What did he do to deserve this? For the life of me I cannot understand what the Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has done to deserve this:

So 28 years or so ago a trainee officer at the Duntroon military college acted in what was then the stupid way of the place. He engaged in an act of bastardisation of a younger recruit, continuing the tradition to which he had been subjected when a college new boy.

So what? It is not as if Mr Wilkie is calling for a restoration of such practices. While he says he cannot remember the particular incident to which the Herald Sun has taken its egg beater to, he admits to being ashamed in hindsight for some of his activities as an officer cadet.

Thankfully times have changed and the high spirited excesses of youth are not as condoned as they used to be but that is no justification to go digging into someone’s past to find what are now irrelevant incidents.

Let he who is without sin … is what I say. Or should be just start trolling through the past of Herald Sun editors to see what excesses we can discover?

Extending the no-fly zone. Ah … the benefits of political power. French president Nicolas Sarkozy, reports the London Daily Telegraph, has imposed a personal no-fly zone over his wife’s chic Riviera retreat where France’s first couple will spend their Easter break.

An official decree threatens pilots with a fine of up to 40,000 euros (£36,000) or six months in prison for descending below 3000ft above Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s large seaside villa at Cap-Nègre, Lavandou.

The decree came a year after France’s first couple irked locals by declaring beaches surrounding the residence off limits.

The see, hear and speak no evil management style at News. With every arrest of a News of the World journalist — see the story elsewhere in Crikey today of the third current or former NoW journalist being arrested by Scotland Yard — the stranger the management style of the Murdoch press appears to be. It just stretches credibility to breaking point to believe that the upper echelons of management did not know how the troops below them were obtaining their exclusive exposes.

The great pretense goes on. As the finance ministers of the world gather for another IMF talk-fest, the pretense that all is well in Europe goes on while the evidence mounts that the crisis for many European nations is getting worse rather than better. Overnight the price that Greece must pay to borrow on international markets reached a new high:

The markets clearly think the country is broke and will not be able to pay its debts despite the so-called bailout package from the European Union and the IMF.

The other costs of unemployment. A team of researchers at Stony Brook University in the United States have found that the risk of premature death was 63 percent higher in people who experienced an episode of unemployment compared to those who did not.

The study, “Losing Life and Livelihood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Unemployment and All-Cause Mortality,” included an analysis of working-age men and women mainly in Western countries over a 40-year period. Employment and unemployment were documented in the studies for people in all phases of their careers. Individuals were followed for different lengths of time in the various studies.

The researchers found that for those who were younger (under age 50) and who experienced an episode of unemployment, the risk of death was greater (approximately 75 percent) than for those who were 50 or older (25 percent) experiencing the same.

A further study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals how the overall suicide rate rises and falls in connection with the economy. The study, “Impact of Business Cycles on the U.S. Suicide Rates, 1928–2007” is the first to examine the relationships between age-specific suicide rates and business cycles. The study found the strongest association between business cycles and suicide among people in prime working ages, 25-64 years old.

Other study findings:

The overall suicide rate generally rose in recessions like the Great Depression (1929-1933), the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the Oil Crisis (1973-1975), and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982) and fell in expansions like the WWII period (1939-1945) and the longest expansion period (1991-2001) in which the economy experienced fast growth and low unemployment.

The largest increase in the overall suicide rate occurred in the Great Depression (1929-1933) — it surged from 18.0 in 1928 to 22.1 (all-time high) in 1932 (the last full year in the Great Depression) — a record increase of 22.8% in any four-year period in history. It fell to the lowest point in 2000.

Suicide rates of two elderly groups (65-74 years and 75 years and older) and the oldest middle-age group (55-64) experienced the most significant decline from 1928 to 2007.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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