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Sunday, April 30, 2006

RESCUE LATEST

It may still be two days before miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb are brought to the surface; maybe less. Mining expert Amal Battacharya:

When they excavate, they’ve got to support the rock as they go along, otherwise other people will be in danger. So they are driving in a new tunnel hopefully, in somewhat, shall we say, stable rock.

And these 12 metres that they’re getting into, I don’t know again what is the situation there, but they’re getting probably to the zone of broken rock, and they’ll have to take extreme care so that other tonnes of rocks don’t come down on the other people.

By Battacharya’s estimate, those final tricky metres could be covered within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Kim Beazley is scoring political points. For shame! Have you no decency sir? Etc.

UPDATE. Naomi, one of the vertical carp over at Mark Bahnisch’s learning-to-write collective, blames company orders:

… this miracle can’t distract us from the reality of this disaster. These men were going about their daily work, under orders from a company that was pushing the geological envelope to make a buck.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 10:57 PM
(35) CommentsPermalink

TO USE THE WORDS OF NADINE STROSSER ...

John Kerry’s fake Jefferson quote sure gets a work out, as Mark Steyn notes:

America’s hardboiled newsmen can’t get enough of the Thomas Jefferbunk. The Berkshire Eagle used it as the headline for last year’s Fourth of July editorial. Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press thundered: “We need to stop slicing this country in half, and saying those who support this act or this politician are ‘good’ Americans, and the rest are not. Sometimes ‘dissent is the highest form of patriotism.’ I didn’t make that up. Thomas Jefferson did.”

Er, no. You made up that he made it up. But former Georgia state Rep. Mike Snow uses it, and Miranda Yaver of Berkeley wore it on a button to the big anti-war demo in Washington last year, and Ted Kennedy deployed it as the stirring finale to his anti-Bush speech:

“It is not unpatriotic to tell the truth to the American people about the war in Iraq. In this grave moment of our country, to use the words of Thomas Jefferson, ‘Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.’ “

Steyn’s suggested source of the bogus quote: ACLU boss Nadine Strosser. Whose name doesn’t quite have that Jeffersonian authority.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 09:59 PM
(36) CommentsPermalink

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

Mike Carlton uncovers the Giant Texan Conspiracy that delayed the return of Private Jake Kovko’s body:

The blunder is probably the fault of the American contractor hired to transport the casket from Kuwait to Australia, a firm named Kenyon International.

Here the plot thickens. Kenyon’s parent company, Service Corporation International (SCI), boasts that it is “the dominant leader in the North American death care industry”. It is based in Houston, Texas. You will not be surprised, therefore, to hear that SCI’s billionaire founder, one Robert Waltrip, is an old buddy of the Bush family and a big-money donor to the two Georges.

Back in 1999, when George jnr was beginning his run for the White House, SCI was embroiled in a grisly scandal known as Funeralgate. A whistleblower accused the company of “recycling” graves. Old corpses had been removed and replaced by new ones. At two Jewish cemeteries in Florida, bodies were exhumed and dumped in the woods to be eaten by wild hogs.

I am not making this up. The scandal ran through the Texas courts, reaching all the way to, yep, Governor George W. Bush. There were uncomfortable questions about the donations he had accepted from SCI.

Happily, the whistleblower was paid off and everything smoothed over in time for Dubya to win the Republican presidential nomination. SCI later paid compensation of $US100 million to its victims’ relatives.

And who fixed this? Why, none other than Harry Whittington, the Texas lawyer shot by Deadeye Dick Cheney on that famous hunting trip in February.

Don’t stop there, Mike. Two more paragraphs and you’ll have proof that the Bush twins detonated the World Trade Center.

(Via Alan D.)

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 08:51 PM
(41) CommentsPermalink

PEACENIKS AT WAR

Joshua Dougherty of Iraq Body Count takes on fellow body-counter Tim Lambert:

Tim, we kind of expected you to be unable to admit a mistake on this. And that’s what has unfortunately come to pass.

IBC has faced criticism from other anti-war entities; apparently they’re upset that IBC’s corpse tally isn’t high enough.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 11:52 AM
(68) CommentsPermalink

MINERS FOUND

It’s being reported that two Tasmanian miners trapped since Tuesday are still alive:

Just after 7.30pm, the Beaconsfield Gold Mine company said Todd Russell, 35, and Brant Webb, 36, had been located and “indications are they are still alive”.

Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be another Anderson Cooper debacle. As at the Sago mine, relatives of the men trapped in Tasmania were first told of their apparent survival while in church:

United Church Community Minister Frances Seen said she was in church praying when Todd Russell’s mother came running in with the news.

UPDATE. Contact:

Rescuers have spoken to two miners trapped underground for five days at the Beaconsfield mine in Tasmania’s north ... West Tamar Mayor Barry Easther says the mine manager has confirmed the men are alive and have spoken with rescuers.

UPDATE II. A timeline of the mine collapse and subsequent rescue work. Which is a long way from over, and extremely dangerous itself; remember that the rescuers are digging through earth made unstable by a recent quake.

UPDATE III. Contrary to earlier reports, which forecast a likely recovery of the men tomorrow, Ten News has just claimed the miners might be returned to the surface “anytime soon”.

UPDATE IV. Readers who know mining weigh in.

UPDATE V. Twelve metres (about 36 feet) of rock remains between rescuers and miners, according to AWU rep Paul Howe.

UPDATE VI. A survival story told from 3,000 feet underground.

UPDATE VII. Blog reaction here, here, and here.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 07:25 AM
(43) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, April 29, 2006

SOCKED

When it comes to sock puppets, Melbourne artist and academic Ian Haig is one of the sockiest, as Andrew Bolt reports following an email from “Fran Preston”:

As it happens, the first thing I nosed out was that “Fran Preston” was a fake name put on a new Yahoo account registered by ... gosh, Ian Haig.

Hit them links for details. For his services to sockery, Haig has, of course, received a slice of your taxes. Several slices, in fact; a few years ago he scammed $5000 to present his masterful Brain Tumor Helmets with Microwaves. More recently, Haig pulled in $10,000 to develop Futurotica Mk2, “a body of animatronic and electro mechanical sculptures exploring sex and technology.”

Hmm ... could be time to get on board this gravy train.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 02:28 PM
(43) CommentsPermalink

PAGAN ECO-TART HONOURED

The First Annual Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise Night is up:

It’s that time of year when we honor the ultimate MILF: Mother Earth! Yes friends, Gaia called and you responded - with candid pics showing how you get your freak on with that saucy pagan eco-tart.

Current entries include 32 cars and trucks—ranging from Caddies to Kommandowagens—as well as 5 motorcycles and a 10-speed sent in by wisenheimer R.H. Hardin.

Click the above link to witness Hardin’s act of subversion and also Preston Peterson’s outstanding 1967 Mustang—twin turbocharged in a mechanical tribute to Gaia’s hurricanes and volcanoes.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn:

I take my hat off. This belongs to a very select group of Jokes I Wish I’d Thought Of First: “It’s that time of year when we honor the ultimate MILF: Mother Earth!”

James Waterton agrees. Hail the ‘Hawk!

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 12:58 PM
(35) CommentsPermalink

KOVCO PUZZLE

Confusion over Private Jake Kovco’s death continues:

Speaking after the formal identification of her son’s body in Sydney, Judy Kovco rejected claims that her son had committed suicide while alone in his barracks in Baghdad, Iraq.

“My son did not die in a room on his own by his own hand,” she said. “That is 100 per cent crap. He died in a room with his mates.”

At the Daily Telegraph, Ian McPhedran—with whom I’ve worked, and whose military contacts are exceptional—reports that Kovco was alone at the time he was killed:

The revelation, which contradicts information from the military and the Federal Government, was made by soldiers angered by what they see as a disgraceful cover-up.

Troops in Baghdad said the 25-year-old father of two had been under enormous emotional pressure.

Defence and the Government had said Pte Kovco was in a room with two comrades when he was shot. But a source close to the troops said: “His two mates were in the next room and found him after the shot went off.”

The Sydney Morning Herald suggests that soldiers themselves are involved in a cover-up:

Serving soldiers in Iraq have told families and friends back home that Private Kovco was killed while the three soldiers in the barracks were playing a risky game. The troops report that one or two other soldiers were in the room with him when the gun went off and that they had tried to cover up what had happened.

It could take up to six months until a board of inquiry delivers a finding ...

UPDATE. The Age’s Terry Lane finds an anti-war angle:

Should we not be regretting the deaths of all the Iraqis who have been killed by the invaders for not having weapons of mass destruction?

UPDATE II. Academic John Quiggin demands accountability:

It would be good to think that somewhere in the chain of command, someone will step forward to say “This happened on my watch, and whether or not I personally did anything wrong, I’m responsible. I offer my resignation”. So far, there hasn’t been any sign that anything like this will happen, but there’s still time.

Oh, Quiggy! Your insane biscuit-IQ requests delight us all!

UPDATE III. Yobbo in Quiggler’s comments:

Maybe you should resign your post next time anyone in your university (or any contractor working for your university) makes an error.

UPDATE IV. Lefties who’ve suddenly discovered a new respect for Australia’s military in the wake of Kovco’s death and his bungled return to Australia might recall Mark Latham’s views on our servicemen:

I detest war and the meatheads who volunteer to kill other human beings.

Would’ve been interesting to see Prime Minister Latham’s handling of this.

UPDATE V. Webdiary columnist Richard Tonkin:

Right now I’d like to see a report of the Iraqi people who Private Kovco, in his capacity as Guardian Angel of Baghdad, took careful aim at and ended their lives ... This story may not be that of an accidental death of a saint. To some it may already appear to be one of a hired murderer encountering karma.

(Via Harry Heidelberg)

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 12:48 PM
(42) CommentsPermalink

NEWS BRIEFLETS

* Single-author sites are the wave of the past? Whoa! Lucky I’ve still got staffers Tran and Mbongo on retainer. (Well, technically, I guess they’re more restrained than retained.)

* Jennifer Marohasy’s site has survived its first year, and thus is added to the blogroll at left.

* New neighbours partying next door have entered the feeling-no-pain stage, as evidenced by destructive attempts at acoustic song. I’ll drop by in the afternoon with atomic coffee.

* Jeremy Sear has been digging through his own waste.

* According to a Fijian newspaper, al-Qaeda goons have tried to bribe guards at Saddam Hussein’s trial.

* Anyone catch Jerry Lee Lewis on Letterman? Dude has better hair than me and he was born in 1935. New album due in September.

* You won’t believe what you can find at eBay Platinum Reserve.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 12:20 PM
(15) CommentsPermalink

SAVE THE UNIVERSE

Al Gore’s conservation ambitions now extend beyond his home planet, as Peter Foster reports:

Mr. Gore’s Vanity Fair contribution, a “Green Essay” titled “The Moment of Truth,” spews the kind of apocalyptic mush that first polluted the noosphere via his monumentally unbalanced 1992 book, Earth in the Balance. Science simply doesn’t come into it.

“We” are melting glaciers. Polar bears are drowning. Great sheets of polar ice threaten to raise sea levels by 20 feet. Species are being exterminated wholesale. Acid seas threaten to dissolve shellfish. And, most grandiosely, “We are ... altering the balance of energy between our planet and the rest of the universe.

Hey, Al; how do you measure that?

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 11:33 AM
(56) CommentsPermalink

RICH SOAKED

Bush tax policies are routinely assumed to favour the rich. Not so, writes the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore:

New IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush’s tax policies actually soak the rich.

It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

It’s also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

No wonder John Kerry is so grouchy these days.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 10:50 AM
(20) CommentsPermalink

UN IGNORED

Confronted by the UN’s might, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is holding his nerve somehow:

Iran has ignored a UN Security Council call to suspend all nuclear fuel enrichment, a report by the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has concluded.

Mohamed ElBaradei’s report said that Tehran had done little to answer questions over its nuclear intentions.

The UN wants the research halted amid Western fears - denied by Iran - that Tehran might develop nuclear weapons.

US Ambassador John Bolton said he would now push for Iran to face mandatory UN demands to stop its nuclear work.

There exists the faint possibility that Iran may not comply with any UN demands. What then, UN? Will a scowling be launched? Going to back up your demands with some smashmouth finger-waving? Could it be time for Kofi’s expression of deep concern, outlawed under the Geneva Convention because of the paralysing giggling fits it induces?

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 09:23 AM
(39) CommentsPermalink

SKEETERS STOMPED

J.F. Beck’s ambitious anti-malaria fund-fest has now raised $US820—more than one thousand Australian digeridollars. Celebrate by clicking over to Beckville.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 08:54 AM
(4) CommentsPermalink

HAMBURGER PATTY

The ABC’s Melanie Christiansen presents an interview with Patty Mark, one of the protesters at yesterday’s meat battle:

MELANIE CHRISTIANSEN: The World Meat Congress has drawn the industry’s leaders to Brisbane this week, closely followed by animal liberation activists, who’ve staged a series of protests.

[Friday] morning they invaded an abattoir at Ipswich just south of Brisbane, where they chained themselves in.

Protester Patty Mark says what followed was frightening.

PATTY MARK: The abattoir workers were very violent to us. We were chained right over the killing room floor. The owner came in with an angle grinder and started to … We begged for the police.

MELANIE CHRISTIANSEN: But before police arrived, she said, things got even worse.

PATTY MARK: He then came back with the whole lot of … how many were there? About 40 abattoir workers.

They were yelling and screaming, and he got the angle grinder himself and started to cut right within … near where we were chained.

It was terrifying. We didn’t have protection on our eyes. The sparks were flying.

MELANIE CHRISTIANSEN: Fellow protester Noah Hannibal says he couldn’t believe what was happening.

NOAH HANNIBAL: Like, this guy was basically coming at us with an angle grinder, so there were people shaking, there were people in tears and he was just saying, you know, “I’m enjoying this.”

He isn‘t alone. Nice to see workers and management joining forces during what became a tremendous bonding exercise.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 02:56 AM
(60) CommentsPermalink

ELVES AT PLAY

This site was among many earlier shut down by determined little cyber elves. Normal services are now resumed; more posts shortly.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/29/2006 at 02:20 AM
(13) CommentsPermalink
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