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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Everything I have read about Julian Assange suggests that he is a self-righteous glory seeker, unconcerned about anyone’s privacy, rights or welfare except his own.

The argument that the public is entitled to access to private business or government documents is a nonsense. Frank assessments of other nations, their leaders and policies, are vital to negotiations on trade, defence or other forms of co-operation.

The same applies to business. Without the assurance that discussions and negotiations can be conducted in confidence, whether in politics or commerce, participants will not speak freely, problems will not be uncovered, agreements will be made which do not benefit theose entering into them. Enough of that happens already.

To claim that because the people elect politicians to govern on their behalf, the people have a right to know every detail of every assessment or negotiation, strikes me as being manifestly absurd. Something like a spoilt little boy refusing to go to bed because he wants to know what the grown-ups are doing, and is worried he might miss out on something.

That, of course, is exactly what Assange gives the impression of being – a spoilt little boy.

Julian Assange is wanted by Swedish police for questioning in relation to accusations of sexual assault. Swedish authorities are seeking to extradite Assange from the UK so he can be questioned and possibly charged.

Demands by Assange’s mother that Kevin Rudd should fix things for her boy or resign confirm the spoilt brat impression. According to her, Rudd should:

 … make a strong and urgent representation to Sweden, to drop the extradition case against Julian on the grounds that he cannot now receive a fair trial. If you do not act I can only conclude that you’ve been gagged or intimidated, possibly by the very person who deposed you from your prime ministership eight months ago. Alternatively, you are choosing freely to be derelict in your duties as Australian Foreign Minister.

Meanwhile, Olympic class publicity seeker Geoffrey Robertson, who seems to have been drawn to Assange like a pirate to stolen treasure, has been relentlessly critical of the Swedish legal system, claiming that the prosecutor in the case is an irrational man-hater, that the complaints are trivial, that they are politically motivated, that his client will end up in Guantanamo Bay or on death row in the US if the extradition proceeds, and that the Swedish legal system cannot be trusted.

Not surprisingly, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is annoyed by these slurs:

Since Julian Assange came under police investigation for rape in Sweden, several international debaters have questioned the Swedish legal system. In the most extreme conspiracy theories the accusations have been mentioned that it is controlled by CIA.

Prime Minister Reinfeldt says to the newspaper Expressen that the right for women to start a legal process when they claim they have been victims of abuse is at stake. He says that Sweden has reached far when it comes to not accepting any kind of sexual abuse and those who attack the Swedish legal system is trying to limit the right for women to take a claimed sexual abuse to court.

Reinfeldt also comments in Expressen on Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens’ claims that Assange risk not getting a fair trial if he is sent to Sweden.

This (the false information on the Swedish legal system) is unfortunately the consequences when, in order to defend a client, one describe other countries legal systems in a patronizing way. But everyone who lives in Sweden know this is not true. The Swedish legal system is independent and work in accordance with the law.

Claes Borgström, the former Equality Ombudsman and legal representative of the two women who accuse Assange for sexual abuse, says to Svenska dagbladet (SvD):

There is a lot of false information about the Swedish legal system, about me and above all about my clients.

Geoffrey Robertson’s response to these perfectly reasonable expressions of frustration is to claim that Fredrik Reinfeldt has declared Julian Assange to be ‘public enemy number one,’ and that in doing so he has created a toxic atmosphere in which it will be impossible for Assange to get a fair trial.

Nonsense. The only person who has said anything of the sort is Geoffrey Robertson.

The women’s claims are not trivial. If true, they amount to rape. Whether ultimately upheld or not, they have a right to be heard.

That Assange is popular in some circles does not void that right.

Sickening and disturbing and not for viewing by children:

This is video of an event that took place in Indonesia on the 6th of February.

1,000 Muslims attacked a small group of members of the Ahmadiyah sect, destroying their home and beating them to death.

The last few minutes are especially horrifying. The murders are over by then, and then these men take out their mobile phones, get their souvenir photos of the mutilated bodies, and casually stroll back to their families.

The courage of the one policeman who tries to stop them is amazing.

The violence comes less than three months after US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia and praised its “spirit of religious tolerance” as an “example to the world”.

Update: The response from the Indonesian government is to blame the members of Ahmadiyah:

Imran Muchtar, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party, said he agreed with the solution offered by the minister. “First, Ahmadiyah members should repent, recognize their mistake and come back to the mainstream Islam,” he said.

“The second option they have is to leave Islam and declare a new religion. Otherwise the conflict will never end.”

Hazrul Azwar, a lawmaker from the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP), called for stronger action.

“The Ahmadiyah should be disbanded permanently, as long as the government is not strict enough the conflict is never going to end,” he said. “The fake prophet is a disgrace to my religion. Clerics in the whole world have banned Ahmadiyah, why is the government not doing the same thing?”

President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has joined UK Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in declaring recent attempts to force multi-culturalism onto Western communities a failure.

“We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him,” he said in a television interview in which he declared the concept a “failure.”

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said something similar last year at the World Jewish Congress. Perhaps people were not ready to listen then. That seems to be changing.

Some parts of his speech were quite confronting. A sample:

… major parts of the West are suffering a kind of crisis of identity. Europe is a good example. With a declining population, increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants, many of them exposed to radical ideas, multiculturalism has imposed itself as the politically correct way to deal with the challenges of different cultures living together even if some of them do not want to be integrated or do not respect the other.

The problem becomes all the more acute when judeo-christian values are aggressively challenged every day and the 68-generation that dominates our current leadership does nothing to defend them.

Peacenik Europe has been fighting the West for too long, and because of that has been so hypercritical of Israel.

The US provides a different story. At least until very recently. President Obama has put in motion forces that, if unchecked, may redefine the nation and its place in the world in ways that, to me, may cause major problems to all of us.

From his inauguration he has sought a new relationship with the Muslim world even at the cost of undermining America’s best ally in the region, as he has done with Europe in seeking to “press the reset button” in relations with Moscow.

He seems to have devoted more time and energy in organizing today’s meeting in Washington and advancing a new peace plan than in trying to prevent the Iranian regime from building its bomb. He has projected an image of somebody who wants to escape from the problems of the world, from Iraq to Afghanistan, embracing many enemies of America while punishing its traditional allies.

I don’t think the growing attacks against Israel, and the general campaign of deligitimation are unrelated to the crisis of the West, and more particularly, the crisis of confidence that emanates from the White House today.

Ron Burgess at Business Spectator describes Australian uber-alarmist Flim Flannery as ‘Labor’s new bogeyman.

I am not sure in what sense Flannery or his message are new. He has been constantly, amusingly wrong, but at least he has been consistent.

Ron says he doubts that Australian politicians, even those most stridently in the AGW (warming) camp, really believe what they are employing Tim Flannery to tell us to believe.

After all, you can judge what people really believe by what they do. If politicians like Wong and Garrett and Gillard really believed that human activity was causing catastrophic global warming, they would stop doing climate warmy stuff like flying everywhere and living in huge houses, and they would be doing their best to convince everyone else to do the same. But they’re not.

There’s an opnion that despite what they say, leftist politicians don’t really believe this. After all there’s no evidence for AGW and never has been (not that reality is a major factor in leftist policy development). They only espouse global warming alarmism because it gives an opportunity for restrictions on industry, and greater government control over almost every aspect of the lives of ordinary citizens.

I disagree. I think that on this, Wong, Garrett, Gillard, Turnbull, etc really do believe what they say they believe. People’s actions are not always consistent with what they believe, even if those beliefs are deeply and sincerely held.

In the case of politicians, the need to get re-elected is pre-eminent. After all, having high ideals and believing the right things is important, but if you are not in power, you can’t change law or policy. So it’s better to stay in power and do what you can, even if you think that is not enough, than to be out of power and not be able to do anything.

Here is where Ron Burgess’ assessment of this appointment is spot on. He says Flannery’s real job is to ‘put the wind up Australians.’ For non Australian readers, that means to scare people.

On paper, the primary role of Tim Flannery’s new position is to ‘provide independent information for members of the community … on three areas in particular: firstly, the science of climate change and its impacts on this country…’

We all know he is not going to do that. Independent information on the science of climate change is the last thing Flannery is interested in. He has made huge amounts of money by ignoring climate science. What he is an expert in is scaring people. Good choice for a bogeyman.

Except that, as I noted above, his scary predictions have been consistently wrong.

The problem for the Labor government is that this fact, and this appointment, make it clear right from the beginning that there is no objectivity, no interest in a fair assessment of climate science, no commitment to truth.

People are not buying this. The bogeyman just isn’t scary anymore.

Update: Saturday – Andrew Bolt has a useful and extensive list of Flannery’s failed predictions, and the cost imposed on the community by those who believed them.

The horrifying thing about Tania’s Staker’s treatment of her children is not just that a mother could be so appallingly, horrifyingly cruel. Sadly, for individuals to have no regard for the needs or feelings or humanity of others is not that uncommon.

What is horrifying is that the three men who lived in that house also participated in the daily routine of physical and emotional abuse.

The other 21 children who lived there can be excused. They were children. And perhaps terrified themselves. The adults cannot.

Tania Staker - Mother and Monster

A WOMAN who masterminded a cruel regime of starvation “beyond comprehension” and fuelled by jealousy has been jailed for 10 years.

Today, the Supreme Court jailed Tania Marie Staker, 36, for her role in the neglect of five children at a northern suburbs house between February and June 2008.

Three men – the children’s father Luke Armistead, 38, Michael Quinlivan, 27, and Robert Armistead, 41 – were each sentenced to nine years in prison.

In sentencing, Justice Kevin Duggan said each of the adults had inflicted a daily routine of punishment “beyond comprehension” on the five siblings.

“It reached a point where the children were made to stand against a wall without moving … they were made to stand in the same position from morning until night.”

Each of the children were beaten, starved, choked and fed only the scraps left over after the other 21 children in the house had eaten a share of hot chips or noodles.

News of the latest violent incident at a detention centre for illegal immigrants brought to mind a couple of recent conversations with customers.

The first was with a woman who said she could understand people wanting to get away from places that were violent, or where they couldn’t get enough to eat. If she were in that situation she would do everything she could to get her family out too.

‘But,’ she said, ‘if things really are that bad, and they come over here, and we make sure they’re safe, we feed them, we give them medicine, we teach their chidren, and all this costs them nothing, why are they so angry?’

‘I know it would not be nice being in detention, but they must know that’s reasonable if they arrive with no ID, and that if they are patient, most of them will be accepted?’

‘So how can being in a safe comfortable place be something you would riot over, and cause harm to property and other people?’

The second was with another female customer. She too had read recent stories of violence among illegal immigrants. She too was sympathetic to a desire to get one’s family away from poverty and violence.

‘But,’ she said, ‘these people have stuffed up their own countries. Or they live in countries which have been stuffed up. And some of those countries could be very rich. And then these people come over here, and they demand to have the same rules that made their countries so horrible. So why don’t we just say no, you can’t do that, and if you want to live like that, go back where you came from?’

Ratepayers Victoria President Jack Davis agrees:

“People come to Australia because it’s a better place,” he said. “So then you should become Australian and abide by the customs of Australia, not change Australia to suit your customs from another country.”

Nor can a culture. We all just have to accept one another and learn from one another.

Yes. Lovely. Except that accepting this lovely idea means ignoring virtually the whole of world history.

Andrew McCarthy at the NRO notes a particularly egregious example of sharia in practice – a fourteen year old girl who had been raped by a forty year old neighbour was sentenced to 100 lashes for illicit sexual activity, but died after 80 lashes.

14 Year Old Hena Begum Died After Receiving 80 Lashes for Having Been Raped

Andrew notes:

When I catalogue the horrors of sharia, I frequently hear in response that I am oversimplifying it, that I am relying on incorrect interpretations (oddly said to be inaccurate because they construe Islamic doctrine “too literally”), or that I fail to appreciate the richness and nuances of sharia jurisprudence that have made it possible for moderate Muslims to evolve away from the law’s harshness. Some even claim sharia is not a concrete body of law, just a set of  aspirational guidelines — as if Sakineh Ashtiani, the woman sentenced by an Iranian court to death by stoning, will merely be having advice, rather than rocks, thrown at her …

 These criticisms miss the point … It should by now be undeniable that there is an interpretation of sharia that affirms all its atrocious elements, and that this interpretation is not a fringe construction. It is mainstream and backed by very influential scholars who know a hell of a lot more about Islam than we in the West do. That makes it extremely unlikely that this interpretation will be marginalized any time soon. There is no agreed-upon hierarchical authority in Islam that can authoritatively pronounce that various beliefs and practices are heretical. The closest thing Muslims have is the faculty at al-Azhar University in Egypt, and it is a big part of the problem. Whether this fundamentalist interpretation is accepted by only 20 or 30 percent of Muslims — or whether, as I believe, the percentage is higher, perhaps much higher — that still makes it the belief system of almost half a billion people worldwide. That’s not a fringe.

No it’s not. And, pretending it is means we are blind to the likely outcome of elections in Egypt – another hardline islamist state – and to the infuence of that outcome on the rest of the Middle East.

Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish makes the same point, but better:

59 percent of Egyptian Muslims want democracy and 95 percent want Islam to play a large part in politics. 84 percent believe apostates should face the death penalty. That is what Egyptian democracy will look like. A unanimous majority that wants an Islamic state and a bare majority that wants democracy. Which one do you think will win out? A democratic majority of the country supports murdering people in the name of Islam. Mubarak’s government does not execute apostates or adulterers. But a democratic Egypt will. Why? Because it’s the will of the people.

The cheerleaders shaking their pom poms for Egyptian democracy don’t seem to grasp that the outcome could be anything other than positive …

We fought to free Korea and Vietnam from Communism, but we lacked one basic thing. Ground level support from the people we were fighting to protect. Today South Koreans like Kim Jong Il more than they like us. We fought to free the tyrants of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. As a reward, they financed the terrorists who have been killing us ever since. We fought to free Iraq from Saddam, and the entire country imploded into armed camps. Our “Victory in Iraq” came about because we cut a deal with the Baathists against the Shiites and Al Qaeda, essentially restoring a broken version of Saddam’s old status quo. We fought to liberate Afghanistan, and now we find ourselves allied with some Muslim warlords who abuse women and rape little boys– against the other Muslim warlords who abuse women and rape little boys.

Handing out democracy like candy does not fix existing cultural problems. It does not end bigotry, free women or stop murder in the name of Allah. Open elections are only as good as the people participating in them. And the 84 percent of Egyptians who want to murder apostates have issues that democracy will not solve. The problem with Egypt is not Mubarak– but the Egyptians.

Let’s take another example. In Jordan, the next target on the freedom tour, King Hussein passed a bill to criminalize the honor killings of women. And their democratically elected parliament voted 60 to 25 to strike the bill down. It took them only 3 minutes. That’s what democracy would mean for the Jordanian girls murdered by their husbands, brothers and fathers. The right of the people and their duly elected representatives to legalize the murder of women …

Egypt’s period of greatest liberalization was under British rule. Since then its cosmopolitan nightspots have been torched and it has drifted closer to Islamization. Even Egypt’s current level of human rights under Mubarak is above that of most of its neighbors. And the reason for that is Mubarak’s ties to America. The more democratic Egypt becomes, the more its civil rights will diminish. Its rulers will see social issues as an easy way to compromise with the Muslim Brotherhood. As Egypt’s cultural ties to the West diminish, so will its freedoms …

A people who do not believe in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will not be free no matter how many times they go to the polls. You can place voting booths outside every home and run elections every week, and it will still do no good. Freedom may be the birthright of every man, woman and child on earth– but it cannot be theirs until they claim it. As long as they believe in the right of the majority to oppress the minority, in the value of order over liberty, and the supremacy of the mosque over any and all civil and legal rights– then they will never be free. Never. Their elections will either give rise to chaos or tyranny. That is how it is in the Middle East. That is how it will always be until they claim their birthright by closing the Koran and opening their minds.

via Instapundit.

These low tech, fuel efficient wood burning stoves are a renewable energy project that will save lives, by leaving more time for mothers to spend with their children, and more money to be spent on food and medical care.

You can help – just follow the link.

Of course, if we really want to help people out of poverty, nuclear power would be better. But this is a good start.

Ann Timson, a  71 year old armed only with a handbag, thought someone was in trouble and came running, taking on six young men armed with hammers:

A British grandmother who “clobbered” a gang of sledgehammer-wielding jewel thieves with her handbag credited her “mother’s instinct” for spurring her into action.

Ann Timson, 71, was captured on video hitting three of the six helmet-clad robbers, causing one to fall off his moped as he tried to make his escape during the botched raid in Northampton, central England.

“I saw a kid run up to the doorway of the jeweller,” Ms Timson said.

“Three lads followed him and when I saw their arms going, I thought the kid was being beaten up.

“My mother’s instinct kicked in and I ran across the road shouting at the lads to stop it.

“As I got closer I saw it was a robbery, and then I was even more angry,” the former market trader added.

“One of the gang shot off… I clobbered him with my shopping.

“I landed several blows against one lad… and brought him to the ground.

“He raised a hammer to me so I kept hitting out. It seemed to be over in seconds.”

There a few versions of this video, but this one, with Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory, and the words of Churchill in the background, captures it best. It is because of the courage of people like Ann that England is a land of hope, and because ordinary people like her step in when needed that Churchill’s words still ring true today:

Sorry -the version with Elgar and Churchill has been removed from youtube. This is the same video, though.

Thanks, Ann.

And editorial differences, too.

Nine News reports that four Perth taxi drivers have been charged with sex offences. No names. Nothing about cultural differences.

Perth Now covers the same story, but notes that two or three (Singh could be Sikh) of the four have islamic names. One of them is called Arshad. Seriously.

Perth Now also notes:

The allegations against the drivers have prompted police to concede there are some “cultural issues” within the taxi industry which need eradicating.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Hindriksen of the Police Sex Assault Squad said the majority of WA taxi drivers were doing a “great job” but that a small minority were bringing the industry into disrepute.

“Certainly there are some cultural issues within the industry,” Det Snr Sgt Hindriksen said.

 Nine News makes a deliberate choice to leave out that information. Why?

Sigh… If only it were that easy.

Had a letter from the Kangaroo Island Council today, inviting us (and every other ratepayer) to an information session on the ‘Solar Councils Community Program.’

This is free advertising for one of the solar panel carpetbaggers – ZEN Home Energy Systems. KI Council thoughtfully enclosed a brochure so we could be impressed by how green and nice and renewable and sustainable and everything their panels are.

They even won an award – from the Municipal Association of Victoria, the ‘Award of Excellence in Sustainability.’ So they must be good, eh. Choice, bro!

Of course, they give money to the local Council too, in the form of grants for a local ‘Renewable Energy research Fund,’ which will be used to investigate further options to cut greenhouse gas emissions in local areas.

Perhaps they could investigate the number of vegetarians eating excessive amounts of cabbage.

The brochure tells us that ‘The introduction of renewable energy in communities has the potential to create jobs through the greater take up of renewable energy opportunities and growing industry. it will ultimately lead to lower power bills.’

Lovely. Except that nothing in that sentence is true.

The experience of every country that has ‘created jobs’ through the installation of photo-voltaics is that approximately 5 jobs are lost for every job created. This is because it takes an average of $400,000 in subsidies (in other words, money taken from taxpayers) to create each new job.

That is money taken from businesses which are creating something useful or offering useful services. It is money that cannot be spent employing people to create those useful things, because the government is taking it to spend on solar panels.

If solar panels really did save more energy than they cost, they wouldn’t need to be subsidised.

And as for leading to lower power bills – ROTFL!

Well I would be if it were not so damned tragic. Solar subsidies will actually raise power costs by about 20%. And this, like every other increase in basic living costs, will impact most on people who can least afford it.

But who cares, as long as the government looks like it’s being green and responsible and stuff, and the solar carpet-baggers are making their loot?

I do, for one.

The subsidies are wrong, the advertising dishonest, and the overall cost to the consumer and the wider community ridiculously expensive. Rooftop solar schemes will increase unemployment, and because of the utterly useless increased taxes they require, reduce our competitiveness in industry and export.

So should I get solar panels? The problem is that whether I get them or not, I am still paying for them – both in the initial subsidies and the in the ongoing forced (by the government) payment by power companies of excessive rates for solar power fed back into the grid – payments which increase the cost of power for everyone.

Even with the subsidies they would barely save me anything over their lifetime. And straight away that tells you there is something wrong. If they really did save energy they would be cheaper. They wouldn’t need to be subsidised. But I’ve already said that. 

So should I get them?

I would be participating in a scheme that rips everyone off if I do.

But I’m paying for them anyway. I feel like I’m ripping myself off if I don’t.

Nonie Darwish says she believes it was inevitable the Muslim Brotherhood would take edvantage of any civil unrest after what they would have seen as encouragement in President Obama’s Cairo speech:

I foresaw that there could be an uprising in Egypt that would empower the Brotherhood right after I heard Obama’s Cairo speech. Losing Egypt and perhaps more other countries may be Obama’s legacy. Obama has empowered the Islamists not only in the Muslim world, but also inside in the U.S. Could anyone have imagined the U.S. president support the building of a mosque on Ground Zero against the wishes of his own people and the families of the victims?

Watch this:

From The Barnabas Fund:

As Egypt descends into deeper unrest … the country’s Christians are falling victim to the chaos as their shops are looted and essential supplies start to run out.

The majority of Egyptian Christians already live in extreme poverty, and as the demonstrations paralyse daily life, their struggle to make ends meet has become harder. While many shops are being attacked and looted, Christian shops have been particularly targeted.

Christian gatherings and church meetings have been cancelled, while some church minsters are sleeping in their church buildings to protect them from attack. A Barnabas Fund contact said that believers were staying in their homes, where they are “praying hard” and “trusting God” amid the tumult.

Egypt’s Christian community was already feeling under threat following targeted attacks, most notably the suicide bombing at a church in Alexandria on New Year’s Day that killed at least 21 worshippers. Now they find themselves caught up in an escalating political crisis that could have worrying implications for their future.

Though the unrest is essentially fuelled by economic, social and political grievances, there are growing fears that radical Islamists may capitalise on it to seize power. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is backing influential opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, is the only large, organised opposition group.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warned this weekend that Egypt’s ancient Christian minority could become increasingly endangered should President Hosni Mubarak be ousted:

“It is really legitimate for the (Christians) to be worried that instability (will) follow Mubarak’s fall and his replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In addition to the targeted, violent attacks, Egyptian Christians face discrimination in many areas of life, such as in education and employment. Conditions for them would only worsen under an Islamic regime.

One sixth of one percent of the land in the Middle East. No oil. Not much in the way of natural resources. Constantly under threat.

Yet what they have built, and what they give, is amazing.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem – those who love you will prosper. Psalm 122:6

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