Saturday, 31 July 2010

The role of Gall Bladders in Australian Politics

My brother, knows a thing or two about Gall Bladder surgery, has just sent me a cryptic message: "Leaking gall bladders spread bile through the system and cause stomach cramps."

I was pondering this very point this afternoon, when I heard that Kevin Rudd had been taken off to hospital for urgent surgery - for removal of his Gall Bladder. The connection between Gall Bladders and bile is very direct, clear and not at all "symbolic". Or is it?

And I was reminded earlier in the day of the link between bile, gall stones and pancreatitis, the condition which famously ended the career of the former Labor Leader Mark Latham. It ended his career, but not the flow of bile.

It all makes one wonder about the health risks of being a Labor Party Politician.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Are you interested in what people think?

Today's edition of The Age has a story on the expansion of the city boundaries of Melbourne.

There are 309 comments, (before The Age Closed down the "Comments" function). That's huge.

And you should read the tone of what they good people of Melbourne are saying:

In a week when Melbourne has suffered a calamitous rail system failure, the good citizens are thoroughly pissed off.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What's happening to the world, when you cannot trust "Hackers" not to sell you out?

Hackers turning Leakers in to the Authorities.

What's the world coming to?

    • "Suspicion has fallen on to a 22-year-old army intelligence officer, Bradley Manning, who is in custody charged with passing to WikiLeaks a classified military video of a US helicopter gunning down civilians in Iraq in 2007.
    • "Adrian Lamo, the hacker who turned Private Manning in to the authorities in May, said on Good Morning America that he suspected the officer was the source of the Afghanistan documents. But he did not think Private Manning had the technical expertise to pull off such a large removal of documents by himself."


Friday, 23 July 2010

Gillard's pathetic stance on Climate Change

Crikey's Bernard Keane has said it all for me, this morning:

"It's hard to describe just how truly wretched Labor's new climate change policy is. It makes the CPRS, its dog of an emissions trading scheme, look like a model of best practice. It is a spectacular failure of leadership.

"Julia Gillard's "citizens' assembly" has effectively outsourced responsibility for climate policy to "ordinary Australians", on whose "skills, capacity, decency and plain common sense" Gillard will rely to tell her about the community consensus on climate change. In effect it institutionalises what is already apparent -- this is a Government controlled by focus group reactions.

"Labor has been playing politics with climate change for three years and it hasn't stopped. But whereas for most of that time it used climate change to damage the Coalition, now it is having to defend itself against the issue. It will only be with the political cover afforded by this nonsensical Assembly that the Government will take any action on a carbon price.

"Rarely has so much goodwill and political capital been wasted on such an important issue."

To read the article in full, please go to this site:

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Madness of automated replies

Wonderful news - Tony Abbott has "replied" to my emailed version of the previous posting.

This what "his" reply says:
Thank you for your email to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP

Thank you for your recent email to the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

As you may be aware, the Prime Minister has called a federal election.

Unfortunately, from Opposition, we do not have the resources to respond to your email in detail during the campaign period, but your concerns will be brought to Tony’s attention and that of the Coalition Team.

After three years of Labor Government failures, Australians now have a choice.

Broken promises, increased cost of living pressures, massive debt, a Budget deficit, waste and mismanagement and new taxes are all placing unnecessary pressures on Australians. Further, Labor have removed a Prime Minister quickly and ruthlessly, ignoring the wishes of Australian voters. But it is the same government with the same problems creating the same mess.

I hope you will get behind Tony in the weeks ahead as he seeks to stand up for Australia and take real action to end the waste, repay the debt, stop the taxes and ease the cost of living pressures on families.

If you would like to read more detailed policy information please go to

Clearly it is an automated reply, developed by a staffer, so that they do not have to actually read what people such as me - VOTERS - are trying to tell Tony Abbott.

Isn't it great that people actually get paid to produce this rubbish?

If Tony loses the Election, and I sincerely hope he does, he ought start out by sacking his staff who do not read his correspondence, do not "sense" that I am not really a supporter (how hard was that to detect?), and who are so stupid as to try to promote the Liberal Party website off the back of my Website?

People who perform so badly do their bosses a total disservice. They have managed to lower my opinion of him. I didn't think it was possible.

I do really hope (but do not believe) that Mr Abbott's Staff will follow their word, and that my "concerns will be brought to Tony’s attention and that of the Coalition Team".

Presumably they mean, after the election. I should imagine that the Liberal Party leadership team, and the rest of the Coalition Team will have a "think" about my idea that, ages ago, they had backed the wrong horse, and should have gone begging to Malcolm Turnbull.

Imagine the Liberal Party heavies using the hardest of all political sentences to speak: "WE WERE WRONG".

Monday, 19 July 2010

The real Election we ought have had.

The Liberal Party has lost its best chance of returning to Government.

If it had not rejected Malcolm Turnbull, when it did, what a head-to-head contest we might have had.
Gillard Versus Turnbull?
That would have been a genuine choice
Whatever one might think of Mr Turnbull, his credibility on Climate Change is far greater than Tony Abbott's or Julia Gillard's.

Strange to think that all of those of us who believe that "Climate Change" and in particular, carbon emissions, ought be serious issues in this election, have no serious candidate to consider in this Election.

If the Liberals were to abandon Tony Abbott immediately and select Malcolm Turnbull (yes I know it will not happen with a 5 week campaign already underway) but what an election choice we might have had.

Having been raised in Melbourne, under the shadow of Dr Mannix, and B A Santamaria, his right-hand man, I could not possibly vote to return to those dark days.
So, what is my genuine political option, this election?
To me, my choice appears to be between a
"Union Hack" and a clone of B.A. Santamaria.

Such appalling poverty of choice is a dreadful indictment of the state of Politics in Australia.

The Australian Body Politic is once again seriously ill.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them.

This story says much of what the people of the Hunter Valley in NSW have been saying for ages.
Coal mining towns have poor health records.
Although this fact is not mentioned in the attached report, some studies indicate that the kids in mining towns have lower IQs than their peers in non-mining towns.
As the coal mining industry is a major user of water (especially groundwater) and as the coal-fired electricity stations are huge users of water, this issue is perfectly well related to the water theme of the Australian Water Network. 
So too is the point made about the coal industry competing with the food supply industry. We need water to produce food, and there is direct competition between the two, now and into the future, which we simply cannot ignore.


The heat is on for change: coal


Article republished from The Australian  July 10, 2010 12:00AM

JAMES Hansen, the respected NASA scientist, said: "Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." The medical profession has failed to address this serious health message. An urgent transition from coal to renewable energy will provide important health and economic benefits.

Research in the US has shown coal pollutants affect all body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the US: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory disease.

Each step of the coal life cycle -- mining, transportation, washing, combustion and disposing of post-combustion wastes -- affects human health. In Australia, research is lacking but there is no reason to believe similar effects are not occurring in coal communities here. To deny it would be akin to holding smoking causes lung cancer in the US but doesn't in Australia.


The health burden of coal in Australia is estimated conservatively at $2.6 billion a year. There are also economic losses due to land pollution and degradation and the open mining of good agricultural land in the face of the projected world food crisis.


Morbidity and mortality are increasing in the developing world as the effects of climate change take hold of the environment. As the world's fourth largest producer of hard coal and the world's biggest exporter, from which we garner $20bn each year, our contribution to this pollution is far greater than our culpability as the world's greatest domestic per capita producer of greenhouse emissions.


Let us approach this as a medical problem. The climate change moral challenge referred to by former prime minister Kevin Rudd is even more compelling for the medical implications. For a wealthy country to fail to take necessary measures and to wait for others to do so can be seen as amoral. Communities in many mining regions are worried about pollution. They write to us expressing concern about their children's asthma.

There are a number of pollutants released from fossil fuel combustion. These include nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, and fine particles measuring 2.5 micrometres or less, which penetrate more deeply into lung tissue than larger particles and are considered particularly hazardous to health.

In the US, exposure to these particles has been shown to reduce life expectancy. Their monitoring in Australia, especially in the areas where pollution is generated, is patchy or non-existent.

Environmental injustice can be defined as the disproportionate exposure of socially vulnerable groups to pollution and its associated effects on health and the environment, as well as the unequal environmental protection provided through laws, regulations and their enforcement. However, incomes in some coal and electricity generation townships are higher than the national average and the injustice relates not to poverty but to health inequality caused by government inaction.


For state governments to disregard pleas for action by parents whose children are suffering from pollution is a denial of their fundamental obligations to public welfare. Many in the medical profession have expressed support for the federal government's intent to improve and reorganise medical services.


The government has extolled preventive health and taken action on smoking. Pollution is an area of abject failure that government can attack. It is one of injustice and neglect, with state governments and corporations reaping the economic benefits of coal production and export.

Where states have failed to deliver on improved standards and delivery, federal intervention is needed.


The Upper Hunter region in NSW has been identified as an area where residents, civil society and local government groups struggle with corporations and state government over the burden of ill-health caused by air pollution. There is ample evidence of inaction by state authorities. There is regulatory inertia and denial of public requested air monitoring, which has extended to mines where air pollution is of concern to local communities.

At one such site, an air quality panel is finally being established after many years.


Mines cannot be closed precipitously, for unemployment has personal and family health impacts. However, Doctors for the Environment Australia, in its energy policy (available at; click on Policy on main menu) opposes any new mines, particularly those ravaging good food-producing land.

For existing mines we recognise the inevitable in terms of our future national and international commitments, and urge planning for the rapid introduction of renewable energy industries into coal mining regions.

Renewable energy industries create more jobs than coalmining; they are generally safer and much healthier for workers and communities. They will offer sustainable economic development in an area where Australia already trails other developed nations. The federal government's proposed resource super-profits tax -- now recast and rebadged as the minerals resource rent tax -- will aid this transition.


We ask why, in a wealthy, developed country like Australia, which reaps billions of dollars from the export of coal, are we neglecting the health and wellbeing of entire mining communities? Where are the health impact studies?

This is environmental injustice, with inhabitants being disproportionately exposed to pollution and its associated effects on health and their environment.


David Shearman is emeritus professor of medicine, a practising physician and honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia.


Friday, 9 July 2010

Get Up's Ad is in appalling taste

You may have heard of the GetUp ad, or even seen it on the News last evening.
They are circulating it for "a Friday afternoon laugh".
Well, I for one am not laughing.

I have sent the following message to GetUp Media Manager:
  • I thoroughly disapprove of your "Spoof Election Video". I know it is going viral and is on the News, but that is a bad thing, not a good thing.
  • I jknow why you are trying to do this - to help get young people to enrol, so they can vote.
  • But this "Spoof Ad" legitimises gun violence, and worse, takes it out of the world of "fantasy" and introduces gun violence into the real world of the Australian Political Forum.
  • Please stop that Video immediately.
  • Denis Wilson
  • Robertson NSW 2577
Dear Readers, if you don't know of what I speak, you may look at it on their website.

If you object, as I do, kindly let them know.

GetUp, who "live by the sword" of the media, ought respond to media criticism.
Let's hope so.

What would GetUp say if in the forthcoming election, someone attempted to assassinate any Politician?
They ought all resign.
Already people are throwing eggs.
And GetUP thinks this Ad is "a Friday Laugh"?
I strongly disagree.