‘Super agency’ for social services as Coalition eyes merger – “Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has signalled the potential for “substantial” savings from a merger of the departments of Social Services and Human Services, warning bureaucrats that “change is inevitable” when he was asked whether the move would lead to redundancies. Under the proposal, the Department of Social Services, which is the lead social policy agency in the commonwealth, could absorb the service delivery functions of the nation’s biggest bureaucracy, the Department of Human Services, which handles Centrelink and pension payments.” - The Australian
Doubts over work by wife of ex-MP Alex Somlyay – “Taxpayers have allegedly been defrauded tens of thousands of dollars by a recently retired Liberal Party federal MP, who appears to have paid his wife for non-existent work in his electorate office. Documents obtained by Fairfax Media indicate that Alex Somlyay, a Liberal MP for 23 years who retired at the September election, billed taxpayers $69,157.15 for his wife’s employment during 2012-13 alone. Mr Somlyay’s wife was not seen at work during the past three years, a source close to the electorate office said. Nor was the source aware of any electorate work completed by the former MP’s wife in or out of the office in this period.” The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Plain packaging cigarettes prompted a spike in Quitline calls – Sydney Morning Herald
Some links to other things I’ve found interesting today
Pope Calls Abortion Evidence Of ‘The Throwaway Culture’ – “Pope Francis, criticized by some conservative Catholics as not speaking out forcefully against abortion, said Monday that the practice is ‘horrific’ and evidence of ‘the throwaway culture.’ In an annual speech known as the pontiff’s ‘State of the World’ address, Francis told diplomats and journalists gathered at the Holy See that it ‘is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day.’ Hunger, he said, is a threat to world peace, noting that food, like human life, is being discarded as unnecessary.”
Of Christie and political vendettas – “The art of the great American political vendetta was born in New Jersey, just a short drive – barring heavy traffic – south of the George Washington Bridge. There, in the town of Weehawken, on a majestic cliff overlooking the Hudson River, the vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr, shot and killed his longtime political nemesis, the former secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, in 1804. Burr blamed Hamilton for his loss in the New York gubernatorial election a few months earlier and decided it was time to extract revenge in the most direct way possible. Luckily, for members of today’s political class, political vendettas are decidedly less violent these days. But they seem no less passionate.”
Big Data + Big Pharma = Big Money – “Need another reminder of how much drugmakers spend to discover what doctors are prescribing? Look no further than new documents from the leading keeper of such data. IMS Health Holdings Inc. says it pulled in nearly $2 billion in the first nine months of 2013, much of it from sweeping up data from pharmacies and selling it to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The firm’s revenues in 2012 reached $2.4 billion, about 60 percent of it from selling such information.”
Looking for crossmodal correspondences between classical music and fine wine – “Taken together, the results of the two experiments reported here suggest that people (social drinkers) share a number of crossmodal associations when it comes to pairing wines and music. Furthermore, listening to the appropriate classical music can enhance the overall experience associated with drinking wine. As such, our findings provide prima facie evidence to support the claim that comparing a wine to a particular style of music (as documented in the work of a number of wine writers) might provide the social drinker with useful clues about the sensory properties that they should expect to perceive in a wine should they eventually get to taste it.”