Sunday 1st of March 2015

Recent Comments

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-01 16:26

From Bob Ellis...

Disaster prone Tony Abbott has moved on from being the "mad monk" to become the "loaded dog" of Australian politics, writes Bob Ellis.

It’s happening, thus far, very slowly, and for once the dull phrase "slow motion train wreck" seems to apply.

Abbott is going and Turnbull is coming, but we don’t know yet, we don’t quite know, what this means. Are we going to war in Iraq? Is the co-payment cancelled? Are we in a "debt and deficit disaster", or a "good news Budget", or what? Must we "shrink our way to prosperity", as Hockey recommends? Will Hockey be treasurer after Tuesday? Is the Abe-Abbott handshake still valid? Will our submarines come from Japan? Or can Sweden make an offer now? Will the CSIRO still lose one third of its funding? Do we believe, again, in climate change? What is happening here? How long will the slowly flying bits of the train continue to ascend into the sky? When will the long, sweet agony end?

A requiem for Abbott seems in order; or an autopsy; or something. His many false starts – a non-shotgun marriage; the non-priesthood; managing a cement factory; journalism; monarchist campaigner; minister for industrial relations; joyful father of a long lost son; opponent of the ‘morning after’ pill; co-author of WorkChoices; accuser of Slipper, Thomson, Hanson, Ellis, Ettridge — show a man wedded lifelong to coitus interruptus, getting off at Redfern, and always, always unwilling to follow things through. Every promise is a promise also to break it. NDIS. Gonski. Broadband. The ABC. He sent out the invitations to the wedding of the pregnant girl, then cancelled it. This is what he does. He always, always, always lets you down.

It’s a kind of hectic neurosis.,7428

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-01 14:31


Dogs are humanity’s oldest friends, renowned for their loyalty and abilities to guard, hunt and chase. But modern humans may owe even more to them than we previously realised. We may have to thank them for helping us eradicate our caveman rivals, the Neanderthals.

According to a leading US anthropologist, early dogs, bred from wolves, played a critical role in the modern human’s takeover of Europe 40,000 years ago when we vanquished the Neanderthal locals.

“At that time, modern humans, Neanderthals and wolves were all top predators and competed to kill mammoths and other huge herbivores,” says Professor Pat Shipman, of Pennsylvania State University. “But then we formed an alliance with the wolf and that would have been the end for the Neanderthal.”

If Shipman is right, she will have solved one of evolution’s most intriguing mysteries. Modern humans are known to have evolved in Africa. They began to emigrate around 70,000 years ago, reaching Europe 25,000 years later. The continent was then dominated by our evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals, who had lived there for more than 200,000 years. However, within a few thousand years of our arrival, they disappeared.

The question is: what finished them off? Some scientists blame climate change. Most argue that modern humans – armed with superior skills and weapons – were responsible. Shipman agrees with the latter scenario, but adds a twist. We had an accomplice: the wolf.

read more:


Mind you, interbreeding with Neanderthals also helped in the dilution and then extinction of the Neanderthals species... Read from top.

The wolves and the dogs have a strong sense of pack hierarchy. Foxes don't. For example foxes are more difficult to "conquer". They will value the wild singular freedom. The relationship between humans and dogs demands a leader and a pay-off: You lead — I get food. Easy.

With cats, the relationship is different: the cat thinks: "I lead by letting you believe you're top dog, you provide the tucker. if you don't, I'll go trick someone somewhere else"...


by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-01 06:53


Bruce Billson, the Small Business Minister in Tony Abbott's government, inadvertently dropped a stink bomb among his tense colleagues during the last day of Parliament last week.

Answering a benign question about petrol prices, he took a swipe at the previous Labor government's attitude to the price watchdog, the ACCC.

"What we've found under the previous Labor Government, while they're changing leaders, changing ministers, five in 15 months, they actually forgot to actually give the resources to the ACCC to do its job properly," he said, though much of the tortured sentence was quite drowned out.

He had no sooner mentioned the words "changing leaders" than the opposition benches were consumed by an eruption of thigh-slapping, delighted howling and caterwauling.

Billson's colleagues on the government benches stared into space.

There wasn't a person in the chamber - MPs from all sides, spectators in the public galleries and journalists perched like crows waiting for a carcass, as the hapless Kim Beazley once observed of such a moment - who missed the grim irony.


read more:



by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 13:17


The closer we get to the March 28 election, it seems the faster concerns are rising about Premier Mike Baird's grand plan to partially privatise NSW electricity distribution and transmission businesses – the "poles and wires".

Some of it is political and therefore highly likely to be opportunistic. Take this week's announcement by the Christian Democratic Party's Fred Nile who has declared he wants guarantees that power workers will retain their existing conditions and not lose their jobs for five years.

Nile's position follows the even more strident position of the Shooters and Fishers party, which last year said it would never support the plan, under any circumstances and would not enter into deals to pass legislation to facilitate it.

The parties share the balance of power in the NSW upper house and are battling to get enough votes to do so in the new parliament elected next month. They have sniffed the winds of discontent early. A lot hangs on their attitudes if Baird wins the election.

But for Baird and the Coalition, the positions of the minor parties in the upper house will be very much a secondary consideration given the view fast taking hold in the electorate.

The recent Fairfax/Ipsos poll showed that even with Baird's promise to spend all the proceeds on $20 billion worth of infrastructure, the policy remains a dog. It showed 46 percent of voters remain opposed with only 47 percent in support.

That was a eight per cent fall in support after Baird outlined the $20 billion infrastructure plan he says will be funded by the proceeds in November.

That was alarming enough for the government, but a Galaxy poll this week would have left Coalition MPs sick to the stomach.

It asked voters if they would prefer paying for new infrastructure through the partial power privatisation or increased taxes.

Incredibly, the highest proportion – 35 percent – opted for a tax increase compared with 26 per cent who nominated privatisation.

The same poll had the government lead over the opposition tightening to 53-47 on a two party preferred basis.

It seems the polls are indeed tightening as voters begin to pay closer attention to Baird's unpopular proposition.

read also:


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 13:05

A spokesman for the OEH said the current timetable was  to make the reports public by the second half of this year.

"There has been extensive land clearing in the region for a variety of uses over the past 150 years and there is benefit in proactively identifying desired conservation outcomes in advance of project-by-project applications for future coal mining," the spokesman said. 

While the specific areas to be mined were yet to be determined by the miners, the assessment would help improve environmental outcomes and provide "greater certainty for the community, industry and government", the spokesman said.

Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the government "is committed to a comprehensive independent assessment of the ecological sustainability of new development", with the UN's hierarchy convention of  "avoid, minimise, offset" applied.

"The intent of the strategic assessment is, in part, to identify species that are more vulnerable to loss of habitat," Mr Stokes said. "This will provide mining companies the opportunity to avoid impacts on sensitive areas, up front in the mine-planning process."

Fairfax Media also sought comment from Opposition Leader Luke Foley.

'Death' blueprint

The OEH study covered only part of the mining impacts from the planned projects. Other cumulative effects from the new mines would include impacts on water, air quality and noise levels.

A report released this week by the Climate and Health Alliance said burning coal for electricity generation in the Hunter Valley was already causing health impacts costing hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Coal output in the region could increase from about 145 million tonnes a year now to 243 million tonnes by 2022, the report said.

Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the coal mining plans amounts to "a blueprint for the death of the Hunter Valley and a climate suicide note".

read more:

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 12:57


Cardinal George Pell, who was hand-picked by Pope Francis to cut outlays and shed light on the Vatican's murky finances, has been accused of spending half a million euros in six months by flying business class and using large sums on salaries and office furniture.

The allegations, contained in leaked figures published by Italian magazine L'Espresso on Friday, suggest Cardinal Pell also spent €2508 ($3600) on religious robes at a tailor and about $6650 on kitchen-sink fittings.

After his move to Rome to spearhead Francis' mission to free up Vatican funds for the poor, the former archbishop of Sydney said he would try to save the Vatican "millions, if not tens of millions" of dollars a year.

Since then, he has flown business class and paid an assistant he brought from Australia a $21,600-a-month salary, the magazine reported, citing leaked Vatican documents. Francis, the article added, had challenged Cardinal Pell on his spending.

Despite Francis' decision to move into humble dwellings at the Vatican, Cardinal Pell has spent more than $5100 a month to rent an office and apartment at an upmarket address where he spent nearly $87,000 on furniture, according to the allegations.

read more:


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 11:34


Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given his clearest signal yet that he may be preparing to dump his controversial plan for a fee to see a GP.

Mr Abbott also promised to appear regularly with NSW Premier Mike Baird during the state campaign in a move that could unnerve some Liberal MPs concerned that an "Abbott factor" could damage the popular Premier's election prospects.

Appearing at a press conference in Auckland following talks with his New Zealand counterpart John Key, Mr Abbott was asked about media reports that he would abandon the unpopular policy.

read more:


About to lose his job, Abbott drops his dacks in front of doctor electorate... "See" he says, "nothing to hide in this handsome pack of budgies... All I want for myself is for you to keep me where I am, with love or not. I don't really care about Medicare, hospital care or hospices care... The only thing I care about is staying in the top job and driving you crazy (nuts)..."


See toon at top...


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 10:27


A major Federal Government forestry policy that was rejected by the United Nations World Heritage Committee last year was a captain's call by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a prominent conservation group says.

The Wilderness Society (TWS) said documents obtained under Freedom of Information show Mr Abbott ignored advice from senior ministers when he pressed ahead with a number of election commitments.

In 2013, the Government pledged to revoke an extension of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area so that 74,000 hectares of forest could be re-opened to logging.

The Unesco committee took just 10 minutes to reject the proposal at a meeting in July, 2014.

TWS said immediately after the election that Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce wrote to Mr Abbott seeking time to "examine the implications" of the commitments.

In an excerpt of the document written by Mr Hunt and Mr Joyce and released by TWS said:

In light of the complexity of the issues surrounding Tasmanian forestry, we have come to the view that it would be appropriate to have a six-month review of the Tasmanian forestry package that would enable us to consult more broadly with a wide range of stakeholders on our election commitments.

The group said election commitments made in 2013 included scrapping the Tasmanian forest peace deal.

The move was ultimately rejected by Unesco's World Heritage Committee.

read more:


See toon at top.


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-02-28 07:39

Meanwhile our Turd in Chief stopped talking unilaterally to us morons, as he listened for five minutes to his Kiwi "counterpart" before telling him what to do... This was called bi-lateral talks for serious glory. They thus decided to conjoint their army hips in Iraq, then fight each other out with a bat and ball on the pitch. May the Kiwi defeat our glorious Pom, Tony.