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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

From Family Security Matters writer Fiona Kobusingye, co-chair of the Congress of Racial Equality Uganda:

I wish I had a shilling for every time someone told me spraying homes with DDT to prevent malaria is like using Africans in evil experiments. I would be a rich woman.
 
That claim is a blatant falsehood. Even worse, it hides the many ways poor Africans really are being used in environmental experiments that cause increased poverty, disease and death…

Bluntly put, environmentalists are using African parents and children in anti-DDT experiments. Against all the evidence from decades of using only nets and drugs and maybe other insecticides, they want to keep ignoring DDT as a long-lasting spatial insect repellant. They want to keep us doing what has at best worked only partially, on the assumption that maybe it will work better next year – or that a 30% malaria reduction is good enough.
 
They are playing with our lives. So are the government agencies, health NGOs and others who support their policies. This is wrong and immoral. And it is only one of the ways they use Africans as experimental laboratory animals. They are also denying us access to other modern technologies that can improve and save lives…

600 million people in sub-Sahara Africa live on two million shillings ($900 USD) or less per year. Nearly 700 million never have electric power for lights, refrigeration, schools, shops and clinics – or have it only a few hours per week. Millions die from diseases that would be prevented, if they did not have to burn wood and dung, and had safe water, better healthcare and higher living standards that reliable, affordable electrical power would bring.
 
But environmentalists constantly block coal, gas and hydro-electric power plants. They want us to live in experimental societies where people get whatever limited electrical power can be generated day to day with wind turbines or solar panels. They pressured the World Bank to reject loan applications for power plants in Ghana and South Africa, and support President Obama when he says Africans should focus on wind, solar and bio-fuel power, instead of fossil fuels.
 
Meanwhile, they live in wealthy countries, with all the electrical power they need. With the health, opportunity and prosperity electrical power brings. With freedom and mobility that cars and fossil fuels bring. With blessings most Africans can only dream of.

There’s more, and it’s all worth reading.

This is worrying.

Reason magazine reports an investigation of South Carolina’s state forensic science lab has found that:

.. though the crime lab’s results were presented to juries with the authoritativeness of science, laboratory procedures were geared toward just one outcome: putting as many people in prison as possible..

The report found that SBI agents withheld exculpatory evidence or distorted evidence in more than 230 cases over a 16-year period. Three of those cases resulted in execution. There was widespread lying, corruption, and pressure from prosecutors and other law enforcement officials on crime lab analysts to produce results that would help secure convictions.

The article raises questions about whether it is even possible for state crimes labs which work with prosecutors to be impartial.

I was reminded as I read that article of an aquaintance of mine, Henry Keogh. Henry was found guilty of the murder of his fiance, and in 1996 was sentenced to 26 years in goal . I have spoken with Henry in goal a number of times.

His conviction was based almost entirely on the evidence of now discredited chief forensic pathologist Colin Manock.

Despite this, he is now in his fifteenth year in goal for a crime it can no longer even remotely be claimed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ he committed .

Incidentally, Henry Keogh is also quite an accomplished artist:

Beggar by Henry Keogh

This story is a couple of days old now, but it has been hectic at work, and I have not had time to post anything the last few days. Or to play World of Warcraft either, which really shows just how busy it was!

The Toronto Sun reports that 71% of Tamils who were granted refugee status in Canada, on the basis they faced life-threatening persecution, have returned home for a holiday since.

That would be like Jews who fled Nazi Germany deciding to go back to Berlin to hear the opera. Sorry, it just doesn’t add up.

The Tamils are playing us for fools. They’re not genuine refugees. Genuine refugees don’t go back to a country that’s persecuting them.

I guess the situation would be similar in Australia.

We have an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves. And we must be generous in offering shelter to those who are persecuted.

But opening our borders to anyone who turns up means that monetary and human resources are taken from people who are in real need or danger, and who don’t have the money or connections to bypass the channels that protect them and us from fake claims and unnecessary costs.

Letting in people who claim to be refugees but who then head back to their country of origin for a holiday means real refugees are left in danger or languishing in camps.

It is not lack of compassion that demands border protection – just the opposite.

Most Iraqis don’t want US soldiers to leave.

From anti-jihad site the Religion of Peace:

Ramadan 2010 Scorecard
 

Day 14In the name of
The Religion
of Peace
In the name of
All Other
Religions
Terror Attacks 860
Dead Bodies3790

And this picture:

Ramadan 2007 Scorecard

 Does anyone still not think there is a problem here?

And just to make what should not need to be stated absolutely clear, I don’t have a problem with muslims. I have two I count as friends – a Turkish man and an Indonesian woman.

She is more serious about her faith than he. She fasts, prays, keeps Ramadan, does not eat pork or lobster. But when I asked her to name a few things in the Koran she found especially inspiring, she could not answer. Eventually she admitted she had never read it.

I have.

Neither of my two muslim friends, it seems to me, have any real idea what their religion teaches.

A problem with muslims? No. A problem with Islam? Yes.

And for those who insist there is no moral difference between Islam and Christianity, because of, say, the Spanish Inquisition, it might be worth remembering the number of people killed every year in the name of Allah is greater than the number of people killed after being handed over to secular authorities by the Spanish Inquisition in its entire 350 year history.

That count of jihad murders does not include the deaths that would have occurred had numerous other plots and attacks succeeded.

Even if Christianity had been as bad a thousand years ago as Islam is now (and it wasn’t) why on earth would that be a reason not to take the present threat seriously?

I find these guys annoying. There is far too much pointless swearing – it’s intrusive and sometimes offensive. So you couldn’t show this a to a group of students, or your Rotary Club, which is a pity. And Penn and Teller are often arrogant and sometimes wrong.

But there is enough good research and good argument in this episode to make it worth watching (the three video segments linked below make up a single half-hour episode).

Best line? About halfway through the second segment, when Penn says ‘Ahh.. subsidies. That’s when the government takes tax money from you by force, and spends it on something you wouldn’t be willing to pay for..’ ‘Governments tell you to recycle because it saves money and resources. But if it saved money and resources, you’d be paid for doing it – that’s the way money works.’

Instead of which, of course, recycling costs governments and local communities millions of dollars each year ($8 billion per year in the US), precisely because it costs energy and resources.

The argument that recycling creates jobs is also well handled. Jobs created by recycling programs are pointless ‘make work’ which have to be funded by additional fees and taxes which reduce cash flow and consequently reduce funds available to employ people in work that creates useful goods or services.

Enjoy!

The Australian Electoral Commission has declared Brisbane for the Liberals.

That leaves only Hasluck and Corangamite in doubt. Both still too close to call. But in Hasluck, Family First, Christian Democratic Party and Climate Sceptic preferences will all go strongly to the Liberals. That, along with the fact that postal and absentee votes tend to favour the Liberals, should be enough to get them over the line.

I said on Saturday night that the Liberals would probably need Corangamite to win.

Sally-Anne Brown’s preferences will go almost entirely to Labor. Family First’s mostly to the Liberals. As the votes presently stand, Greens’ preferences would need to run almost two to one Labor to Liberal for Labor to retain the seat. And they are running almost two to one. The only hope for the Liberals here is for Sarah Henderson to come in very strongly in the last 15% of the vote. But there are only about 600 votes separating the Labor and Liberal, so this is entirely possible.

If Hasluck and Corangamite come to the Liberals, and though Sarah is behind I think this is the likely result, final numbers will be, Labor 71, Liberal 74, 1 Green, 4 independents.

If the Liberals win Corangamite, Labor will not be able to form government, even with the Green and three of the independents. The Liberals will only need two of the independents, and will get them.

If Labor wins Corangamite, final numbers will be Labor 72, Liberal 73, 1 Green, 4 independents.

For Labor to form government they would need the Green and three independents – that is, all of the independents except Bob Katter, who, even though he has no love for the Nationals, will not co-operate in returning a manifestly inept Labor government.

Oakeshott seems to me a compete dimwit. Anyone is who hopes for a cabinet lead by Julia Gillard and starring Malcolm Turnbull.

So it may come down to Tony Windsor. But he doens’t want nuclear power, and thinks the NBN is a great idea. So not much brain power there either.

If Labor wins Corangamite, they may be able to form a very untidy government.

If Oakshott and Windsor have any integrity in relation to the trust placed in them by their electorates, they will support Tony Abbott, and help him to form a government which will put an end to the astonishing waste and incompetence of the last few years.

If they don’t, they are both likely never to be elected again, and justly – they will have betrayed the people who voted for them.

So… 65% chance the Liberals will win Corangamite. If so, they will be the next government.

If Labor wins Corangamite, it depends on the integrity of two of the independents, and their fear of not being re-elected if they do the wrong thing.

I am hopeful.

PS

I got a very polite email this afternoon from Corangamite independent candidate Sally-Anne Brown:

I was interested to read on your website in the article ‘election musings’ that my preferences would go almost entirely to the ALP in the seat of Corangamite.
 
I am writing to advise you – in case you were under the impression I did a direct preference to the ALP in Saturday’s election – that in fact I did not preference one major party ahead of the other – leaving this for voters to decide ie: I did a ‘split ticket’.

I hadn’t suggested that she had made a preference deal, or directed her preferences to one party over another. Rather, given her policy views, it seemed likely that those who gave their primary vote to her would be much more likely to feel an affinity to Labor than Liberal.

Sally-Anne issued a press release the day before the election explaining her position.

I believe there is genetic influence on human behaviour. Call it human nature if you like.

In between theology and philosophy I had time for a little bit of science. One of the units I took was Sociobiology – a branch of population genetics devoted to understanding genetic influence on animal behaviour. There is no doubt this is real and that certain behaviours are ‘inbuilt’ in certain species, eg dogs turning around before lying down to sleep, bees dancing messages, etc.

But I have been amused by the frequent media claims that scientists have discovered a gene for, take your pick, being fat, being gay, being an alcoholic, being outgoing. There is no one gene that accounts for any human behaviour, and in any case, one of the things that makes us human is that we can stand back from our instincts and make choices based on reason.

Too often the ‘it’s my genes’ argument has been used to justify a refusal to take responsibility. I didn’t choose to want to do that. So it must be in my genes. So it must be natural. So it must be good. So you have no right to criticise me for what I do. Or even, this is part of who I am, so it must be part of God’s plan for who I am, so you should support me and celebrate my gayness, laziness, whatever it is.

So I enjoyed this post on Maggie’s Farm. A collection of news headlines from the last three about the latest fat gene, friendly gene, bad driving gene.

Here are a couple:

Fat Gene

Lonely Gene

Sleep Gene

One of the things this demonstrates is how easily, if it makes good headlines, a mere suggestion by a group of scientists can suddenly become ‘settled science.’

I haven’t always been a fan of Michael Kroger, or at least, I regretted the apparent division between him and Jeff Kennett, and the harm it did the Victorian Liberal party.

But boy I am a fan now.

We really do need more politicians and business people to stand up to the arrant nonsense peddled by people like Wayne Swan, who, never having run a business themselves, and having no idea how to do so, ceaselessly lecture those who do, and who therefore generate tax income, employment, and useful goods and services.

via Tim Blair:

Amidst the deafening and ceaseless talk about environmental sustainability, Australia seems to have lost any reality based sense of the need for a sustainable balance between production, taxation and expenditure.

By Walter Starck on the Quadrant website.

All over the world developed nations have created more government than their increasingly uncompetitive, over-regulated, over-taxed economies can support. Deficit spending is epidemic and borrowing is reaching the limits of capacity to even maintain payments on interest. Increasing numbers of local, state and national governments are running on empty. Unpaid bills, layoffs and cuts to welfare and essential services are spreading. Financially desperate governments seem determined to seek and destroy any remaining pockets of economic viability via increased taxation and regulation.

While better off than most, Australia is not immune to this global malaise. We too suffer from chronic balance of trade deficits, unsustainable government commitments and proliferating bureaucracy strangling any productive activity. Australia has the highest house prices in the world, the highest level of personal debt, the steepest increases in food prices of any OECD country over the past decade and a declining manufacturing sector that is now the smallest in the developed world.

The city-centred cult of environmentalism puts up dire tales of species loss and climate change as barriers to new resource development, energy production, and manufacturing projects. But these tales frequently have no connection to reality, and draw their ‘facts’ from the popular media.

Like over-indulged children, the non-producers feel neither guilt nor gratitude, but rather a sense of entitlement. To this purpose environmentalism serves an important role. The world of non-producers begins at the shop and ends at the rubbish bin and it largely exists in an urban realm wherein nature has been virtually exterminated. From this viewpoint, only producers despoil the natural environment. Environmentalism affords non-producers a satisfying sense of moral superiority over those who support them. Not surprisingly, it is a popular belief commonly held with great conviction and righteousness. 

Anyone who produces anything is seen as an irresponsible exploiter. Our failure to make sensible use of our own fisheries is just one example:

In fisheries the situation is even worse. With the largest per capita fisheries resource in the world, we have the lowest production and our harvest rate is the lowest in the world at only 1/30 of the global average. Our fishing fleet has already been reduced to one-third of what it was two decades ago. All this is entirely because of bureaucratic mismanagement and over regulation. None of it is due to overfishing.

That we now have to import two-thirds of the seafood we eat, and all of it comes from much more heavily exploited resources elsewhere, is unconscionable. That we are selling off non-renewable resources to pay $1.7 billion annually to import a renewable one we ourselves have in abundance, then call this sustainable management and pat ourselves on the back with self-proclaimed status as the world’s best fishery managers, is beyond moronic.

Over the last few years, at both state and federal level, we have seen increased government spending, massive debt, manufacturing hampered, land and other resources locked up, and a failure to build and maintain transport and energy infrastructure.

How is this responsible and sustainable?

At 8.15 SA time, Labor holds Eden-Monaro.

Not a good sign. Since 1972 Eden-Monaro has gone to whichever party eventually formed the government. Maybe it is time for a change.

I was wrong about Melbourne. The Greens will take that seat.

I was right (well, pretty sure at this stage) about South Australia. There was a swing to Labor as predicted, but not enough in the two key marginal seats of Sturt and Boothby for them to take either of those seats.

I hoped the Liberals might retain McEwan. Other than that, the result is pretty much as I thought.

There is still a large number of uncertain seats in NSW and Qld.

The Liberals will come in ahead, but enough to form government on their own?

It may come down to Swan and Hasluck in Western Australia.

At 8.30 SA time, Wyatt Roy has won Longman for the Liberals. Typical snarky comment from Annabel Crabb on Twitter: Wyatt Roy claiming victory now. Parents allowed him to stay up late in recognition of his new status as MP for Longman.

Wyatt seems to be demonstrating far more maturity than the average ABC commentator.

Anthony Green’s latest prediction: Labor: 73 seats; Coalition: 72 seats; Greens: 1 seat; Independents: 4 seats.

He may be right. That would mean a very tight Coalition government.

The ABC still predicting the ALP will hold Lindsay. I don’t think so.

What else? Solomon will come to the Liberals. So will Cowan, Greenway and Macquarie.

Swan and Hasluck still too early to call. Looking like there is a small swing to the ALP in Western Australia.

We may have a result tonight. Going to have a beer. Back in half an hour.

9.00pm SA time. Labor spokesmen seem to be acknowledging they will not be able to form government on their own.

Maxine Mckew speaks very well in response to questions from Kerry O’Brien. Blames change of leadership, poorly planned campaign and loss of credibility over abandoned CPRS after earlier ALP claims it was the great moral issue, etc. Right with all of that. Says the ALP should have clearer about its great economic successes. Ha, ha.

Looking like Swan and Hasluck will come to the Liberals, but Stirling may fall to Labor. Only 25% of the vote counted, though, I’d love to know which booths. I wouldn’t have called that one.

At this stage, it looks like the Liberals will win seventeen and lose three.

Highlight of the night so far – Kerry O’Brien cutting Kevin Rudd off with the words ‘It could go on for some time.’  ROTFL.

Right on Solomon. Another point for me.

Time for another beer.

9.30pm SA time.

Stirling stays with the Liberals. They probably need Corangamite to get over the line.

The ABC is currently calling 69 for Labor and 70 for Liberal. There are five other/independent. Three of those will feel more comfortable with the Coalition.

Six seats are still in doubt. If three go to the ALP, three to the Liberals, the final figures will be Coalition and independents 76, ALP and independents, 74.

On track for the two seat majority I predicted this morning, and I’m calling it for the Coalition.

Even if four of the doubtfuls go to the ALP instead of three, the ALP will not be able to form government.

The Liberal Party will be in a better position. It could be a re-run of Peter Lewis’ appointment as Speaker in SA in 2002, but the other way around, with a left leaning independent acting as Speaker for a Liberal government.

The Senate is a mess, and Bob Brown says he intends to use the power the Greens now have to push for carbon taxes and gay marriage.

It looks like Steve Fielding is out of the Senate for Family First in Victoria, but Bob Day is in for Family First in SA.

The ABC is now predicting 74 seats for the Coalition. With three independents likely to ally with them, even if reluctantly, that is a win – 77 to 73. 

Not a bad night. Better than I would have hoped a couple of months ago.

Interesting comment from Alexander Downer:  I have never known a political leader as determined and hard working as Tony Abbott.

Time for a Milo and off to bed.

… from two hours of handing out how to vote cards in Kingscote (Mayo, SA).

Two things of interest.

1. Someone who thought I was offering her a Labor card said ‘Not without Kevin.’

I wasn’t sure the knifing of Kevin Rudd really would make a difference to the election. It has.

2. The number of people who specifically asked for Family First cards.

I know the candidate for Family First in Mayo. He is a great guy. Honest, intelligent, compassionate, hard working.

He won’t get in.

But the fact that so many people asked for Family First cards makes me wonder whether Bob Day has a chance of taking Sarah Hanson-Young’s senate seat.

That would certainly be a cause for rejoicing in my household.

Finally, the following from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Labor has denied employing dirty campaign tactics in the marginal electorate of Lindsay where candidate David Bradbury is at risk of losing his seat.

Labor campaigners are distributing how to vote cards dressed as Liberals, wearing recplica T-shirts to booth workers campaigning for Liberal candidate Fiona Scott.

The light blue T-shirts are unmarked with Labor branding and are precisely the same shade as their liberal counterpart.

A Labor campaign leaftlet is also styled to look like Greens election material. It is authorised by the ALP but contains no party logo.

Why would anyone vote for these people?

From James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph:

One of the great lies told us by our political leaders in order to persuade us to accept their swingeing and pointless green taxes and their economically suicidal, environmentally vandalistic wind-farm building programmes is that if we don’t do it China will. Apparently, just waiting to be grabbed out there are these glittering, golden prizes marked “Green jobs” and “Green technologies” – and if only we can get there before those scary, mysterious Chinese do, well, maybe the West will enjoy just a few more years of economic hegemony before the BRICs nations thwack us into the long grass.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. The Chinese do not remotely believe in the myth of Man-Made Global Warming nor in the efficacy of “alternative energy”. Why should they? It’s not as if there is any evidence for it.

There is much more. And it is all interesting.

China, after all, is the world’s future dominant economic power and, this being so, it makes an absolute nonsense of attempts by the EU and the US to hamper our industrial growth by imposing on our economies eco-taxes and eco-regulations which the Chinese intend to ignore completely.

This truth hasn’t hit home yet: not in the EU; not in the Cleggeron Coalition; not in Obama’s USA. Here’s my bet. The first to see sense on this will be whichever Republican administration takes over from Obama’s one-term presidency in 2012. From that point on – by which time we’ll have had two more exceptionally cold winters to concentrate our minds – British and European environmental policy will look increasingly foolish and irrelevant.

And so will Australian Labor or Greens environmental policy, along with any compromise carbon deals by the Liberals.

If the Tamil asylum seekers thought they were going to have an easier run in Canada than in Australia, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

A poll of 1500 Canadians reported in the Toronto Sun turned up this result:

Asked which statement best described their own opinion on what should be done with the ship, which may include members of the banned Tamil Tiger terrorist group, 60% agreed with the statement: “They should be turned away – the boat should be escorted back to Sri Lanka by the Canadian Navy.”

Just 17% agreed with the statement: “They should be accepted into Canada as political refugees.”

The boat won’t be turned around, though, no matter what most Canadians think:

Martin Collacott was Canada’s highest-ranking diplomat in Sri Lanka during the period when the civil war launched by the Tamil Tigers started in the early 1980s. Collacott says we can’t just turn the boat back.

“We need to follow the process that takes the ones that are legitimate refugees and return the others,” said Collacott.

How many are legitimate refugees is up for debate said Collacott, who noted that the ship, the MV Sun Sea, didn’t come directly from Sri Lanka, but from Thailand where the passengers were safe from any possible persecution from the Sri Lankan government.

If they were all safe from any possible persecution, on what basis can any of them be legitimate refugees?

All right, so I may be embarrassed tomorrow, but here goes.

In primary votes, the Liberals are way ahead. But with preference deals counted, most polls show them at 48% and Labor at 52%.

Tim Blair has all the bases covered, but suggests the most likely outcome is a three to eight seat victory for Labor.

If the polls are right, the overall swing may not be enough to give the Liberals a clear victory.

But the polls may not be right.

Julia has shot herself in the foot over the last couple days with her incessant bleating about how rotten Tony Abbott is, and how Work Choices would be back on Monday if the Liberals win. She looks tired, brittle, and untrustworthy.

I suspect the swing will be slightly stronger than the polls suggest.

But the overall swing is less important than the extent of movement in particular marginals.

Labor will lose seats in New South Wales and Queensland. They seem to be hoping to pick up two in South Australia. Julia is an Adelaide girl.

I doubt this will happen. The Rann government is not as popular as it was, and however Julia may try to distance herself from unpopular state governments, Labor is Labor.

The Greens will not win their seat in Melbourne.

The Liberals will win by two seats.

This may make effective government difficult. But Tony Abbott has shown over the last months that he can command loyalty and draw disparate party elements together. He will be a good Prime Minister.

In the Senate? The Greens will not get the vote they hope for. But the pixies in the garden parties may still hold the balance of power.

Incidentally, and in case you were wondering, I am not a member of the Liberal Party. The only political party I have ever belonged to was the Socialist Workers’ Party. That was at university.

My views have changed since then!