Tag Archives: PEDs

News That’s Fit To Punt – 29/Jul/2013

Won’t Take It From You

This business of the asylum seekers that arrive by boat being sent to PNG as a deterrent has quite a few critics. Judging from the Q&A panel that I watched the other night it seems nobody gets the point of the policy which is deter people from handing over their hard earned cash and life savings to people smugglers who will put them on leaky boats to Christmas Island. Now, there are all kinds of critics out to brand this policy xenophobic to not tough enough, but you would be surprised at the people who want to piss into this pot.

A more irritating critique came out of Fiji today.

Mr Kubuabola said Fiji was ”decidedly less-than happy” with the PNG deal, saying Australian politics was affecting Fijian affairs and demanded that Australia consult with the region.

”It is our business. Before this goes any further, we want thorough regional consultation … We demand to have our voices heard.”

Mr Kubuabola said that Australia had used its ”economic muscle” to persuade PNG to accept the deal that would see asylum seekers who arrive by boat sent to the country for processing and successful applicants resettled there. The Rudd government has also flagged that the model could be applied to other countries in the region.

”This was done to solve a domestic political problem and for short-term political gain without proper consideration of the long-term consequences,” Mr Kubuabola said.

”This deal and those mooted with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu clearly threatens our interests by altering the fundamental social fabric of any … country that accepts a deal with Australia.”

Now, this s a bit rich coming from Fiji. Fiji has been having coup d’etats every decade since the 1980s because every time they hold elections, the naturalised Indian population’s vote outnumbers the indigenous Melanesian/Fijian vote. The point being, the Military-led Fijian governments are quite the xenophobic racists themselves because the sole point of these coups has been to oust democratically elected governments.

Let’s also not forget that Fiji, like most nations on this planet is decidedly not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees, meaning they are currently not likely to take anybody seeking asylum.

So now, they’re turning around and saying to Australia, they don’t want Australia to send Asylum seekers to PNG because it is going to disturb a kind pan-Melanesian polity by introducing non-Melanesians. There is no other conclusion to draw but that the Fijian government is xenophobic and not really understanding the issue at all. They’d have a bit more credibility in their complaint if they actually were signatories and took asylum seekers.

I’m okay with just about anybody in the region criticising the ‘PNG solution’, but it’s really hard to take Fiji’s complaints seriously.

Will They Really Ban A-Rod For Life?

I haven’t written much about baseball and the Yankees and what have you for a while, but the ugly business of steroids keeps on coming back to haunt us all. now it is this Biogenesis thing which has squarely framed up A-Rod for a big suspension and possibly even a lifetime ban.

Bud Selig was at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown this week and was said still to be mulling what punishment to deliver Rodriguez. It is conceivable he could ask for permanent banishment, akin to Pete Rose. But the belief is no matter the level of evidence — and it has been portrayed that MLB has substantially more evidence on Rodriguez than it does on Braun — it would be hard to convince an arbitrator, if Rodriguez appeals, that Rodriguez’s first suspension should be for life.

Keep in mind, though, that Selig could ask for life knowing the arbitrator could lower the punishment to a shorter duration — or even find that Rodriguez should not be punished at all.

But as a way to levy a sanction that will not be reduced, there was growing belief around baseball that Selig would request the rest of this season and all of next year.

That could be viewed as just about the death penalty for Rodriguez, at least for his playing career. He turned 38 yesterday. He has yet to play this year. The idea that he would not play this season or next season and come back able to play in 2015 after two hip surgeries seems farfetched.

It’s a messy business. None of this is endearing baseball as a game to the IOC to let it back in, but that is a minor point. This A-Rod and PEDs business just keeps ripping the side out of the reputation of the game itself. All of these kinds of revelations and arguing suspensions in various sports across the last two decades have exhausted my tolerance and patience for the topic itself. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me that anybody was on PEDs. I don’t trust any of it on one side, and I’ve learned not to care that sometimes the champions are chemically enhanced. There’s nothing you can do to unscramble the egg.

 

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 05/Jun/2013

We Hate Them, We Really, Really Do

Peter Hartcher has this article about the state of political leadership in Australia. The gist of it is a list of how many ways the Labor Government has failed us, and also how little Tony Abbott has offered as an alternative. the punchline comes down to this bit:

The key difference is that the voters are more disillusioned with Gillard’s government than they are with Abbott’s opposition.

Both leaders’ approval ratings have gone backwards over three years, but Gillard’s has gone back further.

And Labor has been in a losing position for all 29 of the 29 Nielsen polls in the life of this Parliament.

“That has never happened before” in the 40-year history of the series, Stirton says.

Labor’s remaining hopes, which are vanishingly small, rest almost entirely on a plan for a final, frenzied assault on Abbott as sinister, unhinged and unreliable.

Meanwhile, the Liberals will remind us, at every opportunity, of the depths of Gillard’s deceit.It will be a long 100 days ahead.

Oof. There’s no saving grace there. The electorate isn’t listening to the ALP government because they’ve had enough of the hung parliament, and they’ve certainly had enough of the ALP in NSW to last a generation. For whatever it is worth, I just don’t see NSW going back to the ALP for a decade, if not 15years. The Eddie Obeid business has exposed the ALP and there’s simply no amount of campaigning that’s going to fix what has been uncovered. In NSW, the ALP is the party of excess, sleaze, corruption, and horrible woggy names like Tripodi, Arbib and Obeid. In the current mood of punishing refugees and foreigners, there’s really not much support for the party of the children of immigrants.

On that level, the ALP has really well and truly screwed the pooch. Thus, the ALP has entered the twilight zone of lame duck governments. As such, some members like Joel Fitzgibbon are indulging in a bit of gallows humour. It looks like they’ve given up on shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, they’re going to join the band as the boat goes down. The aftermath of all this is going to be interesting because ALP internal polling shows that in Queensland, Kevin Rudd might be the last man standing. The ALP is facing a landslide the magnitude of losing somewhere around 34 seats from their current 72. That’s a lot of politicians, suddenly able to pull down on their ample superannuation payments. You kind of wish they wouldn’t lose so badly if only to help the budget bottom line of the nation. Maybe after such a monumental defeat, the ALP will be able to do some reform they sorely needed to do after their 1996 defeat.

I can’t begin to tell you of my disgust that Tony Abbott is likely to be our next Prime Minster, but as they say – in a democracy, you get the leaders you deserve. Clearly what e deserve is a gigantic enema.

ASIC’s Tough Day At The Office

You gotta laugh when ASIC are finally called to task on the terrible job they did.

 

Senator Doug Cameron put the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on notice on more than a dozen questions relating to its conduct in the affair during a Senate Estimates hearing last night, including a demand for an estimate of the amount of money clients had lost because the regulator repeatedly ignored warnings from whistleblowers.

The questions were delivered rapid-fire after Senator Cameron accused ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell of failing to adequately respond to questions delivered earlier in the hearing by Nationals Senator John Williams.

“This is a very serious issue for ASIC, it’s a serious issue for the government and all the senators are concerned about it. So just don’t take me on a waltz around the merry-go-round. Take that on notice.”

The hearing follows a Fairfax Media investigation that found the CBA had concealed improprieties by financial planner Don Nguyen who once controlled about $300 million in retirement savings on behalf of at least 1300 clients. Mr Nguyen, who has been banned by ASIC for seven years, allegedly forged client signatures, created unauthorised investment accounts and overcharged on fees. Some clients lost more than half their life savings, forcing them to seek help from Centrelink as they battled with CBA for compensation.

Senator Cameron demanded to know why Mr Nguyen received only a seven year ban after “engaging in illegal activity”, which meant he could once again act as a financial planner in 2018.

“Give us the details and the arguments that you went through to deliver a seven year ban and why you didn’t seek a ban for life on this individual who was destroying the lives of ordinary Australian citizens,” he said.
Mr Kell defended the regulatory and oversight regime that was in place at the time of the alleged abuses from 2006 to 2009, although he acknowledged that standards at CBA’s financial planning arm were “considerably below what was required”.

They sure get little sympathy from me. ASIC just don’t enough of anything.  At about the same time that went to the wires and interwebs, sharing a headline with it was this article:

BusinessDay has contacted many of the borrowers to confirm this. The borrowers, many who are pensioners and small business people, cannot afford a lawyer. Of these complaints, many had Loan Application Forms (LAFs), which they claimed had been tampered with, attached.

“ASIC has close to 100 LAFs from members (of her action group Banking & Finance Consumers Support Association) who say they wrote letters to ASIC and lodged formal complaints and attached the offending LAFs,” said Ms Brailey.

“Others wrote letters (another 60 people or more) that were formal complaints that contained no LAF.  Every one of my members says they received an identical form letter from ASIC.”

As reported on Monday, the veteran consumer rights campaigner has made public 2500 private emails and bank documents to expose what she describes as ”Australia’s subprime crisis”.

Ms Brailey claims that lenders and mortgage brokers tampered with documents to provide more credit for borrowers with ”low-doc” loans.
She says she is making private documents public after years of trying to get corporate regulators to investigate the banks and other lenders over what she alleges is ”systemic fraud” in the ”low-doc” market.

Low-documentation loans are made to borrowers such as business owners who can’t prove a regular income, but the borrower signs a declaration as to estimated income. The loans usually carry a higher interest rate than other loans, as they are seen as more risky.

Of the borrowers who have asked for help from Ms Brailey’s action group, Banking & Finance Consumers Support Association, 1170 of them claim their loan application forms (LAFs) have been tampered with. In most cases, the income figure has been increased to justify more credit. “There is not one clean ‘LAF’ among them,” said Ms Brailey.

The banks and the corporate regulators reject Ms Brailey’s claims. They say fraud in the low-doc loan market is the fault of ”rogue” mortgage brokers.
In his repudiation this week of the Brailey claims, Mr Kell said ASIC had recently banned seven mortgage brokers for fraud or misconduct relating to loan applications.

Somehow I don’t think that would wash with Doug Cameron, do you?

Sport Nut News Day

Today’s gush of news that’s worth kicking around is dominated by sporting news. First cab off the rank is the news that Energy Australia have pulled out of their sponsorship program, a mere 12months into their contract.

It is another body blow to SA, which is trying to rebuild after Australia’s disappointing London Olympic performance tainted by the Stilnox controversy.

“This is a difficult time for Swimming Australia and we recognise there are no easy solutions,” SA CEO Mark Anderson said in a statement.
“This is obviously disappointing but we respect the decision.”
Before Energy Australia’s bombshell, SA were also coping with the Australian Sports Commission’s decision in April that it would cut swimming funding by $500,000 for 2013.

It marked the first time it had been cut since the 1980s.

“Financial support from sponsors is important to the success of Australian swimming, but ultimate success in the pool is built upon hard work and a strong and stable supporting organisation,” said Anderson, who is a month into his new job.

“During this rebuilding phase, Swimming Australia is committed to ensuring that swimming returns quickly to where it belongs at its rightful place as Australia’s No.1 Olympic sport.”
The SA board gathered in Sydney on Wednesday before confirming the sponsorship deal was dead in the water.

That’s some straight up ugly consequences from last year’s debacle at the London Olympics. The line the press is running with this is that Energy Australia have had enough of the scandals coming out of Swimming Australia. It’s sort of surprising it has taken this long in some ways, but there is certainly a whiff of inevitability about this sponsorship deal breakdown. It’s certainly hard to believe all this talk about changes in governance and culture after the CEO is forced to resign for making inappropriate comments. I sort of let the racism debate coming out of AFL last week slide, and the subsequent brouhaha with Eddie Maguire just slide with it, but it has to be said Australian sports administration is stuck in some kind of time warp.

The other interesting sports news is how the Parramatta Eels have announced mid-season that they’ll be moving 12 of their players out of the club.

After years of underperformance – including “winning” the wooden spoon last year – the club has decided to act. In a letter to Eels fans and members, chief executive Ken Edwards declared it was time for the playing group to be “accountable” for the woeful results.

“In Rugby League, we are judged on the field by our performance and ultimately results,” Edwards wrote.

“In recent times the Parramatta Eels have not fared well in either category. Our Members, Fans and Sponsors deserve and demand more than what we have achieved and today the Eels declare that enough is enough.

That’s a big call. What’s interesting about this is how they’re making the call midway through the season; as well as announcing to the rest of the world they’re giving up on the current club as they blow it all up and attempt a rebuild. Not only are they punting these players, they’re punting the season away. Certainly, if you know you’re not going to be counting on these 12 players, what possible purpose could there be in running them out each week. If this is a rebuild, you would expect they’d be immediately benched and you would start playing the younger, upcoming players. It seems brave to decide the rebuild starts now, but also incredibly foolhardy to announce it to the rest of the world. This is a really weird move.

Meanwhile over in America, there’ s news that twenty players may be suspended for 100games. The headliners on the list of players is of course A-Rod, Ryan Braun, and Melky Cabrera. The sound you’re hearing is a million fantasy baseball players clicking their mice, dropping A-Rod from their squads. The timing of the news is interesting because only two days ago, Hal Steinbrenner did a doorstop where he said the Yankees were disappointed at times with A-Rod. Why would he be saying that right now? Was he tipped off that this stuff was going down? If it happens and then A-Rod is suspended for 100games, would this void his contract? As the boys at BTF used to say a long while ago, “Is that even legal?”

 

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Cultural Differences

No Leaks

It’s been a weird week in Australian sport, what with the big press conference saying ‘This is The Blackest Day in Australian Sport’.

AUSTRALIA’S top sporting codes have been rocked by revelations that organised crime is behind the increasing use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by ”multiple athletes” across sporting codes and possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets.

The heads of all the main professional and participation sports expressed shock after being briefed on a 12-month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission that found professional sport in Australia was ”highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration”

The article goes on to say that all of our codes of sport probably have had doping going on. Lance Armstrong’s name came up and some anonymous football player in some code even piped up during the week with an article saying what an edge it was to have the injection.
The declaration sent all these bodies scurrying for cover (how else do you explain the rush to declare “We’re clear!“); and swimmers saying they refused injection in fear it was contaminated with banned substances.

It’s interesting how the sport bodies have responded. the NRL has put together an ‘Integrity Commission‘, which suggests, they’re up to their eyeballs in the doping problem. The Minister for Sport says it’s ‘game over‘ for the cheats, but again you’d expect her to say it without any follow through – what else would we expect a Minister for Sport to say? “We give up?”

The strangest call of them all may be the call to name names mentioned in this one:

The Australian Crime Commission’s chief executive John Lawler hit back on Saturday at critics to clear up ”confusion” as to why he did not name names, given the explosive nature of the allegations.

Mr Lawler said classified strategic assessments had been sent to all police agencies around the country and Commonwealth agencies, which were now responsible for pursuing action.

”Very detailed information, the names of the clubs, the names of all the persons, the details of how, when and why and where, based on the intelligence, the persons suspected, has been provided to the anti-doping agency ASADA and to the police. Particularly the NSW and Victorian police,” he told Fairfax Media.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare echoed Mr Lawler’s comments as a number of sporting identities and commentators questioned the investigation and motives behind the report’s release along with its veracity.

Given the nature of the witch hunt that is about to ensue it seems entirely understandable that some people want the messenger shot. But really, with Australia’s insane libel laws, it would a brave ACC CEO who would start naming names. The way this normally goes is through leaks, starting at the biggest names in the various sports.

If this were America, somebody somewhere in the chain of information would leak to the press. After all, tat is how we found out about Barry Bonds and the clear and the cream; Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte using HGH; A-Rod being on some PEDs in his peak years in Texas; and ultimately Lance Armstrong as well. The cross-hairs a re firmly on performance-enhanced athletes now and the witch hunt is in full swing over there.

That such leaks have not happened seems to indicate that the ACC investigation was pretty subtle and went very deep. There also seems to be a cultural difference here as opposed America that the press are not willing to tarnish the names of the stars just yet. It maybe the case that the culture is about to change and professional sport will never again have the cozy relationship with the media as it does now.

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Lance On Oprah

The Confessional Interview

By now, everybody knows Lance Armstrong ‘fessed up to his ‘roiding ways. All bets are on for a flurry of court cases from people chasing their money and dignity. Still, you sort of wonder how the sport stayed so blind for so long.

As I pointed out before, even if they take away his bronze medal from Sydney 2000 and strip him of his 7 Tour de France titles, you’re left with the accomplishment itself; and God only knows who else was doing what for their placings in all those races. There’s simply no undoing this mess.

Although in the bright light of retrospection given his confession, it seems mightily obvious that something was very awry with the sport of cycling if somebody won the Tour 7 times. A cycling athlete once told me that cyclists could be broken into two rough groups: Short guys with lots of torque leading the way through the mountainous terrain and tall guys pumping their way ahead on the flat plains. There really isn’t a cyclist who is at once both tall and short, so it is hard for a cyclist to be dominant over the field – unlike say the way Pete Sampras or Roger Federer towered over their field. The athlete said that it was highly unlikely the same competitor won 2 Tours, let alone twice in a row.

And here we had an individual winning it a record seven times. Even if they strip him of his wins, nobody is ever going to win as many as seven tours without some kind of help. It’s just that kind of sport and that kind of race. So they can strip Armstrong of these honours, but over time I think the seven abandoned results are going to mean something totally different, for, unlike Ben Johnson’s tainted 100m sprint record from Seoul 1988, nobody ‘doing it fair’ is going to go past 7 wins let alone come close.

And there it would sit, in everybody’s consciousness that one time, a man with the help of medical science was able to accomplish the impossible. We may berate him for being a cheat today, but we may well come to a different understanding at some point in the future.

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In The Shadow Of PEDs

Lancing the Boil? I Don’t Think So

This whole Lance Armstrong situation with his alleged PED use is getting much attention and I was going to write something about it yesterday when the USADA released the dirt it had on Lance Armstrong. The fallout from that report has been far reaching, and once again cycling is embroiled in a scandal about performance enhancing drugs. What’s even more dramatic is how Lance Armstrong has had his seven Tour de France wins taken away from him in the record books, although you wonder if the guys who came second in those races automaitcally get declared winners; and whether they’re going to get their big recognition in a group presentation event. I doubt they’ll do that.

As with all these things, it’s all circumstantial evidence, but a good mountain-load of it; meanwhile Lance Armstrong has quit the sport and won’t address the issue at all. We can only conclude from this that he probably did PEDs, and now he’s going to play the plausible deniability strategy right down to the line of utter, abject, total, improbability. You can only wish him luck in trying to persuade the world. Cycling is consequently in another one of its terrible turmoils, but in some ways this is no different to Major League Baseball. You could argue that at least the cheats are getting caught, even if it’s too late.

I might have blogged this a long while ago, maybe in one of the earlier incarnations of this blog, but I’m basically a great sceptic when it comes to sports and the record book. I have no choice, given the times I have lived in.

It started with Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and since then there have been a great deal many names who have been outed and hounded. Yet, Ben Johnson’s record stood unofficially for many years until quite recently when Usain Bolt started running amazing times. Carl Lewis ended up with the gold medal from Seoul in that event as Ben Johnson was disqualified, but years later, Carl Lewis himself was linked to to PEDs. More recently, Car Lewis has cast aspersions on the Jamaican sprint team suggesting they were doping in an elaborate manner.  If you said that Carl Lewis’ suspicions were credible, it would mean that Ben Johnson’s time in Seoul can only be beaten with more PEDs. And that’s just one example of how vexing the record book has become.

After Ben Johnson in 1988, I came to the conclusion that the PED problem was a problem of technological advancement, and that as new drugs were developed, there would have to be ever mew ways of testing for them. Whatever the case, no record book was going to be safe. I imagined a world where some sports would simply smash record after record with PEDs, while others stayed relatively inert, and with little excitement surrounding them.

Of course, the way this played out in the 1990s was that Major League Baseball’s players embraced PEDs, giving rise to amazing historic seasons by the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, all on the backs of PEDs. After a long dearth, suddenly these hitters were producing seasons that matched or broke the feats of Babe Ruth’s greatest season. It was unthinkable if you exercised a rational statistical analysis, but suddenly McGwire and Bonds were not only smashing past Ruth’s single season mark of 60 homeruns in 154 games AND Roger Maris’ mark of 61 homeruns in 164games, they were posting 70+ homeruns.

Then, in the 2000s, they were all found out. Some said the record books were tainted, others argued that the record books were already tainted by ‘Greenies’ (amphetamines) in the 1950s and 1960s. It was worth asking, even if only rhetorically, what the hell did all of this mean? Consider for the moment that 3 out of the 4 members of the 40HR-40SB in a single season club Barry Bonds Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez were linked to steroids in their careers. The fourth member is Alfonso Soriano, and who knows if he was on PEDs that year that he accomplished the feat? It may come out yet.

And in some ways, this is the exact crux of the biscuit that Ben Johnson sits on in Seoul 1988, and Lance Armstrong with his 7 Tour de France wins, and the 70 McGwire homeruns and the 73 Bonds homeruns, and whoever else that won on the back of PEDs and got found out. The feats themselves cannot be undone. As per the joke, you cannot unfuck the goat. We may never know about Usain Bolt, but if we ever find out that he used PEDs, then it’s him on the same crux of the biscuit as Ben Johnson.So now, Usain Bolt is in PED purgatory with Alfonso Soriano and other record-setting athletes. Is it even fair that they get suspected?

What can these accomplishments possibly mean? If Lance Armstrong didn’t really win those 7 Tour de Frances because he was on PEDs, then what can it possibly mean to win the Tour de France?

It’s a mess – And we’re doomed to go through this again, some way down the track. Somebody is going to invent something that will enhance performances, and it will slip through the testing net; and as long as it’s there slipping through, we’ll never be sure that hat we’re seeing is what we think we are seeing in sport. The old adage used to be that only the sport scores were the unvarnished truth and facts reported in the newspaper. We find ourselves that even that is no longer true. It’s a fine mess.

So back to this Lance Armstrong thing. I can’t offer up anything for fans of cycling as to how to digest this fact. Armstrong was on PEDs, and he did it so well and systematically, he never got caught red handed. By doing so, he won an un-Godly 7 Tour de France titles – and that is likely so off the charts that you will never witness that again if you lived to 100 in the absence of PEDs. It’s so off the charts that even a non-cycling fan like me knew about it. It’s going to take a long time to digest and understand what exactly all that means in the sport of cycling. I sure as hell don’t know what to make of all these steroid tainted records I witnessed in the making. If there is one bit of advice I have, it is this: no amount of moralising is going to make this reality better. That much is most certainly sure.

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News That’s Fit To Punt 23/04/2010

In Brief…

Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt tested positive for anabolic steroids found in his over the counter penis enlargement product.

Merritt, who is also the world champion at 400 metres, said in a statement via his lawyer that he was “deeply sorry” at failing three doping controls for the banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone.

The 23-year-old American, who faces a two-year ban, said: “To know that I’ve tested positive as a result of a product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around.

Very unfortunate turn of phrase there…

ETS Fight Is Back On

So says K-Rudd.

KEVIN RUDD says the great moral challenge posed by climate change is undiminished and he will keep trying to implement an emissions trading scheme if Labor is re-elected.

In an interview with the Herald, Mr Rudd rejected growing criticism that he had abandoned the climate change cause because it was no longer a vote winner after the Copenhagen conference and the defeat of his emissions trading scheme.

“It’s very clear cut that whether climate change is topical or not, whether it is popular or not, the reality of it does not disappear,” he said.

“This remains a fundamental economic, environmental and moral challenge. Whether it’s newsworthy or not in a particular season is beside the point. We haven’t changed our view of this.”

The Senate has twice blocked legislation for the emissions trading scheme. The legislation is again before the Parliament but the Senate has delayed debate until at least next month and there is next to no chance there will be a vote before the election expected in the spring.

Mr Rudd said that if he is re-elected, he will try again to have a scheme introduced but it would depend on the make-up of the Senate.

”We’ve got to ensure that we act on climate change and we do so always within the scope of our powers. We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the least cost to the economy.”

Well it’s good to hear he still has the appetite for putting a price on carbon. There I was thinking that maybe there were secret briefings that told him an Ice Age was coming anyway and made all global warming redundant or something, but clearly that’s not the case.

It’s nice to know it’s on the agenda-radar again.

The Health Deal We Had To Have

A cool article from Peter Hartcher here.

Once the NSW Premier had landed in Canberra on Sunday, Rudd zeroed in on her as his first target. He assessed Kristina Keneally as the most likely of the three recalcitrants to yield because the NSW Government was in the weakest political position of the three, facing an election it’s likely to lose, and was the one most in need of a deal to deliver more hospital funds.

Under the offer already on the table, NSW stood to gain an extra $964 million in upfront Commonwealth health money over four years.

Before going to the dinner that Rudd was to host for all the premiers and their treasurers that night, the Prime Minister sweetened the offer to NSW by hundreds of millions of dollars and asked Keneally to commit immediately.

Keneally was not as desperate as Rudd had hoped, however. She refused to commit and said she needed time to think about it.

Just before all the premiers and treasurers were due to arrive at The Lodge for dinner, the treasurers’ invitation was cancelled. They were told that they would be dining separately at the Hyatt Hotel, with the federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, as their host. The state treasurers were unimpressed when they were led into a small, windowless dining room next to the hotel cafe. They were even less impressed when they tried to discuss key issues with Swan and he rebuffed them.

The state treasurers also asked Swan about the forthcoming Henry review of the tax system. ”No one will be worse off,” Swan told them, and otherwise wouldn’t tell them a thing, not even the date of its release. ”It’ll come when it comes,” he said.

To round out the experience the states again went at each other about the health deal, with John Lenders and NSW’s Eric Roozendaal defending their decision to reject the Rudd plan.

The state ministers concluded that Swan had been sent to ”mind” them so that Rudd could corral the premiers and try to win them over. It didn’t work.

That evening the state delegations heard unofficially that Rudd intended to hold them for a day longer than they had planned, into Tuesday.

The blow by blow of how these people staggered to the finish line is very interesting. Kristina Kenneally is still a stinking mess of a premier and really, this does not raise her from the low estimation in which I hold her; but all the same she did all right to bluff to K-Rudd that “we-was-not-so-desperate-yeah?”

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David Ortiz Was On PEDs In 2003

What Am I Supposed To Feel? Good?

Since the A-Rod thing in spring, we’ve seen Many Ramirez suspended for testing positive to PEDs, and now we find that he along with David Ortiz were two of the 103 names on the list of players who tested positive to random tests in 2003.

Remember how they were supposed to be confidential? A-Rod found out otherwise. Now the leaked names are Ramirez and Ortiz. What’s slightly (and I do mean ever so slightly) interesting about the revelation is that if one team seemed mostly spared by the steroid allegations of the Mitchell Report, it was the Red Sox. Of course, Yankee fans copped the brunt of the steroid circus as Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez all had to weather the allegations. Of the four, three have come out (for want of a better expression) and admitted the use, while Clemens remains defiant in his denial.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve made peace with the steroid era. However, in burying that era, it’s rankled that Red Sox fans have been on their little moral high horse for some time about the Yankees’ players who got busted. In this light, it’s nice to see that, no, the Red Sox were not magically exempt from the steroid era – indeed they were net beneficiaries as much as any other team, if not more. After all, uhh, count their rings this decade.

Unlike with A-Rod who had to have a terrible press conference this year, it doesn’t seem likely David Ortiz is going to have one. It seems unfair, but that is the difference between being the first and the second in having your name leaked from a confidential list.

Jose Canseco as per usual has said he’s not the least bit surprised.

Jose Canseco, whose 2005 book arguably started the cascade of revelations and an investigation into the performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, barely raised an eyebrow when he was told David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are reportedly on the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003.

“When you tell me something I didn’t already know, I’ll be surprised,’’ Canseco told ESPN. “And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used.”

When asked to name who that Hall of Fame player is, Canseco refused to divulge who he believes it is.

“It’s not about naming names,’’ he said. “I’ve never had anything against the players. It’s always been against Major League Baseball. I know who’s on that list, but like I said, it’s not about attacking the players. It’s about the machine that allowed this to happen. What I speak out of my mouth is the truth. It burns like fire. Just remember, I have never lied about this subject.”

…”If you were in the game in the last 20 years, there’s a 95 percent chance you were knowingly using something,’’ Canseco said. “I said 80 percent back then because that was the number of players that I knew were on. But that number was greater.’’

Great.

In any case, it’s been a day of reckoning for Red Sox fans. Watching them try to talk their way around it is a bit embarrassing in as much as there were Yankee fans who tried to do the same. They’ll eventually have to come to the same conclusion that we were all a party to it.

It doesn’t make me feel any better in the sense that the other 100 names are still hidden and until they actually release those names, then there’s going to be this on-going drip effect. And even if they did release it, it’s grossly unfair to the players in that the test results were confidential at a time when PEDs weren’t banned, and we’re clearly judging the past from a different standard that was applied back then.

Then, it’s also been unfair to A-Rod. But then we’re used to the media double-standard there. In any case, the Schadenfreude is nowhere near as good as hoped – I don’t hate Manny or Ortiz. I just like seeing Red Sox fans suffer, but all this is just not the same as making them sit out October.

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