Yesterday, I dropped Paula at school soon after 7 am and, while I waited for Bethlehem’s Opening Mass and her installation/coronation/assumption, wandered down to Ashfield to grab a latte (large, skim, of course). Waiting to place my order, I was accosted by a lovely Australian gentleman, brandishing a copy of the Fishwrapper – Daily Telegraph to you right-wingers and Murdoch-toadies – who shoved my face in the screaming headline accusing the government of giving $10,000 to ‘boat people’ as soon as they had sneaked over the border.

“It’s just a fucking joke”, said this walking example of educational failure. For some reason, good manners and the hour prevented the obvious retort that he had just given the punch-line to his own existence, but the absolute outrage I feel at the lies pandered by Murdoch and the semi-literates that populate the pages of his papers, particularly at the expense of the vulnerable, is even more difficulty to express.

Perhaps a good reason for believing in purgatory is the beatific vision of watching climate-deniers, refugee-bashes, muslim-haters, school-slaggers and Rupert sweating it out just trying to make amends for the social and environmental damage they have caused. Let’s not even consider here brain-damage caused by the various forays of News into TV and popular entertainment.

Thank God for sane voices like Frank Brennan. As for Tony Abbott, it’s a good thing he does believe in purgatory – he has a lot to answer for and plenty of time to do it.

> This clipping is from the February 18 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe for $4.50 a week, visit http://smh.com.au/digitaledition. >
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> Supporters dismiss claim of red carpet for refugees
> SMH – Saturday, 18 Feb 2012 – Page 11
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> CHURCH leaders, health and charity groups have joined the federal government in condemning claims that conditions for asylum seekers living in flats and houses as part of community detention are ‘‘ luxurious’’ . >
> Media reports of the provision of lounges, plasma televisions , whitegoods and food prompted the Opposition Leader , Tony Abbott, to claim yesterday ‘‘ the red carpet is being rolled out’ ’ and the household items were a ‘‘ luxury’ ’ which acted as a ‘‘ welcome mat’ ’ encouraging people smugglers. >
> A former Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry, said community detention was much better for people in terms of avoiding the damage that long-term detention causes. >
> ‘‘ This has been a positive move and I am not sure why it is being painted this way,’’ he said. >
> Michael Raper of the Red Cross, which organises houses for unaccompanied teenagers, torture victims and families with young children, said the community program was begun by the Howard government and the same basic household items continued to be supplied. >
> Mr Raper said he did not know of any plasma television sets being issued: ‘‘ The one thing we get most complaints about is the 21-inch TVs.’’ >
> Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the reality was many televisions were second-hand , crockery was sourced from opportunity shops, and there were often no cupboards in bedrooms. >
> The Foundation House director and former Howard government detention adviser, Paris Aristotle, said 3285 people have moved through community detention since Labor expanded the program in 2011. >
> ‘‘ This program has saved the taxpayer money and also honoured Australia’s obligation to vulnerable children,’’ Mr Aristotle said. >
> Father Frank Brennan said putting asylum seeker families on the street without habitable accommodation when they are prohibited from working would ‘‘ create a criminal underclass’’ . ‘‘ In terms of cost and morality, you can’t call it a ‘red carpet’ ,’’ Father Brennan said. >
> The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the ‘‘ very basic essential items’ ’ are provided and are ‘‘ not a handout’ ’ because they stayed in each house for use by the next family of asylum seekers awaiting visa processing. >
> Mr Bowen attacked Mr Abbott’s comments as ‘‘ shrill’ ’ and ‘‘ inappropriate’ ’ for an opposition leader, and called for the Coalition to ‘‘ stop playing negative politics and work with the government to re-establish offshore processing and provide a real deterrent to dangerous boat journeys’’ . >
> Two boats carrying 134 asylum seekers were intercepted near Christmas Island overnight on Thursday, bringing the total to four boats this week. >
> Naji Nawavi, 18, says he lived in a convent with six other boys in Ballarat watching a ‘‘ normal’ ’ television, with no computer or internet access, while in community detention. >
> When the Afghan teenager received a refugee visa recently, he was issued a bed and moved into a shared rental house in Dandenong with four other refugees, furnished with a sofa they found abandoned in the backyard. >
> ‘‘ It is an old house and the Immigration Department didn’t give us anything,’’ he said. He has since found a job as a panel beater in Perth and is looking forward to supporting himself. >
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> Copyright © 2012 The Sydney Morning Herald