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Richard Farmer's chunky bits: Labor's actions in Nauru a disgrace

Out of sight but not out of mind. Don't worry about the impact of those Julia Gillard dealings with AWU officials back in the 1990s. They are not the reason she will en

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Out of sight but not out of mind. Don’t worry about the impact of those Julia Gillard dealings with AWU officials back in the 1990s. They are not the reason she will end up in the Labor history books as the party’s most disgraceful leader ever. She is earning that distinction with the appalling cruelty in the way her government is dealing with boat people on Nauru.

Banning the press from reporting directly on what is happening in that tent camp will not halt forever the Australian people discovering the horrors being done in their name.

When the parliament votes next week to excise the Australian mainland from the nation’s migration zone the party she has led down the slope into amorality will resemble no more the one that was once the great supporter of social justice.

That WA boom. A measure from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning of just how much better the economy is doing in Western Australia than the rest of the country. The Bureau’s volume measure of gross state product increased in all states in 2011-12 with WA experiencing the strongest growth (6.7%) It was one of four states to exceed the national Gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 3.4%. The others were Queensland (QLD) (4.0%), Northern Territory (NT) (4.4%) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (3.5%). Tasmania (TAS) experienced the lowest growth rate of 0.5% for 2011-12.

Get rid of those donkeys. He’s a bit of a spoilsport this Pope Benedict fellow. In the third and last volume of his biography of Jesus Christ going on sale this week, the pontiff declares that contrary to popular belief, Jesus’s birth was not presided over by oxen, asses, camels or indeed any other beasts. 

“There is no mention of animals in the Gospels,” he writes. He puts the inclusion of  domestic animals in the Nativity scene down to pre-Christian traditions, for instance in the Book of Habakkuk, a part of the Hebrew Bible which was probably written by an early prophet in the seventh century BC. Not that Pope Benedict is a total killjoy. He concedes that the tradition of donkeys or oxen beside the manger was so deeply entrenched that it would doubtless survive his scepticism.

Not so over in Santa Monica, California where there will be no debate this year as to what should be in nativity scenes. There will not be any. A federal court judge this week rejected the notion that the City Council — which voted in June to shut down a nearly 60-year-old tradition of putting nativity scenes in Palisades Park — had violated the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee’s rights by rejecting the displays based on their message.

Protected by alcohol. Now this is the kind of headline a regular imbiber likes to read: Alcohol provides protective effect, reduces mortality. In the journal Alcohol (behind a paywall so this iS written from a press release) a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health declares injured patients were less likely to die in the hospital if they had alcohol in their blood and the more alcohol, the more likely they were to survive.

So much for the good news.

“This study is not encouraging people to drink,” cautions UIC injury epidemiologist Lee Friedman, author of the study. That’s because alcohol intoxication — even minor inebriation — is associated with an increased risk of being injured, he says. ”

However, after an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect,” said Friedman, who is assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC who reached his findings after analysing Illinois Trauma Registry data for 190,612 patients treated at trauma centers between 1995 and 2009 who were tested for blood alcohol content.

News and views noted along the way. 

Richard Farmer —

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

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