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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Grog pushers in the Sydney press today, Denton/ABC leverage social concerns
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: health

The ABC are running a tv show promotion with the angle of 'adverts' on the public broadcaster. It's an Andrew Denton viral marketing tactic by this advertising agency Three Drunk Monkeys:

 Fury at spoof advert on ABC | NEWS.com.au

and the Sydney Daily Telegraph are running a straight story (above) today as if by way of interference as they take the big advert revenue for retail grog. As they do over at the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The whole alcohol impact on society is getting a thorough dose of salts at the moment, and we wonder indeed if alcohol is actually promotes political apathy amongst voters by dulling the senses (all the better to keep worker bees in their place?).

We also had a dig at News Ltd there for being surrounded by pubs yesterday which we feel is not their fault but might cloud their judgement so to speak. More power to Andrew Denton we say and his Gruen ditty as per Adam Spencer abc 702 radio show this morning not so far away from the sex advert juxtaposition above in the SDT.

7 May 2008 News Ltd HQ in Sydney keeping afloat 10 pubs all within 500 metres?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media

Apparently only 2 alcoholic drinks a day increases one's chance of cancer fo the throat, breast, liver, bowel, stomach. It's all pretty awful really. The trouble with alcohol like most drugs is that it's a great deceiver, so most will probably brush off this warning as not real in part at least because their judgement is damaged by the alcohol itself. We know prohibition is dangerous to good government too but more effective education is always welcome.

8 May 08 Even two drinks a high cancer risk

ALCOHOL is one of the most well-established causes of cancer and there is no safe level of consumption, the Cancer Institute NSW has concluded after an extensive analysis of worldwide research.

The state government agency will today release a new report on the strong link between alcohol consumption and cancer, highlighting alarmingly high rates of risk from just two drinks a day.

The institute says alcohol is particularly linked to cancer of the upper-aero digestive tract, breast, colorectum, liver and stomach.

Its report, Alcohol As A Cause Of Cancer, says the risk of cancer in the upper-aero digestive tract is increased by 40 per cent (voicebox) and by 75 per cent (mouth and pharynx) from two alcoholic drinks a day.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 per cent higher in women that drink than in non-drinkers.

Four drinks a day increased a man's risk of bowel cancer by 64 per cent.

The institute said there was convincing evidence that heavy consumption increased the risk of liver cancer, starting at about 17 per cent from two drinks a day. There was a modest increase of 7 per cent in the risk of stomach cancer from two drinks a day.

High alcohol consumption, of about eight drinks a day, increased the risk at any site by 90 per cent.

"This report … presents the results from a systematic review of the world's literature on alcohol and cancer and clearly shows that the consumption of alcohol, even at moderate levels, is associated with an increased risk of several cancers," the chief executive officer of the institute, Professor Jim Bishop, said.

Bowel and breast cancer are the second- and third-most common cancers in NSW.

Posted by editor at 1:59 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 2:39 PM NZT
Visit to the land of volcanoes, Chile's X & XI regions, 2002
Mood:  spacey
Topic: world

A volcano dormant for at least 2000 years has blown recently as per Sydney Morning Herald reportage here today. And here

Picture above: image lifted off Sky News of Chaiten Volcano, Chile.

Spitting lava ... One of the few remaining residents of Chaiten gestures at the volcano that has forced most from the area.

Spitting lava ... One of the few remaining residents of Chaiten gestures at the volcano that has forced most from the area.
Photo: LA Tercera [Sydney Morning Herald]


It is literally 8 km from the town of Chaiten in southern Chile known as the 11th region as shown by our Google Earth screen shots below. 

Picture above: Google Earth of the surrounding region, main town Puerto Montt at the top of the picture, Chaiten middle right, Chiloe Island middle left (accessible by tourist bus and car ferry).

Picture above: Chaiten volcano at top right like a giant oval, dormant for 2000 plus years, but no longer.

It reminds of the editor's travels in 2002 to nearby town of Puerto Montt and Chiloe Island which are just north in the '10th Region'. This is all great volcano and earthquake country as per this picture below.

Our interest in this part of the world was for tourism, but also regarding this local controversy of a US $3 billion hydro smelter scheme by Noranda, a Canadian multinational mining company. It would have caused untold damage to the marvellous fjordlands, lakes and original forest and wildlife of the 11th region and we played our role in stopping that vandalism (including employment of 2 staffers costing $15K):

Patagonia ecology solidarity project

Picture above: Campaign poster with provenance to Australia because the hand prints were spurred on by Jabiluka campaign handprint stickers shown to the locals, while also noting the Chileans had their own Indigenous rock art to take their inspiration.





Picture above: Editor with local environmental leadership in Santiago 2002.

Note the website address for no alumysa has been superceded by www.ecosistemas.cl and in particular this page

Picture above: Images of Puerto Montt and surrounds taken in 2002 by the editor. Notice puma raised from a cub let out to breed but always returns according to owner. Also winter woodsmoke pollution evident. Lovely estuary scenic areas. Ship heading south called 'Navimag'. Ferry over to Chiloe Island opposite Chaiten including township of Castro. Spectacular local mountain parks, and inland lakes. German-Swiss style house construction.

Picture above: The trip left such an indelible mark we kept the tickets.

Picture above: Bus crossing of the Andes to Argentinian city of Mendoza. Top left shows the switchbacks ascending. Blizzard conditions soon after closed the crossing for 3 days. In Mendoza protests were breaking out over the collapsed currency, and police with shiny double barrel shotguns guarded the bus from opportunistic cirminals, and to keep safe their country's reputation, while we visitors from Chile were stranded in a traffic jam.



Posted by editor at 1:01 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 6:37 PM NZT
Comment: Ex PM Howard rages against the dying of the light* .... like Burma's afflicted
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: 27 March 2006, Sydneysiders flock to the coast to witness dramatic Cyclone Wati ripples travelling 1000 km south west, to the shores of Sydney. 

We wrote last night of evidence of former Liberal Party parliamentary deputy leader, Peter Costello MP, engaged in real politik in an effective way again: A Laurie Oakes' column in the Sydney Tele, a Dennis Shanahan front pager in The Oz.

All in the federal budget season which Costello prepared every year since 1996. One feels Costello as former federal Treasurer would indeed be twitchy at such a time another has got his harness now.

So now ex PM John Howard is reported last night at a dinner for nostalgic 1,200 fans calling for his party to 'rage against being in opposition' and to 'not take cheek from the other side' or words to that effect. But this all sounds like raging against the dying of the light of literary fame.

But we are at a junture in Australian politics far more serious than these shallow concerns of self respect or image. If Al Gore is right about intensity if not occurrence of cyclonic impact in Burma, and other storms despite the predictable ridicule or red herrings (?) about mangrove removal, and Howard is indeed in generational and political economic denial, which we think he is, then dangerous climate change is stalking large population centres now.

Can't happen here? Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, even Sydney in 20 years with tropical and sub tropical weather patterns?

And apart from meteorological/science debate there is the political reality of perception, with not a hint of scaremongering involved. 

Then federal treasurer Peter Costello MP, with his electorate in Melbourne, took serious climate change to Cabinet apparently in 2003 and apparently was rebuffed:

 20.2.2007 - Winds of climate change stir cabinet consciences Katherine Murphy The Age.

Cabinet dumped a serious emissions trading proposal brought by the Treasury and Environment departments in 2003 because of opposition from coal and aluminium interests. But by early 2005, the issue was back on the move.

In February of that year, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, then environment minister Ian Campbell and parliamentary secretary Greg Hunt sat down for a meal to talk about how to bring China and India to the table on a post-Kyoto framework. Government insiders believe the Foreign Minister's influence has been critical in bringing Prime Minister John Howard around from his previous doubts about global warming.

Twelve months after the three ministers' discussion, the Government had engineered, with like-minded souls in Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the AP6 group. This small burst of momentum continued. Around the middle of 2006, Mr Howard was making his own inquiries about policy options. Sources say last year's nuclear energy inquiry was born of the PM's sense that some kind of public shift on energy and climate was in progress.

But while the shift was there in nascent form, the Government badly misjudged the politics, ridiculing former US vice-president Al Gore's environment warnings, and appearing to be dragged to the idea of emissions trading.

Divisions, coupled with a lack of decisions on all major policy issues, have made it hard for the Government to show that it has a clear sense of where to take the country.

More or less consistently on the side of carbon abatement has been Mr Downer — under pressure from Greg Hunt, to whom he is personally close, Ian Campbell (and his predecessors Robert Hill and David Kemp), new Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Peter Costello.

Mr Hunt did his university thesis on carbon pricing. He believes the firming of the scientific evidence has been critical in getting the Government to the table on the issue. "The science through the International Panel on Climate Change has moved from likely but still conjectural to pretty much lock-down. The cabinet has moved and the Prime Minister has led the move," he says, adding that there remains a legitimate debate over the timing of policy changes and the mechanisms required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Ian Campbell had been talking about global warming since 1990. Visitors to his office were always greeted with a chart showing the steps required to reduce greenhouse gases.

He took up the fight consistently in Government ranks, gaining a few enemies along the way. Ironically, he was dumped from his position just as the Government finally accepted his message.

Costello reportedly did not attend the dinner for Howard last night with video messages from both VIP's GW Bush (climate change denier) and Tony Blair (climate change campaigner).

Putting all of these factors together Costello has a political future of some kind. And that Howard endorsement of Brendan Nelson as leader is more a kiss of death. Time will tell, but according to the best science time is also against us, all of us.

* Do not go gentle into that good night,  by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by editor at 10:11 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 11:12 AM NZT
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Energy industry whistleblower : 'evidence of a national market has largely disappeared'
Mood:  bright
Topic: nsw govt

We received this correspondence late today from an industry insider. We don't claim to have the technical ability to fully absorb this information but we include the explanation by this whistleblower, who appears to be totally contradicting Paul Keating's recent spin article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the efficacy of a national energy market, a topic of great interest to the NSW ALP caucus in their meeting yesterday 6 May 2008.

Dear [SAM editor],

I read with relish your rejoinder to Kirk McKenzie in New Matilda - well said!

There is so much bullshit written about how state ownership in NSW is keeping the price of electricity high and how a free market would bring prices down.

The attached charts plot electricity pool prices, state against state, for NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

If there really were a national market for electricity each plot would be a diagonal line through the origin with just a few excursions when there were transmission constraints between the states.  There is evidence for the operation of a national market some of the time such as in 2001, but in recent years that has largely disappeared.

It has also been claimed that NSW prices are too high compared with Victoria, ostensibly on account of the lower efficiency due to overmanning and poor work practices.  The chart give the lie to this also.  In 2006 the average pool price in NSW was $3.12 lower than in Victoria.  In 2007 it
might have been $3.67 higher in NSW than Victoria - but the average price in both states had doubled!  So much for the greater efficiency and competition in Victoria bringing down the price of electricity.  I am sure that production costs in each state didn't double overnight.

In 2006 all the generators, both state and private, were complaining that they were losing money hand over fist.  It looks to me like they finally stopped cutting each others throats with their stupid bidding behaviour and
worked out how they can all make huge profits with the right bidding strategy.

All of my data came from the NEMMCo website where it is freely available to the public; all I have done is collated it and charted one state against another with a logarithmic scale that shows the whole range of bids to finally reveal what the hell is going on.

What we have to remember too is that the average pool price will have to go $90 per MWh for wind farms to be financially viable for investors like Babcock & Brown.  That ain't gonna happen unless Babcocks et al can get
their hands on all the thermal stations in the country and push the price up by shrewd bidding practices.  Outright collusion isn't necessary, just tacit acceptance of a few simple rules that they all seem to have learned quite well during 2007.  So if we want to go green to save the planet, we have to bribe investment capital into doing it by doubling electricity prices.  And people like Bob Carr and Paul Keating are standing at the elbow of the investment houses guiding their hand.

I am happy for you to use this information anyway you want because there is nothing stopping you or anyone else from obtaining it like I did.  All I ask if you do so is to remain anonymous ......

Posted by editor at 8:40 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 4:44 PM NZT
Is Peter Costello leaking treasury, Cabinet documents from the Howard days?
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: aust govt

A nasty pre budget leak of a treasury document has apparently set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Canberra Press Gallery. They are talking about this 'scoop' or 'non story' depending on your party allegiance, by Dennis Shanahan in The Australian page 1:

TREASURY: Coalition leaked warning, PM says

DENNIS SHANAHAN BLOG: IR dragon set to breathe fire 

with this editorial

Wages threat defined, Labor faces conflict over IR and interest rates

But we commented on this crikey.com.au thread as follow:

Time to stop hugging the Liberal corpse Dennis

 [Our comment follows]

Tom McLoughlin Wednesday, 7 May 2008 4:34:41 PM

Call me stupid but my quick reading of Dennis is that the document was "obtained" but doesn't say from whom. It is "subject " of an FOI request but it doesn't say that was the source. Last week Laurie Oakes wrote a story as per Sydney Daily Telegraph Saturday edition that was clearly based on a Howard regime cabinet or cabinet related document. ....What I'm saying is - how do you know Costello isn't the source? And good luck to him too. Who could begrudge the guy some consolation prizes. I mean Dennis virtually gives away that he got it from Costello given the ABCTV were refused the document "last week". Call it dumb intuition but methinks the old Peter Costello is getting a whiff of the old battle smoke in his nostrils.

 Tom#2 Wednesday, 7 May 2008 4:42:02 PM

By the by, it would be one good way to build interest in the Costello memoirs too. A leak here, a leak there. Could turn into quite a crescendo. Mark Latham set the bar quite high with his Diaries. Let er rip I say.

Back on Saturday 26th April 2008 we noted in our obsessive way about the earlier Laurie Oakes article implying Costello was playing politics again as follows:

Costello as former treasurer has apparently leaked a similar 'reform' previously considered by the Howard Govt to veteran Laurie Oakes writing Bulletin style stories out of place in the Daily Telegraph cartoon book:

[offline] Howard plotted to scuttle the states April 26 2008 p26

Maybe a leak so Costello can shore up his dormant leadership ambition? Or to sell his memoirs? Or even to distract from FoI expert Peter Timmins (SMH today) who implies that Costello's Govt deliberately squibbed criminal sanctions for cartel behaviour (like big Liberal Party donors and a certain cardboard box king).

(Actually such stories by 'the sphere Laurie Oakes' are offline for google search in Australia and absent from the Daily Telegraph's own website. But there is a global google search which brings up press screen shots of such stories if you search the exact article name and newspaper. It may be web subscription only - we haven't got that far - and it may be only temporarily accessible. Obviously someone has a buiness model literally scanning the press pages from Australia - maybe via license from local Media Monitors or similar who would be doing this scan anyway (we speak from depressing experience 1999-2001).

And now we have a copy from the blessed recycling here:



Posted by editor at 6:29 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 7:52 PM NZT
News Ltd HQ in Sydney keeping afloat 10 pubs all within 500 metres?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media


To get an understanding of the Sydney Daily Telegraph loyalty to the big alcohol industry one can look to their full page adverts, with a sample here:

Or one can notice articles like this:

29 March 08 Drinking under attack from the new wowsers | The Daily Telegraph

5 May 2008 Laws to ban drinking at home | The Daily Telegraph

5 May 2008 Reader's Comments: Radical laws to ban drinking at home | News.com.au

and this

Or one can read extracts of the Latham Diary about hard drinking news men with 'scores to settle' with loads of people.

Or one can simply take a little tour of the neighbourhood in which their multi-storey headquarters taking up a full city block is located. Which we did:











Which just left us to take the first picture above of a totally coincidental street frontage - a local fancy dress shop - also very close by. Quite a metaphor for the mask that News Ltd wears regarding legal drugs.

Posted by editor at 5:05 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 7:56 PM NZT
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Paul Keating as international chair of Lazard Carnegie Wylie referred to ACCC
Mood:  sharp
Topic: corporates

[The following receipt of our complaint was received around 5.45 pm 6 May 2008] 


Thank you for contacting the ACCC.

Where possible the staff of the ACCC Infocentre will phone and discuss your inquiry/complaint. This provides an opportunity to better understand your questions and provide a more useful response. The matters you have raised will receive attention by ACCC staff.

Please note that we are experiencing delays in responding to online complaints.

If you have any urgent inquiries please call 1300 302 502.

You submitted the following:

Complainant details

Mr Tom McLoughlin






Contact details

0410 558838

Date received

6th May 2008

Product description

public energy privatisation in NSW

Product provider

Paul Keating, international chairman of Lazard Carnegie Wylie

Complaint description

Keating says in the SMH today: "[in 1997} the power stations were worth $35 billion. A decade later the price discussion for the same stations is about $15 billion. That is, $20 billion in lost value; $20 billion that could have been spent on education, health and vital new infrastructure. A vast sum even by national government standards."

John Kaye MP (Greens) and Phd in electrical engineering no less stated today this was "deeply misleading"."Mr Keating has conveniently ignored the billions of dollars in the low and high voltage network that then Premier Carr wanted to sell off and was included in the $35 billion price tag. "He has wiped out the value of 12,440 km of high voltage transmission lines owned by Transgrid. "He has written down to zero the $10.9 billion assets of the state’s electricity distributors, including 2.2 million power poles and the 169 thousand substations. [end quote].

 Under s.52 and state equivalents of the Trade Practices Act (Commonwealth) it is illegal to engage in conduct that is misleading and deceptive in the course of business. There may be an exemption for news reportage. However we feel that Keating may be in breach of the law of the land as regards honest business practice. Certainly if he repeats these statements outside the newspaper he will be, and he may still have done so. I do believe this is a case for the ACCC to investigate as the corporate watchdog.

Posted by editor at 7:50 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 6 May 2008 8:27 PM NZT
Public energy: Keating fantasy economics exposed big time
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: nsw govt
[extract from New Matilda string, there]
Kaye MP media release is pretty right here, corroborated by Andrew Main, currently business editor of The Australian, formerly Australian Financial Review (re 1/2 industry, 1/2 value point by Kaye below). Main was not hammering this point, just a throw away line on Deb Cameron 702 this morning, and what a line it is. Back to Kaye here (with Phd in electrical engineering too):

Keating confused on power sell-off facts

Media Release: 6 May 2008

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s attempt at defending the privatisation of NSW’s electricity industry is based on a number of incorrect and misleading assertions, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: "Labor MPs should not be intimidated by Mr Keating’s self-confidence or his use of colourful epithets.

"He has displayed a remarkable level of ignorance of the NSW power sector.

"Writing in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Keating asserts that value of the power stations was $35 billion in 1997 when former Premier Carr and his Treasurer Michael Egan tried to privatise them.

"In fact this was the estimated income from the sale of the entire industry, including the wires and poles of the distributors and the transmission system.

"Comparing this to the alleged $15 billion price tag for the current proposal which does not include any of the transmission or distribution hardware is deeply misleading.

"Mr Keating has conveniently ignored the billions of dollars in the low and high voltage network that then Premier Carr wanted to sell off and was included in the $35 billion price tag.

"He has wiped out the value of 12,440 km of high voltage transmission lines owned by Transgrid.

"He has written down to zero the $10.9 billion assets of the state’s electricity distributors, including 2.2 million power poles and the 169 thousand substations.

"The former Prime Minister also alleges that much of NSW electricity is provided by private generation in other states.

"Again he is woefully ignorant of reality. The total import was just over 10% of the state’s needs in the last financial year.

"Paul Keating might well resort to name calling and personal denigration of those he does not agree with, but he should check his facts first.

"Mr Keating’s fundamental errors are cause for concern given his role with Lazard Carnegie Wylie who are supplying advice to the Iemma government on the sell-off," Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 …. ….

Posted by editor at 12:18 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 6 May 2008 12:34 PM NZT
Public energy: It's time for Phil Koperberg to step on up to the big chair?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: nsw govt


Big Phil Koperberg MP has been on health leave. He's also been suffering blow torch burns.

But of all the people in NSW Parliament on the ALP side he has demonstrable experience managing a large number of people and concerns including in extreme and dangerous circumstances.

We vote for Phil Koperberg as an adequate replacement for the spiv forces congregating around Premier Morris Iemma, subject to his health being okay again.

Some will say he has too much baggage or bruises. On the other hand if PM Kevin Rudd can survive a visit to a strip club as Opposition Leader 'where he saw nothing', and Julie Bishop MP can remain steadfast to WA Leader Troy Buswell, just as NSW MP Reba Meagher could vouch for Joe Tripodi facing sexual harrassment allegations. Well one feels Koperberg with a phalanx of PR spinners can easily rise above that ancient history.

Posted by editor at 11:40 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 4:26 PM NZT
Burma cyclone damage a portent of Brisbane's dangerous climate future?
Mood:  sad
Topic: globalWarming

As major issues of public policy over public energy are being debated in NSW over expansion of the greenhouse generating power industry, this front page story is a serious reminder that no city is safe from this future. Tropical and subtropical cities like Cairns, and Brisbane will move into the cyclone shadow as we understand orthodox global warming predictions:

Coverage today:


Posted by editor at 10:49 AM NZT

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