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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

The best tribute to the despicable and admirable Christopher Hitchens is to read, hear and inwardly digest his words.

This interview taped in 2002 for Uncommon Knowledge is brilliant. Two highly intelligent, eloquent men, with deep knowledge of history, talk about something that is still critically important.

In the war on terror, who are our enemies?

Why is the world silent on the constant terrorist attacks on Israel?

From the Chicago Tribune, by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Envoy to the UN:

Silence. Just silence from the U.N. Silence from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. And silence from major media outlets throughout the world.

Imagine for just a moment if this were happening to cities in, say, Texas. Imagine that the citizens of El Paso, Laredo and San Antonio have to stay inside their homes. Schools are closed, businesses are shut and people have to suspend their lives. Not because of some natural disaster or a nuclear or chemical accident, because groups in Mexico have purchased and are firing thousands of deadly missiles at Texans across the border. Sometimes a school is hit, sometimes a grocery store, and every so often someone is killed.

Imagine a similar occurrence in Seattle, Detroit or Cleveland — with rockets raining in from Canada.

Your reaction to this imagined scenario is, no doubt, incredulity. The very thought of terrorists in another country attacking Americans at random is ludicrous. You know the president would immediately order the U.S. military to respond, root out the terrorists and make sure that the Canadian or Mexican governments clearly understood that this behavior would not be tolerated. The United Nations Security Council would immediately condemn this infringement on a country’s sovereignty and the safety of its citizens. The U.N. charter makes a country’s self-defense as legal as it is logical. This is universally understood.

So if it is natural to be outraged and support the defense against terrorists who attack Texas, or England or Russia or China, why is it not natural to support the same for Israel? Since the beginning of October, more than 70 rockets and missiles have rained down on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, which remains under the control of the Hamas terrorist organization. Last week, Israel’s densely populated northern towns were hit by rockets fired from Lebanon.

Hamas deliberately fires rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities, which have exploded on playgrounds, near kindergarten classrooms and homes. Last month, a man was killed when a rocket struck his car on his evening commute home. Many more people have been injured. In the last month alone, more than a million Israelis had to stay home from work and more than 200,000 students were unable to attend school. You don’t read about this because if it’s covered at all, it’s buried in the back pages of newspapers.

Although these horrific attacks should appall good people everywhere, not one word of condemnation has come from the Security Council in the United Nations. Peace activists that regularly criticize my country are silent on this one as well.

Underlying the violence that continues to emanate from Gaza is a deeply rooted culture of incitement. Last month, would-be Palestinian suicide bomber Wafa al-Biss was released from prison as part of an exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Al-Biss offered a breathtaking challenge to cheering schoolchildren at her Hamas welcome-home rally. She said, “I hope you will walk the same path that we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.” Her crime? She tried to kill doctors, nurses and patients by blowing herself up in an Israeli hospital. Luckily, she failed to detonate.

These are the poisonous values that are being fed to the next generation of children in Gaza. When Israel looks at children, it sees the future. When Hamas looks at children, it sees suicide bombers and human shields. If only incitement were confined to Gaza. It also pervades the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — and many other corners of our region. In schools, mosques and media, generation after generation of children across the Middle East have been taught to hate, vilify and dehumanize Israelis and Jews.

The intolerance all too common in the Middle East finds its way around the world, even entering the halls of the U.N. Today the U.N. is home to a triple standard: one standard for democracies, a different standard for dictatorships and a special, unobtainable standard for Israel. So I pose this ethical question, not from a philosophy course at a great university but based very much in the real world: If it is not OK to fire deadly rockets at the citizens of any of the other 193 member states that make up the United Nations, why is the world silent when the victims are Israelis?

If there was ever any way the outrageously expensive National Broadband Network could have paid for itself, that prospect ended on Friday:

NBN Co has been forced to back down on its plans to restrain Telstra from promoting its wireless internet services as a substitute for the $36 billion fibre network for two decades after pressure from the competition watchdog.

The Weekend Australian can reveal that the $11bn deal between Telstra, the government and NBN Co for Telstra to decommission its copper network and shift its customers to the new service will be revised following concerns by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission that the curbs on Telstra’s marketing of its wireless services could hinder competition for wireless voice and broadband services.

Instead of Telstra agreeing not to promote wireless as a direct substitute for fibre, it is understood Telstra will effectively pledge that it would not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct about the NBN in its marketing — which is prohibited anyway under Australia’s consumer law.

The only way the NBN could have been competitive was to shut down competing technologies.

The ACCC’s decision is a good one for Australian consumers. The NBN will no longer be allowed to stop other companies implementing superior internet delivery systems.

But Australian tax payers will still be stuck with a bill of $6,000 for every household to pay the cost of what should have been clear from the beginning was a bloated, inefficient and already outdated system.

Unlike the occupy mobsters, these ladies have a point, it is a point worth making, they don’t leave a mess for anyone else to clean up, and no one got raped or murdered.

Femen 5, Occupiers 0.

FEMEN, a Ukrainian feminist group, is up in arms about the win of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in the Dec. 4 elections.

To show their disapproval, FEMEN protesters stripped down in front of The Cathedral Of Christ The Savior in Moscow on Friday, holding signs that said, “God Get Rid Of The Czar.’

The women were detained by security guards and taken into police custody, Reuters reports. The women were released shortly after being detained.

Quicker and tidier than the occupy mob, and they have a point!

Wayne Swan has put ANZ on notice he will not tolerate the bank moving its lending rates independently of the Reserve Bank, after it revealed it would take the audacious step to review its rates on the second Friday of every month.

The move, ordered by boss Mike Smith and ANZ’s Australian chief executive Phil Chronican, was touted as a bid to knock down the notion that lending rates were tied to the official cash rate only.

The ANZ is quite right – there is no reason why bank lending rates should be absolutely tied to official cash rates. The ANZ and other banks should be at liberty to set rates wherever they like. For example, banks should be free to respond to market conditions – to charge more when there is a high demand for lending, less when there is competition for borrowers.

I don’t understand the liberal (in Australia this means the Labor Party/Greens alliance) obsession with regulating the banking sector. There are so many banking options in Australia that it would be virtually impossible for any one bank to charge substantially more for its services than the others. Any bank which was treating people unfairly would soon be out of business.

Bankers know more about their business than politicians. Excessive regulation adds to consumer costs rather than reducing them. But never miss a chance to meddle is the motto, I guess.

It seem unlikely Australian political leaders (those allied with the Greens, anyway) will take any notice of this story, which is yet another reason to dump them at the next Federal election.

From Canada’s National Post:

We have long argued that the Ontario government’s headlong rush to convert Canada’s industrial heartland to “green” energy would turn out to be nothing but a colossal waste of money. Since most alternative energies remain commercially impractical (that’s why they’re still alternative and not mainstream), the blind rush by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to substitute wind, solar and bio energy for coal and oil was never likely to produce much new energy, just higher power rates for residential and industrial consumers. But even we underestimated the extent to which the Ontario Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act had failed in just over two-year’s time.

In one of the most scathing indictments of government mismanagement we have ever witnessed, Ontario Auditor-General Jim McCarter reported Monday that Mr. McGuinty’s green dream has rapidly become an $8-billion nightmare for Ontario taxpayers and electricity users. Almost no new net power will be generated by all the green-energy projects hastily funded since the bill was passed, but the average residential consumer will see more than $400 a year added to his power bill for a decade to pay for all the bad contracts with and subsidies to eco-friendly power suppliers.

Update:

I was amused to see in this weekend’s Adelaide papers (which I never buy – the supermarket was giving them away), advertisements for rooftop solar panels, telling readers that with recent dramatic increases in domestic electricity costs, there had never been a better time to buy solar. Not a hint, not a sausage nor a whisper to indicate that the primary cause of the last two years of huge price rises has been government subsidies for the capital cost of rooftop solar installations, and the government’s forcing power companies to pay owners of rooftop installations a feed in tariff as much three times the retail price of electricity.

These schemes have been so ridiculously generous that I was briefly tempted to have solar panels installed. But I don’t approve of ripping off ordinary taxpayers despite the possibility of a temporary benefit. Welfare agencies (generally in favour of meaningless green schemes) have pointed out that the tax breaks and feed in tariffs are actually subsidising richer households who can afford solar panels, at the expense of poorer families who cannot.

Let’s see. Ugly, expensive, disadvantage the poor. Sounds like a perfect Labor Party programme.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives another of his perfectly timed impressions of an extremely intelligent person with no brains at all:

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says Jesus would have joined protesters from the anti-corporate Occupy movement who have been camped outside London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral for more than seven weeks.

In a British magazine, the leader of the world’s 78 million Anglicans worldwide insisted that Jesus would be “there, sharing the risks, not just taking sides.”

The demonstrators pitched their tents outside the iconic cathedral in mid-October to protest what they see as the unfairness and illegalities of the global financial community.

In his article written for the Christmas edition of the Radio Times magazine, the archbishop said Jesus was “constantly asking awkward questions” in the Bible.

In the St. Paul’s encampment, Williams added, Jesus would be “steadily changing the entire atmosphere by the questions that he asked of everybody involved — rich and poor, capitalist and protester and cleric.”

Perhaps one of those questions might have been ‘Would you please stop pooing in the cathedral?’

Sitting around banging drums, sniffing toes, and whining about how unfair it all is, while expecting people who work to feed you, clothe you and clean up after you is not an adult way to protest anything.

Meanwhile, from St Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 3:

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ we command you to stay away from any believer who refuses to work and does not follow the teaching we gave you. You yourselves know that you should live as we live. We were not lazy when we were with you. And when we ate another person’s food, we always paid for it.

We worked very hard night and day so we would not be an expense to any of you. We had the right to ask you to help us, but we worked to take care of ourselves so we would be an example for you to follow. When we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Anyone who refuses to work should not eat.”

We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They do nothing but busy themselves in other people’s lives. We command those people and beg them in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and earn their own food. But you, brothers and sisters, never become tired of doing good.

If some people do not obey what we tell you in this letter, then take note of them. Have nothing to do with them so they will feel ashamed. But do not treat them as enemies. Warn them as fellow believers.

Kathy and I used to belong to Amnesty International. About 100 years ago when AI really was about helping oppressed people, especially political prisoners. We wrote letters and everything. Not any more.

Over the last several year AI seems to have lost the plot completely. Instead of being about seeking justice for political prisoners, it gloms onto every passing leftist cause, and condemns anyone who won’t. A bit like the Anglican church.

Their latest headline grab takes the cake.

When he was US president, George W Bush sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Africa, especially to fight AIDS and other diseases. He is highly regarded in most African countries.

At the moment he is touring Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia to promote efforts to fight TB, Malaria, Polio, etc.

Amnesty has demanded Zambia (or one of the other countries) arrest Mr Bush on charges of breaking international law on torture.

Fortunately, the leaders of those nations are equipped with common sense and a spine. This was the response of Zambian foreign minister Chishimba Kambwili:

On what basis does Amnesty International want us to arrest Mr Bush? Tell them to hang, and also please ask them to create their own country and wait for Mr Bush to visit their country so that they can arrest him to suit their wish and not here in Zambia.

Remember this?

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a directive to Iran’s military and political leaders to ‘take all necessary steps to protect’ the revolutionary government of Iran.

An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.

Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.

So who is at the White House answering the phone?

No one, apparently, since President Barack Obama and his family are soon to take off for a 17 day vacation in Hawaii.

Obama had an impressive record of voting ‘present’ during his brief stay in the Senate. Now it looks as if even being present is too much of an effort.

The ALP national conference in Sydney, that is.

Julia Gillard’s speech, which one guesses was intended to inspire the meagre troops, was instead a perfect melange of excuses, distortions, and promises that will not be kept, delivered in a nasal drone that would drive you batty if you hadn’t fallen alseep after the first paragraph.

More from Piers Ackerman:

If anyone ever admits to having a hand in producing her speech, their names should be taken and kept in a safe place to ensure they never again produce words for others to utter in public.

The theme – Labor says yes – was so asinine that it could have come from a kindergarten focus group. It began with a statement of absolute nonsense: “In the 16 months since we stood together in that toughest of federal election campaigns, our party has governed and governed well.”

The laughter could be heard echoing around the harbour, even quieting for a brief moment the shrill homosexual protesters busily stripping away Gillard’s last shreds of authority.

From there it was a brief mention of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – but no mention that there had been no funding set aside in Wayne Swan’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook statement delivered earlier in the week.

Instead of delivery, Gillard said the decision had been taken to “lay the foundations” for what she termed a “defining Labor reform”. The cop-out clause. The fix is in.

She tried to justify the wasteful NBN cable rollout with an anecdote about a woman in Darwin whose leg was examined by a specialist in Adelaide, but didn’t have the wit to think that her listeners would wonder why Darwin, a city of 200,000 couldn’t support a full-time dermatologist, or why her government was spending exorbitant sums building super-clinics where they are not needed when there was a need for a clinic in the Northern Territory where skin problems are commonplace?

Her reference to the NBN reminded listeners that the Not Bloody Necessary fiasco is going to cost upwards of $50 billion, with its foreseeable cost blow-outs, and that take-up is meagre at best.

Her biggest howler was the claim on the clean energy economy (shorthand for carbon dioxide tax).

“After a debate lasting the best part of two, even three decades together, this year, we turned words into deeds and next year Australia will have a price on carbon,” she said.

Hello? Her words were: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.” Who does she think she’s kidding?

Every Gillard speech should come with a caveat: Errors and omissions and anything we need to trade off to minor parties excepted. All facts subject to revision. Promises may be adapted, deleted, or swapped for alternative promises depending on future circumstances.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s brain cell has gone missing.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has urged Israel to “mend fences” with Turkey, Egypt and others in the Middle East to reduce its growing isolation…

“Unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow, and the pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan has effectively been put on hold,” he said.

Israel’s concern over the Arab Spring revolts that have toppled several long-term authoritarian leaders in the region, including in peace partner Egypt, was understandable, he added.

But the changes in leadership offered an opportunity for Israel to improve regional security.

“For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional security, countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan,” he said.

“And if the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are.”

Mr Panetta apparently lives in some sort of parallel universe where Recep Erdogan has not attempted to curry favour with Iran by undermining formal relations with Israel and repeatedly denouncing it in Turkey and in international forums, and where the ‘Arab Spring’ has lead to the establishment of open and reasonable governments.

In the real world, Jordan continues to distance itself from Israel, the parties which called for death to all Jews are the ones who have won government in Egypt, Turkey is turning into another Iran, and revolutions in other islamic nations like Libya are leading their countries deeper into rabid islamism and anti-semitism.

For their leaders, the imagined perfidy of Israel and all Jews is a convenient excuse for their own failings. For their people, islamic hatred for Jews has its origin in the life and teachings of Muhammed.

The UN will not see further concessions by Israel as positive. It has never done so in the past, despite the fact that those concessions have been made at massive cost, both financial and to Israel’s national security.

Just as there are no limits to hypocrisy, there are no limits to a bully’s demands. The UN and the Arab nations will never be satisfied until Israel is gone. They keep saying so.

Contrary to Mr Panetta’s inane and anodyne advice, Israel must continue to do what it has done under Netanyahu. It must be ready to engage in genuine diplomacy, and willing to offer friendship.

But bullies will not stop until they are made to stop, and those who stop them, often at great risk to themselves, do the rest of us a great favour. Israel must not allow itself to be bullied, whether by the US, or by Egypt, Jordan or Turkey.

If Mr Panetta wants to have anything useful to offer, he needs to find his brain cell.

Update: Barry Rubin at PJ Media agrees:

There are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does. By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International; the changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map.

Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.

Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true?

The answer is as follows:
 •Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even mor extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt) the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them?
 •We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism.
 •The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction. They will not be dissuaded by a peace agreement. They will do anything possible–starting with demagoguery and ending with terrorism or even war–to block such a diplomatic solution.  How can Israeli action reconcile those who don’t want peace?

As of now, the following are governed or will soon be governed by Islamists who want Israel’s destruction and genocide against the Jews there: Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

The following are governed by those who want peace with Israel: Jordan.
 •Not only is the United States not opposing this development it is supporting it. In other words, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

Third, why are there no negotiations? As the history of the issue since January 2009 shows, it is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel. If Panetta and the Obama Administration were either wise or honest they would acknowledge this fact. Instead, they blame Israel. Once again, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

From Pat Condell:

And finally:

From Abdallah Jarbu, Deputy Minister of Hamas’ Ministry of Religious Endowments (no I have no idea what that means).

They want to present themselves to the world as if they have rights, but, in fact, they are foreign bacteria – a microbe unparalleled in the world. It’s not me who says this. The Koran​ itself says that they have no parallel: “You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews.”

May He annihilate this filthy people who have neither religion nor conscience. I condemn whoever believes in normalizing relations with them, whoever supports sitting down with them, and whoever believes that they are human beings. They are not human beings. They are not people. They have no religion, no conscience, and no moral values.

The Jews, the brothers of apes and pigs, have gathered from all corners of the world, in order to defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They have come to rob it of its purity, and they replaced it with their impurity, their filth, and their abomination.

You cannot go on living, oh Arab and Islamic nation, while the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being defiled by the Jews, the most despicable people on this Earth. By Allah, they are not human beings. They are not men who deserve to live, as long as we are alive.

We salute anyone who tried to run over Jews with his bulldozers. We salute anyone who tried to stab a Jewish settler pig.

Allah will send his wrath down from the skies upon the Jews and their collaborators. Allah will make the sea rage against all the oppressors. Allah will poison the air breathed by the Jews, the Americans, the Crusaders, and all the Zionists. May Allah turn the food that they eat to poison in their bellies.

In a ‘land for peace’ deal, Israel forcibly removed 10,000 Jews from Gaza, some of whose families had lived there for hundreds of years, so that Gaza could be, as demanded, an ethnically and religiously pure Palestinian territory.

The land was given. The peace was not – over 12,000 rockets fired into southern Israel over the last ten years.

Or is that racist?

A couple of days ago I would have put money on Herman Cain’s run for the presidency being over.

Two accusations of sexual assault, and a claim of an affair of thirteen years standing were not enough to convince me of Cain’s guilt, but they were enough to convince me most people would be convinced, and that Cain would be unable to counter the media campaign against him.

After reading Ann Coulter’s discussion of the accusers and the accusations, I am not so sure. If Cain holds firm, he may still hold on.

I still don’t believe he is the ideal candidate, or even the best candidate. In spite of everything, the best candidate is Newt Gingrich, but that’s another story.

Cain is an intelligent and capable man. He knows how to run things. The present incumbent couldn’t run a bath.

But Cain has no experience in government. It is a mistake to elect someone to leadership in public office who has no experience in business. It is just as much a mistake to elect someone to an executive postion in goverment who has no experience of how government works.

Let Cain be defeated. But let him be defeated honestly, and not through carefully orchestrated and baseless accusations by opportunists with a history of trouble-making.

With apologies to Chicago.

But no surprises here:

The New South Wales government censored studies which show that the rate of sea level rise has not increased, and is nothing to worry about at all, really.

And then there’s this: $100 million worth of hot air.

The Federal government has spent so much money on illegal immigrants and pink batts and the internet that it has to cut back on education and support for families. But Julia manages to find $100 million to tell us what a wonderful thing the carbon tax is.

Idiots.

And everything works much better.

Who would have guessed?

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