'Remarkable year': What's behind the record low sea ice in Antarctica?
Above is the heading on an article by Peter Hannam appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Nov. 27. I dealt with it on Nov. 29th., using logic alone.
But Tony Heller has now attacked it using 20th century climate history, which is his specialty. He shows that the principal area of recent sea-ice loss is a polynya (big hole) in the ice of the Weddel sea. He then goes on to show that a very similar hole in the same place also occurred in 1976, when it was attributed to global cooling
So which is it? Does a polynya prove global warming or global cooling? Neither, of course. It is just one of the natural phenomena that we do not understand -- though a guess that it is due to an underwater volcano would probably not be far off. There is a lot of underwater vulcanism at both poles.
Tony also has fun with another claim in the Peter Hannam article that reported ice loss in the Northern hemisphere too. In commenting on that ice loss, Peter said: "With less ice to reflect the sun's radiation to space, more heat is absorbed by the oceans, added to the warming".
Tony's reply to that was crushing on two grounds: "If Peter actually knew anything about the earth, he would know that the sun doesn’t shine in the Arctic in November – and open water in the Arctic Ocean in November allows heat to escape to the much colder air."
UN "rapporteur" says Australians (and their leaders) have a big racism problem
This is part of the U.N. -- itself a highly corrupt body -- hiring people from corrupt Third World countries -- in this case Kenya -- to criticize First world countries. But no country is perfect so they will always find something to pick at.
What is lacking is any metric, any sense of proportion. Even an ordinal scale might be interesting: Is Australia the 3rd most racist or the 133rd most racist? We are not told. Which makes the criticism pretty meaningless. The criticisms below are entirely consistent with Australia being the least racist country in the world. If that is so, it does put a rather different light on the criticisms, does it not?
Even politically correct old Britain has been in their firing line
One wonders at the reasons behind these pointless exercises. Are they meant to make the inhabitants of poor countries feel good? Are they meant to make the United Nations look good? Who knows? There is certainly nothing scientific or even original about them. They just regurgitate the talking points of the political Left
The United Nations' special rapporteur on racism has condemned Australian politicians from major and minor parties whose statements are contributing to an increase in "xenophobic hate speech" and negative views about migrants.
Mutuma Ruteere has also warned that political leaders who do not denounce such views are tacitly contributing to the normalisation of hard-right and racist opinions.
"If they do not speak out they lend legitimacy to them. It's very easy for darkness to drive out the light. It's very easy for the bad to demean the good. It's much harder to clear out the political space once it's infected by racists," Mr Ruteere said in Canberra on Wednesday.
Mr Ruteere was finishing a visit to Australia, the first by someone holding his position in 15 years. He comments will form the basis of a report he will deliver to the United Nations Human Rights Council next year.
Mr Ruteere said Australia was not unique among western democracies in grappling with popular support for parties with discriminatory policies and racist views.
He said the "danger" for Australia was the experience of other countries where "the fringe elements keep moving to the centre, to the mainstream [and] the fringe becomes the mainstream".
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was criticised in November for comments he made about migrants. "That's a threat not just for Australia but all open multicultural societies. This is something open democratic states need to be aware about and to take pre-emptive action against," Mr Ruteere said.
Western democracies were "reckoning with history", he said, and "have to make the decision whether to confront the bigots and racists who purport to speak for the people but contradict" the values on which those societies were founded, such as equality of all people.
Mr Ruteere's visit to Australia coincided with the final two weeks of Parliament in which Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was criticised by Labor, the Greens, security experts and multicultural groups when he suggested Australia's immigration program in the 1970s had made "mistakes".
Challenged in Parliament to identify the groups he was referring to, Mr Dutton said "of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 are from second and third-generation Lebanese Muslim backgrounds".
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later praised the performance of Mr Dutton although he stopped short of endorsing his minister's comments.
The visit also coincided with a speech given by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson in which she said she was "fed up" with being called racist and backed the review of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Mr Ruteere said there was no need to change the law.
"Removing this provision would undermine the efforts taken by the various levels of government for an inclusive Australia and open the door to racist and xenophobic hate speech, which has been quite limited thanks to this provision," Mr Ruteere said.
He also praised the work of the Human Rights Commission and its president, Gillian Triggs.
During his visit, Mr Ruteere was briefed on the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
He recommended Australia re-examine its criminal justice system to "embrace alternatives to detention and avoid mandatory sentences" and urged Australia to grant constitutional recognition to Indigenous peoples as soon as possible.
By JR on Saturday, December 10, 2016
An amusing exercise in guilt by association
Graham Readfearn is a freelance writer of Northern English origin who now lives in Australia. The Northerners tend to be a grumbly lot -- sometimes with reason -- and Readfearn seems to find grumbles about climate to be profitable
He clearly believes in global warming but offers not one single climate fact in his rant below. In quite an amazing exercise in haughtiness, he offers no evidence or argument for his beliefs whatever.
His entire offering is a logically invalid charge of guilt by association. He seems particularly disturbed by anyone inclined to take seriously Alex Jones and David Icke. Trump has agreed with Jones on some things so therefore Trump agrees with Jones on everything, seems to be the loony allegation.
Icke is clearly off the planet and Jones does get carried away at times -- but nothing depends on their being right. Both doubt global warming but it is the scientific facts -- such as the 21st century warming "hiatus" -- that create doubt, not the views of a few heterodox media personalities
What comrade Readfearn has not asked himself is WHY such sites have a big following. And there is a clear answer to that: The mainstream media are so biased and selective in their reporting that they have destroyed any independent criterion of truth. When the mainstream media is visibly loaded with Green/Left propaganda it is an understandable reaction for people to say, "I don't like this propaganda so I will seek out propaganda that suits me".
The mainstream media have destroyed trust in themselves and that opens the door for other sources of news and commentary. That he can't distinguish propaganda from fact is not the fault of the average Joe. The Left-media have systematically kept the truth from him. Leftist fake news has encouraged conservative fake news.
The Left are chronically incapable of thinking long term so it appears not to have occurred to them that by their lack of balance they might ultimately discredit themselves.
It reminds me of Harry Reid "going nuclear" on the filibuster. In destroying it, it seems not to have occurred to him that he might need it some day. That day has now come -- with Democrats in the Senate having no weapon to oppose Trump appointments to the courts. For momentary advantage Reid did his cause great harm. He may have guaranteed a permanent conservative majority on SCOTUS
Back in December 2015, Donald Trump gave a 30-minute live interview to the website Infowars.com and its combustible leader, Alex Jones. “Your reputation is amazing and I will not let you down,” said Trump, who, at the time, was leading in most polls for the Republican presidential nomination.
Jones, a fervent Trump supporter, is a conspiracy theorist writ large. He insists there is “iron clad” evidence that the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US were an “inside job”.
Jones has also said that in 1996 governments deployed a worldwide program to secretly put chemicals into the fuel of aircraft to poison people. These “chemtrails” don’t hurt the “globalists” though, because Jones says they have a “special detox”.
Oh, and Jones also thinks climate change is a hoax.
Climate change is an issue he covers regularly on his shows, where he has interviewed climate science deniers such as Christopher Monckton (a familiar name to Australians given his multiple speaking tours here), Marc Morano and James Delingpole.
While it’s easy to dismiss the conspiracy culture pushed by Jones as pseudoscientific rubbish, it is not so easy to dismiss the size of the audience he has been building. Jones’s website gets 57m page views per month – double where it was six months ago.
According to analytics site Social Blade, the Alex Jones YouTube channel has 1.8m subscribers and just racked up its one billionth (that’s not a typo) video view. (For comparison, the BBC News YouTube channel has 992,000 subscribers.)
Jones’s Infowars site is part of an ecosystem of hyperpartisan media outlets that insist climate change is a hoax. Like Jones, that ecosystem is rapidly building a receptive online audience.
Those sites can now reach hundreds of millions of people with headlines insisting that human-caused climate change is a hoax, that global warming has stopped or that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is good.
One example. The most popular climate change story across social media in the past six months was not some diligently researched piece from one of the many very good science journalists writing for major news organisations around the world.
Rather, the story claimed that thousands of scientists had come forward to declare that climate change was a hoax. The writer was a guy running a website in Los Angeles who worked for eight years for the UK conspiracy theorist David Icke.
Icke thinks the moon might be some sort of spaceship, that the world is controlled by a globalist illuminati and, yes, that climate change is a hoax. Icke is a regular guest on Infowars.
Infowars will often source material from Breitbart – the website that used to be run by Trump’s campaign chairman and soon-to-be chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Many of Breitbart’s most popular climate change items are written by Delingpole, a British polemicist. Guess what he thinks of climate change?
Given that climate science denial has become a part of the Republican party’s identity, it was hardly surprising that the GOP-led House of Representatives committee on science should tweet a link to a Breitbart climate story written by Delingpole (a story based on a deeply misleading article in the UK’s Daily Mail). [The "Mail" story was NOT misleading. See here]
Breitbart is also building its audience. According to data from SimilarWeb, the site now gets 168m page views per month, doubling its reach in the past six months.
The Drudge Report – the wildly popular conservative-leaning news aggregator site with 1.7bn page views a month – also helps drive traffic to sites such as Infowars and Breitbart. Its founder, Matt Drudge, was another recent guest of Jones.
Since Trump won the US election, there has been much talk of the influence of “fake news”, with Facebook in particular identified as a key conduit. That encompasses news that is blatantly fabricated but also lounge room content farms that pass themselves off as news. Then there are the hyperpartisan opinion sites.
I’m happy to admit the online growth and reach of climate science denialists and conspiracy theorists terrifies me. Why?
The problem is not that these sites exist but that not enough people seem to know the difference between actual news, fake news, partisan opinion and conspiratorial bullshit. One of those people is the president-elect of the United States.
Either that, or people don’t even care to differentiate between fake and real, especially if what they read taps into their own prejudices.
There is a concerted attempt to cut sensible climate policy off at the knees by building a popular online movement against the science itself.
For decades, the fossil fuel industry and so-called “free market” ideologues at conservative thinktanks have misled the public on the science and the risks of climate change.
Now, the decades of material produced by that climate science denial machinery is finding a new audience. Those talking points are being reheated and screamed, in FULL CAPS.
So what’s the answer? No one seems to know but much appears to be in the hands of Google and Facebook.
Other than that, a crash course in critical thinking and recognising climate science denial brought to you by the illuminati might be the order of the day.
By JR on Friday, December 09, 2016
Dana Nuccitelli is up to his old tricks again
He tells a good story if you don't know the details he leaves out or distorts. At issue is the cause of the 2015/2016 global warming. But the graph below really tells it all. The warming was a typical El Nino peak, not the sustained rise we might have expected of anthropogenic global warming.
And if the rise WERE caused by anthropogenic global warming, there would have to have been a rise in the CO2 content of the atmosphere during 2015 and 2016 to cause it. But there was not. The latest readings are that CO2 levels plateaued in 2015 and 2016 -- something I have been pointing out for many months, just from a scan of the raw numbers as they came up at Mauna Loa and Cape Grim.
People sometimes talk of delayed heating, of warming being "left over" from previous years -- but that is nonsense. Those little CO2 molecules are either up there bouncing heat or they are not. If I put a pot of water on the gas and a little later turn the gas off, the water immediately starts to cool. It does not keep on getting warmer for a while. There is no delayed heating.
Nuccitelli doesn't have a leg to stand on. He is just a skilled liar. Warmists are great cherrypickers so it is amusing that Nuccitelli is one of those who have accused David Rose of cherrypicking. I did however put up yesterday a thorough demolition of that claim
Fake news tries to blame human-caused global warming on El Niño
Climate scientists and real science journalists pushed back, holding the post-truth crowd accountable
Human carbon pollution is heating the Earth incredibly fast. On top of that long-term human-caused global warming trend, there are fluctuations caused by various natural factors. One of these is the El Niño/La Niña cycle. The combination of human-caused warming and a strong El Niño event are on the verge of causing an unprecedented three consecutive record-breaking hot years.
Simply put, without global warming we would not be seeing record-breaking heat year after year. In fact, 2014 broke the temperature record without an El Niño assist, and then El Niño helped push 2015 over 2014, and 2016 over 2015.
Sadly, we live in a post-truth world dominated by fake news in which people increasingly seek information that confirms their ideological beliefs, rather than information that’s factually accurate from reliable sources. Because people have become incredibly polarized on the subject of climate change, those with a conservative worldview who prefer maintaining the status quo to the steps we need to take to prevent a climate catastrophe often seek out climate science-denying stories.
Into that environment step conservative columnists David Rose at the Mail on Sunday, parroted by Ross Clark in The Spectator and James Delingpole for Breitbart, all trying to blame the current record-shattering hot global temperatures entirely on El Niño. Perhaps saddest of all, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee tweeted the Breitbart piece, to which Senator Bernie Sanders appropriately responded:
Where'd you get your PhD? Trump University?
The conservative columnists made their case by claiming that, with the recent strong El Niño event ending, temperatures are “plummeting,” thus blaming the record heat on El Niño. There are several fatal flaws in their case.
First, the “plummet” they cite is not in global temperatures on the surface where we live, and where temperatures are easiest to measure accurately, but rather in satellite estimates of the temperature of the lower atmosphere above the portions of Earth’s surface covered by land masses. Second, although the satellite data extend as far back as 1979, and the global surface temperature data to 1880, they cherry pick the data by only showing the portion since 1997. Third, the argument is based entirely upon one relatively cool month (October 2016) that was only cool in that particularly cherry-picked data set.
The argument is easily debunked. While there was a strong El Niño event in 2015–2016, there was an equally strong event in 1997–1998. The two events had very similar short-term warming influences on global surface temperatures, but according to Nasa, 2016 will be about 0.35°C hotter than 1998. That difference is due to the long-term, human-caused global warming trend. In fact, according to Nasa, even October 2016 was hotter than every month on record prior to 1998. These “plummeting” post-El Niño temperatures are still as hot as the hottest month at the peak of the 1998 El Niño.
By JR on Thursday, December 08, 2016
It's not the oceans wot did it
Warmists claim that just before the turn of the present century, the oceans for some unknown reason started gobbling up all the extra warmth (theoretically) generated by rising levels of CO2. And there is some slight evidence of increased heat in the oceans. The latest paleoclimate proxy study (below) is therefore interesting. It found two things:
1). Ocean temperature changes over the last 200 years were "below the detection limit". In other words there has been NO ocean warming at all in our times.
2). Further back in the last 10,000 years there WERE times of rapid and substantial changes in ocean temperature. In other words, long before that wicked industrialization that Warmists hate, NATURAL changes in ocean temperatures did occur.
So we have got a doubly whammy: There has been NO recent change in ocean temperature but even if there were, it could be all natural, and, as such, no proof of anything.
Rapid variations in deep ocean temperature detected in the Holocene
Samantha C. Bova et al.
The observational record of deep-ocean variability is short, which makes it difficult to attribute the recent rise in deep ocean temperatures to anthropogenic forcing. Here, we test a new proxy – the oxygen isotopic signature of individual benthic foraminifera – to detect rapid (i.e. monthly to decadal) variations in deep ocean temperature and salinity in the sedimentary record. We apply this technique at 1000 m water depth in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific during seven 200-year Holocene intervals. Variability in foraminifer δ18O over the past 200 years is below the detection limit, but δ18O signatures from two mid-Holocene intervals indicate temperature swings >2 °C within 200 years. More vigorous transport between the surface and deep ocean or stronger eddy variability than that observed in the historical record are potential explanations. Distinguishing externally forced climate trends in deep ocean properties from unforced variability should be possible with systematic analysis of suitable deep sea cores.
The whited sepulchre replies
The central aim of Christians, starting from Christ himself has always been to lead people to salvation from "kolasin", the everlasting cutting off (Matt. 25:46). We know what John 3:16 says: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life". Being saved into eternal life is the basic Christian offering. But the very word "salvation" is not mentioned below. The only mentions of anything religious are the two vague phrases: "faith and life in Christ" and: "the way of Christ in the mission of God.".
The accusations aimed at the
Something else that the Sallies have not learned from their Bibles is the advice that even a fool who holds his tongue will be accounted wise (Proverbs 17:28). They clearly should have shut up about the whole thing.
As we have seen, their approval of "Safe schools" angered a lot of Christians and conservatives. And now their retraction of that approval has angered the Left, who are vowing never again to donate to the Sallies. It's unlikely that they ever did anyway but they will undoubtedly find some way to bring heat to bear. So the Sallies are now the ham in a very unhappy sandwich
Today’s Daily Telegraph has run a series of inaccurate and vexatious news items about the Uniting Church and our Uniting community services agency in NSW and the ACT. The accusation on the front page of the newspaper that the Church is removing Christ and religious symbols is totally incorrect.
The explicit Christian commitment to people in the care of Uniting Church agencies remains the same as it has for the last 40 years. Our Church, since its beginning, has borne witness to a unity of faith and life in Christ which transcends cultural and economic, national and racial boundaries. The work of our agencies is a crucial expression of our continuing faith and mission. The Uniting agency in NSW and the ACT states clearly on its website “Christ invites us to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world.”
Uniting, the largest provider of social services in NSW and the ACT, changed its brand name last year. This decision was taken to ensure that awareness of our services reaches more of the vulnerable and disadvantaged people we seek to serve.
Preparation for moves towards the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the shift to self-managed care were important considerations in this decision. Other church agencies are considering adopting the Uniting brand.
The Daily Telegraph articles also misrepresent the Church’s very real concern for survivors of child sexual abuse. The suggestion that branding decisions are “a desperate bid to distance itself from child sex abuse scandals” is completely false and despicable.
The Uniting Church has acknowledged, apologised and expressed our deep regret to those children who were sexually abused in our care. We are committed to working with survivors to make amends for what happened in the past.
Our formal apologies to survivors predate the Royal Commission by many years. Yet the Daily Telegraph takes survivor group comments out of context to conflate an allegation about a “culture of denial”. The representative quoted in the article has since verified to the Church that she told the journalist that she would not provide comment on specific institutions.
I would like to thank the many Uniting Church members and supporters who have condemned the Daily Telegraph for its disgraceful coverage. Their ongoing support and commitment is a significant endorsement of the effectiveness of our work as an inclusive justice-oriented Church seeking to follow the way of Christ in the mission of God. [Christ said to "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matt. 6:33). THAT is the way of Christ, not secular do-gooding]
When does physical discipline of a child become unlawful abuse?
This highlights something I have long said. Some, perhaps most, children are tractable enough to diverted from undesirable behaviour without spanking. But others are so unruly that no control of their behaviour can be achieved without corporal punishment. All men are not equal nor are all kids equal, difficult to understand though that seems to be for Leftists.
In the case below, a man used very violent behaviour in an attempt to control extremely violent behaviour by two out of five kids in his household. What else was he to do? Shut the kids out on the street? He was in fact being responsible in trying to teach them restraint.
The judge apparently saw that, pointing out that the behaviour was illegal but taking a very mild view of the matter. He ruled that the father could have access to his own untroubled son but cut off access to the violent children, who are now in state care anyway. Rather a Solomon-like verdict, I think
The question arose in the case of a father who had beaten his two eldest children with a cricket bat, but who argued he should still be allowed to see his six-year-old son.
The boy lives with his mother, who opposed her estranged husband having any contact with their boy.
Both she and the father had previously smacked the boy, the Family Court in Newcastle heard. But the mother claimed he was at risk of physical abuse if left with the father, because of the way the man punished his older sons from a previous relationship.
Under the NSW Crimes Act, the defence of lawful correction permits a parent, or someone acting with their authority, to punish a child with physical force. But the force must be reasonable in light of the child's age, health and maturity, as well as their alleged misbehaviour. Force applied to any part of the child's head or neck, or elsewhere on their body in a way likely to cause harm "for more than a short period", is not considered reasonable.
The court heard that from around the time they were aged aged six or seven, the father hit his two eldest sons with a cricket bat and once left them with bruises and welts after beating them with a broken broom handle. In what judge Stewart Austin called a description of "cruel brutality", a sibling recalled hearing the boys beg for mercy and scream with pain, saw the bat used with such force it broke and saw welts on the boys' bottoms.
The boys are now in their early teens and in state care. The three other children in the household had not been abused by the father.
In determining the case, Justice Austin said it was necessary "to differentiate between physical 'discipline' and physical 'abuse'".
"Despite modern society's changing opinion about the morality of corporal punishment of children, the law of NSW still envisages the legitimate administration of physical discipline by an adult to a child, subject to certain constraints," he said. "It is only when the discipline transcends those constraints that it becomes abusive and ceases to be lawful correction."
Justice Austin described the two older boys as "very troubled children", throwing objects, damaging property and "using weapons like knives, broken glass, hammers and loaded spear guns to threaten people".
But the fact that their behaviour "presented an extraordinarily difficult parenting challenge was not an excuse for the severity of their treatment", he said. Their punishment amounted to abuse and "criminal assaults".
However, the judge granted the father unsupervised visits with his six-year-old son, ruling it was in the child's best interests.
The father was not "so unfit as a parent that he is utterly incapable of safely caring for the child for short stints", Justice Austin said. He noted that the father had undergone parenting courses and the little boy was unlikely to be as challenging as his older stepbrothers.
By JR on Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Reversing Warmist spin
The latest article from shifty Peter Hannam, an Australian environmental writer, gives us a good example of how Warmists "spin" their reports. He has some boring statistics to convey but by biased language has made them seem to suggest global warming. Let me use different language to describe the same stats. I will suggest cooling:
"A long run of overcast days in Sydney has finally come to an end. Sydney is at last back to where we were in 1990 but will it last?
Last month's temperature had three Novembers warmer than it in the past
"It's been persistently cool, particularly in the West," Acacia Pepler, a climatologist at the bureau, said.
The month had 18 days above 25 degrees, at last breaking a long run of cool days -- going back to 1894
The past six months have also been a standout for Sydney. A relatively wet winter - with rainfall about 250 millimetres above average - switched to sharply drier conditions, with rain tallies sinking 100 mm below average. But there were similar conditions in 1885"
Contrast the above with what appears below. Note that I have unspun only the statistics Hannam has chosen to mention. They were undoubtedly the one best suited to his cause. If they can be shown to suggest cooling, one wonders what all the unmentioned statistics show.
Deception is the name of the game for Warmists. Honest reporting is in general alien to them. It has to be. They cannot accept the plain truth of the climate record, which just shows normal ups and downs with no significant trend
Sydney has just capped its sunniest November since 1990, with the relatively warm and dry conditions set to extend well into the start of summer.
Last month was the city's equal-fourth warmest November for maximum temperatures in records going back to 1858, with average temperatures reaching 26.1 degrees, the Bureau of Meteorology said in its latest report. Sydney Airport had an average of 9.5 hours of sunshine during the month.
"It's been persistently warm, particularly in the east," Acacia Pepler, a climatologist at the bureau, said.
The month had 18 days above 25 degrees, the most since 1894 , and its coldest day was a mild 22.7 degrees. All previous Novembers had at least one day below 21 degrees in the city.
The lack of cool days extended across spring, with just six days failing the reach 20 degrees. That's the fewest on record and roughly one-fifth of the average of 31 such days, the bureau said.
The past six months have also been a standout for Sydney. A relatively wet winter - with rainfall about 250 millimetres above average - switched to sharply drier conditions, with rain tallies sinking 100 mm below average.
That's the biggest turn in the weather for the city in 53 years, and the third-most on record with 1885 the other rival year, Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist with Weatherzone, said.
"Since the start of October, it's been drying out" in coast regions, Mr Dutschke said, adding the western parts of the state had more recent rains and will take longer to cure.
By JR on Monday, December 05, 2016
Pauline Hanson slips into wetsuit for reef trip -- and finds that all is well with the reef
Most of the media have been amusing about this. They say that she has embarrassed herself by not going to the "right" part of the reef. But that claim is itself a message that only part of the reef is affected by bleaching. We can perhaps be thankful to them for getting that message out to a wider audience.
There are many possible causes of bleaching but the loons of the Green/Left are sure it is caused by global warming. And that might pass muster when we note that the bleaching has occurred in the most Northerly (and hence warmer) one-third of the reef. Problem: Coral LIKES warmth, which is why the Northern part of the reef normally has the greatest biological diversity. Normally, the further North you go (i.e. the warmer you get), the greater the diversity. So the cause of the bleaching is unknown.
As a fallback position, the Greenies say that the bleaching is caused by agricultural runoff. Problem: The Northern part of the reef runs along an area of the Cape York Peninsula where there is virtually NO agriculture. The soils there are too poor for it to be economically feasible. So no runoff. "Facts be damned" seems to be the Greenie motto
Pauline Hanson has slipped into a wetsuit and made a splash on the Great Barrier Reef to show the world the natural wonder is worth visiting amid claims it is dying.
The senator, who once cooked fish for a living, went swimming off Great Keppel Island today and expressed concerns about reports on the reef's health.
Ms Hanson says agenda-driven groups are telling "untruths" about the state of the reef that are harming the tourism industry and businesses. "When we have these agendas that are actually destroying our tourism industry and businesses ... we need to ask the questions and we want answers," she said. "The Greens have no concern about people and jobs that we need here in Queensland, and the escalating costs that we are feeling from the effects of this."
One Nation senators Malcolm Roberts, who has long argued the case that global warming doesn't stack up, and Brian Burston were also on the reef trip.
Mr Roberts said people had stopped coming to the reef because they were being told it was dead and that Australia should not be reporting on its health to the UN agency UNESCO.
Conservationists are concerned climate change is putting severe stress on the reef, which experienced a massive coral bleaching event this year, and some have declared it's dying at an unprecedented rate.
They say Ms Hanson and her senators visited the wrong part of the reef as the southern sections had been least affected by the worst bleaching event in the icon's history.
The World Wildlife Fund said One Nation should have visited Lizard Island where bleaching, caused by high water temperatures, has killed much of the coral.
By JR on Sunday, December 04, 2016
Total dishonesty about last Thursday's blackout in South Australia
The S.A. government is shrilling that the new blackout had "nothing to do" with the previous big one in September. I suppose that there is some trivial sense in which that is true but the root cause of both blackouts is the same: South Australia does not have ANY baseload power of its own. Had they not decommissioned all their coal-fired stations, neither blackout would have happened. Their windmills are just not a reliable source of power. During the latest incident they were delivering only 6% of their capacity.
When the big wind hit in September and shut down the windmills the South Australians could easily have spun up their coal-fired generators to take the load -- if they still had them. And the same thing applies to the recent loss of supply.
You have got to have hydrocarbon or nuclear powered generators to get reliable supply and S.A. just does not have enough. All they have are some small gas-fired ones. They rely on importing power from hydrocarbon-powered generators in Victoria but Victoria has its own problems -- and will soon have much bigger ones with the closedown of the Hazelwood generator.
The South Australians were so proud of themselves for having such a "Green" electricity system but it was a fantasy. They need to get a couple of their coal-fired generators spinning again or businesses will start leaving the state and taking jobs with them. New investments will CERTAINLY grind to a halt now. See below
South Australia's electricity system separated from the national power grid overnight, prompting a stern warning from BHP Billiton about threats to Australian jobs and investment.
About 200,000 homes and businesses lost power for over an hour, but BHP’s Olympic Dam operations in the north of the state were interrupted for about four hours.
BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie issued an urgent warning to policy-makers after the latest incident, which comes two months after the statewide blackout led to about two weeks of lost production at Olympic Dam.
“Olympic Dam’s latest outage shows Australia’s investability and jobs are placed in peril by the failure of policy to both reduce emissions and secure affordable, dispatchable and uninterrupted power,” he said in a statement.
“The challenge to reduce emissions and grow the economy cannot fall to renewables alone. “This is a wake-up call ahead of the COAG meeting and power supply and security must be top of the agenda and urgently addressed.”
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said Labor had “chased cheap and reliable power out of South Australia”.
“South Australians are now saddled with the most expensive and least reliable electricity system in Australia,” he said.
“The statement from BHP this morning demonstrates how dangerous this situation has become. The CEO of the world’s biggest mining company has singled out South Australia’s fragile electricity system as a threat to mining in Australia.
“Affordable and reliable power is critical to running a business – it’s not a luxury, it’s an essential!”
By JR on Saturday, December 03, 2016
Weasel words from the Salvation Army
A little while ago, the Victorian branch of the Salvation Army gave unconditional approval to the "Safe Schools" program -- a program that promotes homosexuality and undermines the traditional family. The Marxist authors of the program smuggled in the propaganda by using the language of "safety" and the Sallies have followed suit.
This sparked outrage from many quarters, including, one gathers, Army members. Not so long ago the Sallies opposed homosexuality on scriptural grounds but they now have bowed down before the the false god of secularism. The false god who led the children of Israel astray after the Exodus was often Baal of Peor, a god of sexual license. Not much has changed it seems. Despite their expansive lip-service to Christianity, Bible teachings no longer matter to the Sallies, it seems. The gods of Canaan are OK for them now.
But in response to the flak that they have received from Godly and family-oriented people the national organization has now done a very half-hearted backdown. In the statement below, the only words of the backtrack are: "The Salvation Army cannot unconditionally support the Safe Schools programs in Australia in their current form". They don't say why and the ordinary reader would never guess why. For them to say more would expose the hypocrisy of their claim to be Christian. Clearly, they no longer support the Biblical view of homosexuality. In Christ's words, they are "whited sepulchres" (Matthew 23:27)
The Salvation Army is a Christian movement dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus. We purposefully work to reveal this love to everyone by building loving communities combined with the provision of spiritual, emotional and material support. Our compassionate participation has evolved over 136 years of service in all spheres of the Australian community, especially to people who are vulnerable, suffering and underprivileged and we are humbled that our efforts are so widely welcomed, encouraged and supported.
This non-discriminatory commitment to love and serve others is highlighted in our international mission statement which says we are: ‘to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination’. We believe that God loves everyone. We call on all Salvationists and community members to show this same love to others.
We have zero tolerance for bullying and as such, there is no situation where it is acceptable. Every person regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or religion has the right to feel safe so they can achieve their full God-given potential. We emphasize that the alarming high rate of bullying and suicide among LGBTIQ school students evokes deep concern within The Salvation Army.
There are many accounts of marginalised students benefiting from aspects of the Safe Schools programs which have resulted in a safer, more caring culture forming in those schools. In this regard, we recognise the program’s intent to address bullying. Whilst acknowledging such positive outcomes, The Salvation Army cannot unconditionally support the Safe Schools programs in Australia in their current form. We believe there needs to be consideration and refinement to the scope and form of implementation.
We believe the availability of support services for every vulnerable student including those identifying as LGBTIQ is vital. We also believe the provision of a government approved anti-bullying program needs to consider all high risk student groups. To this end, The Salvation Army is open to working with State and Federal Governments and other agencies to develop a program that more comprehensively addresses the issues associated with bullying within schools.
We call on all Salvationists and the community at large to treat each other with respect and grace. Jesus said that after loving God, the second most important commandment is to love our neighbour as we love ourself. Everyone has the right to always feel safe and to be treated with respect and grace.
By JR on Friday, December 02, 2016
Another shriek about bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
This is just a repetition of a story that has been going on for a year or more. Previous claims of this nature have been shown to be highly exaggereated so a repetition of the claims from the same people as before has no credibility.
I was born and bred in an area close to the reef and have been hearing cries of alarm about the reef for 50 years. But somehow the reef still seems to be there. It has always had episodes of retreat but coral is highly resilient and bounces back quite rapidly.
One thing we can be sure of is that the problems were not caused by anthropogenic global warming. Why? Because that theory says that warming is caused by increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the latest readings show NO increase in CO2 during 2015 and 2016
There WAS warming up until recently but that was caused by the El Nino weather cycle, not CO2. Once again we had the chronic Warmist problem that CO2 levels and temperatures do not correlate. Below is a picture of the El Nino effect on global temperatures. You see it peaked late last year and has been falling ever since. So if warmth was the cause of the reef problems, the reef should soon start to recover
Two-thirds of the corals in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef have died in the reef’s worst-ever bleaching event, according to our latest underwater surveys.
On some reefs in the north, nearly all the corals have died. However the impact of bleaching eases as we move south, and reefs in the central and southern regions (around Cairns and Townsville and southwards) were much less affected, and are now recovering.
In 2015 and 2016, the hottest years on record, we have witnessed at first hand the threat posed by human-caused climate change to the world’s coral reefs.
Heat stress from record high summer temperatures damages the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) that live in the tissues of corals, turning them white.
After they bleach, these stressed corals either slowly regain their zooxanthellae and colour as temperatures cool off, or else they die.
The Great Barrier Reef bleached severely for the first time in 1998, then in 2002, and now again in 2016. This year’s event was more extreme than the two previous mass bleachings.
Surveying the damage
We undertook extensive underwater surveys at the peak of bleaching in March and April, and again at the same sites in October and November. In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, we recorded an average (median) loss of 67% of coral cover on a large sample of 60 reefs.
The dieback of corals due to bleaching in just 8-9 months is the largest loss ever recorded for the Great Barrier Reef.
To put these losses in context, over the 27 years from 1985 to 2012, scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science measured the gradual loss of 51% of corals on the central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef.
They reported no change over this extended period in the amount of corals in the remote, northern region. Unfortunately, most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in this northern, most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.
The bleaching, and subsequent loss of corals, is very patchy. Our map shows clearly that coral death varies enormously from north to south along the 2,300km length of the Reef.
The southern third of the Reef did not experience severe heat stress in February and March. Consequently, only minor bleaching occurred, and we found no significant mortality in the south since then.
In the central section of the Reef, we measured widespread but moderate bleaching, which was comparably severe to the 1998 and 2002 events. On average, only 6% of coral cover was lost in the central region in 2016.
The remaining corals have now regained their vibrant colour. Many central reefs are in good condition, and they continue to recover from Severe Tropical Cyclones Hamish (in 2009) and Yasi (2011).
In the eastern Torres Strait and outermost ribbon reefs in the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, we found a large swathe of reefs that escaped the most severe bleaching and mortality, compared to elsewhere in the north. Nonetheless, 26% of the shallow-water corals died.
We suspect that these reefs were partially protected from heat stress by strong currents and upwelling of cooler water across the edge of the continental shelf that slopes steeply into the Coral Sea.
For visitors, these surveys show there are still many reefs throughout the Marine Park that have abundant living coral, particularly in popular tourism locations in the central and southern regions, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns.
The northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, extending 700km from Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea, experienced the most severe bleaching and subsequent loss of corals.
On 25% of the worst affected reefs (the top quartile), losses of corals ranged from 83-99%. When mortality is this high, it affects even tougher species that normally survive bleaching.
However, even in this region, there are some silver linings. Bleaching and mortality decline with depth, and some sites and reefs had much better than average survival. A few corals are still bleached or mottled, particularly in the north, but the vast majority of survivors have regained their colour.
What will happen next?
The reef science and management community will continue to gather data on the bleaching event as it slowly unfolds. The initial stage focused on mapping the footprint of the event, and now we are analysing how many bleached corals died or recovered over the past 8-9 months.
Over the coming months and for the next year or two we expect to see longer-term impacts on northern corals, including higher levels of disease, slower growth rates and lower rates of reproduction. The process of recovery in the north – the replacement of dead corals by new ones – will be slow, at least 10-15 years, as long as local conditions such as water quality remain conducive to recovery.
As global temperatures continue to climb, time will tell how much recovery in the north is possible before a fourth mass bleaching event occurs.
By JR on Thursday, December 01, 2016
National Geographic asked photographers to show the impact of climate change
The idea that you could photograph climate change is a considerable absurdity so it should be no great surprise that the results embodied much absurdity.
And equally absurd is the idea that you can support a generalization -- which global warming is -- by selected cases of something. I used to be something of a photographer in my youth and I am quite confident that I could produce a series of shots to "illustrate" just about anything.
For instance, just about everyone seems to have heard that Australia is a "dry" continent. It is. Most of it is deserts. But just by wandering around the tropical areas where I was born and bred, I could produce photos of things in Australia that "prove" the opposite: Photos of lush greenery, big rivers, scenic waterfalls and images of dairy cows grazing lush green fields of long grass. Thus I could "prove" that Australia is NOT a dry country. In fact, however, such a procedure would in fact give precisely wrong results.
Given the feebleness of the presentation, I am not going to attempt to critique it all so I will advert briefly to the text underneath a picture of animals grazing at dusk.
Underneath the picture, the following text occurs:
"These animals have found the secret stash of the orange farmer who dumps the oranges that have fallen from his trees at least seven kilometers away from the orchards to control the breeding of the fruit fly. It is the end of a winter exacerbated by global warming, which makes the season longer and drier and the summer hotter with less rain in an already dry climate"
Which is complete nonsense. The scene is apparently from somewhere in South Africa and it may be that there was unusually low rainfall there recently. Rainfall varies. But the low rainfall was NOT due to global warming. Due to El Nino, there was indeed an unusually warm period globally in late 2015 and early 2016 but why should that cause less rain? Hot weather evaporates more water off the oceans and that comes down again as rain. Which is why the tropics are wetter than elsewhere. El Nino should have caused MORE rain, not less. Even the most basic physics seems to be unknown to most Warmists -- JR.
By JR on Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Feminist lack of reality-contact again
Clementine Ford has often appeared in the columns of the Sydney Boring Herald giving aggressively feminist opinions. Her aggression and anger is normal among Leftists but her feminism adds an additional mental health problem to her profile. She constantly denies that men and women are different -- except when women are superior, of course.
But, in denying such a large slice of reality as male/female differences she is, I would argue, a low-level schizophrenic. Denial of reality is the hallmark of schizophrenia. There are probably as many sorts of feminism as there are feminists but I would argue that the more extreme ones have a form of mental illness which is dangerous to vulnerable women who listen to them and take them seriously. It may be worth mentioning that feminist icon Kate Millett was in and out of mental hospitals for much of her life.
And Clemmie has just added more evidence of her poor reality contact. As Tim Blair notes, with links to her Twitter account: "According to Godwin’s Law record-breaker Clementine Ford, Donald Trump is “installing people who pledge support to Nazism.” Also according to Clem, Trump “just made a neo-Nazi his chief strategist”, and Trump “is giving jobs to neo-Nazis".
The chief strategist she is presumably referring to is Steve Bannon, a retired U.S. Navy sailor and merchant banker who is a very forceful conservative. And the American Left and media (but I repeat myself) are in something of a frenzy to discredit him. But they really have nothing to go on except for the scorn he heaps on them. There is an attempt here to use his own words to discredit him but it gets nowhere. It simply reveals that he thinks much the same as Trump and the Trumpians. Just proving that about him is horror enough to the Left, of course, but to anyone else what he says is just a newly legitimated expression of opinion. As did Reagan, Trump has bumped the Overton window rightwards and Bannon is now in that window.
But to the Left, everyone who opposes them and their ideas is a "racist" -- and that accusation is constantly flung at Bannon, spiced up a little by the related accusation that he is antisemitic. But where is the evidence for that? Once again, there is none, aside from one accusation from an embittered ex-wife. Read here just one of many refutations of the "racist" claim from people who know him personally, noting, for instance, that Bannon’s longtime personal assistant is an African American woman, and he has extended family members who are Jewish".
And Bannon has also been an forceful advocate for Israel. As a Jewish American news site put it: "He headed arguably the most pro-Israel media organization in the world, and oversaw an operation that went out of its way to expose and attack antisemitism at every turn".
That is the man Clemmie calls a Nazi.
I have not seen her byline on the SMH recently. Has she become too unbalanced even for the SMH management? She may have had something of a breakdown. She embarrassed herself a couple of weeks ago by accusing someone else of a slur that he did not utter but which she did! Maybe we have heard the last of her in the mainstream media.
By JR on Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Trump and the Overton window
The Overton window refers to the range of topics that is permitted to be discussed in polite society.
The article below is from Brian McNair, a professor of journalism at a minor Australian university. And, like all Leftist writing, what he leaves out makes a big difference. He is basically disrespectful of the Trump triumph, as are most Leftists. To spice up his argument, however, he rightly observes that Hitler came to power through regular democratic processes too. So he hints that Trump will be another Hitler.
Many Leftists just say Bush=Hitler, Trump=Hitler etc. without making any real argument for their assertions but Prof. McNair makes a lightly reasoned historical case for his comparison so I think that warrants a reply.
He rightly observes that Hitler too railed against the establishment and a remote elite that did not care about the people. But socialist politicians regularly rail against the establishment and a remote elite that does not care about the people. And Hitler was a socialist. The only oddity is that a semi-conservative like Trump did it. And the various socialist postwar governments worldwide have not become Hitler clones so why should Trump? Our bitter professor does not mention that. He ignores all the examples that contradict his argument.
And the differences between Hitler and Trump matter too. Hitler was undoubtedly one of the greatest warmongers the world has seen whereas Trump is a peacenik. He is on buddy terms with Mr Putin and wants to withdraw American troops abroad back home to America. In that regard he is a traditional American isolationist. It is Clinton who was rhetorically attacking Russia, not Trump. Hitler did talk peace at times but from his re-militarization of the Rhineland onwards he expanded the territorial reach of his armed forces -- unlike Trump's desire to pull back U.S. armed forces.
So it is just the usual Leftist cheap shot to compare Trump with Hitler. Just because two people have some similarities does not mean that they are the same. It is a foolish and empty argument.
The point of the article, however, is a recognition of something that has not much been discussed so far: Trump has shifted the Overton window rightwards. The success of Trump has made all his policy positions respectable. Before Trump, for instance, limiting Muslim immigration was "racist" to both the GOP and the Donks. The Leftists still say that but the Right no longer agree. They can now discuss the matter without being shut down. They can in fact not only discuss it but win elections by saying it. So both sides of the issue can now be discussed pretty freely, which was not previously the case
And our professor sees that shift in what journalists say and discuss. He sees that they now treat Trump's policy positions with more respect. They discuss them instead of simply abusing them. And THAT has got our professor riled. He calls the new normal "subjectivity" and yearns for the good old says when political correctness -- which he amusingly refers to as "objectivity" -- reigned supreme. He makes a plea for a return to it but is clearly despairing of that happening. He is right about that.
As the results of the 2016 election came in, the mainstream media in America and around the world demonstrated their inability to cope with the challenge of a president Trump within the conventional paradigms of journalistic objectivity, balance and fairness. Or, rather, to cope without normalising the most conspicuously overt racism, sexism, and proto-fascism ever seen in a serious candidate for president.
As street protests broke out in Portland, Oregon in the days after the election, for example, BBC World noted the police definition of the events as a “riot”, in response to what it coyly described as “some racist remarks” made by Donald Trump during his campaign.
A man whose comments were denounced even by his own party chief Paul Ryan as “textbook racism”, and whose references to “grabbing pussy”, “a nasty woman”, “Miss House Keeping” and other indicators of unabashed misogyny horrified millions in the US across the party spectrum, was now president.
For the BBC, henceforth, criticism of even the most outlandish and offensive remarks – when judged by the standards of recent decades – would be severely muted, if not excluded. Suddenly, rather can call a spade a spade in coverage of Trump’s hate-mongering campaign, his ascendancy to office had legitimised those views, and the process of normalisation had begun.
The mainstream media have largely followed suit in this approach to Trump’s victory, bestowing a new respectability on what before election day had been generally reported as absurdly offensive statements and policies. One can without too much imagination foresee Ku Klux Klan chief David Duke becoming an expert commentator on CNN or MSNBC (or at least on Fox News).
In News Corp outlets all over the world, from Sky News and The Australian here to Fox in the US, commentators and pundits were to the fore in constructing legitimacy around his policies, insofar as anyone really knows what they are.
This descent into normalisation of the hitherto unacceptable, occasioned by Trump’s democratically endowed seizure of political power as of November 8, is very similar to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in 1930s Germany.
Hitler’s ascent, and all that came from it, was a product of free choices made in ballot boxes, and of free media coverage which moved to the extreme right with the ruling party.
Then, as now, a demagogic populist exploited perceptions of victimhood and “anti-elitism”, targeting ethnic and religious minorities as “the enemy”. No-one forced national socialism on the German people, or on their media, nor on the many Western media such as the Daily Mail in England that spoke out in his favour.
Post-November 8, the mainstream media have shown their inability to engage with the enormity of what is happening in Western and global politics within conventional paradigms of objectivity. Left to them, the slide into fascism will simply become another news story, another “he said, she said” performance of balance, legitimised by the fact that this is what democracy has delivered. No matter that in the 1930s the same obeisance led to the Holocaust.
This tendency is not the fault of the mainstream media, nor of their journalists, who are simply applying the professional codes and practices with which they have been raised. But they will need to do better.
For those in the media who wish to stem a slide into democratically legitimised fascism in the next four years – and similar processes are now unfolding in Europe, Australia and elsewhere – it is time to rethink the appropriate response of “objective” journalism to the post-factual politics of extreme subjectivity.
Pure Leftist hate
The rant below is remarkable. It says nothing at great length. There is no information of substance conveyed. It is presumably meant to be funny for a Leftist audience. It appeared in a Left-leaning major Australian newspaper. But underneath the slight veneer of humour, it is pure hate. The hate just poured out of the writer -- and kept pouring. I reproduce the whole thing so people can witness how much hate there is there. She no doubt feels pleased with herself for writing it but she clearly has "issues", as they say these days. I suspect that underneath an acceptable social facade, she is a generally hostile person -- JR
Of all the lunacies of the post-fact world, my favourite is the fiction being peddled that "left-wing elites" in the media and elsewhere revealed their horrendous bias by expressing dismay at the prospect of a Trump presidency.
Voicing some discomfort at the prospect of a pussy-grabbing protector-isolationalist becoming leader of the free world does not a left-wing loon make.
Any political candidate who has been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan is leaving a lot of room out there on their left flank. You don't have to be Che Guevara to have inadvertently found yourself sitting in that space, desolate in the knowledge that the best you can do to stop the juggernaut is to un-follow The Donald on Twitter.
But progressive and free-thinking Trump first-responders (and since last week, we are all, from Senegal to Seattle, Trump first-responders) do have a problem with Melania Trump, first lady-elect, the woman ostensibly closest to the man but at the same time strangely incidental to him.
Melania – Slovenian immigrant, mother, and "perfect 10", to use the technical, Trumpian term – is either her husband's greatest victim or his worst enabler.
She is definitely an important source of what the white-coat doctors call "narcissistic supply", but she may also be that woman with a desperate look in her eyes madly trying to blink her way into communicating that she needs to escape this nightmare way more than we do.
Feminists are at a loss as to how to deal with Melania because it's generally uncool to mock blameless wives and mothers, and yet, this is a woman whose entire life appears predicated on the fact that she is hot. Which is not what Mary Wollstonecraft et al fought in the trenches for.
How do we solve a problem like Melania?
Images of Trump frankly spying on his wife as she cast her vote on November 8 were telling. Did he expect her to vote Democrat? Since winning the vote, otherwise disempowered women have used the privacy of the ballot box as a way to rebel secretly against their husbands, but poor Melania was not afforded this inalienable right.
Perhaps she wanted to put a nice big tick in the Hillary box but was forced to divert at the last minute when she felt her husband's reptilian eyes boring into her back.
Funnily enough, the next day the entire world woke up with that same feeling.
Feminists are at a loss as to how to deal with first lady Melania Trump. The little we do know about Melania has been communicated by mostly her husband. He began lobbying for her back in 2000 when she was his new girlfriend and he pestered the then editor of GQ, Dylan Jones, to feature her nude in his magazine.
More recently, Melania was the subject of a GQ profile that revealed she had a secret half-brother in Slovenia but told us precisely nothing about the kind of person she is. She spoke in cliches and revealed nothing of herself except for the fact that she sticks to her "role" and would never ask her husband to change a nappy or put their son to bed.
Trump says Melania will make an "unbelievable first lady".
The very title of "first lady" is bold confirmation of what many workplaces, and (dare I say it), society as a whole, have been slow to acknowledge – that men holding down serious jobs can do them properly only if they have a woman behind the scenes sponging up the detritus of daily life.
In the case of an average account manager, or a business owner, that means your wife pays the internet bill and makes sure the children's hair is sufficiently crazy for the school's annual "Crazy Hair Day" (or as it's known to one of my circle, "F---ing Crazy Hair Day").
Presidential wives probably have staff to take care of Crazy Hair Day, but they would have many other irritating and time-consuming help-meet tasks, like scheduling the secret service detail around school assembly, and arranging state dinner seating plans to minimise awkwardness between guests experiencing diplomatic conflict.
In Melania's case, seating arrangements will be further complicated by the fact that her husband is on record as being very gropey. Angela Merkel or Teresa May will want to watch their legs sub-table, particularly given Trump would probably deny any groping not on the facts, but on the justification that neither leader is a "10" so why would he bother?
First ladies are permitted, of course, to take up a few of their own causes, and Melania has said she will focus on the scourge of online bullying, prompting many to wonder aloud whether she had glanced at her own husband's Twitter account recently.
In the post-truth world it would not be surprising if Melania decides next week to take up the banner for victims of sexual assault, or become patron of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
People will call her a hypocrite but perhaps, underneath the Barbie-doll bust and the mask-like features, she is trolling her husband in open cover.
It's the only place she has to hide.
Trump brings in the billionaires
The Democrats are going to pick at this and claim that Trump does not stand for the little guy after all. But the point is that Trump is bringing in high achievers, not inexperienced political hacks. He is bringing in people of known high competence who will get results.
And since they are already rich they are not doing it for the salary. And being already rich, they will be very hard to corrupt. This may be the least corrupt administration for a long time -- just what Trump promised.
And no-one can say that they did not know Trump had rich friends. He has long been one of the best known people in America -- and known to be a rich man who hobnobs with other rich people.
Donald Trump is used to being surrounded by rich people, but the squad of billionaires he is lining up to serve in his first cabinet is extraordinary even by his standards.
Hedge funders, heiresses, bankruptcy bankers and baseball barons are being tipped for top positions in the new administration, leading to deep concerns about conflicts of interest and the expectation of a bumpy ride when they face confirmation hearings in the Senate.
“Donald Trump said during the campaign that he doesn’t like hanging out with rich people,” said Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia. “We’re discovering that’s not really true. We’ve had wealthy people in almost every cabinet, but I don’t believe we’ve ever had so many.”
By JR on Sunday, November 27, 2016
Some matters arising from Trump's NYT interview
The Donald's Scottish golf course has been widely praised and Trump himself seems to feel a strong connection to it. But in his NYT interview Friedman hinted that sea-level rises might flood it. Would he want his golf cause to be flooded? From what I can see the course is well and truly above sea level so that claim would probably not fly but in case parts of it are a bit low, it would be nice if someone was on hand to draw Trump's attention to the official sea level information for Aberdeen. The Trump International Golf Links are just 10 miles North of Aberdeen.
The NOAA chart for Aberdeen is here. You will see from it that the sea level rise there averages out to about 3 inches per century and from about 1985 on there appears to be no trend at all. That should immunize Trump agains the usual leftist lies about the oceans rising.
In the same interview "Pinch" Sulzberger claimed that America has never had storms as bad as ones that hit recently. So perhaps this story could be mentioned:
The Great New England Hurricane of 1938
On September 21, 1938, one of the most destructive and powerful hurricanes in recorded history struck Long Island and Southern New England. The storm developed near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, tracking across the Atlantic and up the Eastern Seaboard. The storm hit Long Island and Southern Connecticut on September 21, moving at a forward speed of 47 mph! Sustained hurricane force winds were felt across central and eastern Long Island and southeastern Connecticut. The hurricane produced a destructive storm surge flooding coastal communities as well as producing three to seven inches of rainfall.
Max Recorded Sustained Wind: 121 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, MA
Max Recorded Wind Gust: 186 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, MA
Highest Sustained Wind Measurement not Influenced by Terrain: 109 mph at Fishers Island, NY (Landsea et al 2013)
Lowest Observed Pressure: 27.94 in (946.2 mb) at Bellport, NY
Estimated Lowest Pressure: 27.79 in (941 mb) near Brentwood, NY as the wind and pressure centers were slightly displaced due to its fast speed and extra-tropical transition (Landsea et al. 2013, National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division Re-Analysis Project)
Speed at landfall: 47 mph (Landsea et al. 2013, National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division Re-Analysis Project)
Peak Storm Surge: 17 ft. above normal high tide (Rhode Island)
Peak Wave Height: 50 ft. at Gloucester, MA
Homeless: Approx. 63,000
Homes/Buildings Destroyed: Approx. 8,900
Trees Destroyed: Approx. 2 Billion
Boats Lost or Destroyed: Approx. 3,300
Cost: $620 million (1938 Dollars); Equivalent to approx. $41 billion using 2005 inflation, wealth, and population normalization then estimated to 2010 Dollars (Blake and Gibney 2011).
There isn't a 'silent majority' of racists in Australia
By Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner.
Tim's headline above is beyond dispute but he goes downhill from there. I have written previously about the Scanlon Foundation and its reports and what I have said previously still seems to apply.
Peter Scanlon was the man behind stevedoring business Patrick Corporation but he now seems to be mainly in shares and Real Estate.
This year's report has made a big issue over question wording. They know, I know and all survey researchers know that the wording of a question can greatly influence the answers. And by dwelling on that fact they apparently hope to obscure the reality that they are themselves great sinners in that regard.
Just to take a simple example from their survey, one of their questions is: "Marriage equality for same sex couples". They find that 66% of respondents say they support it. But the question is ludicrously biased. It is put in a way that argues for it. Were the question a straightforward "Homosexual marriage" they would undoubtedly get a very different percentage of approval. The Labor party certainly thinks so. That is why they strenuously resist a vote on the question. They know that a referendum on the question would be lost.
And the Scanlon questions about "refugees" are amusing too. One question asked for agreement with a statement seeking support for resettling ‘refugees who have been assessed overseas and found to be victims of persecution and in need of help'. A real tear-jerker! Unsurprisingly, two thirds of respondents agreed with that. I would have liked to ask for responses to "Most so-called refugees are really just economic immigrants in search of a country with generous welfare payments". I might have got two thirds agreement with that too.
So Tim is entitled to believe the Scanlon report but from my viewpoint as an experienced survey researcher it is basically rubbish. To believe their results you would have to show that they are similar to results that have been obtained by other researchers. And they themselves admit that their results are often very different. They say that the other researchers have bad research methods but I think it is more a case of Luke 6:42.
So when Tim says "An overwhelming majority of people (83 per cent) believe that multiculturalism is good for the country", we have to ask WHICH cultures do people see as beneficial? Muslim culture? Probably not. Scanlon doesn't ask that question. They don't want to know.
Having said all that there were nonetheless two points which even Scanlon picked up, two points that other surveys have found: Environmental issues are bottom of the barrel in importance for Australians and Australians are far more anti-Muslim than they are anti any other religion
These are challenging times for race relations. In the United States, just a fortnight after the election of Donald Trump, there are already numerous reports of hate attacks on the rise. A similar trend was reported earlier this year following the Brexit vote in Britain.
This is what happens when political debates normalise attacks on immigrants and foreigners. This is what happens when populist nationalism trumps the normal rules of liberal democracy.
Australia is not the US. Neither is it Europe. But we are not immune from racial anxiety and xenophobia. There remains a small minority of people in our society who are hostile towards cultural diversity and immigration. These are people who believe that an Australian national identity is under threat from cultural change.
It is important that we deal with such concerns, that we understand why people may feel that way. Yet, as the Scanlon Foundation's Mapping Social Cohesion report shows, we shouldn't overstate such cultural angst. Those who are uncomfortable about multiculturalism do not constitute some "silent majority". The political mainstream mustn't rush to conclude otherwise.
Here are some of the facts, according to the Scanlon Foundation. An overwhelming majority of people (83 per cent) believe that multiculturalism is good for the country. A clear majority of people (59 per cent) believed that current levels of immigration were either "about right' or 'too low".
Such results, consistent with the Scanlon Foundation's findings over the years, are the best indication we have of where Australian public opinion really lies. It is confirmation that Australia remains a successful and harmonious nation of immigration.
Of course, recent commentary has painted a different picture. For example, one Essential Media poll about Muslim immigration has been frequently cited to support the proposition that half of Australians want to ban Muslim immigration.
Such commentary has tended to ignore other evidence indicating far more robust support for a non-discriminatory immigration policy. In a previous survey, the Scanlon Foundation in fact found that three-quarters of the population supported immigration being conducted on non-discriminatory lines. This year, the Scanlon Foundation found that with respect to Australia taking in refugees from Syria, 69 per cent indicated that "there should be equal consideration to all religious and ethnic groups".
The lesson is this. Political debate must avoid jumping to conclusions based on single opinion polls – especially when polls need to be interpreted with care. The best polls are those that can show trends over time. On matters of social cohesion, the Scanlon Foundation's findings have been robust and reliable.
Which is why there are some findings in this year's survey that should give us pause. There has been an increase in the reported experience of discrimination, which rose from 15 per cent of respondents in 2015 to 20 per cent in 2016. This is the highest proportion recorded since the Scanlon Foundation surveys began in 2007. Those of a non-English speaking background reported the highest experience of discrimination (27 per cent).
There can be no complacency on prejudice and discrimination. It remains fundamentally important that our society sends an emphatic signal that racism is unacceptable.
Trump was so vague and contradictory during his campaigns -- first for the GOP nomination and then for Prez -- that one can argue that his recent "backdowns" are just his general vagueness and nothing new. His decision not to prosecute Hillary, however, is clearly a change. So why?
He has actually told us why. He wants to bring the nation together and for that reason he has been extremely conciliatory. He has been as nice as he can to everybody. And given the big guns in the media, the bureaucracy and the legal system he might see it as simply safer to lay off Hillary. Push the Donks to the wall and you never know what they will come up with. Bribes and threats to members of the electoral college? A cinch. And that is just the start.
And there are two general reasons for him to go easy:
1). He is a most experienced businessman and if you want the best result in business you have to do all that you reasonably can to keep people sweet. To be corny, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
2). Nobody seems to be mentioning this but Trump is himself one of the establishment. He may not previously have stood for elective office but he knows most of the main players of old and has donated to some of their electoral campaigns. He is one of the best known people in America. He has long been a celebrity. His marriages and divorces have for decades been front-page news. There is a reason why he is known as "The Donald".
And that is gold. People WANT to know and be seen with a celebrity and Trump is a celebrity. He can hobnob with anybody he wants. He just has to buy them a flash dinner at one of his establishments and the flashbulbs will flash. And lots of people crave those flashes. And guess what? His beloved and devoted daughter Ivanka is close friends with whom? Chelsea Clinton. Would you want to put the mother of your beloved daughter's close friend in jail?
So I think it is clear why Hillary is off the hook. She was always going to be off the hook.
But what of his other backdowns? Obamacare and the Paris climate agreement? Again, as a good businessman he knows the value of compromise and he wants to be seen as fair. "winner takes all" just generates resentment. The way Obama and his minions pushed Obamacare through with out ANY GOP support is an example of where that approach leads. All the effort they put in to get it though now looks like being a complete waste -- a cancelled legacy. So Trump is looking for at least the appearance of compromise.
So what about Obamacare? He has a clear mandate to abolish it and a majority in both houses who are mad keen to do so. Any compromise he offers will therefore be greeted with relief. He can look like the generous man in the middle who reconciles two deeply opposed parties -- And he has already said that he likes some provisions of Obamacare.
So my prediction is that he will negotiate with both sides of Congress to gut Obamacare but leave enough remnants for both sides to feel that they have been heard and been given something. That should achieve what Obamacare could not: A health insurance system that has at least a degree of bipartisan support -- making it resistant to much in the way of future changes. Something as hard-fought as health insurance reform is going to leave people with little appetite for further battles over it. The new system is likely to win general acceptance as the best that can be done. Australia has arrived at that point after similar long battles.
So what could he do with the Paris agreement? There are two things
1). He could present it to the Senate for ratification, which is the legally correct thing to do. The U.S. Congress as a whole has the great distinction of being the only legislature in the world to have skeptics in the majority and the Senate would certainly not endorse the Paris agreement. It would thus lapse and Trump would not be to blame. That blame would fall on the shoulders of the Senate, and they have broad shoulders.
2). He could do nothing. He could accept the Paris agreement but just fail to enforce it. Any time some action is demanded of him he could just say things like: "America comes first in my administration and I am not going to hit the coal miners of West Virginia again. They have already suffered enough". He could, in other words, always find some higher priority than to worry about global warming. I think it is highly likely that he will do one of those two things, most likely the former.
So Trump's "backdowns" actually show his wisdom and experience. People took him for an aggressive and ignorant fool but behind his facade was a cool thinker. They made the same mistake with Ronald Reagan.