Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paydirt at Mars Hill Cafe Tonight 8.30pm

We dont know much about PayDirt other than they started over ten years ago, have taken a break for the past ten years and and have just gotten back together in the past 2 months. Who knows how long they have actually played together, but we do know that they are experienced musicians who have been playing music on other projects, so this should be a treat.

 Mars Hill Cafe

331 Church Street Parramatta


Monday, December 13, 2010

Generation Binge - top cop's fears over drink-until-you-drop culture

A GENERATION of young people will be wiped out if their obsession with alcohol and binge drinking is not curbed, the state's top cop has warned. 
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione issued the stern warning yesterday ahead of the official launch of Operation Unite - a statewide blitz against drunken violence.
With alcohol-related violence spiralling beyond control, Mr Scipione pleaded for an immediate cultural change regarding drinking.

"If we do nothing, we run the risk of losing a generation of young people who think it's the norm to drink until you drop," Mr Scipione said. Police will saturate NSW on Friday and Saturday, targeting unlawful and reckless behaviour on the streets, in pubs, on the roads and in every alley.
Despite a recent drop in the number of assaults in licensed premises across NSW, Mr Scipione said there were still too many "senseless attacks".
"We've just got to fall out of love with the booze," he said.
Police will do everything in their powers to end alcohol-fuelled mayhem, he said, but it came down to a matter of "personal responsibility".

"If you drink yourself into a stupor you are asking for trouble ... this is supposed to be a peaceful, enjoyable time of year but there's nothing enjoyable about being arrested," he said.

Anon's WikiLeaks hackers could face charges

AUSTRALIANS who helped launch cyber attacks on the websites of firms refusing to process donations to WikiLeaks face the possibility of criminal charges, a Sydney expert says.
WikiLeaks' supporters managed to temporarily bring down Visa and MasterCard websites earlier this month by overloading them with requests from individual computers.

PayPal, which also put a block on WikiLeaks' account, crashed days later.

University of Sydney Professor Michael Fry said a hacker network which orchestrated the attacks commanded thousands of members to bombard the sites after the companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks, which released thousands of classified government documents in recent weeks.

Those who responded to the call were potentially in breach of computer crime laws, he said.

"If readily identified, the owners of the machines participating in this ... could see themselves charged with abuse of computer facilities," said Professor Fry, a cyber-security expert with the university's School of Information Technologies.
But whether or not legal action will be taken against offending participants is a thorny issue.

"This cyber war is gathering pace and prosecutions could generate another round of attacks," he said.

"Either way we are seeing the beginning of a new era in political cyber-warfare with the widespread use of botnets."

Professor Fry said it was "fascinating and novel" that thousands of willing participants allowed their machines to be infected so they could take part in politically motivated attacks.

"This suggests a huge level of emotive support for WikiLeaks and its activities, but also a level of naivety," he said in a statement.

"It seems members of the group downloaded publicly available ... code, but took no steps to evade discovery and identification, unlike criminal botnets, which use sophisticated evasion techniques."

"This makes members vulnerable to detection, potential prosecution and counter-cyberattack(s) ... (which) have indeed happened today, initiated by US political groups."

An internet group operating under the label Operation Payback claimed responsibility for the MasterCard and Visa problems in messages on Twitter and elsewhere.

Read more:

Australian Govermnent Supports Hezbolah - Operated TV station.

A HEZBOLLAH-AFFILIATED satellite TV station is allowed to operate in Australia despite screening racist material in breach of national broadcasting codes. 

The Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has welcomed criticism of the TV station al-Manar, made last week by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

But the council's executive director, Colin Rubenstein, urged ACMA to go further and ban the TV station, which is associated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese group proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the federal government.

"Any media organisation owned and/or operated by any banned terrorist organisation should also be banned in Australia, and the federal government should take measures to bring this about," Mr Rubenstein said, adding that "anti-Jewish hatred has long been a feature of the station".
Following an investigation into al-Manar, ACMA has proposed changes to Australia's broadcasting regulations to "prohibit content that is likely to advocate the doing of terrorist acts".

Lawyer Mark Leibler, AIJAC's national chairman, said his organisation was "concerned that ACMA apparently ignored evidence that ads of a particular charity, al-Emdad, a front for Hezbollah, breach the anti-terrorism standards".
Al-Manar, owned by Lebanese Communications group, is broadcast in Australia in Arabic from Lebanon, via an Indonesian satellite company.
AIJAC is calling on Canberra to press upon the Indonesian government "the true nature of the station, particularly the danger al-Manar poses vis-a-vis the radicalisation of Indonesian Muslims".
Read more about t
error channel 'inciting racism'

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A very deadly Christmas indeed

Source: The Daily Telegraph
THERE are knives and nunchakus, knuckledusters, imitation guns and grenades, and slingshots that could do their target serious damage.
These are just some of the deadly presents that won't be under Christmas trees this year after being seized by Customs in the run-up to the festive season.
Officers intercepted a record number of prohibited items, among the weirdest being snake wine, a stuffed baby crocodile, a cobra in a jar, pens that give an electric shock and even a elephant hide diary.
Much of the growth in the amount of mail is believed to come from Aussies going online to do their Christmas shopping.
"Online shopping is a great way to find unique gifts at a competitive price, but consumers should make sure they are making wise purchases that will be allowed into Australia," Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said.

"Websites sometimes claim that their products can be brought into Australia but this isn't always correct, so it is important to check with Customs before you buy.
"Australia applies importation restrictions and bans on some products that are dangerous or illegal," he said.
Consumers are warned to be particularly wary when it comes to buying online clothes as these may be counterfeit, replica weapons including toy guns and some ornamental knives, laser pointers and wildlife souvenirs.
Customs encourages consumers to check their website if they are unsure whether their gift can be imported

Assange's accusers are 'jealous liars' says lawyer Bjorn Hurtig Read more:

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange's lawyer said he has seen secret police documents that prove the whistle-blower is innocent of sex assault claims made against him by two women.
Lawyer Bjorn Hurtig, representing Assange in Sweden where the charges were laid, said the papers reveal both women had "hidden agendas" and lied about being coerced into having sex.
The Australian-born Assange is being held in a London jail while fighting extradition to face the accusations, which his defenders said are part of a plot to stop him releasing more embarrassing information on his WikiLeaks website about governments.

Assange, 39, met both women at a seminar in Stockholm last August. He strenuously denies the allegations and has not yet been charged.

"From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place," Mr Hurtig said.
"It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian."
Mr Hurtig said he had asked Swedish prosecutors for permission to disclose more "sensational information".
"If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade," he said. "If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point.
"But at the moment I'm bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country.
"For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred."
One of the women, a political activist in her 30s, claims she was unlawfully coerced and subjected to sexual molestation and deliberate molestation.
The other woman, who is in her 20s, has alleged he had sex with her without a condom while she was sleeping.

Mr Hurtig, a top defence lawyer, is ready to fly to London and present the evidence when Assange appears in court this week - if given the all-clear.

Mr Hurtig said when he met Assange the accused "gave off an aura of someone who was very self-assured and comfortable with himself, the way famous people do".
"He denied vehemently that he had raped or in any way indulged in non-consensual sex,

Read more:

Man sentenced to be blinded with acid by Iranian court

IRAN'S supreme court has upheld a sentence of blinding with acid for a man who blinded his lover's husband, under the Islamic "eye-for-an-eye" justice code, a government daily said today.
The convict, named only as Mojtaba, 25, threw acid in the face of Alireza, 25, a taxi driver in Iran's clerical hub city of Qom, after an "illicit affair" with the victim's wife, Mojdeh, also 25, said the newspaper Iran

The supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling that Mojtaba be blinded with drops of acid, in line with Islamic justice, which allows for "qisas," or eye-for-an-eye retribution, in cases of violent crime, it said

Qom prosecutor Mostafa Barzegar Ganji said the victim had used his right to qisas. "We have asked for forensic specialists to oversee the blinding of the convict," he said, quoted in Iran.
Several acid attacks have been reported in Iran.
In February 2009, Majid Movahedi was sentenced to be blinded in both eyes for having hurled acid in the face of a university classmate, Ameneh Bahrami, who refused a marriage proposal.

Fury over $500 KFC gift cards as nation battles obesity crisis

FAST-food giant KFC has sparked outrage from health experts by offering Christmas gift cards worth up to $500 as the nation battles an obesity crisis.
KFC outlets have been promoting the cards, ranging in value from $10 to $500 and to be used within 12 months,  as a "thoughtful gift idea for any occasion''.

A $500 card could purchase a fat banquet of 14 buckets of "Original Recipe'' chicken pieces, containing 4.5kg of fat and 1.8kg of saturated fat; 63 maxi serves of "Popcorn Chicken'' (2.8kg of fat and 1.25kg saturated fat) or 78 "Original Works Burgers'' (1.6kg fat, 592g saturated fat).

The "tasty new gift idea'' has attracted outrage and disbelief from health experts in Queensland struggling to combat a growing obesity epidemic.
About 55 per cent of adult Queenslanders, and about a quarter of children aged five to 17, are considered obese or overweight.

An average of 60 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every day around the state.

Preventative Health Taskforce chair Professor Rob Moodie said he was shocked when he learned about KFC's latest marketing ploy.

"It's marketing gone berserk,'' he said. "This stuff is fine if it's just once a month. But if it's twice a week, or $500 a year, it's completely different.''

Prof Moodie said aggressive fast-food marketing was the last thing parents needed as they struggled to teach children proper eating habits.

"We know that advertising for fast food just works. Never before in the history of man has so much food been made so available for so many. We're shoving more calories down our throats than ever before.''

Brisbane-based nutritionist and dietitian Trudy Williams said the gift cards were "worrying''.

"There are much healthier choices that parents could be guiding their kids with, like a voucher to go indoor rock-climbing or sports gear. Clearly, we're eating far too much food as it is.''

Ms Williams, who wrote the award-winning nutrition guide This=That Child Size, said parents should think twice about fast-food Christmas treats.

"Certainly, the rates of obesity in kids appear to be increasing,'' she said. "Parents are really bad judgers of whether their child is overweight or not. They're too close to the coalface, particularly if they are overweight themselves.''

Diabetes Australia Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said gift cards made poor eating choices easy.

"I would still remind people that food like KFC is occasional food,'' she said. "Having a gift certificate that you know you can redeem at any time just makes it easy to make bad choices.''

Robot waiters give customers the human touch

The Dalu Rebot Restaurant

A NEW restaurant where all of the waitresses are robots has opened in China. 

The Dalu Rebot Restaurant, in Jinan, northern China's Shandong Province, has six robot waitresses and can cater for up to 100 diners.
The 21 tables are set in circles and the robots follow a fixed route to serve diners in rotation, website Orange reported.

After serving, the robots return to the kitchen to refill their cart for the next round.
Restaurant spokeswoman Wang Xianwei said that all of the waiting on tables was done by robots.
However, the food, mainly the Chinese version of fondue, was prepared by humans in the kitchen.
And people were also employed to welcome customers and explain to them how the restaurant worked.
The restaurant was developed by the Shandong Dalu Science and Technology Company which plans to further develop the concept.
"Next, we'll develop robots which can climb stairs and help with kitchen chores like washing the dishes," said spokesman Zhang Yongpei.
"And our waitresses will become more sophisticated so they can go direct to a customer's table and even refill diners' drinks."

Read more:

Friday, December 3, 2010

WikiLeaks site back after domain 'killed'

WIKILEAKS is back with a new Swiss address - - six hours - after its previous domain name - - was shut down. 

"WikiLeaks moves to Switzerland," the group declared on Twitter, although an Internet trace of the new domain name suggested that the site itself is still hosted in Sweden and in France.
Webusers accessing the address are directed to a page under the URL which gives them access to the former site, including a massive trove of leaked US diplomatic traffic.

The original domain was taken offline today by its US domain name system provider,, following reports of massive cyber attacks on the site.
"The interference at issue arises from the fact that has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks," said in a statement.
Classic DDoS attacks occur when legions of "zombie" computers, normally machines infected with viruses, are commanded to simultaneously visit a website, overwhelming servers or knocking them offline completely.
The latest techological setback for the whistleblower site came after Amazon booted it from its computer servers on Wednesday following pressure from US politicians, prompting the site to move to a French server.
"Free speech the land of the free - fine, our dollars are now spent to employ people in Europe," WikiLeaks said.
"If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the First Amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books."
On Sunday, WikiLeaks began publishing the first batch of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables, many of them classified as "secret", that the website is believed to have obtained from a disaffected US soldier.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last month that he was considering requesting asylum in Switzerland and basing the whistleblowing website in the fiercely neutral country.
"That is a real possiblity," Mr Assange said when asked whether he and the website might relocate, adding that Switzerland, and perhaps Iceland, were the only Western countries that his outfit feels safe in.

Mr Assange told the TSR television that Wikileaks was examining the possibility of creating a foundation that would allow it operate out of Switzerland, and confirmed he might apply for asylum.

The latest development comes the law tries to close in on Mr Assange.

Swedish authorities won a court ruling yesterday in their bid to arrest the WikiLeaks founder for questioning in a " rape" case, British intelligence is said to know where in England he's hiding, and US pundits and politicians are demanding he be hunted down or worse.

Sweden's Supreme Court upheld an order to detain him - a move that could lead to his extradition.
Mr Assange is accused in Sweden of rape, sexual molestation and coercion in a case from August, and Swedish officials have alerted Interpol and issued a European arrest warrant to bring him in for questioning.

The 39-year-old Australian denies the charges, which his lawyer, Mark Stephens, said apparently stemmed from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex". Mr Stephens said the case is turning into an exercise in persecution.

While Mr Assange has not made a public appearance for nearly a month, his lawyer insisted authorities know where to find him.

"Both the British and the Swedish authorities know how to contact him, and the security services know exactly where he is," Mr Stephens said.
It was unclear if or when police would act on Sweden's demands. Police there acknowledged yesterday they would have to refile their European arrest warrant after British authorities asked for more details on the maximum penalties for the three crimes.

Scotland Yard declined comment, as did the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, responsible for processing European arrest warrants for suspects in England, where The Guardian claims Assange is hiding out.

Read more:

Bankrupt India cant offord Olympics Bill - Now stealing Aussie Equipment

Australian companies owed millions for Delhi Games
Louise Hall November 27, 2010 

INTERNATIONALLY renowned major events producer Ric Birch says India should not be allowed to host the Olympics because the organisers of the Commonwealth Games have failed to pay millions of dollars in fees to several international contractors, including three Australian companies.
Almost 100 shipping containers of lighting, audio, pyrotechnic and staging equipment are stranded on Indian docks or at the main stadium as customs and the official freight supplier, Agility, refuse to process the necessary paperwork.

Mr Birch said the Delhi Organising Committee was a disgrace for ''basking in the praise of world media'' for the spectacular ceremonies while failing to pay the creative and technical crew who made it possible.

Mr Birch's Spectak Productions is owed 15 per cent of its fees for creative direction, choreography, and design, but numerous attempts to extract payment have been met with silence.
Sydney-based fireworks company Howard and Sons is owed $300,000 and is unable to export about $1 million of equipment used to create the glittering grand finale.

''All I'm after is what I'm legitimately owed but [the Indian government agencies] are sitting on their hands,'' company director Andrew Howard said.

The chief executive of Norwest Productions, Chris Kennedy, said he received payment only by threatening to pull out all the audio equipment the day before the closing ceremony. He is still waiting on his 10 per cent performance bond and equipment worth about $1.25 million to pass through Indian customs.

The contractors wrote to the the chairman of the Delhi Organising Committee, Suresh Kalmadi, demanding immediate payment on November 10.
Two days later Mr Kalmadi stepped down from a senior post in India's ruling Congress party, amid a probe into alleged corruption around the event.

The Australian government has raised the situation with the Indian government through Austrade. The Commonwealth Games Federation and the Delhi Organising Committee did not return calls or emails.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Assange the people's hero

Updated Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:05pm AEDT
Founder of the Wikileaks website, Julian Assange, speaks to the media
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may just be the Hero we need to keep the multinational empires honest - He says the website's next leak could take down a major bank or two.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed a fresh "mega leak" will target a major US bank early next year.

Speaking to Forbes magazine, Mr Assange said he was ready to unleash tens of thousands of documents that could "take down a bank or two".
Comparing the documents to the emails that exposed Enron's dealings amid its collapse, the controversial Australian said an existing "big US bank" was the subject of a pending data dump.
Asked about any future leaks, he said: "Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that's a mega leak.
"It's not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it's either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it."
The interview was conducted in early November, before Sunday's publication of around 250,000 leaked US embassy cables from WikiLeaks that have caused consternation in Washington and capitals around the world.

As international investigations are fired up following the latest leak, Mr Assange has been offered residency in Ecuador with "no questions asked".

Earlier this month an international arrest warrant was issued against him on suspicion of rape and sexual molestation of two women in Sweden.

But he said the bank leak would "give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume".
"Usually when you get leaks at this level, it's about one particular case or one particular violation."
Amid the economic crisis a handful of too-big-to-fail US banks have come under scrutiny for their dealings, particularly with mortgaged-backed securities that helped fuel the meltdown.

Executives from Goldman Sachs and the now-defunct Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns have been hauled before the US Congress to explain their banks' actions.

Mr Assange mentioned Goldman Sachs by name in the interview, but did not confirm the Wall Street giant will be the target of the leak.

Goldman recently agreed to a $US550 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle fraud charges.

Facing allegations of defrauding investors, the storied investment bank admitted it had made a "mistake" and given "incomplete" information to clients.

Mr Assange said "about 50 per cent" of the documents WikiLeaks holds relate to the corporate world.

Meanwhile, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister has offered the WikiLeaks founder residency.
"We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions," Kintto Lucas told the internet site Ecuadorinmediato.

"We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the internet but in a variety of public forums."
Ecuador's leftist government is one of several in the region that has often been at odds with the US.

Mr Lucas said even though Ecuador's policy was not to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries, it was "concerned" by the information in the cables because it involved other countries, "in particular Latin America".

Ray White axes branch amid phoenixing claims

Randwick Ray White
Former directors of the service company remain principals of the now-terminated franchise. (ABC News)
A fortnight ago, the real estate giant Ray White was doing its best to distance itself from one of its own franchises in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.
Now it has cut Ray White Randwick loose.

The case hit the headlines when an ABC investigation revealed that the franchise had liquidated a service company used to pay staff and other businesses costs.
Some experts described the liquidation as an apparent case of phoenixing, where a company is liquidated and another company takes its place but free of debts.
Ray White's chairman, Brian White, spoke to the ABC about his decision to take the famous name away from the franchise's three principals.
"Well we have terminated the relationship we had with that independent business. The franchise has now been formally terminated," he said.

"The relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee is highly regulated, and there's very specific conditions and a number of those were in breach.

"The key, in a group such as ours, [is] the relationship of all people within each business - that's the owner, the salespeople, the property managers, the back office staff, receptionists, people doing the loan market et cetera. It's enormous teamwork and there has to be a lot of trust in how those relationships are going to prosper and take that business forward.
"I came to the conclusion that there'd just been a complete breach of faith in how those relationships were handled."

However, a fortnight ago, Mr White said he had confidence in the principal, in the majority shareholder.
"Since then I've had the opportunity of meeting a lot of people," Mr White said.
"I put my phone number out into the market, I went to the office itself and wrote my mobile number up on their noticeboard. Information was also given that I'd be happy to speak with people.
"Since then I've met something like half a dozen people who used to be employed by the business. I've heard their stories and that led to that decision.

"The staff continued on, and one of the - well, the key priority is to have our staff, present and past, properly paid or to receive their entitlements. And I've had a number of calls from existing staff thanking me for the efforts that I took and the results that were achieved.
"So there's no evidence that we have that the business was giving poor service to its clients, or there was malpractice in the way that the public were being treated.

"It purely became the way that people within that business ended up - the fact that, as I said, there was a breakdown in faith between all parties."
The former franchisees declined the ABC's offer of an interview and instead issued a statement.

4WD occupants nearly become croc food

A vehicle is stranded trying to cross the East Alligator River at Cahills Crossing
The water pinned the four-wheel drive against a rock wall. (NT Police: NT Police)

Northern Territory Police say it is lucky five people, including three children, did not become "crocodile food" when their car got stuck on a remote river crossing in Arnhem Land.

The group were trying to cross the East Alligator River at Cahills Crossing.

More than one metre of water was flowing over the crossing at the time and their four-wheel drive was quickly pinned against a rock wall.

It was nearly high tide and the water levels continued to rise.

Police and rangers had to launch a boat and pull the group out one of the car's windows.
Brevet Sergeant Adam Russell says he spotted several large saltwater crocodiles near the car.
"There were quite a few around the area, so we weren't too keen to get too far into the water either," he said.

The 51-year-old man driving the car did not have a licence.
The car blocked the crossing until police were able to tow it to the nearby community of Gunbulunya on Wednesday.

Pakistan nuclear fears detailed by WikiLeaks

Pakistan nuclear fears detailed by WikiLeaks

Pakistani policemen stand guard at a security check point in Karachi
Some of the leaked documents describe Pakistan as suffering from inflation, unemployment and deteriorating law and order. (AFP: Asif Hassan)
Fears that Pakistan's nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorists have been discussed in secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

The latest tranche of the US documents also discuss concerns over Pakistan's nuclear program which is producing weapons faster than any country in the world.
WikiLeaks has been drip-feeding the 250,000 cables to the media since the weekend and a picture is emerging of the threat posed by Pakistan's nuclear program.

Last year the US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, repeatedly raised the alarm.
In February she wrote: "Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon."

Later she upped the ante, saying there was a stockpile of highly enriched uranium which had been sitting for years near an ageing research reactor.
Ms Patterson said there was enough material to build several dirty bombs or an actual nuclear bomb if the material fell into the hands of people who had the right expertise.
The stockpile is still there.

more :

Complaints about Cityrail network increase

Passengers have voiced their frustration with Sydney's train network, with Cityrail recording an increase in complaints.
Railcorp's annual report for the last financial year has been released.
It reveals that more than 26,000 people were unhappy with the level of comfort and the convenience of the train network - 5,000 more than the previous 12 months.
Most complaints were about the lack of airconditioning on trains, however, changes to the timetable also sparked a flurry of phone calls and emails to Railcorp.
Timetable complaints alone rose 400 per cent while other complaints relate to staff and late trains.
But it was not all bad, feedback with compliments up 13 per cent.
The annual report also reveals a slight drop in the number of people catching a train.
Cityrail has blamed the GFC for the fall.
But the State Opposition says people are just fed up with poor service.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple, RIM admit mobiles emit more than allowable radiation.

KEEP your flash new mobile phone in your pocket and you risk "serious harm", according to the maker of the BlackBerry, while Apple admits its iPhone can exceed exposure guidelines. 

There is rapidly-growing demand for information about the health effects of radio frequency energy - so much so that early next year Australia's largest mobile retailer Telstra will publish comparison data on mobiles' "specific absorption rate".
Consumers for the first time will be able to analyse phone SAR side by side. The regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), does not produce such information. In fact, phone manuals often do not even disclose the Australian standard for SAR.
However, manuals do contain some disturbing admissions in their fine print. The user guide to the BlackBerry Torch advises using its "approved holster with an integrated belt clip or maintain a distance" of 25mm between the "BlackBerry device and your body while the BlackBerry device is transmitting".
"Use of body-worn accessories, other than RIM-approved holsters with an integrated belt clip, might cause your BlackBerry device to exceed radio frequency (RF) exposure standards. The long-term effects of exceeding RF exposure standards might present a risk of serious harm."
And the Apple iPhone 4 guide says: "iPhone's SAR measurement may exceed [US] . . . exposure guidelines for body-worn operation if positioned less than 15mm from the body (eg, when carrying iPhone in your pocket)."

The BlackBerry's maker, Research in Motion, did not respond to requests for comment. Apple would not comment on exposure levels for "body-worn operation". But Telstra's electromagnetic energy co-ordinator Mike Wood said: "Technically speaking, under the worst-case scenario, you might be in breach of the SAR limit."

Still, the phones were safe, Mr Wood said.
ACMA said it didn't set the exposure limits. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, which sets the limit, did not return calls. The Australian SAR limit for mobiles is 2 watts per kilogram of tissue, higher than the 1.6W/kg in the US.
Australian Centre for RF Bioeffects Research executive director, University of Wollongong Professor Rodney Croft, said: "Even if it is over the limit there is no evidence . . . that it would cause harm unless it was at least 50 times the limit."
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Ban on police using race or skin color to describe offenders - Outrage

WA POLICE have defended their policy of banning ethnic or religious words to describe offenders after it was attacked by the Police Union as 'political correctness gone mad'. 

The policy, a direct order from Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan, means officers can no longer use details such as a suspect's nationality, race or religion when seeking public help.
Instead, they have been told to say if the person is light or dark skinned.
WA Police are standing by their policy, saying many people don't actually know what people of different nationalities look like.

"More general descriptors limit the chances for people to make error," WA Police Media spokesman Samuel Dinnison says.

"People have different terms of reference and if we narrow investigations down to specific race, the person may have gotten it wrong and that may limit an investigation. Narrowing it down too much can be detrimental to an investigation."
The Equal Opportunities Commission says the ban was introduced six months ago after complaints that using ethnic descriptions was racist.
The commission agreed that witnesses who made reports to police would often get the ethnicity of a suspect wrong.

WA Police Union president Russell Armstrong wants the rule overturned, arguing that using "scant descriptions" makes it harder to catch criminals.

"If you just turn around and say we are looking for a 20-year-old male, 180cm, with black hair, how many people in the community does that description fit?" he said.
"If somebody is Australian or if somebody is English or if somebody is Nigerian, wherever they are from, police should be allowed to say that in their description of offenders.
 One police insider said the policy had prevented the capture of suspects.

"These rules don't give a true indication of who police are looking for," the source said.
"There is a big difference between a dark-skinned person being Aboriginal or African. And if we are looking for an Asian person-of-interest it's a bit narrow to describe them as simply having fair skin and dark hair."
But Equal Opportunity Commission state commissioner Yvonne Henderson said using ethnic descriptions reinforced negative stereotypes.
"It can feed into prejudiced ideas in the community about which ethnicities are mainly responsible for criminal behaviour," she said.
Other states including Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory use the nationally agreed ANZPAA policy which limits the description categories to broad groups including Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander, Asian, Middle-Eastern or Caucasian appearance unless there has been a positive identification of the nationality of a person described.
Read more about Race order is 'PC gone mad', say cops at PerthNow.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chance of more explosions at mine

Nov 25, 2010 1:02pm
PIKE River coal mine is still not safe and it could take weeks to get bodies, says company.

A large reservoir of gas means there are risks of explosions "today, tomorrow or the next day," he said in Greymouth today.

The company is mobilising quickly to look at recovering the bodies of 29 miners - including two Australians - for their families, but this could take "weeks".
"We have to make certain decisions and have to make them quickly," Mr Whittall said.
Once the mine was safe, recovering the bodies could take a "couple of weeks or more or less", he said.
"This is not going to happen in the next couple of days," he said.
The men were trapped underground by an explosion on Friday afternoon and police believe there are no survivors following a second, larger explosion yesterday.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key flew into Greymouth today, and said his main priority was to speak to the miners' families.

"We are really trying to bring as much comfort as we can in the most trying of times. The nation is grieving alongside them," he said before heading to a midday meeting with families.
Tears and anger: Relatives learn all hope is gone

Key also wanted to personally thank everyone involved in the planned rescue attempt.
He said the recovery operation could employ a "number of different techniques", which could include bringing in equipment from Australia.

"It is natural that families would want bodies recovered so they can have some closure but that just can't happen until we are in a position to go into the mine," he told NZPA.
He was in discussions with Grey district mayor Tony Kokshoorn about holding a local memorial service and a national service would probably be held in Christchurch in early December, he said.
Earlier today he said he hoped the families would take some comfort in the knowledge the country was "sharing their pain".

"One thing that has shone through all of this bleakness has been the fact that New Zealand has rallied around and I think every New Zealander felt very deeply the news... that the second explosion had taken place and what that meant for the people inside the mine," he told TV1's Breakfast Show.
The 29 miners and contractors have not been heard of since an initial explosion on Friday afternoon.
After a second massive explosion at 2.37pm local time yesterday Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall returned from the mine to break the heart-breaking news to the families of the men that there were unlikely to have been any survivors.

Mr Key said he didn't know when the men's bodies would be recovered but a number of options were being explored.

"Of course, the most important thing at this point now is to stabilise the environment so it's safe for those rescue teams to go in and take the bodies out."

He said there was likely to be a commission of inquiry rather than a royal commission of inquiry, which was more suited to social issues such as genetic engineering.

"So look, at the end of the day here, we need answers to what happened at Pike River - clearly something's gone terribly wrong and it's now claimed the lives of 29 people."
Separate coronial, police and Labour Department inquiries would also be held.
Meanwhile, flags were flying at half-mast across New Zealand and in Australia today for the mine victims.
Queensland men Joshua Ufer, 25, and Willy Joynson, 49, were among the 29 miners who died.
A family spokesman for Mr Joynson's wife, Kim, said yesterday's terrible news would allow the family to finish a process they had already started.
"Kim, in the back of her mind, had already prepared herself for this," he said.

"She had had that setback. I don't know whether she had really begun grieving but once the finality came it was just bang, here it is."

The family were in the process of moving back to Australia, with Mr Joynson waiting until his children, Jonathan, 13, and Benjamin, 10, had finished the school term before he quit his job. Mr Joynson worked as a leading hand at Pike River.

The family of Josh Ufer, 25, gave no comment.
Pregnant partner Rachelle Weaver, who lives in Greymouth, was grieving with his mother Joanne, father Karl and sister Kymberley in the coastal township.
Mr Ufer's father also works in the mining industry and flew from China this week to be with his family.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has offered Australia's condolences to all those involved and told the Australian relatives: "We want you to understand that the nation is grieving with you at this dreadful and difficult time."

Now Facebook comes in actual book form

Nov 25, 2010 5:02pm
FACEBOOK users flock to get a physical record of their favourite photos, friends and updates.
Now it looks like people want to move them back off again — not for privacy reasons, but because they look better that way.

Facebook users have jumped at the chance to have a physical copy of their online "moments" printed for them so as never to forget their favourite status updates, photos or comments.
One thousand limited edition Facebook books, created by French advertising agency DDB, disappeared in the space of an hour, the agency said.
The books were part of a campaign to launch French telecommunications company Bouygues Télécom's Facebook page.

"We decided to look at the way we use Facebook and found that even though we use the social networking site everyday, we forget our favourite moments," said DDB's Siavosh Zabeti.
"So we created an app that could change that, and keep your Facebook, in a book."
While DDB's Facebook books are completely sold out, Facebook fans wanting to have their status updates, wall messages, comments and photos published can still visit Facebook app EgoBook to create a physical Facebook memoir.

A personalised EgoBook can be purchased from the company for about €30 ($40). The price changes slightly depending on the book's content.
In November 2009 a company called TweetBookz started giving Twitter users the opportunity to self-publish their own book of tweets.
The books, which can still be purchased from, cost about $15 for a soft cover edition or $25 for a hard cover edition and include a selection of up to 200 of your tweets.

SCOOP: Ric Birch Slams Commonwealth Games Organisers and Indian Govt

This is an open letter from Commonweath Games International Creative Consultant Ric Birch. Reader comments follow at end.
He reveals a staggering series of problems including non payments and equipment stranded in India six weeks after the Games!

He says:
I wish to bring to your attention the shameful behaviour of those members of Indian Government agencies who were, or continue to be, responsible for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games......
You will see from the attached letters and papers that despite the enormous success of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Delhi 2010 organizers and agencies have refused to make final payments to any of the international service providers, despite fully executed contracts being entered into by the organizing committee. Even worse, the government Customs department is totally unable or unwilling to re-export all the contractors equipment that was imported to India on temporary carnets for the ceremonies ! This means that all the lighting instruments, all the audio equipment, the aerostat logistics and support equipment and the pyrotechnic control equipment is simply sitting in containers in Delhi because of the incompetence of government officials and Organizing Committee personnel.

It is extraordinary, because India claims to be a growing economy that is interested in exporting to the world - but the inability of Indian government agencies to handle a straightforward import/export transaction makes it doubtful whether any international company can rely upon India's ability to conduct business in a proper manner. The following is an extract of a letter from one of the suppliers whose goods are stranded in Delhi due to the combined incompetence and intransigence of the Organizing Committee, the Indian Customs Departmnent and Agility - the official supplier of freight forwarding services to the Organizing Committee.

I have been in contact with some of the other contractors and specifically with the project manager from the communications company involved in the project. He tells me that he spent many days at the OC offices in his prolonged stay in India to try and clear his freight for export. He also visited the customs container terminal twice aswell.

When he visited the terminal for the first time, on a Friday afternoon, he was told by one official that everything for these exports is to be done exactly by the book and following all the necessary details. On the following Monday when he went back to the terminal to further investigate the process he was told by a different official that "no-one there was prepared to be involved with processing any freight for export used on the Commonwealth Games". When asked what the problem was, he was told that because of all the corruption charges no-one wants to be involved with clearing CWG freight in case they lose their job.

If they follow all the rules I cannot see why they would lose their jobs ?

In his visits to the customs terminal and conversations with officials there he was also told that special conditions for the import of freight for sole use of the CWG were put in place. However no such special conditions were arranged for the re-export of the same freight. As a result Indian customs do not know how to deal with the CWG freight and are scared of losing their job if they do process it.

As has been proven time and again, the Organizing Committee were only interested in making themselves look good and lost interest completely as soon as the Closing Ceremony finished.

Shovana Narayan's title is Special Director-General of Ceremonies. An email to her from one of the contractors describes his frustration in finding Shovana in central India, rather than attending to her Commonwealth Games duties.

Further to our telephone conversation.
We demand and expect immediate payment of all our outstanding amounts today.
We have supplied every element of our end of the contract to the highest possible standard, but the OC continues to fail to meet its contractual obligations of making the payments in terms with the contract.
We can no longer accept any more delays or excuses and will initiate legal action to pursue all payments, plus additional equipment rental fees and damages, if payment is not made with the next 24hours and evidence of bank documentation of such payment is faxed or email to us.
I trust you will ensure that all person's at the OC are informed and advised by you to ensure this payment is made today.

The level of frustration among contractors shows up most clearly when staff of the Delhi 2010 organising committee reveal their complete lack of qualifications or experience for their jobs, as in the following masterpiece from Mohib Jaffrey,  the person at Delhi 2010 in charge of Logistics and Freight - who has been totally unable to arrange re-export of the containers which were his responsibility. Instead he lists the documents that he was meant to prepare, but has not.

Let me just explain the entire process involved in getting the GR Waiver..
The Documents namely Import invoices,Packing list,Duty Exemption Certificates,Bill of ladingy/AWB, Undertaking, Export Invoice & packing list, FEMA letter for request, Orignal Triplicate copy of Import bill of entry are first attested & checked by Logistics Dept & Finance Dept.
Once the above mentioned are checked & verified then they get submitted in the Bank where the bank takes their own time 3-4 days a minimum to re-check them.
Then the bank issues the GR waiver which is done on the basis of each shipping bill individually.
Queries if any with respect to any of the 10 submitted documents exist then the same need to be addressed, failing which we go back to the first stage of compiling the desired bunch of documents all over again.
As we understand that each & every shipment is EXTREMELY urgent hence we want queries if any to be addressed immediately.
Hence we request the Agents to assist up to the stage of getting the GR waivers from the bank.
With each passing day we understand that the frustrations are increasing all over hence to avoid delays we solicit your co-operation.
As a matter of fact since yesterday the bank too has witheld the issuance of GR waivers as they have sought clarifications of the same from their regional offices.
Would update you accordingly.
Thank you

We wrote to the following people to alert them to our problem: NONE of them responded:
MIKE HOOPER - CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation
SANJIV MITTAL - Deputy Chairman Delhi 2010
SINDHUSHREE KHULLAR - Secretary-General of the Sports Union
RANDHIR SINGH - Indian Delegate to the IOC
JARNAIL SINGH - CEO Delhi Organizing Committee
RAM MOHAN - Director of Legal Dept. Delhi 2010
STUART CORBISHLEY - Deputy Director of Legal Dept.
Group Capt'n K.K. REDDY - Finance Director Delhi 2010
J.J.THOMPSON - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
S.S.ROA - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
AMARJ SINGH - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
SHOVANA NARAYAN - Special Director-General Ceremonies and Culture Delhi 2010
INDU ANAND - Deputy Director Ceremonies and Culture Delhi 2010

What is required to obtain normal business courtesies in India ?

Certainly this type of behaviour makes it extremely unlikely that any of the interrnational suppliers, consultants and contractors involved in Delhi 2010 would in any way support or endorse any future attempt by India to host the Olympic Games, should India decide to make a bid. The behaviour of the organizers and Indian government agencies has been so shameful that any international company must beware of entering into any business contracts with Indian government agencies.

Ric Birch
CEO Spectak
International Creative Consultant to the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christian Church sold to muslim group, Mundine fined for illegal works

BOXER Anthony Mundine and league star Hazem El Masri have been fined for illegally beginning work to convert a Christian church into a mosque.

The pair were fined $600 and ordered to stop illegal work on the proposed Islamic prayer hall at Roselands, in Sydney's south, after sections of the building were demolished without council approval.

Nearby residents are now forming an association to formally oppose the place of worship, which will operate seven days a week and feature Koranic tutorials and Arabic classes.

Gallery: See the site of the proposed mosque

Mundine already has been caught up in a planning row after a consortium linked to the boxer purchased a Central Coast resort for $6 million, causing residents to threaten legal action against its zoning if it was turned into an Islamic prayer facility and retreat .

In the latest matter, the Anthony Mundine and Hazem El Masri Association bought the old Chinese Christian Assembly church in Ludgate St, Roselands, for $875,000 last year.

Canterbury Council issued the fine and stop work order after the demolition of the roof and internal walls.

The site remains idle, surrounded by wire fencing, while the council considers a late development application lodged by architect Rod Zoabi.

While Mundine or El Masri could not be contacted yesterday, Mr Zoabi said there already was approval for a place of public worship and the application was only for structural repairs.

"The owners were unaware the removal and replacement of the roof structure would be deemed illegal", the application before council stated.

"It is our best intention, as well as the owners', to ensure a high level of design and satisfaction by all parties, including neighbours, council and the general public."

Council general manager Jim Montague said the retrospective application would be considered next year.

But Ludgate St residents yesterday said they would oppose the application - not because it was Islamic but because of the increased days of worship, from the Christian Assembly's once a week to seven days a week and up to three sessions a day.

The Christian church was sold after 20 years of services.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

soccer club mistakes Nazi soldiers for Australians

BUNGLING football bosses have been left red-faced after a special Remembrance matchday program used a picture of Nazi troops. 

The shocking image was on the front cover of Airdrie United's magazine for Saturday's Scottish League Division Two clash against Livingston.
Club officials insisted they thought it showed Australian soldiers.
But the snap actually features nurses handing out water to grinning German soldiers on a train during World War Two.
On the photo are the words: "Lest We Forget" plus a PoppyScotland logo and the slogan: "Supporting Our Heroes".
 Program designers wanted to combine the game with Remembrance Day tributes but complained that another picture featuring a train looked contrived. They finally settled on the picture which they thought showed Australian troops returning from battle.

Read more:

What a farce - crooked judge lets speeding lamborgini owner off the hook

A MECHANIC charged with recklessly driving a Lamborghini at more than 155km/h has been acquitted by a magistrate who admits he's a Top Gear "tragic".
Police had accused mechanic Leone Antonino Magistro, 53, of driving at high speed on a Perth highway on January 6 this year.
Mr Magistro was at the wheel of a bright yellow 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo he had just picked up from a client, Dr Patrick Nugawela.
He was heading back to his workshop in Perth's north when he was spotted by a police officer in a Ford Falcon.
Senior Constable Michael Brent told Perth Magistrates Court that the sports car's exhaust was belching blue smoke. He tried to keep up with the Lamborghini and had reached 160km/h but Mr Magostro's speed was too quick.

Magistrate Michael Wheeler acquitted Mr Magistro of all charges, saying there was no way the two police officer could accurately determine how fast the Lamborghini was going.
"Ultimately, the police vehicle was so far behind the Lamborghini at all times that when the police vehicle seemed to be doing 160km/h it was impossible to really estimate, or really guesstimate, how fast the (Lamborghini) was moving away from them," the magistrate said.
Mr Wheeler said he did not doubt Senior Constable Brent's honesty when he told the court the police vehicle was travelling at 160km/h but the distance between the two vehicles - 100 to 200 metres - raised questions about the accuracy of the police officer's opinion of what speed Mr Magistro was travelling.
Furthermore, Mr Magistro said, there was never a chance of the police officer's Ford Falcon getting close enough to the Lamborghini to accurately determine its speed.

"With no disrespect to the Ford Falcon couldn't cut the mustard with the Lamborghini being driven by the accused ... it couldn't even catch my car in all honesty," the magistrate said.
He also raised the issue of police not having pursuit vehicles, saying that Senior Constable Brent would probably never have expected it when he arrived in Western Australia from the UK.
"He would have thought he'd never find himself driving a bog-standard Ford Falcon when he came to Australia but I suppose that's what bean counters do," he said.
Mr Magistro was acquitted of reckless driving by Mr Wheeler, who also found there was no evidence he was driving dangerously.

Before handing down his judgment, Mr Wheeler told the court he had a keen interest and vast knowledge of "useless information" about sports cars.
"I have to confess, I'm a Top Gear tragic and know so much useless information about (the 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo) I have to disregard," he said.
"I know (that) in 2006 Top Gear named the Lamborghini Gallardo as the dream car of the year. (Top Gear host) Jeremy Clarkson bought one, in fact, in 2006."
He also noted that he watched Top Gear on Tuesday night when the celebrity guest, actress Kristin Scott Thomas, said she was about to buy a Lamborghini Gallardo.
Mr Magistro was awarded $18,000 in court costs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Call for a "Dubai in the outback" to save Oz tourism

Australia needs more infrastructure such as Dubai's famous Atlantis Palm development to lure more international tourists Source: Supplied
  • Australia "needs bigger hotels, more airports"
  • Tourism sector in danger unless we "invest"
  • Push to convert desert into Dubai-style oasis

AUSTRALIA should consider building a Dubai-style oasis in the middle of the desert to help boost its tourism potential, a leading economist says.
Access Economics director Professor Ian Harper, who will speak at the Australian Tourism Directions Conference in Canberra today, said Australia's share in the international tourist market would drop within the next three years if it didn't urgently invest in new experiences and infrastructure, such as hotels and bigger airports.
"We need to be imaginative and think very laterally," Prof Harper said.
"It might make sense to build some dedicated facility out in the desert which would be a major distributing hub for other parts of Australia.
"We are on the cusp of the largest movement of people into the middle class that the world has ever seen and there's going to be plenty of demand from China and India and other parts of Asia.

"If we don't plan for what is going to be in many ways a bonanza we're going to be sorry for that."
While Australians think of lying on the beach for their holidays, Prof Harper said that's not necessarily what our Asian neighbours want to do.

"If we were to keep our share constant we would have to build a whole bunch of new hotels and rebuild our tourism structure," he said.

"If we can just keep our relative position as these countries move up the development curve there will be more than enough for us to build a very big industry out of this."
Prof Harper said Australia was too focused on the mining industry at the expense of service industries, like tourism, and needed to diversify.

"Tourism is one of the most regionally dispersed industries that we have and a lot of tourism money finds its way to regional Australia and into indigenous communities," he said.
While Australian tourism has struggled in recent years, thanks to a strong dollar and the economic downturn, Prof Harper said there was room for growth in the long-term.

"The exchange rate is going to go up and down and there will be good seasons and bad seasons," he said.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the conference, a result of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy, would set the agenda for the next decade.

His said the number of seats on planes coming into Australia needed to rise by 50 per cent and domestic air seats by 25 per cent if tourism was to achieve its $140 billion potential.

He also wants to see 40,000 new beds, largely in capital cities, and better quality regional accommodation.

Read more:

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh denies school asbestos cover-up

QUEENSLAND Premier Anna Bligh says it's regrettable a school community wasn't told about an asbestos find but denies there's been a cover-up. 

Asbestos was found in August 2008 in mulch around a new walkway that linked two campuses of Redcliffe State High School, north of Brisbane.

Ms Bligh today said the decision not to tell students, parents and staff of the find was made after officials determined there was no risk to the community.

But she admits that was a mistake.

"... that is not good enough. I think the community should have been advised and I understand the (education) minister has been taking steps to make sure that happens in the future," she told reporters north of Brisbane.

"This decision, taken two years ago by technical officers on the grounds that it posed no threat, is regrettable."

But she insisted there was no cover-up.

"Here in Queensland we have the most transparent system of managing asbestos in our schools of any education system in Australia," Ms Bligh said.

"I want parents and school communities to know whenever there is asbestos in their schools. That is why we have published registers."

Meanwhile, the Queensland Teachers Union is threatening possible industrial action if the Government does not remove asbestos from buildings at Atherton State High School, southwest of Cairns.

Meetings were held at the school last week with unions and asbestos experts after the decontamination of two classrooms and a staff room.

Union spokeswoman Maureen Duffy said teachers, cleaners and staff were deeply concerned about having been exposed to asbestos prior to the decontamination work.

"We have given them until Monday next week to come up with some answers," Ms Duffy said.

"We want them to agree to removing all the asbestos, otherwise (tomorrow) we will be voting about whether to take industrial action."

She said unions were advising school and auxiliary staff to file WorkCover notifications in case they fell ill down the track.

The world's new fastest supercomputer can perform 2750,000,000,000,000 calculations per second

CHINA overtook the US at the head of the world of supercomputing today when a survey ranked one of its machines the fastest on the planet. 
China's Tianhe-1 supercomputer, which has been recognised as the world's fastest. Picture: NVIDIA

Tianhe-1, meaning Milky Way, achieved a computing speed of 2570 trillion calculations per second, earning it the number one spot in the Top 500 survey of supercomputers.
The Jaguar computer at a US government facility in Tennessee, which had held the top spot, was ranked second with a speed of 1750 trillion calculations per second.
Tianhe-1 does its warp-speed "thinking" at the National Centre for Supercomputing in the northern port city of Tianjin – using mostly chips designed by US companies.
Another Chinese system, the Nebulae machine at the National Supercomputing Centre in the southern city of Shenzhen, came in third.

The US still dominates, with more than half of the entries in the Top 500 list, but China now boasts 42 systems in the rankings, putting it ahead of Japan, France, Germany and Britain.
It is not the first time that the US has had its digital crown stolen by an Asian upstart. In 2002, Japan made a machine with more power than the top 20 American computers put together.
The supercomputers on the Top 500 list, which is produced twice a year, are rated based on speed of performance in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US.

Read more:

The Pope isn't a fan of the internet. Make a note

POPE Benedict XVI has warned that the internet does not make people more humane but instead risks increasing a "sense of solitude and disorientation" among "numbed" young people.
"A large number of young people... establish forms of communication that to do not increase humaneness but instead risk increasing a sense of solitude and disorientation," The Pope told a Vatican conference on culture.
He also said that young people were being "numbed" by the internet, adding that the technology was creating an "educational emergency – a challenge that we can and must respond to with creative intelligence".
The Pope last month said the growing use of new technologies should set off "an alarm bell" as it was blurring the boundary between truth and illusion.

Read more:

Indian websites do your homework for $2

AUSTRALIAN high school and university students are outsourcing their homework to sweatshops in India, Pakistan and Egypt which provide English essays and maths papers for as little as $2.
Websites such as, realassignment and dissertation offer fixed-price tariffs or auction-style services where students put work out to tender and workers, mostly graduates from India and Pakistan, bid to take on the projects.
Schools are powerless to stop cheaters using the outsourcing services because custom-made work cannot usually be detected by plagiarism software.

Matt Barrie, founder of, a website designed to put small businesses in touch with affordable labour in emerging economies, said homework assignments were frequently submitted to his site.

"We get them all the time," he said. "As a lecturer myself, I really don't approve, but kids will be kids - they will always find a way to cheat.

"There are students in India who will give answers for just a few dollars and I have seen maths questions answered for $2 a go."
The Sunday Telegraph tracked down one worker offering his services, graduate Mohammed Ali Khan, 23, of Islamabad, Pakistan.
He is turning out essays and papers for high school and university students, charging $2 per 100 words.
"It's my part-time job," he said. "I get work from all over the world including Australia, the US and the UK.
"I've done many jobs for Australian students," he said. "Australians mainly ask for university papers but I've done some high-school work, too."

When asked how much he would charge for a 1000-word Year 12 English language essay, he said $US10.
Academics are concerned about the new customised cheating factories on the net.
"We take this very seriously but, sadly, it's no surprise," University of Western Sydney associate dean Craig Ellis said.

"In the past five years there's been an explosion in sites where you can download pre-written assignments, but we have the mechanisms that allow us to cross-reference essays to identify this. But the trend towards custom-produced work at such low costs is particularly worrying because it is that much harder to spot."
In Australia, .au offers high-school papers at $16.79 per page with a two-month deadline, rising to $54 per page for PhD-standard work with a 24-hour deadline.
It claims it is now working on essays and dissertations for 1000 Australian students.
The NSW Department of Education warned that any students caught cheating would be given zero marks.
"The Department emphasises to students the importance of the ethical use of technology both in and out of school," a spokesman said.
"Parents have a responsibility to monitor their children's computer use while at home."

Read more:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another cracker Ebay Ad

1995 Daihatsu Charade Limited Edition (Toscana model) hatchback. In good overall condition.  Straight body, good paint and interior.  Registration expired, but will register again with minimal work.

Other useful facts:
  • Female owner (but by no means a "girls" car)
  • Sporty look, impress your friends
  • Consumes little fuel - get up to a week from a single tank.
  • Nostalgia guaranteed with a built-in tape deck (also includes attached CD stacker for the more youthful driver). 
  • Would make a great first, second or even third car.
  • Easy to park - will fit into those tiny parking spots that aren't really parking spots. 
  • Virginity was lost in car, can be kept if found.
  • Unisex 'metallic' paint colour.
  • Mick Jagger once rented a similar model car while on a holiday in Italy in the mid 1990's

    Free extras included:
    • Will paint racing stripes on request for the successful bidder.
    • Will copy a CD of classic driving songs for the successful bidder to listen to while driving home in their new car. Including: Born to be wild, Man on the run, Black betty, We are the champions, Bust a move, and many more. 
    • $2 coin stuck under the drivers seat is yours to keep.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Busted top cop reveals tips and tricks on how they get you, and how to be avoided..

THE extent of the sneaky tricks some cops use to catch motorists has been revealed after a highly decorated officer was booked for speeding while trying to investigate a suspicious vehicle. 
Chief Inspector Mark Death was off duty and travelling to Sydney to pick up his children at the start of the Easter long weekend when he saw a bright blue Holden SS ute "driving in an improper manner" on the F3.

Instincts from his 27 years of policing also told him to keep an eye on the car "hoodlums drive", given its dark, potentially illegal window tinting.
He overtook the ute several times to try to get a look at its occupants before changing lanes and letting it overtake him.

He didn't think any more of it until he received a speeding fine in the mail two weeks later.
He had been booked by "covert speed enforcement" travelling 125km/h in a 110km/h zone, leaving him with a $197 fine and a six demerit points.

When attempts to have the fine revoked failed, Insp Death was left with no option but to fight it in court.
Rather than defend his actions - and risk exposing "sensitive" undercover speed enforcement practices - the loyal officer fell on his sword and pleaded guilty.

Magistrate Alan Railton dismissed the fine and demerit points without conviction.
sInspector Death declined to comment outside court but emails tendered in his defence to the Traffic Services branch and the State Debt Recovery Office were scathing of the covert cops' highway antics.

He described the type of enforcement as "questionable" under standard operating procedures and "lacking integrity".
"The choice of a Commodore ute with heavily tinted windows is a bad choice of vehicle," he said

Secrecy shrouds bank boss loans

BANK executives are taking out huge loans with their own organisations but refusing to say what interest rates they pay.
Immediate family members also qualify for the deals, and so do any companies they are involved with outside of their banking roles, but the secrecy surrounding the loans is raising suspicions that they are enjoying extraordinarily low rates.
For example, in Westpac's last annual report, Greg Bartlett, former boss of St George, is listed as having a loan that reached $11 million during the 2008-09 financial year, but paid only $423,050 in interest (equivalent to a rate of just 3.84 per cent based on the highest balance during the year).

"We don't disclose specific details of any of our customer arrangements, as that would be a breach of their privacy," a bank spokesman said. "Director loans are treated no differently to any of our customers."

However, Mr Bartlett was treated differently in the past: the annual report states he was given an "interest-free loan" of $140,785 that was advanced by St George in 1989. In the 2008-09 financial year this gave him a saving of $7425. No customers qualify for interest-free loans.Commonwealth Bank CEO Ralph Norris has a loan that reached $NZ2.191 million during the past financial year, but the bank would not say what rate he was paying or how he would be affected by the rise.
And in ANZ's last annual report, CEO Mike Smith had a loan that varied between $535,611 and $1 million during the year, before it was paid off.

The only comment the banks would make was that the loans were at "arm's length", which means they are on the same terms available to all customers. The shroud of secrecy around the deals makes it impossible to know for sure.

The news has led to allegations some executives could exploit their inside knowledge of likely movements of funding costs, enabling them to take the most advantageous rates at the best posible time. "They know the optimum time to fix their rates and so have an advantage over everybody else," Curt Rendall, of accountants Rendall Kelly, said.
"Directors should at least have to disclose the rate they are paying so their dealings are transparent."ANZ said some of its directors opted to fix their loans, but refused to say who, and when.

Aussie swallows 41 balloons of heroin

A SYDNEY woman underwent emergency surgery to remove 41 balloons packed with heroin from her stomach, police said.
A statement from the New South Wales police said the unidentified 37-year-old woman, who had recently returned to Australia from a holiday in Vietnam, had been charged with supply of a prohibited drug.

Paramedics were called to her home in suburban Cabramatta, southwestern Sydney, on October 30 and rushed her to nearby Liverpool Hospital, where doctors found the 41 bags, including some that had ruptured.

A search of her home in Cabramatta allegedly unearthed six balloons containing heroin as well as scales, documents, a diary and mobile phone SIM cards, police said.

Read more:

Old man boards plane, leaves a young man

Masked man
In an incredible breach of security, the youth boarded the plane wearing a mask that made him look decades older / AP Source: AP

AN ELDERLY white man boarded a plane in Hong Kong - and turned into an Asian youth somewhere over the Pacific.
In an incredible breach of security, the passenger, wearing a mask that made him look decades older, walked past security guards and onto an Air Canada flight October 29, according to a Canadian alert.

Then he walked into the plane's lavatory, where he took off the mask and calmly returned to his seat.
Upon landing in Vancouver, the quick-change artist was escorted off the plane and immediately claimed refugee status. The reason he pulled the bizarre stunt remains a mystery.
Red-faced security agents removed three pieces of luggage containing the man's clothing, a pair of gloves and his disguise kit, including a silicone head-and-neck covering, a leather cap, rectangular glasses and a brown cardigan.

The man was apparently able to slip past several guards and get on the plane after swapping boarding passes with a 55-year-old US citizen.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) described the Oct 29 incident as an 'unbelievable case of concealment' involving "a silicone type head and neck mask", Today Online reports.

Woman tries to sell infant grandson for $30,000

POLICE have arrested a woman for allegedly trying to sell her eight-week-old grandson.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement took 45-year-old Patty Bigbee into custody when they caught her meeting with a buyer in Daytona Beach, US, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Authorities began investigating the case in October when Bigbee allegedly approached a “third party” and offered to sell the baby for $75,000, though the buyer eventually talked the grandmother down to $30,000, the paper said.

Bigbee accepted the offer and was arrested at the scene of the would-be transaction. Her grandson was placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families.

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