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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Wow! Language warning. Courage warning. Un-PC warning.

And on reaping what we sow, by the fierce Theodore Dalrymple:

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.

The ever interesting Katharine Birbalsingh says the riots in England are about race, and nothing will be resolved until authorities are willing to face this fact:

Some of the black kids I used to teach will tell you that the riots are absolutely justified. A number of adults would agree with them. Everywhere I read that the protest was understandable because “people are very angry”. …

At school I remember watching a presentation given to the kids by Trident, the Metropolitan Police Service unit set up to investigate and inform communities of gun crime in London’s black community. I didn’t know what Trident was then, and it struck me that all of the photos of people shot (the idea was to scare the kids) were black. So at the end, I approached one of the policemen and asked him what percentage of those involved in gun crime were black. I kid you not, but my question made this thirty-something white man who was, after all, trained to deal with the black community and its issues, turn pink.
 
He explained that about 80 per cent of gun crime took place in the black community. I smiled uncomfortably. But no, he said, it was worse than that. Then he told me that 80 per cent was black on black gun crime, and that of the remaining 20 per cent about 75 per cent involved at least one black person: black shooting white, or white shooting black. I pushed to know more. While he kept saying his stats were crude and he didn’t have scientific numbers, on the whole the whites who were involved in these shootings tended to be from Eastern Europe.
 
Was any of this ever mentioned in their presentation? Of course not. Just like the news about the Tottenham riots doesn’t mention race either.
 
Problems cannot be addressed unless people are willing to tell the truth. As with so many other things in this country, we stick our heads in the sand and refuse to speak out about it.

The death of petty criminal and gangster Mark Duggan in a shootout with police was not part of a ‘context of oppression’ that explains why young black people are so angry. Nor is planned reduction in social welfare services. These are simply handy excuses to destroy property and steal.

Brendan O’Neill writes in The Australian that the riots are nothing like a political rebellion. They are an expression of the toddler-like rage of a molly-coddled mob.

One of the most disappointing things about these conflicts is the police warning against ‘vigilante justice.’ You have got to be joking.

Vigilantism is when something bad has been done and people try to catch the wrongdoers and punish them without due process under law. Sikhs, Kurds and others who have had the courage to stand and defend their properties and families are not vigilantes. They are trying to prevent crime. They are doing the job the police should be doing.

I don’t mean to be critical of individual police officers. Most of them are people of courage and integrity who really do want to make a difference in their communities. Most of them do not accept the ‘we police with the consent of the communities we serve’ platitudes. They police because they are sworn to uphold and enforce the law, regardless of locality, race or creed.

They are hampered (perhaps betrayed would be a better word) by a politically driven management class of senior officers, many of whom have very little enforcement and operational experience. Christine Nixon, recent and unlamented Commissioner of Police in Victoria, is a perfect example.

The riots in England, and the attempts to excuse them by reference to the down-trodden lives of the rioters and the uncaring attitude of government, remind me of the Palm Island riots in Australia in 2004.

‘Respected local man’ and petty criminal Cameron Doomadgee died in police custody. The circumstances are still unclear. The habitually drunk and violent Doomadgee allegedly attacked the police, who defended themselves and responded with sufficient force to subdue him, including punches to the abdomen. He suffered internal injuries which were not noticed, and died a few hours later.

This was the pretext for riots on the island in which the courthouse, police station and police barracks were burned down. Local police (eighteen police for a population of 2000) and their families were threatened. Fearing for their lives, they barricaded themselves in the small hospital until another eighty police arrived from the mainland.

There seemed to be an infinite supply of social workers and government officials ready to describe the islanders as ‘justly outraged’ and expressing the anger of accumulated years of mistreatment. Police involved were demonised in the press, and the usual intellectuals offered the usual claims about institutionalised racism.

What hogwash.

I have worked with police in remote locations with high aboriginal populations. Overwhelmingly they are men and women who care for their communities enough to put themselves in danger when things go wrong. Those who work in remote communities can find themselves alone in threatening circumstances, under great pressure and with little time to make decisions about appropriate words or actions.

The 1999 Guiness Book of World records said that, apart from war zones, Palm Island was the most violent place in the world to live. Criminologist Paul Wilson has confirmed the island has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. The homicide rate is 94 per 100,000 people per year, compared with 6 per 100,000 per year for the rest of Australia. Serious assaults are 930 per 100,000, compared with 46 per 100,000 per year for the rest of Australia. Almost every female between the ages of 13 and 16 has at least one sexually transmitted infection. Wilson claimed this horrifyingly destructive behaviour was the fault of repression and colonial mismanagement.

No it is not. Do we really have so little regard for the young people of Tottenham and the aboriginal people of Palm Island that we have no expectation of any ability to control themselves, to take reponsibility for their actions? Do we have so so little respect for them that they don’t even have to make up their own excuses any more, because there is an army of Mrs Jellybys with baskets full of excuses suitable for any occasion?

Even in the poorest parts of London there are still parents who are responsible, honest, work hard, and teach their children to do the same, and to respect other people and their belongings:

In his coffee shop in Stoke Newington, Karagoz tried to explain another feature of these riots – why Turkish and Kurdish youths had generally not joined the looting.

“We have businesses and work hard for what we have. As parents we want our children to work, earn money and be able to buy what they want, not steal it. Our young people know we would be ashamed of them if they were doing this.”

Thanks Karagoz. And all the parents like him.

First, hello!

It has been a month since my last post – my apologies.

I have had some minor health and family issues to sort out. Then there is the retail downturn, and downturn in the number of travellers to the island. I have had to work longer hours, taking on tasks I would not normally accept so the bills can be paid. All that has meant a lack of mental and emotional energy for blogging.

But enough with the excuses!

First up, Sarah. It still amazes me that some people keep buying the liberal media theory that she is a stupid small town mayor who has inflated ideas of her own abilities.

She has vastly more business and administrative experience than Obama.

Her latest Facebook post is the best thing I have read so far on the US credit rating downgrade, the reasons for it and what can be done to restore confidence.

Some excerpts:

I’m surprised that so many people seem surprised by S&P’s decision. Weren’t people paying attention over the last year or so when we were getting warning after warning from various credit rating agencies that this was coming? I’ve been writing and speaking about it myself for quite some time.

Back in December 2010, I wrote: “If the European debt crisis teaches us anything, it’s that tomorrow always comes. Sooner or later, the markets will expect us to settle the bill for the enormous Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending binge. We’ve already been warned by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that unless we get serious about reducing our deficit, we may face a downgrade of our credit rating.” And again in January, in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address I wrote: “With credit ratings agency Moody’s warning us that the federal government must reverse the rapid growth of national debt or face losing our triple-A rating, keep in mind that a nation doesn’t look so ‘great’ when its credit rating is in tatters.”

Many commonsense Americans like myself saw this day coming. In fact, in June 2010, Rick Santelli articulated the view of independent Tea Party patriots everywhere when he shouted on CNBC, “I want the government to stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! STOP SPENDING!” So, how shamelessly cynical and dishonest must one be to blame this inevitable downgrade on the very people who have been shouting all along “stop spending”? Blaming the Tea Party for our credit downgrade is akin to Nero blaming the Christians for burning Rome. Tea Party Americans weren’t the ones “fiddling” while our country’s fiscal house was going up in smoke. In fact, we commonsense fiscal conservatives were the ones grabbing for the extinguishers while politically correct politicians and their cronies buried their heads in what soon became this bonfire.

Be wary of the efforts President Obama makes to “fix” the debt problem. The more he tries to “fix” things, the worse they get because his “solutions” always involve spending more, taxing more, growing government, and increasing debt. This debt problem is the greatest challenge facing our country today. Obviously, President Obama doesn’t have a plan or even a notion of how to deal with it. His press conference today was just a rehash of his old talking points and finger-pointing. That’s why he can’t be re-elected in 2012.

Our economic news is disheartening and the task before us can seem daunting, but we must not lose our sense of optimism. People look around today and may see only the negative. They see a culture and a nation in decline, but that’s not who we are! America must regain its optimistic pioneering spirit again. Our founders declared that “we were born the heirs of freedom.” We are the heirs of those who froze with Washington at Valley Forge, who held the line at Gettysburg, who freed the slaves, carved a nation out of the wilderness, and allowed reward for work ethic. We are the sons and daughters of that Greatest Generation who stormed the beaches of Normandy, raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. By God, we will not squander what has been given us!

She makes some key, commonsense points about what needs to be done:

  • Stop Spending
  • Cut taxes and red tape
  • Make energy cheaper

Listening, Julia?

Given the demonisation of the Catholic Church’s position on the use of condoms, you might be excused for thinking that the science was settled: promotion of condom use is the most effective method of reducing HIV infection.

In fact, as the UN’s own study showed, condom promotion has never been effective in preventing AIDS. See Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment has Betrayed the Developing World.

Yet infection rates in Zimbabwe halved from 1997 to 2007.

You would think that this remarkable success would have been shouted from the rooftops, and proven ineffective condom promotion dropped in favour of something that really works.

But remember we live in a world where ideology is more important than fact, and seeming to do good is more important than actually doing it.

So what is Zimbabwe’s secret? Well, no secret at all, really. Just what the Church has said from the beginning. Change your behaviour. Abstain from sex or be faithful to one partner.

Just don’t look for this to become UN policy in a hurry. A UN report published at the beginning of June called for comprehensive state sponsored sex education, including use of condoms, for children from age ten, as a method of reducing AIDS infection rates.

If adopted, that policy will achieve just the opposite.

A couple of excerpts from Matt Ridley, writing in The Australian:

No matter how many scares are proved wrong, the next set of dispatches of doom are treated with the same reverential respect.

Remember what the media said about the Y2K computer bug? “This is not a prediction, it is a certainty: there will be serious disruption in the world’s financial services industry . . . It’s going to be ugly” (The Sunday Times); “10 per cent of the nation’s top executives are stockpiling canned goods, buying generators and even purchasing handguns” (New York Times); “Army Fears Civil Chaos From Millennium Bug: Armed Forces Gearing Up To Deal With Civil Chaos” (Canada’s Globe and Mail). In the event nothing happened, but the media were soon saying the same thing about the next scare.

There’s a broad constituency for pessimism. No pressure group ever got donations by telling its donors calamity was unlikely; no reporter ever got his editor’s attention by saying that a scare was overblown; and no politician ever got on television by downplaying doom. …

Governments all round the world are interfering with markets to try to bring about this environmental revolution. One of the policies they have adopted has taken 5 per cent of the world’s grain crop and turned it into biofuel to power motor vehicles. This has driven up food prices, increased malnutrition and encouraged the destruction of rain forest, while enriching farmers.

Yet, given that the planting and harvesting of biofuels use about as much oil as the fuels they displace, it has had precisely zero effect on carbon emissions. Nonetheless, it is considered a green, progressive policy.

Another policy is to bribe rich landowners to festoon the most picturesque landscapes with concrete pads on which are placed gargantuan steel towers topped with wind turbines containing two-tonne magnets made of an alloy of neodymium, a rare earth metal mined in inner Mongolia by a process of boiling in acid that produces poisoned lakes filled with mildly radioactive and toxic tailings.

The cost of this policy is borne by ordinary electricity users and their would-be employers. So far, the wind industry’s contribution to cutting carbon emissions is precisely zero, because it provides less than 0.5 per cent of world energy use and even that has to be offset by keeping fossil fuel plants running for when the wind does not blow.

Oh, and wind turbines have killed so many white-tailed eagles in Norway, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania and golden eagles in California that local populations of the species are in increased danger of extinction. And this is a green, “clean”, progressive policy?

Writing in the American Thinker a year ago, Andrew Walden made similar points about the astonishing waste associated with government subsidies to wind farms – they are vastly expensive to build and maintain, they kill wildlife, they save no carbon emissions or fuel.

The same applies to large scale solar power installations.

But still Western governments are intent on spending our money on these utterly uneconomic, wasteful, and non-renewable ‘renewable’ energy plans.

We continue to face a major economic crisis, exacerbated by idiotic ‘stimulus’ spending which sucked up money from sectors which produce and employ.

At the same time, the Australian Federal government is determined to introduce a carbon tax which, even if the worst climate alarmist theories are true, will make no difference to the world’s climate.

What it will do as a certainty, is increase the cost of transport and energy, the cost of living for every person in Australia, and reduce our productivity and the competitiveness of the agricultural and mining exports on which our economy depends.

Somebody is making money out of these scares. But it isn’t me. Or any other ordinary Australian.

‘Sunburnt’ was the headline on the front page of Saturday’s Adelaide Advertiser.

In the accompanying article, The Advertiser revealed the shocking news that the costs of government subsidies to people who installed solar panels, both the installation subsidies and the feedback tariff subsidies, would have to be paid by other electricity users, and that this could add $120 per year to the average power bill.

The article notes the justifiable concerns expressed by some welfare groups:

Welfare groups say the scheme, which rewards householders with 44c a kilowatt hour for electricity they feed back into the grid, effectively results in low-income families subsidising bills of the rich.

“We’re not opposed to a solar feed-in tariff. But those people who are missing out are lower-income households, who simply can’t afford to pay for solar panels, even with a subsidy, yet they are having to pay for everybody else’s solar panels,” UnitingCare Wesley spokesman Mark Henley said.

I don’t know why people find this so hard to comprehend. When the government pays subsidies, whether to ‘renewable’ energy companies, child care centres, or metropolitan bus travellers, it is you, the ordinary tax payer, who pays those subsidies.

This is not shocking. It is obvious. The time to think about it, and to make it a headline story, is before the subsidies are implemented.

Writing in American Thinker, Robert Simmons, Jr says Sarah Palin should run for president, and can win if she does.

His argument is that she is a genuine social conservative/economic libertarian – just what is needed to counteract the interventionist bumbling of the Obama administration, that she is honest, intelligent and has strong administrative experience, and that even after the unprecentedly vicious and dishonest attacks on her and her family by the legacy media, she is still probably the USA’s most visible and popular politician.

It is unlikely the other potential Republican candidates, Romney, Pawlenty, Hunstman, for example, could garner such widespread popular appeal. In addition the media have so far given them an easy run. If one of them won the nomination, that would change, and the full fury of the liberal establishment would turn upon them in the months before the election.

But they have already run out of ammunition on Sarah Palin. She has been subjected to that same fury for the last three years and is still looking like a winner.

Although The Age is a left leaning paper, I was a regular reader up until a few years ago.

I am not sure what changed, but it seemed to me that The Age was no longer content with giving people the news and then saying ‘This is what we think about it.’

Instead ‘what we think about it’ was presented as the  news. Alternative opinions, even on the letters page, were not welcomed or considered.

So I stopped buying it. As did other people. Circulation declined notably more rapidly than other metropolitan dailies.

But in the last week, two columns have appeared which offer opinions different from The Age’s customary editorial line.

The first was Paul Sheehan’s article on the SBS crockumentary Go Back to Where You Came From.

In this column Sheehan points out that the SBS uses its customary cut and paste tricks to mislead viewers – see Immigration Nation for several spectacular examples – and notes that real empathy for refugees would lead to policies quite different from those of our present government.

The second was an article by Professor Bob Carter on the fallacies and dangers of climate change alarmism.

Here are some of the facts Bob thinks Australians should be aware of:

Fact 1. A mild warming of about 0.5 degrees Celsius (well within previous natural temperature variations) occurred between 1979 and 1998, and has been followed by slight global cooling over the past 10 years. Ergo, dangerous global warming is not occurring.

Fact 2. Between 2001 and 2010 global average temperature decreased by 0.05 degrees, over the same time that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased by 5 per cent. Ergo, carbon dioxide emissions are not driving dangerous warming.

Fact 3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial. In increasing quantity it causes mild though diminishing warming (useful at a time of a quiet sun and likely near-future planetary cooling) and acts as a valuable plant fertiliser. Extra carbon dioxide helps to shrink the Sahara Desert, green the planet and feed the world. Ergo, carbon dioxide is neither a pollutant nor dangerous, but an environmental benefit.

Fact 4. Closing down the whole Australian industrial economy might result in the prevention of about 0.02 degrees of warming. Reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 (the government’s target) will avert an even smaller warming of about 0.002 degrees. Ergo, cutting Australian emissions will make no measurable difference to global climate.

Fact 5. For an assumed tax rate of $25 a tonne of carbon dioxide, the costs passed down to an average family of four will exceed $2000 a year.

So the cost-benefit equation is this: ”Your family pays more than $2000 a year in extra tax in return for a possible cooling of the globe by two one-thousandths of a degree.” Remember, too, that Garnaut’s recommendation is that the tax rate should be increased at 4 per cent a year, which would result in a cost doubling in less than 20 years.

I think the $2000 estimate of costs to the avergae family is too low, and does not take sufficiently into account the flow on from increased energy and transportation prices.

Nonetheless, I suspect that this will be the first time Age readers have been exposed to opnions/facts from an actual scientist questioning the media consensus.

There is a poll at the end of that article which asks readers ‘Do you think tackling climate change should be a priority for Australia?’

At the time of writing the results were: 74% No, 26% Yes.

When that sort of result appears in a poll in The Age, then maybe the tide of public opinion and commonsense is finally pulling the Titanic of the Australian print media back on course.

A few days ago Viscount Monckton suggested that those who think like professional climate boogeymen Ross Garnaut are on a short road to fascism.

Cue legacy media frenzy of horror. His comments were bizarre, appalling, distasteful, etc, etc. He should be disinvited from everything and no one should ever be seen near him again.

Yeah, but, yeah, but ….

When a group of well paid politicians, public servants, movie stars and journalists claim that some people should not be heard or published, that they should be imprisoned for their views, that they should be tattooed so that they can be easily identified, that is is fine to abuse them – not just for their views on matters of science and policy but for their physical appearance,  that democracy should be suspended, that it is amusing to show videos of children being blown up at the the press of a button…

Then how does that not sound like they are on a short road to fascism?

I doubted that Sarah Palin was electable as US president, even if she won the Republican nomination.

I have changed my mind.

She could do the job. The democrat/liberal claim she is stupid is based on nothing but fear of a formidable opponent.

Anyone who thinks she lacks intellect or education has not listened to her speak on key issues, or read her articles.

She has experience of life and of opposition and intimidation, and has faced even the most revolting comments about her and her family with grace and generosity.

Just as importantly, she has experience in actually running things – something the present incumbent lacks – and she seems to have an awareness of, and an ability to think clearly about, key world and domestic issues.

What I thought made her unelectable was the sheer magnitude of the campaign against her. She has been so thoroughly vilified in the media that everyone’s opinions of her have been touched to some extent by constant misrepresentations and accusations.

What has changed my mind is Steve Bannon’s film ‘Undefeated.’

It portrays Sarah as a woman of intelligence, integrity and courage, and it shows how these things enabled her to be extraordinarily effective as Governor of Alaska. Her care for ordinary people and determination to do what is right shine through the film.

I hope she will run, but whatever she decides, God bless her and her family.

Lord Turnbull was Permanent Secretary of the UK Department for the Environment from 1994 to 1998, and Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service 2002-05.

He has written a twenty page briefing paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It is called The Really Inconvenient Truth Or “It ain’t necessarily so.” You can download the report in PDF format here.

Lord Turnbull discusses the claims of the IPCC specifically from the point of view of providing a basis for government policy.

He notes that there is general agreement that the world has gotten warmer by about 0.8 degress Celsius over the last 150 years. There is general agreement that there is a ‘greenhouse effect’ and that CO2 contributes to it.

(Not every scientist agrees that this is so. Alan Siddons, for example, claims there is no evidence of any real world greenhouse effect at all, and that it is not even theoretically possible.)

But back to Turnbull. He goes on to point that the alarm over climate change is based on the untested and increasingly unlikely looking assumption that a harmless and possibly beneficial 1 degree increase in global temperature caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would be amplified to between 3 and 6 degrees by various other ‘positive feedbacks,’ mainly a dramatically increased greenhouse effect caused by higher levels of water vapour.

Now in his own words:

The Really Inconvenient Truth is that the propositions of the IPCC do not bear the weight of certainty with which they are expressed. However, the purpose of the paper is not to argue that there is another truth which should become the new consensus, but to point out the doubts that exist about the IPCC viewpoint and serious flaws in its procedures. It is also to question why the UK Government has placed such heavy bets on one particular source of advice.

Even if the IPCC scenarios were correct, the impacts are frequently selective and exaggerated. The economic policy choices being made will not minimize the cost of mitigation. The paper concludes with a call for more humility from scientists, more rational reflection from politicians, and more challenge from our parliamentarians.

There it is: The economic policy choices being made will not minimize the cost of mitigation.

Climate change is inevitable, and difficult to predict.

Responsible government would act so as to minimise the negative effects of climate change.

But the Gillard Labor government is acting in exactly the opposite way. Its policies are designed to slow development and economic growth.

A ‘carbon tax’ is meant to hurt. It is meant to force us (the poorer of us, anyway) to reduce the amount we travel, to reduce our levels of consumption.

This means less tax income for government, less expenditure on infrastructure, less money for companies to put into research and development.

In other words, current policy directions will not enhance, but rather severely reduce our ability to mitigate the effects of future climate change whether warmer or, more likely and more damagingly, colder.

That was Louie the fly, in the famous Mortein ads. But it might as well have been organic food, except then it would need to be ‘Straight from manure pile to you.’

Health authorities were issuing warnings years ago about the increased dangers of ‘organic’ foods. Take this, from the Angelo State University in 2001, for example:

Organic Food May Hold Hidden Dangers

Going organic may be hazardous to your health.

The reason is a strain of the E. coli bacteria may actually contaminate certain vegetables when they are fertilized with organic materials, says Dr. Mandy A. Carr, a research scientist and assistant professor of animal science at Angelo State University.

Typical symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include acute cramps, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and, in worst cases, kidney failure, Carr said. Children under 5 and the elderly are most susceptible to the infection.

Recent research, she said, has shown that E. coli O157:H7 causes over 40,000 infections and 250 deaths each year in the United States alone. The organism can incubate in the human intestinal tract for up to four days before symptoms develop. The illness can last up to 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels E. coli O157:H7 as one of the top four concerns related to the national food supply.

Or this, in 2002, from the Center for Global Food Issues:

Harsh Organic Reality

Organic food is more dangerous than conventionally grown produce because organic farmers use animal manure as the major source of fertilizer for their food crops. …

Organic farmers compound the contamination problem through their reluctance to use antimicrobial preservatives, chemical washes, pasteurization, or even chlorinated water to rid their products of dangerous bacteria.

The new E. coli attacks even the strong. It inflicts permanent damage on internal organs. It even kills healthy adults. The new salmonella is nearly as dangerous.

As these lethal new bacteria spread, organic foods have clearly become the deadliest food choice.

Bloggers have also drawn attention to the problems of contamination of ‘organic’ food. This from Brian Dunning at Skeptoid in 2007:

Some supporters of organic growing claim that the danger of non-organic food lies in the residues of chemical pesticides. This claim is even more ridiculous: Since the organic pesticides and fungicides are less efficient than their modern synthetic counterparts, up to seven times as much of it must be used. Organic pesticides include rotenone, which has been shown to cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and is a natural poison used in hunting by some native tribes; pyrethrum, which is carcinogenic; sabadilla, which is highly toxic to honeybees; and fermented urine, which I don’t want on my food whether it causes any diseases or not.

Supporters of organics claim that the much larger amounts of chemicals they use is OK because those chemicals are all-natural. But just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe or healthy — consider the examples of hemlock, mercury, lead, toadstools, box jellyfish neurotoxin, asbestos — not to mention a nearly infinite number of toxic bacteria and viruses (E. coli, salmonella, bubonic plague, smallpox). When you hear any product claim to be healthy because its ingredients are all natural, be skeptical. By no definition can “all natural” mean that a product is healthful.

Consider the logical absurdity proposed by those who claim conventional growers produce less healthful food. To the organically minded, conventional growers are evil greedy corporations interested only in their profit margin. What’s the best way to improve the profit margin? To buy less pesticides and fertilizer. This means they must use far more advanced and efficient products. The idea that pesticides leave dangerous residues is many decades out of date. Food production is among the most regulated and scrutinized of processes, and today’s synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are completely biodegradable. They’re supported by decades of studies that demonstrate their total safety.

In the United States, 2006 brought two major outbreaks of E. coli, both resulting in deaths and numerous illnesses, ultimately traced to organically grown spinach and lettuce. According to the Center for Global Food Issues, organic foods make up about 1% of all the food sold in the United States, but it accounts for 8% of E. coli cases.

And now, surprise, surprise, the latest massive E. Coli outbreak in Europe which has infected over 2,000 people and killed 22, has been traced to an organic sprout farm in Germany.

And no, that’s not jihad in the sense of the inner struggle against sin and weakness. It means the use of violence to achieve the impostion of sharia law and the establishment of a caliphate.

“The Soldier’s Prayer,” written in 1912 by Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gokalp:

The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army.

From Andrew G. Bostom at Big Peace:

During August 2007, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) released “Radicalization in the West — The Homegrown Threat.” This insightful 90-page report evaluated the threat that had become apparent since 9/11/2001, analyzing the roots of recent terror plots in the United States, from Lackawanna in upstate New York to Portland, Ore., to Fort Dix, NJ. Based upon these case-study analyses of individuals arrested for jihadist activity, the authors concluded that the “journey” of radicalization that produces homegrown jihadists began in so-called “Salafist” (“fundamentalist” to non-Muslims) mosques characterized by high levels of Sharia—Islamic Law—adherence.

The landmark study just published, “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” (Kedar M, Yerushalmi D. The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2011, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 59-72) sought to expand considerably upon the NYPD’s post-hoc, case study approach—systematically gathering objective survey data, with much greater methodological rigor—and address these two a priori questions: I) Is there a robust association between observable measures of religious devotion, coupled to Sharia-adherence in US mosques, and the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at these mosques?; and II) Is there a robust association between the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at a mosque, and the advocacy of jihadism by the mosque’s leadership via recommending the study of these materials, or other manifest behaviors? …

In brief, survey data were collected from a nationally representative, random statistical sample of 100 US mosques, covering 14 states, and the District of Columbia. …

The study’s results provide clear—and ominous—affirmative answers to the a priori questions posed. Sharia-adherence was strongly associated with the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials, and the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials was in turn robustly associated with advocacy of jihadism by mosque imams—religious leaders. This key summary finding was highlighted by the authors:

…51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari‘a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.

Thus 81% of this statistical sample representative of US mosques were deemed as moderately (30%) to highly (51%) supportive of promulgating jihad violence to impose Shari’a.

Even more disturbing is the fact that only 4.7% of regular Muslim worshippers attend a mosque where no violent jihadist materials are available, because the Sharia/Caliphate/Jihad supporting mosques are better attended.

It would be interesting to see a similar survey of mosques in Australia.

I have often wondered about the economic and environmental value of public transport buses lumbering through city traffic.

I have lived in rural areas most of my life, and it has always annoyed me that I have to pay for those busses through my taxes when I never use them, and when I pay more for petrol, earn less, and have to travel further to work than the people I am subsidising.

So I was interested to read Ezra Levant’s article The bus stops here: The truth about public transit in the Edmonton Sun a few days ago.

Here are a few paragraphs:

Let’s start off with the obvious: Buses are extremely expensive. They take billions of dollars each year from all levels of government. And yet despite these massive subsidies, bus fares continue to skyrocket.

But everyone knows government transit is a huge waste of money. That’s a given. But buses are supposed to be environmentally superior to cars. That’s the whole excuse for them.

It’s a lie.

For a couple of hours each day, buses are full — so they’re efficient. But outside of rush hour, buses are mainly empty. But they still burn nearly as much gas and still cost the same to run and maintain as if they were full.

Using data from the Washington-based CATO Institute, investigative reporter Kevin Libin found that when you compare the amount of energy burned and pollution emitted per person, per mile, buses are bigger polluters than cars are.

City buses burn 27% more energy per passenger mile than cars do. Of course — because most of the day, those huge tanks are barreling down the road with just a few people in them, sometimes just the driver. And city buses emit 31% more CO2 than cars do.

If you want to reduce pollution, drive your car. Don’t take a bus….

Same thing with bike lanes, including in wacko cities such as Toronto and Vancouver where actual car lanes on the street have been blocked off for bikes only. So in rush hour, thousands of cars sit idling in traffic jams — wasting time and wasting fuel. The odd bike goes by — but thousands of drivers are punished.

Buses are more expensive, use more fuel, and pollute more per passenger mile than cars. And because they slow traffic, bike lanes cause more, not less, pollution.

Canada does not have a monopoly on dopey big spending policies which achieve the opposite of what they intend. And we’re not short of wacko cities in Australia either.

The ABC reports a ‘catholic’ doctor working at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital has had his Catholic faith shaken by the hospital’s refusal to provide written advice on artificial contraception to patients participating in a cancer drug trial.

Really? A Catholic doctor’s faith is shaken because the Catholic hospital he works at acts in accordance with Catholic teaching?

Catholic hospitals are leaders in cancer research. All such research involves risks. In this case, there is a possibility the drug could cause birth defects.

The hospital provides everyone considering participating in the trial with a statement of the risks involved, including a section on reproductive risks.

It would be sensible to avoid conceiving a child while taking the drug.

Advice about natural methods of contraception is also available at the hospital.

Essentially, this means keeping track of the woman’s cycles, and avoiding intercourse for a maximum of ten days around the time of ovulation. This is as effective as the pill in preventing conception. Because no drugs are involved, there are no side effects, nor any possibility that artificial hormones will interfere with the cancer therapy.

If you can’t refrain from intercourse for ten days at a time for a few months while participating in a drug trial, there is something wrong with you.

When Kathy had uterine cancer, she underwent surgery then a course of radiotherapy. We were not able to make love for six months. It was frustrating at times. It also gave us a chance to grow together in other ways, and to appreciate the gift of sex even more.

If that path is not for you, there are plenty of places which will offer all the advice you need.

But why would anyone, including a doctor, think they had the right to get such advice from a Catholic hospital?

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