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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Another Iranian nuclear ‘facility’ has exploded.

An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran’s military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.

What is especially interesting about this is that Israel has clearly not adopted the current US view that buddying up to people who say they want to destroy you suddenly makes them your friends.

Our state member of parliament, Michael Pengilly, has been in trouble for the last few days because he called the prime minister a dog.

Anyone who uses Twitter is a twit. It is too easy to put thoughts out there which, however instantly regretted, cannnot be taken back. Twitter posts are too short to allow for any context or explanation. So I suggest leaving Twitter to ABC staff and Labor party members.

The outrage which has followed Mr Pengilly’s comment has been entertaining, to say the least.

I admit that I would prefer that public discourse in Australia showed a little more respect for the office of the Prime Minister.

But there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, Julia Gillard is a leading competitor for the title of Australia’s worst ever Prime Minister. She and Kevin Rudd have lead the most spectacularly inept and irresponsible government since federation.

Their ‘compassionate’ policies on illegal immigration have lured hundreds of people to their deaths as rusty boats have sunk or been dashed against rocks.

Their plan for a fast broadband network is going to cost every Australian household over $6000 in taxes whether they want it or not. Most people don’t want it – take up rates have been less than 20% – and  by the time it is fully installed, it will have been overtaken by newer technology, or would have except that Telstra and Optus have been forced to sign ‘won’t compete’ agreements.

Then there are bungled insulation plans, bungled foreign policy, bungled education spending, and to top it all off, at the time of the world’s worst financial crisis since the 1930s, two taxes (the minerals rent tax and the carbon tax) that will slow Australia’s domestic economy and make us less competitive in every export market – resources, food, and manufactured goods.

All this from a government that obtained less than fifty percent of the vote, and survives only by indulging the brownies at the bottom of the garden, along with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, both traitors to their own electorates and to the Australian people.

And then there is Mr Slipper. Julia Gillard dumped Harry Jenkins and made Peter Slipper Speaker.

Daily newspapers around Australia portrayed Mr Slipper as a rat. Photos were doctored to give him big ears and a tail. This is in clear contravention of parliamentary convention, which is that photos taken inside parliament should not be used for satire or to ridicule members.

But no one is complaining about Mr Slipper being called a rat, despite the fact that as much respect should be shown to the office of Speaker as to that of Prime Minister.

I am not complaining either. He has sold out his own electorate, stabbed his Liberal party colleagues in the back, abused the trust of Australian taxpayers through (allegedly) consistently outrageous expense claims, and put his own interests ahead of the public’s by entrenching a government the vast majority of Australians want to see the end of as soon as possible.

But if Peter Slipper can be called a rat, an animal most people find repulsive, and if Julia Gillard is the organiser, the plotter, the implementer of the scheme to bolster her government by removing a fair-minded and honourable man from the Speaker’s chair and putting in, well, Peter Slipper, then why is unreasonable to call her a dog?

Except perhaps that fox, snake or weasel might have been more appropriate.

If the Prime Minister wants to act like a dog or a snake, there is no reason he should not be called a dog or a snake.

Australian Prime Ministers have been called much worse. Think of comments by Paul Keating or Mark Latham about Liberal Party leaders, or Noel Pearson’s description of John Howard as a ‘moral cockroach’ (because Mr Howard held views about aboriginal health and welfare ten years ago that Noel apparently holds now).

The difference is, Julia is a girl.

Calling her names apparently makes Mr Pengilly a meany, if not worse. He was told sternly by our local paper, The Islander, that ‘not all abuse is physical.’

It is simply inconceivable that this comment would have been made had he called Kevin Foley a dog instead of Julia Gillard.

It isn’t sexist or abusive or evidence of an unsatisfactory attitude to women that Mr Pengilly called the Prime Minister a name.

It is sexist that what would be considered normal, if robust, dialogue between parliamentarians of different parties suddenly becomes abuse if one of the parties is female.

This whole brouhaha reminds of a newspaper story I read when I was a teenager. A woman sued her local baseball club, claiming she was as good a player as most of the men, and had been excluded simply because of her gender. The court agreed this was unfair, and ordered the club to put her in a team

Next season she was back in court. She had been hit and injured by a fastball. She was now complaining that the club had failed to take reasonable care for her health and safety, because it had not made allowance for the fact that she was a woman and therefore had slower reaction times. Pitches to her should have been slower.

In politics as in baseball, players should anticipate a few fastballs.

If people want to be treated as equals, they should not complain when people treat them equally.

I have said right from the beginning, starting fifteen years ago, that I was unconvinced by arguments for anthropogenic global warming for the simple reason that there is no correlation between human activity and global changes in climate.

People who think as I do have been compared to holocaust deniers, heretics, creationists, crop circle enthusiasts, and religious fanatics. The difference of course, is that the climate alarm sceptics are the ones who are focussing on the evidence – what is really happening in the real world.

The world has certainly warmed slightly – just over half of one degree Celsius – over the last 150 years. And a darn good thing it is. It is possible that there may have been some human influence on this, although so far as I can see, there is no evidence outside of computer modelling that supports this hypothesis.

Yet we are constantly told that we must ‘take action now’ to prevent a huge catastrophe. Even though there no reason at all to believe that such a catastrophe is really on the way, I would not object to people ‘taking action’ if it made them feel better, if it were not for the enormous cost to everyone else of these utterly pointless projects.

From Matt Ridley:

Well here’s why it matters:

The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not. Remember Britain’s unilateral Climate Change Act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels. At least sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as the griffon vulture.
At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.
At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.
At least homoeopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.
At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel.

That’s why it matters.

That was from Ridley’s Angus Millar Lecture to the Royal Society of the Arts, Edinburgh, 31 October 2011.

I said so a few days ago, and events of the last few days have confirmed my earlier opinion.

This is what has gone wrong in Greece, and I suspect, in the other PIIGS nations;

Germany could, maybe, perhaps, still come to the rescue by funding more bailouts and propping up the European Central Bank as it prints more money.

But the present government, Angela Merkel included, know they will be booted out at the earliest opportunity if they take that course.

Politicians may take action that will result in their losing the next election if they believe strongly enough it is the right thing to do.

German politicians are not that convinced. They have an obligation to their own country which will outweigh their obligation to a vision of a united Europe which most Germans do not share anyway.

It’s finished, Angela. Just give it up. Rip off the band aid and get the pain over.

‘Judgement day has come!’ ‘We will kill all the Jews.’

Some of the chants repeated at a rally in Cairo.

It is simply nonsense to suggest, as some have done, that Muslims hate Jews because of Israel. Muslims have conducted campaigns of extermination against Jewish populations since Islam began. The mufti of Jerusalem looked forward to working with Hitler in extending the final solution into the Middle East.

No matter who is elected in Egypt, or any of the other ‘Arab Spring’ countries, they will not be able to meet the people’s expectations of improved economic conditions. It will be necessary to find someone to blame. No prizes for guessing who that will be. Israel, the US, and any other Western countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel.

We in the West like to imagine that democracy will solve most problems, because most people are basically decent. That much is true – most people are basically decent. But Islam encourages its followers to act like Muhammed. Muhammed was a serial murderer, rapist and torturer. He had sex with a nine year old girl when he was in his fifties. He grew rich by raiding neighbouring towns and villages. This is not a good example on which to build a just society.

Democracy is not just a matter of elections. Unless there is an underlying commitment to tolerance of diverse religious and political views, and a commitment to the rule of law, then elections will be no more than make up on a melanoma.

The occupiers, whether on Wall St or in Melbourne, are amongst the wealthiest and most privileged people on Earth.

They are people who have been given everything, who have achieved nothing, contributed nothing, risked nothing, and who, wanting even more, make their demands by destroying the property of those who have. This, they claim, is fixing the world.

A letter from Jack Furnari in the Knoxville News:

The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama’s America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly. It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American civil society.

It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person’s guaranteed liberties.

It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor. It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood, unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities.

Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of. The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America.

Europe is a real place, not a video game, so it is governed by people significantly less intelligent than the average game player.

Good game players know they must use resources efficiently, never run out of gold, and ensure their income stream always equals or exceeds their expenditure. They have to co-operate with others, but act independently and take responsibility. They must have a firm grip of the mechanics of the game – what constitutes reality – and act both thoughtfully and decisively, because actions have consequences.

Fortunately, Australia still has some politicians who understand these things. Tony Abbott’s speech during President Obama’s visit to Federal Parliament mentioned De Toqueville’s remark ‘America is great because America is good.’ He suggested that being good involves loyalty and hard work and sacrifice. He was roundly criticised in the local media for being divisive.

America has been good and great because it was founded by people who were great and good, and who understood what game players know – you can’t buy food or clothes or education or a castle if you don’t have any gold, and you won’t have any gold if you don’t do any work.

In our time the idea that the people who have done the work and earned the gold deserve better armour or bigger castles is considered divisive, unfair, and an example of the failure of unrestrained capitalism. Everyone deserves the same! redistribute the wealth! So what if I have laid on my couch eating pizza and watching porn for the last twenty years? I want to live in Hollywood too.

The opinion that no one should be allowed to fail or be in need, that everyone deserves an equal share (except for politicians and bureaucrats, who are more equal than others), has taken firm hold in Europe.

Not quite as firm a hold in the US, as these results from the Pew Research Center show:

Americans vs Europeans on the Role of the State

The average US citizen still thinks personal freedom (and responsibility) is more important than the government making sure your family gets its porridge in the morning. There is some hope for the US.

There are three major consequences of the implementation of any political ideology which refuses to accept economic and social reality. In the last week, all three have been in evidence in Europe.

First, the end of democracy. People may take advantage of whatever pointless handouts desperate politicians toss into the cage, but the hoi polloi are generally wiser than their rulers, and will not be fooled forever. Consequently, the people must be stopped. From Brendan O’Neill:

IMAGINE how much international hand-wringing there would be if, say, Nigeria and South Africa decided to club together and put extraordinary pressure on Swaziland to get rid of its elected leaders and replace them with unelected suits.

There would be uproar. Western politicians would hold press conferences to denounce these coup-like antics on the Dark Continent. The UN would have an emergency session.

Yet when the same thing happens in Europe, when powerful West European nations use extreme financial pressure to force a change of government in less powerful European nations, no one seems to mind.

During the past week, something extraordinary has taken place in Europe: two elected governments have been swept aside, largely on the say-so of Germany and France, and replaced by gaggles of unelected experts.

The fall of Greece’s democratic government was assured when its prime minister, George Papandreou, suggested an EU austerity package for Greece should be put to a referendum.

The package, agreed by Brussels on October 26, stipulates that Greece will get the emergency bailout funds it desperately needs only if it agrees to raise taxes and slash public-sector pay. So Papandreou felt the Greek people should have a chance to say yes or no to it.

Big mistake. As we know from the hissy fits they threw when the Irish, Dutch and French dared to say no, nee and non in referendums on whether to pass the EU constitution, the oligarchs in Brussels hate nothing more than the thought of hoi polloi having a say on their policies.

This is one time when the too muched quoted excerpt from Brecht’s The Solution really is apposite:

The People have frivolously thrown away the Government’s confidence and will only regain it through Redoubled Work. But wouldn’t it be simpler if the Government simply dissolved the people and elected another?

Brecht, incidentally, would certainly have been on the side of the Euro-stalinists rather than the people. He really did the think the people were hopeless and should be replaced.

Second, ineluctable and obstructive government regulation in even the most trivial areas of life.

The decision by Eurocrats to make illegal any claim by the manufacturers of bottled water that drinking water will help prevent dehydration is one mirth producing recent example.

UK MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law” look “positively sane”.

He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.

The Eurocrats have subsequently claimed that media outlets have misunderstood the ruling. What they really meant was that from now on it will be illegal for manufacturers of bottled water to claim their product may help reduce dehydration. And yes, that is exactly what everyone said they said.

Thirdly, economic collapse.

Land, homes and commercial real estate in some parts of Spain is now literally worthless. That is, large parts of Spain are of no value to anyone.

Spanish banks, under pressure to cut property-backed debt, hold about 30 billion euros (US$41 billion) of real estate that’s “unsellable,” according to a risk advisor to Banco Santander SA and five other lenders.

“I’m really worried about the small- and medium-sized banks whose business is 100% in Spain and based on real-estate growth,” Pablo Cantos, managing partner of Madrid-based MaC Group, said in an interview. “I foresee Spain will be left with just four large banks.”

Spanish lenders hold 308 billion euros of real estate loans, about half of which are “troubled,” according to the Bank of Spain. The central bank tightened rules last year to force lenders to aside more reserves against property taken onto their books in exchange for unpaid debts, pressing them to sell assets rather than wait for the market to recover from a four-year decline.
 …
Cantos says that prime assets can be sold at a 30% discount, while portfolios comprising land, residential and commercial real estate may only sell after 70% discounts.

“Therein lies the problem,” he said. “Banks have already provisioned for a 30% loss, but if you are selling at 70% discount, you have to take another 40% loss. Which small and medium size banks can take such a hit?”

Very few. Without an end to endless regulation and endless spending, no bailouts will make a difference.

The politicians and bureacrats will fight any remedy tooth and nail. But unless there is a fundamental change in thinking about government and spending, Europe will fall.

Either way, the Euro experiment is over.

And those of us who are not Roman Catholics, but have an interest in the integrity of the faith.

I am disturbed by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn’s invitation to Medjugorje ‘visionaries’ to speak and lead prayers at the Vienna Cathedral.

At very least this is an act of grave disrespect and uncollegiality with the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

Diane M. Korzeniewski at Te Deum Laudamus has more:

What does this say about collegiality when a bishops permit visionaries from another diocese to do things they are not permitted to do in their home diocese, and what are its fruits?   What message does it convey to the faithful, if not to create confusion and pit one bishop against another, if only in their hearts?  What feelings does it cause towards the local ordinary, if not contempt and disdain because he does not permit these things?

How can I possibly reconcile the thought that the Blessed Virgin Mary would cooperate with other bishops in the world by appearing to visionaries in their cathedrals when those visionaries are not permitted to do so by their own bishops in the diocese or country of origin?   In fact, that this behavior takes place at all flies in the face of authenticity.

Quite right. The consistent demands by the Medjugorje apparition (if there even is an apparition) that those to whom it appears should disobey and undermine those in authority is proof enough for me that these are not authentic visions.

Marco Corvaglia’s website Medjugorje Without a Mask is a valuable resource for anyone with questions.

Decriminalisation is legalisation. If something is not treated as a crime, and no sanctions are imposed, then it is legal.

I enjoy Reason Magazine – I am a Kindle subscriber. But I do find Reason’s constant nagging about the pointlessness of the ‘War on Drugs’ frustrating.

A free society always has to tolerate some behaviours which are harmful to the individual and to others. Drunkenness, excessive gambling, the use of pornography, for example.

Legislators attempt to balance the general good of freedom against the harm occasioned by particular behaviours. Sometimes they get the balance wrong.

My belief is that there should be a bias in favour of allowing people to act as they choose, and that behaviour should not be legally sanctioned unless there are compelling reasons to do so. But I am not at all convinced by Reason’s nagging, or by other discussions I have seen, that the balance, the overall good of society, will best be served by legalising all forms of drug use.

Writing in the UK’s Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips looks at actual facts. The ‘actual’ in that sentence is a weasel word, I know, but I don’t care. Forget about the theory, what really happens when drugs are legalised?

She concludes:

The bottom line is that legalisation would mean more people on drugs, more addiction, more disease and death and more violence, antisocial behaviour and harm to the rest of society. The campaign to undermine the UN drug laws is being promoted by some very bad people indeed and a large number of useful idiots. We need drug legalisation like… well, like a hole in the head.

For anyone not familiar with online role playing games (RPGs), while it is possible to complete much of a game such as World of Warcraft or Rift on your own, players frequently form groups to win fights or complete quests which would be impossible for a single player.

People take specific roles in a group. DPS (damage per second) players are the most numerous, usually three players out of a five person group. Their job is to kill the enemy.

Healers heal other players in the group.

Support players, usually found only in larger groups, provide enhancements (buffs) to other players, increasing their strength, spell power, health, etc. DPS, healer and tank players may also have group buffs.

Tanks offer themselves as targets to enemies. Their job is to draw the enemy’s attention to keep the healer safe, and to let the dps players focus on wearing the enemy down. The healer’s job is primarily to keep the tank alive.

If the tank is doing his job well, the enemy’s attention should stay on him, and dps players should suffer little damage, except for unavoidable aoe (area of effect) attacks.

The key task of any tank is make himself the most attractive target. In an RPG this is called threat generation.

Threat generation is largely a product of how a player is specced. This means how players distribute the talent points they accumulate as they progress through the game. Rift has a maximum of 66 talent points, reached when you get level 50. Sometimes players talk about ‘build’ when they are describing how they have used their talent points.

Although any class except a mage can act as a tank in Rift, there are very few circumstances where a cleric or rogue will be as effective as a well geared and properly specced warrior.

This is especially so since the new 1.6 Ember Isle update, which gave warriors several enhancements to threat generation.

The most common complaint about a tank player is not that he is hard to keep alive, but that he cannot hold aggro. This means that the enemies keep attacking the dps players or healer rather than the tank. The reason this happens is (usually) that the tank is not generating enough threat to hold the enemy’s attention.

The number one ability a tank needs to spec for is threat.

This is a link to my endgame rift tanking build.

This is Paladin/Warlord/Reaver build.

My pre-raid HP on this build is just over 12,000. With the Paladin’s Touch of Life, this effectively means an HP of about 20K.

This build takes every possible threat enhancement except the 20 point Warlord skill Promise of Steel, because that ability gives only marginal overall threat enhancement, and reaching it would mean taking too many self-healing or block abilities out of the Paladin or Reaver trees.

The only thing besides threat a tank should be concerned about is the best possible balance of armour, endurance, self-heal and block enhancements. A tank is not primarily concerned with group buffs, hence points in Tip the Balance, a self-heal, rather than Reverent Protection, a group protection buff, in the Paladin tree.

It is worth going up the Reaver tree to get Master of the Abyss, a superb aoe damage ability that heals for 100% of damage done, and for Soul Devour, an enhancement to the self-heal ability Soul Feast.

Where a tank needs to put points into damage to reach other skills, the total damage done is more important than the tree looking tidy, hence 1 point into Wasting Away rather than another point into Planar Attunement in the Reaver tree.

This build also gives you Intercept, which enables the tank to transfer threat from another player (often the healer) to himself.

Just a couple of notes for dps players. The point of your participating a group is not so you can gloat over the size of your dps. It is to get the group safely through to the end of the raid, dungeon or rift. This means you may need to sacrifice some of your highest dps abilties if they are also high threat. If you do pull aggro, don’t automatically blame the tank. Apologise to the group – it’s a pain for the healer as well as the tank. Think about which ability you used that was high threat. If you must use that ability again, let the tank know first so he can throw a threat enhancement like the Warlord’s Imposing, or use Intercept.

And remember, it’s a game, people!

Rule of law and tolerance for religious diversity were two of the qualities of life in Indonesia that Barack Obama praised on his visit there a year ago.

You have to wonder what he had been drinking.

During a brutal and enthusiastically videoed attack on an Ahmadiyah home on the island of Java, in which three men died and five others were badly injured, Dani bin Misra was filmed bashing a man’s skull in with a rock. He was sentenced to three months in jail. An Ahmadi man was sentenced to six months jail for wounding an attacker during a raid on his family home.

Emily Rauhala writes in Time Magazine:

A key measure of the level of justice and compassion in any society is how it treats its minorities — often its most vulnerable citizens. On that score, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is failing. In the past year, public violence against religious minorities, who together make up about 12% of the 240 million population, has been relentless: there has been a slew of incidents, from burnings and bombings of churches to attacks by radical Muslims on moderates. The authorities appear unable or unwilling to firmly intervene. …

Suryadharma Ali, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, was unapologetic in tone: he said Indonesia respects religious freedom, but that minorities could not use that freedom to “completely modify” Islamic beliefs.

In other words, you can expect tolerance if you are a Muslim. If not, and someone comes to your house to murder you and your family, don’t expect the courts or the government to be concerned.

The margin is not high, but still, that’s one little bright spot in a world of depressing news.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Americans might be more frustrated with Obama than they are irritated by Netanyahu.

“A poll conducted by the group Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that 52.3 percent of Americans rate Netanyahu positively, compared to 51.5 percent for Obama,” reports Israel Today Magazine. “The results of the poll were enthusiastically discussed on Israel’s Channel 10 News on Thursday.”

This comes shortly after Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a liar, and Obama responding that if Sarkozy was fed up with him, he should keep in mind that Obama had to deal with him every day.

Via Gateway Pundit.

Melanie Phillips has more on the extraordinary and ongoing vilification of Israel and Netanyahu by western leaders who are either desperately ignorant, or desperately cowardly.

1) The actual reason for the collapse of the ‘peace process’ is that Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly maintains that he will never accept that Israel is entitled to be a Jewish state, hails Palestinian terrorists as heroes for murdering Israelis and does nothing to end the incitement to murder Jews disseminated in schools, mosques and media under his control. In other words, Abbas is not a legitimate interlocutor in any civilised ‘peace process’ since he remains committed to the eradication of Israel. Yet Netanyahu is blamed for the impasse.

2) It is only Israel that has made concessions in this ‘peace process’ (as noted here). The Palestinians not only failed to deliver what was expected of them under the Road Map but now, with their UN gambit, have unilaterally reneged on their previous treaty obligations. Yet Abbas is given a free pass while Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

3) The claim that the ‘settlements’ are the key to resolving the dispute is ridiculous. First, they take up no more than one or two per cent of West Bank territory. Second, even when Netanyahu froze such new building for ten months as a sign of good will, Abbas still refused to negotiate. Yet this is all ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

4) The claim that the establishment of a Palestine state would end the dispute is also ridiculous. Such a state was on offer in 1948; Israel offered to give up more than 90 per cent of the West Bank for such a state in 2000; and an even more generous offer was subsequently made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Palestinian response was in every case war and terror. Yet all this is ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

5) Whatever land Israel may choose to give up in its own interests, under international law Jews are entitled to settle anywhere in the West Bank.  There is no such thing as Palestinian land and never was. The West Bank and Gaza never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from Mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman empire. Israel’s ‘borders’ are in fact merely the cease-fire lines from its victory in 1948 against the Arab armies that tried unsuccessfully to exterminate it at birth. It is therefore more correct to call the West Bank and Gaza disputed territory. Yet this history and law are denied and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

6) The Jews alone have the legal – as well as the moral and historical — right to settle within the West Bank and Gaza, a right given to them by the Great Powers after the First World War on account of the unique historical claim by the Jews to the land then called Palestine. This Jewish right to settle anywhere in that land was entrusted to Britain to deliver under the terms of the Mandate for Palestine – an obligation which it proceeded to break. Yet this history and law are denied, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

It is therefore as absurd as it is malicious to blame Netanyahu for the breakdown of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet this is precisely what many in the west do – principally because, unlike Israeli politicians on the left, Netanyahu (who certainly has his flaws) is less prepared to play fast and loose with truth, justice and history while offering up Israel’s throat to be cut. For this inconvenient obduracy he is branded as ‘right-wing’ and therefore beyond the pale and impossible to deal with.

Or as has been said elsewhere, when Jews can live in peace, build synagogues, run for parliament, become police officers and judges, own land and run businesses in Jordan and Mecca and Gaza, as Arabs can in Israel, then it will be time to talk about Israeli racism. Until then, stop being so god-damned stupid.

In 1989 the UN was telling us that entire nations would be wiped off the earth if global warming were not reversed by the year 2000.

As Donna Laframboise points out, since this hasn’t happened, aren’t we at least entitled to an explanation from the same people issuing the same warnings twenty years later?

If the UN and the IPCC were religious organisations, the media would have stomped all over them and fallen about laughing.

This is a very common problem. It is potentially diasastrous, yet it is not addressed or even acknowledged on the Microsoft answers website.

The issue is that on the first restart after a Windows XP repair install a screen appears saying ‘This copy of Windows needs to be activated before you can log on. Do you want to activate now?’

If you click no, the computer logs out. If you click yes, the computer loads the desktop background but nothing else. Control-Alt-Delete does not work, nor do any other tricks or workarounds to get a task bar or start menu or any programs running.

The solution is as follows:

Start the computer into safe mode. It will probably not start in safe mode with networking, but will start in ordinary safe mode.

Check whether you have XP Service Pack three installed. If SP3 is not installed, install it. If you don’t already have a copy, download the XP SP3 standalone installer from Microsoft and burn it to a CD. It will run and install in safe mode.

Restart the computer into safe mode.

Install Internet Explorer Eight. If you don’t already have it, you should download the IE8 standalone installer from Microsoft and burn it to a CD. It will install in safe mode.

Restart the computer. It should now start without a problem. You may still get the activation screen, but if so, the activation window will now open, and you can activate over the internet or via telephone.

This problem is caused by the repair install corrupting internet explorer seven, making it impossible for the activation screen to open.

Installing Internet Explorer 8 fixes the problem. But IE8 will not install if you do not have either internet access or XP SP3. In this situation you do not have networking so you have no internet access, so you need to install SP3 first.

Who?

If you haven’t heard of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, then maybe we do need an inquiry into the mainstream media.

Yousef is a Christian pastor in Iran. He has never been a Muslim. Yet he has been sentenced to death for apostasy on the basis that his ancestors were Muslims.

From Melanie Phillips:

The brutal regime in Iran continues to inflict appalling levels of barbarity upon its own citizens.

A Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, aged 35 and the father of two children, has been sentenced to death for apostasy, a crime for which he was jailed two years ago. But this savage punishment is far worse even than it seems. For Nadarkhani is deemed to have committed apostasy merely because he has Islamic ancestry. Whether he was ever actually a practising Muslim was not even established. The Washington Post reported:

‘The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

‘However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.’

Now the Iranian authorities have claimed he is to be executed not for apostasy at all but for a slew of other crimes. As CNN reports:

‘Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a “rapist.” A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion. “His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” Rezvani told Fars. “He is guilty of security-related crimes.”

‘In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani. “Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,” reads the brief.’

If there is enough international pressure, Iran may relent.

So pressure! Email your MP. Write (politely) to the Iranian Ambassador. Pray.

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