other Obama programs have been broken by British papers, particularly the Daily Mail. What is surprising is that The Guardian broke the story and this is having a follow-on effect. The Guardian, which has been fairly defensive of the Obama administration as part of a broader left-wing agenda, is respected greatly by a paper with a similar ideological bent, The New York Times and thus The New York Times has reported on The Guardian’s report. The New York Times is, for historical reasons, respected by a large section of the American media, possibly a majority, despite its blind spot for the Obama administration, and thus their report on this is being reported on by pretty much every news outlet in the country.
The New York Times has defended the Obama administration time and time again, but has gone to town on the Obama administration and, in particular, Attorney-General Eric Holder, on this story.
The order was sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that regulates domestic surveillance for national security purposes, that allows the government to secretly obtain “tangible things” like a business’s customer records. The provision was expanded by Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Congress enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The order was marked “TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN,” referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. That would make it among the most closely held secrets in the federal government, and its disclosure comes amid a furor over the Obama administration’s aggressive tactics in its investigations of leaks.
For several years, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, have been cryptically warning that the government was interpreting its surveillance powers under that section of the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming to the public if it knew about it.
“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” they wrote last year in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
They added: “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”
The senators were angry because the Obama administration described Section 215 orders as being similar to a grand jury subpoena for obtaining business records, like a suspect’s hotel or credit card records, in the course of an ordinary criminal investigation. The senators said the secret interpretation of the law was nothing like that.
The New York Times also took the opportunity to give the previous Bush administration a whack for creating the provisions of the law under which this mass-collection of personal data has occurred, which is fair enough as there are many parts of the Patriot Act which are objectionable, but it’s interesting that the important part of the article where it is noted that the problem seems to rest with the way the law is being interpreted as opposed to the way in which it is written, is buried in the 2nd half of the article and not near the top where most people might notice it. None-the-less, it is there, and it’s good to see it there.
What I have to wonder is that, seeing as Eric Holder was involved deeply in obtaining the phone records of news reporters and lied to a House Judiciary Committee about it, and The New York Times is making it clear that he has had information about the NSA’s Verizon call records operation, is Eric Holder being set up to take the fall for these scandals and any other scandals which can be linked to him, so that the rest of the Obama administration doesn’t have to be held to account?
The rest of the administration has plenty of other problems at the moment, including the InternalRevenue Servicedeliberately targetingconservative groups so that it would be harder for them to operate prior to the 2012 election, and the ongoing issue of the altering of talking points about the deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi so that it would seem less serious in the lead-up to the 2012 election, and the role Susan Rice had in the cover-up, a scandal which has been brought back in to the spotlight by Susan Rice’s appointment as National Security Advisor. Then there are the intermittent stories of healthcare costs going up and coverage being limited because of ObamaCare.
With these other scandals swirling, it wouldn’t surprise me if Eric Holder “steps down” soon so that as many scandals as can be tied to him can be swept away, and maybe it can act as a distraction from a few others.
Saying “I told you so” about the awfulness of the Obama administration doesn’t really cut it here because, yes, I was one of the people warning that he and his team were bad news right from the start, but “I told you so” doesn’t fit because I didn’t expect it to be this bad. It worries me that there is still three and a bit years to go until.
Until then, I have to wonder how much more data will be collected about innocent citizens, and for what purpose that information will be used. That shoe hasn’t dropped yet…but when it does, I doubt even I can imagine what awful purpose they have in mind for that information.
When I heard about this story yesterday it was as a one-line brief mention at the end of a radio news bulletin. My mind jumped to a different conclusion, and that conclusion still isn’t answered.
Almost 1.4 million voters are missing from Australia’s electoral roll, new figures show.
Since laws recently passed allowing the AEC to directly enrol voters through cross-checking other government data, 80,000 people have been added to the roll and 310,000 addresses updated.
The AEC expects to add about 150,000 names to the roll by this process before the election.
That leaves a lot of people missing from the rolls and I have to assume that it’s based on an estimate of the number of people who should be eligible based on population estimates from the Australian Bureau Of Statistics, as if they knew the exact number of people who should be on the roll based on actual personal information stored by other parts of the government, then the Electoral Commission would enrol them.
Still, there is a question which hasn’t been answered. The story which I heard yesterday simply noted that:
Almost 1.4 million voters are missing from Australia’s electoral roll
Which brought my mind back to an interview which 2UE’s Jason Morrison conducted with someone from the Electoral Commission a few months ago after he received calls from people who had checked their enrolment on the electoral roll and found that they had gone missing from the electoral roll. The person from the Electoral Commission denied that they had adjusted any details on the roll and blamed the voters for forgetting the details they had enrolled with. For some, he may have had a point, but not for most of the many many people who rang in.
At least now we know that the electoral roll data is being changed by the Australian Electoral Commission, althoughwe still do not have an answer as to why perfectly valid entries have been altered…I suspect an error in the process at the AEC whereby they have trusted data entered by other government departments even when the only difference between that data and what was on the electoral roll was a full middle name instead of an initial or vice-versa.
The good news I suppose is that you can check your enrolment on the AEC website at https://oevf.aec.gov.au/. It should be noted though that the form is very picky about what details you must enter correctly, so you might want to try a few variations of your name and address if you don’t find yourself immediately. Alternatively you can visit an AEC office and check the electoral roll there. You don’t need to know any details to see the list of voters on the electoral roll at an AEC office. Or you could just ring the AEC to correct your entry…but they’ll probably want you to fill out paperwork for that.
Going back to the job being undertaken by the AEC of adding people to the electoral roll based on data held by other government departments, I wonder two things:
1. How many incorrect entries will be added based on out-of-date data?
2. How many people who have avoided registering to vote will find themselves on the electoral roll? I know of some people who have never registered and would be very interested if they are caught in the net, so to speak.
I might be missing something here, but the news out of New South Wales that unimmunised children could soon be excluded from childcare centres because apparently they’re a threat to the safety of us all, has me wondering one thing.
Who is actually at risk here? Surely if immunisation protects us from diseases, then unimmunised people potentially spreading diseases is only a concern for the unimmunised people, as the immunised ones should be immune. So if unimmunised people are the only ones at risk, and the parents of unimmunised children have made the decision to not immunise their children for one reason or another, surely it is their choice and excluding these kids from childcare centres provides no societal benefit as unimmunised kids should provide no risk to immunised kids.
This would seem logical if immunisation provides, as the name implies, immunity from certain diseases…but then again, maybe I’m missing something.
Thanks to the great efforts of the Boston police department, the FBI, the cooperation of the people of Boston who heeded a temporary curfew, and various other law enforcement and public safety agencies, we have witnessed a fantastic moment in history today.
The 2nd alleged Boston bomber was caught in a backyard today, and was taken alive. A resident saw something suspicious in a backyard when the suspect was on the run after authorities had flushed the suspect out, and authorities were then able to pinpoint the location of the suspect. According to what was heard on the Boston police scanner and reported by Mark Levin at the time, the FBI’s HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) which primarily provides SWAT-style assistance to the Critical Incident Response Group’s negotiation team, were the only people allowed in for the final stages of the capture…other tactical squads were told to keep out. In his book “Stalling For Time”, former FBI chief negotiator Gary Noesner, who in many ways was responsible for the building of the FBI’s hostage negotiation program, and for making the top brass take hostage negotiation seriously after the tactical errors which led to the infamous outcome of the Waco siege, wrote about how the negotiation tactics are often much more successful than an all-in tactical assault when you are faced with people who may be out to cause destruction, or believe they have nothing to lose. Gary’s work over the years has, undoubtedly in my mind, helped shape the procedures and training which have led to today’s fantastic outcome.
That’s not to say that armed response is not important. Of course it is important to have the ability to end a siege with armed means, and we should never lose sight of the fact that good guys with guns today stopped a bad guy with various weapons, but we should also acknowledge the careful and meticulous work of the tactical and negotiation teams, and all of the other people who kept the situation under control when an entire city was gripped with panic.
This really was an historic moment, and I have to give special credit to Fox News and their Boston affiliate WFXT for the excellent coverage they have provided of this whole event, ever since the awful events of the bombing. Fox News Radio, with their own coverage, have also done a fantastic job, and in my view news reporting does not get any better than what we heard at 9pm US Eastern Time (11am Canberra time) when mere minutes after the event, with rapidly changing and updating details flooding in, Fox’s Ron Flatter (who many Australians would know thanks to his work as a correspondent for Melbourne’s nationally-syndicated racing and sport station RSN 927) presented a clear, concise, and to quite frankly interesting, exciting, and urgent-feeling news bulletin.
For historical purposes, on this special occasion, I have saved a copy of the amazing work of Ron and the Fox News Radio team in presenting their 5 minute 9pm newscast.
A great day…and to think there were people who were hoping, for political purposes, earlier this week that the bombers would be crazy right-wing white folk, rather than what we are learning now and what was always most likely, that we are dealing with Al Qaeda sympathisers with links to radical Islamic terrorism and a known radical hate-filled Australian Sheikh.
Well done to the law enforcement officials who worked so hard to secure this outcome, and equally to the great law enforcement officials who killed the other suspect. I will visit the US embassy to hopefully sign a book of thanks to you all, and also a book of condolence for the people who Boston and West in Texas for the tragic (and unrelated) events which have cost so many innocent lives this week.
I must also note how pleased I was to see and hear that people were cheering for and applauding the law enforcement officials after they caught this guy. It was a great moment.
I’m in the middle of planning a trip (OK, closer to the start than the middle) to the US at the moment, and it occurs to me that my profile, plus my writings from earlier today, could just mean that a computer somewhere in the FBI or the CIA wants an agent to dig a little deeper.
From the perspective of a computer which has been programmed to look out for key words and phrases, this extract from my blog post about the postal system earlier today might seem a tad suspicious.
I would [..] embed some [..] devices in items I post
Yes, the statement was about tracking devices, and one would hope that an FBI agent would see that and dismiss the computer’s concerns, but I still think the computer would be worried about talk of posting devices and embedding things. The blog post also mentioned ricin, a poisonous substance which was mailed to the US President and a senator today, and so chatter about it would probably be high on the priority list for intelligence-gathering computers.
If I was putting together an automated system which looks out for suspicious activity of the terrorist kind, and was mainly basing it on key words and phrases, I would probably set it up so that after identifying something as potentially suspicious, it would then take another look over it for other, less immediately obvious, suspicious phrases which might indicate a plot or some sort of code. Looking back over that blog post, I listed my postal address in an unusual format:
a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272
And talked about the inside of government buildings:
They finally found it somewhere in the PO
parcels which are [..] stored in the post office’s back rooms
wandering back out to the back rooms
A drug inference could even be drawn from
Nattie did give the letter a good sniff
or possibly an explosives inference if the computer works out that Nattie is a dog.
Further examination of my blog brings up photos of phone towers, electricity substations, and a map of a powerline which feeds a government building.
Obviously, this doesn’t add up to anything suspicious, but I can see how, at a time when security services are on edge, the combination of my profile and writings could be enough to make a computer suspicious, and perhaps make security services want to take a closer look at me. Dare I say it, I won’t be surprised if I get pulled aside at Customs in the US next year for a little chat…in fact, I’ll be a little disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
All of this reminds me of a story from the start of this year about the FBI scanning emails for certain words and phrases which apparently are common in messages about fraudulent activity. The words and phrases were “gray area”, “coverup”, “nobody will find out”, “do not volunteer information”, “write‑off”, “failed investment”, “off the books”, “they owe it to me”, “not ethical”, and “illegal”.
Glenn Beck had some fun with this on his radio show and jokingly suggested that they (Glenn or one of his co-hosts) should send an email containing all of those words just to confuse an FBI computer. Sure enough, co-host Pat Gray sent the message, and went to some lengths to make some of the phrases fit.
I’m sitting here gazing up at a cloudy grey area of the sky wondering how to cover up this blemish that I have on my nose. As a dermatologist, I thought you might have an idea of what I could use so nobody will find out that I’ve broken out again like a teenager. If you do not volunteer the information, I’ll probably have to see a specialist.
Up until yesterday, I’ve been using Clearasil on it but I realized that I can write off that failed investment of $4.99 because it didn’t work.
I wasn’t able to use the cream you prescribed for me last week because I put the jar on top of some books at my parents’ house and wouldn’t you know it, I bumped into the table that those books were sitting on and a jar fell off the books and onto the floor and broke.
My parents said that since I loaned them $20 last month, they would be happy to pay for a new prescription because they owe it to me. But I told them I wasn’t sure if it was not ethical to provide the medication again so soon.
Anyway, if you can call me on that, please call in the Walgreens at Fourth and Main as I have found that to get the one on 29th and Main, you have to make an illegal U‑turn at the light, and I don’t want to do that.
Thanks again. Whatever you can do, Dr. Ahmed.
I found it much more amusing when I heard it go to air. The video of it is embedded in the page of the above link, but it’s not working for me. Thankfully I have my own recording of it.
(Audio credit: Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, Premiere Radio Network)
It saddens me deeply (but, I have to admit, does not surprise me) that the United States of America has once again fallen victim to a terrorist attack.
If any comfort can be taken from this despicable act, it is that it happened at a time of day when fewer people were in the location of the explosions than would have been the case had it happened a few hours earlier.
This, to my mind, highlights a critical flaw in some aspects of event security where security services seem to be almost entirely concerned about the busiest point in time, at the expense of less busy points in time. This could also be a testament to the security services in that they are protecting the busiest and most critical points in time successfully, and perhaps it may be time to re-evaluate how security is managed, and examine if there are ways to make it easier for existing resources to better manage security and some of the less-busy times which seem to be a more attractive target.
My condolences go to the families of those who have been killed and injured in this attack, and my absolute worst wishes go to the perpetrators, whoever they may be.
I should probably clarify why it does not surprise me that America has found itself in the crosshares again. It is simply that places which harbour and promote freedom, will always be the envy and target of those who oppose freedom. I have a few other thoughts, but they would be premature as we do not yet know exactly who was responsible for this atrocity.
It is very sad news that Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest leaders of the modern era and probably of all time, has died at the age of 87, although given her recent ill health it is comforting to know that she is now in a better place.
I was quite saddened to hear of her passing. It was one of those deaths that I wasn’t entirely sure was real when I first heard the news, and I had to double check as it was quite a shock to the system. It was quite saddening at the time, and has proven somewhat more so as her legacy has had time to settle in.
Maggie was a politician who knew what she believed in, and fought for it. She was the type of politician that we need more of now. She was not the type of person to go in to a meeting with an opponent with the hope of reaching some sort of agreement where both sides got a few things they wanted and a few things they didn’t, but instead went in to fight for her beliefs and try with all her might to block the opposing view, which she saw as being wrong.
“Consensus is the absence of leadership” she once wisely said. She expanded on this by saying “Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner ‘I stand for consensus’?”
She was a lady of conviction, a true leader, and regardless of what you thought of her views, you knew what she stood for and that she would consistently stand for it. She was the very essence of what a politician should be…someone who proudly put her views to the people for their consideration, and acted on those views once elected. She was not a politician who surprised people with “backflips” and broken promises. The word “divisive” has been used by many to describe her in these last few hours, and while this is true, it is true because of consistent views and statements, and not divisive in the manner of so many modern-day politicians who say one thing and do the opposite, while trying to pretend that they are doing exactly as they had promised.
I am a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher’s world view, and the brilliant work she did to bring the British economy and society back from the brink of collapse. She was in power at a great time in world history, and was only strengthened when Ronald Reagan was elected as President of the United States of America. Together, these two great, and now sadly departed, leaders were a beacon of light for hope and prosperity, and helped to vanquish to evil and sorrow of socialism and communism from much of the world. It is a tragedy that leaders since these two have been quite lax in defending people from the slow and steady encroachment of socialism and the growing power of the state.
Of particular importance in the legacy of Margaret Thatcher is the way she ran the Falklands War. Maggie knew something that our leaders during the first and second world wars knew, and that was that when your enemy is ruthless and intent on conquering you, you must fight with everything you have, and not let yourself get wrapped up in bureaucracy and thoughts of “but if we attack them, then we are no better than them”. It is not acts of defence (or acts of offence during a war) which define whether you are better than your enemy, but rather your moral character and the reasons for your actions which define your position in relation to that of your enemy.
As I have reflected on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in the hours since her passing, it has occurred to me that she was not a part of the historical education which occurred during my primary and high school years. Perhaps, in the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s it was too early to judge her full legacy, but to the same extent as a then-recent and highly influential world leader, her part in recent history should have been discussed. Older history is very important, but recent history is critical if one is to understand the current state of the world. World leaders around the time of the two world wars were discussed in some detail, and Gough Whitlam was as well, but the more recent leaders were not discussed much at all. I gather that this was partially due to some attempt to not appear to be imparting political views on students, however given that political views were imparted either accidentally or purposefully anyway, I fail to see how discussing recent political history can really be a problem, and thus it bothers me that many of my generation may have little, if any, detailed knowledge of the legacy of as influential a figure as Margaret Thatcher.
It is my sincere hope that people learn something from the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. Of course I hope that it leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of her ideological views on the importance of liberty and of free markets, but I would be happy if it merely leads to more people, and in particular more politicians, having the courage of their convictions. Let ideas win or lose on their merits, not on the back of trickery and deception; let people be forthright and honest with each other about their views without fearing that they may offend or be offended; And may people be less interested in compromising at the drop of a hat, and be more interested in fighting for what they believe to be right and just.
I hope that this is the lasting impact that Margaret Thatcher has on the world.
There are so many great quotes and videos of this great lady, and we are fortunate that she was in power at a time when video recording and storage of things of public interest was really becoming viable on a mass scale, but there are so many great videos of Margaret Thatcher that it is difficult to choose only one with which to remember her, so I will share a few with you.
This video is my favourite. It is of Margaret Thatcher during her last speech as Prime Minister, in which a question was asked of her by opposing members of parliament, which gave her the opportunity to clearly and concisely display the folly of their socialist views.
From the same session of parliament is this video of Maggie explaining how the Euro (currency) would lead to major problems, not least of which would be the loss of democracy. If only her warnings had been heeded.
And finally, when Ronald Reagan died, Margaret Thatcher, who herself was not in the best of health, recorded a eulogy for President Reagan. Most of what she said about him could equally be applied when looking back at her life.
(There are a few brief video glitches in this clip where some words have, sadly, been lost, for which I apologise profusely)
It is a great loss that the world has suffered in the loss of Margaret Thatcher. I offer her, for her leadership, courage, and vision, the Samuel Salute.
Margaret Thatcher, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013. RIP.
Actually, good might not be strong enough a word, so I think I’ll use “fantastic” instead.
Barnaby Joyce will be the National Party’s candidate for the federal seat of New England. It’s a reasonable assumption that he should defeat incumbent MP Tony Windsor, so this clears the way for Barnaby to eventually take over the leadership of the National Party, and be the Deputy Prime Minister in a future Liberal/National coalition government.
BARNABY Joyce is poised to stand unopposed as the Nationals candidate in New England, after his two chief rivals for preselection indicated they were unlikely to run for the northern NSW seat currently held by Labor-leaning independent Tony Windsor.
Nominations to stand as the party’s candidate will close tomorrow afternoon, after the previous candidate, former NSW MP Richard Torbay, was expelled from the party and reported to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Speaking to The Australian yesterday, Senator Joyce’s key potential opponent for preselection, National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie, said he “would be surprised” if his name were among those submitted for consideration.
Senator Joyce’s other potential rival, Keith Perrett, said he was “pretty sure” he would not run, because it could force his resignation as chairman of the government’s Grain Research and Development Corporation.
Senator Joyce, 45, a New England native who represents Queensland in the Senate, has indicated he will seek the Nationals leadership – and potentially the deputy prime ministership – if current leader Warren Truss, 64, becomes “sick of the job and resigns”.
Barnaby has been a fantastic Senator for Queensland, representing the interests of Queensland and conservatives in general very well. He has been quite outspoken over the years, but is more-often-than-not correct when he makes a statement which the media thinks is “a bit out there”. One such occasion which springs to mind is when he warned Australians that the United States, under the stewardship of Barack Obama and his administration of dubious competence, were at serious risk of having their credit rating downgraded. This was at a time when anybody who had been paying attention to the situation in the US, and not just the talking points and dodgy statistics of the Obama administration, knew that this was true, but the media and Wayne Swan laughed at him and ridiculed him for it. A few months later Barnaby was proven correct…he did not get an apology or acknowledgement from those who ridiculed him.
It was my pleasure to meet Barnaby at the Convoy Of No Confidence protest against the carbon dioxide tax in 2011.
It would, in my view, be a wholly positive thing, and a privilege, for Australia to have Baranby Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister. I wish him all the best of luck with his campaign in New England, assuming that he does indeed get preselected there.
At 2:10pm I stated what seemed obvious to me about the leadership spill.
(As Twitter has gone crazy and refuses to show timestamps from my timezone, here is the automatic cross-post to facebook)
Prediction: Leadership spill is a stunt. Gillard will be reelected unopposed (autocorrect says unpolished) and will lose September election.
I was right. It was a stunt. The aim was to make Labor appear united by having Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan reelected unanimously and unopposed. Simon Crean was fired from his ministries to keep up appearances…just you watch, Simon will be given a nice cosy job after a discreet period of time so that he can gracefully retire from the stupidity of Federal Labor in its current form.
It seems that in areas of Central West NSW where 3G (not 4G) and ADSL1 (not ADSL2 or ADSL2+) services are all that is currently on offer, the National Broadband Network rollout will not occur until 2016.
Wasn’t the whole premise of the NBN that it would ensure that people in regional areas were to receive internet services which would be on-par with their counterparts in metropolitan areas? Wasn’t that the main reason behind the idea of spending $43 billion dollars? NBN Co’s Statement of Intent, which was tabled in Parliament on the 9th of October last year (more than three years after the project was started…one does have to wonder what took so long) certainly seems to think so:
In the Statement of Expectations released on 20 December 2010 the Government expressed three central objectives for the National Broadband Network (NBN):
– To deliver significant improvement in broadband service quality to all Australians;
– To address the lack of high-speed broadband in Australia, particularly outside of metropolitan areas; and
– To reshape the telecommunications sector.
The NBN will enable high-speed broadband to be delivered to all Australian households, businesses and enterprises, through a combination of Fibre-To-The-Premise (FTTP), Fixed Wireless and Satellite technologies
(start of page 4, NBN Co. Statement of Corporate Intent 2012-2015).
$43 billion dollars with a primary goal of getting regional areas up to scratch, and it’s going to take until after the “Statement of Corporate Intent” expires to get Central West NSW completed, and that’s if it doesn’t get delayed even further!
The demand is there. If the NBN wasn’t preventing the private sector from building private infrastructure, this would be done by now, or at least be almost completed. This whole government-run scheme is an expensive shambles.
“Kill it with fire”, “epicsupermegafail face”, and “the catfish”.
Those are some of the harsher critiques that greeted Jeep’s “bold” new Cherokee on automotive websites around the world within hours of its unveiling.
The all-new mid-size SUV features polarising styling, with the recognisable seven-slot grille sporting a prominent horizontal crease through its centre. Slimline headlights and larger, squared-off fog-lights and a thick, angular front bumper
I quite like it. I’ve never owned (or even driven) a Jeep, but I’ve always liked their bold styling and the fact that they have been unafraid to have a tough looking vehicle while the rest of the market tried to look softer and smoother. This, I think, holds true to that tradition, just with a tiny bit of ensuring that they vehicle doesn’t look out-of-date.
I’m not entirely convinced that those tiny headlights would pump out enough light…but then again I have been surprised by how much light can come out of very small lights.
Am I alone on this? Am I the only person other than Jeep employees who thinks this looks good?
It seems that, in the light of how much people liked the federal Coalition’s plan for dams across Australia, primarily in the north, Julia Gillard has taken notice of how much people like dams because they supply potable water, can supply electricity, and help to prevent flooding, and has decided that she needs a dam plan of her own…and seeing as she’s taking in the sights of western Sydney, it might as well be a plan for a dam which affects Sydney.
Enter Warragamba Dam. This dam provides the majority of Sydney’s drinking water, and helps to prevent flooding along the Napean River in the far-west of Sydney.
About 20 years ago there was a report which said that Warragamba Dam might fail in a really really bad flood and doom Sydney’s far-west. Well, good news, Julia has a plan.
INSURANCE premiums for tens of thousands of western Sydney homeowners will be slashed under a federal government plan to finally raise Warragamba dam and prevent a potential $8 billion flood disaster.
Almost 20 years since the first warnings were given to the state government that Sydney’s primary water storage dam could fail in a major flood, the Commonwealth will provide the first funding to get it started.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce $50 million a year in federal government terrorism re-insurance premiums will be diverted to flood protection across the country, with the plan to raise Warragamba dam by 23m listed as the major priority.
That, I’m afraid, is where the good news ends. That $50 million is just the tip of the iceberg and, as usual, Julia wants the states to do her bidding at their own expense.
The Commonwealth would initially provide $50 million to begin work and then provide increased funding over time if the O’Farrell government will also commit to the $500 million project which its own infrastructure agency has already identified as critical to the NSW economy.
This plan requires, in order federal government to be involved (and undoubtedly run it on their own terms), the New South Wales state government to cough up an unspecified amount which could very well be $400 million before the federal government even considers tipping in more money.
The federal government is broke because of Julia Gillard and her government. The New South Wales government is walking a tightrope to fix the budgetary mess left by over a decade of state Labor incompetence. Neither of them have the money to spare for this, and yet with federal Labor’s amazing track record of wasteful, untargetted spending (economic stimulus, Building the Education Revolution, coffee machines for National Broadband Network staff, etc), inability to even come close to balancing the budget, and difficulty delivering things on time (Building the Education Revolution again, and the National Broadband Network), one has to conclude that the phrase “increased funding over time” is accurate simply because this project will almost certainly turn out like everything else federal Labor has attempted while in government.
The cost estimate is approximately $363 million for the dam and associated works, which includes construction, commissioning and alliance costs of $299 million, environmental and recreation mitigation costs amounting to $13 million and owner’s costs to ACTEW for project inception, planning, design, approvals and costs from now until completion of $51 million. It is expected to take two years to build.
(Kate Lundy press release “Cotter Dam extension starts”, November 23, 2009)
Delay after delay. Cost blowout after cost blowout. Only three days ago, on the 25th of February, 2013, was construction at a stage where it was safe to allow water to flow in to the expanded dam. A year and two months behind schedule…even more if you include the removal of the extensive amount of construction equipment. The last update on the cost of the project came in April last year when Actew Water said it would be $405 million, an announcement which came after a series of other intermittent cost blowouts.
It is good that Julia Gillard is giving serious thought to projects which could actually benefit people, although given the track record of Labor governments in recent times of having great difficulty in getting things done on time and on budget, I’m not sure that I would really want to entrust this to them, especially seeing as the $500 million expansion of Warragamba Dam was included in the Coalition’s plan:
Included in the list of dam projects, which the Coalition will consider, is a $500 million plan to raise Warragamba Dam in Sydney
I know who, when I’m faced with a choice of Labor or the Liberal/National Coalition, I would trust to get this done on time and on budget, and it certainly isn’t Labor.
Ideally, if this project is to go ahead, I would like to see one level of government take responsibility for it in its entirety so as to not have excessive inter-governmental red-tape get in the way, but given the way government budgets are placed, it probably will have to happen with input from the federal and New South Wales governments if it is to happen in the short term. That said, this seems like a low priority job compared to the benefits of building dams in northern Australia, so I hope it is not used as an election sweetener by both parties for votes in western Sydney, and that it is put on the backburner until government budgets are in a better position instead.
Besides which, one of the stated aims of the Warragamba project is to allow for the release of more land in western Sydney for residential development. Building dams in the north is supposed to, in part, alleviate the need to continue to expand Sydney at a rate of knots. It would be somewhat contradictory to run both projects at once.
Each month, in my post office box, I receive a copy of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, a publication which uses speeches delivered at Hillsdale’s various events to promote civil and religious liberty. I look forward to receiving this each month, but I found the latest edition (January 2013) to be particularly interesting as it approached a subject which I have thought about many times, but it approached it from an angle to which I hadn’t given much thought.
Nathan Harden, editor of education news website The College Fix examined a slow and steady degradation of not only the way people are taught in many educational institutions, but also of the values which are promoted in such settings and influence the minds of the students.
I see a similar thing in society as a whole, and although I value the freedom for people to live their lives as they see fit (within legal parameters, obviously), I do also believe that society is at its best when certain basic and fundamental values are upheld by the majority of society. I see some of these as being “the family unit” (religious beliefs aside, I am a proponent of it being natural and best for a child to be brought up by a mother and father, as per the natural order of things) and having a general level of respect for one another. I believe these things have been eroded slowly over many years, and society is suffering because of it.
Nathan Harden sees something similar in the educational system. While Nathan looks at this purely from an educational perspective, I see it as a cycle where the direction of society is leading to educational outcomes and educational outcomes are leading to the direction of society. To that end, I found Nathan’s piece to be very interesting, and to give me a greater understanding of a problem which I have seen for some time.
Hillsdale graciously allow for the full republication of Imprimis as long as credit is given. Before I sign off and leave you with the January 2013 edition, may I recommend that if you find this work to be particularly interesting, that you take a look at some of the previous editions of Imprimis and then consider taking out a free subscription to Imprimis. If you found this as interesting as I did, then I can almost guarantee that seeing Imprimis arrive in the mail each month will be a highlight of the month for you, just like it is for me.
NATHAN HARDEN is editor of The College Fix, a higher education news website, and blogs about higher education for National Review Online. A 2009 graduate of Yale, he has written for numerous publications, including National Review, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The New York Post, and The Washington Times. He was a 2011 Robert Novak Fellow at the Phillips Foundation, a 2010 Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and is author of the recent book Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on September 20, 2012.
IN 1951, William F. Buckley, Jr., a graduate of Yale the year before, published his first book, God & Man at Yale. In the preface, he described two ideas that he had brought with him to Yale and that governed his view of the world:
“I had always been taught, and experience had fortified the teachings, that an active faith in God and a rigid adherence to Christian principles are the most powerful influences toward the good life. I also believed, with only a scanty knowledge of economics, that free enterprise and limited government had served this country well and would probably continue to do so in the future.”
The body of the book provided evidence that the academic agenda at Yale was openly antagonistic to those two ideas—that Buckley had encountered a teaching and a culture that were hostile to religious faith and that promoted collectivism over free market individualism. Rather than functioning as an open forum for ideas, his book argued, Yale was waging open war upon the faith and principles of its alumni and parents.
Liberal bias at American colleges and universities is something we hear a lot about today. At the time, however, Buckley’s exposé was something new, and it stirred national controversy. The university counterattacked, and Yale trustee Frank Ashburn lambasted Buckley and his book in the pages of Saturday Review magazine.
Whether God & Man at Yale had any effect on Yale’s curriculum is debatable, but its impact on American political history is indisputable. It argued for a connection between the cause of religious faith on the one hand, and the cause of free market economics on the other. In a passage whose precise wording was later acknowledged to have been the work of Buckley’s mentor Willmoore Kendall—a conservative political scientist who was driven out of Yale a few years later—Buckley wrote:
“I consider this battle of educational theory important and worth time and thought even in the context of a world situation that seems to render totally irrelevant any fight except the power struggle against Communism. I myself believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.”
This idea, later promoted as “fusionism” in Buckley’s influential magazine National Review, would become the germ of the Reagan coalition that united social conservatives and free market libertarians—a once-winning coalition that has been lately unraveling.
I graduated from Yale in 2009, fifty-nine years after Buckley. I had a chance to meet him a couple of years before his death, at a small gathering at the home of a professor. Little did I know at the time that I would write a book of my own that would serve, in some ways, as a continuation of his famous critique.
My book—which I entitled Sex and God at Yale—shows that Yale’s liberals are still actively working to refashion American politics and culture. But the devil is in the details, and it’s safe to say that there are things happening at Yale today that Buckley could scarcely have even imagined in 1951. While the Yale of Buckley’s book marginalized or undermined religious faith in the classroom, my book tells of a classmate who was given approval to create an art object out of what she claimed was blood and tissue from self-induced abortions. And while the Yale of Buckley’s book was promoting socialist ideas in its economics department, my book chronicles Yale’s recent employment of a professor who publicly praised terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
My, how times have changed!
There is clearly a radical sexual agenda at work at Yale today. Professors and administrators who came of age during the sexual revolution are busily indoctrinating students into a culture of promiscuity. In fact, Yale pioneered the hosting of a campus “Sex Week”—a festival of sleaze, porn, and debauchery, dressed up as sex education. I encountered this tawdry tradition as an undergrad, and my book documents the events of Sex Week, including the screening in classrooms of hard-core pornography and the giving of permission to sex toy manufacturers and porn production companies to market their products to students.
In one classroom, a porn star stripped down to bare breasts, attached pinching and binding devices to herself as a lesson in sadomasochism, and led a student around the room in handcuffs. On other occasions, female students competed in a porn star look-alike contest judged by a male porn producer, and a porn film showing a woman bound and beaten was screened in the context of “instruction” on how students might engage in relationships of their own.
And again, these things happened with the full knowledge and approval of Yale’s senior administrators.
As might be expected, many Yale students were offended by Sex Week, but university officials defended it in the name of “academic freedom”—a sign of how far this noble idea, originally meant to protect the pursuit of truth, has fallen. And the fact that Yale as an institution no longer understands the substantive meaning of academic freedom—which requires the ability to distinguish art from pornography, not to mention right from wrong—is a sign of its enslavement to the ideology of moral relativism, which denies any objective truth (except, of course, for the truth that there is no truth).
Under the dictates of moral relativism, no view is any more valid than any other view, and no book is any greater or more worth reading than any other book. Thus the old idea of a liberal education—that each student would study the greatest books, books organized into a canon based on objective criteria that identify them as valuable—has given way to a hodgepodge of new disciplines—African-American Studies, Latino Studies, Native American Studies, Women’s Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies—based on the assumption that there is no single way to describe the world that all serious and open-minded students can comprehend.
Indeed, Yale administrators have taken their allegiance to cultural relativism so far that they invited a sworn enemy of America to be a student, admitting Sayed Rahmatulla Hashemi—a former diplomat-at-large for the Taliban—in 2005. Talk about diversity!
Sitting for my final exam in International Relations, I found myself next to Hashemi, whose comrades were fighting and killing my fellow citizens in the mountains of Afghanistan at that very moment. The fact that the Taliban publicly executes homosexuals and infidels, and denies girls and women the right to go to school, gave no pause to the same Yale administrators who pride themselves on their commitment to gay rights, feminism, and academic freedom. In an interview, Hashemi boasted to the New York Times: “I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead, I ended up at Yale.”
It’s hard to overlook the paradox:
By enrolling Hashemi in the name of diversity, Yale abandoned the principle of human rights—the very principle that allows diverse individuals, including those of different faiths, to coexist peacefully.
It was my aim in writing Sex and God at Yale to bring accountability to Yale’s leaders in hopes of reform. Yale has educated three of the last four presidents, and two of the last three justices appointed to the Supreme Court. What kind of leaders will it be supplying in ten years, given its current direction?
Unfortunately, what’s happening at Yale is indicative of what is occurring at colleges and universities across the country. Sex Week, for example, is being replicated at Harvard, Brown, Duke, Northwestern, the University of Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin. Nor would it suffice to demand an end to Sex Weeks on America’s college campuses. Those events are, after all, only symptoms of a deeper emptiness in modern academia. Our universities have lost touch with the purpose of liberal arts education, the pursuit of truth. In abandoning that mission—indeed, by denying its possibility—our institutions of higher learning are afflicted to the core.
The political freedom that makes a liberal arts education possible requires an ongoing and active defense of liberty. Try exercising academic freedom in a place like Tehran or Kabul! Here in the U.S., we take our liberty far too much for granted. To the extent that Yale and schools like it succeed in producing leaders who subscribe to the ideology of moral relativism—and who thus see no moral distinction between America and its enemies—we will likely be disabused of this false sense of security all too soon.
Simon Benson from The Daily Telegraph got his hands on a draft policy discussion paper from the Coalition, and wrote about it in today’s Daily Telegraph. The plan is for more dams, especially up north, for nation building and risk mitigation.
At first glance, I’m very impressed. Using all of the water which falls in the tropics has been something I have supported for many years. I have generally suggested pumping water down south, but I suppose it makes sense to dam the rivers in the north and use some of that water up there and send some of the water south (where more dams can help with distribution).
UP to 100 dams could be built across the country to prevent floods, fuel power stations and irrigate a food boom to feed 120 million people across the Asia Pacific region, under plans being considered by Opposition leader Tony Abbott.
In the second high-level policy leak in a week, The Daily Telegraph has obtained a copy of the Coalition’s draft policy discussion paper for water management of Australia.
Included in the list of dam projects, which the Coalition will consider, is a $500 million plan to raise Warragamba Dam in Sydney, and new dams for NSW in the Hunter Valley, Central Highlands and along the Lachlan River.
The last major new dam built in NSW was Splitrock – in northern NSW in 1987.
The majority of the dams would be in northern Australia, where they would be used to irrigate arid zones for agriculture and more than double Australia’s food production.
Claiming the environmental lobby had been to blame for the lack of new water infrastructure, the report from the Coalition’s water taskforce endorses a major dam-building program to “help feed 120 million people and beyond over the coming decades”.
One of the projects involves transporting water from the Kimberley region, 1500km to Perth, using canals, pipelines and ocean super tankers or large synthetic bags towed behind tug boats.
This is what I call a useful nation building project. Unlike the Rudd/Gillard government’s overpriced school halls, lethal pink batts, or out-of-date-by-the-time-it’s-built National Broadband Network, this plan has tangible long-term benefits for both the growth of the nation, and the reduction of risk from natural disasters.
It has been my belief for a very long time that the interior sections of the country can be reclaimed and used for agriculture and domestic inhabitation if water can be pumped in to those areas. I also believe that having water in those areas will increase the evaporation and precipitation cycle in those areas. I believe that some of the desert areas can be turned in to useful land…not all, but a decent chunk.
We can increase our productivity, increase our ability to export food, and minimise the downtime and expense caused by floods through this type of plan. The $30 billion price tag would be well and truly offset, and probably completely paid for, by the long-term economic advantages. When governments talk about nation building, this is the type of forward-thinking project that should be talking about.
I applaud the Federal Coalition for considering this type of visionary plan.