Comment from an Australian expert below
Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin has warned that Australia is being caught up in a global bubble that could hit us much harder than the global financial crisis and expose the weaknesses of Labor's economic settings.
Professor McKibbin told The Australian the bubble in global commodity prices and property markets in Asia threatened to dwarf the US housing market bubble that led to the GFC in 2008. He warned that the inevitable bursting of the bubble would reverse the surge in Australia's record high terms of trade, push down the dollar and leave the Reserve Bank struggling to fight off rising global inflation pressures.
"This is shaping to be much bigger than 2004 to 2007," he said in comparing the new excess of global liquidity with the global financial bubble that led to the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s. "This cycle is even bigger."
Professor McKibbin suggested the surge in global liquidity fuelled by US monetary expansion had echoes of the early 1970s surge in food, mining and energy prices that led to global "stagflation", or the combination of high inflation and high unemployment.
An internationally renowned macroeconomist at the Australian National University, Professor McKibbin has been a Reserve Bank board member since 2001. He is not expected to be reappointed by Wayne Swan when his second term ends in July following his criticisms of Labor's budget stimulus spending and now its flood levy.
His analysis suggests much of the surge in mining, energy and food prices is being driven by the near zero official interest rates and so-called quantitative easing of credit conditions in the US and Europe in the wake of the GFC.
The Reserve Bank's commodity price index has jumped 49 per cent in the past year that includes a recent 9 per cent jump driven by a surge in food prices.
Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens last week noted strong demand from China and India had fuelled the surge in Australia's terms of trade -- the ratio of the prices we get for exports compared to the prices we pay for imports -- to their highest sustained level for at least 140 years. This was producing the biggest mining development boom in a century.
But Professor McKibbin suggested that perhaps 40 per cent of this terms of trade surge was being driven by US and European monetary expansion, which is feeding generalised inflation pressures. "That is why inflation is taking off all over the world," he told The Australian.
"It is already out of the bag. As interest rates go up, a whole bunch of assets and balance sheets will get crunched, so I am not optimistic."
"Black sheep are on the endangered species list as some children in north Queensland learn to sing Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep.
The English nursery rhyme may have survived for 200-plus years but political correctness could finally put it out to pasture. Some schools in Britain have banned the song for being racist, but Pelicans Innisfail Child Care allows children to sing about black sheep or rainbow sheep.
Director Pam McLaughlin said some teachers sang the changed lyrics, and some children already knew the changes. "We just go with whatever the children want," Ms McLaughlin said. "The kids are just singing and having fun. Some sing black sheep, some sing rainbow sheep. It's just a song. "We don't have anything that says, 'You have to sing it this way'."
Australian National University social psychologist Michael Platow said he doubted Baa Baa Black Sheep would teach racism. "I don't know why a child would associate a black sheep with a black man," he said.
Announcing a new book, John Quinn [firstname.lastname@example.org] writes:
I have examined numerous scientific papers in a wide range of scientific journals concerning Global Warming. In fact, I was examining these articles with one question in mind: What are the fundamental links between greenhouse gas increases, particularly CO2, and Global Warming? This is the basic question. If such a connection can be shown to exist, then environmentalists and climatologists would then be well on their way to making the case that human activity is indeed responsible for Global Warming, since there is already ample evidence that human beings have in recent years increased their output of greenhouse gases.
So, the immediate question to be answered is: What evidence has been presented that increases in CO2 levels of either natural or anthropogenic origin have any connection with Global Warming. I found no substantive answer to my question in the literature. What I found in article after article were research providing evidence that the sea levels are rising, that glaciers are melting, that the polar ice caps are melting, and that global temperatures are steadily increasing, among other related facts. All of these articles then ended with the implicit assumption, base only on the Enhanced Greenhouse Theory itself and computer modeling based solely on that theory, that these climate-related effects were all human induced and concluded in many cases by saying just that.
This of course is nonsense, since such evidence only indicates that there is in fact Global Warming, nothing else. This sort of evidence does not point to the underlying cause and the conclusions based on such reasoning are incestuous.
My examination resulted in the recent publication of a book, titled: GLOBAL WARMING: Geophysical Counterpoints to the Enhanced Greenhouse Theory, published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc., Pittsburgh, PA. It is available from Amazon.com and from the Dorrance bookstore Web site:
I refer to my view as the Solar-Terrestrial Theory of Global Warming. My book clearly shows, using data rather than hand-waving, heuristic arguments, and unsupported opinion, that CO2 and other greenhouse gases have a negligible effect on Global Warming. Instead, Global Warming is the result of very complex set of actions, reactions, and interactions derived from an assortment of phenomenon stemming from the Sun all the way to Earth's core.
I believe that my book is just the first step in truly understanding Global Warming. It is by no means the last word. The book opens many new questions and points in many new research directions that hitherto should have by now have been thoroughly explored, but, due to scientific bias and functional fixedness (a psychology term), have largely been ignored.
Tony Abbott has signalled he will scrap Labor's carbon tax if he wins the next election.
And in a blow to the Gillard government, the Greens have suggested they will not support cent-for-cent cuts to the petrol excise to compensate for petrol price rises under the tax.
The Opposition Leader declared this morning: "We are against this in opposition and we will be against this in government."
The next election is not due until August 2013 - a year after Julia Gillard's carbon tax is scheduled to come into effect.
Mr Abbott said voters should be "crystal clear" that he was opposed to the tax, but said he had to consult with shadow cabinet before announcing his formal policy response. "What I am not going to do is totally pre-empt due process, as Julia Gillard did," Mr Abbott told radio station 2UE. "She didn't send this off to her cabinet, she didn't send this off to her party room and I have to do all those things."
The approach flagged by Mr Abbott appears similar to that taken by Kim Beazley with the GST. The former Labor leader went to the 2001 election promising to "roll back" elements of the GST, but the pledge was dropped at subsequent elections.
The government says no decision has been taken on whether petrol will be included in the scheme. But Greens deputy leader Christine Milne suggested this morning that compensation for petrol price rises should not be given across the board. "We need to be sure that we are compensating low income earners, the people who are most vulnerable," she said. "I want to make sure that we do that because our job is to make sure that they are not suffering because of this."
Selectively compensating voters for petrol price rises could prove difficult for the government, because of sensitivities over bowser prices.
Coalition MPs arriving at parliament this morning accused Ms Gillard of "lying" to the Australian people by reneging on a pre-election pledge not to introduce a carbon tax. "She's trying to weasel her way out of the fact she lied," Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said. "The simple point is she went to the election and quite explicitly stated on not just one occasion that there would be no carbon tax under her government."
But Labor MP Andrew Leigh accused Mr Abbott of running a fear campaign. "It's going to be a strong scare campaign and he's going to run hard on it, but it's not what I think the Australian people want," he said. "Direct action is very, very expensive. How do you pay for that? Probably a big new income tax rise."
Labor MP Janelle Saffin said the transition to a clean energy economy would create more jobs. A report to be released later today by the Climate Institute suggests a $45 a tonne carbon price could create almost 8000 permanent jobs in the electricity sector.
Another 26,000 temporary manufacturing and construction jobs would also be created, according to the research, which predicts billions of dollars would be invested in clean energy projects.
Particularly first home buyers and would-be first home buyers
First home buyers have just cause to feel betrayed by the Rudd-Gillard government as they struggle under the strain of seven consecutive interest rate rises which have been exacerbated by loose fiscal policy.
After the amount of Saturday's Kelly and Andrew had spent thumping the pavement looking for a house, they felt ready to kill the person who snapped up this one. Photo: News.com.au
A disturbing new survey by Mortgage Choice has found that 10 per cent of first home buyers, who purchased their homes in the past two years, have either sold their homes or are considering selling because of financial hardship, caused by interest rate hikes.
The survey also found that another 6 per cent would sell if interest rates climbed a further one per cent, while another 14 per cent would sell if they rose another 1.5 per cent.
Many of these first home buyers were lured into the market through generous first home buyer grants at a time of historically low interest rates.
The Rudd-Gillard Government was more than happy to artificially stimulate the lower end of the housing market so as to give the impression that they had done a wonderful job staving off the effects of the GFC.
Of course they didn't alert all the first home buyers they suckered about the inevitable interest rate rises that would follow their totally over-the-top $87 billion stimulus spend.
The seven consecutive interest rate rises included four last year alone. We now have by far the highest interest rates in the developed world with a current cash rate of 4.75 per cent whereas Canada is at 1 per cent, Hong Kong .5 per cent, UK .5 per cent and Japan .1 per cent.
As a consequence, the current average variable home loan rate is around 7.7 per cent, which Loan Market says has resulted in first home buyers becoming an "endangered species". By comparison first home buyers were dominant in the market in 2009 due to the beefed up first home buyer incentives and the historically low interest rates.
While first home buyers are particularly vulnerable, mortgage stress of course extends to those on higher incomes, who have upgraded their homes on the strength of increased equity built up as property prices boomed.
Growth has now certainly flattened and prices have dipped in some parts, although the economists remain optimistic that we will avoid a US-style property market crash. The last thing we need is the nightmare scenario where home owners are forced to sell properties for less than they paid for them and for less than they owe.
The irony of the difficult current environment is how Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were elected in 2007 on a promise to ease cost of living pressures for "working families" and to keep downward pressure on interest rates.
Their embarrassing Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch schemes have become the hallmarks of Labor's dismal attempts to deliver on their pledge.
Instead families have copped a double whammy because not only have interest rates added about $6,000 a year in repayments to the typical mortgage, but cost of living continues to soar, with electricity prices up almost 40 per cent in three years, water up 27 per cent and rates up 15 per cent.
Latest ABS statistics in fact show that living costs are up 4.5 per cent compared to the official inflation rate of 2.6 per cent. Wages are simply not keeping pace with mounting household expenses.
Add to this the further threat posed to household budgets by Julia Gillard's new carbon tax, including annual increases in power bills of at least $300 and 6.5 cents extra per litre of petrol.
What we have seen is a government that has dudded those who are most financially vulnerable to interest rate hikes and increases in everyday living costs.
The most frustrating thing is how Kevin Rudd and now Julia Gillard have ignored repeated and sustained warnings to rein in spending and borrowing and to pay off debt. And the warnings haven't just come from the Coalition, they have come from Treasury, Finance, the RBA, economists and business.
Reserve Bank board member Donald McGauchie took the extraordinary step of rebuking the government for its loose fiscal policy. He said "we are spending money on fiscal stimulus and other things we shouldn't be spending money on and that means higher interest rates than we would otherwise have."
This government simply lacks the discipline to tighten its belt, to stop all the needless spending and to trim the fat in the budget. Instead we have the perverse situation where fiscal policy is working at direct odds with monetary policy.
Until this government starts living within its means, first home buyers and other struggling households will continue to pay the price.
What Hollywood won't tell you follows the excerpt below
Carteret Islanders have been called the world's first climate refugees. Their homeland, a remote chain of six small islands in the South Pacific, is fast losing ground to rising sea levels. The 1,000 or so people whose families have lived there for dozens of generations have made an agonizing decision to relocate their entire community before it disappears beneath the rising waves.
In June of 2008, filmmakers Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger learned of the refugees' plight and headed to the Carteret Islands, video equipment in tow, hoping to share their story with the world. Their documentary, "Sun Come Up," was released last year. Sunday night, it’s up for an Academy Award in the best documentary short category.
Redfearn has a background in environment studies, a journalism degree from Columbia University, and had worked on several television series, but "Sun Come Up" is her debut film. She first heard about the Carteret Islanders from a forwarded humanitarian e-mail alert; after reading about them, she could focus on little else. Three months after receiving the e-mail, Redfearn and filmmaking partner Metzger landed in the South Pacific and started shooting. They weren't sure what to expect, but they had been encouraged to come by Ursula Rakova, the head of the Carteret relocation program.
They were well received, and the islanders were, according to Redfearn, "really generous with their time and sharing their stories." They were well aware of why their islands were shrinking and the global issues behind the local changes. "When they first started to witness changes, they didn't know why," Redfearn explains. "But Ursula was born on the Carteret Islands and has traveled abroad to get her education, so she has become aware of what's happening internationally. She taught the community about the science."
The filmmakers didn't find the islanders to be helpless or angry. "More than anything else," Redfearn says, "there's a great feeling of uncertainty." The island's elders would prefer to stay, despite the risks. They grew up there, spent their whole lives there, and "have no interest in moving and adapting to a new society or culture." But the younger generations are looking at things differently. "They're looking ahead at how to rebuild their community somewhere else."
Now for some facts:
The Carteret Islands are coral atolls that have been damaged by the indigenous fishing industry. Homemade Ammonium Nitrate bomblets, used to stun fish for easy "harvesting" (by lazy fishermen) had the unintended effect of breaking up the surrounding Coral beds, which are the foundation of the "islands."
Once blasted, the Coral is destroyed and can't recover. The underpinning of the remaining land is then impaired and "duh," the islands begin to sink. Some depletion of the fresh water aquifer may also contribute to the sinking. The region is also tectonically active and subsiding land is a real possibility.
Of course, the Sea-Level is being blamed, but a quick look at NASA's Jason satellite data shows that Sea-Level has outright FLATLINED since January 2004 to the present (Flatlined = ZERO rise) within a 20mm ± zone!!!
The whole movie is simply environmental "spin."
Children have been banned from wearing goggles during school swimming lessons for fears they could hurt themselves. Pen-pushers have slapped the ban on the swimming aids amid "fears" a pair could "snap" onto a child's face too hard, injuring them.
Parents branded the ruling by Oxfordshire County Council's healthy and safety brigade as "nutty" and "extreme."
However, bureaucrats defended its no-goggle policy claiming that it reflected national guidance provided by sports bodies. Children will now need a medical reason for them to be allowed to wear the protective eye wear in the pool during school lessons.
Teenage swimmer Danni McFadden, aged 13 years, said: "It hurts my eyes if we swim without them and I go in the water." Her mother Carmel Ryan added: "I remember being a child and I thought it was great swimming underwater. "It makes swimming more fun. "The professional swimmers wear goggles. "It's a bit nutty. "If they think someone is messing around with them, they should correct it. They do protect the eyes."
Zilah Grant, aged 24 years, of Wantage, Oxon., takes her son Khian, three, swimming regularly as it helps him with his disabilities. "I do not think it is very wise of them to do it. "Goggles bring the fun into swimming as you can see each other under water."
Last year Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to tear up health and safety regulations which "have become a music hall joke."
Oxfordshire is not alone in banning goggles. Last year, Leicestershire County Council advised schools of the "dangerous" eyewear which it said could snap back in childrenâ s faces, or make them bump into one another due to reduced peripheral vision. Hertfordshire County Council has done the same.
A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council refused to divulge the specific reason why goggles had been banned from its swimming pools. "This local authority, like others throughout the UK, reflects to schools the national guidance provided by various governing sport bodies on this issue," he said.
"These organisations include The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), the Swimming Teachers Association (STA), the Association for Physical Education and the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management."
The ASA said it did not have a strict policy on goggle use, but offered guidance to pool operators and parents.
The STA said children should be encouraged to not wear goggles in swimming lessons, but recognised they may be necessary for medical or other reasons. It added that goggles should meet British standards and fit correctly.
Twenty-five thousand years ago, haplogroup R2 characterized by genetic marker M124 arose in southern Central Asia. Then began a major wave of human migration whereby members migrated southward to present-day India and Pakistan. Indians and Pakistanis have the same ancestry and share the same DNA sequence.
Here’s what is happening in India:
The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis and still be left with $60 billion to spare. The four richest Indians are now richer than the forty richest Chinese.
In November, Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex flirted with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries became a $100 billion company (the entire KSE is capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance.
In November, comes Neeta’s birthday. Neeta turned forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from her husband as her birthday present: A sixty-million dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins, satellite television, wireless communication and a separate cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani’s wife, and Mukesh is not India ’s richest but the second richest.
Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia (after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh’s new family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a 60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking. The seventh floor is for car servicing and maintenance. The eighth floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there’s a health club, a gym and a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family’s guests. Four floors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb view of the Arabian Sea. On top of everything are three helipads. A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home.
In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct investment destination. Pakistan wasn’t even in the top 25 countries.
In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to assist the UN in the holding of elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all, Islamabad is closer to Kabul than is Delhi.
Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin; 38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians; and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.
For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard’s E-speak project. Four out of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians. Bollywood produces 800 movies per year and six Indian ladies have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years.
For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on the face of the planet, was born in Bombay and now lives in Bangalore . India now has more than three dozen billionaires; Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).
The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and Anil Ambani’s father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion. In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October 2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world, with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest American, stands at around $56 billion).
Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup. We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker (namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA sequence. Our culture, our traditions and our cuisine are all the same. We watch the same movies and sing the same songs.
Pakistan is a ferociously Muslim country; India is predominantly Hindu
Australia: "The skull" is still a bonehead -- repeating the failed Latham hostility to private schools
The genius himself
Mark Latham's attack on private schools is generally regarded as a major factor in his 2004 election wipeout. Around 40% of schoolkids in the swing State of Queensland go to private High Schools so that's a big demographic to piss off. The Green/Left Peter Garrett was a huge liability as an environment minister. Looks like he is still as thick as a brick and doomed for more follies in education
THE Federal Government is set to launch a new war with private schools this week as pressure intensifies on the country's richest education establishments to reveal their assets. Education Minister Peter Garrett told The Sunday Mail that he wanted to force public and private schools to reveal their true wealth, including assets, reserves and profits.
The launch of the revamped My School website on Friday will reveal financial information including income through private fees for the first time, but not assets.
The website will also show that wealthy private schools are spending 50 per cent more to educate each student than the average spend on a child at a public school. But some high-performing, low-fee Catholic and independent schools are spending a similar amount per student to comparable public schools, when private and taxpayer-funding is combined.
The launch of the site was delayed after private schools complained some of the complex data used to arrive at a per student spend was misleading. The average government school recurrent cost for a high school student is about $12,000.
"This is all about fair dinkum transparency," Mr Garrett said. "This is all about giving people information that they deserve to have. "And it's about providing that information in a way that allows them to make valid and reasonable comparisons."
Mr Garrett will take his proposal to extend the financial disclosure requirements of My School to include assets to the next meeting of state education ministers in April this year. Some private schools securing millions of dollars in taxpayer funding have retained earnings or assets of $100 million or more. But there is no current requirement for many schools to disclose their assets, profits or financial information.
For the first time, the new version of the My School website will provide information on funding from fees and donations to public and private schools. But Mr Garrett stressed it was "not about ranking".
My School 2 will also reveal for the first time which schools are showing improvements in literacy results for children in their care and which schools are falling behind.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has spent the past decade delivering a highly effective counterpunch to terrorist organisations across the globe by using her own brand of "lawfare".
First, she and her group of lawyers at the Israel Law Centre in Tel Aviv track down the terrorists’ financial pipelines, then they set about suing the banks, institutions and charitable fronts used to facilitate the flow of funds. In doing so, the 37-year-old Israeli attorney and mother of six has taken on some of the world’s biggest banks – the Arab Bank, the Bank of China, and American Express – and to date has recovered a whopping $120 million for the victims of terrorist attacks.
Darshan-Leitner has also won judgments worth more than $1 billion against groups including Hamas and Hezbollah. While the terrorists themselves do not pay up, Darshan-Leitner and her team have been able to close the spigot on many of their supply lines and reduce the risk of attacks on Israel by as much as 60 per cent, according to Israeli intelligence. There is real potential, she believes, for the victims of the two Bali bombings to launch civil actions against the terrorists and their backers. It is her mantra that “money is the oxygen of terrorism and if we can stop the flow of money, we can reduce terrorism”. On a recent tour in Australia, where she met senior politicians, Darshan-Leitner explained how she does it.
Q. Who are the main terrorist groups and states bankrolling terrorist attacks?
A. Hamas. PLO. Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah. And state regimes that support terror such as Iran, Syria, North Korea.
Q. Of course, it’s not the terrorists who you are forcing to pay up, but the banks handling their money.
A. Terrorist organisations don’t come to court. No, we’re going after bank accounts, shares, assets that are in the hands of third parties, and even grabbing houses. In cases against the banks, we’ve been very successful in sending a shockwave through the international financial systems. We have sent the message that if you provide financial services to terror groups or to the front charities that they hide behind, you could incur massive financial liability from the victims’ cases.
Q. You’ve funnelled the money raised from these cases to terrorist victims.
A. Nothing, it must be said, is ever going to bring a loved one killed in an attack back to life. However, I think that every case in which we have had an opportunity to actually recover funds for families who lost a breadwinner is really important. In some instances the families were in financial distress because the husband or wife had been killed. Taking funds away from the terrorists and getting them to the victims provides some measure of justice and compensation.
Q. You have taken two British banks, Lloyds and Barclays, to court, forcing them to shut down accounts of Islamic charities providing money to the families of suicide bombers. Some would argue that cutting off financial aid to these families is simple guilt by association, that you’re punishing innocent people.
A. They are not being punished. But you must stop the flow of money going to any connection to a terrorist organisation. If you give money to the family of a suicide bomber you actually encourage the next suicide bomber to carry out an attack because he knows his family will be supported from now until the end.
Q. But surely a terrorist organisation can simply bank its money through an Islamic financial institution and shift money around?
A. Yes, a terrorist group can still use an Islamic bank. The problem is where the money goes once it leaves the Islamic bank. You need an international bank to facilitate the money transaction. For instance, if a Palestinian bank wants to trade in euros or shekel you need a correspondent bank in Israel or Europe. No bank would be willing to do that. And the amount of money Hamas can smuggle through tunnels in suitcases is about a tenth of what can be wired through a bank.
Q. You have just launched a $5 million class action against former president Jimmy Carter and publishing company Simon & Schuster, alleging that his 2006 book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, has an anti-Israel agenda. What do you find most objectionable about the book?
A. The problem with the book is not that it was anti-Israel; Carter is perfectly entitled to express his opinion. The cause of action arose because Carter and his publisher have been marketing the book as accurate and truthful, when in fact the book is replete with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, mistakes and lies. We sued under the consumer protection laws as it’s a fraud on the reading public.
Q. Some would see this as a clear-cut case of you trying to quash free speech.
A. We have repeatedly said that Carter is entirely free to express his opinion. Our suit is based upon the misrepresentations that Carter and his publisher have made to the public. They continue to insist the book is truthful and we claim it’s a fraudulent misrepresentation on the public. It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with false advertising and fraudulent commercial speech.
Q. Speaking of Carter, his presidency was haunted by the hostage crisis in Tehran. Was this the beginning of the struggle against radical Islam?
A. The Muslim Brotherhood, the same one we hear about in Egypt, has been working to overthrow Arab governments and establish a pan-Islamic region since the 1930s. The Iranian Revolution was one of their most successful achievements in that unrelenting struggle. The fact is that Carter’s administration completely failed to recognise the threat from extremist Islam and essentially allowed Khomeini and his followers to ride the coat tails of the Iranian democratic movement into absolute power.
Q. In Iran in 1979, radical Islamicists posed as democrats but then established a theocratic dictatorship. Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood pose the same threat in Egypt, given they won at most 20 per cent of the vote in the last election with members standing as Independents?
A. Twenty per cent may not look like a scary number, but no other opposition party in Egypt is as well organised and well funded as the Muslim Brotherhood. If an election were held today, the Muslim Brotherhood would win a lot more than 20 per cent of the vote. The only hope is that the new leaders will not be worse than Mubarak. If the Muslim Brotherhood take over, it will be bad not just for Egypt but the world.
Q. In 2008, you helped launch a campaign to save the life of a Palestinian man accused of helping Israeli intelligence. What happened to him?
A. The Palestinian Authority hunts down anyone it suspects of providing the Israeli security services with information about terrorist organisations. Sometimes the terror groups just execute the suspects in the streets. In this case they arrested the man, gave him a 15-minute trial and sentenced him to death. We mounted an international campaign in the media to save his life. We demanded that the Palestinians not carry out the execution and that he be provided a fair trial. In the end we saved him – but he received a life sentence.
Q. A PM chosen by Hezbollah governs in Lebanon. In Iraq, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is throwing his political weight around. Palestinians voted in Hamas. In terms of the spread of radical Islam, it’s a fairly bleak picture is it not?
A. It is. We do have a fear of the future in Israel. The increased strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the revolution in Egypt, the extreme mullahs in Iran, the uncertainty in Iraq and the instability in Jordan now. It all puts Israel into a very uncomfortable position.
Q. Israel is a tiny country of 7.5 million surrounded by giants – Iran (73 million), Egypt (82 million), Saudi Arabia (26 million), Syria (21 million). Do you see the country becoming increasingly besieged in the years ahead?
A. I am a daughter of generations and generations of Jews. We have gone through crises, pogroms, disasters and holocausts since the beginning of creation. We have survived 5000 years to date and we’ll survive another 5000 years.
Q. Do you see any lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the decades to come?
A. The Palestinians are not preparing their citizens to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Their leaders and media are still inciting their people against Israel on a daily basis. Issues to which they are not willing to compromise include the status of Jerusalem and the insistence on having an armed military force. Until the Palestinians are willing to make real concessions, there can be no enduring peace.
The fact that there has in fact been no global warming is a mere bagatelle!
In an apparent bid to counter skepticism of the specious claim that global warming caused the string of heavy snowfalls in the US and Europe this winter, a media teleconference with "two leading climate and weather experts" has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Mark "death spiral" Serreze and Jeff Masters will "discuss how a rise in the number of snowfalls of 6 inches or more may be related to an increase in moisture in the atmosphere," allegedly due to global warming.
Major problems with this argument include weather balloon and satellite data showing that 1) tropospheric relative and specific humidity has significantly declined since the 'safe CO2 levels' of 1948, 2) atmospheric water vapor has declined since satellite measurements began in 1983, 3) there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, and 4) the IPCC predicted milder winters and that the "milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms."
Most climate models assume that as an increasing amount of atmospheric CO2 induces slightly increasing atmospheric temperatures, the overall evaporation will increase from the planet surface, and thereby the specific humidity of the lower part of the atmosphere (the Troposphere) will increase as well. As water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, additional warming will come about, resulting in a much larger temperature increase than that induced from CO2 alone. Climate models therefore, in general, assume the relative Tropospheric humidity to remain more or less stable, as increasing air temperatures are compensated by increasing specific humidity.
The above diagrams indicate that none of this has been the case since 1948. Only near the planet surface, the relative humidity has remained roughly constant (although with variations), but in the remaining part of the Troposphere below the Tropopause the relative humidity has been decreasing. Even for the specific humidity, this appears to be the case.
SOURCE (See the original for graphics)
(If you don't recognize the heading above see here)
The Greens have threatened a trade boycott against the world's second-largest economy in an attack on China by one of its high-profile NSW candidates. Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne, who is running for the state seat, has revealed her council would consider boycotting China out of sympathy for Tibetans.
Labor labelled the policy as "stupid and dangerous" and warned such a ban could threaten Chinese trade with NSW - worth more than $3.2 billion to the state's economy - and damage cultural and student ties with China. "This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history," Labor's campaign spokesman Luke Foley said. He has called for Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown to step in and rule out suggestions of a boycott of Australia's largest trading partner.
Mr Brown, however, could not be contacted by his office yesterday to seek clarification on whether he would back Ms Byrne's proposal or not.
A spokeswoman for Mr Brown said the Greens did not have a "written" policy on Tibet. But Greens Senator Christine Milne, who this week shocked Labor MPs with her claim that the Greens' "power sharing" deal with the Federal Government had delivered the carbon tax, has previously questioned Australia's free trade agreement with China based on its human rights record in Tibet.
Ms Byrne's backing for a China ban follows her boycott of Israel last month over its treatment of Palestinians. In retaliation, Labor and Liberal councillors have already joined forces on neighbouring Randwick Council to boycott Marrickville Council.
Her latest threats against China were recorded at a candidate forum on Wednesday night in Sydney. Ms Byrne said her council had expressed solidarity with the local Tibetan community. While the Tibetan community had not asked specifically for a boycott, Ms Byrne said council would adopt one if asked.
"If the local Tibetan community came to us and asked us to look at boycotting China, I'm sure council would do that," Ms Byrne said. "So we actually have done things [for] our local community ... provide action, and support our local community around those issues and I'm quite proud of that, quite proud to do that."
Mr Foley said: "It's hard to believe that anyone could come up with such a stupid and dangerous policy. "If she had her way, it would cost hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs. Bob Brown needs to step in, disown the policy and disown the candidate."
The seat of Marrickville is held by Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt by a 3 per cent margin. The Greens have consistently raised the issue of human rights in Tibet and have called for China to recognise Tibet's autonomy. Almost 35 per cent of people living in Marrickville were born overseas, many of them Chinese.
ALMOST everything George Brandis said this week about Australia's successful creation of an inclusive society "receptive and respectful of people of race and faith" is true.
In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, the senator paid tribute to Australian tolerance by recalling his experience growing up in the suburbs in the 1960s. Amid the colonial terraces and semi-detached houses of Petersham in Sydney's inner west, Chinese, Greek and Italian families lived happily alongside their Anglo-Celtic neighbours, and half the youngsters at his local school came from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
The idea that Australia under the rule of Robert Menzies did not resemble apartheid South Africa or the segregated south of the US will shock those who subscribe to the popular view that the coming of Gough Whitlam changed everything.
Brandis usefully reminded us that a multicultural Australia pre-dated the official invention of that policy by the Whitlam government in the 1970s. He also reminded us that our proud and enviable history of integrating migrants since the end of the World War II is attributable in part to the essential decency of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Australians.
Australia became a successful nation of immigrants because the egalitarianism that is central to its national character -- the principle that Jack is as good as his mate -- was extended by "old Australians" to include "new Australians".
Hence there was no white flight from Petersham or other suburbs in response to the influx of migrants from southern Europe in the 50s and Indochina in the 70s because newcomers of all colours and creeds were made welcome and accepted into the workplaces, the schools, the churches and the sporting clubs of suburban Australia.
Brandis was also right to suggest that these achievements should not be put at risk by cheap populism that seeks to exploit prejudice for political advantage. However, the senator for Queensland went too far in trying to shut down the debate about multiculturalism.
The debate was sparked in Coalition ranks by the publication of Scott Morrison's alleged remarks in shadow cabinet about Muslim immigration and community concerns in western Sydney.
"I can still remember the playground taunting of Italian kids, from which I formed my lifelong detestation of bullies who pick on a vulnerable minority," Brandis wrote in a thinly disguised rebuke to his colleagues. "Whether they realise it or not, the same sentiment that drives those who bullied those kids then, animates those who beat up on Muslims now."
This is a variation on a common grievance aired by many members of the multicultural industry: "Australia is a racist country because kids teased me about what was in my sandwiches at lunchtime."
Judging how a civilisation treats minorities based on what eight-year-olds call each other is ludicrous. To equate this with a legitimate debate about the success or otherwise of Muslim integration is just as ludicrous.
This is especially so when this debate is belatedly being had in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia, now that the evidence of non-integration and the failures of multicultural policy are undeniable.
Europe has discovered that a nation of tribes united by a common welfare state does not create the harmonious society multicultural theorists said it would.
Instead, divisions between native and immigrant populations have been entrenched and the social fabric frayed. Australia does not confront challenges on the same scale, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we have nothing to worry about.
From Petersham, it is a 15-minute drive southwest to Lakemba. It is 30 years since [mostly Muslim] refugees fleeing the civil war in Lebanon received asylum in this country, and still Lakemba and its surrounds remain ghettofied.
The usual pattern of dispersal by first-generation children of immigrants has not occurred to the same extent and the area is plagued with poor educational achievement, high unemployment and crime.
The community concerns that exist in western Sydney about Muslims and multiculturalism are based on these jarring realities on the disintegration of some parts of Sydney from the mainstream, and the failure to repeat the successful patterns of integration of other ethnic groups.
To blame racial or religious prejudice, whether formed in the playground or otherwise, is avoiding the real issue. So is reaffirming the national commitment to multiculturalism, as the Gillard government has done, as if that and the proposed anti-racism campaign will be a cure-all.
The conventional wisdom among most elites is that we should not discuss these issues because it will unleash the racist sentiments that still lurk in the hearts of most Australians.
I think the opposite is true. It is because most Australians believe in the immigration and integration of all comers that what is going on in southwest Sydney is of concern.
Perceptive politicians have picked up on this. Effective politicians will honestly address the issues and propose solutions. Ineffective ones will shut their eyes and lecture an unimpressed electorate about respecting "diversity".
So it can "help"
Hundreds of thousands of people will be asked whether they think the lives they lead are “worthwhile” as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s wellbeing.
Government researchers will begin questioning the first 200,000 over-16s across Britain from April to assess how satisfied they are with their lives on a scale of 0 to 10, and how anxious or happy they feel.
Further research is expected to focus on detailed areas that affect individuals’ perceptions of their own happiness, such as the state of their marriage, friendships and personal health.
The initiative has a budget of £2 million a year with the first four questions in the initial survey of 200,000 people costing £500,000 to conduct, according to the Office for National Statistics, which is running the scheme.
The Prime Minister believes the state can have a role in helping citizens “feel better” and has argued that successful governments should improve the quality of life as well as the strength of the economy.
His programme to develop Britain’s first “wellbeing index” follows a similar initiative in France, announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The ONS drew heavily on the recommendations of the French commission when drafting the first questions to be used to measure “subjective wellbeing” in this country.
Initially, four new questions will be included in the ONS’s integrated household survey from April. Respondents will be asked to give answers on a scale of 0 to 10 to the following questions:
· Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
· Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
· Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
· Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
Paul Allin, head of the wellbeing project at the ONS, said he was confident the questions would produce robust results and that any bias in the answers would be ironed out across such a large sample. “We essentially trust people to give us the answers they give us and we will work what they say,” he said.
Ultimately, the project aims to create a set of results against which the changing health of the nation’s feelings about itself can be measured. Officials also want to enable comparisons to be made between Britain and other countries and will be working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Mr Allin said: “Subjective wellbeing is one approach to understanding and measuring the wellbeing of the nation. While we want to produce consistent results over time, we will initially regard the results as experimental. There is more work to be done.”
In developing the new questions, the ONS commissioned further research into subjective wellbeing. It found that life satisfaction in Britain had failed to keep pace with rising household income and GDP over the past 40 years.
Other findings from the report, which reviewed a wide range of existing research, suggested that women are generally more satisfied with their lives than men and young people are happier than the middle-aged.
Married people are happier than those who are unmarried and it is more important to “keep up with the Joneses” and match the income of your peer group than to have objectively high rates of pay.
However, the study also suggested that it is possible to be too happy. Excessively happy people can be “gullible” and make “careless” decisions. The optimum level of happiness is to be at seven or eight out of 10, the research said.
Attempting to model something as complex as the earth's climate is a ludicrous enough enterprise but at least there is quite a lot of data against which one can check the model output -- with uniformly dismal results, of course. NO model predicted the temperature stasis of the last 13 years, for instance.
But when it comes to modelling another very complex phenomenon -- such as worldwide coral reef growth -- where there is virtually no worldwide data available for checking purposes, one knows that the results will simply be whatever the modellers want them to be. And when one notes that the report of the modelling has a foreword by Al Gore, laughter is almost inevitable.
That actual scientific findings run directly contrary to Al Gore's little scam should of course surprise no-one. The media (below) have of course swallowed the hokum wholesale.
The Australian public will however be more skeptical than their media. "Coral reefs threatened" has been popping up regularly in the Australian media for many decades -- long predating the global warming scare. There are constant natural changes in coral reefs and there have always been attention-seekers getting a scary headline out of it
Shocking evidence has been released claiming that nearly all of Australia's coral reefs are at risk of being wiped out in less than two decades.
The report by the World Resources Institute claims that by 2030, 90 per cent of Australia's reefs will suffer from the overwhelming effects of climate change like warmer seas and acidification.
It also outlines the threat to the rest of the world's coral reefs, with research suggesting that many could be obliterated by 2050 due to pollution, climate change and over-fishing.
The report encourages Australia not to waste any time in fighting the prediction, particularly becuase of the impact reef degredation will have on tourism and the economy.
Dr Clive Wilkinson, the United Nations sponsored Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network coordinator, urged Australia "to be part of the global solution to climate change, as our reefs will suffer like others around the world and this will threaten the $5 to $6 billion per year that the Great Barrier Reef means to the Australian economy."
"Australians have no right to be complacent as the vast majority of our reefs will be seriously threatened by rising sea temperatures and increasing acidification in less than 20 years," he said.
Today, 40 per cent of Australia's reefs are under pressure from rising sea temperatures and other threats linked to climate change.
However, 75 per cent of the reefs are in marine protected areas, which is a contributing factor to the improvement in fish numbers and reef resilience.
CO2 reduction might HEAT the planet!!!!
Get a load of this: "In contrast, even a fairly aggressive strategy to reduce CO2 emissions under the CO2 measures scenario does little to mitigate warming over the next 20–30 years. In fact, sulphate particles, reflecting particles that offset some of the committed warming for the short time they are in the atmosphere, are derived from SO2 that is co-emitted with CO2 in some of the highest-emitting activities, including coal burning in large-scale combustion such as in power plants. Hence, CO2 measures alone may temporarily enhance near-term warming as sulphates are reduced"
And that is from a report (p. 10) sponsored by two United Nations bodies! (UNEP and WMO).
You couldn't make it up! Only colossal fools would believe anything these guys say after that. But, as Barnum said, there is one born every minute.
Nearly every asylum-seeker who arrived in Australian waters during the past three years was granted refugee status, according to figures released under Freedom of Information laws and reported on by The Australian.
According to the report, the figures show that the Immigration Department approved fully 94 per cent of all refugee claims from people arriving by boat between October 2008 and December 22 last year.
Compared with other forms of refugee claims, those seeking asylum by boat had a significantly higher success rate. The Immigration Department approved only 39 per cent of visa requests for non-boat asylum-seekers in the first half of the current financial year. In 2009-10, the department refused 49 per cent of non-boat asylum seekers, and rejected 55 per cent the year before.
Opposition politicians argue that overseas refugee smugglers are keenly aware of the success rate of those arriving by boat, and said the figures will only further contribute to the problem. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said refugee claims are processed independently of how they arrived in Australia.
The germ theory has been in some eclipse in recent years because of some awkward epidemiological facts. For instance, Australian Aborigines often live in extraordinary squalor but don't seem to be protected from anything because of that. In fact they have quite high rates of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes
So how do we evaluate the findings below? It's a bit difficult as the article in NEJM has not yet appeared but there are at least two possibilities. The most favourable to the theory is that it is not the overall bacterial load that matters but rather just some bacteria. So southern German farmhouses might have the helpful bacteria but Aboriginal camps may not. That is not inherently absurd but would be very much in need of proof, considering that both populations have extensive contact with all the world's infective agents via the modern-day "global village".
The second much more skeptical possibility derives from the fact that we are only looking at epidemiology here -- so all causal links are speculative. For instance, it has recently been found that Paracetamol (Tylenol) use in children under 15 months doubles their chance of getting asthma. So maybe the "dirty" farms were less health conscious in general and so used fewer medications, including paracetamol. Isn't epidemiology wonderful?
The possibilities are endless, in fact. It was found last year, for instance, that that receptors for bitter tastes are not confined to the tongue but are also are found in the smooth muscles of the lungs and airways. And bitter tastes RELAX those airways. So in doing any epidemiological comparisons of asthma incidence, we would have to ask whether the different groups used in the research differed in their preferences for bitter drinks, including, of course, beer!
OK. I could go on but I will have mercy at that point
Children living on farms have a lower risk of asthma than children who don't because they are surrounded by a greater variety of germs, according to two large-scale studies published Wednesday.
The prevalence of asthma in the U.S. has doubled over the past 30 years, and one theory for the increase blames urban and suburban living environments that are too clean. The latest findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, bolster what is often known as the hygiene theory, which says that contact with bacteria and other microbes is necessary to building a normal immune system.
The key appears to be exposure to a diversity of bugs, not just more of them, according to Markus Ege, an epidemiologist at the Children's Hospital of Munich and first author on the paper that covered both studies. "Bacteria can be beneficial for asthma," said Dr. Ege. "You have to have microbes that educate the immune system. But you have to have the right ones."
Previous research, including some conducted by Dr. Ege's group, has found that children raised on farms exhibit substantially reduced risk for asthma and allergies—lower by 30% or more—than those raised elsewhere. Though scientists had hypothesized that the difference was linked to germs, they also had to determine whether it could be due to other elements of farm life such as fresh air, exposure to farm animals, or dietary factors like drinking raw milk.
The latest study helps untangle that question by providing evidence that the reduction in risk is indeed significantly related to the variety of bacteria and other bugs a child is exposed to, according to James Gern, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who wrote an editorial to accompany the paper in the journal but wasn't involved in the study.
In Wednesday's paper, the researchers surveyed and collected samples of house dust in two studies of children from Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. One study comprised 6,800 children, about half of whom lived on farms, and the other studied nearly 9,700 children, 16% of whom were raised on a farm. Researchers then examined the dust for presence and type of microbes.
Those living on farms were exposed to a greater variety of bugs and also had a lower risk of asthma. There was evidence that exposure to a particular type of bacteria, known as gram-negative rods, was also related to lower rates of allergic responses.
Identifying which microbes are beneficial to the immune system is important because those germs could help the development of new treatments or vaccines to prevent asthma, Dr. Ege said. His group is now studying some of the microbes in greater detail.
The findings don't yield much in the way of practical suggestions, however. Dr. Ege said it wouldn't help for parents to take their children to a farm two or three times a year or to get a dog or other pet for the purpose of exposing their children to microbes, since the biggest effect appeared to be related to prolonged exposure to cows and pigs.
The above quote from a Warmist modeller writing in "Science" magazine in 1997 gets a run every now and again so I thought I might say a little bit about it.
Warmists are of course very defensive about it, claiming that the quote is taken out of context. And they are right about that, though not perhaps in the way they would want. So let me start with an extended quote from the original:
Climate modelers have been "cheating" for so long it's almost become respectable. The problem has been that no computer model could reliably simulate the present climate. Even the best simulations of the behavior of the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land surface drift off into a climate quite unlike today's as they run for centuries. So climate modelers have gotten in the habit of fiddling with fudge factors, so-called "flux adjustments," until the model gets it right.
No one liked this practice (Science, 9 September 1994, p. 1528). "If you can't simulate the present without arbitrary adjustments, you have to worry," says meteorologist and modeler David Randall of Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins. But now there's a promising alternative. Thirty researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, have developed the first complete model that can simulate the present climate as well as other models do, but without flux adjustments. The new NCAR model, says Randall, "is an important step toward removing some of the uneasiness people have about trusting these models to make predictions of future climate" (see main text).
The NCAR modelers built a host of refinements into their new Climate System Model (CSM). But the key development, says CSM co-chair Byron Boville, was finding a better way to incorporate the effects of ocean eddies, swirling pools of water up to a couple of hundred kilometers across that spin off strong currents. Climate researchers have long known that the eddies, like atmospheric storms, help shape climate by moving heat around the planet. But modelers have had a tough time incorporating them into their simulations because they are too small to show up on the current models' coarse geographic grid. The CSM doesn't have a finer mesh, but it does include a new "parameterization" that passes the effects of these unseen eddies onto larger model scales, using a more realistic means of mixing heat through the ocean than any earlier model did, says Boville.
Even when run for 300 model "years," the CSM doesn't drift away from a reasonably realistic climate, says NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics director Maurice Blackmon. "Being able to do this without flux corrections gives you more credibility," he says. "For better or worse, we're not biasing the results as was necessary before."
The quote is from: "Climate Change: Model Gets It Right--Without Fudge Factors" by Richard A. Kerr.
So it sounds like a good bit of Warmism at first. It offers an alternative to fudging that works. But let's look closer. The first clue is in the journal abstract itsef. We read there: "The first results from this model imply that future greenhouse warming may be milder than some other models have suggested--and may take decades to reveal itself"
Not so rosy! Removing the fudges also removes the urgency! But it gets worse. In a commentary on the Kerr article we read:
The NCAR model produces a modest warming of about 1.8oC over 100 years. But it has the wrong greenhouse effect! The model effectively increases the CO2 greenhouse change by 1 percent per year, but everyone knows that the actual increase is 0.7 percent. Our figure shows the original result along with an adjustment for reality.
Figure 1. TOP: Temperatures predicted by Mitchell and Johns in a recent paper. The dashed line uses an unrealistic CO2 concentration of 859 ppm by 2050. The solid line estimates warming if the most likely concentration, as given by the United Nations, is used. BOTTOM: Temperatures predicted by the new NCAR model. The dashed line increases effective CO2 at 1 percent per year, but the known increase is 0.7 percent per year. The solid line estimates warming using the right value. The nominal starting time is around 1965.
This exercise is getting familiar. We had to do the same thing to the new model from the United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO), featured in our May 12 edition. When we did, we got a total warming of only 1.5oC out to 2100 and a net change of only 1.2oC from current temperatures. When we do the same to the NCAR model, we get a change of 1.3oC from current temperatures.
So removing the fudges removes most of the warming! Pesky!
No cash to fund privacy curtains for female-only pool classes. How come nobody is asking the local mosque to fund this? Why should it be a bite on the taxpayer? Do we fund everything Muslims want?
THE State Government has refused a council's bid to help fund $45,000 curtains at a public pool so Muslim women can have privacy during female-only exercise classes. There were calls yesterday for the City of Monash to dump the controversial plan amid claims it promoted segregation and was a waste of ratepayers' money.
Monash Council confirmed the Victorian Multicultural Commission had knocked back a grant application to fund half the curtains' cost. Two weeks ago, the Herald Sun revealed that VCAT had given the green light for Monash to bypass equality laws and run the fortnightly women-only sessions.
Monash Mayor Greg Male said yesterday that the council still wanted to introduce the program, but it would have to pass the budget review process.
But Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis called on the council to scrap the plan, given the VMC's decision to reject the grant application. "They have made a wise decision - it only leads to segregation and we don't need that in Australia," Mr Davis said.
A spokeswoman for Multicultural Affairs Minister Nick Kotsiras said Monash had received a $1 million grant for a separate program and the VMC encouraged the council to re-apply for the privacy screen grant next time.
The "superior" people despise anything that is popular. The fact that Williamson is as Leftist as they are doesn't save him. Being popular is the unforgiveable sin to their envious minds.
That any theatre company would knock back the opportunity to stage a new Williamson play is almost inconceivable, particularly a sequel to his most famous play. It shows how deep their hate and envy is.
Although he is a Leftist, Williamson is a brilliant and accurate observer of Australians, so when he puts our follies in front of us, that makes us laugh.
At the opening night last week of David Williamson's latest play, Don Parties On, the Sydney audience was laughing so much at times the actors had to repeat their lines. Bruised from a bashing by Melbourne's black turtleneck theaterati, Williamson - Australia's most successful playwright - laughed along and looked utterly delighted at the reaction to his sequel to the iconic 1971 Don's Party.
During the curtain call and extended applause, Garry McDonald, who plays Don, gestured at Williamson from the stage. The applause ratcheted up so much that Williamson got to his feet and waved at the cheering crowd. Bob Hawke - one of a dozen politicians in the audience - even stood to applaud the maligned playwright.
The reaction was hardly what one snide reviewer the next day described as a few cheap chuckles. And what a difference it was to the thin-lipped, crossed-armed reaction on Melbourne's opening night.
But disparaging Williamson has become a badge of belonging in the arts world, despite the fact his plays have kept Australian theatre solvent for more than 30 years. His work is slammed as too bourgeois, too commercial, too accessible to mainstream audiences.
One particularly bilious online critique described Williamson as an "ageing irrelevance" whose writing was "fat, lazy and stupid". Williamson was so wounded he wrote hundreds of words in blog comments in reply, his graciousness being a credit to him.
It is an indictment of our taxpayer-subsidised theatre industry that Don Parties On, which, despite the critics, ended up a smash hit at the Melbourne Theatre Company, was rejected by the Sydney Theatre Company, whose artistic directors are Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton.
Instead, Williamson had to hunt around for an independent commercial producer to take it on. Enter Rachel Healy, who had just left her post as Opera House performing arts director. She found a private investor and put a chunk of her own money into the production in Sydney for 21 performances.
"The critics and the arts community have a response to Williamson you would never see elsewhere," she says. "He brings thousands of people out from their couch to (be) incredibly entertained. But it's bizarre that being entertaining is something to be ashamed of (when) the prime motivator for people to go to the theatre is entertainment."
But of course, if you are an insecure philistine posing as a sophisticated arts appreciator, you won't trust art that is entertaining, beautifully constructed, and coherent. Poseurs like to consume obscure niche art -- no matter how bad -- because it marks them as superior.
How three million migrants came to UK under Labour in biggest population growth in 1,000 years (... that's nearly one every minute)
Labour's open-door immigration policy led to the largest population explosion since the Saxon invasion more than 1,000 years ago. An audit of official figures last night revealed that during the party’s 13 years in power Britain’s foreign-born population increased by three million. At the same time, nearly a million British citizens left the country.
The report shows that net immigration, the number of immigrants arriving versus those leaving, had reached almost three million by mid-2009.
Campaign group MigrationWatch said figures to be published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday will show that by mid-2010 that total had reached 3.2million. In recent years, migrants have been arriving at the rate of around ‘one every minute’, the group’s report says. It comes as a poll found, for the first time, that those in the 16-24 age group were more worried about migrant numbers than those in their 30s.
The 3.2million population increase does not include illegal immigrants – of whom there are around one million in the UK.
MigrationWatch says the ‘three million-plus extra people on this island equates to the creation of three cities the size of Birmingham’.
The open-door policy was pursued with no public consultation, the study says. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said: ‘This has been a clear failure of democracy due in large part to the Left’s deliberate tactic of stifling reasoned debate with accusations of racism. ‘In the years to come, immigration will be seen as Labour’s great betrayal.’
The MigrationWatch document says: ‘Immigration under Labour is certainly the largest ever in numerical terms and the largest in relation to population since the Saxon invasions over a thousand years ago. ‘The only two subsequent immigrations – the Huguenots in the 17th century and the Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries were minor by comparison with recent inflows. ‘Net foreign immigration over the past five years has averaged 24,000 a month.’
The report also says that of the 3.2million immigrants, 80 per cent came from outside the EU, and that, since 1997, 75 per cent of extra jobs created went to foreign-born workers. It states that more than a third of new households will be a result of immigration – requiring 330 new homes every working day for 23 years.
And it points out that the percentage of children born to a foreign mother almost doubled under Labour to 25 per cent. This comes as an extra 500,000 children arrived in our primary schools and a similar number do not have English as their first language.
The report says even New Labour’s favourite think-tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research, acknowledged last year ‘that immigration under New Labour has changed the face of the country’.
Sir Andrew said: ‘We would agree, the sheer scale of what has occurred is changing Britain fundamentally and irrevocably and in ways the majority of the population did not ask for, were not consulted about and did not wish to see.’
The MigrationWatch report estimates that 5.5million foreign migrants arrived in 13 years of Labour government, not accounting for those who left. That is the equivalent of 423,000 a year – or 48 an hour. In recent years, the figure rose to around 470,000 per annum – close to one every minute.
Last night, Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Unlimited migration has placed unacceptable pressure on our public services over the years. ‘That is why we are currently carrying out major reform of the system to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.
‘We have already introduced an annual limit to the number of economic visas from outside the UK alongside new proposals to reform other routes of entry including student, marriage and settlement visas, which have in the past been subject to widespread abuse.’
Critics have insisted Labour adopted a deliberate policy of mass immigration to create a ‘multicultural’ country.
Last night, Labour’s immigration spokesman Gerry Sutcliffe said: ‘This is an unbalanced, misleading and highly political report. Migration levels increased initially because of the strength of the British economy over many years. ‘The most recent figures show net migration from outside the EU was coming down as a result of the points-based system and over a third of “long-term migrants” were in fact students, the vast majority of whom study, pay their fees, and then return home.’
Tufts, a Massachusetts University, is the hotbed of fanatical Leftism that you would expect. So it is no surprise that FIRE recently named it one of the worst American colleges for speech restrictions.
Pleasingly, that seems to have riled Tufts people a bit -- perhaps because it was reported in the Puffington Host. They are so encased in their own little mental cocoon that they think their speech codes are fair and free!
Reality is a little pesky, however. A few years ago the university ruled that two articles in a student newspaper (about blacks and Muslims) made the newspaper "guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment", which is an offense at Tufts.
Below is the completely dishonest way a Tufts spokesman tries to wriggle out of the situation.
Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman thoroughly disagreed with FIRE's branding of Tufts and believed the organization has exaggerated a lack of free speech on campus.
According to Reitman, it is just as essential to acknowledge offensive material as it is to allow that material to exist. "That's the purpose of community learning — so that we have those conversations that at times include the voice in the community that says, ‘they don't have the right to say that,'" Reitman said.
"I think that's an ingredient of that conversation. It always will be. I will always support a person's right to say, ‘they don't have the right to say that,' because that's their opinion." Reitman said that FIRE itself is guilty of not truly respecting the freedom of expression.
"If FIRE is saying we are at fault because we are restricting people from having an opinion that can be voiced, aren't they doing exactly that by saying a group of people doesn't have the right to call something harassing behavior?" he said. "I think they're hypocritical even in making this argument. So they're saying that people don't have the right to call something what they think it is. So they're the ones in my mind who are talking about censoring."
Brucie might make a good theologian but he is no logician. Neither FIRE nor anyone else is critical of anybody disagreeing with anything. It is using the weight of the university to condemn particular utterances that is the issue. For an individual student to call something harassment is fine. It is when the university tries to suppress the "harassment" that there is a problem.
In logic, Brucie's defense is what is known as a "straw man" argument. He can't answer the actual charge put to him so he makes up another argument to answer. But I am sure Tufts is proud of him. I guess they don't teach logic there. Or is it just that Leftism routinely rots the brain?
While I am having fun with Brucie, let me note this little bit of dialogue with him: "But what does the dean of student affairs do on the Hill? "Besides warning people to be careful in Mexico?" Reitman asked jokingly, referring to this past spring break."
If a conservative had said that he would run a fair risk of having "racism" shrieked at him. It would be claimed that he is "stereotyping" Mexicans or some such. Using his own standard of logic, I therefore find him "guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment" for Hispanics
Below is a letter to the Los Angeles Times from economist Donald J. Boudreaux
Three different readers write today in praise of Paul Ehrlich and his predictions of eco-mageddon (Letters, Feb. 18). Such praise is odd, given that not one of the many catastrophes that Mr. Ehrlich has predicted over the past 43 years has occurred.
The drying of the Aral Sea, alas, is not – contrary to reader David McClave’s insinuation – evidence in support of Mr. Ehrlich’s proposition that one of the greatest threats to the environment is capitalism. Here’s what the BBC reported in 1998:
“correspondent Louise Hidalgo in Kazakhstan says that the most amazing thing about the disaster is that it is no accident. ‘The Soviet planners who fatally tapped the rivers, which fed the seas to irrigate central Asia’s vast cotton fields, expected it [to?] dry up. They either did not realise the consequences the Aral’s disappearance would bring or they simply did not care.’”
How interesting that the one genuine eco-disaster mentioned as confirmation of Mr. Ehrlich’s wisdom was caused by the same institution – the powerful, centralized state – that Mr. Ehrlich advises we must submit to if we are to be saved from genuine eco-disasters.
This report was of course headlined as showing "racism". It does nothing of the sort. As psychologists have known for decades, negative attitudes about various groups do NOT predict any wilingness or intention to treat the groups concerned badly (See e.g. here and here. Andrew Bolt has some sarcastic comments )
Half of Australians harbour anti-Muslim sentiments and a quarter are anti-Semitic, according to the biggest survey ever done on racism in this country. One in three also admit some level of racist feelings against indigenous people, reported the Herald Sun.
The survey of 12,500 people, conducted by leading universities, found Victoria to be one of the most tolerant states. But comparisons between 15 regions statewide show stark differences.
People in Melbourne's outer north, including the shires of Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Hume, recorded Victoria's highest rates of negative sentiments against Jews (31.4 per cent), Asians (26.8 per cent) and Britons (12.8 per cent).
Anti-Muslim feelings were highest in outer western council areas of Melton, Wyndham and Brimbank, but these areas also reported the state's lowest rates of racist attitudes to Asians and Italians.
The 12-year study found 84 per cent of people have seen evidence of racial prejudice. And more than 40 per cent believed "Australia is weakened by people of different ethnic origins sticking to their old ways".
Study co-author Dr Yin Paradies, from the University of Melbourne, said racism against minorities was most common in areas that were more highly populated by those minorities. "There is a general finding across the world that ethnic density tends to be related to levels of racism, but not always," he said. "The inner (Melbourne) suburbs tended to have very tolerant attitudes, but there is quite a bit of ethnic diversity there."
The council areas of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra boasted Victoria's highest levels of "cross-cultural relations" and fewest calls for "pro-assimilation". However, inner Melbourne residents surveyed for the Challenging Racism Project also recorded the highest rates of anti-Christian (21.3 per cent) and anti-Italian (12.6 per cent) sentiments.
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke praised Victorians generally, but admitted concern at some of the findings. "Multiculturalism isn't an end point. It's something we have to keep working on," she said.
What happened to all those Democrat calls for "civility" that followed the Giffords shooting?
"As many of you know, this week in Wisconsin local public employee unions, with the help of bussed in protesters from the President’s PAC Organizing for America, are rallying outside the state capital to demonstrate their anger over the Governor’s budget which calls for state workers to contribute to their pension and health plans (albeit to a lower extent than private workers do).
The tone, language, and hate speech displayed by these state workers and the demonstrators from the president’s PAC are just as hateful and more widespread than anything real or manufactured about the Tea Party. None of this hatred is being reported in the mainstream media.
Things started getting nasty when unions began calling Wisconsin Governor Walker “Mini-Mubarak” comparing his actions to that of the recently deposed Egyptian despot. Along with the hateful analogy, the creators of this ditty said the governor had “threatened to call out the National Guard if workers protest against these cuts!”
As the budget vote neared, the protest rhetoric got more hate and violence oriented, comparing the governor to Hitler, rapists and drawing targets on his face. Most disturbing is the fact that many of these protesters are teachers responsible for our children.
Pix at link.
Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School writes that "the yuppie revolution in Egypt is over." He points to the return to Cairo, in triumph, of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had been exiled by Mubarak. al-Qaradawi spoke to a crowd of, reportedly, more than a million Egyptians in Tahrir Square on Friday.
Sheik al-Qaradawi has been whitewashed somewhat in the liberal press, but he is a hard-core radical Muslim. Discover the Networks has the details. Here is al-Qaradawi on the Jews, in January 2009:
Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them - even though they exaggerated this issue - he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers.
And on the United States and its efforts in Iraq:
All of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately.
To be fair, al-Qaradawi did include some conciliatory words in his speech on Friday. For example, he included Egypt's Copts in his greeting. But his audience knows perfectly well what he stands for. Professor Jacobson posted this video, via Israel Matzav. One of the chants you hear translates, "To Jerusalem we go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions."
To Jerusalem we go? That could be a big problem for both the U.S. and Israel, whose security policies have long rested on the historic peace between Egypt and Israel.
One of the western media's favorite Egyptian rebels is Google executive Wael Ghonim. No surprise there: if you had to choose among radical clerics like al-Qaradawi, hooligans like those who assaulted Lara Logan, and a suave, Westernized Google exec, whom would you want to interview? Ghonim was present on Friday and intended to address the crowd, but he was barred from the platform by al-Qaradawi's security. He left the stage in distress, "his face hidden by an Egyptian flag." Is Ghonim Egypt's Kerensky? Well, at least Kerensky got to rule for a while.
I very much hope I am wrong, but I am getting a here-we-go-again sense about events in Egypt and, I am afraid, through much of the region.
I was right in my judgment yesterday that Mrs. Obama would fret about not being invited to the forthcoming Royal wedding in Britain. We read:
Even after it was clear that Prince William and Kate Middleton would not be sending a wedding invitation to the White House, Michelle Obama still appears not to have given up hope. "If I get invited, I'll go," the First Lady said on the Live With Regis and Kelly Show on American television. She conceded, however, that, as things stand, she had not been invited
In recent times, there was a push to redefine NASA's mission as being to make Muslims feel good. But get a load of what they were up to way back in 1976:
It is true that there has been a move to the Greens in inner-city areas of the capital cities. But this has not spread to the suburbs, regional centres or rural areas. The latest Herald/Nielsen poll indicated that NSW voters who are proposing to junk Labor are moving straight across to Barry O'Farrell and the Coalition, by-passing the Greens. .
Interviewed this month on Meet the Press, O'Farrell was asked whether the NSW Liberals would give their preferences to Labor ahead of the Greens, as the Victorian Liberal Party did successfully in last November's state election. The Opposition Leader made the point that, unlike Victoria, NSW has an optional preference voting system and that it is not necessary for political parties to advise supporters about how to allocate preferences.
O'Farrell added that the Liberals in NSW "haven't preferenced the Greens in the past" and he could not "imagine us doing it in the future". He also advised that the Liberal Party's state director, Mark Neeham, "will make the decision [on preferences] in due course".
In the four years he has been Opposition Leader, O'Farrell has been very successful in unifying the Liberal Party and in cementing a viable coalition with the National Party. Both are real achievements. Also, during this time O'Farrell has obtained a significant grasp of detail over all areas of administration. However, he has yet to establish his standing as a conviction politician. This may occur if, as seems very likely, O'Farrell is elected premier on March 26. .
In the meantime, O'Farrell and his colleagues would be well advised to take a stance on the Greens. For starters, there would be some political benefit in acknowledging that some of Labor's candidates are preferable to the Greens. Then there is the fact that O'Farrell is closer to the Premier, Kristina Keneally, on a range of economic, foreign and social policy issues than he is to the Greens.
It is widely recognised that the Greens' best chances of winning seats in the Legislative Assembly turn on the electorates of Marrickville and Balmain - now held by high-profile Keneally government ministers Carmel Tebbutt and Verity Firth respectively. The mayor of Marrickville, Fiona Byrne, is standing against Tebbutt and the mayor of Leichhardt, Jamie Parker, is contesting Balmain for the Greens.
Any Liberal voter would be crazy not to preference Labor ahead of the Greens in Marrickville and Balmain. There are Greens who are primarily environmentalists - like Senator Bob Brown and Senator Christine Milne. And then there are hard-left Greens - like Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon, who graduated from the Communist Party to the Greens. Byrne and Parker are close to the hard-left Greens camp.
As mayor of Marrickville, Byrne has led the charge to sign up ratepayers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. This global movement, driven by the left, aims to boycott all goods made in Israel and prohibit all sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges. The campaign does not distinguish between Israel's pre- and post-1967 borders and is aimed at Jewish and Arab Israelis alike.
Byrne and her Greens comrades seem unaware that Israel and increasingly Iraq are the only two democracies in the Middle East and that Arabs who are citizens of Israel have more democratic rights than Arabs domiciled in Arab nations. They also seem unaware that, historically, the left in Australia has supported Israel - as documented in Daniel Mandel's H V. Evatt and the Establishment of Israel and Philip Mendes's article in the November 2009 issue of Labour History.
The Liberal Party, like Labor, has always supported the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. It is the Greens, not Labor, who challenge Israel, question the Australian-American alliance and are soft on counterterrorism legislation. Moreover, the Greens are well to the left of Labor on economic and social issues.
It makes sense for Liberals in inner-city Sydney to give their preferences to Tebbutt ahead of Byrne and to Firth ahead of Parker.
By JR on Monday, February 21, 2011
They say to use a sign to warn burglars about expensive tools
Police told a man worried about his shed being burgled to put up a sign warning thieves that they could get electrocuted if they tried to pinch his valuable equipment.
David Bishop was given that advice after attended a police meeting in Tatsfield, Surrey, following a string of shed burglaries in the surrounding area.
Police previously told residents they should use 'good quality locks and bolts' and not resort to use home-made devices like putting wire mesh around shed windows as burglars may 'hurt themselves' and sue for compensation.
But this week, Mr Bishop a former BBC engineer in his 60s, said that he had approached a PCSO after the meeting to find out how he could protect his electrical gear, which is worth thousands of pounds.
Rather than being given sensible advice about how to store the valuable equipment - some which carry up to 30,000 volts - Mr Bishop says he was told to put up a fluorescent sign to warn crooks they were 'in danger'. He was told that the best sign to use would be a yellow sign with 'WARNING - ELECTRICAL TOOLS' written on it - and just in case the burglar didn't get the message - or couldn't read - he was also advised to add a 'lightning bolt' to indicate the danger. Mr Bishop was also told the sign needed to be fluorescent as 'most burglaries happen in the dark'.
Speaking this week Mr Bishop said: "Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? "I am an engineer and obviously from time to time I have test equipment." He added: "The police already told me that I shouldn't have wire on the windows as it may hurt the burglars, so I asked a PCSO 'What do I do to protect my equipment?' "That's when I was told to make a sign warning people there were electrical goods inside.
"I couldn't believe it - and then I was told that it might be an idea to make it a sign that could be seen in the dark."
He added: "It could be potentially dangerous for anyone that broke in. Not for me, because I know where the on and off switch is, but someone breaking in could be killed. "The law is so stupid, and you never know what decision judges are going to make. "People do get fed-up with these people trying to help themselves to things which you have worked hard to gather together during past years." "We have a right to protect our property - criminals have far too much protection."
Crime reduction officer for the area PC John Lee, said: "We are constantly advising homeowners to protect their property and the contents of their shed or garage, however, a commonsense approach needs to be taken.
"To properly secure your sheds, Surrey Police strongly advises people to invest in items such as good-quality locks and bolts, and not to resort to homemade devices, as this could cause injury." Surrey Police did not wish to comment on the warning sign.