Sunday, 29 April 2007

Mechanic sacked for failing to patronize woman motorist

Whatever next!

Flickr Of The Day

Ashridge Bluebells
Originally uploaded by stevebell.
A sign of spring.


It would seem that almost everything that this administration has touched in the last six years has turned to dust.

In Iraq, the much-trumpeted good news stories that the media haven't been 'emphasising enough' aren't as good as they have been made out to be.

In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.
Curiously, most of the problems seemed unrelated to sabotage stemming from Iraq’s parlous security situation, but instead were the product of poor initial construction, petty looting, a lack of any maintenance and simple neglect.
Another job half done. It ties in with reports that 60-80% of a project's budget was spent on security whilst the work was being done. I would imagine that the companies wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible, but, of course, collecting their fee first.

What They Said

The right wing pundits were pretty critical of any dissent shown over the Iraq invasion in 2003. Their words are now coming back to haunt them, as they should.

All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent.
H/T to Crooks and Liars

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Wineries Mapping

Another great use for Google Maps

Flickr Of The Day

Leaning Tower of Cow
Originally uploaded by Moominpappa06.
Cow Tower and the River Wensum in Norwich.

The Tide Is Turning

Another example of the White House strategy of advancing its corporate sponsors wishes in the face of scientific opposition, but this time, they didn't get their way.

The effect of Friday's ruling is to extend the virtual ban on U.S. imports of tuna caught by fleets from Mexico and several other nations that encircle dolphins with their nets to catch the tuna that swim beneath the aquatic mammals. Such tuna can be sold in the United States, but U.S. consumers have been largely unwilling to buy tuna that lacks the dolphin-safe label.
Has their been a policy advanced in the past six years where the good of the people has been considered over the wishes of industry?

Washington Media Indicted

I think this is the most damning story that I have read yet on the state of the major media in the States. Instead of investigative journalism, we got this:

When it mattered, in 2002 and 2003, virtually the entire American major media covered Iraq the way Pravda covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. They jumped on what they believed was the winning side politically, maintained their insider power base, and sustained the high income that would have been threatened if they reported the truth.
And the reason:

It is often said, and with some truth, that the problem with major media is corporatization, which limits dissent, stifles truth, corrupts reporting and is inclined to serve the regulatory master of the government and the financial master of Wall Street.

I submit an equal and possibly greater problem is the personal corporatization of many who have given up the profession
of reporting to turn themselves into personal corporations and to turn their “journalism” into the personal pursuit of wealth, fame and vainglorious ego.

They become sycophants, not journalists. They repeat conventional wisdom, not reporting real news. They worship at the altar of their sources, and deprive their readers and viewers of truth that offends the powerful and threatens their insider position. They support each other and promote each other in their own little but lucrative world divorced from their customers, their country and the traditional standards of what used to be their profession.

The Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch stories are prime examples of the media just swallowing and printing the talking points. Some cynicism and investigation during Bush's first term, when the 'fear' agenda was established may have saved us a second term. Only now, when the 2006 elections made it apparent to most of the media that they had been found out, is the full damage becoming apparent.

My Humps

In case you missed it, the Alanis Morisette video that has caused such a stir, her parody of the Black-Eyed Peas video, 'My Humps'

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

It appears that taking photos is now a crime.

Essential Instructions

Know how to pour the perfect draught Guinness

Bush and Cheney criticize Iraq Deadline

President George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have called the war spending bill with its timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq political opportunism by the Democrats.

Meanwhile, the new American ambassador to Iraq is delivering a remarkably similar message to the one Congress is trying to send.

Even as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeated their claim that a deadline for beginning a troop withdrawal would cede Iraq to America’s enemies, it has quietly been setting targets of its own for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to show progress on long-delayed political accommodations.

In a telephone interview from Baghdad, the new American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, said President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had bluntly told Mr. Maliki that failure to show results would undermine the administration’s efforts to buy him more time.

“There is Iraqi time and American time,” said Mr. Crocker. “And American time is running away from us, while Iraqi time is running at a slower place.”

The bottom line is that Bush wants the deadline to be after January 2009 so it won't be his problem.

Head In The Sand

After briefly popping his head out of the sand, John Howard firmly stuck it back in again by denying that emission targets need to be set.

However, the CSIRO has advised that emission targets are both 'advisable and affordable' undercutting his position completely. Obviously, he hasn't stacked the government departments with ideologues as efficiently as GWB.

As the Federal Government yesterday intensified its attacks on "crazy" pledges from Labor and the Greens to reduce Australia's emissions by 60 to 80 per cent by 2050, it emerged that the CSIRO had told Mr Howard's emissions trading task group last month that most studies agreed developed countries needed to cut emissions by 60 to 90 per cent to avoid "dangerous" climate change.
Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year (his acceptance speech in front of John Howard was one of the highlights of the year!) also weighed in:

"A couple of years ago there used to be four countries that hadn't ratified Kyoto," Professor Flannery said. "There was Australia, the USA, Monaco and Liechtenstein. I'm afraid to say that Monaco and Liechtenstein have seen the light, so there's only two of us left now — the Bonnie and Clyde of climate change, as Al Gore calls us.

"I don't know what this means for me, or the office of Australian of the Year — whether it's better for me to give back the award, and say that it's simply impossible to continue as things are," he said.

He later told The Age he was only speaking hypothetically and had no plans to give up his honorary title.

As one of the 'per capita' leaders in greenhouse gas emissions, Australia should be taking a lead in setting targets. Surely, investing in technology to clean up the power stations' emissions (they mainly burn the worst possible soft brown coal, would be a start.

Flickr Of The Day

Marquam Bridge
Originally uploaded by Zeb Andrews.
Interesting lines

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

More Problems for Bush?

The Office of Special Counsel is about to launch an investigation various activities in the White House.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
I imagine that it will all depend on how independent this unit is. Independent enough to launch the investigation I would imagine - though the cynic in me wonders if this will just be a whitewash so the White House can say 'Look, nothing to see here.'

The 106-person Office of Special Counsel has never conducted such a broad and high-profile inquiry in its history. One of its primary missions has been to enforce the Hatch Act, a law enacted in 1939 to preserve the integrity of the civil service.

Bloch said the new investigation grew from two narrower inquiries his staff had begun in recent weeks.

One involved the fired U.S. attorney from New Mexico, David C. Iglesias.

The other centered on a PowerPoint presentation that a Rove aide, J. Scott Jennings, made at the General Services Administration this year.

That presentation listed recent polls and the outlook for battleground House and Senate races in 2008. After the presentation, GSA Administrator Lorita Doan encouraged agency managers to "support our candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses. Doan said she could not recall making such comments.
Watch this space.

Someone Liked It

So George W Bush was happy with Alberto Gonzales' testimony last week. He has "increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”

It's not surprising. He spent two weeks practicing how to say 'I can't remember' and managed not to implicate any White House staff - basically by not answering any questions.

One senior Republican Congressional aide at work in Washington on Monday, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, called Mr. Bush’s statement that his confidence in Mr. Gonzales had grown after his testimony “curious”; another senior Republican aide asked, “Was he watching the same hearing as everyone else?”
It's pretty sad when the country's custodian of the law has to obfuscate to cover up for his master's misdeeds.

And I'm presuming that this isn't just a coincidence...

Merriam-Webster Word Of The Day
April 24, 2007
\mith-uh-MAY-nee-uh\ noun
: an excessive or abnormal propensity for lying and exaggerating

Monday, 23 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

St Malo
Originally uploaded by bretonne.
Beautiful shot of the sea at St Malo in Brittany.

Ball with baked Ambient Occlusion !?!

Someone has way too much time on their hands.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Predictictions for the next century - from 1900

Thanks to Ross, filling in for Andrew Sullivan for this link. Predictions for the 20th Century made in 1900. Some of them are off the wall, but some are spot on:

Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics...

Prediction #9: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.

Prediction #10: Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. Predicting the telivising of the Vietnam War?

Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking. Not so sure about the devlivery method though by pneumatic tube

Prediction #25: Oranges will grow in Philadelphia. Global warming prediction perhaps?

And the not so close:
Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.

Prediction #4: There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk” stairways leading to the top.

Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Not quite there yet.

Prediction #13: Strawberries as Large as Apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. One will suffice for the fruit course of each person. Not so big, but they haven't predicted that all the flaovur will have been removed.

Prediction #17: How Children will be Taught. A university education will be free to every man and woman. Wishful thinking!

Prediction #28: There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated. The horse will have become practically extinct. We're getting there!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by archi3d / Chris.


I'm not sure that even his hand-picked audience believed him.

I Don't Recall

It looks like an early onset of Alzheimer's.

The attorney general acknowledged, however, that "I didn't have an independent basis or recollection" about the job performance of Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. And asked why he had agreed to fire Margaret M. Chiara, the U.S. attorney for western Michigan, Gonzales replied: "Quite candidly . . . I don't recall the reason why I accepted" staff advice on her dismissal. Only after the fact, he testified, did he learn "it was a question of . . . poor-management issues."

Visit Australia

This seemed a bit harsh by the Daily Telegraph.

I was having a look at the England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon's blog and it served up an 'Experience Australia' ad. The last thing they'd want after their recent visit.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Great Design

Can you see what it is yet?

Flickr Of The Day

Great Title!

Burnley 3 Norwich City 0

A disappointing result but, from the reports I've read, an encouraging performance. To lose 3-0 away from home is never a great result, but with two of the goals coming in the last 5 minutes, Norwich were always in the game.

Losing Darren Huckerby with a back injury just before the game started meant that Kris Renton (pictured) made his first start after his brief debut on Saturday.

By the time yesterday's match ended, the Canaries had four teenagers on the field in 18-year-old striker Chris Martin, 16-year-old full debutant Kris Renton, 18-year-old midfielder Michael Spillane and, for the last four minutes, 17-year-old forward Bally Smart, making his senior debut. In addition, they had 18-year-olds Andrew Cave-Brown and Patrick Bexfield on the bench.
With the big local derby against Ipswich coming up on Sunday, let's hope we see a positive performance. The last few home matches against Ipswich have been disappointing so we're due a good one.

Angry Soccer Mom

How to motivate your daughter to perform:

LINCOLN, Neb. — An angry soccer mom who left her teenage daughter alongside an interstate was ticketed for neglect, Lincoln police said. Police spokeswoman Katherine Finnell confirmed this account from police reports:

The 42-year-old Lincoln mom was miffed about her daughter's poor play last Saturday.

On their drive home the girl flubbed the lines her mom had drilled into her on how to improve her game, so the mother slapped her daughter.

The girl told her mom to pull over. The mom did, near the downtown Lincoln exit off Interstate 80.

The mom yelled at the girl to get out. When she did, her mom drove off.

A teammate's parent spotted the girl alongside the interstate, stopped to pick her up, then took her to their home and called police.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

running scared
Originally uploaded by wildpianist.
Great clouds shot!

A US Attorney's View

An Illinois Attorney speaks out about the politicisation of the Department of Justice.
In corruption cases, the potential for partisan shenanigans may arise in two different ways, each of which disserves the interests of justice. First, partisan prosecutors might ignore credible allegations of corruption because they fear embarrassing their political party or patron. Second, partisan prosecutors might pursue flimsy allegations for political purposes.

Here in Illinois, we recently had the unfortunate example of the secretary of state's inspector general reminding investigators that their job was to protect their political boss, not to find and resolve internal corruption.
As Dan Froomkin says in White House Watch
It's worth noting that federal prosecutors rarely write op-eds. Presumably, in this case, Collins didn't think he'd get in trouble for doing so. And who's his boss? A fellow named Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Virginia Tech

There's not much to say about the tragic events at Virginia Tech that hasn't been written and debated a thousand times already on 24 hours news. Andrew Cohen's Bench Conference sums it up:
But I learned two fascinating things Monday afternoon in the immediate wake of the killing spree. First, I learned from two gun control advocates, including Jim Hennigan at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, that gun control in this country and specifically on our nation's campuses has not gotten measurably better in the eight years since Columbine. In many cases, these advocates say, it's gotten worse. Second, I learned from CBS News' Armen Keteyian that school administrators and college officials at Virginia Tech had in fact implemented reasonable security measures (against the wishes of state legislators) designed to limit guns on campus. In other words, even though the university was relatively proactive in confronting the problem of guns on campus, the brutal slayings occurred anyway.
There is an interesting exchange in the comments section between 'Bukko in Australia', an ex-pat American now living and working in Melbourne and a couple of people with a dissenting view.

I'm with 'Bukko', Melbourne is a safe place to live. Yes, it's not crime-free, but you can walk the streets without fear and gun crime is pretty limited. I wasn't here at the time of the Port Arthur Massacre but gun control implemented afterwards has made it difficult to obtain firearms to the point of making competition shooting difficult.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Probably one of the most awe-inspiring sights I've seen - this massive rock with a small village and church on it, rising up from the flat sands.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Into the Light
Originally uploaded by TRiP67.
Taken at Letchworth State Park in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

Leicester City 1 Norwich City 2

It's difficult to get too excited about these end of season games but they are still important as they set a tone for next season's preparations.

There were several important pointers there for next year.
  1. They still have the ability to come from behind to win games. I remember an extended period in Norwich's past, it may have gone on for a season or two, when we never won after going behind in a game. We've now achieved wins like this several times recently.
  2. Robert Earnshaw is back. I was surprised to see that not only did he make the bench, but he came on and played.
  3. The youth policy at the club is looking as strong as it has for many years - Jason Shackell, Chris Martin, Michael Spillane, Robert Eagle and now Kris Renton, aged 16 who came on at the end to become the youngest player ever to represent Norwich City. In addition, we also have youth products Ian Henderson, Ryan and Rossi Jarvis and Joe Lewis out gaining experience at other clubs.
  4. We're winning away games - at last!
It makes you think, as most other clubs must be doing, of what might have been. Another four wins, and it's easy to think of at least twelve points thrown away, and we'd still have been right in the thick of play-off contention.

Good luck to Nigel Worthington and Doug Livermore at Leicester. It mustn't be forgotten that he rescued Norwich from a terrible fate at the hands of double-agent Hamilton a few years back. It was a bit ironic though that he threw on a 16-year old for his debut for Leicester given his reluctance to play the youngsters at Norwich. That would probably have been my biggest criticism of his time at Norwich.

Post match interviews with Leicester City's caretaker manager Nigel Worthington, Norwich manager, Peter Grant and goalscorer Robert Earnshaw (Realplayer required)

Voter Fraud? What Voter Fraud?

Now Karl Rove's plan for the next election has been exposed to the daylight, how effective will it be?

Last week, we learned that the administration edited a government-ordered report on voter fraud to support its fantasy. The original version concluded that among experts “there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud.” But the publicly released version said, “There is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.” It’s hard to see that as anything but a deliberate effort to mislead the public.

Sound familiar? In President Bush’s first term, a White House official, who had been the oil industry’s front man in trying to discredit the science of global warming, repeatedly edited government reports to play down links between climate change and greenhouse gases. And then there was the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which turned reports on old, dubious and false tales about weapons of mass destruction into warnings of clear, present and supposedly mortal dangers.

As the NYT editorial says, it's fully time for Rove to answer some questions about his role in this affair.

Alberto Gonzales' Defence?

Alberto Gonzales has written a column for the Washington Post entitled 'Nothing Improper' in which he argues that he has done nothing wrong.

There are a couple of statements that stand out:

"I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason. Furthermore, I have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason."
I think that depends on his interpretation of an improper reason. Presumably, not prosecuting Democrats when asked is not improper.

"Additionally, I have instructed all Justice Department officials to make themselves available for on-the-record interviews with lawmakers and hearings before Congress, and I have ordered the release of thousands of pages of internal documents."
All Justice Department officials - except those who have resigned, perhaps? The release of thousands of pages of internal documents - except those that cause us a problem, perhaps? Those have been 'mislaid'.

"I have nevertheless asked the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to further investigate this matter. Working with the department's Office of Inspector General, these nonpartisan professionals will complete their own independent investigation so that Congress and the American people can be 100 percent assured of what I believe and what the investigation thus far has shown: that nothing improper occurred."
How many of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility staff attended conservative law colleges?

"During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign."
Until proved otherwise, then I might have misstated.

"I am also telling our 93 U.S. attorneys that I look forward to working with them to pursue the great goals of our department in the weeks and months to come. During the past two years, we have made great strides in securing our country from terrorism, protecting our neighborhoods from gangs and drugs, shielding our children from predators and pedophiles, and protecting the public trust by prosecuting public corruption."

No mention of voter fraud?

"In part because of my own experience, I know the real strength of America. It lies in our Constitution, our people and our collective unyielding commitment to equal opportunity, equal justice, common decency and fairness."

Is that the same Constitution that whilst it says Habeus Corpus cannot be removed, it doesn't say that it applies to everyone?

I hope his two week preparation for his questioning by Congress is a bit better than this.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

I love the Sunshine Coast to the North of Brisbane. It's much less commercial than its brasher cousin to the South of Brisbane, the Gold Coast.

However, the rate of development is massive and is putting pressure on the local environment.

Reasons for the Surge

Joseph L Galloway, of McClatchy's Washington Bureau explains the reason for the surge:

It will be costly and painful to prolong the war in Iraq for another 21 months so that those who started it can hand off the harder decision of how to end it to the next occupant of the White House.

President Bush isn't extending and expanding the war in a search for victory. His dream of victory in Iraq cannot be achieved. Not by sending 30,000 more American troops. Not by making parts of Baghdad temporarily safer by billeting American troops in violent neighborhoods and pushing the slaughter into the northern and southern suburbs - or into the Green Zone where U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work.

Not by letting American soldiers bear the brunt of combat, targeted not only by our enemies, the Sunni Muslim insurgents but also by our supposed allies, the Shiite majority and the murderous militia of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. In March, more American troops died in Iraq than Iraqi soldiers.

H/T Dan Froomkin's White House Watch.

Don't forget, they have also got to get those oil laws passed by the Iraqi government so that the contracts can be handed over to the big oil companies too. They haven't been passed yet.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

drifting into a dream..
Originally uploaded by areyarey.
A beautiful, serene image

The Missing Emails

Dan Froomkin leads with the story of the extremely 'careless' White House losing emails.

Countless e-mails to and from many key White House staffers have been deleted -- lost to history and placed out of reach of congressional subpoenas -- due to a brazen violation of internal White House policy that was allowed to continue for more than six years, the White House acknowledged yesterday.

The leading culprit appears to be President Bush's enormously influential political adviser Karl Rove, who reportedly used his Republican National Committee-provided Blackberry and e-mail accounts for most of his electronic communication.

My question is this. If the RNC IT department has been doing its job properly, then the majority of these missing emails should have been archived to tape and still available.

In all organisations that I have worked in, the mail server, along with all the other file servers, is backed up (usually to tape) on a daily basis. A 'grandfather' system of tape rotation is used so that once a week the server is backed up to a weekly tape (there will be a number of tapes that are cycled so a weekly tape is used, say, every four weeks). Then, once per month, a monthly tape is inserted into the rotation, and this tape is kept as part of a rotation, or in some instances, forever.

Therefore, my question would be, how often is the RNC mail server backed up (they must do this or they would lose all email records in a system crash), what tape rotation policy is followed and how far back do the tapes go.

If the IT department at the RNC is doing its job properly, tape backups should have records going back months and years. Whilst it may not be a 100% complete record (an email could be received after one monthly backup and deleted before the next one is taken) I would suspect that a significant proportion of emails would be archived.

John Pilger's View

I hope this isn't right:

We are being led towards perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the Bush/Cheney/Blair "long war" edges closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation's independence from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (until their masters got the wind up) is both farce and distraction. The Bush administration, in secret connivance with Blair, has spent four years preparing for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to General Leonid Ivashov, Russia's leading strategic thinker: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets, and there are 20 such facilities. Combat nuclear weapons may be used, and this will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond."

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by cowgirls_lament.
Ballooning over the Yarra Valley, just East of Melbourne

Banana Republic?

A quote from Karl Rove in a speech to Republican lawyers:

"'We're, in some parts of the country, I'm afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are colonels in mirrored sunglasses,' Mr. Rove said. 'I mean, it's a real problem.'"
He's talking about himself, surely, and his own party's policies - electronic voting machines with no paper trail and poor security, voter suppression tactics, partisan prosecutions of opposition politicians, swift-boating campaigns - the list goes on. He obviously has no faith in or respect for the will of the people and is intent on rigging the next election to get the right result.

Reasons to Live in Melbourne - No 1

I thought I'd start a series of posts about why Melbourne is such a great place to live.

1 - The Weather. Most people from New South Wales and Queensland would think I'm nuts. They hate Melbourne weather as too cold or too changeable. Melbourne is famous for its 'four seasons in one day' but I love it.

The Winter doesn't get too cold, Summers are warm and sunny (and occasionally too hot), and Spring and Autumn are great.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Twilight at Lorne
Originally uploaded by aumbody images.
We've just had a glorious long weekend of weather over Easter, and it look's like it's going to stay warm all week.

Here's a shot of Lorne Pier, down on the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria

Monday, 9 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by mike138.
A lovely moody shot.

Political Overreach

So you don't have to be associated with a terrorist organisation, you don't have to have committed any crimes, you don't even have to look suspicious. No all you have to do is be critical of George W. Bush!

"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said."
So what is exactly the point of this action? Is it to intimidate opponents? Is it a punishment for daring to speak out in opposition? Is this what the 'leader of the free world' has come to?

I would imagine that the airlines will be complaining if the Department of Homeland Security are going to want to ban two thirds of their potential passengers.

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by sunny-drunk.
Posted 7th April. Great Colours!

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Freedom Of Speech in Once Great Britain

How can MPs vote for a law which removes the right to freedom of speech in Great Britain? I've just read an article in The Times in amazement:
The tourists by the entrance to Downing Street laughed and clapped as Neil took up his spot outside the gates. They queued to have their photograph taken with him, but the police were not amused because he soon produced a sign from his rucksack that said “NOT ALOUD”, which because of the ludicrous nature of the government’s new Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act’s exclusion zone meant that he was breaking the law.

Within minutes an armed officer called over to him.

“You can’t stand there, mate. It’s illegal.” Neil shrugged as though he didn’t understand. The policeman tried again. “You can’t demonstrate.

Move along or you’ll get arrested.” The crowd of people began to boo at the policeman. “Doesn’t he have the right to remain silent?” I offered. The crowd laughed. The officer angrily looked at me.

“Are you trying to be funny, mate? Who are you? Are you with him?” I shook my head and he turned back to Neil, who was doing his best to look scared, which was drawing sympathetic noises from the crowd. One called out: “Leave him alone, he’s only standing there!” Someone else put in: “It’s a free country, isn’t it?” Neil shook his head with a rueful smile and the crowd began to applaud and cheer.

Governments will take any excuse to reduce the freedom of its citizens, it seems to me, and the 'War on Terror' has given them the perfect opportunity to restrict people's right of expression. In the USA, the FBI are spying in its citizens without restraint and the New York Police infiltrated groups who might protest the Republican Convention in the city and locked peaceful protesters up for days. The vast majority of these were released without charge.

It's time that MPs and Congressmen remembered who they are representing.

What is going on at the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office?

Three senior attorneys at the Minnesota US Attorney's office have resigned their management positions to return to prosecuting cases rather than managing other prosecutors.

The message was succinct, one source told the Pioneer Press: " 'They did it jointly because they couldn't stand [U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose] anymore,' the source said, citing what had been described as her 'dictatorial management style and general lack of management experience.' "

Paulose's thin résumé has raised eyebrows since her appointment a year ago. At the tender age of 34, she appears to have powerful political connections but little in the way of powerful prosecutorial experience.

As the editorial points out, the position of US Attorney is a political appointment but on condition that they leave their politics at the door and that they be competent.

In Rachel Paulose's case, the latter is in question and the former must be in doubt being an appointee of this administration and of Karl Rove. Minnesota will be one of the important swing states at the next presidential election and I imagine one of her priorities will be the mythical 'voter fraud', i.e. the disenfranchisement of Democrat voters.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Go Geraldo!

Well, I never thought I'd say it, but good for Geraldo as he stands up to Bill O'Reilly who tries to make a Drunk Driver fatality an illegal immigration issue.

Flickr Of The Day

St.Patrick's Bridge
Originally uploaded by federico-69.
Posted on April 6th 2007. Wonderful detail and light

Cheney still insists al-Qa'ida had links with Iraq, despite evidence

I suppose the headline says it all really.

Vice-President Dick Cheney continues to insist that al-Qa'ida had close ties with Iraq before the 2003 US-led invasion, despite the publication of further evidence, including the interrogation of Saddam Hussein, confirming the consensus to the contrary of US intelligence.

Mr Cheney's assertions came as Congress released the full declassified version of a Pentagon report that sharply criticises a special office in its own building for writing intelligence reports alleging such contacts.

Those claims flatly contradicted the considered judgement of other US agencies - including the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's official in-house intelligence unit - that no such links existed.

There are still people who believe in the link, people who still believe that Presidents and Vice-Presidents wouldn't abuse there office and, of course, those that watch Fox News.

Hull City 1 Norwich City 2

After the disappointment of last week's defeat at Colchester, a vastly improved performance away to Hull earned Norwich another three points to take them above, temporarily at least, old rivals Ipswich.

"It would be difficult to single anyone out," [Peter Grant] said. "Last week we lost a goal and capitulated and I started today making sure it doesn't happen again. Today when it was a battle they battled and when they had to play they played.

"I think the one thing I questioned last week was the character, especially after the second half performance last week. To me it was massive today and it was big part of winning the game and I thought we should have won the game more convincingly."
All is set for Monday's home match against West Brom. Whilst it doesn't mean much in terms of this season, a good finish will set a good foundation for the next.

Radio Norfolk interviews with manager, Peter Grant, and Dickson Etuhu (RealPlayer needed)

Flickr Of The Day

S t u b b o r n *
Originally uploaded by imapix.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Cheney's Still At It!

According to a report in the Washington Post, Dick Cheney is even today still asserting that Iraq and Al Qaeda were cooperating before the invasion of Iraq.

This is on the day that a report has just been declassified which debunks this and details the misleading brief prepared by Douglas Feith, "Iraq and al-Qaida: Making the Case".

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

And finally:

Zarqawi, whom Cheney depicted yesterday as an agent of al-Qaeda in Iraq before the war, was not then an al-Qaeda member but was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents, according to several intelligence analysts. He publicly allied himself with al-Qaeda in early 2004, after the U.S. invasion.
If this man wasn't the Vice-President, wouldn't he be receiving some for of treatment for his delusional behaviour?

I wish I'd thought of this

What a great idea!

It's fascinating to see the way the faces have changed over the years, especially watching the kids grow up.

H/T to Clive Davis

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

canal bridge hdr
Originally uploaded by blueeyeddebby.
An HDR shot of a bridge over the Neath Canal in South Wales.

Bill O'Reilly - The Voice of Reason

So Bill O'Reilly is concerned that Iran isn't observing the Geneva Conventions. The hypocrisy is staggering. Col Ann Wright, 29 years in the army and a lecturer on the Geneva conventions stands her ground.

It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

What Is He Talking About?

George Bush was at his most obtuse today in his press conference before going on another holiday to Crawford.

"The bottom line is this," Bush said. "Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war earlier than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people."

What is he talking about? How will the removal of funding for the war make families wait longer for the loved ones? And how will they be sent back quicker? This is the opposite of what the Democrats are intending and, in fact, what is happening due to his policies. It is the indefinite 'surge' that is causing troops to be sent back sooner and delaying their return. Perhaps he was unnerved by the site of the VP watching from behind the rose bush! Who wouldn't be?

Does he really believe what he says? I presume that this is all pre-prepared and practised. Does he not question what he is saying? Does he realise he makes no sense?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

Battersea Power Station
Originally uploaded by Aubrey Stoll.
Battersea Power Station. I can't see this without seeing the giant inflatable pig.

Supreme Partisanship

It is great news that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the federal government can regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

It is a victory for a world whose environment seems increasingly threatened by climate change. It is a vindication for states like California that chose not to wait for the federal government and acted to limit emissions that contribute to global warming. And it should feed the growing momentum on Capitol Hill for mandatory limits on carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas.

The 5-to-4 ruling was a rebuke to the Bush administration and its passive approach to the warming threat. The ruling does not require the government to regulate greenhouse gases. But it instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its refusal to regulate emissions, urges it to pay attention to the scientific evidence and says that if it takes the same stance, it has to come up with better reasons than its current “laundry list” of excuses.

However, it was really disappointing for me to see that the court was split on partisan lines. Is there no issue important enough for the usual suspects to put aside their party ties and rule based on the constitution and the law.

The decision was unnervingly close, and some of the arguments in the dissent, written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., were cause for concern — especially his comments about the “complexities” of the science of climate change, which is too close for comfort to the administration’s party line.

Flickr Of The Day

Melbourne & Yarra River By Night
Originally uploaded by otbc.
Melbourne and the Yarra River

Monday, 2 April 2007

The Hicks Farce

Andrew Sullivan nails it with his summary of the David Hicks plea and sentence:

If you think this was in any way a legitimate court process, you're smoking something even George Michael would pay a lot of money for. It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn't a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.

That's Cheney, and his junior accomplice Bush.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Flickr Of The Day

A beautiful evening shot of Rio de Janeiro

Hicks' Stalinist Experience

Robert Richter, a Melbourne Barrister serves it to the US military tribunals as doing 'Stalin's show trials proud'.

The deal was simple: Go home. Shut up. If you dare to say you had no choice but to plead guilty, the US Military Commission will find you guilty of perjury and will call in a full seven-year sentence, over and above the five you've suffered unconvicted and uncharged. That will mean the Australian Attorney-General may not release you on licence for another seven years, or will — with the additional gags of control orders and other available means — make sure you cannot tell anyone what happened.

Apart from the loss of fundamental guarantees of freedom, another freedom — speech — is garrotted.

He believes that one day in the not to distant future, the Australian politicians who stood by and let this happen, may pay a price themselves.

The best thing one can say about the process is that one day there may be a reckoning for this despicable episode, in which Australian ministers, all the way down from the Prime Minister, have been party to the commission of grave crimes under the Australian Criminal Code 1995, divisions 104 (Harming Australians Overseas) and 268D (denying a fair trial), because they have been criminally complicit under section 11.2.

It's been quite disgraceful to watch Alexander Downer, the Foreign Miniser, and John Howard jump through moral hoops trying to justify the USA's handling of this affair.

Colchester 3 Norwich 0

After a good run in the last few weeks, a bad defeat at the hands of Colchester. It;s these sort of results that Norwich need to avoid next season if they're going to challenge for promotion.

Peter Grant is making it clear that some of the players are playing for their future at the club. The future is looking bright with youngsters pushing for places from the academy.

Post match report and interviews with Peter Grant and ex-Canary Colchester striker Jamie Cureton (Realplayer required).

A Crocheted Stuffed Dalek


This is what the internet is for. Where else would you find out that someone had crocheted a dalek?

They must be one of the greatest sci-fi villains ever invented, though even as a toddler I wondered how they could dominate the world without being able to go up and down stairs.

H/T Andrew Sullivan.