The Wrong Kind of Minority

Leftists hate successful minorities. It's part of their compulsion to level everyone else down

Mona Charen

The Washington Post proclaimed in a recent headline another historic "first" for the United States -- the first female usher-in-chief at the White House. Stop the presses! The accompanying story reveals that the nominee hails from Jamaica, so it's probably a two-fer. Oh, boy.

The Post and other liberal organs are obsessed with firsts. The first female letter carrier to handle the Capitol Hill route will get a mention in the press. The first African-American anything is guaranteed at least a nod. You don't even have to be first to get "first" treatment. The last two Supreme Court nominees have been women, joining a court that had already seated two women (one retired). Nevertheless, the femininity of the candidates was cheerily chatted up. When Barack Obama became the first black nominee of a major party and then the elected president, dignified notice of an historical milestone would have been appropriate. But you know what happened -- the media went on an inebriated, extravagant first binge.

Funny how the first-effect only works for some. If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored. Yet no one is celebrating the possibility of the first Mormon president. Anti-Mormon bias, which has proved remarkably persistent over decades, is scarcely ever condemned.

It isn't that Mormons have not suffered. Following the religion's founding in upstate New York in 1830, the Mormons faced immediate hostility from their neighbors. Hounded by New Yorkers, the growing community moved west to Ohio, Missouri and Kansas. In Jackson County, Missouri, Mormon leaders were tarred and feathered, Mormon homes torched and Mormon property brazenly stolen.

County after county drove the Mormons out, sometimes threatening to kill even the children if they did not evacuate, culminating, in 1838, in an "extermination order" issued by Gov. Lilburn Boggs. Instructing the state militia, Boggs wrote, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace--their outrages are beyond all description." Thousands of Mormons were forced to flee, some with just the clothes on their backs, in the dead of winter. Illinois offered sanctuary for a time, but it was in that state that the religion's founder, Joseph Smith, was imprisoned and murdered by a mob.

The Mormons attempted to defend themselves and committed an atrocity of their own, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 (for which the militia leader in charge was tried and executed by the Mormons). But most of the time, the group was on the defensive. Throughout its first seven decades, the sect was harried, persecuted, expelled, reviled and chased across a continent.

The practice of polygamy stirred hostility. As a Jew though, I cannot help noticing that Mormons were also hated because they seemed to prosper economically, because they rose to the top of organizations they joined and because they were so loyal to one another.

Outsiders can surely be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets results. Utah has the nation's lowest levels of welfare dependency, child poverty and single parent homes. Its students are among the top scorers in the nation, despite relatively low levels of education spending. It ranks highest for contributions to charity by the wealthy and among the lowest for incarceration and cancer rates. Prominent Mormons established the Marriott hotel chain, Jet Blue and Bain Capital (of course). Mormon Americans invented the television, word processing and the hearing aid, among other things. Mormons have distinguished themselves in entertainment, sports and politics -- where they have risen to prominence in both parties.

Polygamy having long since been discarded, anti-Mormon bias today, ironically, often focuses on the LDS Church's opposition to same sex marriage. During the contest over California's Proposition 8, which limited marriage to the bond between men and women, opponents sought to intimidate Mormons who contributed financially or otherwise to the initiative. While there has been speculation that Mitt Romney's faith might suppress support among Republicans, a recent Gallup survey found that Democrats(27 percent) were more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to say they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president.

Mormons are obviously the wrong kind of minority. Oh, they've been persecuted. But through a strong work ethic, self-discipline, traditional morality (Yes, there's an irony there, but get over it) and group cohesion, they have triumphed for themselves and for the country. The first Mormon president would be a milestone. But don't hold your breath for the applause.


British education chiefs' £500 payout to a teacher hurt restraining a pupil cost £60,000 in legal fees

Education bosses ordered to pay £500 to a teacher injured while restraining a pupil were landed with a legal bill of more than £60,000 for that single case.

This example is one of the most disturbing discovered as a Daily Mail investigation revealed a growing ‘compensation culture’ in the classroom.

Freedom of Information requests disclose that councils across England are being bombarded with claims from teachers, often for trivial injuries.

But, in many cases, the compensation payments are dwarfed by the legal fees run up by solicitors.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers, often backed by their unions, are taking on no-win, no-fee lawyers to bring even the most speculative claims.

Last night ministers were urged to clamp down on the practice amid warnings it was having a ‘chilling effect’ on schools and other public services.

Our survey suggested that councils paid out an estimated £6.7million as a result of claims by teachers last year. But for every pound paid as compensation, another £1.25 went on lawyers and legal fees.

In one of the worst cases, North Lincolnshire Council paid £500 compensation to the teacher hurt restraining a pupil, but the authority also had to pay a bill for costs of £61,464.

A spokesman said fighting the claim in court had led to a big drop in the payout because of ‘contributory negligence’ but acknowledged it had resulted in much higher legal bills.

In another case, Wirral Council, Merseyside, paid £2,000 to a member of school staff who stubbed their toe on a box but then faced a bill for costs of £14,300.

Walsall Council in the West Midlands paid £1,500 to a teacher who suffered a strain falling over at school but had to pay £14,888 in costs linked to the claim.

In Southend-on-Sea, Essex, the council sanctioned a £13,500 payout to a teacher who was assaulted by a special needs pupil yet the bill for legal costs was £75,800.

In Dorset, a school employee was awarded £1,650 after slipping on posters left on the floor. Legal costs totalled £11,000.

In March, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke unveiled proposals to reform the no-win, no-fee system. But last night, Tory MP Philip Davies said ministers may have to go further. ‘This is becoming a massive problem,’ said Mr Davies. ‘Taxpayers’ money we can ill afford is being diverted from frontline services to fund a growing army of lawyers.

‘The Government has to find a way of scaling back this compensation culture. That will require clamping down on the activities of no-win, no-fee lawyers. ‘It is quite wrong that people are able to pursue claims – some dubious at best – without any risk to themselves. ‘This problem is not limited to the education sector. It is having a chilling effect right across our public services.’

John O’Connell, research director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s particularly frustrating that lawyers are ramping up charges way above the pay-out itself.

‘Sadly there is a growing compensation culture. It’s disappointing that big payments are often made for seemingly little more than everyday accidents, wasting taxpayers’ cash and making staff paranoid about carrying out their jobs.’

In total, 130 of the 152 education authorities in England responded to a survey about cases in the last year. They revealed the total of compensation and costs was £5.8million. When estimates for the other 22 councils are factored in, the overall total of successful compensation claims and costs comes to £6.7million. There were just over 400 successful claims for compensation, with the average cost to councils of £16,600 each.

Yet of that cash, the injured teacher collected £7,300 while legal fees amounted to £9,300.

David Bott, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, accused councils of pushing up fees by refusing to settle claims earlier. ‘The remedy is for defendants to put their own house in order. They need to stop dragging their heels admitting liability and agreeing settlements,’ he said.

But Government sources said councils were right to fight unjustified or excessive claims.


And The Guardian says this like it's a bad thing

What worries me is that The Guardian seems to think this is a bad thing:
Britain's "benign, tax efficient" property laws have encouraged super-rich foreigners to buy up more than £4bn of luxury property in London this year. A string of property experts said the world's super-wealthy were flooding to London to buy £40m homes "without giving it a second thought". In total foreign buyers bought up £4.3bn of prime central London property this year, compared with £2.1bn in 2010, according to research by Savills, the estate agent.

You can tell it's a bad thing by the scare quotes around benign, tax efficient. It gets worse too:
London property was also viewed as a "safe haven" in times of strife in the Middle East and former Soviet Union countries, according to Barnes.

Buyers also favour London because of the excessive paperwork and legal technicalities of buying expensive properties in New York and much of Europe.

Just such horrors, eh? We've managed to create a system whereby those who have the wealth to go absolutely anywhere at all voluntarily decide to come to us? In fact, they decide to purchase, for very large sums of money, our exports?

For that's what such purchases are, exports. They are goods that are no longer going to be enjoyed, consumed, by native Brits and in return native Brits have been given piles of money with which they can buy whatever of the world's joys and riches they care to consume. In this respect flogging Johnny Foreigner a flat in London is no different from shipping him a car from Birmingham, a pork pie from Melton Mowbray or a loan syndication from Shoreditch. It's an export and isn't The Guardian the paper that continually bemoans our failures at exporting?

And the last line of the quote does amuse greatly. The po-faced disdain at the idea that deregulation, not having reams of paperwork, might be a good idea and encourage people to do things.


Australia's false prophets

Without question, 2011 was a year replete with hyperbole and false prophecy, which, come to think of it, is typical of our time.

JANUARY The new year has barely begun when Bob Ellis, the seer of Palm Beach, declares on the ABC's The Drum: "I alone, in all of Australia, think Labor will hold government" in NSW. Shortly before April Fools' Day, Barry O'Farrell leads the Coalition to one of the greatest victories in Australian political history. Earlier in January, reports emerge that environmentalist Tim Flannery predicted that, within this century, a "strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest". One person's Gaia is another's full moon.

FEBRUARY The former Labor leader Mark Latham asserts that "anyone who chooses a life without children, as [Julia] Gillard has, cannot have much love in them". He does not say whether this maxim applies to such departed childless types as Florence Nightingale and Mary MacKillop. Christine Assange, the sandal-wearing mother of the famous Julian, maintains: "What we're looking at here is political and legal gang-rape of my son." The reference is to Sweden's attempt to question Assange about sexual assault allegations.

MARCH Jonathan Green, the editor of The Drum, reflects on the end of the world. He envisages the final media coverage of "a dying globe" with "news helicopters aloft, still filming until at last there was nowhere to land". Independent senator Nick Xenophon opines that "the poker machine lobby reminds me a bit [of] the slave owners of the 19th century in the United States". Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella suggests that Julia Gillard is "as deluded as Colonel 'my people love me' Gaddafi".

APRIL Superannuated Trotskyite Alex Mitchell states that Libyans belong to several tribes and they would never fire on one another. Media tart Kathy Lette reckons that if you "mention 'the Queen' to most Aussie kids . . . they presume you're talking about Elton John". Nevertheless, Lette is first in the queue to meet the real Queen at the palace.

MAY Public-sector union boss John Cahill classifies the O'Farrell government's industrial relations reforms as "worse than Stalinist Soviet Union". He forgets that Stalin shot workers' advocates. Andrew Bolt tells his readers that, under the leadership of commissioner Christine Nixon, the Victorian Police force "was subjected to an almost Maoist program of re-education". He overlooked the fact that Mao's regime led to the deaths of 50 million Chinese.

JUNE The seer of Palm Beach is at it again. This time Ellis theorises in The Spectator Australia that Malcolm Turnbull "will accept a job on the Gillard front bench and thereafter intrigue to become . . . a Labor prime minister". The writer Geraldine Brooks foresees a "critical juncture" for the world environment and predicts a time when "there's not going to be any Wall Street, there's not going to be an economy". Brooks was the ABC Boyer lecturer this year.

JULY Stuart Littlemore pontificates: "I think most people are actually shits." He goes on to warn that it is a mistake "to heroise or demonise people". Really. Littlemore is a barrister/novelist. Geoffrey Robertson, QC, excitedly tells ABC News Breakfast that Rupert Murdoch "before the week is out may find himself under arrest or at least assisting the police with their inquiries". The reference was to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. For the record, Murdoch was not arrested.

AUGUST Elizabeth Farrelly links American commentator Rebecca Hagelin's opposition to same-sex marriage with "ducking-stool type thinking. White-pointy-hood-type thinking. Taliban thinking." Fred Nile, MLC, equates the introduction of ethics classes in schools with secular humanism, which he says is the "philosophy that we saw during World War II with the Nazis and with the communists".

SEPTEMBER During a one-hour interview with Phillip Adams at the taxpayer-funded Byron Bay Writers' Festival, leftist functionary John Pilger alleges that the US President, Barack Obama, is a "war criminal". Pilger receives a standing ovation from the audience and a "10 out of 10 and a koala stamp" from Adams. The entire hour is replayed on ABC2. Writing in the New Statesman, Pilger depicts the Westfield shopping centre in London's East End at Stratford as "a vision of hell". Nevertheless, he bought a pair of sunglasses there. Raimond Gaita depicts Israel as a "criminal state".

OCTOBER Author and Tony Abbott-hater Susan Mitchell says that if the Coalition wins government she will "probably be locked up". She also maintains Gillard is "not within a whisker of becoming prime minister at this stage". Apparently, she is already anticipating the next election result. The Greens leader, Bob Brown, expresses the view that 700,000 coastal properties will be doomed by 2050. Dick Smith compares the Murdoch media to the Soviet Union.

NOVEMBER Herald Sun columnist Susie O'Brien argues that Alan Joyce "wants to kill" Qantas. Sky News commentator Greg O'Mahoney depicts the link between Fred Nile's Christian Democrats and the Shooters Party as the "guns and rosaries lobby". O'Mahoney is unaware that Protestants like Nile don't do rosaries - that's a Catholic thing. Former Labor MP John Brown maintains that the ABC's decision not to extend Deborah Cameron's contract "will leave this timeslot to non-intellectual idiots".

DECEMBER It's time to take (yet another) stance for Assange. Michael Pearce, SC writes that Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich has called for Assange to be "murdered". And ethicist Leslie Cannold tells ABC TV that "high-profile American politicians" have urged that he be assassinated. Neither produce evidence for their claims. The year ends with The Age's house leftie Michael Leunig bemoaning the "dreary dictates of materialism". He is one of the paper's higher-paid contributors.


New Paper: The Sun’s Impact On Earth’s Temperature Goes Far Beyond the simplistic total solar irradiance (TSI)

TSI is the only measure Warmists will consider

A recent paper published by the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestial Physics (74) 2012 87-93 and authored by Souza Echer et al. suggests that solar cycles, to a substantial extent, drive global temperatures, and that likely through amplification mechanisms.

The paper is titled: "On the relationship between global, hemispheric and latitudinal averaged air surface temperature (GISS time series) and solar activity"

The authors decomposed average air surface temperature series obtained from GISS and sunspot number (Rz) from 1880 – 2005 to see if a correlation could be found. They performed a cross correlation analysis between band-passed filtered data around 11-year and 22 years.

Although the authors did not find a strong correlation with the 11-year solar cycle, they found a “very significant correlation” in the 22-year Hale cycle band. The abstract states:
A very significant correlation (Rz 0.57 to 0.80) is found in the 22 yr solar Hale cycle band (16–32 years ) with lags from zero to four years between latitudinal averages air surface temperature and Rz. Therefore it seems that the 22 yr magnetic field solar cycle might have a higher effect on Earth’s climate than solar variations related to the 11-yr sunspot cycle.”

Well then, can we not assume that if the 22-year cycles have an impact, also the 78-year, 210-year, and 1000-year solar activity cycles must have a “significant correlation” with the earth’s climate too? Already there are dozens of proxy records showing that this is precisely the case.

Recall that the CO2 warmists in their half-baked models stubbornly keep focusing only on total solar irradiance (TSI), which itself varies only about 0.1% over an 11-year cycle (and thus by itself is no real climate driver) and ignore all the other amplification mechanisms. Well, the results of this study, as do dozens of others studies, show you can’t do that. Like it or not – the sun is a real player. Eventually the CO2 warmists will have to admit this, as anyone with even just an inkling of intuition would do.

Obviously there are others who feel the same way when it comes to the role of the sun on the earth’s climate. Another paper just published at the same journal shows that other scientists are hot on the sun’s trail. Here Magee and Kavic in their paper titled: "Probing the climatological impact of a cosmic ray–cloud connection through low-frequency radio observations" suspect a solar mechanism and so propose a method of observation. In the abstract they write:
…in order to establish whether or not such a relationship exists, measurements of short-timescale solar events, individual cosmic ray events, and spatially correlated cloud parameters could be of great significance. Here we propose such a comparison using observations from a pair of radio telescopes arrays,the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) and the Eight-meter-wavelength Transient Array (ETA). These low-frequency radio arrays have a unique ability to simultaneously conduct solar, ionospheric and cosmic rays observations and are thus ideal for such a comparison.”

The direction of climate science and investigation is clear. The real discoveries will involve unraveling the solar mechanisms, and not baking simplistic, straight-line CO2-temperature models. With each new study, the CO2 warmists look more and more like broken records that keep repeating: CO2…CO2…CO2…CO2…

Obviously some scientists just aren’t clever enough to snap out of it.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

'Things Happened'

The year's highlights in shifting responsibility

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last March, shortly before he announced that he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich reflected on his sins, which include cheating on his first two wives with women he would later marry. "At times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country," he said, "I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."

You might have thought that Gingrich's serial adultery reflected a different sort of passion and that his inability to control it reflected poorly on his self-discipline, not to mention his truthfulness, his loyalty, and the reliability of his promises. But how can you fault him for loving his country so much that he forgot he was married?

Gingrich's depiction of his infidelity as a testament to his patriotism was one of the year's most memorable exercises in responsibility deflection. Some more highlights:

Gotta Light? In February the Justice Department, as part of its lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, demanded a "corrective statement" saying, "We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes." It did not mention that the federal government, which approved the machine-based method for determining "tar" yields and pressured cigarette manufacturers to advertise those numbers, was complicit from the beginning in marketing practices it now deems fraudulent.

Bird Shot. "Will Toucan Sam go the way of Joe Camel?" The New York Times wondered after the Federal Trade Commission proposed guidelines for marketing food to children in April. "By explicitly tying advertising to childhood obesity," the Times said, the FTC was indicting "cuddly figures like Cap'n Crunch, the Keebler elves, [and] Ronald McDonald." How can food-hawking characters introduced in the 1960s be blamed for weight trends that began in the 1980s?

Poker Choker. In September federal prosecutors accused Full Tilt Poker of defrauding customers by failing to keep enough money on hand to cash them out at a time when "the company faced a growing shortfall….related to its inability to collect funds from U.S. players." The federal government deliberately created that shortfall by threatening to prosecute people for processing payments related to online poker.

Cannabis Capitulator. When she blocked implementation of Arizona's new medical marijuana law last May, Gov. Jan Brewer, a self-proclaimed champion of the 10th Amendment, blamed the Justice Department, claiming she was afraid, despite assurances from the state's U.S. attorney, that regulators overseeing dispensaries would face federal prosecution. Seven months later, Brewer, who opposed the ballot initiative that legalized the medical use of marijuana, finally admitted she was determined to thwart the will of Arizona's voters, asking a federal judge to overturn the policy they approved.

Super Zero. Last summer Congress, which had shown no signs of fiscal restraint even though it had several committees dedicated to spending, decided the solution was another committee: the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The "super committee" was supposed to relieve Congress of responsibility for making hard budgetary decisions. And even if it failed, it would succeed, because then spending cuts would kick in "automatically" (assuming Congress let them), insulating legislators from blame. Washington's best minds are still trying to figure out how it all fell apart.


Only One Candidate Is Right on The Two Most Important Issues for America

Ann Coulter below relaxes most of her usual acerbic tone and makes a serious argument that Romney is the only candidate who can deliver for conservatives. I think she is right. There is much in Romney's past that conservatives dislike but his turn to the Right could be solid. Most people drift Rightwards as they get older. Remember that both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out as liberals

In the upcoming presidential election, two issues are more important than any others: repealing Obamacare and halting illegal immigration. If we fail at either one, the country will be changed permanently.

Taxes can be raised and lowered. Regulations can be removed (though they rarely are). Attorneys general and Cabinet members can be fired. Laws can be repealed. Even Supreme Court justices eventually die. But capitulate on illegal immigration, and the entire country will have the electorate of California. There will be no turning back.

Similarly, if Obamacare isn't repealed in the next few years, it never will be. America will begin its ineluctable descent into becoming a worthless Western European country, with rotten health care, no money for defense and ever-increasing federal taxes to support the nanny state.

So let's consider which of the Republican candidates are most likely to succeed at these objectives.

Hansen's explanation of why the oceans are not warming

Improving observations of ocean heat content show that Earth is absorbing more energy from the sun than it is radiating to space as heat, even during the recent solar minimum. The inferred planetary energy imbalance, 0.59 ± 0.15 W m−2 during the 6-year period 2005–2010, confirms the dominant role of the human-made greenhouse effect in driving global climate change. Observed surface temperature change and ocean heat gain together constrain the net climate forcing and ocean mixing rates. We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols. Aerosol climate forcing today is inferred to be −1.6 ± 0.3 W m−2, implying substantial aerosol indirect climate forcing via cloud changes. Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing is untenable, as knowledge of changing aerosol effects is needed to understand future climate change. We conclude that recent slowdown of ocean heat uptake was caused by a delayed rebound effect from Mount Pinatubo aerosols and a deep prolonged solar minimum. Observed sea level rise during the Argo float era is readily accounted for by ice melt and ocean thermal expansion, but the ascendency of ice melt leads us to anticipate acceleration of the rate of sea level rise this decade.


One doesn't need to go into the physics involved to see that this is bad science. It is in fact a particularly egregious example of a post hoc explanation -- being wise after the event in layman's terms. Such explanations get as little respect in science as elsewhere.

Such explanations are given when something predicted by theory fails to occur -- and when there is one clear confounding factor they can have some status. But Hansen's paper has no such status. He has to invoke a whole range of special influences, some of which seem to be entirely imaginary. Without any evidence for it he extends the influence of the Pinatubo eruption to two decades, which is wildly outside the normal expectation of a couple of years at most. The paper is a patent work of desperation.

On the amusing side, he admits an effect of solar variations, something long denied by Warmists, including himself.

Steve Goddard sinks the knife in too.

Girl Scouts Book Refers Readers to Liberal Group Media Matters to Clear Up ‘Media Misinformation’

In 2010, the Girl Scouts of the USA published a book called “MEdia.” The publication, designed for girls in grades six through eight, is a guide that apparently offers insight into how young people should process and understand the media messages surrounding them.

Considering the pervasive nature of popular media, this seems like a viable tool. However, there’s a problem — the book refers young readers to Media Matters for America as one of the primary sources for debunking lies and deceit.

On the surface, “MEdia” seems like it’s an excellent resource (and in some ways maybe it is) that encourages self-reflection and skepticism — two very understandable and useful tenets. But on page 25 of the book, a very curious recommendation is given.

Under the headline, “Consider the Source,” text encourages girls to go to the George Soros-funded Media Matters for America web site to clear up any media misinformation they might encounter. It reads:
The Internet is a breeding ground for “urban legends,” which are false stories told as if true. Next time you receive a txt or e-mail about something that seems unbelievable, confirm it before you spread it.

The fact-checking site investigates everything from urban legends to “news” articles and posts its findings. Media Matters for America ( gets the word out about media misinformation.

Considering Media Matters’ far-left attachments and its less-than-objective views, one wonders why the book’s authors, Wendy Thomas Russell and Sarah Goodman, would include this as the sole source for getting “the word out about media misinformation.”


Thousands voted twice in cliffhanger poll

Shades of the USA!

AS many as 16,000 Australians got away with voting more than once in the 2010 razor's edge federal poll. Dozens may have voted three times or more, but only three copped a slap on the wrist.

The Australian Electoral Commission has admitted to a Senate committee its own records make it difficult to tell who is flouting electoral laws. And it has been revealed little can be done if voters deny it.

Of the 16,189 people the AEC suspected of multiple votes, 5211 denied it and 80 per cent of the 1458 who confessed were new voters or did not understand how to vote. It was decided 7925 were errors, many caused when voters with similar names were recorded under the same name by accident.

Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn told the committee the offence was hard to prove as there was no real evidence if a person denied the offence.

Victorian Liberal senator Scott Ryan said the lack of prosecution sent a confusing message to the country.

There have been calls for the introduction of photo ID, with some seats won or lost on just a few votes.


Hating your mother means you're twice as likely to grow up fat

It's difficult evaluating a study that is not yet online but this could easily be a social class effect. The underclass often have poor relationships with their children and also tend to be fat and have fat children. That could be controlled for by partialling out parental weight from the correlations but who knows if that was done? There is an extensive summary of the study here and no controls are mentioned. More magic knowledge of the causal chain apparently. The title of the journal article is: "Quality of early maternal-child relationship and risk of adolescent obesity"

Children who have a poor emotional relationship with their mother are more than twice as likely to become obese, research claims.

A study found toddlers who struggle with their mothers are at higher risk of being grossly overweight by the time they are 15. Those who had the worst emotional relationship were almost two-and-half times more likely to be obese at 15 than those with a strong bond. Meanwhile, only 13 per cent who had close bonds in their formative years became obese.

U.S. researchers studied nearly 1,000 toddlers and their mothers at play then rated how strong the bond was between mother and child.

The participants were then assessed for obesity at 15. The prevalence of obesity in adolescence was 26.1 per cent among children with the poorest early maternal-child relationships according to the research, which will appear in the online Journal of Paediatrics next month.

Ohio State University epidemiology professor Sarah Anderson said eating comfort food throughout childhood could be linked to youngsters not being given the right tools to deal with stress.

She said: ‘It is possible childhood obesity could be influenced by interventions that try to improve the emotional bonds between mothers and children rather than focusing only on children’s food intake and activity.

‘We need to think about how we can support better-quality maternal-child relationships because that could have an impact on child health.

'A well-regulated stress response could influence how well children sleep and whether they eat in response to emotional distress – just two factors that affect the likelihood for obesity.’


Australia's Leftist government attempting to censor news about illegal immigrants

They can't solve the problem so want it hidden
IMAGES of asylum seekers arriving to our shores by boat may be banned. The restrictions were announced after the Immigration Department successfully lobbied the Australian Communications and Media Authority to "protect the privacy of these vulnerable clients", The Australian reports (subscribers).

Under the new privacy guidelines, a person's identity would be protected even if they are in a public place. This would allow ACMA, which oversees the licenses of major TV networks, to possibly prevent the broadcasting of asylum seekers' faces.

Seven Network's Head of News Peter Meakin told The Australian: "I think it's a ridiculous provision and I suspect it is being done more for the benefit of authorities than for the asylum-seekers."

"I can understand asylum-seekers wanting privacy for the protection of their families, but a blanket ban is just the big hand of censorship," he said.


Warmist chosen as a "messenger" of science

Chris Mooney is basically an ignoramus. You will see here how ill-informed he is. He is all bluster, speculation and projection. He is not a researcher's rear end. Science is in a bad way if he counts as a scientist

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will be holding a workshop, "Science: Becoming the Messenger" on January 23, 2012, at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Hotel, 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815.

We are extending an invitation to principal investigators (PI), early career researchers and engineers, graduate students and postdocs from institutions and universities in Hawaii who would like to learn to communicate effectively to a broad audience.

We are also extending an invitation to public information officers (PIO) communicating on behalf of the institutions and universities in Hawaii.

Today, across academia and the research community, there is a growing interest in science communication. Scientists are asking how they can share their knowledge and findings across an increasingly challenging information environment.

Seminars and training workshops are, accordingly, springing up to meet this need. But never before has there been a team like the one NSF has assembled to help members of the scientific community at all levels become more effective messengers.

Featuring three accomplished communicators and trainers--Emmy award winning television producer Joe Schreiber, former PBS executive Dan Agan and bestselling science author Chris Mooney--the NSF workshop "Science: Becoming the Messenger" provides one-stop shopping for those seeking to reach a broader public about their work.

Over the course of this full day of training, participants will learn how to craft a message and deliver it to a variety of audiences. They will also have the opportunity to experience live interview training, to develop writing and new media skills, to hone their public presentations and even to produce video.

Public information officers (PIO) will participate in all aspects of day one of the workshop and be able to participate with the researchers. They will attend a special breakout session designed to collaborate with NSF Public Affairs.


The gift of giving

by Jeff Jacoby

OF ALL THE RITUALS that mark this season, none is more misguided than the complaints about how crass and mercenary the holidays have become.

The laments begin early in November, when Santa starts showing up in TV commercials. They surge during the hyperactive shopping weekend that follows Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas (and Chanukah) are actually at hand, you'd have to be in a persistent vegetative state not to hear all the scolding about how the "reason for the season" has been lost amid the buy-one-get-one sales and the over-elaborate mall displays.

Even Pope Benedict joined the chorus this year. In the homily he delivered on Christmas Eve, he deplored "the superficial glitter" of the season, urging the faithful not to confuse the "commercial celebration" Christmas has become with its "true joy and true light."

I wouldn't presume to argue with the pope about the religious significance of Christmas, and I will readily acknowledge that the holiday shopping season can certainly be stressful, expensive, and more than a little materialistic. Nonetheless, as a measure of cultural and communal health, I can't help seeing this yearly impulse to shower friends and family with presents as one of our society's most endearing and heartening traits.

Ten days ago I took my 8-year-old son Micah to a local Dollar Tree Store, where he was eager to spend his savings -- 11 dollars and change, grubbily folded into a miniature wallet -- on Chanukah gifts for his family. We had done this together last year, and Micah had been besieging me to pick an evening when the two of us could make a return trip.

I found it a wonderful experience, no irony intended. Dollar Tree isn't exactly Tiffany & Co., and in any case Micah chooses gifts with all the sophistication and refinement you'd expect from a rambunctious third-grade boy who loves bugs and can never seem to keep his shirt tucked in. The presents he picked out for his mother included a desktop picture frame for her office, glow-in-the-dark necklaces ("Mama can wear them if she goes for a walk at night"), and two boxes of Milk Duds; for his teen-age brother he found an air horn, Lemonheads, and a container of "noise putty" that emits flatulent sounds when poked. A devotee of Martha Stewart Living the kid is not.

But whatever Micah may have lacked in style and taste, he more than made up for with the unfeigned delight he brought to the whole project. He couldn't wait to turn his little clutch of dollars into presents for the people he loves. He wasn't consciously trying to be altruistic or selfless; and he's never given 30 seconds' thought to the meaning of generosity. He was simply excited by the prospect of giving -- and indeed, when the moment came a few nights later to bestow his gifts on his recipients, he was practically bouncing up and down with elation. If this is crass commercialism, let's have more of it.

Would modern society really be improved if the happiness of gift-giving were not an integral part of one special season each year? Granted, anything can be overdone, and materialism is no exception. And it is important to remember that the hustle and pressure of buying presents for loved ones doesn't reduce our obligation to give charitably and generously to the poor.

But how diminished our culture would be without that hustle and pressure. Children learn an important lesson when they see the adults in their world treat the joy of others as a priority worth spending time, money, and thought on. No one has to teach kids to be acquisitive and selfish -- that comes naturally -- but what an inestimable asset they acquire when they find out for themselves that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

It is only a coincidence of the calendar that links Christmas and Chanukah; theologically the two holidays have little in common. But essential to both Judaism and Christianity is the principle of imitatio Dei, of striving to walk in God's ways, above all by being kind to others as He is kind to us. Isn't that what underlies the expense and scramble of our holiday gift-giving? In lavishing gifts on others, we reflect the openhandedness with which God lavishes gifts on us. Maybe that's not the entirety of the season's "true joy and true light." But if my 8-year-old's unaffected joyfulness is any indication, it makes a great start.


Occupy Wall Street becomes highly collectible

How sick is this? Empty-headed bums need to be remembered?

Occupy Wall Street may still be working to shake the notion it represents a passing outburst of rage, but some establishment institutions have already decided the movement’s artifacts are worthy of historic preservation.

More than a half-dozen major museums and organisations from the Smithsonian Institution to the New-York Historical Society have been avidly collecting materials produced by the Occupy movement. Staffers have been sent to occupied parks to rummage for buttons, signs, posters and documents. Websites and tweets have been archived for digital eternity, and museums have approached protesters directly to obtain posters and other ephemera.

The Museum of the City of New York is planning an exhibition on Occupy for next month.

“Occupy is sexy,” said Ben Alexander, head of special collections and archives at Queens College, which has been collecting Occupy materials. “It sounds hip. A lot of people want to be associated with it.’’


Israel and Christianity

Being an atheist, my church attendance these days is EXTREMELY spotty. Easter and Christmas is about it -- though Anne would be happy if we went more often. Anne is not particularly pious but, like me, she is a CULTURAL Protestant Christian. And culture accounts for a lot. A shared cultural background gives us an instinctive understanding of one-another and a similar response to many things. We are all happiest among our "ain folk", as the Scots put it. That is probably all gobbledegook to most Leftists but the loss is theirs.

I am at the moment in the grip of the joyous Christmas season -- and the hymns and carols that we sing at this time are so Israel-focused that I fail to see how any Christian can NOT be a great supporter of Israel. Pastor Hagee is sometimes berated for his extreme Israel-focus but if I lived in his town I think I might be inclined to attend any special services that he put on.

The Bible is an Israeli book. Even Luke the good physician -- who was not a Jew -- was apparently an Israeli.

So how can we not rejoice at this time over the return of descendants of its Biblical inhabitants to the "Promised Land"? We sing and read so much about that land and the personalities that emerged from it. I see Christians who are not strong supporters of Israel as fake Christians.

Soviet Union’s Fatal Flaw Is being Repeated in the USA

Even today, almost exactly 20 years after it happened, Westerners asked to explain the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union tend to serve up theories that flatter preconceived ideological biases. Old-school leftists contend the Soviets simply perverted the noble ideals of socialism. More modernist progressives cluck their tongues at the Soviet Union’s parasitic, cynical, ruling class that enriched itself at the common person’s expense. Dedicated market capitalists point to communism having made entrepreneurship a crime. Civil libertarians make much of the Soviet government’s denial of freedom. And so on.

All these theories can contribute something to the debate, but none of them really tells the full story of the Soviet Union’s collapse. While it can’t explain everything, one theory that flatters neither Left nor Right seems to offer the best way of thinking about the Soviet collapse: The biggest reason the communist empire fell was centralization.

More than anything else, the Soviet Union of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev era strove for central control. Gosplan in Moscow made the major decisions, and nearly every field of human endeavor was organized for the administrative convenience of these central planners. A single corporation owned every airplane, from jumbo jets to crop dusters. One massive plant manufactured almost every civilian automobile. A government ministry even told restaurants what recipes to use.

In the decade before its collapse, the Soviet Union had the world’s largest bank, the biggest newspaper, and the largest hotel. And it didn’t stop there. Despite paying lip service to the preservation of local customs (peasant dance festivals were big), Moscow tried to make everyone in the vast multinational empire learn Russian and adhere to the same Marxist,/materialist worldview.

Convenient as it was for those in charge, this absolute insistence on central control proved disastrously inefficient. While planners with slide-rules and hulking mainframe computers might determine, in theory, that one big auto plant would have lower production costs than a variety of small ones, even a small slip-up (say, a shortage of screws) could put the massive plant down for the count.

Even worse than its obvious inefficiencies, rigid centralization squelched human creativity: Good ideas were worth nothing unless one had the political connections to make them happen. Going off to start a business, write a play, or solve a social problem was forbidden. Under the thumb of aging technocrats who liked military parades and classical music, the nation stagnated, declined, and collapsed.

This state of affairs carries some pretty obvious lessons for those who want to further solidify Washington, DC’s role as the chief arbiter of all things in the national economy: Centralization of economic authority is not only inefficient but, by reducing the number of people in authority, actually tends to increase the likelihood of the genuine catastrophic failures they seek to avoid.

There’s also plenty to take heed of regarding government promotion of business: Bigness does not equate with virtue. Mega-retailers, farmers, trade associations, and corporate tycoons aren’t intrinsically any more--or less--virtuous than urban small businesses, union workers, or single mothers living in public housing. And ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum need to remember that efforts to enforce ideological conformity are inconsistent with the diversity that characterizes a free society.

No single theory, of course, can fully explain why the Soviet Union collapsed so suddenly, but a look at its deeply centralized nature surely explains a great deal--and sends an important warning.


£10m cost of turning OFF British wind farms

Wind farm operators are on course to earn up to £10 million this year for turning off their turbines.

Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7 million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 ­occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9 million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.

The scale of the payments triggered a review of the rules on so-called constraint payments. The payments are made when too much electricity floods the grid, with the network unable to absorb any excess power generated. The money is ultimately added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.

Last year, only £176,788 of such payments were made, but changes in the way the National Grid, which supplies energy to retail companies, “balances” the electricity network have meant a huge expansion in their use.

The rules meant that some renewable energy companies were paid more to switch off their turbines than they would have received from ordinary operations.

In September, it was disclosed that £1.2 million would go to a Norwegian company that owned 60 turbines in the Scottish Borders, thanks to a period of unusually high wind during the spring. Because of the rising cost, the National Grid “balancing” system could now be overhauled to reduce the use of constraint payments.

Constraint payments have added to political and public hostility to onshore wind farms. A growing number of Conservative MPs are opposed to Coalition plans to increase the number of wind turbines. Ministers say Britain needs more “renewable” energy generation to reduce the dependence on gas imported from Russia and the Middle East.

Chris Heaton Harris, a Conservative MP, said the unpopularity of wind farms was eroding support for all sorts of renewable power. “I know from my mailbag and from the number of emails I receive every day on the matter that people are turning against renewables of just about every type because wind turbines are, among other things, so badly sold,” he said.

“Onshore wind generation requires a 100 per cent back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.”

The turbine industry says that constraint payments are a sign of problems with the National Grid, and not the turbines themselves. Charles Hendry, an energy minister, confirmed the latest payments, and said the system the National Grid used to calculate the fees was being reviewed.

“Reducing or increasing the output of generators is a normal part of National Grid’s role to balance supply and demand, and it will pick the most cost-effective way to deliver what is required,” he said. “However, the recent requirement to use wind farms to manage the system has raised questions as to whether the current market-wide balancing arrangements for wind are appropriate. “National Grid has launched a consultation to seek views on the issues involved.”


Australian Leftist government's pandering to the Greens costs the country a fortune

THE Labor government's tenuous hold on power has already cost taxpayers almost $15 billion.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard spent $65 for every Australian in order to keep the Greens and independents happy - and her party in government - all while facing global financial turmoil and a wafer-thin budget surplus, The Daily Telegraph reported.

An analysis shows the costs extended beyond deals struck after the election, with Labor forced to extinguish political spot fires and buy votes for policies such as the carbon and mining taxes.

The $14.95 billion bill after less than half Labor's term is in contrast to a $950 million revenue windfall after a Greens campaign to adopt its fringe benefits tax to encourage a reduction in driving.

NSW independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott strengthened their positions as major powerbrokers, involved in deals worth $4.2 billion compared to the $364 million of Andrew Wilkie.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan defended Labor's economic record, pointing to the regional focus of much of the funds as returning the proceeds of the mining boom.

But the opposition attacked the greener initiatives as wasteful and evidence that Ms Gillard was unable to stand up to Greens leader Bob Brown.

University of Melbourne professor Mark Considine said there were only minor positives in what he called an "inefficient form of democracy".

"It's very similar to what has happened in the American system where every bill has to contain inducements across the board for bringing people on board," he said. "There is a high cost in the time spent bringing people on board and the exaggerated power of some minority groups and electorates that distorts everything."

The Greens have won $10.275 billion - headlined by the $10 billion clean energy fund - while Queensland independent Bob Katter scored a $335 million renewable energy promise a day after backing the Coalition.

In one vote-buying spree last month, Labor spent $320 million securing three lower house votes to allow its mining tax package to pass.

At least one promise has blown out, with the $75 million pledged to Mr Oakeshott to expand Port Macquarie Hospital rising to $96 million.

Mr Windsor, who was promised $20 million for Tamworth Hospital but has since scored another $120 million, said his efforts had won important money for the regions and improved the outcome of key policies. "Very little is local (in my seat)," he said. "I don't think the punter in the street would object to much of this."

A spokesman for Mr Swan defended the deal-making, insisting the federal government still had a strong economic record on jobs, interest rates and maintaining the AAA credit rating.

"Regional Australia - where one third of Australians live - has every right to decent government services and to enjoy the benefits of the mining boom," the spokesman said.

Opposition government waste spokesman Jamie Briggs said while he did not object to regional initiatives such as health and road, he claimed many of the billions demanded by the Greens was a waste.

"Gillard's lack of courage to stand up to the Greens is costing taxpayers," he said.


An informed comment on illegal immigration into Australia

I'd just like to point out, having just written my Masters thesis on this very topic, that while the majority of Australia's asylum seekers arrive by plane, this majority is much slimmer than imagined. Last year the spread was something like 46% boat and 54% air and the last few years have all been like this - I can provide some sources on this if you like.

Of those who arrive by plane, only a small percentage are actually illegal, in that they have no permission to enter - and those that are are removed from the country via the next available flight to their point of origin. The majority of our ASYLUM SEEKERS who DO enter by plane do so on tourist or short term working holiday visas and then apply for asylum, which it is perfectly legal to do.

To emphasise, boat arrivals are placed in detention NOT because they are seeking asylum. Seeking asylum in Australia is perfectly legal, they are in detention because they arrive without permission (unlike plane arrivals who largely show up with a valid visa of some kind). While I don't defend the morality of mandatory detention, this is an important distinction.

Boat arrivals fill our detention centres because they are the largest group of people who enter Australia illegally and are then detained (not sent home immediately).


A great speech by a real entrepreneur

And all in a delightful Irish accent

The Queen reminds us of the power of family

The Queen's Speech focuses on the families that support us in times of crisis. A reflection on her Christmas Day message

When Her Majesty the Queen chose to focus her Christmas message on the importance of family, she was unaware that her own closest relation would be taken from her side. As it was, there was a special poignancy – for those watching on television – to the images of husband and wife on screen, given that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh have been separated by illness at this least appropriate time of year.

Studying that broadcast, it would be hard to think of a better illustration of how dedicated a servant the Duke remains to his wife and Sovereign, even in his 90th year. Elsewhere on these pages, Philip Eade sets out the many ways in which he has strengthened and supported Her Majesty over the years, greatly to the benefit of his adopted nation. As the Duke recovers from his operation, both he and his wife will be able to draw similar strength from the family around them, this year enlarged with the marriage of two of their grandchildren. Indeed, it was appropriate that this was the very theme of Her Majesty’s Christmas message: the way that family, and the support of those we love, enables us to cope with times of hardship, and how such trials often draw out “the most and best” of the human spirit.

Her Majesty was not just talking about our immediate families, however. As she reminded us, “family” can define more than simply those related to us by blood. She cited the example of the Commonwealth that she has done so much to hold together – “a family of 53 nations, all with a common bond, shared beliefs, mutual values and goals”. Similarly, her definition of hardship was a broad one, encompassing not just the natural disasters that struck Queensland in Australia and Christchurch in New Zealand, but also being separated from loved ones serving overseas, or the more mundane pressures of austerity.

It is, of course, a clich̩ of the festive season to talk about the importance of family and community, and of being supported by those we love. But it is a clich̩ for a reason. Our families, our friends, our communities Рand yes, our faith Рare what sustain us in difficult times, and make life about more than simply the accumulation of wealth (or, in times such as these, the protection of what wealth we have).

This was a theme taken up in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas sermon, too. Next year is the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the temptation will be to concentrate above all on the ways in which it has shaped our language. Yet as Dr Rowan Williams argued, the book also matters because it is of common prayer, offering a shared experience and shared devotion. Our society, the Archbishop suggested, all too often lacks such anchors: as a result, “bonds have been broken [and] trust abused and lost”, making space for the misbehaviour both of “mindless” urban rioters and irresponsible fiscal speculators.

In difficult times, with the future all too uncertain, it can be tempting to harden our hearts as we tighten our wallets. Yet if we lose our connection to those around us, we become – as Dr Williams put it – merely “atoms spinning apart in the dark”. And as the Queen reminded us yesterday, “finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas”. Jesus himself, she pointed out, was born into a world “full of fear”.

Over the next 12 months, Britain will witness a series of truly grand occasions. Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee promises to be a marvellous celebration of a monarch who has served her people with dignity and dedication for so long. The Olympics will bring the world to London and many other parts of Britain. Yet of equal importance to such national spectacles are the humbler moments of familial or communal pleasure. Just as the Duke of Edinburgh will be aided in his recovery by having his family around him, so are the rest of us supported by those we care for. If we can hold on to that sentiment, it might make the new year happier for us all.


Conservative commentator returns fire

We read:
"Brent Bozell, a conservative commentator and guest on Fox News, was discussing bias in the media, citing how liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews insulted Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and with little to to no backlash.

Mr Bozell took issue with the fact Mr Matthews said that Mr Gingrich 'looked like a car-bomber' in a video clip this past March. Mr Matthews repeated the comparison several times, adding that he thought Mr Gingrich has 'got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he likes torturing.'

Mr Bozell then argued that similar comments would not be tolerated if said by a conservative critic. 'How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead? Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does,' Mr Bozell said Thursday.

By adding his own thoughts at the end, Mr Bozell took that theoretical example and turned it into reality.


Australian Defence looks offshore to recruit troops

This is not as unusual as it might seem. I gather that about a third of the British army is comprised of "Commonwealth" troops, Pacific islanders particularly. And the U.S. army has many Hispanics, some of whom are non-citizens who get citizenship at the end of their stint

The ADF is looking overseas to recruit defence specialists in order to fill recruitment quotas.

The Australian Defence force is trying to recruit laid-off soldiers, sailors and air crew from Britain, the US and other western countries in order to fill quotas.

The Australian reports (subscribers only) the navy has sent a delegation to Britain to discover how many retrenched sailors, particularly engineers, are available.

A report on maintenance in Australia's navy suggested that as many as 200 engineers are needed to rebuild lost expertise.

The paper reports the department also is looking for defence specialists, such as fighter pilots, submarine crews and officers and are offering fast-tracked Australian citizenship as an incentive.


Could Public Health Benefits Make Combating Climate Change Free?

The bit of nonsense excerpted below is actually fairly typical of medical writing. They seem incapable of looking at the bottom line. They exult over a beneficial effect of something and ignore other effects that may more than cancel out the benefit. In this case it may be true that some parasites would spread more widely with global warming but the big seasonal killer is winter not summer -- so if winters became milder many deaths would be avoided at that time. And winter deaths show a considerable excess over summer deaths so the health benefits of a warmer world would be large

South Africa—Former entomologist Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum of the World Health Organization worries about nosebleeds more than the average person. That's because he's one of the estimated 12 million people worldwide afflicted with leishmaniasis—a potentially fatal parasitic disease characterized most often by lesions on the skin and/or mucus membranes—caused by the bite of a sandfly.

As the team leader for climate change and health at WHO and an environmental epidemiologist, Campbell-Lendrum is also in a position to worry more about how global warming is going to affect such so-called vector-borne diseases. "Is climate change going to bring malaria back to the U.S. and Europe? It's not," he asserts. "Climate change is eroding the environmental determinants of health: water, food, increasing disease," he says. Already WHO research suggests that current warming of global average temperatures of just under one degree Celsius is responsible for an additional 150,000 deaths per year, largely due to agricultural failures and diarrheal disease in developing countries. "All the inputs are on the conservative side," says Campbell-Lendrum, who helped come up with the number.

As a result, WHO—and a consortium of other public health organizations—declared climate change to be among the most pressing emerging health issues in the world at the recent climate negotiations here in South Africa. Consider some of the changes that are already taking place: extreme heat waves, such as the one in Europe in 2003 that killed 46,000 people; changes in bacterial diseases due to water contamination and a quickening of bacterial growth rates in warmer temperatures; worsening levels of ground-level ozone, otherwise known as smog, which is responsible for worsening asthma and heart attacks (among other health effects); changes in pollen making allergies worse; changes in vector-borne diseases; as well as droughts, floods and other forms of extreme weather such as the 12 natural disasters in the U.S. this year that caused at least $1 billion in damage.


The legacy of the "Dear Leader"

Kim was a man on his own mission - to enrich himself, maintain power at any price, and to crush anyone who stood in his way. He was, in short, his father's son. It is hard to overstate the level of oppression he exerted on the population of the Hermit Kingdom. The abuses in North Korea under his rule were among the most severe in the world in the last 20 years.

As pro bono counsel to Havel, Elie Wiesel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, I worked with the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea and produced two reports on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country.

We concluded that North Korea was committing crimes against humanity against its own people. During its late 1990s famine, some one million people and perhaps many more died, and the population remains at constant risk of starvation with some 37 per cent of children chronically malnourished.

North Korea also operates a vast gulag system, with some 200,000 people imprisoned for real or imagined offences. These camps impose a brutal regimen on their populations, including forced labour, starvation-level rations, and widespread torture.

It is estimated more than 400,000 people have died in these camps in the past two decades.


Wild Oaths

The captain of Sydney to Hobart favourite. Wild Oats XI dropped the f-bomb twice on air causing the official broadcaster, Channel 7, to drop live onboard commentary.

Come on, he was just following the example set by our federal Communications minister, Stephen Conroy speaking to the National Press Club.

The yacht captain was urging his crew to find a few extra knots to win the race-within-a-race out of Sydney Heads.

Dude, it's a sailboat.  If you really want it to go faster, put a f---ing motor on the thing.

Study Shows U.S. Mosques Are Repositories of Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers

Perspectives on Terrorism, recently released a comprehensive study on violence-advocating texts in American mosques titled Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques.

The Shariah Adherence Mosque Survey found that 80% of U.S. mosques provide their worshippers with jihad-style literature promoting the use of violence against non-believers and that the imams in those mosques expressly promote that literature.

The study also found that when a mosque imam or its worshippers were “sharia-adherent,” as measured by certain behaviors in conformity with Islamic law, the mosque was more likely to provide this violent literature and the imam was more likely to promote it.
Perspectives on Terrorism is a scholarly, peer-reviewed international journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), a global initiative that seeks to support the international community of terrorism researchers and scholars through the facilitation of collaborative projects and cooperative initiatives. TRI was established in 2007 by scholars from several disciplines in order to provide the global research community with a common tool than can empower them and extend the impact of each participant's research activitie

The research originally was published in the summer 2011 edition of Middle East Quarterly (MEQ) under the title Shari'a and Violence in American Mosques. The Middle East Quarterly is an academic, peer-reviewed journal which specializes on Middle East regional issues. Due to the ground-breaking nature of the study, which brings a rigorous empirical methodology to the question of home-grown jihadists, MEQ granted permission to Perspectives on Terrorism to publish a more extensive analysis of the study’s conception, methodology, and results. The new publication includes additional material, charts and graphs.

The abstract for the study summarizes the research findings:

A random survey of 100 representative mosques in the U.S. was conducted to measure the correlation between Sharia adherence and dogma calling for violence against non-believers.

Of the 100 mosques surveyed,

51% had texts on site rated as severely advocating violence;

30% had texts rated as moderately advocating violence;

19% had no violent texts at all.

Mosques that presented as Sharia adherent were more likely to feature violence-positive texts on site than were their non-Sharia-adherent counterparts.

The leadership at Sharia-adherent mosques was more likely to recommend that a worshipper study violence-positive texts than leadership at non-Sharia-adherent mosques.

In 84.5% of the mosques, the imam recommended studying violence-positive texts.

58% of the mosques invited guest imams known to promote violent jihad.

The leadership of mosques that featured violence-positive literature was more likely to invite guest imams who were known to promote violent jihad than was the leadership of mosques that did not feature violence-positive literature on mosque premises.
The study’s authors, Professor Mordechai Kedar of Bar Ilan University in Israel and David Yerushalmi, who serves as general counsel to the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., have both published widely on terrorism, Islamic law and its underlying doctrines of jihad and violence against unbelievers.


Australian public servant fined for "disrespectful" email to a politician

Respect should be earned, not demanded
"A Public servant has been penalised $1280 for sending an email to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen which did not show enough 'courtesy' or 'respect'.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship officer Robin Reich sent the email to Mr Bowen suggesting he resign and comparing his management unfavourably with a BP executive during the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Mr Reich said he had become disillusioned with the department after working as a compliance officer responsible for detaining suspected illegal immigrants and taking them to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney.

Documents from an internal investigation by Immigration Department staff ruled the email breached the Australian Public Service Act code of conduct. The email: “did not treat the Minister with sufficient respect and courtesy”, was not “impartial” and was “improper use of the Department’s email system”.

More here

American Mules Must Eat Certified Weed-Free Hay

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country and is one of the worst in foreclosures. “In my district,” Nevada Assemblyman Hansen reports, “one in seventeen houses is in foreclosure. One in eight is vacant. The people are economically desperate. Meanwhile we have an industry that would love to open up mines and create jobs with an average salary of $80,000. Unfortunately we also have a government that takes ten years to permit a mine.”

No wonder 77% of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

“Couldn’t we streamline the process or eliminate some steps?” asks Nevada State Senator Settelmeyer. He points out that the high gold and silver prices present a huge opportunity but he’s afraid that if we do not strike while the iron is hot, gold prices may fall before the mining projects get approved and get into production. “We have the resources and people need the jobs.”

In 1900 silver and gold were found in Tonopah, Nevada. Within weeks of the discovery, there was digging and within a year the mine was fully operational. In 1900 dollars, the mine brought in $125 million. Today, it would be multi-billions of dollars.

The Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859 and during its six year run an estimated $50 million of ore was removed. The discovery was largely responsible for Nevada becoming a state and it is credited with helping the Union’s finances as it backed the paper money—assisting the Union’s ultimate victory in the civil war. If Comstock was burdened with today’s regulatory environment, the war would have been over long before an ounce of silver was legally extracted and the outcome could have been different.

Mining has played an important role in the development of the western United States—providing jobs and revenues. It should be doing the same now. In Nevada’s mining towns, the unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country: 5-7%—according to Tim Crowley President of the Nevada Mining Association who says there are hundreds of mining jobs available in Nevada. Skills from the hard hit construction industry can be transferred to mining.

General Moly plans to hire 450 people by the end of the year. There are major copper operations in permitting. Companies are looking at mining rare earths and lithium—both of which are essential for cell phones, batteries, computers, and wind turbines and solar panels.

Imagine the jobs and new wealth that could be created if mining was encouraged. Senator Settelmeyer says, “It is hard enough for companies to get through the regulatory process and get a permit. On top of that there is frivolous environmental litigation that lengthens the process—cutting off vital resources and delaying jobs.”

Last week environmental groups hailed a decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a law prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of national forest. Lawyers for the Colorado and Wyoming Mining Associations contend that the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule violated the law. Previous conflicting federal court rulings have both upheld and overturned the road-building ban.

Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environmental Group’s U.S. public lands program acknowledges that the roadless rule blocks “logging, drilling and industrial development.”

Expressing disappointment with the decision, Stuart Sanderson, President of the Colorado Mining Association said, “The decision does not reflect a practical understanding of the impact that the rule will have upon mining jobs or access to needed minerals here in Colorado and the U.S. It is important to develop high quality coal and other mineral reserves, both to ensure our nation’s energy security and reduce our dependence on minerals produced in other countries.”

How does this roadless decision impact mining and jobs?

In Montana’s Finley Basin there are known tungsten deposits. An Australian company wanted to bring revenue and jobs to the state by developing the resource. While the property was successfully drilled and recognized by Union Carbide in the seventies, it is now about 200 yards inside a roadless study area. The Forest Service was willing to offer a conditional drilling permit. Among the conditions were these requirements:

* The drill sites must be cleared using hand tools,

* The drilling equipment and fuel must be transported to the site by a team of pack mules,

* The mules must be fed certified weed-free hay, and

* Drill site and trail reclamation must be done using hand tools.

The company gave up. How can America remain competitive in a global marketplace when we are required to use pick axes and mules? How does this help America’s heavy equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar?

No wonder we are in trouble. We need these resources. They are salable both in the US and in a global market. The question is will we produce our assets—creating revenues, jobs, and new wealth? Or, will we allow countries, such as China, to have a monopoly and control the price?

The issue goes beyond mining. If we are not utilizing our own resources, we will have to buy them from other countries who are ramping up to take advantage of the boom. They can produce them more efficiently without the layers of bureaucratic red tape. Some countries are working to control the market and raise prices—which increases America’s cost of manufactured goods, the deficit, and reliance on foreign suppliers.

When America is struggling with the deficit and Americans are economically desperate, we need to be looking at more than spending cuts and tax increases. We need to eliminate redundant red tape in order to create new wealth, cheaper energy, and real jobs—all of which will contribute to a stronger America.


Arrogant youth taught a lesson

Ten years ago, I drove cabs for a living. I’m pretty much done telling taxi stories, but there’s one I’ll share today, as it’s more or less in the spirit of Christmas.

It was the Friday before Christmas and I was working the area around Coogee/Maroubra on Sydney’s eastern suburbs beaches. It was a favourite spot to work as the fares were regular, and I stayed out of the city traffic.

So in the early evening, I pick up three young guys in South Coogee. They’re 18, maybe 19, and they get in the cab carrying brown paper bags filled with booze. They say “hey driver, can we drink this in here?”

Technically, the answer is no, no way, absolutely not. But I go sure, why not? Just don’t spill any. An accommodating driver is a driver who gets good tips.

The boys are stoked. You’re an awesome driver, they say. And you speak English too! That used to happen a lot. Like it was a compliment or something.

We’re heading to a local RSL club, where the boys are attending some kind of function. It’s only a short fare, but the mood is jovial and the smell of beer permeates the cab. The odour is strong. A little too strong.

When they get out, I see why. They have left their empty bottles on the back seat of the cab. The bottles were half full and there are puddles of beer below the seats. The boys walk off high-fiving and join the queue of young people on the steps of the RSL.

As a cabbie, you learn to put up with crap. Vomit, beer, bodily fluids, you name it. Once or twice a week, you lose half an hour to go and clean the cab mid-shift. It’s part of the game. So are runners. You can kick up a stink or you can get back on the road as soon as possible and make your money for the night. That’s normally how I played it.

But not this night. On this summery Friday evening, I am tired and frustrated and I want to make a point. So I park the cab. I ascend the RSL steps and approach the huge, muscular bouncer. The boys see me but think nothing of it.

I point the guys out to the bouncer. I tell him they’ve just trashed the back seat of my cab and I’d prefer he doesn’t let them in till they come and clean up their mess. He becomes an instant ally. Says he’ll look after me. There is an unspoken code between men and women with menial jobs. The public screws us, we screw ’em right back.

I retreat to the cab and wait, leaning against the door. When the boys reach the bouncer, I see him shaking his head. Then he marches them down my way. The boys are joking at first. But the smiles soon retreat.

The bouncer says he’s not letting them in the club till they’ve cleaned the car to my satisfaction. I ask the bouncer to bring me some bar towels and sponges or whatever he can get his hands on. This he does.

The boys clean. And clean some more until the beer puddles are soaked up and the car is cleaner than when I started the shift. The bouncer asks if I’m happy. Not yet, I say. So I make them clean where they’ve already cleaned, and then some.

By this stage, the boys are silent. All traces of bravado are gone, replaced by sullen resignation. When I finally decide I’m done, two of them look genuinely chastised. One remains defiant, and gives me a giant raised middle finger from the steps.

I couldn’t care less. My battle has been won, and even with the needless gratuitous extra wiping, I have been off the road for less time than if I’d done it myself.

There’s probably not a chance in a million that the bouncer is reading this piece. But if he is, I’d like to thank him. He didn’t just facilitate my revenge that night, he gave me dignity.

More importantly, he bestowed upon the boys the belittling emotion of indignity. I think too often nowadays people think they can get away with any kind of behaviour, any time. At the risk of sounding old and crusty, respect is on the wane. I reckon the boys would have benefited from that little episode.

What does this have to do with Christmas? Well, nothing directly, apart from the fact it happened in the Christmas week.

That said, I think the Christmas break is about more than religion. For churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike, I believe it’s a time of recharging and reflection. It’s a priceless few days to ponder our values, and how we might enact them in the year to come.

There’s a little of the vengeful cabbie and a little of the bouncer, a little of the chastised drunk boys and a little of the defiant kid in all of us. Our lives are busy, messy and often compromised. But they’re always better when we take time to slow down and refocus.


Christianity May Be Eradicated in Iraq and Afghanistan, Says Chair of U.S. Religious Freedom Commission

Despite long-term U.S. military occupations aimed at establishing representative governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Christianity now faces the real threat of eradication in those countries because of severe and persistent persecution of Christians there, according to the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Similarly, despite the “Arab Spring” rebellion in Egypt earlier this year, the survival of Christianity is also threatened in that country because of the escalating persecution of Christians.

“We are looking at two different countries where the United States invaded, occupied, changed their governments in the last decade--Iraq and Afghanistan--where it’s possible Christianity might be eradicated in our lifetime?” asked USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo in a video interview.

“Yes,” said Leo, “and, unfortunately, that is sort of the pattern throughout the Middle Eastern region. The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year. It’s a very, very alarming situation.”

In Egypt, according to Leo, anti-Christian violence and discrimination may inspire a mass migration of that nation’s Coptic Christian population, thus achieving a strategic goal sought by radical Muslims.

“The radical Islamists would accomplish their goal, if they drove the Coptic Christians out of the country, absolutely,” Leo told in an Online With Terry Jeffrey interview.

In its official report published earlier this year, USCRIF said that Christian leaders in Iraq were themselves warning of the end of Christianity in their country.

“Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country, with Christian leaders warning that the consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq,” USCIRF said in its annual report. “In 2003, there were thought to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), Protestants, and Evangelicals in Iraq. Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 500,000.”


Is this the best Christmas message ever?

It may run slowly today because a lot of people will be accessing it, overloading the servers

It still reduces me to tears. When will we see the like of him again?

A magnificent Christmas occasion in Brisbane

Four of us got to the sung Eucharist at St. John's cathedral in good time this morning. We arrived early so got good seats. It was a great celebration.

The opening hymn was that great hymn of faith: "O come all ye faithful". With a mighty organ located high up near the stone-vaulted ceiling and a big congregation lustily singing, the performance was as impressive a beginning to the service as one could wish. And the ecclesiatical procession with its various crosses, banners, vestments etc was so long that it lasted almost until the end of the hymn. Practically everyone associated with the cathedral must have been present and robed up.

Just about everything that could be done in an Anglican service was done, including a good bit of Anglican chant, which I rather like. It has a sort of eerie and timeless feel to it for me. I imagine that they did something similar in the temples of Isis and Osiris in ancient Egypt.

The censer was deployed energetically on several occasions, so much so that the transept was almost filled with smoke at one stage. Quite strangely however, I heard no bells during the service. "Bells and smells" normally go together

But we got to sing a lot of the great traditional hymns so that was the best part. Being an atheist, I don't participate in the prayers but I can't resist the hymns. They are a wonderful testimony to the faith that built Western civilization.

The following are results from an OZ-words Competition where entrants were asked to take an Australian word, alter it by one letter only, and supply a witty definition. Clearly, you need to be an Aussie to understand.

Billabonk: to make passionate love beside a waterhole

Bludgie: a partner who doesn't work, but is kept as a pet

Dodgeridoo: a fake indigenous artefact

Fair drinkum: good-quality Aussie wine

Flatypus: a cat that has been run over by a vehicle

Mateshit: all your flat mate's belongings, lying strewn around the floor

Shagman: an unemployed male, roaming the Australian bush in search of sexual activity

Yabble: the unintelligible language of Australian freshwater crustaceans

Bushwanker: a pretentious drongo, who reckons he's above average when it comes to handling himself in the scrub

Crackie-daks: 'hipster' tracksuit pants.

And for the Kiwis amongst us:

Shornbag: a particularly attractive naked sheep

Another so-called Aborigine

I had better not call her a fake Aborigine or I might end up in court like Andrew Bolt. So much for free speech in Australia.

Though it must be said that judge Mordecai Bromberg was dancing on the head of a pin with his vapid reasoning concerning Bolt's writings. According to Bromberg what Bolt said was OK; It was just the "tone" in which he said it that condemned him. Do we really have a law about "tone"?

It is a great pity that the Bolt verdict was not appealed to a higher and hopefully fairer court. But the Labor Party legislation made that difficult.

And what does it say for the progress of Aborigines when the successful ones among them are white rather than black?

A PERSONAL tragedy inspired Ellie May Moore to pursue a career in medicine, something she hopes will be possible now she has completed Year 12. Ellie was the top Aboriginal student to complete the South Australian Certificate of Education this year and was presented with an award in recognition of her achievements.

The 18-year-old obtained a university entrance score of 89.75, completing biology, health studies, maths studies, psychology and a research project.

"I was shocked when I heard I had received the award," she said. "It's a real surprise, and my family are thrilled for me. I hope it can encourage indigenous students to complete their schooling and realise their dreams."

It was the time she spent in hospital around the time of a grandparent's death when she saw the good doctors could do that she set her goal to be part of the medical profession.

This year 145 Aboriginal students who started Year 12 went on to complete their certificates - out of 172 - which is an 84 per cent completion rate and a rise of 5.8 per cent on 2010. And 83 students gained a tertiary entrance score, more than any other time in the past six years.


How the Mediterranean diet can add 3 years to your life... even if you don't start until you're 70 (?)

A load of old cobblers in the article below. Difficult to know where to start but I was amused to read in the journal abstract (also below) that they got their results by using "a refined version of the modified Mediterranean diet index". First you modify your index then you refine it to get the results you want, apparently.

I was however impressed that they went to great trouble to validate their diet questionnaire. Validation is routine in psychology but rare in medicine. None of the validation methods used would have distinguished Mediterranean from non-Mediterranean diets, however. The authors themselves admit the fallibility of their methods by excluding some "implausible" diet claims from their analysis. One wonders if some bias might have crept into that process.

Anyway, as usual, the results are explicable by social class. Middle class Swedes are more likely to say they eat the "correct" foods (whether they do or not) than working class ones are. And middle class people have better health anyway.

I note also that the failed but indestructible antioxidant theory is invoked.

And finally, how do they explain the fact that a traditional Australian diet is about as "incorrect" as you can get yet Australians live longer than Greeks? There are an amazing number of nonageneraians tottering around Australia who grew up on very fatty food accompanied by a few vegetables that had been boiled to death.

The traditional diet favoured in Greece, Spain and Italy provides a great health boost no matter when you switch. No one doubts that following a Mediterranean diet is the healthy option.

But researchers have calculated the regime could add an extra three years to your life. They say it is a rich source of chemicals called anti-oxidants that fight cancer, heart disease and can slow the ageing process.

Scientists who studied the eating habits of 1,200 over-70s found that those following a Mediterranean-style diet tended to live for two or three years longer. They examined surveys which had been carried out by all the adults on their eating habits.

This contained details of how much fruit, vegetables, cereals, meat and fish they ate as well as how much alcohol they drank.

Elderly men and women have been recruited for the rolling research programme since the 1970s. Those taking part were contacted by researchers every few years to find out about their general health.

The team from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg found participants whose eating habits followed a Mediterranean style diet were 20 per cent more likely to be alive eight years later. They calculated that on average these individuals lived for between two and three years longer than those who had a different eating regime.

The diet was inspired by traditional eating habits of Greece and Southern Italy, hence its name.

Does the Mediterranean diet predict longevity in the elderly? A Swedish perspective

By Gianluca Tognon et al.


Dietary pattern analysis represents a useful improvement in the investigation of diet and health relationships. Particularly, the Mediterranean diet pattern has been associated with reduced mortality risk in several studies involving both younger and elderly population groups. In this research, relationships between dietary macronutrient composition, as well as the Mediterranean diet, and total mortality were assessed in 1,037 seventy-year-old subjects (540 females) information. Diet macronutrient composition was not associated with mortality, while a refined version of the modified Mediterranean diet index showed a significant inverse association (HR=0.93, 95% CI: 0.89; 0.98). As expected, inactive subjects, smokers and those with a higher waist circumference had a higher mortality, while a reduced risk characterized married and more educated people. Sensitivity analyses (which confirmed our results) consisted of: exclusion of one food group at a time in the Mediterranean diet index, exclusion of early deaths, censoring at fixed follow-up time, adjusting for activities of daily living and main cardiovascular risk factors including weight/waist circumference changes at follow up. In conclusion, we can reasonably state that a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern, especially by consuming wholegrain cereals, foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and a limited amount of alcohol, predicts increased longevity in the elderly.

Age (Dordr). 2011 September; 33(3): 439–450.

A new depravity from Vienna

Vienna was where Hitler formed his antisemitic views

Freedom of speech no longer exists in Austria, as definitively proven by the Vienna high court. This week, a judge upheld the conviction against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff on the following charge: "denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion." In simplest terms, this means that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff speaks the truth about Islam, and in Austria, as in other nations across the Western world currently transitioning to sharia (Islamic law), speaking the truth about Islam is not tolerated, and, more and more, is against the law.

What did my friend Elisabeth say that the Vienna high court ruled verboten? Elisabeth was convicted in February 2011 of "denigration" of Islam because in the course of a seminar she was teaching on Islam she stated that "Muhammad had a thing for little girls."

This statement is demonstrably true. According to an authoritative Islamic text (hadith), Muhammad married his wife Aisha when she was six years old. According to the same hadith, Muhammad engaged in sexual intercourse with his "wife" when she was nine. This, at the very least, constitutes "a thing" for little girls. It also constitutes child rape under Western law and Judeo-Christian-derived morality. In all too many Islamic societies where Mohammed's example is emulated, such child rape in "wedlock" is not a crime; indeed, it is permissible under sharia.

In fact, the court didn't contest this. In both Elisabeth's initial trial and her recent appeal, the factual basis of her statement didn't come under judicial attack. Elisabeth is right, and the court knows it. What the Vienna court has twice defined now as being outside the law of Austria is the negative opinion her remark conveyed regarding Muhammad's record of deviance from Western traditions forbidding sexual intercourse with children. (Brava, Elisabeth.) It is wrong, according to the Austrian court, to look down on sex with children if the alleged perp, centuries ago, was the Islamic prophet.

As Henrik Rader Clausen put it, live-blogging the proceedings for the blog Gates of Vienna, Elisabeth, in the court's eyes, expressed "an excess of opinion that can not be tolerated. It is a ridiculing that cannot be justified." Cannot be tolerated, cannot be justified by whom, by what? The answer is by Islamic law. It is literally against Islamic law to criticize or expose Islam or its prophet (Muhammad) in any adverse way. This prohibition against freedom of conscience is now part of Austrian law as well. That the verdict upheld against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff actually imperils the most innocent and vulnerable among us -- little girls whose molestation the courts have implicitly excused as a religious rite -- only underscores the depravity of the Vienna high court.

Where, exactly, does this leave all of the rest of us in that community of nations whose calendars, despite the press of Islamization, still culminate in Christmas? I offer in response a clarifying quotation that pegs our existential whereabouts exactly. It comes from Afshin Ellian, a Dutch columnist, law professor, and professor of citizenship, social cohesion and multiculturalism at the Leiden University, who in 1983 fled Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution in Iran.

In early 2010, Ellian, commenting on the trial of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders for allegedly anti-Islamic statements, had this to say:

"If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a fag and Mary was a whore, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad."