Make a Difference

Day: April 16, 2009

Changed Rules Encourage Immigration Queue Jumpers

With sometimes tragic results.

A boat carrying illegal immigrants exploded this morning as it was being escorted to Christmas Island by Australian naval ship HMAS Albany. It is not clear yet whether the boat was deliberately set on fire by the illegal immigrants, who had reportedly doused the small wooden boat with petrol.

Three are dead, two are missing, and most of the others on the boat at the time are injured, including four Australian navy personnel.

I’m not going to call these people asylum seekers – they are (apparently) from Afghanistan which means they have travelled half way round the world and through at least half a dozen countries to get to Australia. They are illegal immigrants, people who had enough money to try to push their way ahead of other refugees.

People who jump the queue take resources from those who don’t, because immigration, customs, naval and medical staff have to be diverted to take care of them.

There has been a substantial jump in people-smuggling into Australia over the last six months. Malcolm Turnbull says this is because the Federal Labor Government has quite consciously and deliberately given the impression that it is kinder and more accommodating than the former Liberal (conservative) government.

The end result is a government that feels virtuous, but causes more suffering for those who jump the queue and are still turned back. And because of the need to divert resources to process the queue jumpers, more delays and therefore more suffering for people who are in equal if not greater need, but do the right thing and go through proper refugee channels.

Fir Tree Growing In Lung?

I doubt it. That was my first reaction anyway.

Much like this amusing summary from The Guardian, which asks why the tree looks green and healthy if it had never seen the sunlight. Good question.

Then I saw this video on the BBC website. It’s pretty gruesome in places. And sorry about the ads.

The surgeon looks convincing enough. I don’t think the Guardian’s scepticism about the reliability of non-English witnesses is fair. They really could have found a bit of fir tree in Artyom Sidorkin’s lung. But I think I am convinced by the Russian botanist, who says it is simply impossible for it to have grown there.

Impossible is a big word. But my last reaction is the same as my first. I doubt it.

Prostate Cancer Vaccine ‘Promising’

Increasing survival rates by over 20% after three years in men with advanced prostate cancer which is no longer responding to hormonal treatments is a good result. Not dramatic or miraculous, but good.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australian men. As many men die from prostate cancer as women from breast cancer – about one every three hours – but prostate cancer receives only ten percent as much research and publicity funding.

Consequently community understanding of prostate cancer screening and testing procedures and their importance is much lower than for breast or cervical cancer.

One of the hopes is that results from this early research into using the body’s own immune system to fight prostate cancer may be transferable to other forms of cancer, and at earlier stages.

Australia – More Aid For Rohingya

Good. The Rohingya are a minority Islamic people who live in the North of Burma, neighbouring Bangladesh. The Burmese military regime has treated them appallingly. $3.2 miliion in basic aid will help people to survive, and the more international aid and attention given to minority peoples in Burma, the more pressure there will be on the junta to change.

I just hope that Christian people groups in Burma, like the Karen, will not be forgotten. Their situation has been just as bad if not worse, over a long period of time.

You can help.

Mel Gibson’s Russian Beauty?

Oh please. I have no idea of the reasons for Mel and Robyn Gibson’s planned divorce. But I’m sure it has nothing to do with blonde russian pop stars.

There’s no reason why I, or anyone else, should know the reasons for their divorce. It’s their business, and that of their children.

The daily changing accusations about Mel, who is plainly not perfect (but neither am I) seem to me a bit like New Idea’s manky gossip inventions, which are designed to make money out of other peoples’ unhappiness, while encouraging readers and viewers to take pleasure in the failures of others.

It’s going to be a hard enough time for the Gibsons anyway. Why not just leave them alone?

Because there’s money to be made in not leaving them alone, obviously. And sadly.

This Is Sad

The body of 12 year old Brandi Allen was found by searchers yesterday afternoon. There was stil a chance, till then, that she had just gone off with a friend, or at least, that she was alive somewhere. She had been swept away by flood waters in Caboolture, North of Brisbane, on Monday.

My sister Stephanie was killed in a car accident at the same age, and that loss has stayed with me ever since.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Allen family.

That makes ten people killed in floods in Queensland in the last few months.

Financial Optimism Delusional

President Barack Obama can see “glimmers of hope” on the horizon, despite the country battling its deepest depression in decades, and his own claim that most presidents don’t have to deal with as much as him even in a whole lifetime.

Risk analysis and market expert Satyajit Das says such expressions of hope are not based on any change in productivity, markets or in available credit, and are therefore delusional.

“The banking system is now running, after all the losses and even after the recapitalisation, with a shortfall of between $1 and $2.5 trillion of capital. That translates into a reduction in the amount of credit available to the global system of somewhere between 20 to 30 per cent.”

That means 20 to 30 percent less money available to spend on projects, eg, construction, farming, mining, manufacture, which actually produce useful things, and employ people in useful actitives.

So don’t start celebrating yet.

Turkemenistan’s Palace of Happiness

The Republic of Turkmenistan is to build a $133 million wedding hall, to be called the Palace of Happiness, as part of $1 billion in stimulus spending, most of which will go to infrastructure and beautification projects around the capital, Ashgabat.

Another $1 billion is to be spent building an Olympic village, including a winter sports complex, despite the fact that the desert nation is not in line to host any forthcoming Olympics.

Well why not? It makes as much sense as most other stimulus plans I’ve seen.

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