A few months ago I wrote that freedom of speech is dead in Australia. This was prompted by two incidents--the trial of blogger and broadcaster Andrew Bolt, who had had the temerity to suggest that white-looking Australians with only a tiny proportion of aboriginal blood in them might possibly be taking the p*** by using their supposed "traditional owner" ethnic status to screw money, influence and sympathy out of Australia's guilt-ridden welfare system.[Snip] Now to this list of shame we can add a third item of gob-smacking imbecility: the consignment of Australia's most popular broadcaster, Alan Jones, to a political
I'm old enough to remember when Australians not only spoke their opinion, but bristled when anyone tried to stifle them. Americans should now see the value of the First Amendment as a right, not as a gift from a mercurial government.
One in four NHS hospital trusts is failing to offer safe, good-quality care to all its patients, a damning report has shown. Out of 161 trusts in England, 44 have now been labelled as ‘high risk’, with serious concerns raised about their performance. Shockingly, a number of the hospitals now marked out as risky were classified ‘safe’ as recently as earlier this year. Some of the hospitals have been flagged up because of high death rates while others have been identified because of frequent ‘never events’ - serious incidents that should never occur in hospitals, such as amputating the wrong limb.
NHS hospitals are to be banned from fitting most metal-on-metal hip replacements after a study found unacceptably high failure rates among implants in 17,000 patients. The devices have already been subject to safety alerts, amid fears they can leak toxic metal. Surgeons are concerned that they fail far too early as joints wear away. Two common models have been taken off the market and thousands of patients fitted with the implants have been told to have annual checks, often including blood tests. New draft guides drawn up by regulators say the NHS should stop using any hip implant with a failure
Israel and not America was behind the hacking of millions of French phones, it was claimed today. [Snip] But today’s Le Monde newspaper provides evidence that it was in fact Israeli agents who were listening in. France first suspected the U.S. of hacking into former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012. Intelligence officials Bernard Barbier and Patrick Pailloux travelled from Paris to Washington to demand an explanation, but the Americans hinted that the Israelis were to blame. The Americans insisted they have never been behind any hacking in France, and were always
Japan has issued a tsunami advisory for the Fukushima area - where the crippled nuclear plant is located - after a powerful quake in the Pacific Ocean. The Japan Meteorological Agency said a small tsunami - up to one metre (3.3ft) - could reach the eastern coast, but no damage was expected. [Snip] The US Geological Survey said it was a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. The JMA issued a "yellow" advisory for Fukushima and also the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki and parts of Chiba, saying tsunami waves could reach 0.2-1m. "Tsunamis are expected to arrive imminently," it said.
Tonight, a woman who supported the imprisonment of Soviet political dissidents (calling them common criminals), cheered on the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize (formerly the International Stalin Peace Prize) by communist East Germany, will give the Birkbeck-University of London Annual Law Lecture. Her title? ‘Freedom is a Constant Struggle.’ She is the American Angela Davis, former self-styled "political prisoner", tried and acquitted of suspected involvement in the abduction and murder of Judge Harold Haley in Marin County California in 1970, unrepentant Communist Party member until its collapse in 1991, the US Communist
EU leaders meeting in Brussels say distrust of the US over spying could harm the fight against terrorism. A statement agreed by the leaders says that "a lack of trust could prejudice" intelligence-gathering co-operation. France and Germany are pushing for talks with the US to find a new "understanding" by the year´s end. A number of allegations against US intelligence agents have surfaced this week, including the bugging of German Chancellor Angela Merkel´s phone. In addition there have been claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored millions of French telephone calls. On Thursday, the UK´s Guardian newspaper also
Hat-tip to our Energy Correspondent Emily Gosden for this Department of Energy & Climate Change infographic. It was deleted from Gov.uk this week "because of sensitivities", according to a DECC press officer. "Hmmm," says Emily. Quite. It turns out that the Renewable Energy Association called it "unhelpful" in a press release, pleading that "as Ed Davey stressed… it is not an either/or choice". What´s going on at DECC? I´d hate to start a conspiracy, but did the infographic come from the Tory Energy Minister Michael Fallon´s people? Was it squashed by the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, Ed Davey?
When the dust has settled on the media frenzy over allegations that America´s National Security Agency NSA) succeeded in bugging the mobile phones of 35 world leaders, surely the agency should given an award for undertaking one of the most remarkable feats of intelligence-gathering of modern times, rather than subjected to universal condemnation. The first duty of any intelligence organisation is to acquire information that will help to defend both its national interests and to protect it against enemy attack, whether it takes the form of industrial espionage or a more physical manifestation, such as a terrorist attack. This is
A robber was spotted breaking into a car belonging to one of John Kerry´s bodyguards, which was parked at the Secretary of State´s Georgetown home last night. In a major security breach for Mr Kerry, a white male was said to have broken into a detached garage on the property at about 10pm before gaining access to the car. Mr Kerry was on official business in Rome at the time, but the break in is sure to be an embarrassment for the team of bodyguards tasked with keeping outsiders at a safe distance. A source told Fox 5 that the
European leaders united in anger today as they attended a European Union summit overshadowed by reports of widespread US spying on its allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the allegations had shattered trust in President Barack Obama’s administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship. Claims that the US National Security Agency swept up more than 70million phone records in France and may have tapped Mrs Merkel´s own mobile brought criticism from the French and Germans. Mrs Merkel´s stern remarks at the EU gathering indicated she was not placated by talks yesterday with President Obama, or his personal assurances that the
A team at the University of Cambridge has found the first proof that mutated DNA does indeed slow metabolism. The researchers say fewer than one in 100 people are affected and are often severely obese by early childhood. The findings, published in the journal Cell, may lead to new obesity treatments even for people without the mutation. Scientists at the Institute of Metabolic Science, in Cambridge, knew that mice born without a section of DNA, a gene called KSR2, gained weight more easily. But they did not know what affect it may be having in people, so they analysed the DNA of 2,101
The unique beer ice cream, called Frozen Pints, comes in seven different flavours and the strongest tub has a alcohol level of 3.2 percent. Peach Lambic is the weakest at 1 percent, while Pumpkin Ale at 3.2 percent is the strongest ice cream on offer. Each special portion of ice cream comes in a 454ml tub and costs £4.33. Ari Fleischer, founder of Frozen Pints from New York, said how the quirky concept actually started by accident. The 29-year-old said: "We were having a party and a friend brought over an ice cream maker to make homemade ice cream.
Sen. John McCain’s daughter says that her father is “depressed” and “frustrated” with the impact the “hyper-conservative wing of the party” is having on national politics, including on the recent government shutdown. “We’re both frustrated with the idea that only the hyper-conservative wing of the party is going to represent the masses,” Meghan McCain said in a joint interview with ABC and Yahoo News. Ms. McCain, who has her own reality show “Raising McCain,” said the last time she can remember her father was so depressed about the state of politics was after his failed 2008 presidential bid. “He is
Does President Obama belong on the same list as John Kennedy and Bill Clinton when it comes to presidents who are sex symbols? That’s what Entertainment Tonight reporter Rocsi Diaz thinks. First Lady Michelle Obama chuckled and smiled as Diaz asked her what it’s like to be married to someone who’s seen by many women as a “sex symbol,” in an interview that aired Tuesday evening. “He’s got a little swag, you know, that’s okay,” the first lady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s a stylish man who is healthy and he’s smart and he’s passionate and he’s inspiring. And
Senate majority leader Harry Reid says that "Everybody" is "willing to pay more" taxes. He said so in an interview with a Nevada Public Radio host. “The only people who feel there shouldn’t be more coming in to the federal government from the rich people are the Republicans in the Congress,” Reid told the radio host, according to Roll Call. “Everybody else, including the rich people, are willing to pay more. They want to pay more.” Reid rebuked the Nevada Public Radio host when he was asked what Republicans would have to concede to get Medicare and Social Security cuts
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the no-bid contract to build the failed Obamacare website. Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company. Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.
The Healthcare.gov debacle has been thoroughly dissected so far by America´s best health journalists and policy analysts. To be sure, every major rollout of a new or changed social policy, including Medicare itself, is rough and takes weeks or months to resolve. (Snip) It is the larger failure of public administration that has been endemic in the Obama White House, and is probably the president´s most significant weakness. The first clues to this problem came during the transition in 2008. George W. Bush and his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, offered exemplary assistance to the incoming Obama team—but many of the
More than 700 websites have been created with names playing off of Obamacare or Healthcare.gov, making it likely that some Americans will mistakenly hand over private information to unknown third-parties. For instance, there is a website — www.obama-care.us — that brands itself as part of the "Obamacare enrollment team," directs people to an "Obamacare enrollment form" and asks users for their name, address, Social Security number and other contact information. According to a counter at the bottom of the page, more than 3,000 people have visited obama-care.us.
Just how bad was the shutdown for America´s image on the world stage? So bad, says Secretary of State John Kerry, that foreign officials joked about buying him meals. "I have seen how our allies, our partners and those who wish to challenge us or to do us harm are all sizing us up every day," Kerry said at an event hosted by Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. "What we do in Washington matters deeply…that´s why a self-inflicted wound like the shutdown can never happen again." Kerry added that the shutdown delayed security aid to Israel. "The dysfunction and
It took a tea-party insurrection that disabled the federal government and wrecked the Republican brand, but after months of handwringing, establishment Republicans are preparing to attack ultraconservative ideologues across red America. (Snip) "Hopefully we´ll go into eight to 10 races and beat the snot out of them," said former Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, whose new political group, Defending Main Street, aims to raise $8 million to fend off tea-party challenges against more mainstream Republican incumbents. "We´re going to be very aggressive and we´re going to get in their faces." The caterwauling over the GOP brand ramped up after President Obama´s
Shepard Smith, the endlessly endearing (and easily angered) Fox News anchor, has likened the right-wing channel to a “family,” with president Roger Ailes as its domineering father. Which makes it only slightly awkward that in early 2012, the 49-year-old anchor started courting an attractive young production assistant who worked under him on Fox Report With Shepard Smith. Now they are a couple. Gawker has learned that Smith is dating a 26-year-old Penn State grad and Fox Business producer named Giovanni “Gio” Graziano. According to multiple sources with knowledge of their relationship, the couple met sometime after Graziano started working at Fox
We´re hearing for the first time from a security officer who witnessed the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the mission and a nearby annex. In an interview for "60 Minutes," correspondent Lara Logan spoke with a British citizen, who had been hired to train the Libyan guards at the U.S. mission. He calls himself Morgan Jones, a pseudonym to protect his safety.Jones says he was annoyed that the State Department wouldn´t allow his guards to carry guns. As the
A change to the Marine Corps’ uniform hats could take the hard-nosed Leathernecks from the Halls of Montezuma to the shops of Christopher Street. Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a “unisex” look for the Corps, officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so “girly” that they would make the French blush. “We don’t even have enough funding to buy bullets, and the DoD is pushing to spend $8 million on covers that look like women’s hats!” one senior Marine source fumed to
If House lawmakers wanted a clear admission of guilt during today’s testimony from four government contractors behind the botched healthcare.gov launch, they must have been sorely disappointed. Instead, the committee hearing offered a daisy chain of blame and interconnected responsibilities—a reflection of just how convoluted the massive effort became. An official from CGI Group (GIB/A:CN), the main contractor for the Obamacare health exchanges, described 55 different subcontractors who worked on the site, which consisted of six main “complicated systems” and interacted with numerous