The photographs and the TV images should have brought home to those running the Labor Party the seriousness of the situation they face.
Seven dejected people sitting around what looked like a kitchen table.
This was Labor’s new caucus in the Queensland Parliament. It is also the future of the party across the nation unless it is very careful.
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Consider this. Twenty-three per cent of home owners in the United States currently have underwater mortgages. That’s close to one in four home-buyers owing more to the bank than the house is worth.
Negative equity loans account for a staggering 11 million of America’s near 49 million mortgaged homes. In go-ahead states such as Arizona and Nevada, the underwater rate is actually above half.
In California one in every 283 homes was served with a foreclosure notice last month and nationally the average price obtained at sale is $165,193 per house. That’s a lot of families being cast to the wind in a country with a poor to non-existent social safety-net.
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UPDATED 31/03 at 2:00pm (below)
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday issued a statement “warmly” welcoming an influential foreign dignitary to Kirribilli House: President Bongo of Gabon. The Punch was immediately taken with the headline potential of this visit from the leader of our third-largest two-way trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
But there’s more than a funny headline to this story. It turns out the PM was hanging out with a rather dodgy character yesterday.
If you somehow haven’t heard of Gabon, it’s an oil and resources rich nation in West Africa. It’s next to Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo, and a number of other countries you haven’t heard of.
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Look at this explosion of nuts, bolts, wires and assorted metal doo-dats. Just look at it.
It’s the first page of the instruction booklet for the rowing machine I recently purchased from my local Big W, and the large black words on the side of the box said “easy to assemble”. Easy my big fat (but for long!) backside.
I bought the machine having spotted it in a mailbox catalogue. The catalogue said nothing about self-assembly until the extremely fine print on the very last page, which I originally missed. So when I went to the store, I was a little surprised they gave me a box. Like I say, though, the box said “easy to assemble”.
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There is a massive story going on in Australia at the moment. By massive, I mean massive in terms of the amount of space thrown at it. Massive in the level of journalistic indulgence it displays. Massively packed with distortions and sleights of hand. A massive pile of rubbish.
You would have missed the story, as it first appeared in an obscure trade journal read by rich people who collect cufflinks, and was rehashed in a marginally more digestible form by a couple of newspapers which have decided to put media game-playing ahead of their core business of providing readers with facts.
Reluctant as I am to attack a fellow Cornishman it was written by a man called Neil Chenoweth and would have made more sense if Neil had written it in his native Cornish. Chenoweth’s editor, Michael Stutchbury, relatively new to the job of running The Australian Financial Review, can use his newness to explain the fact that while the AFR ran two pages on the September 11 attacks, it ran seven pages on this story on day one and a more restrained six pages yesterday.
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To hundreds of thousands of workers manufacturing denim, the term “killer jeans” has quite a different meaning than a great-fitting pair of pants. Sandblasting is a denim production technique commonly used to give the “worn-out-look” to jeans. It is deadly.
Sandblasting is known to cause serious lung diseases such as silicosis, a potentially fatal pulmonary disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust. Sandblasting-induced silicosis has now resulted in more than 100 documented fatalities amongst denim workers. Yet there is no reason for the production of denim fashion to come at the cost of human lives.
This week, Deadly Denim, a new report by the Clean Clothes Campaign investigating seven factories in Bangladesh, revealed that jeans brands including Levi’s, Lee, Diesel, Esprit and Zara, all of whom claim to have banned sandblasting, are still using factories which employ this deadly technique. The investigation finds that manual sandblasting still takes place - often at night, allegedly to avoid detection.
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Those who claim centre-based care is no longer a relevant childcare solution for busy working families need to be mindful of a few facts.
We now have more Australian children in approved childcare services than at any time in our nation’s history. We have, in fact, seen a massive 36 per cent increase in the number of approved childcare services since Labor came to Government. That includes over 500 new centres opening in the last year alone.
And of course with our increase of the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent of parents’ out-of-pocket costs and an increase in the cap from $4354 - as it was under the Howard Government - to $7500 per child per year, childcare affordability has markedly improved.
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America got Ralph Lauren. Britain got Stella McCartney. We got… more green and gold.
Australia’s 2012 London Olympic competition uniforms have been unveiled, and even though Sally Pearson cartwheeled down the centre of the runway, nothing could save us from yet another dreary Olympic uniform.
With the exception of Cathy Freeman’s headsock back in 2000, Australia’s competition outfits have been a wash of crop tops, tight shorts, misfitting t-shirts and the obligatory green and gold for decades.
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As the Arab Spring continues its momentum throughout the Middle East engulfing Syria, and with it the hope of greater democracy, it’s also worth reflecting on the consequences such as the ancient Christian communities which are becoming a disappearing minority.
Syria’s Christians, represent no more than ten per cent of the country’s 22 million people, tracing their origins two millennia to the beginnings of the faith. Apostle Paul is said to have converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus, from which he went on to spread the religion across the Roman Empire.
Christianity has its origin in the Middle East from the fourth century. Covering communities speaking Greek, Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, and Arabic.
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It is becoming increasingly clear why the Greens are never going to poll more than 10 per cent of the vote, and why they are facing a national rebuff along the lines seen in Queensland last Saturday where their vote collapsed in an unprecedented conservative whitewash.
It’s because they’re barking mad. The more voters see of the Greens demanding and enjoying power in a minority government, the more obvious it becomes that their views on the economy, jobs, the cost of living and pretty much everything the average person really cares about are completely out of this world. Quite literally.
As an easy listening fan I have always enjoyed the work of The Carpenters but like many bands late in their career they had a shark-jumping moment with the song featured above, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.
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