Archive for April 8th, 2011

Photos of Nattie

People tell me from time to time that I don’t publish enough photos of Nattie. They’re probably right, so you can have some of them this evening.

One is of Nattie on her new bed, which is a combination of her old bed (a sheepskin in a pillowcase, minus the half a swivel chair it used to be in) and a new section which is pillows covered in plastic.

The others are of Nattie in one of her favourite sunny spots, a spot which attracts plenty of sun in the morning and early afternoon.

Enjoy!

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Samuel

April 8th, 2011 at 07:02pm

ACORN guilty!

Back in 2009 I mentioned a story which has, to-date, still received virtually no coverage over here. The story of left-wing organisation ACORN’s activities which led to irregularities in the voter registration process, which in turn helped with the election of Barack Obama.

The good news this week is that the increasingly discredited and broke ACORN has pleaded guilty, as Francis McCabe from the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

The grass-roots community organizing group ACORN once drew the ire of conservative groups and the attention of national media.

And when ACORN faced charges in Las Vegas of voter registration malfeasance in 2008, a flock of political spin doctors and lawyers rushed to its defense.

But three years later, with ACORN’s two co-defendants already having taken plea deals and the organization essentially defunct and in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the case received little attention as a lawyer on behalf of ACORN pleaded guilty Wednesday.

After months of negotiations and some legal wrangling, mostly because of a federal court-appointed bankruptcy trustee not wanting to deal with the criminal case, ACORN entered a guilty plea to one count of felony compensation for registration of voters. Its criminal defense attorney, Lisa Rasmussen, entered the plea.

In negotiations with the Nevada attorney general’s office 12 other felony counts were dropped against the organization and prosecutors will not argue at the Aug. 10 sentencing hearing.

ACORN faces a maximum $5,000 fine. According to court records, when the national organization closed it’s doors in April 2010, the organization had real assets totaling less than $4,000 and “liabilities of more than $4 million.”

Prosecutor Patrick Ferguson said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case and said the reason he agreed not to speak at the sentencing hearing was “we’re not looking to take money away from other creditors, but a message had to be sent.”
[..]
Another defendant in the case, Amy Busefink, who in November pleaded no contest to two counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters, a gross misdemeanor, is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the statute.
[..]
The field operative who created and ran the incentive program, Christopher Edwards, is serving three years of probation after pleading guilty to two gross misdemeanors.

Busefink is a longtime employee of Project Vote, a national grass-roots organization that registers voters and which worked in partnership with ACORN in 2008. Busefink oversaw Edwards, who was sentenced to a year of probation in January.

ACORN officials had maintained Edwards was ordered not to run the incentive program.

The program, called Blackjack or 21-Plus, rewarded employees with $5 extra per shift if they brought in 21 or more completed voter registration cards.

The 40-year-old organization, which once counted President Barack Obama among its ranks in Chicago, came under fire in recent years for its voter registration tactics.

This vile and deceptive organisation has received its just desserts for failing to play by the rules. This Amy Busefink woman can jump up and down all she likes, but I think she’ll find that she’s clutching at straws after a while, considering that everyone else involved has found themselves in plenty of trouble, and it’s just a matter until she does too.

Samuel

April 8th, 2011 at 02:49pm

Samuel’s Footy Tips: NRL Round 5 & AFL Round 3

NRL Round 5
Cowboys V Titans
Tigers V Souths
Warriors V Roosters
Panthers V Raiders
Sharks V Sea Eagles
Storm V Eels
Dragons V Bulldogs
Broncos V Knights

AFL Round 3
Magpies V Blues
Bulldogs V Suns
Crows V Dockers
Tigers V Hawks
Eagles V Swans
Demons V Lions
Cats V Power
Saints V Bombers

Samuel

April 8th, 2011 at 11:47am

Gillard’s hyperbowl a deliberate case of hyperbole

By now, no doubt, you’ve come across this in the media. Julia Gillard pronouncing “hyperbole” as “hyperbowl”.

As George Negus points out in that clip, hyperbole is “A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect”. Well, to use a Kevin Rudd phrase-of-choice, let me say this, Julia Gillard’s mispronunciation was a deliberate bit of hyperbole, an exaggeration designed to gain the attention of the media and distract them, however briefly, from the many ongoing problems with her government, while at the same time attempting to increase the public’s sympathy for her by making it look like the media is picking on her.

From a media front, it’s working. As for the public, I’d like to think that most Australians are smarter than that.

Samuel

April 8th, 2011 at 08:53am

If the buses were private, there might be an incentive to prevent this type of thing

In case you haven’t already heard, ACTION bus services in Canberra will be severely lacking on the weekend, and may be a tad underwhelming on Monday morning as well. Territory and Municipal Services are blaming a different union this time around.

Due to industrial action by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), there will be disruptions to this weekend’s bus services, James Roncon, Director, ACTION, announced today.

“The AMWU has placed a ban on overtime work which means that buses cannot be maintained or re-fuelled this weekend which cripples the bus service,” Mr Roncon said. “In order to minimise any disruption to Monday services a decision has had to be made to run a Sunday timetable on Saturday and cancel Sunday services.

“There may also be reductions in the number of wheelchair-accessible buses which run on Saturday due to difficulties in re-fuelling them.

“While ACTION management will themselves assist with re-fuelling buses on Sunday evening to try and meet the Monday morning peak, it is simply not possible to run bus services on Sunday and not impact on Monday’s services.
[..]
Mr Roncon said that ACTION will do its best to minimise disruptions on Monday.

“Due to the action we are taking over the weekend, we are not expecting significant disruptions on Monday however there will be some buses off the road. We will ensure school runs operate and that any dropped services are on bus runs which are quickly followed by another bus. For more information on ACTION services please visit www.action.act.gov.au or call 13 17 10.”

So this time around it’s not the bus drivers, but rather the bus maintainers which are going on strike, so this strike doesn’t fit in with the regular-as-clockwork Transport Workers Union vs ACTION fights when the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement needs to be renewed, and if we’re going to see regular Australian Manufacturing Workers Union vs ACTION fights as well, then the question has to be asked: what can be done to make the contract negotiation process less disruptive to the public?

The answer seems fairly simple to me. At the moment, there is very little incentive within ACTION or the ACT Government to prevent these things from happening. ACTION will exist come-what-may; their TAMS overlords are public servants who will just end up somewhere else in the government during the next reshuffle; and the politicians have no real need to be concerned this far out from an election. On the other side, the unions have come to acknowledge that the only consequence to them from a strike is a small public backlash which is offset by public sympathy when the strikes are few and far between, especially when the TWU’s Klaus Pinkas is the man so effectively heading their public relations campaign. The strikes work well for the unions because they know that the public will ultimately blame the politicians and not the unions, and so the politicians will issue “fix it” directives to the public servants which, if the unions can hold their nerve for long enough, will result in a union victory, for the most part.

The trouble is, now that the AMWU have gotten in on the act, the strikes will become more regular. The couple of strikes once every few years at the behest of the TWU were tolerable…but doubling the frequency of strikes and making the effects last longer by adding another union in to the mix will just anger the public and lessen their sympathy for the unions. The public will demand corrective action from the politicians to prevent the regular strikes…and once it gets that far, the only two options are to either gut services so that less people rely on the service and therefore less people will be angered by strikes, or to sell it off and make it somebody else’s problem to deal with.

The latter option, privatising the bus service, is the more sensible option. From a political perspective, it’s better than minimising services, and from an operation perspective, it gives the new operator an incentive to prevent strikes as strikes equal lost revenue.

The government doesn’t really care about ACTION’s income as they are deliberately running it at a loss…and in a way, not running buses for a day or two saves them money, but for a private operator, the service is designed to make a profit, and when there is a strike, there is no income but the administrative overheads still exists, so they make a loss. These administrative overheads exist for the government as well, but they form part of the cost of running the government and don’t count in the equation.

The other benefits of a private bus service are that the bus service would actually have to meet the needs of the customers in order to turn a profit, and would therefore be more likely to run services which are wanted and needed instead of a gazillions indirect routes to distant locations via half the places in between. And then just to make the system even more responsive to customer needs, the government could issue a licence to bus operators and adjust the cost of their licence renewal based on factors such as on-time running and dropped runs. Additionally, multiple bus providers could compete for business within Canberra and/or focus on certain areas are types of services.

Having private operators instead of a government monopoly on bus services in Canberra is clearly the best option for both minimising the number of strikes and service disruptions, and for making the bus service a more desirable service by more closely meeting the needs of the people.

Samuel

April 8th, 2011 at 01:31am


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