Friday, May 07, 2010

The Lancet gets it right yet again

At this stage in the wash-up of the UK general election, it looks like The Lancet got it right. Yes, yet again!

In its editorial of 1 May (which it grandly called its “general election manifesto”), The Lancet oraculated:

Health will be only one of many issues influencing your vote on May 6. And, to be fair, all three main political parties have important and interesting ideas to offer. A fact that leads us to look forward to an era of cooperation and collaboration in a hung parliament.


The Lancet now has rightly lauded the Rudd Government’s bold initiative to force Big Tobacco to sell its deadly products in plain packaging.

Australia, a world leader in the battle against smoking, stays in pole position with the government there announcing plans, from July, 2012, to force cigarette manufacturers to remove all branding colours and logos from cigarette packs. ... Australia's new anti-tobacco initiative is an historic event, and other countries now need to follow suit.

This historic event is one that a well-known rupertblogger derided as “a trivial campaign on smoking.” Happily the Bolt politburo is powerless to stop it.

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Civilisation resumes slow crumblification

It’s certainly not a laughing matter, but you’ve gotta laugh, otherwise you can only weep at the very proposition: Iran has been elected unopposed to a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

That’s the same Iran which sanctions the stonings, lashings and hangings of women for so-called lapses of ‘modesty’ and ‘morals’.

No gesture of disapproval came during an acclamation vote affirming the Islamic nation's appointment to the 45-nation group... Iran was one of only two nations that put forward candidates to fill two empty seats for the Asian bloc for the 2011-2015 period during a round of “elections” in which no real votes were cast. The other nation was Thailand.

Thus, the expression I used above — ‘elected unopposed’ — should be regarded with significant qualification. Indeed, taking a wider view, Iran’s ‘procedural’ success is not a matter of such earth-shattering urgency as accorded by the UN’s usual detractors, since “Iran has served on the [CSW] for successive terms since 1990.” And among the current CSW membership are countries such as Eritrea, another serial offender against women’s rights.

The US state department takes a (shall we say) philosophical, longer-term view of the problem. The Islamic Republic’s seat on the CSW is “something of a booby prize for Iran,” following the US’s successful lobbying against Iran’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

The United States worked with a broad range of other countries “to make it clear to Iran" that it was not going to win a seat on the Human Rights Council.”

“We're not going to stand up and cheer [at Iran’s CSW membership],” [an anonymous high-ranking official] said. “By the same token, that is less onerous than the Human Rights Council because women in Iran, relative to other countries in the region, actually have greater rights.”

“You don't have women placed in head-to-toe burkas in that country,” the official said. “You have women elected to the legislature in the country... I’m not saying we can take Iran and compare them to the human rights record of any country in the developed world. But in that region, women in Iran have a greater opportunity for education, for business and to participate in politics.”

Well, we might say, that’s okay then ... er ... but why could not the US have “worked with a broad range of other countries” to block Iran from the CSW as well? Because the very idea of a regime such as Iran sitting on a body such as the CSW does strike at one’s sense of the fitness of things.

Australia was an inaugural member in 1947 of the CSW but, with the rest of the Western bloc, seems to have somewhat dropped the ball on defending women’s rights internationally.

Only last month the Attorney-General Robert McLelland launched the Rudd Government’s vaunted Human Rights Framework, which as a ‘key principle’ aims at “enhancing our domestic and international engagement on human rights issues.”

So then, let the international engagement begin, commencing with giving Iran and other serial offenders some curry on their human rights pretensions, including particularly in relation to women’s rights.

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Civilisation halts crumbling (for now)

Given the principle that atheists ought to be refused treatment at hospitals run by religious organisations, then clearly the courts of a secular state ought to preclude judges who hold religious beliefs.

The Andrew Bolt politburo will surely agree, then, with Marc Cooper in the LA Times:

Though the [US Supreme Court] ... will be left with six Catholics and two Jews, the open seat should not go to either domination [sic]. Nor should it go to a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Muslim or even a Zoroastrian. If it did, that would make nine people who all have one religious principle in common: a belief in religion.

Clearly, the next person to take the bench should be an atheist.

This will surely satisfy the Boltevik requirements of restraint, order and the related discipline of reason.

What’s more, according to the above writer, Thomas Jefferson himself would have approved!

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Transport Trivia Friday

Presenting milestones in Victoria’s transport landscape...

This week: 1974


The last red swing-door train (commonly known as a ‘Dogbox’ or ‘Doggie’) is retired from passenger service. Carriages on these trains were narrow to prevent an open door hitting an oncoming train.


Compulsory blood-alcohol testing after road traffic accidents is introduced.


Metric road signs are introduced in Victoria.

Next week: 1975 ! !

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Andrew Bolt wants to kill a living national treasure

Not content with wanting to kill your and my Grandma with swine flu, Andrew Bolt now has Phillip Adams in his sights.

Bolt appears to think Adams — described by some (who are evidently more enormously fond of him than is Bolt) as a living national treasure — should be refused treatment and ejected from a Catholic hospital because Adams is a “militant atheist.”

“Was there not an atheistic hospital this militant atheist could have attended instead?” asks Bolt with the certitude of the clinically insane.

Given that, as Bolt almost certainly knows, there are no “atheistic hospitals” anywhere, the inescapable corollary is that Bolt wants Adams to be denied potentially life-saving treatment.

By Bolt’s logic, moreover, people with a philosophical aversion to the public Medicare system should be refused treatment at public hospitals. This would be another death sentence courtesy of Bolt, since there’s rather a paucity of emergency wards at private hospitals in Australia.

The whole thing represents a new low in Bolt’s demented campaign against his perceived adversaries on ‘the left.’ And the fact that Bolt’s post was inspired by one of his readers sets a new low in whoring for one’s readership.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine our raving national looney getting anything right. For instance, Bolt recently sneered:

Is GetUp! just an unpricipled [sic] Labor front, or will it attack Kevin Rudd as it attacked Tony Abbott for the very same policy [i.e., taking the ETS off the agenda]?

In fact, the supposed “unprincipled Labor front” posted an article and video attacking Rudd for just that, several days before Bolt’s post.

Astonishingly there are still some who believe Bolt to be a “thoughtful moderate.”

But in his frenzies, Bolt tears apart anything to hand that represents restraint, order or the related discipline of reason. Reading Bolt, I sometimes feel much like I imagine a Roman in the fourth century or German in the 1930s did, watching in despair as civilisation slowly crumbles.

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