So I’ve engaged in a fair bit of naval gazing lately and I’ve realised its very easy to get fixated on all the lint in there. I really need to have a good look at what’s going on Elsewhere. The stories of now, 2013 (crikey that crept op on us didn’t it). So on with it, quick smart, in brief, what’s going on in the world, ready set go…
What is The Fiscal Cliff? And are we likely to fall off it?
Well we won’t fall off it because 1) it’s in the US and 2) there was an eleventh hour life line to avoid it. So what was it then?
From what I understand, it was the big “Oh fuck” moment for the US economy – when previously enacted laws calling for spending cuts and tax increases would take effect simultaneously, at the beginning of 2013. It was predicted to cause a slight recession and an increase in unemployment. Falling off the cliff was avoided by the Taxpayer Relief Act 2012, which stopped tax increases for lower incomes but maintained the higher tax rates for people on higher incomes. It doesn’t tackle the cuts in Government spending so with that in mind the relief act is more like softening the fall – like one of those trampolines firemen have. Do they really have those or is that just in old movies and cartoons? Anyway, looks like I missed that little crisis anyway so I’ll move on…
What’s happening on Nauru? And is it really like a concentration camp?
Well it looks like the Government is sticking to its policy to afford asylum seekers ‘no advantage’. A highly experienced nurse and counselor has reported that conditions are apalling at the refugee station on Nauru. She described such things as 16 men to a tent, sleeping on floors “like animals” and alleged that self harm, attempted suicide, begging gang rapes are recent occurances in the “tent city”. She says she has seen desperate people with no knowledge of their future begging to die. The Government, however, denies the allegations, saying that of course it is hot and humid which could be unpleasant, but that there is a “good level of care” being administered. New Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor will shortly be flying over to Nauru to check it out for himself.
It looks like these poor fellas (mostly fled from Sri Lanka) will have to endure – immigration processing has not begun and their questions cannot be answered. The Immigration Department are waiting for the government in Nauru to sort out processing.
The nurse in question – Marianne Evers – has, according to the Immigration Department, breached confidentiality and is out of line for taking the allegations to the media rather than the appropriate authorities. She will never work in the sector again.
If you need clarification on asylum seeker/immigration issues, go here.
Who is Eddie Obeid?
He was a laborite member of the NSW legislative council between 1991 and 2011, the father of 9, the head of the fuckwit I mean right-wing faction of the Labor party (known as The Terrigals) and allegedly (I’d rather say ‘clearly’) one Very Shifty Man. The Terrigals have given the NSW Labor party a bad name with their power grabbing by way of rewarding members and influencing voters; they had no ideology other than “power by whatever it takes”.
The current issue is an investigation by the corruption commission into claims that the Obeids stood to make a motza (i.e. almost $100 million profit) from inside knowledge of mining tenders provided by then resources minister (and close Obeid friend) Ian McDonald. It is alleged that McDonald opened up land owned by the Obeids to mining, thereby greatly increasing its value.
This complex story is a full post in itself, and it may take ages for the whole story to unfold, but the importance of it all lies in its effect on the election polls. Something stinks in the NSW Labor party and Julia could be looking at losing up to 10 NSW seats as it wafts from the newspapers to the noses of voters every morning between now and September.
It will be interesting to see what smeary gems will be wheeled out against the Liberals as this election year progresses.
Are all our sports heroes on drugs?
A year long government investigation (Project Aperio) has revealed that drug use and doping is rife in Aussie sport. It’s beginning to look like it’s become all part of the game plan as sports scientists and club administrators are implicated. So is it possible that the nation that prides itself on sportsmanship and fair-dinkum front is having its own Lance Armstrong moment? Well, former anti-doping chief Richard Ings says it is, “The blackest day in Australian sport” so perhaps we are up for enormous disgrace.
Justice Minister Jason Clare said: “The findings (of the Australian Crime Commission’s 30 ‘coercive hearings’ which is when people are asked to speak up or face the music) are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans.” He said that “multiple athletes from a number of clubs” in the major leagues of the most popular sports are suspected of using or having used performance-enhancing substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs.
Two Australian Rules clubs have already come forward. The Bombers administration have come clean, stating that their players may have been administered with performance enhancers without their knowledge or consent. If this is true, those poor blokes would have been thinking, “Damn I’m good, I’m totally on fire this season”, only to discover it’s an unnatural improvement. Rugby League clubs are also implicated. Clubs have been encouraged to come forward and fess up in an effort to clean up sports. But is this just the tip of the ice berg?
What’s more, there is evidence that dodgy organised crime dickheads are involved in supplying the drugs and that there is further evidence of match fixing. Suddenly all those Friday afternoons sweating over footy tips seem totally pointless. So does a whole pack of sweaty men chasing bits of leather.
What’s happening on the same sex marriage front?
Well this news is slightly more gay – the same sex marriage debate has flared up again because the UK’s House of Commons (the lower house) has voted in favour of same sex marriage. If this is passed in the upper house (and by the emphatic response in the lower it looks likely), and the UK catches up to 8 European countries and the changing US mindset, this could well become an election issue here.
Julia Gillard is ‘on the conservative side’ of the issue (against it), while Tony Abbott is ‘conflicted’. Will the pressure be on him to support it? Evidently 60% of Australians are for it so it could well be in his interests.
In my opinion – I just don’t know why this is even an issue (other than for necessary processes to change silly old legislation). If gay marriage is ‘unnatural’ then what about marriage itself? Is choosing a one and only, prancing about with a white dress, a horrible garter and a marriage certificate is natural then why aren’t the apes doing it? You can’t just make up rules and then make up more rules to govern the rules. I know, I’m getting all hyped up and senseless now.
What’s happening in Tunisia?
The opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, was shot dead on Feb 7. He had been critical of the Islamist led Government and violent racial muslims. His assassination (outside his home by a man on a motorbike) sparked violent protests and the dissolution of the government by President Moncef Marzouki in an effort to form a government of national unity. But the Prime Minister rejected the change in government and chaos has reigned. The country is paralyzed by general strikes, accusations are flying and scores of people have died in the violence. The PM is calling for a change of cabinet but faces opposition from the parties.
What should I be listening to?
Well there’s nothing new about this but it’s my latest favourite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ZCe1B9YsU
Are there any new words in the dictionary?
Yes – amazeballs, broga (yoga for men), legbomb (after Angelina’s leggy pose at the oscars), mummy porn, Gangnam Style, Eurogeddon, superstorm, jubilympics and games makers (i.e Olympic games).
What dog breed do I like?
Oh so glad you asked. My favourite dog breed is the Jug – a cross between a jack russell and a pug. We have one – he is 12 weeks old, his name is Blue, he loves ugg boots and squeaky toys and eating grass and he makes an adorable noise when he yawns. Sometimes he wees on the carpet which is not adorable. He is the newest member of our family (apart from the 40 or so calves born lately) and he is brilliant, you’d love him. And that is all I will say about Blue because talk of pets can be Very Boring. Almost as boring as talk of children. But here he is anyway.
And here he is asleep: