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Monday, September 24, 2007

Storm - victory forward to victory

The fans didn't wait to get inside Telstra Dome
Storm warm up

The sidelines at the warm-up

Leading the cheers before the game
She also cheers who only stands and waits

The Storm mascot

The words on the banners say it all
Andrew Johns had a pre-match wander.

Fans in Miss E's section of the Dome cheered.

Fans caught every opportunity for a Storm autograph
StormMan leads the run-on
The Storm run-on begins...
...heading for the banner...
...and throught it to match time.
Rejoicing Storm : Dejected Eel.

Picture: Sportal

It's over - Victory is sweet...

...and it is ours

It's now on to Sydney and the Sea Eagles

But for now, it is shared with The Storm fans...

...and each other

This was the last time Melbourne would see Matt King in action...

...before he goes to Warrington. He went in style with two magnificent tries.

33,427 people were at Telstra Dome. Some of them cross over to Southern Cross Station for the journey home.

Fans pack on to the Glen Waveryley train...

...and the Belgrave Line

...purple hair and all...

...all friends...

...and the bears...

...were there, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Banks: penal institutions?

Are banks into punishment as well as profit? There are fees, there are profits. And there is punishment. Just as Australian governments are addicted to cream-offs from poker machines with detrimental affects to budgets, so banks have become addicted to the cream-offs in fees, charges, and penalties and their substantial contribution to the banks' bottom-lines. Crime and punishment? The banks want to punish you, dear Consumer, for your sins of late payment. Is what they are charging a crime?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Freebies were already free

Further to the announcement yesterday of free railway tickets for early morning commuters, one has to wonder how Brumby and his Boys & Girls formulate policy. The decision appears to be characterised by a lack of consultation.

  1. No consultation with Connex management
  2. Word has it that something has been given away that wasn't there to give. The magic pre-7am timeslot on the tracks carries a lot of tradies and apprentices. Few pay. The apprentices can't afford to pay. And apparently at that hour of the day, Authorised Officers are not on duty to enforce tickets and their validation. So, for practical purposes, freebies were already the order of the day.

Poker Machines: Rabbitohs give the one armed bandits the flick

Congratulations to Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court! Poker machines are to go from the Rabbitoh's South Sydney Club. Don't like the chances of seeing that other Souths institution, Souths Juniors, doing away with theirs.

Miss Eagle hopes that Russ and Pete find their other plans paved with integrity and gold so that other people take notice - particularly the State politicians.

Australia has wall to wall Labor governments in the states with the likelihood of making it floor to ceiling as well should Rudd win government. It is sickening to see how these supposed pillars of the working class rip off working class and welfare recipient citizens and take their cut as well. The Australian Labor Party clearly has made taking the poor an art form.

Goverance 2008?

Miss Eagle has a long and strong interest in governance and so she can't resist publishing this from Crikey.

An anonymous tipster to Crikey has served up the following account of what a Rudd Government might have in store early in its first term: a royal commission into Australian intergovernmental relations. Maybe, maybe not. But whichever, remember where you read it first.

Expect a big announcement from Kevin Rudd in the first week of the election campaign about fixing the "blame game" between the commonwealth and the states. Rudd is set to announce a "Commission of Inquiry into Australian Governance" with full royal commission powers, with the states and territories agreeing to refer powers necessary to give it terms of reference that will be wide enough to inquire into any relevant aspect of state or federal governance.

The Commission's terms of reference will include recommending any necessary changes to the constitution to update the respective roles of the Commonwealth and states. The political appeal of this proposal (and one aspect that has caused some concern amongst more cautious Labor types) is that the Commission's terms of reference will be broad enough to enable it to look into records of the Howard government which would otherwise be off-limits.

When Rudd was Chief of Staff to Wayne Goss they were given the huge political free-kick of the Fitzgerald Report, which documented the failings of the previous National Party government in embarrassing detail. Rudd and Goss were able to use the Fitzgerald Report as a political stick to beat the opposition with for years to come. Rudd is keen to have something something similar in his first few years that will document the scandals and failures of the Howard government, which can then be used a political weapon for the 2010 election and beyond.

The likely timetable is for the Commission to be set up in early 2008, conduct its inquiries for 12-18 months and then report in early 2010, with its recommendations to then be put to a referendum to coincide with the 2010 election.

Rudd has earmarked Professor George Williams of UNSW for the job of Chairman of the Commission, with a promise that Williams will be rewarded with a spot on the High Court in 2012, when Justice William Gummow retires, but only if the referendum is successful. If it does succeed, Williams is likely to be regarded as Australia's foremost expert on federal-state relations, and will be able ride into the High Court as "the man who saved the federation

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Family Friendly Freebies?

Really thoughtful of John Brumby. The Victorian Government has launched free rail tickets - as yet, only on the Sydenham and Frankston lines from late October - PROVIDED you get to your destination by 7am.
Have the blokes really thought about this one? How long since John Brumby did a regular commute - and from the outer suburbs - by rail? Or, for that matter, Lynne Kosky, the Minister for Public Transport.

You will note, dear Reader, that these are only two hour tickets. There is no indication of how they mesh with other rail tickets, no suggestion of what you might do if you have a long-term ticket. But, over and above all that, Miss Eagle wonders how many women will benefit from this free two hour ticket.

Now Miss Eagle is aware that people, women included, work all sorts of hours in this day and age. However, as a generality, women dominate service sector industries. In the service sector, a significant number of jobs, if not the majority, have later starts than requiring your train to arrive by 7am. Then there is the childcare/school situation. How does accessing a free ticket for travel to be concluded by 7am mesh with family responsibilities out in the real working-class world? As far as Miss E can see, this freebie ticket certainly is NOT family friendly.
Readers might like to tell me differently.

Usury: the greed that dares not speak its name

Last night, Paul Barry on Four Corners did a program on the Mortgage Meltdown in the USA. Scary, dreadful stuff in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Miss Eagle was very struck by the comment by a black female interlocutor who pointed out that urban decay had been evident in black communities for a very long time but now there is some attention being received because, with the collapse of sub-prime mortgages, urban and sub-urban collapse now invades white communities.

To date, Australia has seen only small tidal effects from the tsunami swamping the USA. However, the Land of Oz has problems of its own with low-doc and no-doc home loans. Home loan defaults are on the rise.

A few years ago, Australia had a Productivity Commission inquiry into gambling. This probably came about because of representations by Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, to his brother, Peter Costello, Australia's Treasurer.

Miss Eagle asks if we could see a Productivity Commission Inquiry into usury and its impediment in the market place and its role in the dysfunctionality of human relationships, individual lives, and dysfunctional communities. Such an inquiry should take into account:
  1. The level of interest rates on housing, credit, credit cards, and all forms of lending of money.
  2. Fees charged in relation to accounts held in and by financial institutions and in relation to the lending of money.
  3. Pay day lending
  4. Predatory Lending
  5. Pricing in all financial institutions
  6. The true cost of Private/Public Partnerships in the provision of public infrastructure
  7. Commissions, fees, and other forms of remuneration in and by financial institutions
  8. Trading in and financing of debt
  9. The social implications and adversities related to money and credit lending
  10. Innovative financial practices of social utility and benefit

Usury is an ancient human and communal problem. The Abrahamic religions - namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - have always found usury problematic. Perhaps, Islam has held out longest against usury and has institutionally made provision in response to Qur'anic prohibitions. However, life moves on and people, times, and situations change. Now, in Australia, we are seeing changes within the Islamic community. See here and here.

Of course, it takes a great naivete to imagine that the upper echelons of oil-rich Islamic societies have had nothing to do with usury in some form or another. Instance the connection of the House of Saud with the Carlyle Group. The Papacy no longer rails against usury and has its own bank. And did Frank Lowy look to Old Testament injunctions against usury on his way to taking the Westfield Group to its premier position as the world's largest retail property group by equity market capitalization?

So our ancient wisdom stories have warned against usury, warned against the actions of the rich against the poor. 21st century people, communities, and nation states have not become any smarter, any more moral than their 8th century BCE, 30CE, or 500CE counterparts.

We need to call usury for what it is. We need to name greed for what it is. We need to put people before money, and the community ahead of the corporation. If the predatory lending tsunami continues as the forecasts tell us it will, it can be as devastating as - and possibly more devastating than - World War II. The social fall-out over time will be horrific. As individuals were are not prepared for this. As communities we are not prepared for this. And the world is certainly not prepared for a diminution in the power and strength of the USA and its economy.

Spotlight goes collective

We, members of Union Solidarity, knew Spotlight was being unfair and we went public to say so. Now the Workplace Authority has agreed with what we knew all along to be true. Spotlight has decided that John Howard's workplace laws are too complex and life would be easier if it negotiated a collective agreement with the Shop, Distributive, and Allied Employees Association. Miss Eagle chopped up her discount card in anger and protest last year and hasn't darkened the door of Spotlight in all that time. Will have to see what has changed in the last fourteen months!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Boo-ing loud, boo-ing long, boo-ing from the heart

Here's a not-news item. When The Eels run on to the turf at Telstra Dome next Sunday there won't be any welcoming applause - not even of the polite sort. The boos will be loud and long and the motivation deep and heartfelt. To know why, read to-day's missive from Jeff Wall in Crikey.

Talk of next Sunday’s NRL preliminary final at Telstra Dome in Melbourne between the Storm and the Parramatta Eels may have to take a back seat this week thanks to the obsession the Eels CEO has with driving the Storm out of the NRL.

Despite the on-field success the Storm have enjoyed since entering the NRL in 1998 – premiers in 1999, runners up in 2006, top eight placing in eight of the ten seasons they have competed in, and minor premiers last year and this year – the Eels CEO, Denis Fitzgerald, wants the Storm ejected from the NRL premiership.
The Eels had hardly begun celebrating their comprehensive win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night when their CEO, who at times makes good sense and other times makes complete nonsense, opened fire on their next opponents.

The off-field anti-Melbourne salvos will probably have two outcomes – the crowd at Telstra Dome will be even better than the Storm hopes (around 40,000), and the odds on premiership favourites will be even more fired up by the attack on their very legitimacy.

Fitzgerald is the longest serving CEO in the NRL. He has been at the Eels helm since 1978. He was one of the staunchest opponents of Super League and that partly accounts for his opposition to the News Limited owned Melbourne Storm.

A few years ago he compared promoting rugby league in Melbourne to promoting beach volleyball in Iceland. Yesterday he said the majority of the Storm supporters came from New Zealand or the northern states.
The Storm have been playing below their best in recent weeks – but still winning – and if they need some firing up Fitzgerald seems to have obliged.

The other preliminary final will be between the Manly Sea Eagles and the North Queensland Cowboys at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night, after the Cowboys wiped out the New Zealand Warriors by 49-12 in Townsville yesterday.

The Cowboys captain, Jonathan Thurston, again laid claims to be the best player in the NRL, a claim that now enjoys wide support among the game's experts. The best, but maybe not the fairest. He has been charged this morning with a grade one dangerous throw and will miss Saturday night's preliminary final against the Manly Sea Eagles unless he can beat the charge before the Judiciary. The Cowboys will miss him: he's the one player capable of ending the Sea Eagles grand final ambitions. He will be represented by the "Perry Mason" of judiciary advocates, Geoff Bellew, SC -- who happens to be a former Manly Sea Eagles Chairman!"

The Sea Eagles coaching and administration teams won’t be interested this week in a media shoot out with the Cowboys. They know that if they can shut down Thurston, and fullback, Matt Bowen, a grand final appearance almost certainly awaits them.

Has John Howard been wedged?

John Howard has long been hailed as the master of wedge politics. In fact, it has become his stock in trade to thwart political opposition and drive forward political policies which a lot of Australians thought were not part of our national ethos anymore.

As the Liberal Party plunges in the polls with a Federal election only weeks away, and as the possibility of John Howard becoming the second Prime Minister in Australian history to lose his own seat, the question now needs to be asked:

Has John Howard been wedged?
Now geometry and higher forms of mathematics were never Miss Eagle's strong suits. Arithmetical calculations and mystical algebraic contemplation are more her speed. But Miss Eagle does venture to ask the following:
  1. Does a wedge have boomerang-style capabilities? In other words, is it possible for it to come back and bite you in the b^m?
  2. Bearing in mind the flying wedge strategy - so useful in war and Rugby Union - what is the trajectory of a wedge in flight: short and steep? long with deep coverage? able to encompass ministers and backbenchers in its flightpath? is it a guided or unguided missile?

There seems little doubt that Kevin Rudd has developed an effective shield against the wedge. The first person in modern political history to effectively do so, or so it would seem. The poll that counts will tell.

Meanwhile, there are noises in the barnyard of chickens coming home to roost.

Thanks for not announcing your retirement, John.

Hang in there, John - even if it's by your fingernails.

Hang in there! Until the electors of Bennelong give you your marching orders.

Then your chickens will have come home to roost.

Photo by Janie Barrett in The Age

Will this wealthy man try to buy the next Liberal leadership as he bought his way into the seat of Wentworth?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Electrification - Storm and Eels next Sunday

Disregard this post. El Masri won't be playing in Melbourne this month. The Bulldogs were sent off with their tails between their legs under the electrifying power of The Eels. Now, because The Cowboys sent The Warriors packing, North Queensland will now meet Manly. Miss Eagle, as a North Queenslander in exile in Melbourne, would find it very satisfying to have a Melbourne versus North Queensland final. Just she won't be in Sydney to see it.

'round the traps

Is Andrew Landeryou over at The Other Cheek having withdrawal symptoms? It's either that or there's something wrong with Blogger.

In my FeedDemon, I have a post from OC dated Friday 8.53am with the heading LEGAL SAGA: Family First threaten to sue DLP. Now the OC feed only gives the shortened version of a post. When I tried to get the post up in full, it is nowhere to be found either on the whole blog or by its permalink. If you are more successful than I, dear Reader, please advise. In the meantime, I am left to think that there is someone out there who thinks OC has overstepped the mark and convinced AL that he should withdraw the post. Anyway, here are the first two sentences:
The OC understands that there is a spat emerging between Family First and the Democratic Labor Party which could end up in the courts. Our source told us this morning: Family First has sent a legal letter to The DLP threatening legal action against Vern Hughes because he states in a flyer that FF is associated with the Assemblies of God.

Miss Eagle, for one, dear Reader, is always amused when Family First goes into denial about denominational affiliation from the Assemblies of God. Coz Miss Eagle thinks FF protesteth too much.

Miss Eagle would think that Pentecostal churches are to Family First what Trade Unions are to the ALP and business organisations are to the Liberal Party and the National Farmers Federation and state farmers' organisations are to the National Party. Is Family First really trying to convince us that it is a secular party? Where's the ethics in that?

And as for ethics, let's cross to Father Bob who posts on The Chaser Treatment. Miss Eagle always pricks her ears when it comes to the topic of prophecy in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. After all, Miss E considers the Eighth Century Prophets of the Old Testament to be good friends of this blog. So Father B gives us a bit of early christian history and where everything went awry and where we are to-day and where The Chaser fits. Good stuff! More Please!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Magic in Melbourne?

It won't be known until after the Eels -v- the Bulldogs match in the qualifying finals at the week-end who the take-all-before-them Storm will face off against in the Preliminary Finals on Sunday 23 September at Telstra Dome in Melbourne.

But Miss Eagle has a special request. Could the Bulldogs please win?

You see, dear and gentle Reader, the Bulldogs have a special magical person Miss Eagle wants to see in person. You see, Miss Eagle wants to watch El Magic in person. She has only seen him play in this year's State of Origin series - which was Hazem El Masri's first appearance in a State of Origin - and he was indeed magic.

The story of the moment is how the Magic Boot will manage the finals period which, this year, is happening during Ramadan.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Storm, final-ly

Hopefully, this post marks a more consistent return to the blog. The last three weeks or so have been plagued with ill health in the form of a severe case of the flu - in spite of the annual injection back in April which usually keeps the nasty stuff away.

Yesterday was a boost because it marked the 1st Qualifying Finial for National Rugby League (NRL) Minor Premiers, the Melbourne Storm who played the Brisbane Broncos at home at Olympic Park in Melbourne. How prescient then is the Photo Friday choice of a topic, Purple.

If the Storm had lost yesterday, this would have been their last game in Melbourne this season. This meant that this could be the last time that we would get to see Matt King play in Melbourne before he leaves for England to play for the Warrington Wolves. If the Storm were to win yesterday, then they would be rewarded with a week off and then yet another home final in Melbourne the week after.

And the purple, blue and gold won yesterday in no uncertain terms - defeating the much-depleted Broncos 40-0. This was the grudge match after Melbourne, 2006 Minor Premiers, was defeated by Brisbane in the Grand Final. This was the opportunity to have a finals play-off between Melbourne and Brisbane and Melbourne made, as well as scored, its point. For Melbourne supporters, the atmosphere was pure grand final. Most of us won't get to Sydney. If things had gone awry, it would have been the Storm's last hurrah in Melbourne for this season. So Storm fans made the most of it.

First, there was the waiting. The 4pm start meant that the game took place on a beautiful Melbourne spring afternoon - with a light breeze, enough to tip footballs over before the boot could reach them and flutter the tall, welcoming flags.

Olympic Park, Richmond, looking north-east

Olympic Park, Richmond, looking north-west

The crowd waits in the Eastern Stand

Purple, purple everywhere

The scoreboard welcomes everyone

The fans are ready...

...banners unfurled

The Brisbane Broncos warm up...

...and so does the Melbourne Storm

Storm supporters are warmed up too

Then there's the waiting: cheerleaders wait, the banner handlers are at their ropes, the crowd waits...

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At last, the banner goes up,

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

followed by the Storm

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
and at last the game is on, the crowd urges the Storm on and excitement reigns...

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and for one person it was all too much and he streaked across the ground from south-east into the arms of policmen at the north-west end.

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Daily Telegraph photo by Phil Hillyard

The Storm won in grand fashion - actually, grand final fashion.

On Sunday 23 September they will play the winner of the forthcoming Eels-Bulldogs match at Telstra Dome here in Melbourne, Storming to the Grand Final in Sydney.