Friday, May 25, 2012

Far too lenient

A court report on the ABC website:

A driver who caused a high-speed police chase that led to the death of Sydney toddler Skye Sassine has been jailed for at least 14 years...

...William Ngati crashed into the Sassine family car at Ingleburn, in Sydney's south-west, while he was being chased by police after committing a string of armed robberies...

...Ngati, who showed no remorse in court today, previously pleaded guilty to Skye's manslaughter as well as larceny and armed robbery offences...

...The Judge said that during the chase Ngati, who was unlicensed, reached speeds of up to 160km per hour in a 70kmph zone and crossed to the wrong side of the road more than once, causing other drivers to take evasive action....
...He said traffic was heavy, Ngati ran red lights, drove on median strips and was drug-affected and talking on a mobile phone...

...The judge said Ngati was "driving with a callous disregard for anyone who got in his way"...

...He was sentenced to a minimum of eight-and-a-half years for the toddler's death and will serve a total minimum sentence of 14 years, with a maximum of 19 years.

Ngati will be eligible for parole in 2024.

Career criminals like this demonstrate consistently that they have no place in society. They forfeit that right by their persistent contempt for and crimes against society.

To be eligible to come back to endanger the rest of us so soon is an outrage.

The ABC's full report is  here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Building standards

For people like us who spend time in Dubai - and own an apartment there - a report in Sydney Morning Herald will have raised a wry smile.

Since the incredible real estate development that began in Dubai in 2002 there have been endless sniggering remarks made there by western expats about the standard of building work.

There are always rumours that buildings are leaning or sinking, that they're full of defects.

Much of it has an unpleasant racist undertone. It's all down, they say, to the mickey-mouse contractors & builders and their largely sub-continental workers.

It's bullshit of course.

So to the Herald story:

...85 per cent of new apartments in NSW are plagued by defects...Seven out of 10 owners reported building defects in their properties, with water leaks and internal and external cracks the most common.
Newer apartments were the worst, with 85 per cent of owners surveyed in buildings constructed since 2000 reporting defects.

That's one hell of a lot worse than with the many hundreds of strata properties built in Dubai in the same period.

The Herald story in full is here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Continuing animal cruelty

Back in February I posted about  Australian abattoirs being guilty of animal cruelty, a revelation that was no surprise at all and which followed outrage at the way animals were treated in Indonesian abattoirs.

The abattoir involved in that exposure faced a penalty of up to $110,000 fine or two years jail. It's now been revealed they were fined a laughable $5,200.

Now a government review of practices in the industry has found all ten red meat abattoirs in the state are guilty of animal welfare breaches. All ten.

The NSW Food Authority has issued improvement notices and the government has announced that animal welfare officers will be installed in all NSW abattoirs from the beginning of 2013. There will also be mandatory retraining for all slaughtering staff.

You have to wonder how it was allowed to happen. And you have to wonder if the ABC Lateline team hadn't exposed the Indonesian situation whether anyone would have bothered to check what our abattoirs were up to.

I have to agree with the Greens and Animals Australia, who say the new measures are not enough and that mandatory CCTV should be installed in all NSW abattoirs.

Animals Australia, the Greens and the RSPCA were also critical that ritual (religious) slaughter was not included in the reforms. Again I have to agree. These two thousand year old practices are completely out of place in the 21st Century.

Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Only one abattoir in NSW is authorised to slaughter cattle without prior stunning for kosher purposes. All halal slaughter is pre-stunned in NSW. But that abattoir - Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in Wilberforce - is the same one that was exposed for animal cruelty in February.

Animals must be stunned before slaughter - except in the name of religion?

Oh, by the way, two Australian live cattle exporters have been found guilty of breaking new animal welfare rules in Indonesia, less than a year after the regulations were put in place.

Live animal exports are something else that needs to be stopped.

The Sydney Morning Herald report is here

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Doncha just love it

James Ashby is the staffer who made accusations of fraud and sexual harassment against House Speaker Peter Slipper, creating a huge ongoing news story.

Ashby has now instructed his lawyer to to lodge a formal complaint of victimisation against Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Senator Barnaby Joyce, complaining that he has been subject to public attacks on his reputation, integrity and credibility.

Erm, isn't that exactly what he did to Slipper?

If you dish it out you should also be prepared to take it.

At last!

At last a charge that reflects the crime.

It's taken a while because it was back in January when a B-double truck careered across the dual-carriage Hume Highway and crushed a car, killing all three people in it. Charges of manslaughter have now been laid against the truck driver, Vincent Samuel George, who was allegedly under the influence of methadone at the time.

The three manslaughter charges are in addition to the three 'dangerous driving causing death' charges brought against him in February.

Not being legally trained I don't know how difficult it is to lay a charge of manslaughter in the case of a driving death, but I'd like to see it much more often. Speeding, jumping red lights, under the influence of alcohol or drugs...they're all deliberate and if they end in a death the charge should reflect that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stupid food

As I've said in a couple of earlier posts, we enjoyed some excellent food in Dubai last month.

One meal that stood out - for the wrong reasons - was at Rococo at the Sofitel on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.

First thing is that it claims to be an Italian restaurant, but you'll be disappointed if you go there expecting Italian food. 

The meal starts off well with excellent hot fresh-baked bread served with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

The problem comes with the main courses.  The quality and cooking of the meat couldn't be faulted but the presentation spoilt the whole meal.

Trendy presentation these days for so-called fine dining restaurants is 'deconstructed' food, not something I've ever agreed with even when it's done as it's supposed to be. But, like the  'fusion'  style, so many chefs simply don't understand it.

Here are the two main courses we had.

Mrs Seabee ordered roast duck (I forget what the menu said it came with) and mashed potatoes.

The mashed potatoes are those two arty swirls smeared either side of the meat. A tiny portion of course and being presented that way was cold by the time it reached the table.

My main course was crispy pork belly with various vegetables.

The potatoes are that circular blob at top left, the little cubes and the smeared swirl were mysterious, tasteless, and cold, vegetables.

 Preparing a good meal is fairly simple stuff.  It's the combination of tastes and textures. The ingredients need to work together. If it's hot food it needs to be served hot. It needs to look appetising on the plate.

Far too many chefs, in the rush to ride the latest trend, forget the basics of a good meal.

There are a couple of earlier examples of stupid food on my Life in Dubai blog, here  and  here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Another own goal

"Mr Abbott's got to get off Sydney's north shore and go and talk to some real families and get himself in the real world."

I'm sure the Prime Minister thought she'd come up with a smart, clever put down for the leader of the opposition when she said that.

Unbelievably stupid is actually what it was.

Stupid on more than one level too.

It predictably caused outrage, some the usual political faked outrage and some real, which has taken focus off the budget, off the government's achievements and back to the slanging match.

It says the PM doesn't believe residents of the north shore are real families who live in the real world.

It shrieks of class warfare.

It puts the government on the defensive again.

The response has ranged from anger to satire to ridicule. All deserved if you say something as stupid as that.

Plenty of letters to the papers, ABC Sydney radio had a long session on it, the media is full of it.

The so-called north shore is much more than a shoreline strip, it extends back many likometres, covers a huge area and is home to well over a million people.

It's no surprise that such a huge area has everything from mansions on big blocks to blocks of small units. People in well paid jobs to people on minimum wage, and people who are unemployed.

They're very real and they face the same realities as others.

The polls are saying that not many people will vote Labor in the next federal election. I bet there'll be even less from the north shore now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It doesn't get much better

We're only about six weeks away from winter but today was about as good a day as you could wish for.

Subnshine, a cloudless blue sky, 28C and a gentle sea breeze.

I had a walk earlier and it looked like this

Sydney almost had a record temperature and may set a new mark tomorrow, when 29C is forecast.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Back to food

As I said the other day, we enjoyed the Indian meals we had in Dubai last month, but even more so we enjoyed weekend lunchtimes at Al Hallab.

Because it's convenient we go to their branch at Mall of the Emirates, next to Ski Dubai. We've been regulars there for about six years and the food has been consistently excellent.

We like mezza/tapas/yum cha style meals, especially at lunchtime, a mixture of tastes and textures, so at Al Hallab we usually have this kind of thing:
That's grilled haloumi cheese, falafel, hommos.

They serve excellent sharwarma sandwiches which we sometimes order, other times we order this sharwarma meat plate.

I always order lemon & mint juice, here with shish tawook.

Hommos and tabouleh are must-haves too.  The bread from Al Hallab is made on the premises and always hot, straight from the oven. Complimentary of course.

A typical lunch would be hommos, tabouleh, shish tawook (or meat sharwarma plate), lemon mint juice, bottle of mineral water. The bill is about $20.