Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
Yemen has conflicts with Al Qaeda in the South, and Al Houthis (a Shiite separatist group) in the North.
Neither group has widespread support in Yemen. Al Qaeda is seen as a threat by the West, because it has links to terror organisations around the world. But Al Qaeda has little popular support in Yemen, and appears to have no political ambitions other than destruction of anything and any regime associated with the West, and with the US in particular.
Al Houthis has political ambitions in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
“Al Qaida has no popular base, no political horizon and no alternative to the existing regime. They consider the state an enemy because of its alliance with the US,” Yemeni political expert Fares Saqqaf said.
At the same time, “Al Houthis are newly formed, as their first confrontation with the state was in 2004. They are close to people, and are followers of a certain Shiite sect (Yemen is prediminantly Sunni).
Yemen is the poorest of the gulf states, with limited oil supplies, and chronic water shortages.
Without US support against Al Qaeda, and Saudi support against Al Houthis, Yemen may well be in serious trouble.
The catch is that dependence on US aid may reduce Yemen’s credibility amongst other Arab states, and may increase the likelihood of attacks in the US.
The suspect, Nigerian-national Abdul Mudallad, said he received instructions and training from al Qaeda operatives based in Yemen ahead of boarding the Detroit-bound flight Friday, according to U.S. law-enforcement officials.
These officials said they couldn’t confirm Mr. Mudallad’s claims. But the purported bombing attempt came as Yemen’s security forces intensified military operations against al Qaeda forces, with significant U.S. intelligence support.
The US has provided nearly $70 million in counter-terrorism aid to Yemen this year, compared with nothing in the previous year.
Nearly half the terror suspects currently held by the US are Yemeni nationals.
Members of the Australian Defence Forces are currently deployed in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Afghanistan, Israel and the Sinai, Sudan and Iraq, as well as in border protection around Australia.
Some 3800 Australian service men and women will be spending Christmas away from their families.
Thanks. And may God bless you and keep you safe, along with those you love.
Why do atheists insist on imposing their religious views on the rest of us?
Atheists are a tiny proportion of the population in Australia.
Seventy percent of Australians are Christians, or have some affiliation with a Christian church. Many of the rest are Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, or members of a myriad of smaller groups.
By all means let’s hear what the atheists have to say. But why should there be outrage from them when anyone else has a point of view on a matter of public policy?
On the flight from Adelaide I read bits of the Adelaide Advertiser over the shoulder of the man in the seat next to me.
There was an article by a woman I had never heard of and whose name I cannot remember, bemoaning the influence of Christianity in public life.
As examples of this nefarious influence, she pointed to the defeat of the voluntary euthanasia bill, and exemptions for religious groups from aspects of anti-discrimination legislation.
These exemptions provide, for example, that a muslim social welfare group does not have to employ a man who lives in a sexual relationship with another man, that a Jewish school does not have to employ someone who believes Jews are descended from pigs and monkeys, or that a catholic parish does not have to employ someone who thinks the pope is the anti-christ.
In other words, these exemptions are about protecting the feelings and beliefs of others, even when when we disagree with them. Even atheists. And I agree with the writer to the extent of acknowledging that this is indeed Chrstian influence at work.
Take two minutes to do a simple thought experiment.
Consider countries where there has been a long history of Christian influence in public life.
Now think of countries under Islamic or atheist regimes.
Where are you more likely to find justice and democracy? Where are you going to be safer if you are lesbian or homosexual? Where are women’s voices more likely to be heard? Where is there a higher level of wealth, of quality education and health services?
In which direction do refugees and immigration flow? Where would you rather live?
The writer of the Adelaide Advertiser article decries the fact the Tony Abbott has called for compulsory Bible classes. She says she is happy for the Bible to be taught in schools, with other fiction.
I am not sure Tony Abbott has called for compulsory Bible classes.
What he said was that it was impossible to understand Western culture; law, music art and literature, without a knowledge of the Bible. He is right.
One of the consequences of the influence of the Bible, and of Christianity in general, is that people like the woman who wrote the Advertiser article can parrot their ill-informed and poorly thought-out opinions and expect them to be taken seriously.
And thank God for that.
The Christmas Island detention centre is so full that 30 illegal immigrants have transported to Melbourne. Another 35 have been taken from Christmas Island to Darwin.
When I was about 12, I asked my Mum what it meant to be grown-up. She thought for a minute as said ‘Taking responsibility for your actions.’
The importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions is probably the single principle that did most to move me away from the leftism of my university days.
It is a principle that seems completely to escape leftist politicians and activists.
For example, if you (this list from John Stone’s article ‘The Origins of the Crisis in Immigration Policy’ Quadrant December 2009):
- Announce that illegal immigrants will not be subject to lengthy stays in detention, but will be allowed to live in the community.
- Introduce a system of ‘Temporary Bridging Visas’ for people who have illegally overstayed the terms of their original visas.
- Abolish Temporary Protection Visas and announce that anyone who is given refugee or Special Humanitarian Program status will be granted permannent residence, full access to welfare benefits, and the right to invite family members to live in Australia.
- Weaken citizenship tests.
- Announce a 24.5% increase in immigration.
Then it should come as no surprise that you have made Australia a much more attractive target for illegal immigrants and people smugglers.
There have been 54 boats this year, compared with a total of 18 in the previous six years.
The present Federal government told the world that people who arrived in Australia illegally would be treated more compassionately.
Some of those who have come to this country illegally this year have specifically said that they did so because they believed they would be more likely to succeed in obtaining permamnent residence than under the Howard government.
Yet Mr Rudd refuses to acknowledge that the massive increase in the number of illegal immigrants to Australia in the last twelve months has anything to do with the policies and announcements listed above.
This an outright refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences his actions.
Compassionate policies are those which result in a reduction of suffering. These ‘compassionate’ policies have resulted in a huge increase in suffering. And some deaths.
Genuine compassion, or even any concern whatever for the safety and well-being of others, would lead to acknowledgement that the policy changes have not worked, and the immediate implementation of plans to reduce the number of illegal immigrants.
But that would mean taking responsibility.
I guess we we can always hope.
This is both funny and tragic because the words put into Obama’s mouth are true, and the plan would work. But it will just never happen.
Imagine the posibilities, the hopenchangen. But, instead, real hope, and real change.
Darn. The more I think about it, the sadder I feel.
From Scott Ott’s Scrappleface:
Delegates to the global climate conference in Copenhagen sat in stunned silence today as President Obama solved the global warming crisis with a single 25-minute speech.
“While the challenges we face may seem insoluble,” the Nobel laureate said, “the solution is actually quite simple. It’s historically reliable. It works every time it’s sincerely tried.”
“Basically, the problem is that poor nations are broke,” Obama explained, “and rich nations don’t want to throw their money down a totalitarian rathole, into the hands of tyrants who see this treaty as a gold mine and who have no intention of reducing carbon emissions. Since we need trillions of dollars to fund development of speculative green technologies, the only answer is for the poor nations to get rich fast.”
Obama said the broad outlines of his plan included having poor nations “adopt the time-tested Protestant work ethic, free-market capitalism and equal justice under law.”
“Once you see your vocation as a calling from God,” he said, “you work diligently toward excellence, to bring glory to your creator. If your property rights are guaranteed under law, you work to improve yours, and to acquire more, by serving others. Under my plan, within half a century, the less-developed nations will go from being pathetic dependents to equal trading partners.”
While skeptics said the president’s plan would put off a solution until the world’s coastlands were under water, Obama said, “Free men and women solve problems for profit, for accolades and for inscrutable personal purposes … but they do solve problems. If, in five decades, there’s still a climate crisis, we can all get together, kick in an equal share per capita, and hire someone to fix it.”
Why are we in Afghanistan at all?
Afghanistan was always going to be a harder fight than Iraq.
It is also a fight that must be won – not just for the people of Afghanistan, but for the people of Pakistan. If Afghanistan falls, Pakistan will be in danger.
If Pakistan falls, the world will be in danger.
In theory, the allies are not there to defeat the Taliban themselves. They are there to assist Hamid Karzai’s government defeat the Taliban.
President Obama’s recent announcement of a ‘surge’ of 30,000 troops should help.
- Obama has told the Taliban when he expects US and allied troops to be gone – in eighteen months’ time.
- Karzai has said that he expects it will take 15 years to diminish the military abilities and policitcal influence of the Taliban to the point they are no longer a threat.
- The Obama administration has made it clear they have no confidence in Hamid’s competence or honesty.
A confrontation with Iran is now almost inevitable. The US and its Western allies must take action to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, and to stop any nuclear threat to Europe.
If they wait till Iran makes Israel a wasteland, as Iranian President Imanutjob has repeatedly said he intends to do, it will be, well, too late.
If they act before it is too late, even if their actions are limited to removing Iran’s capacity to make nuclear weapons, they will be accused of a crusade against Islam, of being imperialist aggressors, etc.
This means that even though Hamid was re-elected only with the help of massive electoral fraud, it is currently politically unthinkable for the US to attenpt to bring about a regime change in Afghanistan.
It is not unthinkable that the UN could refuse to recognise the result of the election, and push for new, properly supervised elctions which include all members of Afghan society including the Pashtoon.
But as we have seen over the last couple of weeks in Copenhagen, the UN couldn’t organise a cock-up in a brothel. So it’s probably a good thing that the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, and the UN Security Council, are keeping their eyes and mouths firmly shut.
But where does that leave the allies?
Australia’s contribution is weak, to say the least.
Prime Minster Rudd’s offer to balance the US commitment of 30,000 new troops by sending a few police officers and some aid advisors has confirmed the unofficial code-name ‘Operation Token Presence’ for Australia’s contribution.
Having said that, it is important to note that the contribution made, and the cost borne, by Australian service men and women in Afghanistan is out of all proportion to their numbers and to the commitment of their political masters.
Despite Prime Minister Rudd’s earnest hopes, a pre-Copenhagen commitment to an emissions trading scheme was never going to make him a statesman on the world stage, or be an example other nations would find anything other than laughable.
But a renewed commitment by Australia to the effort in Afghanistan really could make a difference, and be an example which other allies might follow.
If we are serious about the need to defeat the Taliban, Australia must make a genuine commitment of fighting forces to Afghanistan.
if we are not serious, we should just get out, stop playing games, and stop risking the lives of young Australians in a conflict we have no intention of winning.
That would be embarrassing. But it would not be as embarrassing as our current limp wristed and pointless ‘Operation Token Presence.’
At an historic photo session in Copenhagen this morning, world leaders announced they had reached an agreement on climate change.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy says all countries have agreed to the deal. “We have an agreement,” Mr Sarkozy told a news conference in Copenhagen after the meeting of 120 world leaders.
Leaders announced they had agreed they were completely unable to agree.
President Farack Banana said this agreement represented the beginning of a new era in international understanding.
Describing the agreement as ‘unprecedentedly meaningful,’ Mr Banana said that more work was needed to grasp the consequences of the agreement.
‘I call on all the nations of the world to build on the progress we have made in reaching this agreement here in Cornhuggen,’ he said. ‘We need to stop sitting on the sidelines, and start sitting somewhere else.’
World leaders have also agreed to have another holiday in about six months time, preferably somewhere a bit warmer. Acapulco would be nice.
Research shows the Northern Territory spends over $6000 on health for each indigenous person, compared with less than $2000 for each non-indigenous citizen.
This suggests two things.
First, Australian governments do take indigenous health seriously.
Second, spending more and more money on hospitals and clinics is not a solution.
Most of the health problems faced by aboriginal australians are a result of lifestyle choices – excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, poor hygiene.
So what are governments supposed to do?
Allowing people to make those choices leads to massive expenditure on health issues, and still leaves problems which we are told are a national disgrace.
Forcing people to drink less, to eat sensibly, to wash their clothes, change their bedding, etc, is not permissible. That would be racist and paternalistic.
But it is one thing for people to refuse to take responsibilty for their own welfare. It is another when they refuse to take responsibilty for that of their children.
I am not not sure how a government can act responsiblly in that situation without appearing authoritarian.
Well, why not? Wen Jiabao is not a schoolboy. He probably had better things to do. Polishing his shoes, for example.
French president Nicholas Sarkozy wasn’t happy. According to Mr Sarkozy, it is all China’s fault there is not going to be a binding agreement that will make world leaders all popular and smiley again.
The Chinese will not agree to any external body policing their emission levels. Good for them.
China and the G77 (the scared weird little guys) won’t discuss the PLAN /DEAL thing dreamed up by the developed nations. The little guys feel like they are being bullied.
Negotiators have described the G77 group as dysfunctional.
African negotiators are reportedly furious at the suggestion by Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia that developing nations should accept the offer of $100 billion a year. This, they say, is selling out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance.
Hilary Clinton says that a refusal by the Chinese to accept third party policing of emissions is a ‘deal-breaker.’
So all in all, the whole thing is going really well – much better than I expected.
The hoped for no result is looking like a real possibility.
I would have preferred if it had come about because world leaders finally came to their senses and recognised they were all being conned. But you can’t have everything.
There may still be a smiley photo-opportunity tomorrow.
But it will have about as much substance as Obama has business experience.
St Matthew’s Anglican church in Auckland is the epitome of everything a religious group should not be – self-righteous, inconsiderate of the feelings of others, happy to belittle the beliefs of people it considers inferior.
Outside the church is a billboard featuring a bedroom scene. An unsatisfied Mary looks up to the heavens while Joseph lies beside her looking deflated.
The caption reads: “Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow.”
This kind of arrogant smart-arsery doesn’t do anything to make people think more deeply about their faith (which is claimed to be the intention).
It simply insults people who take their faith seriously.
The vicar, a moral moron named Glynn Cardy, excuses the hurt caused by pointing out that they considered and generously decided against a much more offensive option – a poster of fluorescent sperm floating down from heaven, saying ‘Joy to the World.’
If this guy had half a brain it would be lonely. If he had half a heart, he might have some care for the people he is supposed to be reaching out to.
I’m sure he imagines he is generous, caring, inclusive, and wise.
There are no limits to hypocrisy.
So, good news all around.
What they are reporting is not a ‘deal’ but a draft document put together by developed nations as a possible basis for a take it or leave it offer to greedy socialist whingers leaders of developing nations.
I have no hope at all that any world leader will be brave enough to admit that the whole fiasco has been completely pointless, that we don’t know enough to know what to do, that anything we could do at this point is likely to make things worse, and so the wisest thing is to do nothing.
No, they will all want to look they have achieved something, so some agreement will be forthcoming.
There will be lots of smiles, handshakes and congratulations.
But for all the good it will do the world it might as well be lots of piles, milkshakes and flatulence.
The only thing to hope for is that this will just amount to a commitment to ‘journey forward together’ of ‘growth in our sense of commitment to one another as members of a single global community.’
And of course for the US, Australia, Canada, etc, to pay billions of dollars in bribes compensation to developing nations.
Data from Russian stations have been (with equally dodgy US surface station data) a large part of the evidence for warming.
Now that the Russian data are known to have been carefully selected – using only the 25% of stations that showed a consistent warming trend – there is no credible basis for any claim that the world has been warming at all, let alone at unusual rates.
And there is still no reason that any of the minor changes in the always changing global climate should be attributed to human activity.
Politicians who do not have the backbone to ask questions now, and to stand up to the hysteria, or who commit their countries to painfully costly and pointless plans to reduce the use of cheap fuels, will be punished mercilessly when they next face an election.
Bye Mr Rudd. Bye Mr Obama.
I’d be a believer too if I thought I’d be up for billions in grants, cars, holidays, Swiss bank accounts.
There are vast amounts of money to be made in being victims of climate change.
So it’s no wonder the President of the Maldives and the chief negotiater for Tuvalu (who lives in New South Wales) are sobbing about how the greedy West has caused sea levels to rise, destroying their tiny, vulnerable countries.
But hey, a cookie a few billion dollars will make us feel better.
The sobbing and hand-wringing is despite the fact that there has been no increase in global mean temperature over the last fifteeen years, and no sea level rise in Tuvalu or the Maldives for the last thirty years.
You just have to have faith. Name it and claim it, brothers and sisters! Hallelujah!
It’s all perfectly rational – if money or approval is your goal.
What is lacking at Copenhagen is rationality not motivated by self-interest – either a desire for cash, or for for world recognition as a really cool guy, the bloke who saved the day, the man who stayed up all night to work for a solution, the chap who really ought to be the next Secretary General.
Global warming fervour is often compared with religious faith. I have made that comparison myself. But this is unfair to religious leaders.
When I was a parish priest I regularly told parishioners, ‘Don’t take my word for what I tell you – do your own research, check, read, ask questions.’
The only reason to believe anything is because it is true. And decisions about what is true need to be made on the basis of evidence, not feelings or desires.
This is the exact opposite of what is required to be considered a true climate believer. Questions are not welcomed. Those who doubt are cast into the outer darkness and denounced as deniers.
Environmental journalist and rational person Phelim McAleer was told by one Copenhagen participant to ‘get out while you still can’ and was later assaulted during a live television interview.
In a paroxysm of self-parody, Kevin Rudd told Copenhagen participants and world leaders (about 50 of them, anyway) that he fears a ‘triumph of form over substance … a triumph of inaction over action’ and that history would judge them if they failed.
I agree on both counts.
A triumph of form, of easy compliance, of the desire to appear noble and statesman-like, over real hard headed science and rational discussion of the issues is exactly what is to be feared.
And history will certainly judge leaders who failed to ask questions about whether the science of global warming was sufficiently well grounded to justify desperate promises of billions of dollars, and hurried decisions to limit the use of cheap fuels on which most of the world’s wealth depends.
I said it three times, so it must be true.
Or it was true back in the seventies.
No matter how much they try to deny it now (just as in five years time they will all be denying they ever fell for the AGW scam) there seemed to be a consensus two decades ago that the world was cooling, it was all our fault, we only had a few years to take action to save the world.
Remember the DSSO? The Decadal Science Scare Oscillation?
Maurizio Morabito at the Spectator recounts the terrifying story of global cooling as follows:
The threat of a new ice age loomed so large in 1974 that American intelligence collated a report on the likely effects. Maurizio Morabito unearthed it
A high-priority government report warns of climate change that will lead to floods and starvation. ‘Leading climatologists’ speak of a ‘detrimental global climatic change’, threatening ‘the stability of most nations’. The scenario is eerily familiar although the document — never made public before — dates from 1974. But here’s the difference: it was written to respond to the threat of global cooling, not warming. And yes, it even mentions a ‘consensus’ among scientists.
‘A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems’, written by the CIA for ‘internal planning purposes’ in August 1974, goes a little way towards explaining why some people over a certain age experience a sense of déjà-vu when climate change is mentioned; in the mid-1970s there really was a lot of scientific discussion about global cooling. With the benefit of hindsight, reading it makes one feel wry and embarrassed. So many of the terms bandied about 35 years ago are still being employed by today’s fear-mongers, about the very opposite phenomenon.
It is as if climate scares had to follow a set pattern. Back in 1974 the usual disasters were projected: the ‘new climatic era’ was said to be bringing famine, starvation, refugee crises, floods, droughts, crop and monsoon failures, and all sorts of extreme weather phenomena. The Sahara would expand. World grain reserves, already at less than a month’s supply, would be depleted. A list of past civilisations brought down by ‘major and minor’ cooling episodes was given, which included the Indus, Hittites, Mycenaean, and the Mali empire of Africa. Any possible benefits to climate change were barely mentioned.
More parallels can be drawn. According to the CIA report, in 1974 climate science was developing ‘a successful climatic prediction model’, as indeed it still is. Government intervention had brought together eminent scientists who had previously been at odds with each other then had established a ‘scientific consensus’ on ‘global climate change’. The scientists claimed this pattern of cooling would cause ‘major economic problems around the world’. Dealing with this would, of course, require the creation of several new government agencies. The media at the time seized on all of this, just as it is doing now. Newsweek and the New York Times described the global cooling threat.
How is it that the parallels between that 1970s panic and today’s have been so little remarked upon? And it doesn’t stop there. There have even been recent attempts to label the ‘global cooling consensus’ a ‘myth’, most notably in a well-publicised article by Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck published by the American Meteorological Society in September 2008.
Well, plus ça change. It’s easy to miss what you do not look for. Mentions of a global cooling consensus appear as far back as 1961. I found the CIA report referred to in a 1976 newspaper article and was doubly amazed to discover it was available as a microfiche in the British Library.
So what would have prompted the CIA to compile such a dossier? The most likely explanation is what it describes as the loss of ‘a significant portion’ of the USSR’s winter wheat crop in 1972. The harvest was so poor that the CIA saw geopolitical ramifications. Its report says that ‘the politics of food’ is a complex business, which cannot be understood by ‘existing analytical tools’. So to address a political problem, they asked scientists to come up with a solution. Precisely the same thing is happening today. One might almost conclude that, in the world of climatology, theories are made to order.
Or is the problem with the general public, who cannot talk about climate except in doom-laden terms, and for whom the sky is the last animist god? This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.
Whenever I am at a social gathering, or any other kind of gathering, for that matter, and someone says ‘Violence never solves anything,’ I make an excuse (sometimes even a polite excuse) and go and look for someone else to talk to.
That belief is indicative of such ignorance of history, such a lack of understanding of the cost of our freedom, and such an inability to think, that the effort involved in conversing with anyone who holds it would be better spent cleaing skirting boards with a tooth pick.
So I was pleased and impressed by President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. That link takes you a full transcript.
Just a few key paragraphs:
America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.
In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. (! Absolutely right, but astonishing for someone of his socialist background). The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. (I would have said sometimes a moral imperative. There are some conflicts we must not shy away from, no matter what the cost.)
I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.
I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.
But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
It is a long speech. It is also a great speech, one that reflects idealism, courage and determination.
Let’s hope these qualities, clear in words, are carried through into a genuine role of leadership for good, by Obama and the US, and by the rest of the developed nations.