Tuesday, March 28, 2006




Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cartoon Rage - publish and be fired!

The list of journalists getting fired and/or arrested for offending the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) is growing.

Latest to go is Acton Gray, the editor who chose to publish caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in the University of Illinois' student newspaper last month.

He joins an illustrious list including -

Jacques Lefranc was dismissed by the (Egyptian) owner of France Soir for publishing the cartoons.

Jihad Momani, editor of Jordanian weekly newspaper, Shiham, was fired and arrested for publishing the cartoons, which violates Jordan’s press law forbidding insults against religion.

Jussi Vilkuna, editor of Kaltio, a small Finnish culture magazine, was fired for publishing the cartoons following the decision of Tapiola, Sampo and Pohjola to withdraw their advertisements from the Kaltio website.

Alok Tomar, editor of Indian magazine Shabdarth, had to pay 50,000 rupees (943 euros) and provide a personal surety following arrest on 23 February after publishing one of the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

David Da Silva, editor of the Christian magazine Gloria, in Java, has been dismissed for reprinting the cartoons. Da Silva was interviewed by local police.

Abdel Halim Akram Sabra, editor of the independent Yemen weekly Al-Hurriya, journalist Yahya Al Aabed and editor of the Yemen Observer Mohammed Al Asaadi were arrested on Feb 10th for publishing the cartoons.

Anna Smirnova, editor of the small local newspaper in Volodga, north-east of Moscow was arrested by police after producing a special issue on the cartoons. Smirnova faces criminal charges for “incitement to hatred or religious hostility” and could go to prison for up to six years for inciting hatred.

Alexei Korol, editor of the opposition weekly, Zhoda, may face up to five years in prison for "incitement to religious hatred" after being arrested following publication of the cartoons. KGB secret police searched the paper’s premises on 22 February and seized four computers. Korol and his deputy, Alexander Sdvizhkov, were interrogated at KGB offices for several hours.

Flemming Rose, commissioning editor at the Jyllands-Posten (the one that kicked it all off) has been sent on "indefinite leave" due to his "errors of judgement". He had indicated that he might publish smoe of the Iranian Holocause cartoons.

Suzette Sands, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, was recently sacked after a mysterious anti-Islamic article was posted and then withdrawn from the Telegraph's online site. The two may not necessarily be connected but follows closely on the heels of the Telegraph's decision to drop Mark Steyn - a known anti-Islamist.


Selective schools day

Today is selection day in New South Wales for 13,00 Year 6 (11 years) students who are competing for 3,500 places at 30 selective NSW high schools. The students will be assessed on a combination of today's test and a school assessment of their performances in English and maths.

Meanwhile in the UK, Tony Blair has seen his Education Bill sail through Parliament following the support of the Conservatives. There is no talk of a return to selection. Not even the Conservatives dare utter the dreaded "S" word. Both leaders were educated at selective schools - Tony Blair's school selected for academic ability (Fettes College) and David Cameron's for money (Eton). No such luck for those who can't afford it.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sydney to import sharks!

Despite the waters around Sydney containing Hammerheads, Bulls, Bronze Whalers, Makos, Great Whites, Tigers, Blues, Silkys, White Tips, Black Tips, Wobbegongs and Grey Nurses, researchers at Sydney's Macquarie University want to import more of the latter (see photo).

They are kindly considering moving sharks from Western Australia or Africa to the eastern seaboard to replenish grey nurse numbers and "strengthen the gene pool".


However, The National Parks Association today said it was a waste of time to import grey nurse sharks to the NSW coast.

Finally some sense. Because of the risk to swimmers and snorkellers? Err, no.

"...until the government established a marine sanctuary to protect the species, which were being killed due to accidental hooking during fishing activities."

So, protect them first, let their number multiply, and then import them.

The report compiled to the Olympic Committee in 2000 on the risk of shark attack in the Harbour put the risks as 'small'. However, last month a Manly swimming race had to be abandoned due to the unwanted arrival of a Great White Shark.

Not that small then.

Update; a surfer was attacked yesterday by a Bronze Whaler off Bondi beach in a little reported incident. Is there a conspiracy going on here? He was found screaming hysterically on a rock at 4:30 a.m. having been stranded overnight.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Time to re-think Aboriginal welfare?

I have discovered that if you want to silence a noisy, packed room in under ten seconds, then just casually ask your host why there are so many drunk Aboriginals around.

No one in 'polite company' seems to want to discuss anything Aboriginal. It's like they don't exist. Fortunately, the newspapers do report on Aboriginal issues.

There appears to be something of a generational sea-change of thinking going on right now with even the Labour Party now calling for a radical rethink. Labour's indigenous affairs Minister, Chris Evans, has branded the efforts of the Hawke and Keating governments as abject failures in delivering better health and economic progress for Australia's Aboriginal communities.

A new scheme is to be trialled in Cape York, Queensland, whereby Aboriginal parents who do not send their children to school will be punished, reports The Australian. The proposal, put forward by an indigenous leader called Noel Pearson, is designed to cut truancy rates and get Aborigines off the dole. Under the scheme, young people who fail to look for work or study will also face reduced dole payments.

James Bartholomew and others have been writing at length about the damage welfare has done to working class communities in the U.K (his blog is here). It would seem that welfare thinking is more advanced in Australia.

The picture above shows aboriginals at Tjapukai dancing the story of the kanagaroo hunt.

note to self - arrange to meet Noel Pearson


Monday, March 13, 2006

School prizes for 5 year olds?

Parents at a school for 5-7 year olds in Newtown, Sydney have demanded the scrapping of merit-based end of year school awards.

Deputy director-general of schools in the NSW Education Department, Trevor Fletcher said the Government supported the presentation of awards in schools as a means of celebrating individual achievements. "In Australia, for too long we have suffered from the tall-poppy syndrome and we have shied away from recognising excellence whether in academic or sporting areas".

How refreshing but totally different to the desperate Local Education Authorities in the U.K.


Physalia physalis

Autumn is late in coming to Sydney this year, so i took the family to the huge arc of sand that is Manly beach to experience some surf and some waves. Around 2pm, the wind changed direction and blew thousands of these little monsters up onto the surf.

Europeans call them 'Portugese men-o-war' because they are supposed to resemble a Portugese battleship with a sail. Locals call them blueys due to their blue tinted airbags. Their stinging tentacles can stretch up to ten metres and apparently are the most excrutiating pain imaginable (their phenol poison works its way into your glands and ends up in your groin..).

What fascinated me though, was that despite warnings blasted from tannoys all afternoon, despite lifeguards patrolling the surf warning swimmers and despite literally thousands of these things being washed up on the shore, the surf remained packed with swimmers and surfers.

No wussies these Aussies...


872 runs in One Day

Ricky Ponting on his way to 165 from 104 balls. He was eventually outhit by Herschelle Gibbs who battered the hapless Australian bowlng for 175 from just 111 balls.

872 runs were scored in one of the most remarkable one-day matches of all time.

Oh, and South Africa won with a ball to spare.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Germaine Greer - Stop Following Me

I had thought that one of the great benefits of emigrating to Australia was to expunge the execrable Ms. Greer from my mind.

Having categorically stated that she would never return to Australia "until it is an Aboriginal country" (whatever that means - military coup? mass Anglo and Asian population exodus?), she has decided to make an exception for the International Women's Day lunch in the Gold Coast; home of the mother-in-law.

Some of the lunchtime treats served up by Ms. Greer included
- Australian women should trash Holden dealerships
- 4WD drivers 'should be shot'. (Is that incitement to murder?)
- Criticising leading political women, Condi Rice, Hilary Clinton, Cherie Blair (not even Greer gets everything wrong) and Janette Howard

Greer, not a fan of men, but a lover of little boys, has also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in the U.K, despite describing it as "depraved" in a memorable 2001 article. She was evicted early as a result of her deep unpopularity.

Germ - please go back to England.


Australian opinions

One of the quickest ways to guage the views of my new fellow countrymen is a quick scan of the latest polls. Here are some of the more interesting results from a 9 News poll - (great poll as 'Don't Know' is not an option).

Whilst Her Majesty's hold on the locals is looking tenuous, it appears to be not just us Pommies that they don't like. They not only seem to have a pretty dim view of other immigrants but of themselves too. But they love whales.
They seem happy to let the government lead and seem to want to come down heavily on lawbreakers.
Now to find out about this Sally Robbins..

Love of the Mother Country
Should Australia remain a monarchy? No; 61%
Should 'God Save the Queen' be sung at the Commonwealth Games? 50:50

Love of other Immigrants
Should migrants who don't observe Aussie values be kicked out? Yes; 86%
Are Australia's Muslims being treated fairly by the community? Yes; 76%

The self-loathing factor
Should it be illegal to burn the Australian flag? Yes; 79%
Do Australians show enough national pride? No; 54%
Do you think Australians lack a cultural identity? Yes; 56%
Are we a ruder, more vulgar society than 20 years ago? Yes; 92%

The freedom loving factor
Should the government educate parents on how to raise their children? No; 53%
Do you support a ban on cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in our media? Yes; 67%
Would you support the introduction of an abortion pill in Australia? Yes; 67%
Do you support the introduction of a national ID card? Yes; 56%
Should smoking be banned in motor vehicles? Yes; 61%

Hang 'em, draw 'em and throw away the key
Is life imprisonment a fair penalty for trafficking drugs? Yes; 69%
Do you support the reintroduction of compulsory national service? Yes; 55%
Do you support police use of Taser stun guns? Yes; 81%

Should our troops stay in Iraq? No; 70%
Is Australia better off after 10 years with John Howard as PM? 50:50

The 'No idea what they're talking about' category
Should Schapelle Corby have had her 20-year sentence reinstated? Yes; 43%
Should Sally Robbins be allowed to row for Australia again? Yes; 38%


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Just arrived in Australia

On Thursday 2nd March, the Pommygranate family emigrated from the U.K. to Australia. My wife is actually already an Australian (Gold Coast) but myself and the two Pommygranettes are now officially immigrants.

I am experiencing slight technical problems posting mainly because my computer is on a boat somewhere in the Pacific, but will try and write as and when i can.

What is always fascinating about being in a new country is the contrast with the old. I plan to write on some of the more interesting (to me anyway) differences.