The concern for Bush’s oil war continues. Also, fast food advertising and the correlated problem of childhood obesity. A belated say for the Apple Isle. You serve it up to Piers ‘plagiarising’ Akerman, Stan Zemaniac and Crikey columnists Kevin Balshaw and Max Factor. Finally, Crikey takes ‘Bill the Beancounter’ and economist Chris Caton head on.

In the July 31 issue of The Christian Science Monitor an article appeared titled Iraq: Why Not Do Nothing?

The author, Mark Lynch, offered some not unreasonable reasons why we might opt to refrain from attacking Iraq. However, in the course of his argument, he suggested that “Iraq is beneath us” and thus that we might do well to “ignore it”.

Perhaps Mr. Lynch, along with most of his fellow citizens, is overlooking a very significant aspect of Iraq’s geopolitical, strategic position. Iraq has oil reserves of 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia, which has some 265billion barrels. Iraqi reserves are seven times those of the combined UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. But the prize for oil companies could be even greater. Iraq estimates that its eventual reserves could be as high as 220 billion barrels.

On the PBS News Hour the evening of July 31, 2002, James Chace, professor of government at Bard College, observed that, “Going back to the Gulf War of President Bush senior, the real reason that the United States went into that war was to assure the flow of oil at reasonable prices, and that no country such as Iraq would have large control over the region. That was not usually given as the reason, except when the Secretary of State, James Baker, when asked why we went into Iraq at that time said the reason was ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’. That was as close as we came to really speaking openly about the notion that a vital resource could be denied the United States.”

Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, director of the Bob Dole Institute at the University of Kansas, when asked if the US has taken pre-emptive military intervention in the past, reminded us that “…repeatedly in the first half of the twentieth century American presidents of both parties sent the marines…usually for economic interests. It was sometimes hard to tell if foreign policy was being made at the State Department or the United Fruit Company.”

In the first presidential debate of 1992 Ross Perot made the observation that the Gulf War was fought solely for control of oil and nothing more.

To what extent ought the same to be said of the coming Second Gulf War?

And, in so far as this ought to be said regarding the Gulf War II, ought it not to be part of the public discussion prior to military engagement?

Should our national dependence on imported, non-renewable fossil fuels be an essential element of the public debate regarding the current Bush administration’s proposed renewed war on Iraq?

The June 7, 2002 edition of the PBS show Wall Street Week featured as it’s special guest Charles T. Maxwell, Senior Energy Analyst at Weeden & Co. Mr. Maxwell expressed a belief that global oil production is likely to peak sometime within the coming decade. In a report which Maxwell issued in early September of 2001, he states that “The changes in assumption about supply and price is likely to be gradual and even halting at times. But, in the end, it will be perceived as inevitable, and all encompassing. How to deal with the disappearance of cheap oil supplies will be one of the central social and investment debates, as I see it, of the first half of the 21st Century.”

One wonders if the potential significance of fact that Iraq contains 11 per cent of the worlds oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabias 25 per cent, is being sufficiently brought into focus in the public discussion.

Joseph Reid

Real mothers and babies locked up in detention centres

What sort of country has Australia become when we have to pay women to have babies?

In the meantime, in desert and island concentration camps, a plentiful
supply of free babies wastes away in Liberal-planned and Labor-approved distress. But I forgot, they’re the wrong type and their mothers didn’t ask permission before fleeing persecution.

What sort of country has Australia become when we can honour a plaster
mother and baby in a fake Christmas stable yet we can’t provide sanctuary for real mothers and real babies in real distress?

Ensuring the right kind of women produce the right kind of babies while
putting unapproved types into concentration camps, hasnt that been tried
before? If memory serves me correctly, thousands of Australian soldiers
died in the 1940s helping to put a stop to it!

Graham Macafee

Fast food advertising to blame for obesity

Why isn’t junk food put in the same category as smoking?

Well because the consumption of junk food does not kill you or have negative effects. It is the over-consumption of junk food that does this or a crap diet that overrelies on high fat foods. In other words, the mere consumption of something from Macdonalds does not harm you. Smoking however has bad consequences irrespective of the number you consume. The mere consumption of tobacco is harmful, whereas the mere consumption of junk food is not.

It is advertising directed at children that is the real problem. There should be no advertising allowed during children’s viewing hours and during children’s shows. We should be very concerned about turning children into being nothing more than little consumers.

Michael

Obesity the epidemic of the new age

I would like to add a little weight to the subject of fast food advertising. I can’t agree with
your correspondent who claims a substantial difference between smoking and fast food. Sure, passive
smoking seems to be a problem, but the vast majority of people aren’t worried by it and suffer no
ill effects from it. It is really only an issue for employees working in pubs and clubs and I agree
that it should be banned or restricted in those environments, as it has been from offices for years
now.

But fast food advertising plays loose and dirty. Without question, the most reprehensible act is
when fast food outlets offer cheap plastic toys or furry little animals that go with buying a happy
snack or equivalent. Any parent of young children will tell you that these ads are played
constantly through children’s television hours.

My 3 and 5 year old are constantly asking to go to name deleted out of disgust because they can
get a crummy, crappy, plastic gadget of the day. They barely eat the chips and will struggle with a
chicken nugget (is there any chicken in them?) or a burger which they may take a bite out of. All
up, a meal costing $6 to $8 provides a 50 cent plastic toy, which represents the value part of
the bargain. The problem is that it develops an association between this nutritional desert cum
obesity factory with an aura of fun and happiness. If this isn’t ‘passive obesity or something
frighteningly close to it then I’ll give it away.

Short of advertising cigarettes directly to children, like when I was a boy, this has to be the most
egregious example of marketing in its lowest form.

Your subscriber seems to dismiss obesity as a small matter. No health professional would disagree
that this is the epidemic of the ages. AIDS and the black plague will look like a mild case of the
sneezes compared to this, but it won’t be seen as such because it is largely (seemingly)
self-inflicted. Hyper-marketing a national health disaster is bad policy no matter which way you
look at it.

Have a McHappy Xmas and a Kentucky fried New Year.

Andrew Lewis

Piers Akerman disappointing

I was shocked after reading your column in last Sundays Telegraph, to be
pointed toward an Israeli Armed forces media release, which by my
reading are remarkably very similar. Piers, I have thought you many things over the years, particularly in your appearances on Insiders, but a copy cat was not one.

Whats next? You quoting little Johnny, chapter and verse and passing it
off as the Doctrine of Ackerman.

Piers, political commentators add much to the vitality and rigor of our
democracy by challenging thought and inspiring debate. Your actions in this manner, do little for the cause.

Bryan

Akerman more credible than Mike Moore

Is there something a little ironic about the juxtaposition of your incessant promotions of Mike Moore’s latest documentary and your scourging of Piers Akerman’s apparent plagiarism? Moore has got even less journalistic credibility than Akerman. Even the title of his documentary is based on a falsehood. I hope your commercial interests are not handicapping your critical faculties.

Luke Harris

Kevin Balshaw writes like a teenage chat-room participant

Every generation has its sacred cows and freedom to say what you bloody well please on the internet is merely a fashionable bovine religion.

Broadcast international communication is at least 70 years old. Short-wave broadcasters with audiences of multi-millions have long been disciplined by awareness of the effects of ill chosen words on innocents abroad.

Whenever an American uses the word freedom we must always ask the question; Freedom to do what? and To what purpose? and To what extent does your freedom to attack reduce the freedom of your target to maintain a well-deserved good reputation and to live in peace?
Simply, Is your behaviour fair?

Kevin Balshaw writes like a teenage American chat-room participant. In the matter of defamation there is no reason why the internet should be a special case. It is simply a means of communication and whatever the law might be, users should give others a fair go, wherever they live.
The High Court’s decision is consistent with long-standing practice. Kevin still needs to argue a case for special treatment for this medium.

Harry Lawrence

Tasmania and scrooge Premier Jim Crispy Bacon

As an electronic gossip sheet which occasionally produces items of great interest, it appears that for you, Tasmania is too small to rate a mention, unless of course we have a massacre. A colleague of mine told me you refuse to print anything much about the widely suspected Nazi antecedents of our beloved Senator Erich Abetz, or Erica Betz, a prime ministerial favourite, whom urban folk lore has it maintains a shrine to Der Fuhrer in his home.

You seem to want to give the left a bit more of a whack so note that our ex-communist Premier, Jim Crispy Bacon, having received a substantial pay rise this year along with all Tasmanian politicians, stated publicly that he believed in Santa Claus. Of course he does, we now have seven days a week trading which keeps corporate mates happy and a rise in the number of tourists resulting from the purchase of two new ferries, which is good for the State.

Christmas came early for the Greens and especially ministerial advisers, of which there are many, thanks to the shortsighted policy of reducing the size of Parliament to 25 in the House of Assembly to try to exterminate the Greens. Their early Christmas present was a rise in numbers from 1 to 4. However, the ministerial advisers, a mafia-like grouping, recently received salary top-ups to $106,000 in the case of the chief of staff and significant proportional rises for others. In addition, the elite of Jim’s parliamentary staff get a privately plated government vehicle and the State picks up the tab for their phone services, including mobile.

However, Santa Jim has become more like Ebenezer Scrooge to the average Tasmanian, including party members since his record-breaking election. It has been a tradition to hold a Christmas party in the Executive Building with the Premier as host and invitations sent to those branch members in the Hobart area. This year Scrooge has decided there will be no party in the Executive Building for the mob, upon whom the ALP relies at election time for letterboxing, door-knocking handing out how to vote cards at voting booths and operating as scrutineers. Instead they will be jammed into Duncan Kerr’s office which is far from comfortable at the best of times and the food borders on the perilous to those who have heart conditions, diabetes or just obese.

Of course, there will be a gathering at the Executive Building but it will be a private function for Jim, his ministers, personal staff and advisers and their relatives. It’s there where the good wine and edible food will be served. There’s more than a few of the rank-and-file who will remember this streak of meanness when the next election rolls around.

Kit Marlowe

Tasmanian ecosystem being destroyed

I am very angry at the destruction of the old growth forests in Tasmania, one of the prettiest places around. People from all over the world come here to see the beauty and smell the fresh air, or what used to be the fresh air.

What isn’t polluted with smoke from burning the forests after clear felling is polluted by the aerial spraying and the laying of 1,080 baits.
In March 2002, for 3 days my husband and I suffered our home being invaded by the acrid smell of smoke and suffered sore throats and headaches to the point where we thought we would have to move out until the wind finally changed direction but the smell remained for several days. Gunn’s Ltd. and Forestry Tasmania raping and pillaging this Island with the blessing of past and present Governments is terrorism, just in another form. I hope when the CEO of the ANZ bank visits in February 2003 he might just get to see the destruction these
glorified vandals are causing to the Eco-system.

I started a group called People Against Chemical Trespass (PACT) and we are working very hard to support our Beekeepers and to protect the leatherwood trees which are being bull dozed and burnt. A million-dollar industry going up in smoke, for the sake of wood chips. I am from Queensland but have been here for 16 years now and it truly saddens me to see the animals die such a cruel and painful death.

Donna Coleman

Carmen Lawrence

Carmen Lawrence’s conscience is pretty on the mark. Last time I checked, a decision to commit suicide was left to the individual, otherwise it’s called murder. So give the woman a break, she was chased down every rabbit hole by the Prime Minister and still came out clean. If the Liberals are so inclined to worry about who should cop the blame for suicide, perhaps they should have a look inside the Woomera detention centre and take the not insubstantial number of suicide attempts on their respective consciences. Carmen’s decision to resign should be applauded and give the ALP something to think about in charting a new direction.

Anonymous

Bill the Beancounters dog a better forecaster than Chris Caton

As a punter who was persuaded to invest his hard earned retirement funds in BT about 8 years ago and suffered from Chris Caton’s ministrations, I would have to back Bill the Beancounter or even Bill’s dog in any forecast.

I recall in the early 1950 ‘s the economics faculties of major universities were awash with people who were not sufficiently capable to gain entry to study a proper scientific or mathematical discipline. The results today are all too evident in government and business both here and overseas.

Don Richards

Chris Caton fights back

(Re Bill the Beancounter) Of course you don’t talk to experts around the world, what do you know that they want to hear about?

Chris Caton

Crikey: Does no one want to listen to you Bill? Well, we will (temporarily at least). Lets settle this dispute in an amicable fashion and invite forecasts for the ASX200 and Aussie dollar as at the close of business (Sydney time) for 31 December, 2002.

Crikey forecasts 3,076 for the ASX200 and $0.5626 for the AUD/USD. Bill? Chris?

No more Stan Zemaniac!

Have we heard the last of this sexist/racist/conservative shock idiot in
Melbourne?

Roy Evans

Great 3AW stuff up

You think the Gold Coast bulletin is a shocker, what about this one from 3AW on Tuesday. The AW breakfast B team produced one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of radio on Tuesday morning.

Winding up his interview with Daniel Grollo, Darren James asked the Grocon director, How is your mum going? A stunned Grollo Jr. replied, “Mum passed away last year.”

I don’t know which sand dune James has had his head buried in, but it surely was a well known fact that Mrs. Grollo is now departed. James should stick to Buy, Swap and Sell, or whatever that annoying program is called.

Michael

Not long before a female PM or not?

I noticed that the ABC had this comment from Mr Ruddock about the ATSIC elections.
There’s been only one woman elected to the board, but Mr Ruddock says he is not in a position to complain.

I agree seeing that he is part of the government that could have done something about the Men only High Court.

To continue I have a look at the representation of women in the Federal Parliament.

From the stats below, the coalition is behind Labor in number of women in the Parliament.
May be Labor should be making a point of this?

Here are some stats for the Federal Parliament on Female/Male representation.

Counts across both houses of parliament.

Party: Female / Male / Total / % Female

Democrats: 2 / 5 / 7 / 29%
Greens: 1 / 2 / 3 / 33%
ALP: 31 / 62 / 93 / 33%
CLP: 0 / 2 / 2 / 0%
Ind.: 1 / 5 / 6 / 17%
Libs: 24 / 75 / 99 / 24%
Nat: 2 / 14 / 16 / 13%
One Nation: 0 / 1 / 1 / 0%

Total: 61 / 166 / 227 / 27%

Simon

Reds and Greens

Thought this might interest you.

Find out which NSW watermelon senator is interviewed
in the latest issue of The
Guardian; the official newspaper of the Communist
Party of Australia:

http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/g1121.html

Anonymous

Lack of training contributing to Australian employment woes

Having lost a job in the last 15 months and making a slight career change to regain employment in a new area, I currently work as a contract employee in my slightly different field of aerospace engineering.

As a contract employee, I don’t have a permanent position, and would describe myself as an expert in what goes for a job ad, having been looking steadily for the last 18 months. I have moved 1,200km and left the wife behind, not seeing the point in making her leave a full time position to follow me for what I would describe as not much more than casual. Being of an aeronautical/mechanical bent I can safely tell you what kind of positions have been going.

You simply do not see any job advertised (in engineering or anywhere else except real estate) where they want somebody they are prepared to train. Training is a dirty word.

Having recently spoken to a respected engineer I did work experience with to get me into the field, I would have to say the retirement of Baby Boomers will not be good for the economy. It seems the current private enterprise theory is to avoid training because as soon as you train someone, someone else who can’t be bothered to train will offer them more and steal them away. With a private enterprise workforce that is undermanned (something confirmed by the recent OECD report saying Australia works the longest hours in the western world) training is looked upon as simply time poured down the drain as they will leave anyway.

As far as the baby boomers go, they are just looking forward to retirement and couldn’t care less. The average age of skilled manufacturing, engineering and maintenance employees is rapidly climbing as government agencies become privatised and no one has time anymore. The big government agencies that would hire lots of baby engineers just don’t exist anymore.

So what happens when the boomers go? They are the ones with knowledge, who aren’t hiring and in 5 years will be gone.

I attended an interesting talk given by the Virgin airlines maintenance controller who gave a talk on aircraft maintenance about 9 months ago. He went on to say that LAME’s (aircraft maintainers) now had an average industry wide age in the low fifties, that they now worked 12 hour shifts and the trick now was to manage fatigue as a possible cause for error in aircraft maintenance. All because 15 years ago the defence department eased up on pumping out trained aircraft maintainers. It really made you want to be a LAME.

Clearly private enterprise is unable and or unwilling to meet training demands. This isn’t just the problem with aerospace but across the manufacturing and mining industries. I will probably do quite alright because I worked 6 months without pay to get experience. I pity the poor bastard finishing now. Perhaps the old adage for arts students “Would you like fries with that?” is going to stretch a little further over other professions.

It is also scary to consider what will happen in the next recession. Particularly as most job growth since the last recession has all been in the casual bracket.

Concerned Citizen

Max Factor no idea on music and movies

Not sure what your correspondent is smoking in his basement, but dissing
Apocalypse Now Redux, AI and Mulholland Drive (think psychosis, one plot real, one plot illusion/delusion) in one breath whilst stroking the
throbbing glory of Lord of the Rings in all its pompous, banal detail is
a bit too much to swallow, if you’ll excuse the pun. Go rent the classic
Meet the Feebles to know how much Jackson has squandered his talent.

Also, please inform his Max-ness that Eminem is not alternative unless
you consider alternative to mean multi-million selling music that you
can’t give to a 7-year-old. He’s a commercial phenomenon, on a major
label and hyped to the max. One Giant Leap is not ambient, it’s better
classed as world, most of it being recorded live around the world and
featuring artists and writers like Michael Stipe and Kurt Vonnegut,
where as ambient suggests a total electronic studio vibe.

Still, kudos for celebrating release of Seven Samurai.

Geoff Parkes

Mainstream Max out of touch with alternative scene

Was frightened when I saw Max Factor’s list wrapping up the year that has just gone. Your columnist is not very adventurous, and it is the very constrained and conservative views that are stifling the local music industry.

Fox-FM is fine and dandy, but the real heart of the Australian music scene lives elsewhere, as does the alternative music scene, which copped a flippant passing reference with the mainstream Eminem.

There were many highlights from the year just gone, and right off the top of my head I think Max should sit down and spend some time with the following. A question that Max might want to reveal is when he or she last visited a pub in Melbourne to see a band, and what was it?

Live DVDs.

Nine Inch Nails, Muse and Depeche Mode released stunning live concerts on DVD this year; not mainstream enough for Max?

Alternative albums.

Local; Pacifier (OK, they are Kiwis), The Fauves, Motor-Ace, 28 Days, George, Grinspoon, GT, Killing Heidi (yes, fairly mainstream), Machine Gun Fellatio, Silverchair, Sleater-Kinney, The Vines and You Am I all released great albums during the year.

Andrew Clarke

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