More wonderful singing from Anna Netrebko

I have of course over the years heard many renditions of "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini.  It would go close to being Puccini's best aria.  So I was pleased to see two versions of it by Netrebko.  And I think she is the best yet at it in my judgment.

But that's not the end of it.  She did another  version of it that is now online.  I suspect she is a little older in this version.  It is however a bit hard to tell.  She was fairly informally presented in the first version, with very little makeup on.  In this version, however she has the full slap on.  It does look very elegant and romantic.

It's interesting that Netrebko looks quite Italian in this performance.  Since the whole song is set in Firenze (Florence) -- with references to the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno etc -- that is very appropriate. Netrebko is from Southern Russia -- Cossack country -- so she probably comes from a latitude nearly as Southerly as Firenze.


Memo to Florida Voters: Your AC Bill Just Went Up

I have just been talking to a refrigeration expert who for his own reasons supports the ban on HFCs as refrigerants.  I put it to him that all the possible replacement gases have problems with toxicity, flammability etc.  We agreed that flammability is going to be the most likely problem to arise but he said that the probability of the gases igniting is very low.  He made the point that we often do things that have a much higher likelihood of harming us  -- driving a car, for instance.

While that is an intelligible argument, it ignores the reality that what we are moving away from is a zero-risk situation.  Say that there will in future be only three occasions worldwide where an AC unit explodes and kills someone.  ALL THREE of those occasions were fully avoidable by retaining HFCs. We may ordinarily take risks but how often do we deliberately heighten our risks?  Sensation-seekers aside, I think we do not.  So the latest Greenie mandate will kill some people -- entirely as a result of that mandate

We’ve warned for some time that Big Government is coming for your air conditioner in the name of saving the planet. Well, on Saturday, nearly 200 countries, including China, agreed to take action in the next eight years on reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used in AC units and refrigerators. The legally binding deal was spearheaded by John Kerry, who thinks HFCs pose as great a threat to national security as jihadis do. But EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was equally involved. “In a nutshell, these HFCs cool our homes and chill our food, but they are turning up the temperature of our planet,” lectured McCarthy. “World leaders took a giant leap forward by agreeing to a global phase-down of these harmful gases.”

What do we get in exchange for this regulatory bonanza? The Washington Examiner reports, “Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal … would put the planet on track to stop the Earth’s temperature from rising a half of a degree Celsius over the next two decades.” That goal is unprovable. No matter how much the temperature changes, these folks will say it would be half a degree Celsius worse had it not been for their intrepid work.

Furthermore, air conditioners were more efficient with the already-banned CFCs than they are with HFCs, and these regulations threaten to make that even worse. Stephen Yurek, the head of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, says, “After two phases of research, the most promising alternatives are currently classified as mildly flammable or flammable.” That sounds fun. So when our AC doesn’t work as well without HFCs, we’ll all be hotter, which has the advantage of “proving” the alarmists right about global warming.

McCarthy also crowed, “While we have seen many significant successes under President Obama’s leadership in fighting climate change, this day will unquestionably be remembered as one of the most important in our effort to save the one planet we have.” And you can bet that “important effort” — just like every other Obama regulation to that end — is going to cost you dearly



Hunt for the radical centre: confronting welfare dependency

Noel Pearson is the leading Aboriginal intellectual and he is unusually realistic below.  He recognizes the bad effects of welfare dependency, for instance. But in the end his solution to Aboriginal problems is despairing.  He in effect says that only a great new Messiah could solve them. His pessimism is  understandable.  Of all the things that have been tried by many  governments for many years, nothing works.

And that nothing works is a clear case of the basic scientific truth that if your theories are wrong, you won't get the results you expect. Pearson simply pooh-poohs without evidence the plain truth that Aborigines are genetically different.  They have evolved over 40,000 years or more to cope with an environment vastly different from the modern world.  They are fish out of water. Only a willingness to deal with what Aborigines are actually like will have any prospect of success

But to deal with what Aborigines are actually like would imperil the insane Leftist faith that all men are equal.  So the status quo will continue

My subject is the legacy of the great American public intellectual and politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the author of one of the most famous briefings in the history of public policy. As an aide in president Lyndon Johnson’s labour department, Moynihan’s 1965 paper The Negro Family: The Case for National Action argued that the US government was underestimating the damage done to black families by "three centuries of sometimes unimaginable mistreatment" and the "racist virus in the American blood stream" that would continue to plague blacks in the future. He wrote:

"That the Negro American has survived at all is extraordinary — a lesser people might simply have died out, as indeed others have … But it may not be supposed that the Negro American community has not paid a fearful price for the incredible mistreatment to which it has been subjected over the past three centuries.

"The Negro family, battered and harassed by discrimination, injustice, and uprooting, is in the deepest trouble … While many young Negroes are moving ahead to unprecedented levels of achievement, many more are falling further and further behind."

Fifty years later, we live in the wake of Moynihan’s electrifying thesis on African-American prospects in the wake of civil rights. The discourse reverberated here in Australia.

Moynihan’s was an attempt to identify the radical centre in thinking about the legacy of slavery and racism and its effects on African-Americans, and what it would mean for the hopes and dreams they held after the catharsis of civil rights. These 50 years saw a tum­ultuous dialectic play out: between those captured by Moynihan’s striking call to arms and those alarmed by its analysis. This discourse began immediately with a vehement campaign by liberal social reformers and leftist activists to oppose the adoption of Moynihan’s thinking by the US federal government.

The first riposte to The Negro Family came from Harvard academic William Ryan, taking aim at Moynihan’s identification of the black family as the ground zero of black poverty and social crisis, later published in book form in 1971, Blaming the Victim. I re-read Moynihan and Ryan in preparation for this oration, as well as a bracing retrospective by Ta-Nehisi Coates in Between the World and Me. Coates is the leading black intellectual of the Black Lives Matter movement and his book is a searing analysis of the ongoing American dilemma.

Last year on its 50th anniver­sary, The Atlantic republished The Negro Family and Coates’s article "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration". It is astounding to reflect that in the entire leftist argument that any attempt to attribute responsibility or personal agency to individuals in respect of social problems has its genesis in Ryan’s accusation that one may be "blaming the victim". It became the most powerful nostrum of leftist objection to social analyses on personal behavioural terms and any policy responses predicated on such analyses. In my reading of Ryan, however, I cannot gainsay much of its insight and perception. Unlike the leftist discourse that he spawned in subsequent decades, Ryan’s original critique cuts to the quick and warrants reflection.

I won’t rehearse the terms of that original disputation, except to say Ryan objected to the so-called "tangled pathology" within African-American families as a misattribution of their predicament. While Moynihan’s denunciation of the ongoing horrific effects of racism against black Americans was unequivocal, Ryan cogently argues slavery was not the immediate cause of the problems manifesting in black families: poverty was their cause. Similar problems were manifesting with other peoples around the world in like circumstances.

I find Ryan’s critique sobering in long retrospect because he reminds us of the danger of conveniently pathologising specific aspects of black life, particularly family life in the ghettos, without turning our eyes to the economic and structural circumstances in which these families live and the deprivations they not only suffered in the distant past but continued to endure. Social policy responses in the modern era have been confined to addressing segments of egregious disparity without looking at the broader circumstances that gave rise to those problems and which, more importantly, drive these problems into the future.

The chief accusation against Moynihan is the Negro family’s causal role in poverty. This is, I think, unfair. The better way to understand Moynihan’s argument is that the Negro family was the victim and became the transmitter of poverty. Once entrenched in poverty with all its effects on black family life, the family then becomes the means by which poverty is transmitted to future generations.

When I reflect on the history of this discourse over half a century, I wonder how much better it would have been if the insights of these two great intellectuals had somehow been reconciled, each correcting and balancing the other rather than repudiating the other. Instead, they became polar opposites in an unresolved discourse that organised a liberal progressive tribe on the one side, and a conservative tribe on the other.

Charles Murray’s 1984 book Losing Ground, which laid out the modern articulation of welfare reform, is the legatee of Moynihan’s Negro Family.

However, the very alarm harboured by Ryan that the political and intellectual Right would pathologise and blame African-Americans for their own predicament was realised when Murray and Richard Herrnstein subsequently published The Bell Curve, spuriously arguing that black Americans were innately intellectually inferior to whites. The problems of poverty and social inequality had their source in the innate character and genetics of black people, and the old assumptions about black racial inferiority found its new sociological cloak in The Bell Curve.

Attempts to build policy in the radical centre found their apotheosis in president Bill Clinton’s enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, aiming, in Clinton’s invocation of Moynihan’s original words, "to end welfare as we know it". It sought to reconcile the behavioural dimension of welfare dependency and the structural opportunity of employment. These reforms were supported by the now New York senator Moynihan, to the dismay of the welfare rights lobby.

There is great debate about the success of the PRWORA reforms, but it is clear this reconciliation was dependent on the availability of work. The deal worked during the Clinton administration when jobs were available but could not be sustained in the economic downturn. You can mandate personal responsibility but not employment opportunity.

My interest is the radical centre. This is the place where those in search of a better society might best hunt. It is the sweet spot representing the right combination of conservative, social and liberal ideas and insights. Rather than the weak, "lowest common denominator" compromise between left and right, the radical centre is the highest, noblest compromise. It brings together high ideals with hard realism. It is high-minded pragmatism informed by intense dialogue and negotiation.

Clinton, Tony Blair and other social democratic leaders around the world were the chief proponents of radical centre politics, however its invention began in Australia with the Hawke-Keating government in 1983. Paul Keating was its greatest exponent. My own view is the difference between Keating as the champion of the radical centre — seeking to produce social good underpinned by economic reform — and John Howard, is that Howard was the great manager of the centre, whereas the exceptional character of Keating’s leadership was to drive the radical centre: to pursue reform and not just management.

The politics of the radical centre have declined in the past decade and a half and we have retreated to that old tepid partisanship, plying for the promiscuous affections of swinging voters. The terms of public political debates are largely between the 15 per cent of the far right against the 15 per cent of the far left, with the middle just sagging.

As perspicacious as Ryan is in Blaming the Victim, in retrospect his thesis informed a half-century’s worth of leftists encouraging the poor to see themselves as victims. This was not his intention but it was his effect. His riposte to Moynihan was a nostrum that became an ideology that became a mindset, and legions of leftist social workers and academics compounded the idea that the victimised were indeed victims and entitled to a sense of victimhood.

I have long argued against the horrific results of this legacy. Inculcating a sense of victimhood in the victimised is for me to remove power from the victims. In a sense, the Right’s relative heartlessness was preferable: better to object to the Right’s hypocrisy than to succumb to the Left sanctifying victimhood. The frog falling in the fire can at least jump, whereas the frog in the freezer hibernates peacefully to his death.

In 1999, I published my thesis Our Right to Take Responsibility. My conviction was in the difference between poverty and passivity. Poverty in the Third World as I had witnessed in Vietnam was of a different character to the passivity in my home community.

My thesis was based on the idea that we needed to assume responsibility as a power — as a power to take control over our lives and to have the kind of self-determination that successful citizens, communities and peoples need, expect and are entitled to in a liberal and social democratic society. Like Moynihan, however, my thesis aroused objections from the Australian Left, indigenous and non-indigenous. A similar discourse that engulfed the Moynihan report played out in a provincial echo here in Australia.

I want to go through the main contentions in this discourse that have eluded common ground. First, in relation to social disadvantage and poverty, the issue of explaining the ultimate origin of these problems going back to the colonial past, to the legacy of racism and exclusion, versus more proximate explanations such as indigenous communities leaving the cattle industry and joining the welfare rolls, and the rise of substance abuse epidemics, is the subject of great convulsion. My argument has been that, though historical wrongs have ongoing impacts, many problems now manifest in our communities are of recent origin. They concern the rise of substance abuse epidemics and welfare dependency in recent decades.

Another debate centres on causation. What drives poverty — is it the structural circumstance of disadvantaged peoples, or is it the behaviour of the peoples themselves that explain the cause of these problems?

Yet another dimension is the effect of racism. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced and continue to experience appalling racism in Australian society. But in responding to that racism, should we inculcate a sense of victimhood in the victimised, or should we resist racism while ensuring it does not become our burden? We should never inculcate a sense of victimhood, otherwise we let the racists win.

And finally, the whole question about agency: should we focus on personal agency or structural reform? The Left says structural reform and the Right says personal agency. Like Clinton and Obama, I say both/and. Because at the end of the day, it is personal agency that will drive structural reform. We can’t just sit back and hope structural reform will somehow happen, and absolve us of the necessity of agency. This is the passive leftist dream of social justice. Social justice in truth can be secured only when two by two, clutching our children to our breasts, we climb the stairs of social progress in pursuit of better lives for our families, animated by the engine of our own liberal self-interest, while supported by the social underpinnings of that staircase built by the distribution of opportunity.

We need strong, healthy, educated children to emerge in distressed communities while working for the structural reforms for the progress of our communities. The stronger our children are, the better they will be able to fight for structural reform.

In 2015, eight regional communities across indigenous Australia developed and provided the federal government with an agenda for empowered communities, which grapples with the structural dimensions of indigenous empowerment.

This blueprint sought to answer the call for empowerment made in the 1990 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Twenty-five years after the royal commission the number of indigenous people in prison doubled. Australia’s indigenous imprisonment rate is the highest in the world: 27 per cent of our prisoners come from 3 per cent of the population. No statistic speaks more profoundly to the structural nature of our predicament than this one. If there is not a structural, indeed, constitutional basis for 3 per cent of any society filling 27 per cent of its jails, then we would have to subscribe to a theory of innate criminality on the part of those peoples. The most notorious figures concerning the indigenous plight in this country make plain this is not a problem of criminology or socio-economic development — this is a problem of disempowerment derived from that people’s status in the nation.

We proposed a comprehensive policy program for consideration by the federal, state and territory governments. Essentially, the challenge of creating a level playing field between the elephant of government and the mouse of indigenous Australia is to find the right fulcrum between the two, to create a relationship of negotiation and mutual responsibility and respect, rather than a top-down relationship of mendicancy and control.

The other structural agenda that is imperative, in my view, is the constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians. This, too, is about empowerment and responsibility. Australia’s first nations must be empowered with a voice in relation to the laws and policies affecting our people.

Finally, the country needs to embrace the indigenous heritage of Australia in a way that celebrates it as the heritage of the entire nation, and which provides assurance to our first nations that the extraordinary languages and cultures of this land may endure long on this continent, as they have done for more than 50,000 years.

Empowerment. Recognition. Cultural embrace. These are the structural agendas of indigenous policy to which we must employ the shoulders of the nation. But achieving them must be the mutual responsibility of indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians alike. We all recognise the problems and yearn for solutions. The question is: will the nation’s leaders take up this challenge? Are we willing to work together to make the paradigmatic shifts that are needed? Is anybody willing to lead?

As a nation, we must have the courage to change the way we do business in indigenous affairs.

I put these views forward from the unfortunate conclusion that there is little that is promising in what has been done and is being done under the banner of "welfare reform" in Australia. Fiddling around with entitlement design and conditions is not by itself going to reform welfare. They will be components of a comprehensive agenda, but they are not sufficient to constitute real reform.

Indeed, we have probably worsened things with the move to outsourcing human service delivery to the private sector. While this outsourcing may be said to be more efficient, the truth is that we have now created and entrenched industries whose sole rationale is the existence of social problems. Beyond the employment and training services industries, we now have private sector industries in all manner of social need and misery, the dead end of which is child protection. The profit motive now exists in the space that separates lost children from their mothers’ bosoms. These vampire industries have completely colonised indigenous communities, and constitute the Australian welfare state’s main response to poverty and the problems that arose from welfare dependency.

Now that rentals flow in these industries there is no incentive for players to work to resolve the social problems that is their market. Rather, the imperative now is simply to manage and, indeed, sustain them. The purveyors of these quasi-markets of outsourced government service delivery now hold the commanding heights, and resist reform.

My belief has always been that we need to pursue reform on both fronts: at the behavioural and structural levels. I do not resile from mutual responsibility and conditional welfare. By themselves they will not solve our problems but there is no escaping the fact disadvantage over time becomes dysfunction, that poverty over time becomes passivity.

The struggle for structural reform is not easy. Even where we have developed concrete agendas for empowerment, the country’s political leaders do not know how to respond. If I have learned anything these past 15 years it is that reforms to secure the radical centre on poverty and disadvantage require national leaders to lead them. You need the equivalent of Keating to lead real social reform, as the flip side of economic reform. The radical centre cannot be secured by activists and provocateurs from the outside, and neither by minor ministers. Only a Johnson or Keating can have the dexterity and authority to do what needs to be done.



A hearty salad

A hearty salad?  What the devil is that? Salads are supposed to be rabbit food!  They're not hearty.  Mine are.  They're almost a meal in themselves.  So I thought I might share the concept.

I also call the salad I mostly make a simple salad, as it is usually just four ingredients chopped and thrown together without even the blessing of a dressing.

For two people:

Chop one tomato into wedges
Chop one Lebanese cucumber into thick slices
Chop contents of an avocado into substantial slices
Chop enough Feta cheese to make about a dozen small chunks

Toss together in a bowl and serve

Optionally:  Add Manzanilla olives, anchovies or chopped capsicum (Bell pepper)

I am very heretical in that I don't use lettuce, other leaves or onion in my salads.  Lettuce has no nutritional value and, if you use onions, a salad dressing is required (in my opinion).  Raw onion is a bit harsh.

I have and have used salad dressing in the past but I am against it these days.  It tends to mask the flavours of the salad ingredients.  And, if what you are are using is reasonably fresh, the usual salad ingredients have a great taste of their own.  And I now like to taste that without distractions.


How the housing boom is remaking Australia’s social class structure

This is quite a sober article but it does fall into the mould of a Green/Left scare story:  "We'll all be rooned, said Hanrahan".  It's fault lies in its confidence that accurate prophecies are possible.  In particular, it relies on straight-line extrapolation: The really dumb belief that all trends will continue unchanged.  It does not allow for Taleb's "Black Swan" events. And just such an event is now happening.  So it is sad that the erudite academic below has not allowed for it.  He has  seen it but has not understood it.

I refer to the huge inflow of Chinese money that is behind the orgasm of apartment building which has now been going on in the big cities for a year or more. Huge apartment buildings are springing up like mushrooms all over the place.  There must be a dozen within 5 minutes' drive of where I live in Brisbane. The process has already brought new accomodation to glut proportions in Melbourne.

And the law of supply and demand tells us what must happen.  A prediction based on the law of supply and demand is as certain as a prediction based on straight-line extrapolation is not.  As the supply of apartments races ahead of the normal demand, the prices will fall and the demand will expand to take up the supply.  We are in other words looking at a major fall in the price of housing in roughly a year's time.  The apartment glut will even hit house prices as the demand for accommodation is somewhat fungible.  Some people who might have been in the market for a house will be diverted by the good value of a cheap apartment.

So the predictions below were out of date the moment they were written

The relentless housing boom in Australia’s cities, especially Melbourne and Sydney, is often framed as an intergenerational conflict in which younger generations are being priced out of the market by baby boomers. However, sociological theories of social class suggest parents’ wealth and social status will eventually be passed onto their children anyway.

So, by focusing on intergenerational inequalities that will eventually be reversed, we are framing the housing affordability question the wrong way. At the same time, the impact of the housing boom is so deep that some long-established ideas about social class may be no longer relevant.

The housing boom has blurred existing boundaries between upper, middle and lower classes that applied to the baby boomers and previous generations. New social class boundaries and formations are being produced.

This does not mean younger generations, as a collective, are disadvantaged compared to their parents. Rather, these younger generations will be subdivided differently and more unequally.

The renting class

In the industrial city, the term “working class” was defined by the experiences of low-income workers in manufacturing jobs. Yet in a post-industrial Australian city it makes more sense to talk about the “renting class”.

Not all renters are poor, and not all poor households are private renters. However, the correlation between the two is significant and strengthening. The proportion of private renters in the total population is slowly but surely increasing – from 20.3% in 1981 to 23.4% in 2011.

Simultaneously, public housing – once a symbol of the working class – is undergoing a dramatic demise.

Largely abandoned by the state to fend for itself, with weak regulation for security of tenure or rent control, the renting class faces the unrelenting burden of ever-rising rents. The average renter paid 19% of their income on rent in 1981. In 2011, this proportion increased to 26.9%.

And, in 2014, around 40% of low-income private renters were in housing affordability stress, paying more than one-third of their income on housing.

With hardly enough “after-housing” disposable income to meet basic living standards, savings for retirement is almost impossible for the low-income renter. And with little or no wealth to assist their children to buy a home, the renter’s social class status is likely to be passed from one generation to the next.

The home-owner class

More than just a status symbol, home ownership has become increasingly central to the way most Australians accumulate wealth. About half of the home-owner’s wealth is held in their own home. Each housing boom enriches them further through tax-free capital gain on their homes.

The housing boom also creates work in the construction industry, which is the third-largest employer in Australia with more than one million workers. These are no longer working-class occupations, with most skilled jobs paying average weekly earnings of close to A$1,500. So, it is arguably the home-owner class that benefits most from each construction boom.

One consequence of the housing boom is that a growing cohort of moderate-income households is now priced out of home ownership. Had they been born a generation earlier, they would have probably been able to afford a house. Now it is beyond their reach.

Over the years, as their rents rise and their wealth stagnates, the gap between the renter and a home owner will become unbridgeable. Their experience of retirement will be worlds apart.

One lifeline for this cohort is the prospect of inheriting some of the housing wealth of their baby boomer parents. But when this will happen is highly uncertain.

The housing elite

The housing elite is rewarded by the housing boom well beyond the capital gain on their own homes. Much of the massive wealth of Australia’s elite is generated through the housing market – through investment, construction and financing of housing.

Harry Triguboff, Australia’s third-richest person, earned his fortune in the apartment development business. So did the three youngest entrants into the 2016 BRW Rich List. Their entry marks the rising importance of housing in the making of Australia’s super-rich.

The top 20% of the wealthiest Australians hold most of their wealth in their home and in other investment properties. They also hold significant wealth in the sharemarket, which is commanded by big banks whose portfolios are heavily dominated by housing loans. Each housing boom significantly adds to their wealth.

Social class, however, is more than just financial wealth. The wealthiest Australians secure their social class position by living in exclusive suburbs where they are able to associate with the right people and live an elite lifestyle. The astronomical prices of houses in some of these suburbs ensure their hermetically exclusive nature.

Breaking the loop

None of these social class categories is natural or universal. These categories will not apply in some European countries, for example, that have very different housing systems.

The deepening fusion between Australia’s housing system and its social class system creates a dangerous cycle. The further house prices grow, the more important housing becomes as a determinant of social class. And when social class is increasingly defined by housing, people are willing to bid even higher to enter home ownership or the housing elite.

Unless we break this cycle, Australia will continue in its path of becoming a more polarised society, with a weakened renting class, an impenetrable elite, and a shrunken home-owner class between them.



HFCs: Mistaking theory for achievement

CFCs and HFCs are the safest gases for use in refrigeration. But in accord with their unfailing agenda of destruction, Greenies have now got both banned.  So more dangerous gases will have to be used. Air conditioners that explode or burst into flames coming to a place near you shortly.

And for what? Because HFCs absorb some frequencies of electromagnetic radiation in the laboratory.  So the Greenies assume that HFCs warm the earth.  But HFCs break down rapidly once they get into the atmosphere so the amount resident at any one point in time in much lower than the amount released.  So the calculations of the effect of a ban on HFcs are undoubtedly well wide of the mark.

But the warmists are so caught up the ecstasy of banning something that they even talk of the recent agreement as already working:  "this is the largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement".  Whether it achieves ANY effect on temperature remains to be seen, if it can be seen.

The ban on CFCs was driven by similar theory.  Banning them was supposed to heal the hole in the ozone layer. It didn't.  The hole was bigger than ever late last year.  So much for theory.

Nearly 200 nations have reached a deal, announced Saturday morning after all-night negotiations, to limit the use of greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in a major effort to fight climate change.

The talks on hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, were called the first test of global will since the historic Paris Agreement to cut carbon emissions was reached last year. HFCs are described as the world's fastest-growing climate pollutant and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators. Experts say cutting them is the fastest way to reduce global warming.

President Barack Obama, in a statement Saturday, called the new deal "an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis." The spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it "critically important."

The agreement, unlike the broader Paris one, is legally binding. It caps and reduces the use of HFCs in a gradual process beginning by 2019 with action by developed countries including the United States, the world's second-worst polluter. More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world's top carbon emitter, will start taking action by 2024, when HFC consumption levels should peak.

A small group of countries including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That's three years earlier than India, the world's third-worst polluter, had first proposed.

"It's a very historic moment, and we are all very delighted that we have come to this point where we can reach a consensus and agree to most of the issues that were on the table," said India's chief delegate, Ajay Narayan Jha.

Environmental groups had hoped that the deal could reduce global warming by a half-degree Celsius by the end of this century. This agreement gets about 90 percent of the way there, said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

Zaelke's group said this is the "largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement."

The new agreement is "equal to stopping the entire world's fossil-fuel CO2 emissions for more than two years," David Doniger, climate and clean air program director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

It is estimated that the agreement will cut the global levels of HFCs by 80 to 85 percent by 2047, the World Resources Institute said in a statement.

Experts said they hope that market forces will help speed up the limits agreed to in the deal.

HFCs were introduced in the 1980s as a substitute for ozone-depleting gases. But their danger has grown as air conditioner and refrigerator sales have soared in emerging economies like China and India. HFCs are also found in inhalers and insulating foams.

Major economies have debated how quickly to phase out HFCs. The United States, whose delegation was led by Secretary of State John Kerry, and Western countries want quick action. Nations such as India want to give their industries more time to adjust.

"Thank God we got to this agreement that is good for all nations, that takes into consideration all regional and national issues," said Taha Mohamed Zatari, the head of Saudi Arabia's negotiating team.



Foolish Aboriginal model wants acceptance as a model only

She hasn't got a hope.  The worldwide standard of female beauty is Nordic -- narrow faces, fine features, white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.  Even some Japanese ladies blond their hair.  To blacks, a white wife is a trophy.  The unfortunate Magnolia has no Nordic attributes at all.  If her skin were white she would be ugly.  She has received acceptance only because many people want to be kind to Aborigines.  She is an "affirmative action" model.

We may deplore the Nordic standard but saying that people should adopt other standards for females that they like to look at is pissing into the wind.  It won't happen.  It will have zero influence.  Brown hair can be accepted in lieu of blonde but that is the only variation to the top standard.  Mr Trump has plausibly claimed that he can have any sort of lady that he wants. He can have the top standard.  So see the picture of Melania below.  Compare and contrast.

I am sure I will be called a Nazi, a white supremacist and much else abusive for saying what I have just said but I am in fact simply pointing out the obvious.  The attractiveness of Ms Maymuru is very much of a piece with the Emperor's new clothes

So why am I pointing out such obvious truths? It's because that is what I do. I attack popular fairy stories. I think truth serves us best. A full and frank discussion of beauty standards might even help a black girl to be thankful for what she's got, rather than pining for the impossible.

It's been mere months since the Northern Territory model, Magnolia Maymuru, shot to fame after becoming the first Indigenous woman from a traditional community to become a finalist in Miss World.

But already, the 19-year-old has become something of a role model for countless women and girls around Australia.

Speaking to Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Maymuru said she wants to go above and beyond merely being seen as 'an Indigenous model'.

'I am about breaking down barriers and stereotypes,' she said.  'And I want to get to a place where I'm not described as an Indigenous model but simply as a model.'

So far, things are going pretty well for the girl who was discovered on a Darwin street in 2014 by her now manager, Mehali Tsangari.

At the time, Ms Maymuru was working as a sports and recreation officer, before she entered Miss World Australia and had the opportunity to represent the Northern Territory.

The 19-year-old has since landed her first major gig as the face of the Melbourne shopping centre, Chadstone. She has also recently been the ambassador for this year's Darwin Art Fair.

Magnolia Maymuru, whose real name is Maminydjama Maymuru, recently said that she never believed she would have a career in fashion. Describing herself as an outdoorsy sort of girl, who was into hunting and camping, she didn't have any experience within the fashion industry.

However, these days the model's glamorous Instagram account is testament to the fact that she is as at home on the catwalk as she is outside at home.



Can the Great Barrier Reef be saved? Uproar as writer claims world’s largest living structure is DEAD

We went through all this a few months ago.  The galoots below are just catching up. To summarize:  The tourism operators in Far North Queensland  -- who go to the reef daily -- were all amazed to hear this guff.  The reef does undergo bleaching (which in NOT "death") from time to time but not all parts are affected.  So they did their own survey and found that only a relatively small part of the reef was bleached at the time:  A MUCH smaller part than what the Greenies claim.

They have NO difficulty in finding parts of the reef where they can take their tourist boats and show visitors the reef in all its glory. The main departure point for the reef is the city of Cairns and the tourism industry there at the moment is booming.

The Greenie claim is that agricultural runoff is killing the reef but the main area of coral bleaching at the moment is parallel with the Northern half on Cape York peninsula, where there are essentially NO farms -- So it's ideology, not reality speaking

The Great Barrier Reef was once a scene of thriving coral, but one environmental writer has claimed it is now beyond help.

'The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old,' wrote Rowan Jacobsen in Outside magazine.

Recent pictures show many parts of the reef appear full of swampy algae, brown sludge and rubble, and it is estimated 93 per cent of Great Barrier Reef has been affected by bleaching, which can kill corals.

In his 'obituary', Jacobson wrote 'The Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on earth.

'It is survived by the remnants of the Belize Barrier Reef and some deepwater corals.'

However, a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority report released this week said its preliminary findings show 22 per cent of coral on the Reef died due to the worst mass bleaching event on record.

However, that's not to say the remaining coral is not in dire trouble.

A destructive bleaching process has already affected about 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef as of April this year, according to scientists at James Cook University.

The latest before and after shots of the devastating effect of coral loss in the tropical far north Queensland in recent years.

With the December 1 deadline looming, Australia must report to the UNESCO to demonstrate an investment strategy to save the Reef.

WWF-Australia spokesman Sean Hoobin said while there was no scientific study on what killed coral in this specific area, the pictures were indicative of what was happening along the Reef's coast.

'Inshore reefs along the coast are deteriorating and studies say sediment, fertiliser and pesticide run off are taking a toll on coral,' Mr Hoobin said.

An independent report estimated it would cost $8.2 billion to achieve most of the water quality targets for the Reef that governments have committed to deliver by 2025.

'Stopping water pollution will help restore the beautiful coral gardens choked by runoff. This image drives home what a big job we face,' Mr Hoobin said.

'Australia must commit the $8.2 billion as a national priority to protect the Reef and the tourism jobs that rely on it.

This comes as coral samples dating back thousands of years show evidence of the human impact on the Reef, researchers have claimed.

University of Queensland Professor Gregg Webb said coral 'cores' taken from along the Queensland coastline showed definable difference in trace element chemistry, including those linked to European arrival in Australia.

'We can look at ancient events where they're been stressed by bad water, high nutrients, but also just sediment load and see what killed them, what was sub-lethal, how common events are, and just get an idea of what the reef can handle,' he said



British footballer Ched Evans cleared of rape charges, following retrial. Feminists furious

I thought from the beginning that the conviction was a monstrous injustice so I am pleased that justice has finally been done. It took a British court to convert consensual sex into rape. The Crown Prosecutors stretched the law in order to appease feminists with a high profile conviction. Feminists had been complaining that there were "not enough" rape convictions. Evans is the victim of feminist hate

The many who condemned and shunned Evans will have egg on their faces for a long time

According to the original prosecution, Yes means Yes and No means No -- except when you are Ched Evans

The woman concerned DID say Yes to him and made no complaint afterwards but a badly instructed British jury  in its stratospheric wisdom decided that Evans should have taken Yes to mean No. She was too drunk to give consent, apparently. Though how they know that and what is the relevant metric of drunkenness in those circumstances remains uncertain. How was Evans to know the woman was too drunk to give consent? There are no standards for how drunk a woman can be before being unable to consent.

So it is a relief that the British justice system has now got it right -- after Evans spent over two years in jail.  According to the original verdict, sex with women who drink must be harshly discouraged.  If that pompous dictum were taken seriously among the population at large, it would at least halve the British birthrate, I would think.  Alcohol and sex have a long history together, even among married people.

And the Yes means Yes mantra is a typically stupid feminist invention anyway.  There are many men who can attest that sometimes No means Yes.  I was always too impatient to play that game myself (apparently to some confusion) but it is a common one where the woman is embarrassed, shy etc.  Many women would think less of themselves if they said "Yes" straight away.  The woman  would think that she was appearing "too easy". So men do sometimes have to decide whether a No really means Yes and they can obviously make the occasional mistake there, particularly if they are not too bright.

So one can only hope that the feminist mantra, Yes means Yes, is vigorously preached to women too so that they will be less evasive and less confusing to men.  I am not holding my breath.

Some of the feminist comments below are very disturbuing.  Discovering the truth can be wrong:  Better for an innocent  man to remain wrongly convicted, apparently

International footballer Ched Evans has been found not guilty of the rape of a 19-year-old woman, but the decision to allow the jury to hear the sexual history of the complainant has sparked outrage from women’s support groups and campaigners.

As Evans was acquitted of rape at a retrial on Friday, five years after having sex with the woman in a hotel room, activists expressed the fear that an earlier appeal court ruling which allowed the complainant’s sexual behaviour to be taken into account by the jury would set a dangerous precedent, and could put off women from coming forward to report sexual offences.

The appeal court judgment – made before the retrial but which can only now be reported – allowed in new evidence from two witnesses who gave testimony about the complainant’s sexual preferences and the language she used during sex. It led to her being questioned in detail in open court about intimate details of her sex life.

Evans, who has played for Wales and Sheffield United and was a member of the Manchester City youth set-up, spent two-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted in 2012 of raping the young woman following a drunken night out in his home town of Rhyl, north Wales.

Following his conviction, a well-funded legal and PR campaign that included the offer of a £50,000 reward for information leading to his acquittal was launched by family and friends. The campaign eventually resulted in the case going to the court of appeal in London and his conviction was quashed.

After an eight-day trial, a jury at Cardiff crown court took two hours to acquit Evans. He kept his head down as the male foreman returned the unanimous verdict. Evans then rushed from the dock into the arms of his girlfriend, Natasha Massey. They held each other for a minute and sobbed on each other’s shoulders.

In a statement read outside the court by his solicitor, Shaun Draycott, Evans said he was “overwhelmed with relief”. He thanked his friends and family, “most notably my fiancee, Natasha, who chose, perhaps incredibly, to support me in my darkest hour”.

The statement concluded: “Whilst my innocence has now been established, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone who might have been affected by the events of the night in question.”

A spokesman for Evans said he would now return to football – though he is currently nursing an injury. He may be able to sue for lost earnings, which would total millions of pounds.

Chesterfield, his current club, welcomed the verdict. Chief executive Chris Turner said: “We can now all move forward and focus on football.”

It can now be revealed that:

    During the appeal case that led to the retrial, lawyers for the crown suggested the two new witnesses may have been “fed” information by those close to Evans. This claim was rejected by Evans’s side and by the appeal court.

    The appeal court judges expressed “a considerable degree of hesitation” before allowing in the new evidence of the former partners because it would result in the complainant’s sexual behaviour being subject to forensic scrutiny.

    Evans’ girlfriend, Massey, was accused in legal argument during the second trial of offering an “inducement” to a key witness. The prosecution said this had “the flavour of a bribe”. The trial judge disagreed.

The woman told the jury she woke up naked in a hotel room in Rhyl, north Wales, in May 2011 with no memory of what had happened but fearing her drinks were spiked.

Friends encouraged her to go to the police and officers found out that the room in which she woke up had been booked and paid for by Evans. He was questioned, and both he and his friend and fellow footballer Clayton McDonald said they had consensual sex with the woman.

The prosecution said she could not possibly have consented as she was too intoxicated. She has never alleged Evans or McDonald raped her.

In court, Evans admitted he lied to get the key for the hotel room and did not speak to the woman before, during or after sex. He left via a fire exit. It also emerged that Evans’ younger brother and another man were trying to film what was happening from outside the room.

Lisa Longstaff, of the group Women against Rape, said the case seemed a “throwback to another time”. Section 41 of the Youth and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 puts restrictions on what evidence can be put before a court by the defence about an alleged victim’s sexual behaviour and questioning of the complainant.

“But it has exceptions, and clever lawyers can get round it,” said Longstaff. “Here they’ve driven a coach and horses through the supposed protection.”

Vera Baird, the barrister, women’s rights campaigner and police and crime commissioner, said the appeal court decision would “go down as a precedent that will be used and abused”. She said the exception used by Evans’ team was originally specifically about instances of sexual activity that happened “at or about the same time”, such as during sex parties.

One of the new witnesses said he had sex with the complainant on the same bank holiday weekend as the hotel incident; the second said they had sex a fortnight later. A feminist activist who goes by the pseudonym Jean Hatchet and was behind petitions asking football clubs not to sign Evans following his jail term, told the Guardian it was “deeply worrying” that evidence about a victim’s sexual history had been permitted.

She said: “This will set a precedent in rape cases to follow where defence barristers will comb through an alleged victim’s sexual past and following the alleged assault at a time when they are suffering trauma.”

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “We are very concerned at the precedent which might have been set.

“In addition to this there are reports that the defence offered a ‘bounty’ for such testimony. This is extremely worrying. We will review the case in full and may contact the Crown Prosecution Service and the government about aspects of this case which raise concern.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “There is a big risk that this case overall has a negative impact on reporting. Only this week CPS figures revealed a quarter of women are not pursuing cases. If you look at the surrounding maelstrom about this case it’s easy to see why that is the case.

“A woman’s past sexual history bears no relevance on whether or not they have been a victim of rape. There is a need to challenge pervasive cultural assumptions that equate a woman’s former sexual history with her likelihood of being a victim of rape.”

Police reminded people that naming the complainant was a criminal offence. Supt Jo Williams, of north Wales police, said: “We are aware that once again the victim has been named on social media. An investigation is ongoing.

“People need to be aware that they could find themselves being arrested and prosecuted. This was done previously, people were prosecuted and heavily fined.”



Cold waves and the jump in European temperatures

An excerpt below of a study based on long records of temperature held in various European cities.  The analysis showed 8 "cold waves" from 1750 to 2000 and explained these as incursions of Arctic air.  So the record is one of alternating cooling and warming, not the climate stability preached by Warmists such as Michael Mann.  Climate change is natural and cyclic, in other words.

Another finding, however, was of a temperature "jump" of a full degree in one recent 3 year period.  There was however no corresponding jump in CO2 so once again we see a disjunction between CO2 and temperature. It is oscillations in Arctic air currents that cause European temperature change, not CO2

Much of European history has been marked by the effects of such irruptions of arctic air into a region that is habitually under the influence of warm Atlantic air – to which, consequently, European agriculture and economy has been adapted. But at the end of the 20th century, an anomalous and very rapid warm shift in surface temperatures occurred that has been described as a “jump” in the temperature record. Over just a 3-year period from 1987-1990, SAT anomalies inceased rapidly over about a full degree.

Regional SAT was maintained through to the end of the record in 2014 at a higher mean temperature than had been recorded during the previous century. One may choose to ignore it and simply draw a trend line from 1890 to 2015 – or one may choose to interpret the record differently, as here: both positions are valid and in the present state of climate science your choice will largely depend on your confidence in the reliability of simulation modelling of complex Earth systems.

The flowering dates of plant communities in Britan, analysed for their response to long-term change in the Central England surface air temperature record, responded closely to this regime shift.  The fit between ambient temperature and flowering dates (both at community level and for individual species) is excellent over each 25-year segment of the entire record back to the 1750s. The series terminates in a very clear 15-day advance in the dates of community flowering after 1985 that was maintained to the end of the record in 2008.

Such a rapid change in surface air temperature over this large region is compatible neither with anthropogenic nor with volcanic forcing, but is consistent with the expected result of an equally major and rapid change in the distribution of atmospheric pressure over the entire North Atlantic-Arctic region.

This is indicated by change in the values of both the wintertime NAO and the Arctic Oscillation (northern annular mode of Hurrell) which together describe the state of the polar vortex north of the mid-latitude jet stream; when polar surface pressure is low (positive AO index) this flows strongly and consistently, with relatively weak meanders, so that cold polar air tends not to intrude down into mid-latitude Europe. But when polar surface pressure is high (negative AO index) the jet stream weakens and meanders more strongly, so that cold polar air is routinely carried down into mid-latitudes. Because of the existence of the western mountain ranges in North America that perturb its flow, the jet stream has a preferred number and location of southerly waves appropriate to each state of the AO. Periods of strongly negative AO are, in western Europe, associated with irruptions of cold polar air, as occurred rather commonly in the period 1935-45, discussed above.

Major warm excursions in surface air temperatures on the Japanese islands have already been noted for these same years (see plots for two rural stations on p. NN) and although these excursions were brief and cooling set in after only a single peak warm year, they were peraps related to the same rapid change in the value of the Arctic Oscillation after 1985. Changes in the AO has consequences for the strength of the winter westerlies that bring cold air from central Asia down across the Japanese islands, affecting winter temperatures generally in East Asia; this effect is modified by the strength of western Pacific cyclonic activity, and the 1985-1990 warm event over Japan (see p. NN) appears to have been the result of complex interaction between these two processes.



The latest Greenie fad

All set out in gruesome detail below, complete with some familiar myths.  Not mentioned is that the ozone hole was at its biggest LAST YEAR, showing the the CFC  ban has had no effect and was therefore totally misconceived.  So what chance for the HFC scare?  Not much, one would think.

The whole story is one of exaggeration. We read: "carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for more than five centuries".  I suppose the let-out there is "can".  If they had said "does", they  would be plainly wrong. Both radioactive and stable carbon isotopes show that the real atmospheric CO2 residence time (lifetime) is only about 5 years, and that the amount of fossil-fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is maximum 4%.  And so we go on ...

IN 1985 a gaping hole was found in the ozone layer above Antarctica. Two years later leaders from around the world signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to phase out the substances causing it, known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used in refrigeration and as propellants in products such as hairsprays and deodorants. Scientists had discovered more than a decade earlier that CFCs release chlorine into the stratosphere as they decompose—depleting ozone—and are also powerful greenhouse gases. Thanks to the treaty, the equivalent of some 135 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions were avoided, saving the ozone layer from complete collapse by the middle of this century. This week officials from around the world, led by America and China, are meeting in Rwanda to make a deal that would extend the Montreal Protocol to cover hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which were introduced to replace CFCs. Why?

HFCs don’t deplete the ozone layer but they still contribute hugely to global warming, as scientists discovered in the decades after their introduction. The average atmospheric lifetime for most commercially used HFCs is 15 years or less whereas carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for more than five centuries. But, like CFCs, HFCs cause a greenhouse effect between hundreds and thousands of times as powerful as carbon dioxide. Total emissions of HFCs are still relatively low. But they are rising by 7-15% a year as people in hot countries, such as Brazil and India, become richer and buy air-conditioning units.

Small island nations, which are most susceptible to the effects of climate change, have been discussing the need to control HFC emissions for a decade. China and America promised to do something about them in 2013. America wants action to be speedy enough for global emissions to reach their peak by 2021, then to start falling; China may be keener to postpone that point until 2023. Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia lean towards 2025. India has lobbied for an even later date, closer to 2030. But many African countries and low-lying island states, already concerned by global warming, are pushing for a tighter timetable. Whatever the deadline, and however steep the cuts, the plan is to require rich countries to act faster while allowing poorer ones more time to adjust.

A deal on HFCs would quickly benefit the climate—and not just by obliging countries to cut emissions of these powerful greenhouse gases. On its own this direct effect could make a real difference. An ambitious deal, for example one demanding that they start to be phased out by 2020, would cut the equivalent of between 100 billion and 200 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050, enough to chop 0.5°C from the rise in average global temperatures by 2100. But, as the history of CFCs suggests, extending the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs could also benefit the climate by boosting the efficiency of air-conditioning units. After the original deal some coolers were 60% more efficient than the ones they replaced. Similar adjustments to an expanded agreement could make such technologies more environmentally friendly overall. This is particularly important because they happen to be both a cause of global warming, and an important means of adapting to it.



Global warming doubles size of forest fires in US West, study finds

This is just more rubbishy modelling.  They have got no way of knowing what part of forest fire activity is attributable to anthropogenic global warming -- unless they use the old formula "post hoc ergo propter hoc" -- which is both a scientific and a logical fallacy.  It does appear that there is some correlation between fire incidence and global temperature but we must remember what is just about the first law of statistics:  Correlation is not causation.  I would think the correlation could be amply explained by the steadily increasing Greenie influence on forestry.  Greenie resistance to back-burning is by far the biggest producer of catastrophic fires.  I append the journal abstract to the summary below

Global warming has caused the area affected by forest fires in the western United States to double over the last 30 years – and the problem will continue to get worse until the trees start to run out, according to new research.

Higher air temperatures dry out vegetation, making it more prone to combust, as witnessed with increasing ferocity in states like California and Oregon.

While some parts of the world will get wetter as the climate warms, fires have been increasing in places like the Amazon, Indonesia and Canada's boreal forests.

Climate scientists had predicted wildfires would increase in places, but the new study, funded in part by Nasa, is one of the first to quantify the effect.

One of the researchers, Professor Park Williams, a bio-climatologist at Columbia University, said: “No matter how hard we try, the fires are going to keep getting bigger, and the reason is really clear.

“Climate is really running the show in terms of what burns. We should be getting ready for bigger fire years than those familiar to previous generations.”

An extra 4.2 million hectares of forest fires – about 16,000 square miles, the same area as Denmark – were estimated to have been caused by human-induced climate change between 1984 and 2015, according to a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This increase nearly doubled the area that would have burned if the temperature had not risen, the researchers found.

Eventually the fires will be so extreme that the remaining forests are too fragmented for flames to spread easily between them.

“There's no hint we're even getting close to that yet. I'd expect increases to proceed exponentially for at least the next few decades,” Professor Williams said.

While the world’s average temperature has risen by one degree Celsius since pre-industrial times, the increase within forests in the US West has been sharper. Since 1970, temperatures have gone up there by 1.5C – and this increase is expected to continue.

Warmer air can hold more moisture, so water is sucked out of plants, dead vegetation and the soil, creating tinder dry conditions.


Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

By John T. Abatzoglou and A. Park Williams


Increased forest fire activity across the western continental United States (US) in recent decades has likely been enabled by a number of factors, including the legacy of fire suppression and human settlement, natural climate variability, and human-caused climate change. We use modeled climate projections to estimate the contribution of anthropogenic climate change to observed increases in eight fuel aridity metrics and forest fire area across the western United States. Anthropogenic increases in temperature and vapor pressure deficit significantly enhanced fuel aridity across western US forests over the past several decades and, during 2000–2015, contributed to 75% more forested area experiencing high (>1 σ) fire-season fuel aridity and an average of nine additional days per year of high fire potential. Anthropogenic climate change accounted for ∼55% of observed increases in fuel aridity from 1979 to 2015 across western US forests, highlighting both anthropogenic climate change and natural climate variability as important contributors to increased wildfire potential in recent decades. We estimate that human-caused climate change contributed to an additional 4.2 million ha of forest fire area during 1984–2015, nearly doubling the forest fire area expected in its absence. Natural climate variability will continue to alternate between modulating and compounding anthropogenic increases in fuel aridity, but anthropogenic climate change has emerged as a driver of increased forest fire activity and should continue to do so while fuels are not limiting.



Cold waves and the jump in European temperatures

An excerpt below of a study based on long records of temperature held in various European cities.  The analysis showed 8 "cold waves" from 1750 to 2000 and explained these as incursions of Arctic air.  So the record is one of alternating cooling and warming, not the climate stability preached by Warmists such as Michael Mann.  Climate change is natural and cyclic, in other words.

Another finding, however, was of a temperature "jump" of a full degree in one recent 3 year period.  There was however no corresponding jump in CO2 so once again we see a disjunction between CO2 and temperature. It is oscillations in Arctic air currents that cause European temperature change, not CO2

Much of European history has been marked by the effects of such irruptions of arctic air into a region that is habitually under the influence of warm Atlantic air – to which, consequently, European agriculture and economy has been adapted. But at the end of the 20th century, an anomalous and very rapid warm shift in surface temperatures occurred that has been described as a “jump” in the temperature record. Over just a 3-year period from 1987-1990, SAT anomalies inceased rapidly over about a full degree.

Regional SAT was maintained through to the end of the record in 2014 at a higher mean temperature than had been recorded during the previous century. One may choose to ignore it and simply draw a trend line from 1890 to 2015 – or one may choose to interpret the record differently, as here: both positions are valid and in the present state of climate science your choice will largely depend on your confidence in the reliability of simulation modelling of complex Earth systems.

The flowering dates of plant communities in Britan, analysed for their response to long-term change in the Central England surface air temperature record, responded closely to this regime shift.  The fit between ambient temperature and flowering dates (both at community level and for individual species) is excellent over each 25-year segment of the entire record back to the 1750s. The series terminates in a very clear 15-day advance in the dates of community flowering after 1985 that was maintained to the end of the record in 2008.

Such a rapid change in surface air temperature over this large region is compatible neither with anthropogenic nor with volcanic forcing, but is consistent with the expected result of an equally major and rapid change in the distribution of atmospheric pressure over the entire North Atlantic-Arctic region.

This is indicated by change in the values of both the wintertime NAO and the Arctic Oscillation (northern annular mode of Hurrell) which together describe the state of the polar vortex north of the mid-latitude jet stream; when polar surface pressure is low (positive AO index) this flows strongly and consistently, with relatively weak meanders, so that cold polar air tends not to intrude down into mid-latitude Europe. But when polar surface pressure is high (negative AO index) the jet stream weakens and meanders more strongly, so that cold polar air is routinely carried down into mid-latitudes. Because of the existence of the western mountain ranges in North America that perturb its flow, the jet stream has a preferred number and location of southerly waves appropriate to each state of the AO. Periods of strongly negative AO are, in western Europe, associated with irruptions of cold polar air, as occurred rather commonly in the period 1935-45, discussed above.

Major warm excursions in surface air temperatures on the Japanese islands have already been noted for these same years (see plots for two rural stations on p. NN) and although these excursions were brief and cooling set in after only a single peak warm year, they were peraps related to the same rapid change in the value of the Arctic Oscillation after 1985. Changes in the AO has consequences for the strength of the winter westerlies that bring cold air from central Asia down across the Japanese islands, affecting winter temperatures generally in East Asia; this effect is modified by the strength of western Pacific cyclonic activity, and the 1985-1990 warm event over Japan (see p. NN) appears to have been the result of complex interaction between these two processes.



Where there are fewer of them, kids do better in schools

Although it is impolite to mention it, the USA does have a strong social class system.  And these results are a typical social class effect.  The lower the social class the higher the number of children.  So what the authors found was just a familiar social class effect:  Higher social class kids are more likely to do more schooling.  All the other explanations they mention below are unproven, a violation of Occam's razor

I had a look at the detailed results and note that they DID find a stronger effect in richer neighborhoods -- which is consistent with what I have just said.  They found no effect of education, however, which is INconsistent with what I have just said.  That may simply confirm a popular stereotype:  That in America, money is king.

More likely, however, it shows that social class is complex with no one objective indicator being crucial.  Subjective class identification may be the best single indicator.  I have discussed these issues at some length long ago

One should also mention another taboo subject: IQ.  High IQ people have fewer children and tend to have high academic ability, which they pass on to their kids.  So just one component of social class -- IQ -- could explain the results all by itself.  While they are constrained by political correctness, American social researchers will continue to do inconclusive research that leads nowhere

For decades, communities across the USA have tried all manner of raising high school graduation rates: higher academic standards, better school funding, stricter testing and calls for arts, vocational, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.

New research suggests there’s another way to raise graduation rates: simply increase the number of adults in a community.

Combining decennial U.S. Census and education data, a pair of researchers has found that improving the ratio of adults aged 25+ to school-aged children helps keep kids on a path to graduation. More adults in a neighborhood means a bigger “web of supports” that benefit all kids, said Jonathan Zaff, a developmental psychologist, executive director of the Center for Promise at Boston University School of Education and the lead researcher on the project.

It’s those relationships that young people need in order to be successful in school, he said.

The new research finds that for every seven adults a neighborhood adds, one fewer young person leaves school. The effect is even greater in upper-income neighborhoods, data suggest.

Researchers have long explored the adult-to-child ratio idea as it relates to crime policy, Zaff said, but the new findings are the first to apply it to schooling.

He said more research is needed to pinpoint exactly why a healthier youth-to-adult ratio aligns with better school outcomes. But it makes a certain kind of sense, since the primary role of adults has long been to teach, guide and provide social norms for young people.

When they’re not around to do that job, Zaff said, “then young people will turn to their peers — they’ll turn to their own devices, in a sense, in order to really figure things out. And what we see from the literature is that when that happens, when you don’t have the guidance of adults, the outcomes typically are not as positive.”

He noted, for instance, that international development researchers have long studied the “youth bulge” that results in developing nations when they experience civil wars or epidemics that kill a lot of adults.

“All of a sudden there are few adults, but there are a whole lot of young people without (their) guidance and support,” Zaff said. “That’s when you get things like child soldiers and people who don’t go to school — and a lot of other negative outcomes.”

The new research comes courtesy of America’s Promise Alliance, a centrist Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that closely tracks U.S. high school graduation rates — it has publicly pushed for a 90% graduation rate by the end of the decade. At last count, the USA’s graduation rate hovered around 82%, a record high, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The group on Monday posted an interactive tool that allows users to compare youth-to-adult ratios by Census tract and overlay the percentage of youth either not in school or unemployed.

Why do low-income neighborhoods tend to have fewer adults? Possible culprits: higher rates of incarceration, adult mortality and single parenthood, for instance.

On the flip side, in wealthier neighborhoods with higher birth rates, families’ higher incomes can make up for the lack of adults-per-child, Zaff said. He offered the example of two of the USA’s wealthiest communities, both in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., with “amazing” schools and other amenities that keep graduation rates high.

“If you go to a place like Bethesda or Potomac, there are so many resources around the young people that it can make up for the lack of adult capacity,” he said. Wealthy communities “can, in a sense, afford those kids.”

But he noted that one key indicator — adults’ education levels — actually had an interesting relationship to graduation rates: “It had no effect, actually.”

It’s not that education levels don’t matter, Zaff said. “Education matters, but even if you have adults who don’t have a college degree, they do play a really important role in the education of youth in their community. It’s not this elitist thing: ‘Only those communities that have a lot of college-educated people will be able to do this.’ It really is that all adults have a role to play.”



Sexual misbehaviour in Australian universities is extremely rare

Sexual misbehaviour at universities is a great fad worldwide at the moment.  There are constant wails about it.  And from the wails you would infer that universities are a hotbed of rape. But are they?  Putting a lot of juicy young men and women together is sure to go astray in some instances but is rape in universities any more common than in the community at large? Among all the hyperventilating, I have yet to see any statistics on the question.

That rather aroused my suspicions.  If rape really were particularly common in  universities, would not all the agonizing ones be forcing the statistics on the matter down our indifferent throats? Instead there seems to be a complete statistical blackout.

So I decided to do a few back of the envelope calculations of my own.  The total university rapes reported across Australia is given below as 126 in five years.  And I estimate the number of students as being about 1 million.  That gives a rate per 100,000 of 12.6.  Compare that with the latest nationwide figure of 28.6 per 100,000 PER ANNUM.  Clearly, by general community standards, rape is exceptionally RARE in Australian universities. Clever young people behave cleverly, which is what I thought.  I spent nearly 20 years in Australian universities without hearing ANYTHING about campus rape

No doubt much scorn will be heaped on my calculations but surely the challenge is to do better.  I would think that no statistical jiggery pokery would close up by much the vast gap I have found

Three young women have shared the harrowing stories of how they were allegedly raped at Australian universities - two when they were just 18.

They are some of 575 students who were sexually assaulted on campus in the past five years, with only six alleged perpetrators expelled.

Dr Rosyln Arnold, a former council member of Sydney University’s St John's residential college who quit her position in disgust in 2012, said it was the product of entrenched rape culture in young men.

'It's endorsing a pattern that women deserve to be victims, that it is acceptable to denigrate and humiliate them and to act violently towards them,' she told Sunday Night.

She said this was made worse by an environment where women were 'objectified and crudely ranked on social media'.

However, one student who had dozens of men make sexualised comments on her Facebook photos said she enjoyed the attention.

'For me, that was really flattering and actually quite funny too. My friends also found it very funny so we just had a bit of a laugh,' Melbourne University student Sydney Watson said.

Sunday Night reporter PJ Madam then read Ms Watson a series of very insulting comments directed at her - including that she 'is a b**** and has bad breath'.

'Look, I won't lie, that some of those thing are really inappropriate but to me that's the nature of the online world. I think it's all in the name of fun,' she responded.

'Whilst they might not be completely right, I don't think that it's in a serious fashion, by any stretch of the imagination.'

Dr Arnold said attitudes like Ms Watson's were 'letting down the side by saying that it's OK. We don't think it's OK.'

Another student, Emma Hunt, was excited to attend Monash University in Melbourne, but her first experience of university life on orientation camp went horribly wrong when she got blackout drunk at a costume party. 'I remember waking up in a cabin with a stranger. And I don't know how I got there, didn't know who he was,' she said.

Her first memory was a lot of people getting her out of the room. She didn't remember how long she was there for, but she was being raped when she woke up.

Ms Hunt only told a friend months later because she didn't know where to go for help. Her alleged rape is now being investigated by police, but she is still scarred by the ordeal

'I wake up fearing i'll run into him every day at uni. It's quite scary, I feel like I have to be hyper-vigilant in case I recognise him,' she said.

'I never really know when the next day is that I'm going to run into him. Last time I was absolutely terrified. I only saw him for a split second, the most unsafe I've ever felt.'

On the other side of the country, former University of WA science student Jannika Jacky said she was raped on her 18th birthday three years ago by a friend from her dorm.

'We met at college, and we became friends quite quickly. He seemed like a perfectly good you know, charming, funny sort of person,' she said.

After pre-drinks at college and then a bar to celebrate, she was feeling drunk and wanted to go home but couldn't find friends who had her room key, so asked him to get her home. 'It was freezing outside and I was just like, "It's really cold, can I just chill in your room for a little bit?"' she said.

'And he was like, "sure, no worries, what are friends for".'

As soon as they were in his room he turned the light off and began kissing her, before raping her despite her protesting.  'I remember quite clearly saying "no. I don't want to do this. because we're just friends". But he just didn't stop,' she said.

'When I got back to my room I just remember taking the longest shower I have probably ever taken.'

Ms Jacky eventually had to drop out of university. Her alleged rapist was kicked out of campus housing but otherwise not punished. He graduated last month.

'The stress was unbearable, depression just went through the roof and so did my anxiety as well. Um, I also have a lot of trouble with having relationships,' she said.

Olivia Todhunter, at the University of Melbourne, alleged she was on exchange overseas when she was raped by a fellow Australian student. 'I remember saying "stop". I remember saying "get off". I remember saying "you have a girlfriend". I remember saying that I didn't want this,' she said.

'When I went to uni counselling they said that my issue wasn't urgent enough to be available for emergency counselling.'

It took Australia's biggest ever freedom of information request to lift the lid on the scale of sexual assault in Australian universities, forcing 27 universities to hand over records of complaints.

There were 575 cases of sexual assault, harassment and indecent behaviour reported over five years, including 145 rapes.

Only six alleged perpetrators were expelled, 14 were suspended, 11 given warnings, 12 reprimanded, and six 'voluntarily separated'.

Those who were punished by universities were in some cases made to pay a $55 fine, write an apology letter, or do just eight hours of community service.

In the vast majority of cases no action was taken by universities and, against their own policies, allegations were often not reported to police.

The complaints uncovered included a male student breaking into campus dorm rooms and raping women in their beds, and another given a master key to all rooms after he was accused of multiple assaults.

Staff members exchanged sexual favours for free accommodation, and others secretly filmed women using showers and toilets.

Male students grabbed women’s breasts, forcefully kissed them, spat at them, and yelled insults like 'slut, slut, slut', 'I bet you like c**k', 'bitch' and 'scum-c*nt'.

Victims were also advised that any discussion of their sexual assaults or abuse with others 'could be considered a disciplinary matter' due to 'confidentiality’' concerns.



The bits of Greenland that melted 20,000 years ago are the same bits that are melting today

My rather unsurprising heading above summarizes the findings reported in confusing detail below.  So the effort below to make the findings alarming falls rather flat.  It in fact draws attention to the lively possibility that present changes are as natural as the changes of 20,000 years ago.

I also append the Abstract of the underlying academic journal article, which is rather fun in its own way. I quote: "We reevaluate the evolution of the GrIS since LGM and obtain a loss of 1.5-m sea-level equivalent from the northwest and southeast"

In other words, they estimate that Greenland melting made sea levels rise by 1.5 meters over the last 20,000 years.  That amounts to less than one ten thousandth of a meter per year.  How worrying is that?  You would need a microscope to see anything that small

The latest observations, reported in the journal Science Advances today, reveal that the entirety of Greenland is rising in response to a combination of Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (that is the rise of land due to ice mass loss over the last ~23 thousands years) and the Earth’s immediate elastic response to present-day ice-mass loss.

Mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the world’s second largest ice sheet, has increased dramatically over the last two decades, due to accelerated glacier flow and enhanced surface melting.

Scientists have historically found it hard to provide precise measurements of exactly how much the ice sheet has melted over a millennial time scale, and therefore how much it was contributing to global sea level rise over those time scales.

Earlier studies suggest that the basins of the southeast, east and northwest of the ice sheet have undergone profound change, contributing more than 77 per cent of the total ice loss to the ocean over the last century, specifically between 1900 and 1981.

Using data from the Greenland GPS Network, a team of researchers including scientists from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Bristol, recently found that these regions actually contributed about 40 per cent to ice mass loss over thousands of years.

Lead author Professor Shfaqat Abbas Khan from DTU, and colleagues, measured the rise of land masses that were once weighed down by ice sheets, known as Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA).  They found large GIA uplift rates of over 12 millimeters per year in southeast Greenland.

The results indicate that these basins alone have contributed to an ice mass loss corresponding to global sea level rise of 1.5 m.

Co-author Professor Jonathan Bamber from the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, said: “It’s notoriously difficult to estimate the long term past contribution of Greenland to sea level rise. Our new results provide a unique insight into the millennial timescale contribution of the ice sheet. We find a remarkable similarity between how the ice sheet behaved in the past and what it is doing now, with potential implications for future mass loss trends.”

Professor Khan added: “It seems likely, therefore, that further destabilization of these ice sheet regions will continue to be the source of Greenland’s contribution to sea-level rise in the future.”


Geodetic measurements reveal similarities between post–Last Glacial Maximum and present-day mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet

Shfaqat A. Khan


Accurate quantification of the millennial-scale mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) and its contribution to global sea-level rise remain challenging because of sparse in situ observations in key regions. Glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) is the ongoing response of the solid Earth to ice and ocean load changes occurring since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~21 thousand years ago) and may be used to constrain the GrIS deglaciation history. We use data from the Greenland Global Positioning System network to directly measure GIA and estimate basin-wide mass changes since the LGM. Unpredicted, large GIA uplift rates of +12 mm/year are found in southeast Greenland. These rates are due to low upper mantle viscosity in the region, from when Greenland passed over the Iceland hot spot about 40 million years ago. This region of concentrated soft rheology has a profound influence on reconstructing the deglaciation history of Greenland. We reevaluate the evolution of the GrIS since LGM and obtain a loss of 1.5-m sea-level equivalent from the northwest and southeast. These same sectors are dominating modern mass loss. We suggest that the present destabilization of these marine-based sectors may increase sea level for centuries to come. Our new deglaciation history and GIA uplift estimates suggest that studies that use the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite mission to infer present-day changes in the GrIS may have erroneously corrected for GIA and underestimated the mass loss by about 20 gigatons/year.


De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

The traditional Latin piece of advice above translates as: "Speak only good of the dead".  But is it not absurd?  Should we speak only good of Hitler? 

Absurd or not, it seems widely regarded as good manners.  So when an Australian Senator made a perfectly factual comment about a dead person that alluded to something unpopular about that person, that was widely condemned.

The person concerned was a popular media personality and she was being very fulsomely praised in something of a media frenzy.  I infer that the Senator was only trying to restore some balance to the commentary about her.  I don't see that he has anything to apologize for.  An alternative point of view is often unpopular but is all the more important for that

A senator has been slammed on social media and faces calls to resign after a 'horrid, dreadful' tweet about sports journalist Rebecca Wilson.

The 54-year-old broadcast and print veteran died at home on Friday after a 'long' battle with breast cancer she had kept very private.

Just hours after the Daily and Sunday Telegraph columnist's death, Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjlem tweeted: 'Doubt there'll be many #WSW (Western Sydney Wanderers) fans at Rebecca Wilson's funeral #innocentlivesdamaged.'

He quickly came under attack for the post - a reference to Ms Wilson naming and shaming fans allegedly on Football Federation Australia's banned list, nearly half who were fans of the western Sydney club.

Fairfax investigative journalist Kate McClymont said: 'Shame on you, Senator @DavidLeyonhjelm. 'You mightn't have agreed with Rebecca Wilson but with her death so fresh show some human decency.'

'That's a pretty horrid thing to say so close to her death,' tweeted TV critic Steve Molk.

Victorian state Attorney-General Martin Pakula said: 'Resign from the Senate @DavidLeyonhjelm'.

Punter Steven Milburn said: 'Just dreadful mate, time to get out the full-length mirror.'

Christopher Brereton said: 'Just find something better to do than have a go at someone who's passing was reported mere hours ago.'



A Greenie tool hits blowback

I have no sympathy at all with the dead Greenie described below.  He was the tool of oppressive Greenie regulations that were interfering with a farmer's livelihood.  He knew that the regulations he was enforcing were causing great grief in the farming community but he continued being at the cutting edge of those regulations.  One hopes that a decent man would have resigned instead of continuing as an instument of tyranny.  But he continued in his role and paid a just price for it.

And there was no need for the heartburn.  If Greenies and their representatives had always insisted that farmers be compensated for financial losses inflicted on them by new regulations, there would have been very little anger.  But Greenies hate people and treated farmers as if they were cockroaches to be trodden on.  In their great arrogance they were as contemptous of farmers as they are of people generally.  To them, farmers were not people with feelings and interests but noxious pests interfering with their dreams of a new Eden.

Greenies depend on the peacable nature of ordinary decent people to get their regulations obeyed but on this occasion one elderly farmer cracked.  I would be delighted if there were more incidents like it.  We had enough Fascism in the 20th century to put us off all Fascism forever, including Ecofascism

ROBERT Strange is a haunted man. Hunted like an animal for 20 minutes by a man hellbent on killing, as his mate and colleague slowly bled out through three gunshot wounds, he lived a nightmare which still shocks him from his sleep.

It’s two years since Rob cradled dying environment protection officer Glen Turner in his arms in the dark on the dirt of a remote road outside a property at Croppa Creek, near Moree.

Glen had been shot three times by 78-year-old farmer Ian Turnbull: a man hellbent on revenge, and who will die in prison.

“He shot an innocent man, twice,” Robert, the only witness to the murderous 20-minute game of cat-and-mouse Turnbull played with the pair, tells Sunday Night journalist Steve Pennells, who has also gained the first interview with Glen’s wife, Alison.

“He went there with the sole intention of killing Glen.”
Glen Turner died in his colleague’s arms, survived by wife Alison, and two children. Picture: Channel 7

Glen Turner died in his colleague’s arms, survived by wife Alison, and two children. Picture: Channel 7Source:Supplied

In his first media interview since the murder, Robert fights tears as he reveals in chilling detail the panicked, macabre cat-and-mouse chase as Turnbull took down the man he had been fixated on after a long-running dispute with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Glen’s employer, over illegal landclearing.

Land was a valuable commodity to Turnbull, the patriarch of a rich and powerful farming family in an area which boasts some of the most fertile land in Australia.

It was Glen’s job to police the clearing of native forest the area. Turnbull had done just that, illegally, and wound up in court.

By the time Turnbull had been fined $140,000 plus costs over the illegal clearing in 2011, Glen had become, in his mind, his nemesis, the focus of a hate bordering on obsession.

And Turnbull was to prove a merciless, and deadly enemy.

The pair hadn’t seen each other for almost two years until that fateful day on July 29, 2014, when Glen and Rob headed to Croppa Creek to take pictures of stacks of burning vegetation, evidence of fresh land clearing.

Late afternoon, Turner got wind they were there, picked up a pump action shotgun and got in his ute.

And the bloody nightmare began.

Rob fights tears recounting the horror as Turnbull got out of the ute, shotgun pointed, and advanced on them wordlessly.

He was 15 metres away when he fired. The first shot struck Glen’s cheek. The second hit high in his left shoulder. First the head, then the heart.

The gun swung towards Rob. Turnbull told him to get back, and drop his camera.

Cowering with his stricken mate behind their own vehicle, Rob pleaded they were unarmed. “I need to get him help, I need to get him out,” Rob begged.

Turnbull replied the only way Glen was leaving was in a body bag.

And the stalking began. Rob would encourage a heavily-bleeding Glen forward or back behind the vehicle to shield them. Turnbull would follow.

At one point Rob felt the gunshots whistle past his ears ands the words: “I told you to f****g get back. I will kill you.”

It went on for 20 minutes as the life sapped from Glen. “He was croaky, but still doing everything I told him to. Every time I told him to move forward or back and crouch, he did,” says Rob.

As darkness closed in, Turnbull seemed “frustrated” he hadn’t “done what he wanted to do”, Rob says.

“If he’d any sense of compassion he would have let us go,” he says. “He went there with the sole intention of killing Glen Turner, and he wasn’t leaving until he did.”

As the light slipped away, Glen knew he was dying, and made a break for it. Turnbull raised the gun. “I just said ‘oh no’,” Rob says, as Turnbull shot Glen in the back as he ran towards a line of trees.

He lowered the gun, looked at Rob and said: “I’m going home to wait for the police. You can go now.”

In the darkness, Rob turned the vehicle lights on Glen. “I sat down with him, poured some water over him and said “come on, we’ve got to get home’,” he tells Pennells.

“I knew he was dying.”  Hearing a car on the road, convinced it was Turnbull coming back to finish them both, Rob stood in the glare of the headlights, arms raised, eyes closed.

It wasn’t a shot that came. It was help.  As Rob cradled Glen in his arms, a neighbour gently told him his mate was gone.