Monday, February 26, 2007
The latest being the spread of Asian hornets in Europe.
He says "The hornets arrived in a shipment of ceramic pots from China so we could blame globalization -- but how passe is that? No, let's pin it on global warming instead!".
Follow the link above to read the rest.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!
One of my oldest friends (we've known each other since primary school), Peter Ciemitis, has had a painting of his shortlisted for this year's Archibald Prize.
For friends from other countries, this is Australia's premier prize for portrait painting, if somewhat overtaken by a little bit of controversy in recent years.
Despite a very successful career in urban planning, Peter's first love and true calling has been his art and it hasn't always been an easy road to combine work and family obligations with this. (Though having a wife who is also a talented artist helps.)
His picture is of Professor George Seddon, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Science (U of M) and a Senior Honorary Research Fellow (in English) at the University of Western Australia.
And I am just as pleased as punch about Peter getting the recognition that he so richly deserves.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The latest case for the prosecution?
The hysterical hyping of the non-story about the draw down - oh, sorry, I mean WITHDRAWAL!!!!!!!!!!!!! - of British troops from southern Iraq.
It is a strange thing to see what I think must actually be quite intelligent people in the media say dumb things that simply run counter to the facts, but which rather represent the media pack's tendency to group-think and the projecting their own views on how they want things to be onto events.
The first thing you'll notice about this "story" is how it is being presented as breathtakingly new and unexpected.
This allows those reporters suffering from Bush Derangement by Proxy Syndrome to present their "gotcha Howard' headlines and commentary, all the while gloating about how the "little rodent" has been caught out by events and put on the back foot (to use an appropriate cricketing analogy).
Er, except, the reality is something very different.
No matter how many times Channel Nine's ridiculous buffoon Laurie Oakes says otherwise.
This is not the first time Great Britain has drawn down its forces in Iraq.
The current force level of 7,100 is some 2,000 or more less than the peak of 9,000+.
There will still be over 5,000 troops in Iraq after the draw-down.
So it isn't a withdrawal at all. Anybody saying otherwise is either a fool or a liar.
And there is absolutely nothing new to this story.
The intention of the British to reduce their commitment in southern Iraq as the forces of the democratically elected Iraqi government stand up and take responsibility for their own security has been their stated policy for a long time.
I'd have to say that knowing this is one of the things that just makes me sit back and wonder to myself "what the hell is all this about?"
There is nothing new here, no surprises, just the implementation of a long standing and clearly stated policy.
So yet again we see the media pack manufacturing a sensational story where none exists.
Because they want anything that happens to be pressed into an anti-Bush/Blair/Howard narrative and they refuse to let inconvenient details get in the way.
This is in fact political opinion dressed up as news reporting.
Anyway, avoid these second-rate hacks and opinion hucksters. At least give Mr Blair a fair and open-minded hearing - you can read his full statement to the House of Commons here.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
How many times do you still run into some idiot who seeks to make excuses for Castro and his thuggish dictatorship by droning on about a Cuban health system they've never actually experienced first hand as first or world class?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
60 Minutes has never heard of bears getting stroppy with intruders. So when one polar bear - always such friendly, harmless, Disneyfied little cuties - gets cross with Tara Brown, we know what’s behind this craziness, don’t we?
Why, it’s our old evil genius, global warming.
As 60 Minutes puts it:
If you still have any lingering doubts about global warming, stick around. We’re off to the Arctic, where Tara Brown found all the proof she needed that there’s something drastically wrong with the world’s weather. It came in the shape of a very large, very hungry polar bear - an angry predator, with us as its prey. Stranded in the middle of nowhere with a three-metre, 300kg bear on the attack is a frightening experience. It’s also a graphic lesson in what happens when we mess with nature. As global temperatures rise, the ice cap melts and the polar bears’ hunting grounds disappear. Now they’re starving, desperate for food - so desperate even humans look appetising.
I haven't watched 60 Minutes as a matter of principle for many years. The worst and lowest kind of flashy but shallow and insubstantial tabloid "journalism".
Good grief, is this how dumb people have become?
Alaska’s polar bear population is stable, and Taylor’s research shows that the Canadian polar bear population has increased 25 percent from 12,000 to 15,000 during the past decade with 11 of Canada’s 13 polar bear populations stable or increasing in number. Where polar bear weight and numbers are declining, Taylor thinks too many bears competing for food, rather than arctic warming, is the cause.
"I listen to the Congressman from Georgia talk of the virtue of staying in Iraq. The commitment to freedom, blah-blah-blah".
The commitment to freedom is a "blah-blah-blah"? Has it really come to that? Has tyranny now become an accepted form of government no matter how much the people living under these dictatorships might suffer, or how they might effect our own futures? Apparently much of Hollywood thinks so.
Mr. Baldwin asks rhetorically....
"Is there a war on terrorism worth fighting? Perhaps".
Or perhaps not.
"Then let's call this the battle of Iraq, one of many battles to be fought".
We could also call it The Battle In The Middle East, The Battle Against Dictatorships, The Battle For Anglosphere Ideals, or a War On Terror. Everyone might come up with their own favourite, but we all know what we're talking about.
"Not a war in Iraq. One battle, which we may be losing, but one we will learn from in order to better our efforts".
"Better our efforts"? Where?
If the Coalition troops cannot defeat a leaderless Iraq, how can they possibly be effective anywhere? They find the need to regroup while fighting a rag tag group of nobodies? A few terrorists have apparently managed to overwhelm the United States and Britain, with an acceptable loss of life (to them), and many in the West are now prepared to turn tail.
We have the situation now where terrorists are effectively controlling the foreign policy of the western nations and many, because of local politics, appear to be OK with that.
"The war on terrorism is not lost, but may be if we stay the Cheney course. I said it here quite a while ago, and that is that it would be the ultimate tragedy if we got rope-a-doped in Iraq, only to be all punched out by the time Iran steps into the ring. If they ever do".
Does Mr. Baldwin honestly believe that the US can defeat Iran if they cannot defeat Iraq? Bowling over both these countries would be a cakewalk if the determination was there, but with everyone believing themselves an expert and wanting to run the show, we now have a war run by public opinion polls.
People living in the western democracies tend not to want war in any form. That's the strength, but also often the weakness, of every democracy. Sometimes wars are justified and necessary but without a clear purpose, repeated frequently, the public will turn against it, despite it being in their best long-term interests to see it through.
"Bush's sycophants say pulling out will send the wrong signal. Every day Bush is president and his policies go unchecked, we send the wrong signal. We tell the world we would rather make our point, a meaningless and destructive point, than be true world leaders".
Who knows what this means? Who is the intended recipient of US signals? The terrorists? Those who sympathize or support them? Allies or potential allies?Mr. Baldwin seems to believe that the US can be a world leader through the use of some clever conversation, but unless they have the will to back up their words the US will have all the clout of Lichtenstein.
Mr. Baldwin's post can be read here.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
February 18, 2007
Tribunal Rules against Global Warming Hysteria
The Queensland Conservation Council and Mackay Conservation Group objected to the expansion of a coal mine in central Queensland, in particular they claimed that there would be an adverse environmental impact unless conditions were imposed such that it was to, “… avoid, reduce or offset the emissions of greenhouse gases that are likely to result from the mining, transport and use of the coal from the mine.”
The objection was brought in the Queensland Land and Resources Tribunal with The Decision handed down last Thursday.
Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO was an expert witness and indicated the over the life of the mine it would contribute to the cumulative impacts of global warming to the extent that it would add the equivalent of 0.24 percent to current annual global emissions.
The President of the Tribunal, Mr Koppenol, suggested it more appropriate to compare annual global emissions with annual output of the mine and that the figure was thus 0.001098 percent and that Professor Lowe’s figure was 218 times too high.
The other expert witness for the environment groups Mr Jon Norling relied heavily on the finding of the British Government’s 2006 ‘Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change’ and also the assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The President of the Tribunal again found evidence of exaggeration noting in the judgment that Mr Norling converted Sir Nicholas Stern’s ‘if’ to ‘when’ with reference to sea level rise.
Interestingly, the President, took it upon himself to read up not only on the Stern Review but also the latest IPCC summary, and also avail himself of the recent published critique of ‘The Stern Review: A Dual Critique’ by Professor Robert Carter et al and Proessor Sir Ian Byatt et al.
President Koppenol noted in his decision that the Carter-Byatt critique of the Stern Review concluded that it was scientifically flawed and a vehicle of speculative alarmism and not a basis for informed or responsible policies.
In defending his decision to make reference to these documents, President Koppenol noted that the Tribunal is empowered by statute to inform itself of anything in the way it considers appropriate and that having become aware of these papers and regarding them as relevant, "it would have been in appropriate for me to have just ignored them".
The final recommendation in The Decision by President Koppenol was for the expansion of the Xstrata coal mine to go ahead without any of the conditions sought by the environmental groups.
How refreshing it is to read a document from someone in a position of authority and to see that all the evidence has been considered.
Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge
by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to "stop the surge." So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill -- an action Congress is clearly
empowered to take -- rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.
Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about
conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in
Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?
It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the
mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha's remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not "the real vote"? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.
The idea that governments can tweak and fiddle the knobs to produce "better" outcomes to the market still isn't dead, despite the wreckage and the ruin spread over time and place to you'd think would make anybody still up and pay attention.
But no, we still get empty slogans about economic rationalism, neoliberalism and market fundamentalism.
For me the question is quite simply really. What works and what produces better outcomes? And the answer to that is itself pretty simple and obvious.
Or should be.
Toby, a very smart lawyer from Sydney and a fellow "homocon" (he thought of the term - I wish I had), points to an article in The Economist about Ms Segolene Royal's program to further bind and hinder the French economy:
"Yet the 100 detailed policies that Ms Royal unveiled to steer France down this soft-focus path amounted, in the main, to a long wishlist of spending pledges, with little explanation as to how any of them would be paid for. Thus she promised to increase the minimum wage to €1,500 ($1,950) a month, to introduce interest-free loans worth €10,000 for every 18-year-old, to push up unemployment benefits to 90% of previous salary, to raise the lowest pensions by 5%, to renationalise and merge Electricité de France and Gaz de France, to penalise firms that pay dividends rather than reinvest profits, to boost public R&D spending by 10% a year, to cut class sizes in poor areas and much else."
But even with a conservative government here in Australia we just can't quite get away from the illusion that governments are good at picking winners and can interfer (ie distort) the market and not produce unintended results.
Last year there was considerable heart burn in Oz's wine producing regions because of a glut of wine grapes that had led to a collapse in prices being paid to growers and the inevitable calls for the government to bale the industry out.
Now, I'm sympathetic to these calls, but only on the basis that the mess was in part produced by the government distorting the market, by offering generous tax breaks to wealthy doctors and lawyers so they could indulge their hobby of making wine.
What was the totally predictable result?
Investors and accountants rushed in to secure the tax benefits and large new areas were planted with vines.
Nobody saw the over supply coming?
This kind of thing hasn't happened before? But the special interests got in and rorted the system, aided by the junior partner in the governing coalition (the Nationals - formally the Country Party - and derided as a bunch of "rural socialists" who like to capitalise their gains, but socialise their losses).
More news of economic chickens coming home to roost here, this time in Venezuela.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Guess what, somebody has figured out a scam to help separate the wealthy but worried from their money.
Concerned about the effects your cat's farts are having on global warming? Of course you are. Who wouldn't be? Or your four-wheel drive and the three interstate trips you take every year?
Well, now you can pay somebody to 'off-set' pussy's greenhouse gas emissions and you can sleep again. As Sally Treeby, from Sydney's affuent northern suburbs, says: "it was more gratifying than a new pair of shoes."
And there's the rub. It will have about as much effect on global greenhouse emissions as buying a pair of shoes.
What is always missing from articles of this kind is the single most important and relevant piece of information - what percentage of total global emissions have been cut.
Even if this money making venture takes off and the worried inner-city yuppies embrace it with gusto, the hard fact is that the percentage cut in greenhouse gases will be reckoned by a zero, followed by a decimal point and then some more zeroes, before any 'real' numbers start appearing.
Yes, such actions may be more 'gratifying' than that new pair of shoes, but that's it. The sole benefit will be another wealthy middle class white person feeling good about themselves.
Let's be clear about this, energy effecient light globes, solar panels of your roof and buying off-sets for your farts will make virtually no difference. Even if everybody did these things, the savings in emissions would still only be in the order of a percent or so.
Even poor silly George Monbiot admitted as much in New Scientist just a few months back.
But such is the madness being generated around climate change that even this kind of silliness is reported seriously and without any discriminating thought at all.
Climate change is real. Anthropocentric carbon dioxide must have some part to play in this, (though the extent of this is in fact still an open question), but these kinds of feel-good schemes are completely pointless and futile.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Philip Slater has written just such an article for The Huffington Post titled "Bush's Desperate Gambit: Finding Another Scapegoat "
Mr. Slater opens by saying "Every autocrat uses the same ploy to keep himself in power--he wraps himself in the flag and screams that an enemy is at the gates. It's the oldest trick in the books: "It's not my fault, it's those bad people over there."
While this statement might have had some validity prior to the last presidential election it is obviously out of date at this writing. George Bush is not seeking re-election nor, according to the Constitution, can he. He is most certainly not trying to keep himself in power.
"The irony is that the two countries Bush has used as scapegoats--Iraq and Iran--have (or had, in the case of Iraq) two of the most westernized, secular, non-fanatical populations in the Middle East".
"Non-fanatical"? What scale of non-fanaticism is Mr. Slater using? Certainly we've all seen the burning effigies and the Death to America slogans. Has their response to the Danish cartoons been forgotten already?
And "secular"? The Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq are killing each other daily, and Iran only recently hanged two young boys for alleged homosexuality. Is this a good example of a "westernized" nation?
"Especially compared to our major 'allies', Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both of which are deeply repressive, especially of women, and both of which are primary agents of terrorist training. Pakistan gives major support--covert, but hardly secret--to the Taliban, and is therefore a major source of American casualties in Afghanistan, while Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorists were almost all Saudis".
Terrorism, as we all know, is international in scope and although those 9/11 terrorists were mainly from Saudi Arabia, they have been recruited from every Muslim dominated nation in the world. And many non-Muslim nations also. Mr. Slater raises a good point though about the Saudis. Why the US President still refers to the Saudis as "our friends" is a mystery. I'm hoping there's some deeper significance to this reference and will reluctantly give him the benefit of the doubt.
But Musharaff of Pakistan is in a truly difficult position, and will no doubt bend according to where he feels the power lies. Bin Laden's reminder that people are drawn to the stronger horse is especially apt in that part of the world. While it might make Mr. Slater feel better if the USA were to dump General Musharaff as an ally, no matter how unreliable he might seem to be, the alternative might well be worse. Like most leftists, he offers criticism but no alternative.
"Iran is a democracy--limited, but viable. It is also a nation in flux, deeply resentful of the Ayatollahs as well as anti-American. But two-thirds of the Iranian population is under thirty. They never lived under the brutal dictatorship of the American-imposed Shah, nor can they remember the CIA coup that overthrew their democratically elected national hero, Mossadegh".
Is there any American anywhere who wouldn't want their good friend the Shah back in Iran, were it at all possible? And does Mr. Slater really believe that the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shah's successor, was an improvement? The Shah was trying to bring Iran into the 20th Century and was a close Ally of the United States. Perhaps that is what condemns him in the eyes of the left.
It was that same Ayatollah who began kidnapping Americans and proclaiming "Death To America", and thereby initiating the modern terrorist movement. It can all be traced back to that one man and, of course, America's weak response to that crisis.
"It's ancient history to them. Now that Iraq has been handed over to the fanatics, Iran is perhaps the least misogynistic Muslim country. Sixty percent of Iranians attending college are women. Women run major businesses, are professionals, firefighters, even taxi-drivers, whereas in Saudi Arabia--our 'ally--they can't even drive".
The "least misogynistic"? What does that mean? Is it anything like the least dangerous? The least homicidal? The least insane? Is the argument really coming down to who can hold hold a driver's license and who can't? Is this how international diplomacy is too be judged?
"What most Americans know about Iran is that they have a nutty, fanatic, Holocaust-denying President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he no more represents Iran than George Bush--a man who can't put two sentences together without lying or blundering--represents America. Both men, after all, have recently suffered major setbacks at the polls".
In fact both men represent their countries, though both have political restraints according to their systems of government. And recent setbacks in the polls means what? George Bush is no longer the US President or represents the United States?
"Unlike Americans, however, Iranians are not abysmally ignorant of what goes on outside their borders, and are capable of distinguishing between another nation's people and its corrupt and incompetent leader."
If the American people are as "abysmally ignorant" as Mr. Slater claims then perhaps the man "who can't put two sentences together without lying or blundering" really does represent them.
Here we have Left Wing elitism clearly on display. All those who don't share their political point of view are "abysmally ignorant", incapable of thinking for themselves and making the proper decisions.
Does anyone seriously believe that the Iranian people are a cosmopolitan lot, genuinely well versed in world affairs? Or are they more like those hundreds of thousands rioting in the streets because of some cartoons? Would Americans ever behave in a like manner?
"It's a pathetic excuse by a man who has in six years done everything possible to weaken America--undermining our financial stability, destroying our environment, sabotaging our children's education, eroding our influence internationally."
"Undermining our financial stability"? The US economy has never been stronger and the American environment has actually improved faster than either Canada's or Europe's during the Bush Presidency.
"He has mortgaged our nation's future in a vain attempt to make little Georgie Bush--who never in his life had to face enemy fire--a military hero".
And through what scientific means did he arrive at that conclusion? Is there any evidence of this whatsoever?
"A man who dearly wanted to be Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill, but ended looking a lot more like Mussolini trying to conquer Albania".
This man is a Harvard Professor.
"The reality is that a pact with Iran is the only way to salvage the Iraq mess. But reality has never been a big player in the Bush administration".
And so it gratefully ends. A man who is staring his reality in the face has made his final, and resolutely inconclusive, point.
The original article can be seen here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-slater/bushs-desperate-gambit-_b_41225.html and Philip Slater's Bio (in case you think i was kidding about that Harvard professorship) can be accessed from the same page.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
'Air Force Cheif Master Sgt. John Gebhardt of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group, Iraq, cradles a young girl as they both sleep in the hospital. The girl's entire family was exectuted by insurgents; the killers shot her in the head as well. The girl recieved treatment at the US military hospital, but cries and moans often. According to nurses at the facility, Gebhardt is the only one who can calm down the girl, so he has spent the last several nights holding her while they both sleep in a chair.'
There are 6 parts to this video - it is a must see.
Channel 4 in the UK recently did this undercover piece. It didn't cause one bit of fuss. Why?
Because there was a media blitz over a racist comment on a reality show called 'Big Brother'.
I think the coverage of the Big Brother incident was deliberate, to take the public attention off of REAL issues, REAL dangers and the very serious problem of the Trojan Horse that has been allowed onto the shores of the UK.
I saw a few people try to comment on the Dispatches program, only to have their comments removed from web forums. Only one person in the British media commented on it (if more have, then please send me links).
Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail:
He lays it out there. Say what you will about Littlejohn, his point is valid.
It all left me wondering if the people of the UK want to be overrun by the threat within, or if the opinion-forming media is so full of self-loathing that it is leading the lemmings into the sea?
Why, for chrissake, is some D-list self-made personality more important than the reasons that 50+ people were blown to bits on the London tube and that there are thousands in Britain who want to kill more?
So the moderators at the BBC Five Live messageboards told me when I attempted to answer someone cheering for the death of British soldiers. The person cheering held a British passport, and was joined by two others claiming the same residence. Their posts glorifying the death of a British soldier, on a British messageboard, paid for by British taxpayers, left me agog. That they remained, and posts expressing anger and shock at the traitorous culprits were removed, including my own, proved my previous thoughts correct:
There is something very sick going on in Britain, and their media, specifically the BBC, is fueling it. I expect it from the continentals, but not the British!
The first time I was banned I had a membership for 6 years with the BBC. Had experienced the occasional post-removal, but was mostly in good standing and followed the rules. I met an amazing bunch of people, 3 of whom are my co-contributors to this blog.
The two subsequent bannings were a result of me attempting to get a new membership, and failing after a few posts. Once the mods saw which way my political wind blew, I was blocked. None of the posts 'broke the house rules'.
I am not alone. Who knows how many 'moderate' voices have been banned. I know of two others - both women, both Americans, one openly Jewish. But several posters have disappeared. Were they banned as well or did they just give up?
Some will remember me as 'Mistress of my Domain'.
I bring this up not because I want to slag off the BBC, but because I want to know if there is an agenda by some of its employees that is:
G) All of the above
The BBC appears to cater to the black flag flying far far left Marxists and their bedfellows, the extremist muslim.
Have a read:
and any of the US/Mid East Have Your Says:
Would love to hear from others who have been banned from the Beeb.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
A Canadian, an American, a Briton, and an Australian.
We met years ago on the BBC Great Debate shortly after 9/11 and over the years have watched, read and discussed current events and the descent of the world press, the revisionist history, the strange bedfellows in politics and religion and the turn of opinion about who we are as Westerners, and what our obligations are in the world and to ourselves.
On this forum, we will discuss everything from the opinions of Fisk and Steyn, to the issues of left and right, to how our own media and politicians assist our enemies in this strange time in our history.
I am the token chick, and an American.
Each of us has a somewhat different take on everything, and different political leanings, but we all agree on one thing:
Our way of life is under threat. It will be up to us, the Anglosphere, the English-speaking nations born of the British Empire, with our belief in freedom and the rule of law, our common traditions and values, to band together and define the future of our civilizations.
You can also expect the occasional rant and outburst about things that really piss me off, usually items I read in the European press or on related messageboards...
The floor now belongs to one of the other three.