Love ya’ dearly, but. . .

Kiwis challenge ban

AUSTRALIA'S 85-year trade ban on New Zealand apples faces a fresh challenge.

Kiwi growers submitted a report to quarantine watchdog Biosecurity Australia that restrictions, made because of fire blight fears, were unnecessary.

Biosecurity Australia has given draft approval for Kiwi apples but under such heavy restrictions any endeavour may be infeasible.

Kiwi growers said if a final report was not released in three months, the restrictions would be challenged at the World Trade Organisation.
. . .please, guys, just piss off and sell your crappy apples somewhere else, okay?

More bores; no brains

PM warned war illegal

Was he, indeed? Warned? Told in no uncertain terms? Given the low down?

Well let’s take a look at the case giving rise to this bombshell headline, shall we?

Secret legal advice received by the Australian Government is believed to have warned a war against Iraq may have breached international law.
. . .is believed to have warned. . .

International law experts believe the documents contain qualifications on the publicly released advice in the same way Britain allegedly hid the legal warnings first issued by its top lawyer, Lord Peter Goldsmith.
. . .believe the documents contain. . .

University of NSW legal expert George Williams, who drafted legal advice for then Opposition leader Simon Crean that contradicted the Government's tabled advice in March 2003, said the secret files would likely have warned an invasion was on shaky legal ground.
. . .the secret files would likely have warned. . .

"I think it's fairly likely that among the thousands of pages of documents there is a sense of equivocation, a sense of uncertainty. . ."
. . .I think. . .it's fairly likely that. . . there is a sense of equivocation, a sense of uncertainty. . .

BUT PM WARNED (we tell you)!

I’m almost too bored by this idiocy to bother.

No homosexual marriage for Australia

The Federal Government will legislate against any attempts by the ACT to give gay couples the same rights as married couples, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today. Mr Ruddock said today the Government would investigate what it could do to block attempts by the ACT Labor Government to pass laws that would establish civil unions for homosexual couples. The ACT legislation would allow those in a civil union the same rights as marriage in everything but name.

Under the constitution, the Commonwealth has responsibility for marriage and in 2004, with bipartisan support, the Federal Government legislated to effectively ban gay marriage. Mr Ruddock said the Commonwealth was unhappy with the ACT's attempts to work around federal laws. "Let me make it very clear, that will not satisfy the Commonwealth and we would include the introduction of legislation to prevent that from occurring," he said.

More here


Muslim gangs in Sydney again

A promising young boxer due to marry this weekend has been gunned down alongside his best friend in the latest outbreak of violence in Sydney's west. Professional boxer Bassam Chami, and friend Ibrahim Assad, were both fatally shot last night on Blaxcell Street at Granville in south-western Sydney. Mr Chami had served time in jail for the stabbing manslaughter of a man in a Sydney pub on Anzac Day in 1998. Police said it was the 22nd shooting incident in Sydney this year, prompting New South Wales Opposition Leader Peter Debnam to label the city's south-west a "war zone". Concerned about the recent increase in gun crime in Sydney, NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney today called a high-level meeting of senior police. In response to the latest killings, police called in the State Crime Command, along with members of Strike Force Gain, established to investigate crime linked to the Middle-Eastern community....

The pair was believed to be standing with a group of men on Blaxcell Street at around 11.15pm (AEDT) when seven shots rang out. One of the two died at the scene, while the other died a few hours later in Westmead Hospital. Assistant Commissioner Graeme Morgan said one of the victims had been carrying a pistol but it had not been used. He said the backgrounds of the two victims would play a "prominent role" in the investigation. Mr Chami was sentenced to a minimum of five and a half years in 1999 for manslaughter, after stabbing a man to death at the Auburn Hotel on Anzac Day in 1998. He also had a lengthy criminal history which included charges for firearms offences and intimidating police.

Police have already spoken to a number of people who were at the crime scene including former Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib, who was driving home along Blaxcell street with his son. Mr Habib is not a suspect. "He heard some shots fired. He saw one youth fall in front of him. He called the police," Mr Habib's lawyer Peter Erman said after speaking with his client. Witnesses described a dark coloured, BMW sedan leaving the crime scene - the same description given by witnesses who saw a car fleeing Guildford three hours later after shots were fired at a house.

Mr Debnam said residents of south-western Sydney were "living with the sound of gunfire" and called on the Government to deploy 500 extra police into the area. NSW Premier Morris Iemma said police would be given whatever resources were required to find those responsible for the double shooting.

More here


Some excerpts from the U.S. immigration debate

California confusion:

Comment immediately below lifted from Stephen Frank

Yesterday, the Governor [Schwarzenegger] in an L.A. Times Op-Ed piece said this, "As our nation begins a national debate on immigration, I propose that we lower our voices and lift our sights. We need a debate that attacks the issue without attacking individuals. And we need a comprehensive new law that respects immigrants and protects our nation. Frankly, the debate in Congress thus far has focused too much on politics and too little on principles. Ever since I first ran for office, I've talked about the importance of having a comprehensive immigration policy. Now the moment has arrived."

The truth is, the debate in Washington has nothing to do with immigration policy. The debate is what to do about those who have violated our immigration laws--illegal aliens. Few are talking about ending legal immigration, few are talking about totally open borders. The legislation, Frist, McCain-Feingold, Kyl, Sensebrenner, all deal with the disposition of those who have entered our nation illegally and now take jobs from honest citizens, employers that use illegal aliens as a means to hold down wages and the overcrowding of our schools and health care facilities by the illegal aliens.

The Governor is mixing two separate, and important issues. The issue today is about those violating our immigration laws, period.

He goes on to say, "Criminalizing immigrants for coming here is a slogan, not a solution. Instead, I urge Congress to get tough on those illegal immigrants who are a danger to society. If an illegal immigrant commits a serious crime, he must leave the country ? one strike and you're out. No excuses, no delays."

No one, not a single GOP or Democrat member of Congress, not a single member of the Minutemen or the ACLU has even suggested that immigrants be criminalized. That is just a silly statement. No one wants those who have played by the rules, like the Governor himself, to be considered a criminal. Instead, those who have violated our immigration laws, by their own voluntary actions, have become criminals. Let's not allow these straw man arguments to hide a simple fact: sneaking into the United States, in violation of our laws, is a criminal offense. These folks know they are breaking the law. If they were abiding by the law they would come through the border at legal border crossings, not in the middle of the night, in tunnels, paying coyotes huge fee's to outsmart our border guards. These people know they are breaking the law, and the governor knows it.

Then the Guv writes, "Granting citizenship to people who are here illegally is not just amnesty -- it's anarchy. We are a country of immigrants, yes. But we are also a nation of laws. People who want to be citizens will want to do it the right way." He is absolutely right, amnesty is anarchy. Yet, he steps on his own message by then advocating amnesty! Just before the above statement he writes, "I support efforts to ensure that our businesses have the workers they need and that immigrants are treated with the respect they deserve. We should pass a common-sense temporary worker program so that every person in our nation is documented."

Clearly, he is saying that if you can sneak into the country, find an employer willing to pay you under the table, then you can be eligible for a "common sense temporary worker program". This would be for those who violated our laws and it would be called amnesty--or anarchy as the Governor does.

The bottom line is that the Governor is trying to appeal to those who support strict enforcement of our laws and those who support any and all law breakers who can steal and bribe their way into the United States. This is so transparent a political stance, that he will make enemies of both camps. In fact, he will cause Minutemen and the ACLU to join together in a statement that the Governor "wants votes, not consistent policy".

This is an issue that is difficult. Don't make it more so by opposing amnesty, then proposing it--in the same article! That just takes away your credibility. The Governor doesn't believe that if a bank robber could sneak into a bank, steal lots of money and get 50 miles away, the robber should keep the money? Nor does he believe that if a student fails his exit exams he should still receive a diploma. So, why are his advisors telling him to say that if you sneak into this country and can get a job, you should get documents that legitimize your legal violations?

Debra Saunders in a column in the San Francisco Chronicle reminded us of this:

The Los Angeles Times duly reported, "Some Republicans fear that pushing too hard against illegal immigrants could backfire nationally, as with Proposition 187 (the 1994 ballot measure that sought to deny benefits for illegal immigrants, that) helped spur record numbers of California Latinos to become U.S. citizens and register to vote. Those voters subsequently helped Democrats regain political control in the state."

Call that the Backlash Myth. In fact, Prop. 187 passed with 59 percent of the vote and GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, who championed the measure, was re-elected in 1994. In 2003, when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses, he so enraged voters that he sealed his political demise. After Davis was recalled from office, the heavily Democratic California Legislature repealed the bill.

She also noted, "While some in the media may think all Latinos vote alike, the Los Angeles Times poll found that 38 percent of Latino voters in California strongly opposed giving driver' licenses to illegal immigrants."

Some say this is an economic issue, that we can not afford to pay real wages to these menial workers--that is why we need illegals. It may be true that the cost of food and services would go up. At the same time we would save billions in tax dollars (net of taxes paid by the illegals) for the cost of education, welfare, health care and law enforcement costs by ending the free reign of illegal aliens in our nation. We are already paying lots more for that head of lettuce--in taxes, if not at the check out counter. Our schools would not be overcrowded and we wouldn't need $11 billion in General Obligation bonds to pay for new schools. The Emergency Rooms would be more plentiful, allowing the saving of lives of legal residents and citizens, instead of squeezing them out so illegal aliens could receive medical care.

While I am writing this about our Governor, he is not the only Republican or elected official suffering from "illegal alien schizophrenia". In the Senate Brownback, McCain, DeWine, Specter and Graham also suffer from this disease. Hillary wants our borders closed and amnesty for those already here.

In brief:

Another phony "protest": "The leftist media have tried to portray this weekend's massive protests against House measures to curtail illegal immigration as the uprising of "The Other America": forgotten, humble, hidden Hispanic members of the working poor simply demanding their "rights." As events spanned from California to Detroit, Phoenix to Washington, D.C., the media kept up its anti-enforcement drumbeat. Although some have credited Latino DJs for the 500,000-strong illegal immigrant turnout in Los Angeles alone - and some credit is deserved - the real legwork was done by a more eclectic group of organizations: leftist labor unions, George Soros-funded agitators, Open Borders lobbyists, Roman Catholic clergy, and teachers unions.... Latino organizations did not act alone. The media has failed to report that organized labor directed the illegals and minors. The L.A. Times revealed the rally's "security" was handled by a union identified only as "Local 1877." That would be local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the far-Left union founded by New Left radical Andrew Stern"

Immigration backdown in Senate: "The Senate Judiciary Committee approved sweeping election-year legislation today that clears the way for 11 million illegal aliens to seek U.S. citizenship, a victory for demonstrators who had spilled into the streets by the hundreds of thousands demanding better treatment for immigrants. With a bipartisan coalition in control, the committee also voted down proposed criminal penalties on immigrants found to be in the country illegally. It approved a new temporary program allowing entry for 1.5 million workers seeking jobs in the agriculture industry."

Radioactive matter gets into US in test : "Undercover investigators slipped radioactive material -- enough to make two small 'dirty bombs' -- across U.S. borders in Texas and Washington state in a test last year of security at American points of entry. Radiation alarms at the unidentified sites detected the small amounts of cesium-137, a nuclear material used in industrial gauges. But U.S. customs agents permitted the investigators to enter the United States because they were tricked with counterfeit documents."

Canada's new Conservative government gets tough on illegals: "The federal government has no plans to follow in the footsteps of the United States, which appears ready to give as many as 11 million illegal workers a chance at U.S. citizenship, Immigration Minister Monte Solberg says. Solberg bluntly rejected the U.S. proposal as a solution for Canada, saying that letting illegal workers remain in this country would send the signal that it's okay to slip in the back door. "The ideal, of course, is for people to play by the rules and to get in line like everyone else is forced to do," he said after a cabinet meeting. "If we don't emphasize that . . . you are sending the message that the way to get in here quickly is to come illegally. We don't want to send that message," he said. A U.S. Senate panel just this week approved sweeping election-year legislation that clears the way for 11 million illegal aliens to apply for citizenship without first having to return home. "We're not looking at the American model," he said. "We have our own ideas on that."

For more postings from John Ray, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Mirror sites here, here, here, here and here. On Social Security see Dick McDonald and for purely Australian news see Australian Politics (mirrored here). I also post several times a week on "Tongue-Tied". There is an archive of my "Tongue-Tied" posts here or here

Tanzanians shocked; Australians bored. . .

Tanzania shocked by runaway boxers

Tanzania's Commonwealth Games team has returned home with two medals, but without two boxers who have gone missing in Australia.

The Tanzanian twosome's behaviour has shocked team-mates and relatives as they are the first athletes to disappear while representing their country.

Prisons officer Iddi Omary Kimweri vanished last week, while his compatriot Karim Matumla, who is a lance corporal in the Tanzania army, disappeared on Monday morning just before the team were about to board their flight back home.

Henry Ramadhan, who headed the delegation to Melbourne, said he had taken precautionary measures after the first boxer had gone missing, but Matumla outsmarted him.

"We were together having breakfast and then Matumla excused himself. He said he was going out to make a short phone call, but he never came back," Mr Ramadhan said.
On their eventual detection, I think that makes an immediate trip to the airport (with a one-way ticket back to Tanzania) almost a cert’, then. You can pretty much hear the ‘refugee’ advocates screaming already though, can’t you? In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if. . .
Tanzanian Minister of Information, Culture and Sports Muhammed Seif Khatib said that while the government was not happy, it did not feel embarrassed. He loves his family and his job here. I don't know what has happened to him.

Matumla's brother, Rashid, who is also a high-profile boxer, expressed his family's shock. "He was a soldier, his life was not so bad," he said. "I don't know why he has decided to remain illegally in Australia.

"Maybe there are some people who showed up and promised him something there."
And I think we might know precisely who those people were. What on earth do these idiot 'refugee' advocates think they're doing?

Send out the Debt Collectors

Australia's decision to consider asylum to 42 Papuan asylum seekers has reignited Indonesian derision of [Prime Minister] John Howard, with one newspaper portraying the Prime Minister as a dingo fornicating with the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, over Papua.

I see the SMH crew cannot bring themselves to put the words 'Prime Minister' before John Howard, so I added that myself. I also noted that the SMH didn't have the spinal strength to publish the Mohamed Cartoons (probably didn't want to offend their Islamic masters), but see no issue in publishing an even more offensive cartoon of our Prime Minister, who cares I suppose, its just wretched ol christian Howard.

Yesterday's Jakarta Post also featured a cartoon on a marsupial theme, with Australia depicted as a kangaroo sheltering Papuan separatists in its pouch. The dingo cartoon, run on the front of the Rakyat Merdeka newspaper, above, titled "the Adventure of Two Dingo" has Mr Howard demanding of Mr Downer: "I want Papua Alex! You try to play it." A small Australian flag hangs off the PM's wagging tail.

Since last week's decision, most major newspapers have given the issue front-page coverage and featured editorials condemning the granting of temporary protection visas. They have suggested Australia is attempting to engineer Papua's independence. Resentment lingers over Australian support for East Timor's independence. The lurid caricature is the worst-taste example of a new Papua cartoon craze in the Indonesian media since the row flared last week.

The media's response has perhaps been given added edge by still-simmering anger in Indonesia over the Prophet Muhammad cartoon furore. Protesters rallying outside Australia's Jakarta embassy this week painted obscenities on its walls and carried banners of an eagle swooping to grasp the bloodstained neck of a kangaroo, shouting "Die kangaroo".

Why the debt collectors, its that small matter of the billion or so dollars of our tax payer funded aid that was sent over to indonesia. The indonesians are perfectly entitled to their opinions of us, but if they choose to treat us with such contempt and hatred, then its only fair that they return our blood stained and wretched infidel infested aid money.

We take cheques, bank guaranteed please, credit cards, BPay, Telegraphic Transfer, Money Orders, Cash, Land titles etc. Also there is the small matter of interest on this sum, shall we agree on 5 percent, I'm sure you would agree that is most competitive. If you have trouble making the repayments, I suggest you pass the hat around these newspapers, I'm sure they will empty their pockets with the same amount of gleeful energy they expressed when publishing the cartoons.

Immigration: the battle over the US soul

Well, the bullshysters are spewing the usual: a torrent of spurious double talk and red-herrings. And here’s a particularly cute little serving of the usual:

Washington diary: Bring it on Mr Bush!

It was fussy, cosy and reassuring. The radio alarm sprang to life at 0710 and the last embers of my last dream cycle were suddenly invaded by words like "dangerous liberals", "left-wing traitors", "overrun our country", "terrorist invasion".

I was in the clutches of talk radio. Immigration reform is the big issue in Washington and, in the heartland, right-wing radio stations are talking up a storm of fear and loathing about an alien invasion.

I have no idea who today's rasping bigot is, why the previous occupant of the Lilac Room would want to be woken up by such a rant or who else is listening.
Terrific, isn’t he? And dontcha love his style? Yes, that’s right, they’re all screaming bigots, aren’t they. And he makes that clear with this incisive breakdown of what it’s really all about:

Not only has it divided the Republican Party and the administration, it is also morphing into a heated debate about what kind of country the US wants to be: mean or generous, closed or open, engaged or disengaged from the rest of the world.
Mean or generous? Balls. Generosity has absolutely nothing to do with it. None of his little red-herrings has.

No-one is arguing with the country's right to police its borders. . .
But that’s precisely what you are doing, and you know it. Because that is all immigration reformers ask for. Not an end to immigration. Just an end to the unchecked and unpoliced southern free-for-all. The writer then cements his bullshysterishness with this:

. . .but 12 million or so undocumented immigrants come here not because they want to loiter in the murky shadow of Lady Liberty but because there are jobs waiting for them.
Jobs waiting for them? So bloody what? Let them apply, then. Let them legally immigrate. And certainly, were you not specifically arguing with your country’s right to protect its borders, you should have absolutely no problem with that concept (and no article to write).

But you do.

And there we have the blatant hypocrisy of this writer’s position (and virtually every other of its ilk): ‘I don’t argue with our country’s right to control its borders’, and yet almost literally in the same breath, and by definition, ‘I do argue with our country’s right to control its borders’.

Some want to work, make money and leave. Others want to work and stay for ever. The country is big enough to accommodate both. Despite the trauma of 9/11, the self laceration of Iraq and the shame of Abu Ghraib, the US can still be stirred by the creed of its founding fathers.

I rest my case. . .
So do I.

Innisfail is no New Orleans

The North Queensland town of Innisfail got a bigger blow than New Orleans did but there were no deaths and the place is mostly back to normal after only a week. The difference between how an underclass behaves and how country people behave might have something to do with it

"Blue-collar muscle is the bedrock of Innisfail's rapid recovery as local farmers, tradesmen and labourers provide the grunt to get the district back on track. Yesterday morning, just a week after Cyclone Larry left the main street a mass of twisted wreckage and fallen trees, Innisfail was beginning to resemble a normal country town. Cafes were open, banks were trading, the famous Oliveri's Continental Deli was serving its cheeses, stuffed olives and prosciuttos the same way it has for more than 80 years.

Mayor Neil Clarke has warned there is a long road ahead as thousands struggle to overcome a billion-dollar damage bill. But even he was amazed at the spirit and energy of a community that refused to blink when confronted with a category-five cyclone. He said many had waded straight outside into the wreckage with chainsaws. "Just hours after it hit, many were literally cutting their way out of their own properties and going to help a neighbour," he said.

Banana farmer Colin Rostedt surveyed the ruins of his plantation for only minutes on Monday morning before firing up his 22-kilowatt generator, grabbing a chainsaw and going to work. He and his wife and two children didn't wait for help to arrive. They're still cleaning up, but with an eye to the future. "We're looking at replanting," he said. "It's the way that people respond to tragedy that really makes the difference. "Around Innisfail, people know each other. They're related to each other, they went to school with each other, and they help each other," he said.

Cairns TAFE facilities manager Eddie McKeown, who arrived just hours after Larry hit, was amazed to see the Bruce Highway north of Innisfail crowded with men cutting back fallen trees to carve a path into town. "They just appeared out of nowhere with chainsaws," he said. "It was extraordinary."

Len and Anita Oliveri, owners of the deli in Edith St, are the embodiment of the town's can-do spirit. They kept their stock fresh in a cold room powered by their own generator. By Tuesday, they had established a soup kitchen using their own food, as well as stocks donated by scores of other businesses, and provided free meals for thousands. Yesterday Len had put his brief career as a welfare worker behind him and was back behind the counter, as a businessman. "We're getting back to normal as quickly as possible."



"Stirring the possum" and European IQ differences

"Stirring the possum" is a common expression in Australia but I doubt that the term is much understood outside Australia so I will try to summarize what it means. For a start, Australia has lots of possums (a different species from the American opossum). I even have some living in the roofspace of my house -- as is common in Brisbane. They are however nocturnal and if you disturb one during the day it may well snarl and spit at you. And people know that. So if they DO stir a possum, they expect to be growled at.

So when Australians deliberately say something provocative but not terribly serious they will often refer to it as "Stirring the possum". Note however that such stirs are intended in good humour. Very few Australians would think of harming a possum (unlike in New Zealand, where they trap them) so stirring one is not an aggressive act. It is seen as a bit of harmless fun.

So when I referred recently to the interview in "The Times" with Richard Lynn as an example of "Stirring the possum" I was implying that Lynn was having a bit of fun with "The Times" rather than making a fully-rounded assessment of his subject -- which was national differences in European IQ. And the claim that Germans and Poles were considerably more intelligent than the English was indeed a delicious stir.

So I think I should note that on pages 21 and 22 of his recent book "Race Differences in Intelligence" (reviewed here and here), Lynn reports considerable variations in European IQ estimates: Irish from 87 to 97, Poland from 92 to 106, and Germans from 90 to 107. And if, as is common practice, one takes the median of these scores, one ends up with averages as follows: Ireland, 92; Poland 99; Germany 99. And none of that is particularly surprising.

What is slightly surprising is that Lynn's comments about European IQ were greeted and publicized without rancour -- while the vastly lower median scores found with African populations are usually ignored and sometimes execrated. But an impartial committment to truth is of course not to be expected from the media.


Internet censorship demanded by the Australian Left

Under the guise of protecting children from pornography, the Australian Labor Party wants to bar many sites to ADULTS. And you thought censorship on moral grounds was the preserve of the Christian Right! The truth is that the Left will seek kudos wherever it can find it -- regardless of any principle that they have claimed to support previously. Given the pressure from both the Left and Christian conservatives, the Australian Federal government is so far being fairly heroic in resisting the pressure for censorship but there are worrying signs:

"The federal Government is planning to bolster NetAlert, its online safety agency, and give the media regulator greater powers as pressure builds from Labor and its own backbench to curb online pornography. Communications and IT Minister Helen Coonan says, however, that calls from Labor and Coalition colleagues to force internet service providers to filter porn sites are misguided...

Opposition IT spokesman Stephen Conroy said Government research showed the blacklist ISP filtering system that Labor had proposed would have had minimal impact on network performance. "In 2004, the Government received independent advice that ISP filtering to remove blacklisted sites would take just 10 milliseconds and that this delay is generally not noticeable to the user," Senator Conroy said. "The Government should stop making excuses and do all in its power to prevent children from being exposed to prohibited internet content.".... Labor leader Kim Beazley last week put internet pornography back on the agenda saying Labor, if elected, would force ISP's to offer a "clean feed" internet service to Australian families....

The Government was pursuing technology to control the net, Senator Coonan said. ... The latest study found that ISP filters continued to create network performance problems, Senator Coonan said. The best-performing filters slowed network performance by 18 per cent, while the worst-performing filters degraded the network by 78 per cent. "They found that even the best-performing filter missed about a quarter of the content on a small prepared list of sites." ... "We are continuing to look into it," she said. PC-based filtering offered parents greater flexibility than the one-size-fits-all approach of ISP filtering, she said....



More paranoia about "racism" in the British police

There was no evidence of racism in the police concerned so the British authorities have decided that there must have been "unwitting" racism -- i.e. racism that the police officers concerned did not themselves know they harboured. So now you can be condemnned not only for thought-crimes but even for thoughts you did NOT have!

"Four police officers were guilty of the "most serious neglect of duty" over the death of ex-paratrooper Christopher Alder in 1998, a watchdog has ruled. Mr Alder, 37, who was black, choked to death at a Hull police station. The police watchdog said the officers had been guilty of "unwitting racism". Humberside Chief Constable Tim Hollis apologised following the Independent Police Complaints Commission's report. But Humberside Police Federation said the officers "strongly dispute" it. Mr Alder's sister said those responsible had still not been held to account, and is calling for a public inquiry.

Five officers were cleared of manslaughter and misconduct in 2002 regarding the death of Mr Alder. Of the five, one was involved to a lesser extent than the other four in the events surrounding Mr Alder's death, the IPCC report said. Mr Alder, a father-of-two and a Falklands veteran, was injured during a scuffle outside a Hull city centre hotel and taken to Hull Royal Infirmary for treatment. He was later arrested for an alleged breach of the peace and taken to Queens Gardens police station. Half an hour later he choked to death on his own blood and vomit as he lay on the floor of the police station, without moving, for 11 minutes with his trousers round his ankles. CCTV footage showed officers laughing and joking as Mr Alder lay dying. It was more than 10 minutes before officers realised the seriousness of the situation and went to his aid.

In a 400-page report published on Monday, Independent Police Complaints Commission chairman Nick Hardwick described the behaviour of the officers present at the time as "disgraceful". The four officers criticised were Pc Matthew Barr, Pc Neil Blakey, Pc Nigel Dawson and Sergeant John Dunn. A fifth officer, Acting Police Sergeant Mark Ellerington, was also involved but to a lesser extent than the others, the report said. In 2004 it emerged that all but Pc Blakey had since retired on medical grounds.

Mr Hardwick said: "I believe the failure of the police officers concerned to assist Mr Alder effectively on the night he died were largely due to assumptions they made about him based on negative racial stereotypes. "I cannot say for certain that Mr Alder would have been treated more appropriately had he been white - but I do believe the fact he was black stacked the odds more heavily against him." Mr Hardwick said that although there were "serious failings" by the four police officers, they did not assault Mr Alder and that it could not be said "with certainty" they had caused his death. But their "neglect" undoubtedly did deny him the chance of life, he said.

Humberside Police Federation spokesman John Savage said the officers denied they had neglected their duties or acted in a racist manner, "unwitting or otherwise". The officers were cleared of manslaughter and misconduct by a crown court in 2002 and cleared of misconduct at an independent disciplinary tribunal in June 2003, he said. No concerns had been raised about racism in those cases and the men found it "very surprising that the IPCC has sought to do so now", he added.

Chief Constable Tim Hollis, who was not with the force at the time of Mr Alder's death, said: "The time is...right for me publicly to apologise to Christopher Alder's family for our failure to treat Christopher with sufficient compassion and to the desired standard that night. "The failure of the officers to explain to the IPCC their actions, including noises recorded on the video before and after Christopher's arrival in the custody suite, appears to have contributed to the IPCC view regarding unwitting racism.""



A black sociologist gets it half right

Orlando Patterson has some good thoughts on America's black underclass:

"Several recent studies have garnered wide attention for reconfirming the tragic disconnection of millions of black youths from the American mainstream. But they also highlighted another crisis: the failure of social scientists to adequately explain the problem, and their inability to come up with any effective strategy to deal with it. The main cause for this shortcoming is a deep-seated dogma that has prevailed in social science and policy circles since the mid-1960's: the rejection of any explanation that invokes a group's cultural attributes - its distinctive attitudes, values and predispositions, and the resulting behavior of its members - and the relentless preference for relying on structural factors like low incomes, joblessness, poor schools and bad housing."

Hard to argue with that. But what does Patterson see as the ultimate cause or causes of the large and maladaptive black underclass culture? He seems not to know -- perhaps in part because his past theories have been so thoroughly taken apart -- e.g. here. If he can't ultimately blame "whitey" he is bereft of ideas.

Crazily enough, "whitey" IS partly to blame -- but not in a way that Patterson seems able to face up to. Before the welfare explosion of the ill-starred LBJ's "Great Society", blacks mostly lived in two-parent families and were in general much less mired in social pathologies. Leftist welfare schemes are certainly not the only source of black problems but it is amazing that any sociologist cannot look just a little way back into history and see in how many ways blacks were better off before such schemes.

If Patterson wanted a quick refresher course in the history of these matters, he could find it in a recent article by Kay Hymowitz. She notes that between 1965 and 1980, "the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks had more than doubled, to 56 percent. In the ghetto, that number was considerably higher, as high as 66 percent in New York City. Many experts comforted themselves by pointing out that white mothers were also beginning to forgo marriage, but the truth was that only 9 percent of white births occurred out of wedlock..."


Fury Over Christians Speaking out

How wrong of them to exercise their democratic rights!

This concerns the recent election in the Australian State of Tasmania. To the media, a constant outpouring of Green/Left propaganda from Australia's public broadcasters is fine. But advertising by Christian groups is deeply offensive. The media report below refers to advertising by a Christian group as a "secretive smear campaign". Pick the real smear! Just a few excerpts:

"In the dying moments of Tasmania's election campaign, people wearing animal masks drove through the streets of Hobart towing a trailer with an anti-Greens slogan. In the weeks leading up to this bizarre display, a series of newspaper advertisements and letter-box pamphlets attacked the Greens, warning they were "socially destructive".

Two of the men authorising these ads were later exposed as members of the Exclusive Brethren, a secretive fundamentalist Christian sect... Unwin and Christian deny they were involved in a secretive smear campaign, backed by the Liberal Party. "We placed these ads so people were aware of (the Greens') policies," Christian says. "There's no smear campaign or hidden agenda. We put our names to them, and we support any government that is good for Tasmania"....

While the Greens' vote slump was ultimately the result of Tasmanians deciding not to risk the uncertainty of minority government, the Greens believe the smear and fear campaigns against them played a big role... State Greens leader Peg Putt, seething at the loss of at least one seat, was booed and heckled when she used her speech in the tally room last Saturday night to complain about Tasmania's "grubbiest" ever campaign. She later vowed the Greens would adopt a more "hard-nosed" approach to future campaigns, and push for better disclosure laws. "The nation needed to know that there were shadowy forces at work here that won't identify themselves and will not discuss the amounts of money they put into this campaign," Putt says...


It shows how anti-Christian the policies of the Australian Green party are that an unworldly group like the Brethren thought they had to get involved in politics.


Rope, crane, quick..

Taking the stand over his lawyers' protests, Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified today that he and Richard Reid, later arrested as the so-called shoe bomber, were slated to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.

Moussaoui, speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest a month before the Sept. 11 attacks, said he lied to the FBI so that the plot could go forward. Aware that the attacks were imminent, he arranged for a radio in his jail cell in Minnesota. When he heard that the first plane struck the World Trade Center, he testified, "I immediately understood."

His testimony appeared to conflict with his statement at the time of his guilty plea, which suggested that the attack on the White House would happen at a later date. Moussaoui spoke at length about his duties as an Al Qaeda member in Afghanistan, where he said he met many of the hijackers in his capacity as a security officer at guest houses for Al Qaeda recruits.

Speaking calmly in halting English, the French-born Moussaoui said he didn't know the exact date of the planned attack but that he knew it would be soon after he was scheduled to complete his aviation training on Aug. 20. Instead, suspicious flight instructors alerted the FBI and Moussaoui was arrested.

Of his crew members, "one definitely was Richard Reid. As for the others, it was not definite," he said. On Dec. 22, 2001, Reid tried to detonate a bomb in his shoe aboard a flight from Paris to Miami with 197 people on board. Passengers subdued him and the plane was diverted to Boston, where it landed safely.

Moussaoui said he had only scant details of the overall plan when he was arrested Aug. 16. "I had knowledge that the two towers would be hit but I didn't have the detail," Moussaoui said. Moussaoui is on trial now to determine if he will be executed.

What the hell are we waiting for, find a crane, get some rope, gather the masses in the city square and set an example.

More canine/human symbiosis

I am putting this story up mainly because I like the picture of the doggie but it does illustrate the theory that dogs and humans are symbionts -- i.e. they have evolved together and benefit one-another. They certainly regard one-another as family. The most obvious case of the symbiosis is the large and super-sensitive canine nose which does detection jobs that the small human nose cannot. We see it at work in this story

"Meet Ruben, the dalmatian who can spot when his schoolgirl owner is at risk of a life-threatening metabolic attack. While most dogs are out chasing the postman, Ruben is busy monitoring Sarah Mackintosh's health. The five-year-old family pooch is being hailed for his ability to detect when Sarah is at risk of an attack.

Sarah, 9, suffers from a rare metabolic disorder called 3MCC which stops her from being able to break down proteins such as those in cheese and meat. At 14 months, the girl from Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland was revived at Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital after she had a metabolic stroke. The first in Australia to be diagnosed with 3MCC, and one of only a handful of sufferers worldwide, she is extremely susceptible to common viruses.

But mum Rachael Sharman, 48, said the normally dopey dalmatian can sense when Sarah is at risk of suffering an episode. "Before Sarah was diagnosed she had been eating protein and it had just built up in her system," Ms Sharman said. "We woke up on a Friday morning to her screaming and vomiting blood. "We rushed her to the Mater but she was pretty much dead and the doctors had to revive her.

"When Sarah was five years old we got Ruben and we noticed he could pick up when she was about to become unwell. "He tries to get close to her and will sneak in the house and doesn't want to let her out of his sight. "We've found him hiding under her bed before she gets sick and the last time he just stood there barking at her. "Then, a day or two later, she will be ill. He seems to understand when her metabolites are different and that it's not good. "His behaviour means we can pick it up early.""



Differences in European IQ averages

A new European league of IQ scores has ranked the British in eighth place, well above the French, who were 19th. According to Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster, Britons have an average IQ of 100. The French scored 94. But it is not all good news. Top of the table were the Germans, with an IQ of 107. The British were also beaten by the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

Professor Lynn, who caused controversy last year by claiming that men were more intelligent than women by about five IQ points on average, said that populations in the colder, more challenging environments of Northern Europe had developed larger brains than those in warmer climates further south. The average brain size in Northern and Central Europe is 1,320cc and in southeast Europe it is 1,312cc. "The early human beings in northerly areas had to survive during cold winters when there were no plant foods and they were forced to hunt big game," he said. "The main environmental influence on IQ is diet, and people in southeast Europe would have had less of the proteins, minerals and vitamins provided by meat which are essential for brain development."

He added that differences in intelligence across Britain could be attributed to bright people moving to London over hundreds of years. Adults in England and Wales have an IQ of 100.5, higher than Ireland and Scotland, both with 97. People living in London and the South East average 102. "Once in the capital they have settled and reared children, and these children have inherited their high intelligence and transmitted it to further generations." ...

Professor Lynn ascribes the differences between British and French intelligence levels to the results of military conflict. He described it as "a hitherto unrecognised law of history" that "the side with the higher IQ normally wins, unless they are hugely outnumbered, as Germany was after 1942".

More here

One would have to know a lot more about the data to make sense of all this. The British results could for instance have been deflated by the large number of U.K. citizens of African and rural Pakistani ancestry


South Park Censored

We read:

"Two weeks ago, Hayes, a longtime Scientologist, announced he was quitting "South Park," the animated show that transformed the "Shaft" star into "Chef" and introduced him to a new legion of fans. He said the show had exceeded the boundaries of good taste when it aired an episode titled "Trapped in the Closet" -- in November -- that skewers Scientology and Cruise. "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker responded to Hayes by saying something to the effect of, "Dude, you're just noticing that we offend people now?" But last week, a rerun of that Scientology episode was mysteriously pulled off the air amid published reports that Cruise had used his clout to bury it. A Cruise spokesman denied that."


Sure, a private company is entitled to air its shows or not as it likes but censorship does not have to be by governments to be destructive and limiting. There is counter-pressure on the company to re-air the show and one can only hope it succeeds.

Andrew Sullivan makes an eloquent case for why we need South Park and ALL its episodes, despite the unpleasant aspects of the show. Sullivan blames "religion" for the ban but Hollywood (with its love of all weirdness, including Scientology) is the more likely culprit.


Heroes at work

By Cpl. Mark Sixbey
Regimental Combat Team 5

CAMP SMITTY, Iraq(March 16, 2006) -- An Iraqi family just set the noon meal on the table when some unexpected American visitors knocked on their front door. Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment delivered a brand new pediatric wheelchair to the family of a disabled little girl in the town of Al Hasa, March 16. They are on duty in Iraq with Regimental Combat Team 5.

“We knew we had to help out in some way,” said Staff Sgt. Charles Evers, a platoon commander for Company I. “We don’t have a miracle cure, but we can at least give her a new wheelchair.” The girl’s condition came to the company’s attention in January, during a routine patrol of the area. When her family brought her outside, Marines saw she had an old, rusty wheelchair, built for an adult.

“The girl was injured in a car accident two years ago,” said Evers, 27, from Lewiston, Idaho. “When we were there the first time, her father showed us x-rays of her spine. It’s actually separated.” The girl’s parents, brothers and sisters greeted the returning Marines with smiles and hello’s even before they presented the new wheelchair. “They seemed pretty happy about it,” said Cpl. Matthew Rivera, a squad leader. “When we first came in they looked surprised. Then we brought in the chair and their faces lit up.”

Moments after the Marines presented the gift, the girl’s father lifted her out of the old chair, placed her in the new one, shook the platoon commander’s hand, and said “Thank you.” He was so overjoyed, he repeated twice more. The Marines left the home almost as quickly as they arrived, boarded amphibious assault vehicles and returned to Camp Smitty.

Via the jawa report

Spread the word..

The Stifled Debate about AIDS

I am going to touch here on a topic that seems to be extraordinarily touchy -- The cause of AIDS. From the earliest days, some researchers with great experience in virology have questioned whether the HIV virus is the cause of AIDS. I am not going to make any pronouncement on that issue. I hope that what I am about to say will not reveal which side of the issue I come down on.

What I want to note is how the debate seems to be censored. Proponents of the orthodox theory seem very reluctant to debate it. The documentary The other side of AIDS brings all that into sharp focus. The maker of the documentary had no trouble finding distinguished scientists who questioned the orthodox view but he could find almost nobody who would defend the orthodox view on camera. The most eminent scientist that he managed to interview on the orthodox side was Dr. Mark Wainberg of the McGill University AIDS Center. Here is part of what Dr. Wainberg said:

"Anyone those who attempts to dispel the notion that HIV is the cause of AIDS are perpetrators of death. And I, would very much, for one, like to see the Constitution of the United States and similar countries have some means in place that we can charge people who are responsible for endangering public health with charges of endangerment and bring them up on trial. I think that people like Peter Duesberg belong in jail".


He actually wants to throw in jail anybody who questions the orthodox theory! It sure looks like a fragile theory judging by the words and deeds of those who espouse it.

So here's the surprise: I have been reading on this issue for many years and I think the orthodox view is probably right -- at least as far as the Western world is concerned. Africa is another matter. They seem to call anything AIDS there. The main thing that makes me doubt the orthodox theory these days is the dogmatism of its defenders.

I am guessing that admitting to any uncertainty in their conclusions is seen by the establishment as politically dangerous. But the matter should nonetheless be discussed fully and openly as it would be truly tragic if the theory is wrong.


Test sophistication

What I put up yesterday about IQ was preparatory to what I want to say today. I have been thinking about the Lynn effect -- which is usually called the Flynn effect -- after its main publicist -- James Flynn. It was however discovered by Richard Lynn. What it refers to is the fact that average IQ test scores rose steadily thoroughout the 20th century. The process may however have reached an asymptote (peaked) now.

For a long time, I accepted that the rising scores represented a real increase in 'g' (underlying general intelligence). Two of my three very minor contributions to the academic literature on IQ were based on that view (See here and here). There were good reasons for that view. Nutrition does have a (usually small) effect on IQ and nutrition did improve over the 20th century. IQ can be influenced in some ways by general health -- and medical care did improve over the 20th century -- with improved perinatal care being an obvious candidate for positive effects. And signs that people were in fact better off physically were there -- an increase in average brain size particularly. And brain size does correlate to a degree (correlation of around .40) with IQ.

BUT: It seems that I was wrong. Although scores on all sorts of IQ subtests (puzzle categories) rose, they did not rise evenly. And the scores that rose least were for those problems that loaded most highly on 'g' (See e.g. here). The implication is that scores on a perfect measure of 'g' would not have risen at all.

So how do we explain the Lynn effect? There is no general agreement but I find the commonest explanation to be pretty persuasive -- that it reflects increasing test sophistication. Kids now spend MANY more years in the educational system than they once did and although there is probably little to show for that overall, kids DO get a lot of practice in passing tests of various sorts. And practice may not make perfect but it would be surprising if test-taking skills and strategies (such as guessing when you are not certain) were not improved by many years of extra practice at taking such tests.


Australia's public broadcaster indulges in Leftist deceit too

We read:

"The legal case to compensate residents of Baryulgil, in northern NSW, for the effects of asbestos-related disease, could be under way within two months. A James Hardie mine operated in the predominantly Aboriginal community near Grafton, between 1950 and 1979, leaving at least 22 residents suffering the affects of asbestos dust. David Barron, one of the Sydney barristers representing the community, says it is about time something was done for its residents. "The recognition that there was a problem in Baryulgil, it goes back 30 or 40 years," he said. "There's been at least two inquiries and a royal commission about this and nothing's been done. "The only time something's ... actually going to happen is if private players take on these people and that's what we've done."

HOWEVER: A former employee of the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs has written to me to remind us that the reporter of the story as it was broadcast was Matthew Peacock and that Peacock used to report on this very topic in the period 1975-85 but seems to have forgotten something from then.

In 1977-82 the Federal government offered everyone who wanted to move away from unsafe Baryulgil a house at a new asbestos-free site called Malabugilmah. A new, safe community was built from nothing. Unhappily - but it's a free country - quite a few families chose to stay at asbestos-infected Baryulgil. Peacock, then a young reporter, reported on this in 1976-78, but in 2006 conveniently 'forgets'.

So obviously, according to the ABC, the masses must always believe that all mining companies are always evil and governments never do anything to help the oppressed.


An apology and retraction

A Western Heart apologizes for any offence resulting from its link to The Courier Mail article on the 24th February, 2006, in the Australian News Roundup post: 'Jobs for the Girls Comes Unstuck'.

A Western Heart has been informed by Mr. Henderson that certain claims made by the journalist who wrote the linked article are in dispute.

A Western Heart and its contributor accept Mr. Henderson’s assertion that he is a long retired Solicitor and acts personally and properly in the litigation referred to in the linked article.

In so far as an opinion was expressed in the post and by linking to the article in question, A Western Heart retracts the opinion expressed that Mr Henderson is a “rogue solicitor” or a “rebel”.

A Western Heart and its contributor apologizes to Mr. Henderson and to his family for any embarrassment and hurt caused.

The right to be an illegal immigrant...

THOUSANDS of demonstrators in California protested moves to impose stricter U.S.
immigration laws on Saturday, while President George W. Bush urged wary
Republicans to take up his guest-worker proposal.
More than 10,000
immigrants and their supporters clogged the streets in front of Los Angeles City
Hall to protest a proposed law they see as punitive to undocumented
workers.“This bill is wrong because this is a country for everybody who wants to
live a better life and this is a free world,” said protester Lionel Vanegas, who
owns an accounting firm.

The U.S. is a country “for everone who wants to live a better life”? Really? I thought the U.S. was a warmongering capitalist Great Satan..silly me. Perhaps if everyone who wants to live a better life addressed the inequalities and injustices in their own country, there’d be no need to flee to Western civilised countries.The comment “this is a free world” is bloody laughable. It isn’t. Citizens of Western countries enjoy a degree of prosperity and freedom because they subscribe to private property rights and the separation of church and state. The protesters would do better to protest the lack of these things in the countries that are economic basket cases, instead of demanding the right to suck from the American taxpayer’s tit.

(also posted on "Silent Running")

An amusing story from the history of Australia's far-Left:

"Comrade Roberts is particularly strong in exposing how the male comrades of the Trotskyite Communist League were unreconstructed chauvinists. As far as they were concerned, the women in Australia, unlike European activists such as Rosa Luxemburg, "existed only as a kind of ladies' auxiliary to the revolution". Shortly before he was assassinated in Mexico, Trotsky had responded to comrade Origlass's inquiry as to the best contribution female party members could make to the class struggle. "The female members," he wrote, "should be rooted on the workshop floor."

As Gee puts it, "Trotsky was master of five languages, but was clearly unfamiliar with Australian double entendre." When this response was brought before the central committee, even chairman Origlass, "to whom every word of the master was holy writ, permitted his granite features to soften for a moment"."


More here

'g' and its measures

I am one of those awful people who mention IQ in public from time to time so I thought a few quick words of background on it might not go astray:

IQ tests exist because 'g' (general intelligence) exists. It just is a fact that people who are good at solving one sort of problem tend to be good at solving lots of other different problems. Some problems, however, are particularly good at detecting people who are generally good at solving problems. Researchers speak of such "good-predictor" problems as ones that "load highly on 'g'". And, pesky though it may be, the problems that load most highly on 'g' (i.e. the ones that are the purest measure of general intelligence) are also the ones that differentiate blacks and whites most strongly. As Charles Murray explains:

"As long ago as 1927, Charles Spearman, the pioneer psychometrician who discovered 'g', proposed a hypothesis to explain the pattern: the size of the black-white difference would be "most marked in just those [subtests] which are known to be saturated with g." In other words, Spearman conjectured that the black-white difference would be greatest on tests that were the purest measures of intelligence, as opposed to tests of knowledge or memory.

A concrete example illustrates how Spearman's hypothesis works. Two items in the Wechsler and Stanford-Binet IQ tests are known as "forward digit span" and "backward digit span." In the forward version, the subject repeats a random sequence of one-digit numbers given by the examiner, starting with two digits and adding another with each iteration. The subject's score is the number of digits that he can repeat without error on two consecutive trials. Digits-backward works exactly the same way except that the digits must be repeated in the opposite order.

Digits-backward is much more 'g'-loaded than digits-forward. Try it yourself and you will see why. Digits-forward is a straightforward matter of short-term memory. Digits-backward makes your brain work much harder. The black-white difference in digits-backward is about twice as large as the difference in digits-forward. It is a clean example of an effect that resists cultural explanation. It cannot be explained by differential educational attainment, income, or any other socioeconomic factor. Parenting style is irrelevant. Reluctance to "act white" is irrelevant. Motivation is irrelevant. There is no way that any of these variables could systematically encourage black performance in digits-forward while depressing it in digits-backward in the same test at the same time with the same examiner in the same setting".


The "coon" story

Most people reading this have probably by now seen the story about the unfortunate David Lenihan.

He tried to say "coup" on radio (It is of course pronounced as "coo"). But in the excitement of the moment it came out as "coon". Not so bad, you might think. He did after all spot his slip in a split second and apologize immediately for it. Sadly, however, he was speaking at the time of Condi Rice. And, in the USA, "coon" is an even more offensive word for a black than the famous "n-word".

He lost his radio job over it. Anybody who has ever had an embarrassing slip of the tongue would sympathize with him, I think.

It gets worse, however. He has now been suspended from his day job as well. He was teaching anatomy and neuroanatomy at Logan College of Chiropractic, but no more, it seems.

He has of course got a lot of media attention because of his sacking but I think the best point was made by black conservative talk-show host Larry Elder. He said that prominent blacks have made disparaging remarks about Rice and gotten away with it, and feels Lenihan's firing was unfounded.

And it is not only prominent blacks who have used disgraceful and DELIBERATELY offensive language about Condi but prominent white Leftists as well. In that context, Lenihan is clearly being unfairly victimized. More of the story here


You're not alone

I'm personally enraged that more is not being done to help Abdul Rahman. Has the Pope said anything on his behalf? I know that Condi phoned President Karzai over this a day or so ago, and I know that Bush calling him directly would probably undermine his position more than anything else, but I have to say, if this man isn't rescued by the powers that be in the west, then we have already lost this war. We will have surrendered the initiative to the enemy, and people who should have taken heart from the example we set, won't.

They'll see a man whose faith won't allow him to be untrue to his saviour, even as we, unworthy wretches, are untrue to him.

For more on Abdul Rahman's situation, see Michelle Malkin.

If you are a religious person, please take the time to remember him in your prayers.

If you are not, let his face burn into your memory. Remember it the next time you see Muslims harping in a protest that they're the victims of western Islamophobia.

The arty-farties love this:

I think it is just ugly but what do I know?

The coveted Archibald Prize has been awarded to first-time entrant Marcus Wills for his montage of 29 portraits. The work, titled The Paul Juraszek monolith (after Marcus Gheeraerts), is inspired by an etching contained in the 1567 edition of the children's classic Aesop's fables. Artist Paul Juraszek is the subject of the portrait work. The choice of winner is set to ignite yet another controversy for Australia's most famous art prize. "The painting is very different, very original," Art Gallery of NSW director Edmund Capon said. "That he put 29 portraits into one painting is something of an achievement and I think it is a rather good departure from previous choices. So in every sense it is a most unexpected choice." The 34-year-old artist chose to base his entry on an acquaintance, Melbourne sculptor Mr Juraszek, whose works of mythical animals are also featured in the oil painting. "I didn't expect it at all. I was surprised to even be accepted because the picture is a bit different," Mr Wills said following his win, which earns him $35,000. Since its inception in 1921, the Archibald Prize has been awarded to some of Australia's most significant artists, including George Lambert, William Dobell and Brett Whiteley. This year there were 787 entries for the prize.



Extraordinary! An outright fraud by "Nature" magazine exposed

And it was not even a clever fraud. That "Nature" was so keen to attack "Britannica" suggests that "Britannica" must still adhere to at least some traditions of scholarship. Given its recent degeneration into a Greenie propaganda sheet, "Nature" would hate that. The full reply from "Britannica" can be found here (PDF). There is a very weak reply by "Nature" here (PDF)

Nature magazine has some tough questions to answer after it let its Wikipedia fetish get the better of its responsibilities to reporting science. The Encyclopedia Britannica has published a devastating response to Nature's December comparison of Wikipedia and Britannica, and accuses the journal of misrepresenting its own evidence. Where the evidence didn't fit, says Britannica, Nature's news team just made it up. Britannica has called on the journal to repudiate the report, which was put together by its news team.

Independent experts were sent 50 unattributed articles from both Wikipedia and Britannica, and the journal claimed that Britannica turned up 123 "errors" to Wikipedia's 162. But Nature sent only misleading fragments of some Britannica articles to the reviewers, sent extracts of the children's version and Britannica's "book of the year" to others, and in one case, simply stitched together bits from different articles and inserted its own material, passing it off as a single Britannica entry.

"Almost everything about the journal's investigation, from the criteria for identifying inaccuracies to the discrepancy between the article text and its headline, was wrong and misleading," says Britannica. "Dozens of inaccuracies attributed to the Britannica were not inaccuracies at all, and a number of the articles Nature examined were not even in the Encyclopedia Britannica. The study was so poorly carried out and its findings so error-laden that it was completely without merit." In one case, for example. Nature's peer reviewer was sent only the 350 word introduction to a 6,000 word Britannica article on lipids - which was criticized for containing omissions.

A pattern also emerges which raises questions about the choice of the domain experts picked by Nature's journalists. Several got their facts wrong, and in many other cases, simply offered differences of opinion. "Dozens of the so-called inaccuracies they attributed to us were nothing of the kind; they were the result of reviewers expressing opinions that differed from ours about what should be included in an encyclopedia article. In these cases Britannica's coverage was actually sound." Nature only published a summary of the errors its experts found some time after the initial story, and has yet to disclose all the reviewer's notes.

So how could a respected science publication make such a grave series of errors?

When Nature published the news story in December, it followed weeks of bad publicity for Wikipedia, and was a gift for the project's beleaguered supporters. In October, a co-founder had agreed that several entries were "horrific crap". A former newspaper editor and Kennedy aide John Siegenthaler Snr then wrote an article explaining how libellous modifications had lain unchecked for months. By early December, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales was becoming a regular feature on CNN cable news, explaining away the site's deficiencies.

"Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great," wrote news editor Jim Giles. Nature accompanied this favorable news report with a cheerful, spin-heavy editorial that owed more to an evangelical recruitment drive than it did a rational analysis of empirical evidence. It urged readers to "push forward the grand experiment that is Wikipedia."

(Former Britannica editor Robert McHenry dubbed Wikipedia the "Faith based encyclopedia", and the project certainly reflects the religious zeal of some of its keenest supporters. Regular Register readers will be familiar with the rhetoric. See "Wikipedia 'to make universities obsolete').

Hundreds of publications pounced on the Nature story, and echoed the spin that Wikipedia was as good as Britannica - downplaying or omitting to mention the quality gap. The press loves an upbeat story, and what can be more uplifting than the utopian idea that we're all experts - at whatever subject we choose? The journal didn't, however, disclose the evidence for these conclusions until some days later, when journalists had retired for their annual Christmas holiday break. And this evidence raised troubling questions, as Nicholas Carr noted last month. Many publications had assumed Nature's Wikipedia story was objectively reporting the work of scientists - Nature's staple - rather than a news report assembled by journalists pretending to be scientists.

And now we know it was anything but scientific. Carr noted that Nature's reviewers considered trivial errors and serious mistakes as roughly equal. So why did Nature risk its reputation in such a way?

Perhaps the clue lies not in the news report, but in the evangelism of the accompanying editorial. Nature's news and features editor Jim Giles, who was responsible for the Wikipedia story, has a fondness for "collective intelligence", one critical website suggets. "As long as enough scientists with relevant knowledge played the market, the price should reflect the latest developments in climate research," Giles concluded of one market experiment in 2002. The idea became notorious two years ago when DARPA, under retired Admiral Poindexter, invested in an online "terror casino" to predict world events such as assassinations. The public didn't quite share the sunny view of this utopian experiment, and Poindexter was invited to resign.

What do these seemingly disparate projects have in common? The idea that you can vote for the truth. We thought it pretty odd, back in December, to discover a popular science journal recommending readers support LESS accurate information. It's even stranger to find this institution apparently violating fundamental principles of empiricism. But these are strange times - and high summer for supporters of junk science.



Feminism backfires

The excerpt below is from an article that made my day (I know that's bad of me!). It notes that feminist-inclined admissions officers at elite colleges now feel obliged to discriminate AGAINST women! Read on:

The fat acceptance envelope is simply more elusive for today's accomplished young women. I know this well. At my own college these days, we have three applicants for every one we can admit. Just three years ago, it was two to one. Though Kenyon was a men's college until 1969, more than 55 percent of our applicants are female, a proportion that is steadily increasing. My staff and I carefully read these young women's essays about their passion for poetry, their desire to discover vaccines and their conviction that they can make the world a better place....

Rest assured that admissions officers are not cavalier in making their decisions. Last week, the 10 officers at my college sat around a table, 12 hours every day, deliberating the applications of hundreds of talented young men and women.... The reality is that because young men are rarer, they're more valued applicants. Today, two-thirds of colleges and universities report that they get more female than male applicants, and more than 56 percent of undergraduates nationwide are women. Demographers predict that by 2009, only 42 percent of all baccalaureate degrees awarded in the United States will be given to men. We have told today's young women that the world is their oyster; the problem is, so many of them believed us that the standards for admission to today's most selective colleges are stiffer for women than men. How's that for an unintended consequence of the women's liberation movement?

The elephant that looms large in the middle of the room is the importance of gender balance. Should it trump the qualifications of talented young female applicants? At those colleges that have reached what the experts call a "tipping point," where 60 percent or more of their enrolled students are female, you'll hear a hint of desperation in the voices of admissions officers. Beyond the availability of dance partners for the winter formal, gender balance matters in ways both large and small on a residential college campus. Once you become decidedly female in enrollment, fewer males and, as it turns out, fewer females find your campus attractive.


A Humanitarian War?

Do you remember the first time you gave some money to a beggar? How many had you turned away, telling yourself, "next time, next time" before you finally dug some change out of your pocket? If you have given often, have you ever thought, he's just going to use it to get drunk? I'll bet you have. Did that stop you from giving again?

If you could help everyone who was in need, and it was no sacrifice, I bet most of you would. But you can't, so you have to be picky. The guy at the street corner with that smoldering spark of hope in his eyes, holding up a sign declaring that he will work for food: I bet you'd rather help him than the inebriated chap stumbling toward you saying, "Gimme yer money, I need some fuckin' money!" I bet the choice is even easier when both guys are standing right there, in front of a bar. You have this gut feeling that the guy who hasn't given in to drink is probably more worth your dollar than the lush.

So it is with humanitarian aid: In a world of finite resources, you help the ones that will benefit most, or maybe the one that's easiest to reach. So too with humanitarian intervention. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe writes in defense of a humanitarian case for the Iraq War, beginning with a quote from Pamela Bone:

She is writing about a group of female Iraqi emigrees whom she met in Melbourne in November 2000.

"They told me that in Iraq, the country they had fled, women were beheaded with swords and their heads nailed to the front doors of their houses, as a lesson to other women. The executed women had been dishonoring their country with their sexual crimes, and this behavior could not be tolerated, the then-Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, had said on national television. More than 200 women had been executed in this manner in the previous three weeks.... Because the claims seemed so extreme, I checked Amnesty International's country report.... Some of the women's 'sexual crimes' were having been raped by one of Saddam's sons. One of the women executed was a doctor who had complained of corruption in the government health department."

It was cruelty such as this that has stirred other liberal lions, such as Christopher Hitchens, to join others in support of the war. And yet. And yet:

I remember asking Ted Kennedy during the run-up to the war why he and others in the antiwar camp seemed to have so little sympathy for the countless victims of Ba'athist tyranny. Even if they thought an invasion was unwise, couldn't they at least voice some solidarity with the innocent human beings writhing in Saddam's Iraqi hell? Kennedy replied vehemently that he took a back seat to no one in his concern for those who suffer under all the world's evil regimes, and demanded to know whether supporters of war in Iraq also wanted to invade North Korea, Burma, and other human-rights violators.

It was a specious answer. The United States may not be able to stop every homicidal fascist on the planet, but that is hardly an argument for stopping none of them.

It is not a perfect analogy to the beggars, certainly. The fact of war makes it a less than perfect analogy. But the fact is that, despite whatever you, dear reader, may believe about the Bush Administration's rationale for war, there was a deeply urgent humanitarian need in Iraq, that could only be met by the ousting of Saddam's regime. Iraq was the case that could most benefit from "help", and that was most easily reachable: Saddam had, through his intransigence not only on ceasefire terms, but U.N. Security Council Resolutions (for what they're worth), provided the legal basis for what amounted to a resumption of the first Gulf War. There are few other countries that are implacable inimical to the United States, that are also security risks as well as humanitarian time bombs waiting to go off.

There is no doubt that we have expended much treasure on Iraq, not only in money, but in the irreplaceable lives of our sons and daughters. A cost so dear may not seem, to some, to have been worth it. Yet how much more meaningful is our aid, than mere money? Anyone can throw money around. But how many would have sacrificed lives? Especially, who among the Western nations would have sent soldiers in the path of real harm, for a people from such a different culture?

Anyway, what's done is done. Now we have a choice. Do we withdraw, and congratulate ourselves for having given a fish to the pauper? Or do we stay, and teach the pauper how to fish for himself?

(Hat-tip: Lorie Byrd)

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Lessons for Leftists

Violence has erupted in Paris as thousands of French students took to the streets to protest against a controversial labour law.

Dozens of youths smashed windows, looted shops, set fire to cars and hurled stones at police. But the majority of protesters were peaceful, many of them linking arms as police tackled the violent fringe.

His government proposed the law as part of a series of measures designed to help youths in the French suburbs who took to the streets last year.

Remember back when the burning of cars in France was unacceptably high, as if there is a acceptable level. Remember when the muslim youth took to the streets in France, burning and pillaging freely for weeks.

The politicians and leftist social scientists told us it was because of low employment, racism, police brutality, the youth were just misunderstood etc. Hardline politicians were smacked down for 'inciting' more violence, when they suggested deporting or punishing these thugs. Instead meeting after meeting, threats issued from under desks, fingers wagged, long periods of navel gazing and appeasement were the order of the day.

See what happens when you don't crack down on the scum when they get violent, they just carry on, when you try to give them jobs, they don't want jobs either, burning and pillaging is a lot easier, no point waffling around the issues and going soft on them, break a few legs, kick a few crotches and I'll bet they'll warm to the alternative.