Detractors often speak of the fragility of the British monarchy and predict its demise but on every great Royal occasion we see the falsity of that. The huge enthusiasm with which Prince William and his bride were greeted by a million onlookers in London would surely be the envy of any politician.
Winston Churchill once said: "Not for a thousand years has Britain seen the campfires of an invader". One consequence is that the British army has retained its traditions. And the splendid uniforms are part of that. We see in the picture above the particularly splendid dress uniform of the Blues & Royals worn by Prince Harry.
It might almost be a comic opera uniform but there is nothing comic about the regiment concerned. It sees active service in war zones and in fact traces its origins all the way back to Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. And Prince Harry is no chocolate soldier. Both he and William are members of the British armed forces and Harry is particularly devoted to the army. He loved his posting to the dirt and dust of Afghanistan. And the Blues and Royals is the regiment he joined when he enlisted in the British army.
Prince William, heir in due course to the throne of 16 countries, also enlisted initially in the Blues and Royals but now serves in the Royal Air Force. In the picture above he wears the uniform of the Irish Guards, of which he is honorary Colonel. By wearing that uniform he honours the regiment concerned. Guardsmen will be proud to see THEIR Colonel so prominently honoured.
And also above we see the rather splendid 1902 State Landau in which the couple left Westminster Abbey. I gather that it is not the most comfortable of rides but it gives admirers a good view of those in the carriage and enables them to be clearly seen when they wave back.
It all does my old monarchist heart good. And I was pleased to see the Queen looking well after her recent minor health scare -- JR.
Pets should be renamed 'companions', claim animal rights academics (and rats are just 'free living')
"Animals should not be described as 'vermin', 'pests' or even 'pets', animal ethicists have decided. Academics say that traditional words used to characterise animals like 'beasts' and 'critters' are derogatory and should be replaced.
They say words like 'pests' and 'vermin' should be dropped altogether, and 'pets' replaced by 'companion animals'. 'Wild animals' should be termed 'free living or free ranging animals' they argue, because 'wildness' is too close to 'uncivilised'.
The call for a new 'animal language' has been made by the editors of a new academic journal, the Journal of Animal Ethics, published this month for the first time by the University of Illinois Press.
They said: 'Despite its prevalence, "pets" is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers. 'Again the word "owners", whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint.'
But their semantic zeal does not end with man's best friends. They also argue for a new understanding of animals in their natural habitat. 'In addition, we invite authors to use the words "free-living", "free-ranging" or "free-roaming" rather than "wild animals",' they said.
'For most, "wildness" is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence. There is an obvious prejudgment here that should be avoided.'
Little lady who believes in an "indisputable scientific consensus" thinks conservatives have a psychological problem!
She certainly puts her ignorance of science on display! Indisputable consensuses belong in religion only. Science is about CHANGING the existing understanding of anything. And she shows her faith in clauses like: "As documented by Greenpeace". Getting your information from political extremists is about as far away from science as one can imagine.
And her reference to a study in Sociological Quarterly is amusing. All that the study concerned actually showed is that Leftists tend to accept Global Warming while conservatives reject it -- which is hardly news
More disturbingly, she seems to imply that the Sociological Quarterly article supports her little rant about cognitive dissonance. It does not. The word "dissonance" is not even mentioned in it. So once again we see that the lady is no scholar, to put it politely
Just an excerpt from her little sermon below
On April 6, all but one of the Republican members of the US House of Representatives rejected a Democratic amendment that would have put the chamber on record backing the widely held scientific view that global warming is occurring and humans are a major cause. The following day the GOP-led House voted 255 to 172 to strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. It is remarkable that in 2011, a majority of Republicans in Congress reject the indisputable, scientific consensus that human activity is altering the climate.
Thus, the question remains: Why is the reality of climate change such a threat to the right? A new study published in the Spring 2011 issue of Sociological Quarterly delves into this very topic. The study finds that conservatives’ refusal to acknowledge the very real threat of climate change, has more to do with its implications rather than skepticism of scientific facts. It’s a classic case of cognitive dissonance!
Stanford University social psychologist Leon Festinger coined the theory of cognitive dissonance, based on a famous case study from the 1950s. Festinger and his colleagues infiltrated a cult that was awaiting what they believed would be the imminent end of the world on December 21, 1954. When the prediction failed, rather than recognize the error of their beliefs, the cult members’ faith grew stronger, so strong that they began to proselytize. People will go to great lengths to rationalize their deeply held beliefs, even more so when exposed to evidence that challenges their worldview.
Climate change poses a profound threat to many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. Conservatives tend to champion individual freedom, private property rights, small government, free markets, and above all else, unfettered industrial capitalism. Industrial capitalism is an economic system predicated on the accelerating extraction and consumption of fossil fuels for energy, which is driving the climate change we face today. To accept this basic premise, one is compelled to question the wisdom of capitalism itself, which is a terrifying notion for conservatives. And it doesn’t take long to recognize that conservative values are inherently antithetical to the desperately needed actions to tackle global climate change.
When we recognize the role of cognitive dissonance, it becomes clear that conservatives and Republicans are more likely to dispute or deny the scientific consensus and the claims of the environmental community, in order to defend the industrial capitalist system. It is far more simple to deny science, than to accept that one’s worldview is wrong.
Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich
My wife and I spent the long weekend in the NSW Central West. The air was crisp, the sun shining, and the autumn leaves glowed in all shades of orange. However, even in this picture-perfect idyll of countryside Australia, you are never far from government folly.
On Easter Sunday we visited Carcoar. A heritage listed village, guidebooks describe Carcoar as one of the historic gems of the area. Rightly so: three old churches, a few former bank buildings and an Italian style courthouse remind tourists of Carcoar’s proud past. Today, however, they look grossly out of proportion in a village of 218 people.
The world probably only became aware of Carcoar’s existence when a double axe murder happened there in September 1893. The other highlights in the village’s history were the shutdown of the Carcoar Chronicle in 1943, the closure of the court in the 1950s, and the discontinuation of the railway station in 1974.
By all accounts, Carcoar is not so much a dying village as it is a dead village. Indeed, that’s what makes it such as charming place to visit – it is frozen in a time long gone by. But one thing most certainly it is not: a thriving, developing settlement.
The Australian government does not agree with this assessment. At the edge of Carcoar, in front of a small playground (without any children in sight) are two big signs. One reads ‘Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan supporting jobs and building our infrastructure for the future.’ The other explains that the junior swing, the small slide, and the little rocker were ‘funded through the Australian Government’s Community Infrastructure Program.’
As it turns out, the Carcoar playground was one of five ‘stimulus’ projects undertaken by Blayney Shire Council, which cost a total of $289,000. The last census counted only 34 children in Carcoar. The village’s median age in 2006 was 50 – higher than Japan’s. And Carcoar is shrinking further as local house prices under $150,000 demonstrate.
How a new playground in a fossilised village can amount to ‘nation building’ is a government secret. They could have just as well repainted the disused railway station or installed a new dock in the closed courthouse.
In two weeks’ time, Treasurer Wayne Swan will present a budget that is already foreshadowed as ‘tough’ and a deficit that will look frighteningly high for times of near full employment. For a government engaging in nation building in dead villages, this should not surprise anyone.
The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 29 April. Enquiries to email@example.com. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.
Abuse is all that Green/Left are good at. MSNBC Panel calls Global Warming skeptics conspiracists but cites not one fact in support of its own belief in Warmism. It's part of a long Leftist tradition of "psychologizing" conservatives -- putting up psychological theories which routinely fail any attempt at rigorous testing. See e.g. here
NOTE: Skeptics DON'T believe in conspiracy theories. They would hardly be skeptics if they did. But they do believe in something much more powerful and influential than any conspiracy: Intellectual fashions
President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate on Wednesday, but not even that could put the birther myth to bed for The Nation magazine's Washington editor Chris Hayes.
Guest hosting the April 28 edition of "Last Word," Hayes seized the moment to equate those who believe the president was not born in America with those who exercise healthy skepticism about anthropogenic global warming.
"The issue of the president's origins is one thing," began Hayes. "The reality is global warming quite another. There seem to be the same dynamics at play in both."
Hayes brought two guests to flesh out his opening salvo: Chris Mooney, described as a "science and political journalist" for Mother Jones magazine, a left-wing publication, and Jonathan Kay, managing editor of Canada's National Post newspaper, who wrote a book about conspiracy theorists.
Responding to Hayes's attempt to compare birthers to global warming skeptics, Kay explained, "Well, ultimately, conspiracy theories are a way to reconcile people's ideology with reality. It's a bridge between the world they want to be and the world that exists."
Throughout the segment, Hayes probed Kay and Mooney about how the minds of conspiracy theorists operate, not-so-subtly suggesting global warming skeptics have some sort of neurological disorder.
"Are conspiracy theories a difference in kind or a difference in degree from regular belief formation?" asked Hayes, who cited the UN's Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report as an example of such belief formation. "Is there something that delineates conspiracist belief formulations from sort of normal belief formation?"
Kay was eager to give Hayes the answer he was looking for: "It's a pathological way of thinking, which is utterly different from rational thought."
For his part, Mooney turned a discussion about ostensibly fact-driven scientific research into a partisan screed against Republicans that was devoid of fact and research.
"I think there's a reality gap between the parties," asserted Mooney. "Republicans and Democrats believe different things about a lot of issues and it turns out Republicans are more likely to wrong."
Wrapping up the lengthy segment, Hayes pressed Mooney and Kay to explain how to "combat" the "conspiracists" who don't blindly subscribe to global warming theories:
Because that strikes me, in the case of global warming particularly, which is a very, very high-stakes conspiracy theory, that a majority of Republicans out there share – John, what did you learn about how you break – you sort of break this kind of vicious cycle that conspiracists are under?
Kay went a step further than Hayes, not only likening birthers to global warming skeptics, but also conflating global warming skeptics with racists, sexists, and homophobes.
"We have taught ourselves to get around racism, for the most part," argued Kay. "We've taught ourselves to get around homophobia and sexism in some cases. We have to teach people that conspiracism is a way of thinking that is pathological, and you have to exercise your mental self discipline to try to get around it."
Take "racist" and "Nazi" out of a Leftist's vocabulary and he would be struck dumb in political debate
A senior CBS news anchor today labelled Donald Trump's campaign to raise doubts about President Obama's school grades as an 'ugly strain of racism'. Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer made the comments in the wake of Mr Trump's calls yesterday for Mr Obama to release college transcripts 'proving' he had the grades to enter Columbia and Harvard.
The attack came as new research suggested viewers for Celebrity Apprentice - some of the most liberal for any TV show - were deserting the program due to Mr Trump's outspoken rants against Mr Obama. [They can't handle anything that challenges their shallow beliefs]
Yesterday Mr Trump called on the President to release his college transcripts. Reacting to the call, Mr Schieffer said: 'That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. [He probably did] 'This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing.'
Earlier in the day Mr Trump had hinted that the President did not earn the grades at his first college Occidental to allow him to enter the two prestigious Ivy league schools. He said: 'I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard.
Pat Buchanan covers this issue in more detail -- noting, rather amusingly, that Obama has ADMITTED benefiting from "affirmative action"
A critic has made an important point about my recent brief comment on motivation and IQ: That "acting white" is scorned among many American blacks and that presumably means that they are poorly motivated to do well on tests. And their poor motivation could account for their low average IQ scores. There is undoubtedly some truth in that but not enough to account for the evidence.
Tests are taken in many situations and motivation varies but many situations are ones where motivations are high and blacks do poorly there too. Blacks ALWAYS do poorly, regardless of the situation. Leftist psychologists have for decades now racked their brains trying to find some way to get black average IQ up to white levels and nothing works.
In one experiment, testees were given extra time after the allowed time. The amount of extra time taken was greatest among blacks -- suggesting that their motivation was high. They still did poorly of course.
Further, blacks in Africa and the Caribbean are in a very different situation from American blacks and are often very motivated to do well in any way that might help release them from their grinding poverty. Motivation is not their problem -- and those who manage to get to America or Britain do notably better educationally and otherwise than do blacks born in Britain or America. And in Africa particularly, the average black IQ score is abysmal, much lower even than the scores of American blacks -- presumably because there is around 20% white ancestry among American blacks overall. It is genes, not motivation that matters.
Finally, my critic was apparently unaware that his criticisms are not at all new. They are well-known and well-accounted for among psychometricians. It is in fact an old chestnut that blacks do poorly on IQ tests because of lack of motivation. Such claims have got progressively more weird, however. The latest version of the claim is what Leftist psychologists call "Stereotype threat". The claim is that blacks try less because they fear that their poor results will reflect badly on blacks generally. One would have thought that such fears would cause them to try HARDER but all that is brushed aside. A summary of that research points to large holes in it and concludes "Lack of evidence and grave methodological defects haven't prevented the stereotype threat industry from taking off. Distortions are now pervasive."
NOTE: I cover the above topics more comprehensively here.
Above is the lesbian person whom he called "Dear". I think he deserves a medal for politeness beyond the call of duty.
David Cameron was last night facing accusations of sexism and calls to apologise after he told a shadow minister to ‘calm down, dear’ during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Senior Labour politicians reacted furiously to the throwaway remark – mimicking a car insurance advert starring Michael Winner – which came in response to noisy heckles from frontbencher Angela Eagle.
The party’s deputy leader Harriet Harman accused Mr Cameron of an ‘outdated and sexist attitude to women’ and a senior Labour source said: ‘He should certainly apologise.’
The row blew up after Miss Eagle, Parliament’s most prominent lesbian MP, interjected as the Prime Minister defended the Coalition’s plans to reform the NHS, arguing they were backed even by former Labour MP Howard Stoate, a practising GP.
The Wallasey MP shouted that Dr Stoate stood down at last year’s election, rather than being defeated as the PM claimed.
In response, the Prime Minister told Miss Eagle: ‘Calm down, dear, calm down. Calm down and listen to the doctor.’
How often have we been told catastrophe was only 10 years away?
The effect of additional CO2 decreases logarithmically, so we can expect an exponential increase in temperature after 2050.
You may be yearning for warmer days after what is shaping up to be one of the coldest Aprils in Western Washington’s history.
University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass told the Ross and Burbank Show the warming is coming. Global Warming, that is.
“The fact that we haven’t warmed up much doesn’t mean anything. The warming is coming, but it’s not going to be really significant until the second half of the century,” Mass said.
The professor said the warming trend is “sort of exponential; it starts slowly and then revs up at the end.”
Another triumph of theory over reality
JAIL staff banned from punishing unruly prisoners could now be ordered to reward them for toeing the line. Prisoners who are polite, undertake work and stay off drugs look set to be offered inducements such as extra jail visits, phone calls, better accommodation and more recreation.
A leaked memo obtained by The Courier-Mail revealed Queensland Corrective Services had developed the framework for a new reward scheme.
The change of philosophy in prisoner management comes after a 2009 Ombudsman's report criticised the agency's approach to prisoner discipline and a year after officers were stripped of disciplinary powers. Now in an attempt to appease frontline staff, QCS has proposed working groups starting this week develop policy recommendations on how to manage criminals through inducements.
QCS deputy commissioner Marlene Morison said it would be the first broad policy of rewarding prisoners to be implemented in the state's 15 jails.
Inmates who remained incident and drug free, were employed, completed required programs and training, maintained good relationships with other prisoners and who were "polite and co-operative" would be rewarded. "This ranges from access to the range of privileges (e.g. visits, phone calls) through to access of less restrictive environments (e.g. residential accommodation or low custody) to additional access to recreation ... " the memo said.
Ms Morison said well-behaved prisoners could also score better jobs while in jail. "It is as much about ensuring poor behaviour has a fair and real consequence as it is about giving reasons for prisoners to behave well," she said. Prison expert Dr Dot Goulding, of Curtin University, called the plan a "huge step forward".
"I'm delighted to hear that someone has some vision that the stick doesn't always work; sometimes the carrot and reward system is a far better way of looking at things," she said. "(The plan) is looking at positives rather than just the negative and to prepare these people to be job-ready and ready to be law-abiding citizens in the community."
However, Opposition corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the plan reeked of desperation. "Prison officers have been forced to resort to (this plan) ... just to get unruly prisoners to behave," he said. "The establishment of this working group was an admission that Labor's soft prisoner discipline system was a complete failure and needed to be fixed."
Ms Morison said the plan's draft policy would be developed by the end of next month and available for consultation with staff and the Queensland Public Sector Union, which represents prison officers.
When Sir Billy Butlin introduced bumper cars to Britain more than 80 years ago, it can be assumed he expected holiday makers to have fun on the fairground ride bumping into each other. But what Sir Billy did not foresee was the modern culture of health and safety that has not only introduced seat belts and insisted everyone drives in the same direction, but banned bumping.
Staff at all three Butlin resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness are instructed to ban anyone found guilty of bumping into each other in the electric cars equipped with huge bumpers.
Bemused customers who assume that the ‘no bumping sign’ is in jest are told to drive around slowly in circles rather than crash into anyone else for fear of an injury that could result in the resort being sued.
Telegraph columnist Michaal Deacon, who has just returned from a holiday at the Bognor Regis resort, said the experience was like “trundling round an exitless roundabout”.
“I’m not convinced that the dangers were great, given that the bumper cars were equipped with bumpers,” he said. “Seat belts, too. There were no airbags for the drivers, but it can be only a matter of time.”
Butlins confirmed that people are not allowed to bump the bumper cars for “health and safety reasons”. In fact the resorts insist on calling the experience Dodgems rather than bumper cars.
Jeremy Pardey, resort director at Bognor Regis, said there have been injuries in the past including broken bones, due to people bumping into each other. He said the rules are “pretty vigilant” to avoid anyone being hurt, although customers are not asked to wear crash helmets.
But he insisted people have “great fun” dodging one another by crossing the circle of traffic and over taking. “The point of our Dodgems is to dodge people, not to run into people,” he said.
Sir Billy Butlin was the first person to introduce the concept of driving electric cars, equipped with large bumpers, around a flat ride. He brought the UK franchise for Dodgem Cars, a brand of bumper cars manufactured in the US, and introduced them at his holiday camps in 1923.
The ride is now common on most fairgrounds and it is generally accepted that the point is to try and get around as fast as possible by dodging other people and even bumping off rivals.
Although many fairgrounds do have signs saying ‘no bumping’ for health and safety reasons or even for fear of litigation, few fairgrounds ban people for breaking the rules.
Anecdotal evidence suggest people have tried to get compensation for whiplash or other injuries sustained on the Dodgems, but there has not been a single successful case. In fact, more than one firm of solicitors uses the level of impact one would receive from a dodgem crash as an example of where a neck injury compensation claim would not succeed. It would also be difficult to prove some fault on the part of another dodgem driver.
David Cameron has pledged to tear up "mad health and safety rules" that have prevented firemen and police doing their jobs properly.
And it will be a total triumph if it turns out to be a forgery. What sort of copy is it anyway? Is the copy certified by a notary? If it were a straight photocopy it would be black and white so why is it green?
Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump took credit for pressuring President Barack Obama into releasing the long-form version of his birth certificate. "I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump, a prominent investor and possible White House contender, told a New Hampshire press conference.
He was speaking after the White House released the full version of Obama's birth certificate in a bid to scotch allegations that the president was not born in the United States.
Trump said the newly-released document still had to be vetted for authenticity, but acknowledged it may finally show that Obama is indeed a natural-born American. Under the US Constitution only natural-born citizens can hold the nation's highest office.
"We have to see is it real, is it proper, what's on it," Trump said. "I want it look at it, but I hope it's true, so that we can get on to much more important matters," he said, adding the president "should have done it a long time ago."
"I am really honored frankly to have played such a big role in getting rid of this issue," Trump said in New Hampshire, a key state for contenders planning to launch a presidential bid.
In an extraordinary political moment, Obama told reporters at the White House that he was bemused over the conspiracy about his birthplace and chastised Republican opponents for their continued focus on the issue. "We don't have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said, adding that he was puzzled that the controversy had rumbled on for two-and-a-half years.
Trump, who is flirting with a White House run, has been one of the chief fomenters of the speculation over Obama's birth certificate.
Just last week, Trump proposed on ABC television that he and Obama swap disclosures, suggesting he would release documents on the financial viability of his ventures and his overall wealth, if Obama released his birth records.
Obama's 2008 presidential campaign had previously released a shorter regular birth certificate issued by Hawaii authorities after conservative critics and pundits fanned rumors that he was not American born.
The version released by the White House on Wednesday was a copy of a long-form, original document made at the time of his birth and kept since in official records in Obama's native state. The document lists Obama's birthplace and birthdate as "Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii" on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 pm.
Warmists and their disciples have long told us that the population of Antactic krill has DECREASED drastically in recent decades due to global warming (See e.g. here, here, here and here). So what conclusions do we draw from the recent report excerpted below?
With the "flexibility" that Warmists are renowned for, the authors below now say that an INCREASE in Krill proves global warming. We are apparently supposed to forget that they said the opposite for many years. Conclusion: We are listening to psychopaths, not scientists
Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region.
The Duke University-led team tracked the super-aggregation of krill and whales during a six-week expedition to Wilhelmina Bay and surrounding waters in May 2009. They published their findings today (April 27) in the online science journal PLoS ONE.
"Such an incredibly dense aggregation of whales and krill has never been seen before in this area at this time of year," says Duke marine biologist Douglas Nowacek.
Antarctic krill are shrimp-like creatures that feed primarily on phytoplankton and live in large swarms in the Southern Ocean. Penguins, seals, seabirds and many whale species rely on the protein-rich, pinky-sized crustaceans as a source of food. Commercial fisheries are allowed to harvest up to 3 ½ tons of the krill a year as food for farm-raised salmon and for oil, rich in omega-3 acids, which is used in human dietary supplements.
Romm has posted the following combination of temperature history and guesswork. Note that it clearly shows a DECLINING temperature since the Medieval Warm Period. And the top temperature of the year 2000 is in fact LOWER than the year 1000.
The guesswork can of course be disregarded -- not only because it is guesswork but also because it is unlike anything else in the temperature record. And the flattening out of global temperatures since the year 2000 is well-known anyway.
Is Romm trying to leave the Dark Side? Or is he just stupid?
C of E used to stand for Church of England. My late father was not a churchgoer but I remember him putting himself down -- with some satisfaction -- on forms as "C of E". These days it seems to stand for the Church of the Environment. If I were religious, I would describe it as the Devil's mockery of Christianity.
What the Bible says: "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127)
THE baby bonus should be scrapped to rein in rampant population growth, the Anglican Church said yesterday. The church's key advisory group wants the Gillard Government to get rid of incentives that increase the birth rate and also called for a cut to immigration.
In a submission to a federal population inquiry, the General Synod's public affairs commission described population growth as a taboo subject and the "elephant in the room". The commission wanted a halt to "any policy that provides an incentive to increase population, notably the baby bonus".
A church spokesman said yesterday that a recent resolution by the general synod had asked the Government to carefully consider any such incentive, "while continuing to support low-income families and sustainable immigration". It has called for increases to paid parental leave.
The resolution also called on the Government to "avoid any reliance on continuing population growth to maintain economic growth".
The $5294 baby bonus is paid to families who earn $75,000 or less for the six months after the child's birth. Last year, there were 278,000 payments nationally.
Australian Family Association spokeswoman Terri Kelleher said it would be unjust. "Our fertility rate is under replacement level, I don't think families should be discouraged," she said.
The church said the migrant intake should be cut while being more generous to refugees and family reunion applicants: "The question must be asked whether our population growth is fair to future generations of Australians. "The growing congestion of cities, destined to become worse, means time lost in commuting, more polluted suburbs, denser housing."
The spokesman said, while the church wanted the Government to carefully consider population incentives, it was not questioning the baby bonus in particular. "The public affairs commission is an advisory body which does not carry the authority of the Anglican Church," he said.
But commission chairman and former Labor MP Professor John Langmore said a resolution based on the submission was passed by the general synod. "That clearly implies scepticism about the baby bonus," he said.
This is a rather silly study. Of course people who are not motivated to solve a puzzle will be unlikely to do so. And IQ tests are composed of puzzles. The only thing that is interesting is whether or not anything can be done to increase the scores of highly motivated people -- and there has been very little success at that
Scientists have shown that offering a financial reward for doing well can increase their score by up to 20 points on the scale where the average is 100 and Mensa membership is around 150.
The team at the University of Pennsylvania made the findings after setting out to prove [That alone makes their conclusions very dubious] that scores in the test were not just related to intelligence but also to motivation.
They looked at 46 previous studies of more than 2,000 children to see if monetary incentives had any bearing on the result. They found that on average a financial reward improved the score by 10 points but that higher values – above $10 (about £7) – could be rewarded with a 20 point increase. The size of the increase seemed to be proportional to the amount of reward offered.
A second study of 500 boys found that those who showed signs of boredom and lack of motivation – for example yawning or looking around during the test – scored lower test marks. [What a surprise!]
Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who led the study, said: "IQ scores may predict various outcomes in life, but in part for reasons that intelligence tests weren't designed for. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy-makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise as how hard people try could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself."
Whom do you trust? Study reveals our unconscious mind can have racist tendencies...no matter how liberal we are on surface
Banaji has been pushing this barrow for years. I have commented on her work previously -- but the latest report (below) does seem to be an advance in that the findings would seem to provide convergent validation for the rather dubious Implicit Association Test. The correlations reported suggest that the IAT measures what it purports to measure.
Banaji still seems to be naive about the implications of her work however. She seems to think that by "acknowledging" our unconscious biases, we can reduce them. If we look at the stereotyping research, however, that becomes unlikely. As I noted in my previous comments, stereotypes are rapidly formed protective generalizations based mostly on personal experience -- and what Banaji has shown is that whites have negative stereotypes about blacks. Given the high rate of violent crime among blacks it would be surprising if it were otherwise. Whites are right to be wary of blacks
If you were shown a picture of a black person and a white person and asked 'who do you trust more,' your actual answer may be very different from the one in your unconscious mind, a study has revealed.
Researchers found that deciding who we trust - especially with our money - may be influenced more by subconscious racial biases that many of us would be horrified to admit.
'We strive as a culture to not let race bias be a significant factor in the way we choose to do things and on an individual level, we all assume that our beliefs reflect our actions, but we have to be aware of the fact that this won't always be the case,' Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist at New York University and co-author of the study, told ABC News.
Researchers measured implied and expressed racial bias among 50 racially diverse participants using an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and questionnaires. They then asked participants to rate the 'trustworthiness' of nearly 300 faces of people from many races (although the scores for blacks and whites were used in the analysis).
Participants then played a trust-based economic reward game. Overall, if they showed an unconscious bias toward white people, they were more likely to say they trust whites more when asked - and more likely to risk more money. The same bias showed up in the minority of participants that showed a bias towards black people.
'Despite study after study showing that implicit bias exists, it's still something that a lot of people don't internalise within their own lives and behaviour,' Leslie Hausmann, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, told ABC. 'There's a reluctance to admit that in our day-to-day lives, we have this and it matters,' she added.
Although researchers said the study was not 'overwhelming evidence for racism' when they measured this kind of subconscious prejudice in doctors treating minorities, the doctors were shocked to discover their unconscious bias affected what medications they prescribed to different races.
'Humans have always struggled with this: am I leading my daily life in such a way that my behaviour lines up with the values I have?' said Mahzarin Banaji, a co-author and psychologist at Harvard University. 'Acknowledging this bias is part of bringing our behaviour in line with intentions.'
"The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter was written in the 60s as a rather imaginative denunciation of the American far-Right. It was misleading when written but now seem amazingly prophetic -- about Warmists. It would seem that Hofstadter was "projecting", as Leftists often do -- seeing his own thinking and motivations in others
A colleague reminds me of this 1964 essay in Harper's by historian Richard Hofstadter, which I recall having encountered in grad school. The essay was recently invoked by The Weekly Standard and according to Wikipedia, is frequently used in contemporary debates. Perhaps too frequently.
Even so, this excerpt reminded me of a style of argumentation that has become disturbingly prominent in contemporary climate debates:
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse. (“Time is running out,” said Welch in 1951. “Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.”)
As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.
The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced. The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will. Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he has unlimited funds . . .
Whether in Africa, America, Jamaica, Haiti or in Britain, Africans are characterized by stratospheric rates of violent crime. In recent years, Australia has taken in refugees from Somalia and Sudan -- to a total of about 40,000 people. Very surprisingly, a police chief (Nixon) from the State of Victoria proclaimed a little while ago that the crime rate among Africans in her jurisdiction was unexceptional. Subsequent information suggests that she was lying.
When the police lie, however, how are we to know what is the case? We cannot. But the following list of incidents compiled by Andrew Bolt suggests that Africans in Australia are no different from Africans elsewhere. Remember that these incidents come from a very small community of only 40,000 people and that police rarely mention race where Africans are involved. Usually, it is only when the crime cases come to court that we get information that identifies the criminal as African
From Melbourne yesterday: "Two policemen were pelted with bottles when they went to break up the latest brawl at Braybrook ... Police were investigating whether the incident was related to a brawl the night before at a 'kickback party' for the Miss South Sudan Australia beauty pageant."
Darwin last weekend: "Two teenage boys were wounded with a machete while a third was beaten unconscious ... The attackers were described as being of African appearance."
Toongabbie, April 18: "An elderly motorist escaped unharmed after his moving vehicle was pelted with rocks ... The driver reported seeing three males aged 13 to 14 of African appearance."
Adelaide, April 15: "A Marden woman has been indecently assaulted ... Police described the suspect as of African appearance."
Adelaide, April 15: "Detectives ... are investigating a sexual assault that is alleged to have occurred in a toilet of a city nightclub ... by a male ... of African appearance."
Shepparton, April 15: "Three armed men terrorised two staff members in a brazen attack at a fast food restaurant ... Police are looking for three men ... of African appearance."
Melbourne, April 13: "A man was stabbed in the head during an altercation with two other men ... believed to be of African appearance."
Dandenong, April 11: "Two men ... were approached by four males, one of whom struck the 25 year old man across the head with a baseball bat ... The man armed with the baseball bat is of African appearance."
Melbourne, April 10: "Police said a group of 15 men ... was walking home from a party ... (A) second group ... set upon the party-goers leaving two men with serious stab wounds ... The aggressors were of African appearance."
Melbourne, April 6: "A 24-year-old man was ... stabbed him in the shoulder with a knife ... His attacker is ... of African appearance."
Canberra, April 2: "A 19-year-old man (was) stabbed in the abdomen ... The offender (took) the victim's mobile phone. The offender is described as being African in appearance."
Another brawl involving Sudanese community erupts in Melbourne
A THIRD brawl in as many nights involving the Sudanese community has left at least two people injured. The pair was reportedly hit with a bottle during the clash in the car park of Daisey's Hotel, Ringwood, about 10.30pm last night.
A spokesman for ALH group, which owns and operates Daisey's Hotel, David Curry said the men had not been at the venue before the stoush. He said the hotel would assist police with their investigation in anyway it could.
Police were called after reports of a large group of Sudanese men fighting. It's believed up to 30 men could have been involved in the brawl, which saw two people suffer head and leg injuries.
Paramedics were also called to the scene and treated two people. It's believed one man, 19, was bashed twice. He initially refused treatment from paramedics after the initial brawl. It's believed he was assaulted a second time in a nearby park and became unconscious. Paramedics arrived to find him conscious. The man, who suffered bruising to his face and a leg injury, was taken to Maroondah Hospital in a stable condition. A second man, 20, was also taken to hospital with a cut to the head.
Some of the men involved in the brawl were from interstate. It's believed they had been in Victoria for the Miss South Sudan Australia beauty pageant last weekend.
The latest incident comes after a man was stabbed and others injured at a "kickback party" for the beauty pageant in the early hours of Monday morning.
Then yesterday a policeman was hit in the face with a stubby and another punched when an unruly mob descended on them in Melbourne's west.
I would normally put up the piece below on my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog but I think the story here is the NYT rather than immigration. It is of course zero suprise that an NYT article would make Dr. Goebbels proud but the article would seem to require some reply nonetheless. That reply has been provided by Jerry Kammer of CIS, one of the organizations smeared by the NYT. I put up a slightly abridged version of that reply below.
The main point to note is that Jason DeParle, the NYT journalist concerned, could find so little to pin on the anti-illegal crowd that he concentrated his spleen on just one man -- a Greenie! Greenies don't like people of any kind much and John Tanton appears to have been no exception. So he did make some fairly contentious utterances in his latter years.
It is of course true that Tanton was influential in founding several anti-immigration groups but he is now elderly, ill and not giving interviews so he is quite irrelevant to the present-day anti-illegal movement.
Jerry Kammer picks up the story, pointing out that there are many "Tantons" (unbalanced voices) on the other side of the debate too -- and that the other side is where the hate is to be found in the immigration debate of today:
The take-home message is that the three major organizations that seek to reduce immigration--the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies--are tainted by their association with nativist John Tanton.
DeParle describes Tanton's mounting frustration with the failure of 1986 immigration reform legislation. Congressional sponsors had touted the Immigration Reform and Control Act as a compromise that would impose order on the immigration chaos by combining amnesty for illegal immigrants with firm measures to stop future waves. It made the hiring of unauthorized workers a crime.
But, as DeParle notes, "the penalties proved ineffective and the amnesty was marred by fraud."
His story spills pools of ink detailing Tanton statements--most of them decades old--that demonstrate a shrill and tone-deaf dismay at the effects of uninterrupted mass immigration. Some are unfortunate. Some are disgraceful.
DeParle quotes a CIS report that criticized Tanton's "tin ear for the sensitivities of immigration." The report's next sentence, which DeParle does not quote, laments Tanton's "tendency to be unnecessarily provocative, a tendency that some have seized upon to change the topic from immigration to Tanton himself."
Therein lies the fundamental, journalistically fatal flaw of DeParle's story. His focus is so constricted that he produces a lopsided examination of extremism in the immigration debate.
It is one thing for DeParle to highlight Tanton's politically poisonous indiscretions. Tanton, who did more than anyone else to establish the modern movement to restrict immigration, has indeed done more than anyone else to undermine that movement.
But it is quite another thing for DeParle to fail to broaden his field of vision to observe the politically poisonous evolution on the other side of the immigration policy divide. DeParle's story is willfully blind.
Over the past several years, advocates of illegal immigration and ethnic organizations like the National Council of La Raza have taken as their battle cry the Southern Poverty Law Center's kangaroo-court, made-to-order 2007 designation of FAIR as a "hate group."
We at CIS issued a report that exposed the SPLC's multi-layered fraud and the "stop the hate" campaign it spawned. It is a vehement campaign of smear and character assassination directed against FAIR, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies.
As our report noted, the campaign sought to have all three organizations "shunned by the press, civil society, and elected officials. It is an effort to destroy the reputations of its targets. It also seeks to intimidate and coerce others into silence. It undermines basic principles of civil society and democratic discussion."
But who is DeParle's go-to guy for his only quote about the campaign? It's the campaign's principal spokesman, Frank Sharry.
Sharry's organization, America's Voice, is funded with millions of dollars from the Carnegie Corporation, the liberal, New York-based philanthropic foundation that righteously--and in this case ironically--touts its mission to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding."
During DeParle's visit to the CIS office, I provided him with our report. We spoke about it at length. It describes the Carnegie network and its own brand of extremism, which grew out of frustration at the 2007 collapse of "comprehensive" reform legislation.
In addition to America's Voice, the Carnegie funded participants include the Center for American Progress, Center for New Community, Center for Community Change, and the National Council of La Raza.
Last Saturday, in an email notifying me that the story was about to run, DeParle wrote this: "I used the Carnegie stuff, but it got cut. Maybe I can come back to it."
I think I can expect to see the Times' report on the Carnegie network about the time I see Porky Pig flying down Pennsylvania Avenue.
No reporter should allow his byline to sit atop a 2,900 word story about a highly controversial topic if that story has no room for an essential element of balance. Not when the void results in a story that is egregiously one-sided and indifferent to ongoing excesses. Not when those excesses are at least as poisonous to the national immigration debate as 20-year-old quotes from a 77-year-old man who has Parkinson's disease and is quietly fading from the scene.
Here are three more criticisms of the Times' story:
1) Shabby treatment of Roy Beck
DeParle feigns fair treatment by giving Beck the chance to deny that he's racist. He should have gone to the ample record that establishes his integrity. For example, in 1996 Francis Fukuyama observed that Beck had presented his restrictionist case "in a way that fosters serious debate rather than name-calling." He also wrote that Beck's arguments "are presented carefully and dispassionately and deserve serious answers." Fukuyama wrote that for the New York Times. I can't imagine that a Times staffer would dare such heresy.
2) Fudging the Record on Barbara Jordan
DeParle notes that Beck's website includes a picture of Barbara Jordan. He identifies Jordan only as "a black civil rights leader and politician that (Beck) considered an ally." He fails to include the relevant contextual information that would illustrate the progressivism underlying Beck's concerns. In the 1990s, when Jordan directed a presidential commission on immigration policy, Jordan did not see immigration as such an undiluted blessing that only a bigoted, nativist fringe would want to restrict it. Indeed, she believed that immigration must be restricted in order to provide the civic and economic space for it to be successful. Said Jordan, "If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no where we must."
3) Fact-Free Zone
The story is stuffed with innuendo and thick with suggestions of bigotry on the part of anyone connected to any of the organizations that has ever been connected to Tanton. DeParle makes a quick pass at objectivity, acknowledging that there are "serious liberal arguments for lower immigration." Yet, he provides none of the easily available and plentiful evidence for that fact. He could easily have noted that legal immigration has steadily expanded since the 1970s, when an average of 449,000 immigrants were admitted into the country each year, to the just-completed decade, when the annual average was nearly one million.
Exegesis is the detailed examination of a text in its context -- usually a scriptural text. I became an exegete of a sort when I was about 13. It was then that I first read the Sermon on the Mount. I was thunderstruck to find that what Jesus taught was nothing like what Christians actually do. Where is the ambiguity in:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."
Can you get plainer than that? I can't imagine it. And I am still nearly as thunderstruck to this day about the gap between what the Bible says on the one hand and what Christians and Jews do, say and believe on the other hand. One would think that they would long ago have found a book that suited them better.
I still like Christianity as we have it today, however. I attended the Good Friday service at my old Presbyeterian church, for instance. See here. But it is a very poor reflection of the original faith.
I have continued to find exegesis fascinating, however, so I long ago started looking closely at what the rest of the scriptures actually say -- even delving into the original languages in which they were written where that seemed crucial. And over the years I have put up on this blog and on my scripture blog my findings about key doctrines -- including hellfire.
Rather to my amusement, however, I see that the NYT has just weighed in on hellfire. When the NYT is preaching the reality of hell, I feel that I should say a little more about some of the key scriptural texts involved.
Quick background: The word translated as "hell" in many Bibles is in the original Greek "hades", which simply means death or the grave. Translating it as "hell" is a theological statement, not a linguistic one. And knowing that wipes out most of the texts that are usually cited in support of the hellfire doctrine.
A couple of interesting texts remain, however, and today I thought I should look at one of Jesus's prophetic utterances in Matthew 25. An excerpt:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"
The "everlasting fire" into which the "goats" are cast certainly does sound like a clear formulation of a hellfire doctrine but that impression is partly an effect of a poor translation. The word translated as "punishment" is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a defensible translation to say that the goats would be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree
So, when properly translated, we see that Christ was, as usual, offering the alternatives of life and death, not heaven and hell -- exactly as he does in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal death. I guess I am a goat!
But where does the "everlasting fire" come in? To see that we have to note that Jesus was speaking figuratively for most of the passage, as he often did. His parables are famous. So is he really going to sit on a throne and muster billions of people on either side of him? If so, he would need to locate himself somewhere around Iran and even then the billions of goats would be crowded for room and many could well fall into the Mediterranean (presuming the throne was facing North).
And Jesus in fact makes it clear that he is aiming at vividness rather than precision when he notes: "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats".
So we have to decipher what is behind the figurative language. We get a clue when we note another passage where he used the same expression. Matthew 18:
"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."
Again, however, we risk being misled by a quite mendacious translation. This is one occasion when the original Greek underlying the translation "hell" is NOT "hades". It is "Gehenna". And Gehenna was simply the municipal incinerator outside Jerusalem where the bodies of criminals were thrown.
So: Bingo! We now have it. We know what image of everlasting fire Jesus had in mind. He had in mind the continuously burning fire of Jerusalem's garbage incinerator. And, needless to say, the bodies thrown into Gehenna don't feel anything. They have simply died and been disposed of in an ignominious way. So both goats and the Devil are simply going to die -- but die in disgrace.
Jesus is however a careful teacher so makes sure we don't get him wrong by adding a plain language summary at the end of the Matthew 25 passage:
"And these shall go away into everlasting cutting off: but the righteous into everlasting life"
So the hellfire doctrine is another pagan borrowing. It is not Biblical.
A couple more points: Note that in the Matthew 25 passage Jesus speaks only of judging the "nations". There is no mention of the dead. So what about the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of them? Resurrection is the hope of an afterlife that is held out in both the Old and New Testaments but it is not mentioned there at all. That again tells us that Jesus was concerned to paint a vivid mental picture rather than make a precise doctrinal statement.
So, although the Bible is in general a very plainspoken book, we have to make sure that the translation is right and be careful not to take the figurative literally. And reading the whole passage is the usual key to that
Finally, the goats are on the LEFT! Did Jesus foresee the world today? (Just joking).
There is an interesting article here which describes some of the divisions in contemporary Christian thought about the nature of heaven and hell.
"Glencore’s new chairman has been widely condemned for making “unacceptable” and “deplorable” sexist remarks, raising further corporate governance concerns ahead of the commodity trader’s planned $60bn (£37bn) stock market debut.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, Lord Davies and Centrica chairman Sir Roger Carr described Simon Murray’s comments as “ill-judged” and “highly disappointing” – putting pressure on the 71-year-old former banker to step down from the role just 10 days after his appointment.
The furore follows Mr Murray’s comments, made to The Sunday Telegraph, suggesting women's capacity in the workplace was limited because “pregnant ladies have nine months off”, women “have a tendency not to be so involved quite often” and are not “so ambitious in business”.
Long live the whooping crane and the piping plover!
A couple of major players in wind energy are tangling over the cancellation of a big project in North Dakota. Xcel Energy is pulling out of the wind farm, a step its partner, enXco said it will challenge.
The $400 million, 150-megawatt Merricourt Wind Project is supposed to be built this year in southeast North Dakota, but construction is in doubt now, after Xcel Energy announced that it's rescinded its agreement to be part of the project.
Xcel's only comments have been a prepared statement and a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the SEC filing, it said a major factor in the decision to pullout was the "adverse impact this project could have on endangered or threatened species." Jeff Towner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said there are two species in question -- "[t]he endangered whooping crane and the threatened piping plover."
Towner recommended in the summer of 2009 that the wind farm address the threat posed to the two bird species. Towner says he told the onsite developer, enXco, to request a federal permit for the project. If the permit were granted, it would allow a certain level of bird kill or injury of the rare species at the Merricourt Wind Project. "I was hopeful that they would follow through," said Towner.
The federal regulatory process can take months, sometimes more than a year. But Towner didn't see anything until last week. That's when enXco filed a draft plan on how the company would lessen the threat to birds at the wind farm. Towner says the company has indicated it is also working on the permit request, but so far nothing has been filed.
enXco said in a news release that it is still working on the bird questions, but refused MPR's request for an interview.
For its part, Xcel Energy hinted that it's not happy with its partner's handling of the federal bird issue. In the SEC filing, the company says there exists "uncertainty in the cost and timing in mitigating" the wind farm's impact on the two rare species. That impact could be expensive.
Towner said the owners of the wind farm could face up to a year in jail or a $200,000 fine if either the whooping crane or plover were injured or killed at the wind farm without federal approvals in place. "Any company needs to be diligent that that does not occur as part of their project construction or operations," said Towner.
The troubled project has provoked a lot of reaction. The American Bird Conservancy praised Xcel Energy's pullout. The group cited government estimates that almost half a million birds die each year through collisions with wind towers.
In North Dakota, though, wind energy supporters are unhappy. A member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission says he's going to ask enXco and Xcel Energy to explain what's going on.
I have known quite a few old diggers in my day and I am pretty sure what most of them would say if asked whether they fought so that homosexuality would be promoted as normal. The reply would be cutting, very cutting
THE head of the Australian Christian Lobby says outrage over a claim that Australian soldiers didn't fight for gay marriage is down to "misinterpretation".
Earlier today ACL managing director Jim Wallace said on Twitter: "Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for — wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!" The comment sparked widespread condemnation from other Twitter users, who said Mr Wallace should be "ashamed".
This afternoon Mr Wallace apologised "unreservedly" for having made the comment on Anzac Day and said the comment had been misinterpreted. "There is no way I was trying to infer that our veterans didn't fight for all Australians. Of course they did," Mr Wallace told news.com.au. "I spent 32 years in the army myself, I'm imbued with that. "I'm the last person to (want to) demean Anzac Day or our veterans."
However Mr Wallace stood by his belief that the "nature" of the country that veterans had fought for was changing. "I was simply there with my father, a 96-year-old veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay," Mr Wallace said. "And he was lamenting, as he had in the past, that he found it difficult to identify the Australia that he fought for. "I think that the nature of our society that our soldiers fought for was based on Judeo-Christian heritage."
Mr Wallace said he cited gay marriage and Islam as they were "two things that, in the future, are certainly going to define the nature of our society".
The ACL boss admitted his comment was ill-timed, but said he had not expected it to spark such widespread outrage. "It's the first time I've experienced that," he said of the potential for controversial comments to be shared quickly via Twitter. "I apologise for the fact that it was ill-timed. I had no intention and no thought that it would go into this."
Mr Wallace this afternoon deleted the original comment from his Twitter page.
To some Stanford students it is. A conservative group organized a talk at Stanford on the subject. Leftist students hated it:
"It’s upsetting that they were given SAL [Student Activities and Leadership] status,” said Dan Thompson’13.
“Optimally, everybody should be allowed to be a student group, but SAL curates and since they do, it’s very upsetting that a homophobic, anti-women, misogynistic group is given status when others are not,” he said.
Thompson also worried that the group’s polarization of the dialogue will detract from other issues. “These guys are going to be labeled the anti-gay marriage group when, in reality, they’re an extremist group and it’s going to distract from real homophobia on campus,” he said.
Nathaniel Williams ’13 characterized the event as a “hate fest.”
“I’m virtually speechless,” Williams said. “Never have I seen or participated in or heard of hosting an academic speaker who came across as so broadly ignorant, offensive.”
“The preview in the Stanford Review sort of posed it as a discussion about same sex marriage, but in actually it turned out to be more of a anti-abortion, anti-same sex adoption, anti-women, anti-good government, hate fest,” he said.
There is no way that the talk concerned was hate speech but there was plenty of hate speech about it from the Left
This is a very worrying proposal. Statins have severe side-effects. Damage to the unborn would be a real possibility. And since some of the side-effects are mental, the damage might not be immediately obvious. This could make thalidomide look like a picnic in comparison
Scientists believe that statins, taken by millions of older Britons to reduce their cholesterol levels, can help reduce the severity of pre-eclampsia.
If the world’s first full clinical trial is successful, it could provide the first simple and effective treatment of a complication that affects 70,000 pregnancies a year in Britain, killing up to 10 women and 1,000 unborn babies.
Prof Asif Ahmed, who is leading the study at the University of Edinburgh, said: “If we are successful, and I am very optimistic that we will be, this treatment will transform clinical management of women with pre-eclampsia. “This is the first stage but I am sure that within the next five to seven years, the type of statin used in the trial will be on the prescription pad. “It will be a great breakthrough not only for mothers and babies in our country but also in the developing world where there is a chronic need for cheaper therapies.”
Pre-eclampsia leads to high blood pressure in pregnancy and in severe cases can lead to the woman suffering kidney and liver damage or their unborn baby being stillborn.
About one in 100 expectant mothers in Britain suffers from a particularly dangerous early-onset form, for which the only treatment is delivering their babies prematurely. But research has suggested that two proteins linked to inducing the condition can be controlled through the use of statins.
The new trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, will involve 128 pregnant women who have been diagnosed with early-onset pre-eclampsia. Those given statins will be monitored to see if the drugs lower their levels of one of the proteins, known as soluble flt-1. This would likely make their condition less severe and so reduce the need for their babies to be delivered early.
Despite researchers’ confidence that the trial will lead to a breakthrough in clinical management of pre-eclampsia, they stress that pregnant women should not yet start asking doctors to prescribe them statins.
Maybe it does but it fluctuates wildly from year to year -- like the natural phenomenon it is -- so making any predictions from it would be ambitious.
The sudden emergence of an ARCTIC hole mentioned below is amusing. Stick that in your chlorofluorocarbons
Climate policymakers and scientists need to look beyond global warming emissions of carbon dioxide and take the loss of stratospheric ozone into account, researchers said on Thursday.
The stratospheric ozone layer, which shields Earth from solar ultra-violet radiation, has thinned over the South Pole over the last half-century.
This depletion of ozone has shifted the Southern Hemisphere's climate so that dry areas in the subtropics now see about 10 percent more precipitation in summer than they used to, scientists reported in the journal Science.
"Ozone is now widely believed to be the dominant agent of climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, so this actually means that the international agreements regulating climate change cannot be confined to dealing with carbon dioxide," said the study's lead author, Sarah Kang of Columbia University. "They also need to consider ozone," Kang said by telephone.
Carbon dioxide emissions from natural and human-made sources, notably the burning of fossil fuels, is the most frequently cited target of policymakers aiming to curb climate change caused by humans.
However, the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere due largely to commercial and industrial use of chemicals containing chlorofluorocarbons has a powerful impact on large swaths of the Southern Hemisphere, the researchers found.
WINDS SHIFT TOWARD SOUTH POLE
The stratospheric ozone layer typically absorbs ultra-violet radiation, warming the air below. With the opening of the ozone hole over the South Pole due to chlorofluorocarbon pollution, there was severe cooling instead of warming, which eventually caused a southern shift in the winds that whip from west to east around Antarctica.
As this band of winds moved toward the pole, a corresponding dry belt in the subtropics also moved southward, the researchers showed. This left room nearer the equator for a band of increased summer precipitation.
Most of this change is driven by the ozone hole, with a smaller contribution from increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the study found.
Earlier this month, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization reported record loss of the protective ozone layer over the Arctic, which unlike that in the Antarctic, is not an annual occurrence.
The 40 percent loss of ozone over the Arctic came despite the "very successful" 1987 Montreal Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals including chlorofluorocarbons and halons, WMO said on April 5.
The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, but have been phased out. However, they can linger for decades in the atmosphere, so it will take several decades more before their concentrations drop to pre-1980 levels, WMO said.
For many Australians this is the holiest day of the year. In recognition, I am going to put up just one long story from Australia today, a story well worth reading, however. It is about an heroic Australian and his experiences in Afghanistan. Unlike the Arabs, Afghans are real fighters so hard-fought actions are the rule there
For a video report of the actual Anzac day ceremonies in Sydney, see here for a commentary in a very broad Australian accent (You can click "Close" to stop the introductory commercial)
Even heroes have their heroes. For Victoria Cross holder Ben Roberts-Smith, the benchmark for valour was set by his mate Sergeant Locke.
The Special Air Service Regiment corporal says Locke's courage probably saved his life and stopped a heavily outnumbered Australian patrol being overrun on a mountain top in Afghanistan late one afternoon in 2006.
"He was a very, very brave person, Matt, in every sense of the word," Roberts-Smith says. "He was one of these guys who would stand up in the middle of a firefight in front of a wave of fire and just hook in."
Roberts-Smith's extraordinary tales from Afghanistan, revealed to The Weekend Australian, have opened a rare window into the exploits of our special forces.
They also provide a vivid portrayal of violence and heroism in the war zone for this year's commemorations of Anzac Day, which normally evokes battles fought long ago and immortalised in sepia images and jerky film.
When Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross of Australia for his extraordinary charge into a Taliban machine-gun position in June last year, it brought an unexpected burden: the weight of suddenly being a very public hero while his unit fights on with unsung gallantry.
"They're out there every day doing their job and not seeking any recognition for it," Roberts-Smith says. "I'm just one of these guys and I'm so not special."
This guy was a bit player. He only murdered one person. Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot murdered millions. But the lack of respect for other people is the common theme
Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the "composted" body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.
A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and '70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself "Unicorn" because his German-Jewish last name translates to "one horn" —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day.
But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen "Holly" Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn't come back to pick them up.
And so on Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux went back to the apartment that she and Einhorn had shared in Philadelphia to collect her things, and was never seen again. When Philadelphia police questioned Einhorn about her mysterious disappearance several weeks later, he claimed that she had gone out to the neighborhood co-op to buy some tofu and sprouts and never returned.
It wasn't until 18 months later that investigators searched Einhorn's apartment after one of his neighbors complained that a reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was leaking from the ceiling directly below Einhorn's bedroom closet. Inside the closet, police found Maddux's beaten and partially mummified body stuffed into a trunk that had also been packed with Styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers.
After his arrest, Einhorn jumped bail and spent decades evading authorities by hiding out in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and France. After 23 years, he was finally extradited to the United States from France and put on trial. Taking the stand in his own defense, Einhorn claimed that his ex-girlfriend had been killed by CIA agents who framed him for the crime because he knew too much about the agency's paranormal military research. He was convicted of murdering Maddux and is currently serving a life sentence.
Although Einhorn was only the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day event, he maintains that Earth Day was his idea and that he's responsible for launching it. Understandably, Earth Day's organizers have distanced themselves from his name, citing Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist and former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator who died in 2005, as Earth Day's official founder and organizer.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sen. Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in the spring of 1970 as a way to bring national awareness to the fact that, at the time, there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms in place to protect the environment. About 20 million participants at various Earth Day events across the U.S. made Earth Day a success, and in December of 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues — the EPA.
This is excellent. It gives publicity to the fact that illegals are often not granted residency and are locked up for long periods. It is the publicity from just such riots that put a stop to illegals coming during the term of the previous conservative government
Three protesters remain on the roof of Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, as detainees stage a sit-in and go on a hunger strike at Western Australia's Curtin facility. Two of the trio at Villawood have been on the roof since Wednesday morning, the same day a riot involving up to 100 detainees broke out leaving nine buildings gutted by fire.
Twenty-two of those protesters were transferred to Silverwater Correctional Centre, where they were questioned by Australian Federal Police.
On Sunday morning, three detainees were still on the detention centre's roof, protesting against the rejection of their asylum applications.
"They are being negotiated with. Currently, the Australian Federal Police are in charge of the negotiations," a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokeswoman told AAP on Sunday morning. "They have asked to speak to department staff. We are prepared to meet them, if they come down from the roof."
Meanwhile, Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud has complained of mistreatment by police. Well known for speaking out on behalf of refugees and detainees, Mr Daoud said he was handcuffed and forced to kneel after an argument with police on Saturday afternoon at the centre.
He said he was taken to Bankstown police station and later released with a $350 fine. "The police officers were acting with deep hate, disregard to basic civil rights," he alleged.
In Western Australia, refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said a hunger strike and sit-in involving around 300 detainees at Curtin Airbase detention centre, in the state's remote West Kimberley region, was expected to escalate. Their protest over visitors being prevented from going to the centre over the Easter weekend began on Saturday morning, Mr Rintoul said.
"The asylum seekers are asking that they be allowed to see refugee supporters, who have travelled from Perth and cities to see them over the Easter weekend," Mr Rintoul said in a statement on Sunday. "Serco (the centre's management company) have insisted that only one-on-one visits will be allowed, an arrangement that will only allow about 50 asylum seekers to see a visitor."
Full details of the battle here. The action was much more complex than the one fought by Leonidas and his Spartans but the spirit was as dauntless and the odds also great.
And, unlike Thermopylae, the enemy was stopped. The Chinese were numerous, well led, well-trained and even had the advantage of surprise -- but were not prepared for the doggedness of Anglo-Saxon troops
JULIA Gillard has credited Korean war veterans with laying the foundations of the modern Australian army at a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong.
Surrounded by towering mountains in a rugged landscape where Australians foiled the Chinese army's final assault on the South Korean capital of Seoul in April, 1951, the Prime Minister said too few Australians knew the history of the battle.
Watched by surviving veterans and their families on the first day of a three-day visit to South Korea, Ms Gillard said the men had been worthy inheritors of the Gallipoli legacy.
"You, the men of Kapyong, know your story," Ms Gillard said. "I believe it is time more Australians did."
The battle began on April 23 as Australian troops form the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian regiment were preparing to celebrate Anzac Day with a nearby brigade of Turkish soldiers also fighting to protect South Korea from the communist north.
But their preparations, including collecting wild azaleas to make Anzac wreaths, had to be put on hold as the Chinese launched their spring offensive, with more than 300,000 troops pouring through the Kapyong Valley in a bid to take the Korean capital. "It was the final attempt to take Seoul," the Prime Minister said.
"That night the defining night for the Australians in the Korean Way began. Kapyong - the great fighting withdrawal - the battle that stopped a breakthrough. "That night you fought them. In the dark, radios failing, telephone lines cut, outnumbered."
She said the men had come to Korea carrying the Gallipoli legacy of "mateship, courage, teamwork and initiative". "You were more than worthy of the tradition you inherited," she said. "You have added to it for the heirs you have today.
"You came here as the sons of ANZAC, you left here as the fathers of our professional army. "And on operations in Afghanistan or East Timor, in training overseas, the modern Australian Army is still Kapyong's child."
The ceremony had a commonwealth feel with Australian, New Zealand and Canadian servicemen on hand to welcome the veterans and a British Army band providing the music.
They remembered the 32 Australians who died in the battle as their South Koreans hosts bowed their heads amid the flapping of brightly coloured banners declaring "Korea will always remember your sacrifice."
More than 17,000 Australians served in the Korean War, which cost 340 Australian lives.
Pittsburgh Tribune Review columnist Eric Heyl opined yesterday that the NRA will fail to attract new women shooters. According to Heyl, women are more interested in fashion than firearms, and firearms are not fashionable. Here’s some of Heyl’s comments:
“Spending several hundred dollars on a serviceable handgun might leave them without enough money to get the full treatment at that next visit to the day spa.”
“Carrying a gun in a small purse would leave less room for more important items, such as lipstick or compact.” “Gunpowder residue might stain the new Karen Scott blouse they just bought at Macy’s.”
Apparently, Heyl believes the little ladies simply can’t handle worrying their pretty little heads about icky topics as rape and self-defense. Or maybe, like many chauvinists, he feels threatened by the prospect of self-reliant women who don’t need protection by an insecure man, and who can provide the ultimate “NO” to unwanted advances by lizards operating under the delusion they are God’s gift to women?
The National Organization of Women issued no membership alerts to boycott the Tribune-Review. Curiously, there’s lots of copy on Rush Limbaugh, where they catalogue his “sexist offenses”.
Do you want to get in touch with your inner pig, but don’t want to face consequences? Get a job in liberal media first.
At 35 percent, America's corporate tax rates are among the world's highest -- but such rates may well collect the least
General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, paid no federal taxes in 2010. The profitable company, which shaved 20 percent of its U.S. work force in less than a decade, should inspire a hard look at corporate tax rates and how taxes are collected and avoided. Cash-strapped working Americans are paying GE's bill.
OUTRAGE and envy still ripple from a report in The New York Times that General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, paid no U.S. corporate taxes in 2010.
Zero. Zip. Nada. Indeed, the company, with $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion from Uncle Sam.
GE did not break the law, but the bill it successfully avoided was picked up by the rest of us, or put on the national credit card.
The top U.S. corporate rate is 35 percent, but virtually no one pays that. GE's tax rate is about a third of what other companies pay, and that the company is vulnerable to pay any taxes is hypothetical. GE would have to return profits to these shores from places it set up to avoid taxes.
Policymakers in Washington, D.C., need to reassess rates to bring them into line with the financial realities of the nation and basic equity. Set lower, unavoidable rates that do not complicate job creation, and have a statutory imperative to collect them. As it is now, the higher the rate, the more creative the credits, shelters and loopholes to avoid compliance.
GE has a team of 975 gilded tax-avoidance professionals in a department working to ensure that the rest of America picks up its tab. Oh, and that default jobs-creation rationale? The Times report also noted that since 2002, GE has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the U.S.
Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson, a veteran financial journalist, would cut corporate tax rates, not increase them, and make up the difference by increasing individual tax rates on corporate dividends and capital gains, which he sees as a giveaway to the rich.
U.S. corporate rates are chasing profits offshore, and the only jobs created are for tax lawyers. Set and collect realistic rates.
"A Lowell [Michigan] man is calling on Christians to boycott Midwest retailer Meijer to pressure Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to remove a decapitated bronze statue of Jesus Christ in a Jim Dine sculpture.
In addition to asking Christians to boycott Meijer's nearly 200 stores across five states, Wohlschied is also calling on Christians who volunteer at Meijer Gardens to stop donating their time to the non-profit organization until “profane art piece” is removed.
“If Meijer Gardens is going to continue with blasphemous sculptures, I recommend they exhibit a headless Mohammad sculpture. I am willing to say they wouldn't dare to do it,” Wohlschied said.
They're entitled to put up any art they like -- and other people are entitled to boycott them over it. It's a strange mindset that would want to alienate many of their customers, though.
It helps that he comes across as fair dinkum
TONY Abbott went west this week, talking tax and drinking beer with blue-and-yellow workshirt-wearing miners in Western Australia's Pilbara region. It was Abbott's new comfort zone, carved out in recent months at factory gates in Sydney and Melbourne.
When Abbott started courting workers as part of his relentless assault on the Government's carbon pricing "great big new tax on everything", he was mocked by trade union leaders.
The Australian Workers Union's national secretary Paul Howes said he'd be happy to go to the factory floor with Abbott, adding derisively that the Liberal leader was really visiting the bosses, not the workers.
A week ago Howes dropped what could be the death notice for the carbon tax plan by demanding a guarantee that "not one job" go under its implementation.
It's a demand the Government can't meet. Pricing carbon is about economic transformation and, as was the case with breaking down tariff walls 20 years ago, jobs must go, if only to make way for new ones or so the theory goes.
Abbott quickly welcomed Howes' support in his fight against the Government's carbon plan, using it as a rhetorical backdrop to his bar-room schmoozing with the iron ore crowd.
He also had a ready-made comeback for Howes and his "no job losses" demand on Gillard.
"I can guarantee that under the Coalition's climate change policy not a single job will be lost because we won't have a carbon tax," said Abbott.
The miners in the front bar were cheering.
To the minds of some Labor figures Howes' intervention was akin to senior NSW Right powerbroker John Della Bosca belling the GST cat (he said it wasn't such a bad tax) in an interview in late 2000 derailing federal Labor's campaign against John Howard's own big new tax.
There's a growing perception that senior Labor figures are underestimating Abbott, taking refuge in seemingly poor poll numbers for the Liberal leader to deflect from the correspondingly shocking Labor primary vote.
This week's Nielsen poll had Abbott on a net negative approval rating of minus 9 per cent and eight points behind Julia Gillard as preferred prime minister. Newspoll and Galaxy tell a similar story.
However, the voting intention numbers make these figures less relevant. A 16 per cent primary lead and a whopping 56-to-40 two-party preferred advantage means Abbott would become prime minister at a canter if an election was held this weekend.
Another reason to discount Abbott's relatively poor showing is that Gillard's approval is also in negative territory, albeit just over half that of the Opposition Leader.
Unpopular opposition leaders have a habit of becoming popular prime ministers or premiers, having been willing to take the knocks of carping attacks on government policies in return for voter support in the game that matters winning the election.
After Abbott addressed an anti-carbon tax rally outside Parliament House, standing in front of a few sexist, nasty anti-Gillard posters, Labor ministers were lining up to pronounce the Opposition Leader unelectable.
While it was at best poor staff work on Abbott's part to allow himself to be photographed with such offensive posters, it has had no impact on his standing with his personal ratings hardly moving.
"When I saw Abbott on TV with that `bitch' banner in the background, I knew he'd pay a high price," said one minister.
Another remarked that voters were not going to make someone who associated with "the mad right mob" prime minister of Australia.
These perceptions which are regarded as accepted wisdom among most senior Labor politicians reinforce the view formed after last year's election that the 2010 poll was Abbott's best chance.
"That was the speech of someone who knows he's never going to make it to the top," said one senior minister after hearing Abbott's response to Gillard's deal with the Independents to form her government.
Since then Abbott has continued to attack the Government without rest, travelling constantly and delivering the same lines time and again. Meanwhile, Labor's standing in the polls has slipped to historic lows.
Late last year Abbott went off for a very short break, declaring that he would use this year to broaden his political and policy agenda, moving on from his tireless oppositionist position.
Even some of Abbott's Coalition colleagues doubted he would change his spots, something that was given currency by the early renewed attacks on all things Labor.
But Abbott has been quietly rounding out an agenda, adopting one of Kevin Rudd's successful tricks from his 2007 campaign against Howard.
Then Rudd would anticipate Government action and announce Labor's policy on whatever upcoming policy Howard had in the works.
Abbott in recent weeks has stolen a march on Gillard twice, first on welfare to work and this week on mental health. It not only unsettles the Government, it devalues the eventual official announcement.
In his book Battlelines (also unrated by Labor), Abbott reflects approvingly on Howard's strategy of stealing voters from Labor's home turf, calling him "the great boundary buster" of Australian politics.
It's clear Abbott is trying to out-bust his hero - and he's having some marked success.