News: Child care in the air, would you do it?


Now babysitters are being matched with flying couples

This is either very cool or completely unnecessary. You be the judge. A United States company called Nanny in the Clouds connected flying parents with babysitters who are already booked into routes. So if someone needs a nanny from Dallas to New York, for example, the service will find out who’s flying and let the parents make the connection. But there’s a catch: the sitters aren’t really screened. They only have to provide a few references to be put on the list and parents will make further arrangements themselves, or just leave their kids in their care for the duration of the flight. They’ll work out a mutually agreed payment as well.


by Lauren Dubois

Labor’s new leading man

As you head down a perfectly ordinary Commonwealth Avenue and cross over a murky Lake Burley Griffin, you’ll think you’re headed for a building full of boffins. And then, BAM! You’re smacked in the face by the bright lights of: Capital Hill. (a.k.a. Hollywood for the not-so-fortunate-looking.)

This week, the headline act is Senator Robert John Carr (The Artist Formerly Known As NSW Premier Bob Carr).

He made his debut to the Canberra media pack, with a witty circus themed assault on Tony Abbott:

“I thought of this over breakfast: Tony Abbott is like a cheapskate hypnotist in a rundown circus,” he mused.

You can tell when a pollie’s getting ready to deliver the clanger they’ve been rehearsing in the mirror all morning. There’s a flash of excitement that crosses their face.

“He’s saying to the electorate, Look into my eyes, you are growing weaker: No more boats,” he continued, hamming it up.

“Look into my eyes you are growing weaker: end Labor’s big bad tax.”

… there’s a slight clench of the jaw as they keep that smile under wraps …

“He’s trying to hypnotise the electorate with these slogans. It’s a very cheap performance”, he enthused.

… there’s a lick of the lips … a glance to the heavens as they pull that gem from the vault …

“And if you paid five bucks to get into Wirths Circus and that’s all you got from the hypnotists, you’d ask for your money back.”

For his opening act at Capital Hill, Bob Carr nailed it.

It was the first time in a while that someone from the ALP looked confident, attacking the Opposition. He managed to land some blows on Tony Abbott without looking whiny and petulant. He got the attention he wanted.

They are all performers. And we’ve all got tickets to the show.

The House of Reps is the blockbuster. It’s entertaining … not always cerebral, but you get bang for your buck.

The Senate on the other hand is a little artsy. Occasionally you need subtitles – because they actually talk policy. There are a small number of Senate fans out there. I think.

But Julia Gillard has just cast Senate’s Leading Man. Bob Carr’s here to add some star power to a supporting cast that’s often overlooked.

You have everyone’s favourite finance nerd, Penny Wong – who really knows how to nail a witty comeback. Like the time Senator David Bushby meowed at her, and her retort had women everywhere yelling, “GO PENNY!”

“Oh yes, why don’t you meow when a women does that? That’s a good idea” she shot back within micro-seconds of the cat call.

“It is just extraordinary. The blokes are allowed to yell but if a woman stands her ground, you want to make that kind of comment. It’s not schoolyard politics, mate”

There’s Farmer Bill Heffernan. He honestly doesn’t care what anyone thinks or says about him. It makes him particularly unguarded with his thoughts. And there are many…. But nothing will ever top his critique of Julia Gillard’s leadership chances in 2007.

“Na. Na. Na. I mean anyone who chooses to remain deliberately barren … they’ve got no idea what life’s about. We’ve got a few on our side as well. I’ve said this before, the most difficult job in the world is parenthood. Rudd’s got three kids. He knows what a bucket of nappies is all about,” he said.

And of course, you have Barnaby Joyce, with his face glowing like a shiraz grape, when he’s on a roll. This classic is about the carbon tax (roughly):

“You believe they should have green jobs. We’ll just send them back to university, they can all do arts degrees … and they can pontificate about duck ponds, and about windmills, and they can open up wind chime factories at Nimbin …”


“We have found today that the reason that Greens are in such a bunrush is that they have to go up to Durban and meet up with Leonardo Di Caprio, Angelina Jolie, and Bono from U2, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Bob Carr has Barnaby’s theatrics, Bill Heffernan’s audacity, and Penny Wong’s wit.

Ready, set…. ACTION!


Best places for women to work

You might never have guessed it, but an energy company and two banks were star performers in the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace (EOWA) list of best workplaces for women. 125 organisations and companies made the list, which grades employers on efforts to increase workplace gender diversity.


There were 23 new organisations added this year, including oil and gas company ConocoPhillips, which said it uses internal advancement to increase the number of female employees in a male-dominated energy sector.

“My personal belief is that diverse perspectives are required for innovation which is critical for business success,” ConocoPhillips President Todd Creeger said.

More generally the list was dominated by universities, financial institutions and private health providers.

In order to qualify for inclusion on the list, organisations must be non-government run and must employ more than 100 people.

World’s greenhouse emissions largest they have ever been


That’s not entirely surprising given the world passed the 7 billion population mark late last year. But the focus is heavily on Australia. As Fairfax reported: The national climate report to be released today (and conducted by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology), said Australia’s current climate ”cannot be explained by natural variability alone” and that emissions resulting from human activity were playing an increasingly direct role in shaping temperatures.

Australian researchers were able to identify the ”fingerprint” of the carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere, by testing the isotopes in CO2 particles, and confirm that the increase came from fossil fuels burnt in power stations and cars.

The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 390 parts per million in 2011, the highest level in 800,000 years.

The average day and night-time temperatures in Australia are now about a degree higher than they were a century ago, the State of the Climate 2012 report said. Global sea levels were also, on average, 21cm higher than they were in 1880s when records began.

”Multiple lines of evidence show that global warming continues and that human activities are mainly responsible,” the report said.

Rebekah Brooks

Murdoch favourite and former News International executive Rebekah Brooks arrested

The former chief executive of News International – the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s global News Corporation – and former editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks has been arrested alongside her husband Charlie on suspicion to ‘pervert the course of justice’. The Brooks’ were arrested at their home, another four were arrested in other locations. The arrests come after a long investigation by London police into phone hacking conducted by some journalists at the now defunct News of the World.


The investigation asked whether the phone hacking was done only by individuals, or in the full knowledge of the company. Ms Brooks was the editor of News at the height of the instances of hacking. There have also been claims journalists at Murdoch’s other tabloid The Sun with the arrests of four journalists from that publication.

The investigation also widened to include allegations the media had been illegally obtaining, or buying, information from corrupt police officers.

Not related to Murdoch, Brooks was considered the ‘favourite child’ and was held on in her position after the scandal broke for longer than many suspect. She eventually resigned.

Brooks and her husband recently became parents after a surrogate delivered their daughter Scarlett in January.

– Mamamia’s cheat sheet on the early stages of the phone hacking scandal can be found here.

Homeopathy might soon be declared ‘baseless and unethical’

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is running out of patience with medical practitioners who prescribe homeopathy as a treatment and might soon declare it as baseless and unethical, according to a public statement seen by Fairfax. The staement, in part, said: “‘[it is] unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy (as a medicine or procedure) has been shown not to be efficacious.”

The draft statement by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council said that although homeopathy was not harmful in its own right, it might pose a risk to patients if safe and efficacious conventional treatments were delayed in favour of homeopathic treatments.

It said homeopathy, which uses a large range of animal, plant and mineral products, should not be confused with herbal remedies.

– Here’s some more info about the very public fight between those who love, and those who hate, alternative medicine.

Does Australia have a class system? Yup.

A new poll has revealed some 86 per cent of the Australian population reckon we live in a class-based society, 50 per cent of whom believe they are middle class. Just one per cent of respondents to the Essential Media poll said they were ‘upper class’ while 34 per cent said they were ‘working class’.


Interestingly, 58 per cent said $122,000 a year for an individual was wealthy while 66 per cent thought $200,000 a year for a family was wealthy. To be “well off” required an individual income of just $80,000, according to 63 per cent of those surveyed.

So, does that mean ‘means test’ cut-offs should be revised higher? Here’s the full poll results.

A leukaemia patient keeps up his spirits during treatment

Some good news: more children are surviving leukaemia than ever before

A study of 21,000 childhood leukaemia patients has found the five-year survival rate has risen to 90 per cent between 2000 and 2005, up from 84 per cent between 1990 and 1994. The study included patients in Australia.

The study, printed in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the largest ever published of patients treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which accounts for three-quarters of childhood cases of the blood cancer.

The lead author and a professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Stephen Hunger, said: ”This was a disease that was incurable in the early 1960s and now 85 to 90 per cent of children will be cured. That’s a pretty big advance in that time.”

About 210 children up to the age of 14 were diagnosed with leukaemia in Australia each year.

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