Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
Once more unto the breach …
This is an important issue – for Kangaroo Island and for the state as a whole. I am still hopeful it will be possible to have a harmonious discussion focussing on the facts.
Why would anyone want oil and gas exploration near Kangaroo Island?
Our society, and every modern liberal democracy, depends on cheap energy. The primary sources of that energy are oil, coal and gas. These energy sources enable us to travel, to heat our homes, to run industry and agriculture, to provide health and education services. No energy means none of these things.
Developing countries need this energy too, to provide these same services, including basic health care, to their people. While foreign aid might be helpful in emergencies, what developing nations really need is power stations, cheap energy. And that depends on cheap fuel.
We all rely on oil and gas, KI residents more than most. While we might prefer oil development to take place somewhere else, it would be immoral to deny developing countries the energy sources Western nations have used to pull themselves out of poverty over the last centuries. Responsible energy development is an important part of our commitment to being part of a global community.
In addition, developing energy resources within Australia improves national security, and reduces our dependence on, and financial contributions to, corrupt and frequently brutal Middle-eastern regimes. It also helps to preserve forests and wildlife. If you are worried about your child starving, or dying because you have no access to clean water or cannot obtain basic medical care, you are not going to be concerned about the state of forests in Indonesia, or the whale hunt at the Faroes. The more prosperous a country or people, the more time and resources go into preserving and caring for the environment.
So private energy resource development should be encouraged unless in a particular situation there are pressing reasons why it should not.
Are there pressing reasons why oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight should not proceed?
There are three main reasons opponents to development have put forward.
1. Oil rigs and other equipment near Kangaroo Island will spoil the landscape, reduce the natural beauty of the area, and consequently reduce its appeal to visitors.
The nearest practical development point for an oil rig within Bight Petroleum’s exploration zones is approximately one hundred and fifty kilometres west of the West coast of KI. If this is on KI or even near KI, then so are Gawler and Keith. If the Eiffel Tower was perched at Cape Borda, and you were standing at the top with a telescope, you would still not see an oil rig at that distance.
2. Acoustic imaging used to map geological structures on the sea floor is harmful to whales, dolphins and other marine sea life.
Acoustic imaging has been used for the last forty years. One of the reasons for this is that it helps developers pinpoint likely productive sites, reducing unnecessary drilling and environmental impact. The possible effects of acoustic imaging on marine life have been extensively researched during this time. No university or other study has ever found any correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, or any other negative effect, for example on reproductive rates or migration patterns. Recent intensive study conducted in Australia by Woodside Petroleum, the CSIRO and Penn State University likewise found no negative effects on sessile and territorial marine life.
Anti-development activists have sometimes suggested that the hearing of whales and dolphins could be permanently damaged by the noise of acoustic imaging. Sperm whales vocalise at about 235dB. The average acoustic array produces about 230dB. Even if the whales were 2 metres from an active array, the sound they heard would be less than the sound of their own vocalisations. To suggest that their hearing could be damaged by this is equivalent to claiming our hearing would be permanently damaged by listening to chatter at a tea party.
3. The possibility of a serious spill.
Spills are far more likely during handling and transportation than during exploration and development. The most significant risk of a serious oil spill near Kangaroo Island is from the transport of oil products to the island.
Australia’s worst development spill, and third worst oil spill overall, was at the Montara well in the Timor Sea. The two worst, from the Princess Anne Marie oil tanker in 1975 and the Kiriki tanker in 1991, were both transport spills. Prevailing winds and currents pushed the oil slick from Montara one hundred and eighty kilometres from the well site. At that distance, the slick was patchy, intermittent, and a few microns thick – less than the almost invisible amount of oil left behind by a well-maintained outboard motor. A spill of this magnitude occurs about once in every 100,000 years of well operation.
If a similar spill occurred at the closest point for any development in the Bight, a few streaks of oil a few microns thick could just reach the Western shores of KI, if wind and currents were behind it. But during the calmer months when development would be taking place, prevailing upwellings would push any spilt oil away from, not towards Kangaroo Island. Oil even from a one in one hundred thousand year spill would not approach Kangaroo Island. In addition, safety standards are improving all the time. The worst year for oil spills in the nineties was better than the best year in the seventies.
In other words, even if a spill occurred, no oil would reach the shores of Kangaroo Island, and the chances of such a spill occurring at all are tiny – one in one hundred thousand years of operation.
To summarise: The proposed oil exploration and development is not “on KI.” It is not even “near” KI in any normal meaning of that word. No oil rigs or other development would be visible from anywhere on Kangaroo Island. Forty years of research has shown no harm to any form of marine life from acoustic imaging. There is no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, and no evidence of hearing loss in any marine species. Even if a spill equal to the worst in Australia’s history occurred at the development site, oil would not reach the shores of KI. The chances of such a spill’s occurring are approximately one in 100,000 years of well operation.
There are good economic, humanitarian and environmental reasons why responsible oil and gas development should proceed. There are no compelling, truthful, reality-based reasons it should not.
Some people seem to have no idea how serious Australia’s debt is.
Perhaps this will make it clearer:
1. The debt left by the Labor party is so great that we would have to take half of everything earned by every Australian for the next two years to pay it off.
2. The debt left by the Labor party is so great that we would have to stop every Social Security payment for the next three years to pay it off..
3. The debt left by the Labor party is so great that if we spent no money on health for seven years the debt would be paid.
4. The debt left by the Labor party is so great that if we spent no money on education for 14 years the debt would be paid.
5. The debt left by the Labor party is so great that we would have to spend no money on defence or defence personnel for the next 19 years to pay it off.
Just like a family, Government cannot spend more than it earns without getting into trouble.
This is real money and real debt. If money has been paid in wages, or spent on Batts or set top boxes, it has been spent, it needs to be paid.
There are three ways of paying federal government debt.
1. Don’t pay it. It still has to be paid, but it is paid for almost invisibly, through inflation. This means the poor end up paying more than their share, because the price of food, clothing, housing, etc, all go up. This is the route taken by Zimbabwe.
2. Increase taxes. The problem with this is that it punishes anyone who produces anything. The end result, as in Finland and California, for example, is that businesses cannot compete with other states or countries. Farming, mining, manufacturing, all go belly up, or leave. There is a smaller and smaller tax base, and again, the poor end up getting slugged.
3. Reduce government spending. Well, duh! That means not everything can go on being free. It means we cannot pay defence force staff what we would like to. It means university bureaucracies need to be trimmed, and university students need to pay a fairer share of the cost of their education. It means people need to take some individual responsibility for the cost of their health care. It means we can no longer afford to run Australia’s largest media organisation at taxpayer expense.
There is no use complaining about this. The time to complain was when money was being thrown around on pointless projects and compulsory $6000 internet connections.
People in South Australia know the whole “we must have marine parks to save our fisheries from those greedy stupid fishermen” story is nonsense. But they are terribly concerned about the Great Barrier Reef and logging in Tasmania.
People in Queensland know that moving sand from one part of the sea bottom 50kms away from the reef to another part of the sea bottom 50kms away from the reef is not “destroying the Reef,” and that if James Cook were to sail through the Reef today he would notice little difference in the health and extent of the Reef from when he sailed through in 1770. But they are terribly concerned about depletion of fisheries in South Australia and logging in Tasmania.
People in Tasmania know that the careful harvesting of renewable natural timber resources does no harm to wildlife or the environment, and that if we do not use and manage our resources here where there are careful controls, we will import more timber from places where deforestation and destruction of natural habitats really are a problem. They also know that people who depend on the proper management of natural resources for their livelihoods and future have more interest than anyone else in ensuring those resources are maintained for future generations. But they are terribly concerned about the Great Barrier Reef, and over-use of South Australian fisheries.
These green scare campaigns do real harm. No coal exports from Queensland means more deforestation and inside pollution from smoke in places where people have no access to electricity. Even further reductions in our already under-utilised fisheries means more fish imported from Asia and Africa where fisheries have been so badly managed the seas are like deserts. Less use of our carefully managed forestries means more timber imported from Indonesia and South America, where loss of habitat means disaster for wildlife.
But as long as the greenies get to feel good about themselves I guess nothing else matters…
I have been gobsmacked by suggestions from some people that there is some sort of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas (the idea that they are both as bad as each other), or even worse, that the current conflict is Israel’s fault.
The present Palestinian people are Arabs, most of whom arrived in the area within the last two centuries. They are unrelated to the Philistines after whom the Roman and Turkish provinces were named.
In 1922 the League of Nations approved the British Mandate over the Turkish province of Palestine, including word for word the text of the Balfour Declaration, which affirmed the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land, and called for the setting up of an independent home state for the Jewish people.
Despite the fact that The British mandate was a tiny proportion of the land of the Middle East, and that it was surrounded by Arab states, the British allocated 70% of the mandate area to be a homeland for the region’s Arabs. This part of the mandate was called trans-Jordania, and then just Jordan.
In 1948 the UN partitioned the remaining area, allocating another third to be divided up between Jordan (the West Bank) and Egypt (the Gaza strip). This left the Jews with 20% of the land of the Davidic kingdom of Israel and of the original mandate, all of which was to have been set aside as a homeland for them. The area left for Israel was the Jewish majority cities of Acre, Haifa, Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem, plus other smaller towns and the Negev Desert. This amounted to approximately one sixth of one percent of the land in the Middle East.
The Jews agreed to this arrangement, the Arabs did not. Surrounding Arab nations announced their intention to destroy any Jewish state, and urged resident Arabs to leave, promising they would be back in days, and able to take up not only their own homes and farms, but those of their Jewish neighbours.
The day after the new state of Israel was proclaimed, the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq attacked the tiny nation, whose land area is about the same size as Kangaroo Island. The first attached picture shows the direction of the invading armies. The day before, Arab League Secretary, General Azzam Pasha declared “jihad”, a holy war. He said, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades”. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini stated, “I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!” The second picture is of Al Husseini meeting with Hitler in Berlin in 1942 to discuss the implementation of the Final Solution.
By a miracle, the new state survived. The West Bank and the Gaza strip remained under the control of Jordan and Egypt. Another attack was made by Arab nations in 1967. Quotes from just two of the Arab leaders involved:
“We will not accept any … coexistence with Israel. … Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel …. The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.” – Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt, May 28, 1967.
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map. We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.” – President Abdel Rahman Aref of Iraq, May 31, 1967
After the 1967 war Israel took control of the Golan Heights (Syria), Gaza Strip (Egypt) and the West Bank (Jordan), to give a buffer against further attacks. The next such attack took place 1973, on the holy day of Yom Kippur, when its massive and much more populous Arab neighbours again united to destroy it.
Israel is a very different place from the nations which surround it. Israeli law permits no discrimination on the basis of race. Arabs can be and are, members of the armed forces, police, the judiciary and parliament. By contrast, Jews are not permitted to reside in the West Bank (which is the traditional Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria), or in Jordan or Saudi Arabia. There is no discrimination in Israel on the basis of religion. There are mosques in most Israeli towns, and the Baha’i faith has its centre in Haifa in northern Israel. By contrast, just in the last few weeks, churches, some dating from before Muhammad, have been destroyed in Iraq, and Christians told to convert, leave or be killed. Members of other religious minorities have been subject to wholesale torture and murder. There is no discrimination in Israel on the basis of sexuality. Again, by contrast, a gay man in Saudi Arabia was sentenced this week to 450 lashes and three year’s imprisonment.
Some 850, 000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab nations following the establishment of the state of Israel, and their property seized. Those who were not murdered have been repatriated in Israel. A lesser number of Arabs left Israel in 1948, despite being asked to stay and help build the new country. Many of them and their descendants still live in refugee camps in Arab countries, who refuse to accept them as citizens, despite those countries’ much larger land areas and greater natural resources.
Hamas is the elected governing body in the Gaza strip. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews everywhere. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, with the promise from Palestinian authorities that giving up the land of Gaza and the West Bank would lead to lasting peace, it left solid infrastructure including roads, schools, hospitals and some 3,000 greenhouses which produced an abundance of fruit and vegetables.
Israel wanted and wants Gaza to succeed, and it could. It has some beautiful beaches. It could be the Ibiza, the Monaco of the Eastern Mediterranean. But Hamas’ purpose is not to govern. Its only purpose, according to its own charter, is to destroy Israel. The glasshouses were destroyed – remnants of the Zionist entity. Other infrastructure has been allowed to fall in to ruin.
Hamas has constructed over 1,000 tunnels under the border from Gaza into Israel, some several kilometres long, using child labour, and hundreds of tons of cement which could have been used for other construction. Those tunnels have only one purpose – to conduct terror attacks against schools, homes, farms. Since the beginning of this year, Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets into Israel. Israel is the about the same size as Kangaroo Island, or the city of Adelaide. Residents of some areas have less than fifteen seconds from the sounding of an alarm to get to shelter. How would residents of Adelaide respond to relentless attacks like that from an enemy sworn to their destruction? Hamas has broken every ceasefire in the latest conflict, firing rockets at schools, homes and shopping centres – on the first day after the last ceasefire, on average a rocket every ten minutes. Would you tolerate this? Even if the nearest shelter was 200 metres away, could you and your family run 200 metres in 15 seconds?
Israel is not perfect by any means. No nation is. It has had its share of injustices and poor policy decisions. But Israel’s response has consistently been to say that it is not at war with the Palestinian people and that it wants successful, prosperous and peaceful Palestinian neighbours. Never in the history of any conflict has one side treated the other with such care and consideration. Because Hamas has refused to spend money on infrastructure, almost all of Gaza’s electricity and water are supplied by Israel. Most of Gaza’s food and medical supplies also come from Israel – Egypt despises Hamas and long ago closed the southern border, meaning no trade or traffic from Egypt. On one typical day, 21st August, Israel transferred to Gaza 174 tons of natural gas, 548,093 litres of fuel, and 178 trucks of food medical and general supplies. On that day Hamas fired 68 rockets at civilian targets in Israel.
Hamas uses schools, hospitals, mosques and apartment blocks to fire rockets and mortars. Israel drops leaflets warning which locations are targets. Before any civilian location is fired upon, residents and workers are telephoned by Israel Defense Forces to warn them to leave the building, and finally buildings are door-knocked – a harmless percussion round is fired several minutes before to give people time to leave. Israel has shown over and over again that it does not wish to harm the Palestinian people, it simply wants to live in peace in its own borders. Israel has never tried to enlarge its territory. It has given up territory in return for promises of peace, promises which have never been kept.
You may have seen video of Hamas beating people trying to leave buildings which have received attack warnings. You may have seen video of Hamas dragging the headless bodies of suspected collaborators or members of Fatah through the streets of Gaza. You may have seen Hamas’ statements of support for ISIS, and vice-versa.
As Benyamin Netanyahu said: If the Arabs laid down their arms tomorrow, there would be no more war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no more Israel.
If you were Israel, what would you do?
For Putin and many Russians, the US is still Russia’s primary rival in global politics.
The projection of Russian power to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa depends on the Black Sea Fleet. The Black Sea Fleet is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea, an independent republic within Ukraine.
Russia will not want an avowedly pro-US, pro-Western government in Ukraine. It will not allow its access to Sevastopol to be restricted.
Russia will fight to protect its interests in Ukraine, if it believes force is necessary.
In 1994 The US and Great Britain signed a treaty known as the Budapest Memorandum, in which they agree to protect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This was part of a deal in which Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons based there in the Soviet era, an arsenal larger that those of Britain, France and China combined.
On the basis of this treaty, Ukraine’s new Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, has already appealed to the US and the UK for help.
President Obama has spoken with Vladimir Putin and asked for Russian troops to be pulled back out of Ukraine and the Crimea.
Putins’ response: “Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”
It sounds alarming, but my prediction is that the West will fail to stand up for Ukraine and the Crimea with sufficient confidence to stop Putin doing whatever he wants.
This looks to me like a repeat of the Sudetenland.
The confrontation will come next time, and it will be worse because we did not confront Putin earlier.
I got an email this afternoon from alleged CFS/Eurosoft scammer David O’Neil. This is what he wrote:
RE; DAVID O’NEIL – POSTINGS REGARDING EUROSOFT
I refer to the above and advise that several postings have been published on your website that are in breach of your terms and conditions and further in breach of the civil and criminal laws both in Australia and Elsewhere.
These postings contain personal details and other relevant contact details. As a result I have received threats against my life and threats to the life and safety of my wife and infant child.
This situation cannot be tolerated and I hereby demand that those personal details and page be removed immediately from your website. Should this not occur I will report the matter immediately to law enforcement agencies for prosecution and or other legal remedies.
I trust such unpleasant steps will not be necessary and look forward to your full co-operation.
In breach of my terms and conditions? Seriously?
Then I got this one:
I have now received another threatening phone call and my lawyers have advised the AFP (Australian Federal Police) to take over as this is a serious matter, my life and my families lives are being threatened and we are concerned for our safety.
Please act upon this email as a matter of URGENCY.
This was my reply:
David If there are particular comments you believe identify you personally or put you in danger, then let me know which ones and I will consider removing them.
But surely you cannot be surprised if you steal from ordinary working people and they get annoyed about it.
Perhaps you could pay back the money you have stolen and get an honest job?
Like that’s going to happen.
What is really intolerable and against the law, of course, is stealing thousands of dollars from ordinary working people and pensioners. But apparently that is not such a big deal for David.
On the other hand, threats of violence, no matter how angry a victim is, and no matter how right to be angry, are probably not helpful.
The trouble is that it is not clear what else will work. These arseholes have no conscience whatever, and they seem to be very clever at avoiding the law. They have felt no qualms about threatening and libelling me. I certainly feel no qualms about telling the truth about them.
Commenter Doug has pointed out that this same scam has recently been rebadged as OWS or Netway Solutions. Please do not fall for these cons! The awards and testimonials are fakes. The OWS website is a fake. The Shares Magazine website is a fake. OWS and Netway are the same fraud con scam ripoff as CFS, JBC and Eurosoft.
See my earlier posts and comments from readers for more information on the Eurosoft OWS Netway scams .
I have been a fan of Professor Elizabeth Loftus’ work for many years, so I am pleased to see her getting a hearing in the press at last.
From the Australian ABC news site:
When an eyewitness gives evidence in a trial, how much faith should we place in their testimony? At first brush the answer would seem to be, why not trust them? After all, if an impartial witness says with certainly they saw something—why be sceptical?
However, Elizabeth Loftus, a renowned professor of both law and psychology based at the University of California’s Irvine campus, urges caution. Professor Loftus has been at the forefront of complex and controversial debates around the nature of memory for many years, and her research has made her a much sought-after expert witness in both criminal and civil trials. In fact, she has testified in over 250 trials.
Professor Loftus says eyewitness testimony is the major cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. In one project where more than 300 cases of wrongful conviction were established using DNA testing, the major cause of these wrongful convictions was faulty eyewitness testimony.
I am glad the muslim terrorist attack in Nairobi was so widely reported, even though the real horror of what happened was underplayed – the torture and mutilation of children, for example.
Perhaps this signals a change of heart in the mainstream media, and a willingness to acknowledge at last the reality of widespread jihadist terror – over 21,000 deadly attacks in the name Allah since 9/11, three murderous terror attacks very day.
But why did the even worse attack on a church in Pakistan the following day get almost no media coverage? And why the media silence about the ongoing wholesale murder and torture of Christians in Egypt and Syria?
From the Federalist:
The next day, two suicide bombs went off as Christians were leaving Sunday services at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.
“There were blasts and there was hell for all of us,” Nazir John, who was at the church with at least 400 other worshipers, told the Associated Press. “When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around.”
Some 85 Christians were slaughtered and 120 injured, the bloodiest attack on Christians in Pakistan in history. The hospital ran out of beds for the injured and there weren’t enough caskets for the dead.
The situation for Christians in Egypt has also gone from bad to worse. August saw the worst anti-Christian violence in seven centuries. Sam Tadros, a Coptic Christian and author of Motherland Lost, says that there has been nothing like this year’s Muslim Brotherhood anti-Christian pogrom since 1321, when a similar wave of church burnings and persecution caused the decline of the Christian community in Egypt from nearly half of Egypt’s population to its current ten percent.
The violence of just three days in mid-August was staggering. Thirty-eight churches were destroyed, 23 vandalized; 58 homes were burned and looted and 85 shops, 16 pharmacies and 3 hotels were demolished. It was so bad that the Coptic Pope was in hiding, many Sunday services were canceled, and Christians stayed indoors, fearing for their lives. Six Christians were killed in the violence. Seven were kidnapped.
Maalula, Syria, is an ancient Christian town that has been so sheltered for 2,000 years that it’s one of only three villages where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Until September 7, when Islamist rebels attacked as part of the civil war ripping through the country.
An eyewitness to the murder of three Christians in Maalula—Mikhael Taalab, his cousin Antoun Taalab, and his grandson Sarkis el Zakhm—reported that the Islamists warned everyone present to convert to Islam. Sarkis answered clearly, Vatican news agency Fides reported: “I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.”
There seems to be a large dose of confusion in some circles as to what the climate change debate is really about.
Firstly, no one doubts that climate change is happening. The climate is in constant flux. Temperatures are up and down like, well, the Assyrian Empire.
Secondly, there is no doubt human activity has some impact on climate, at least at a local level. The Urban Heat Island effect is one obvious example, and we also know that changes in land use can change local rain and snowfall patterns.
Third, there is substantial agreement that so-called greenhouse gasses are responsible for retaining sufficient of the heat from the sun to enable the earth’s temperature to stabilise at an average just over the melting point of H2O.
Substantial, not compete agreement on that point. Some scientists believe the chemical composition of the atmosphere has very little to do with temperature, and that warmth at lower levels of the atmosphere is a product of pressure. The same way a bicycle pump heats up when you use it.
There is also general agreement that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to about 700ppm would result in an increase of about 1 degree Celsius in total.
This mild warming would occur mostly in cooler parts of the world and mostly at night. It would have very little if any negative impact, and combined with the positive impact of increased CO2 (current levels are so low that they almost at starvation point for most plants) which include increased crop yields and resilience, increased forest growth and reduced desertification, would likely be a very good thing.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is the assumption that slightly increased CO2 would result in increased water vapour in the atmosphere, and that this increased water vapour would produce a run away warming effect, raising temperatures by much more than for CO2 alone.
In reality (much abused and ignored!) increased water vapour produces increased cloud cover, which has a cooling effect.
The large temperature increase from increased water vapour is a guess. Various levels of guesses have been programmed into computer climate models used by the IPCC and others. None of them produces results which match reality.
Thousands of scientists from around the world have been saying for years that this is a perfect example of GIGO – garbage in, garbage out, that the amplification effect of water vapour is much milder than that inputted into the models, or doesn’t exist at all, or is negative – that is, that increased water vapour is cooling rather than warming.
In Australia this includes Professor Ian Plimer, Professor Robert Carter, David Evans, and Murray Salby. There are many, many others, whose peer reviewed work is summarised in the work of the NIPCC (the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change).
Climate alarmism is a mixture of zombie science, profiteering and scams, and a failure of leadership in journalistic, scientific, and political circles. It is the worst and most expensive scientific fraud ever perpetrated.
Emma Alberici and Julian Burnside must have read the same strategy book, one in which distorting your opponents’ views and values is perfectly acceptable.
The last thing anyone should want is to have Australia’s relationship with Indonesia defined by this boats issue, which I am sure will be but a passing irritant.
What the ABC’s Emma Alberici, interviewing the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, says Abbott said:
How do you feel about a world leader describing asylum seekers as “irritants”?
What the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dutifully replies:
I am appalled.
As should we all be, but not with Tony Abbott.
My latest for Quadrant Online:
One of the most interesting phenomena of the last weeks has been the enthusiasm with which media pundits who have previously expressed the opinion that the Church is dying and irrelevant have expounded upon the importance of the right person being elected to be the new Pope. Like liberal nuns and other anti-Catholics, most of these media persons (I decline to call them personalities) believe the world would be a much better place if someone was elected who had the same opinions they do.
Alas for them, it is likely, as Philippa Martyr has pointed out in her usual delightful style, that the next Pope will be a Catholic. Which means no gay marriage, no women priests, no abortions.
Going to Mass, trusting in Jesus, reading the Bible and the whole religious thing will still be a large part of what the Church is about. It might be interesting to spend some time talking about whether it is possible to identify exactly where any culture is less than healthy, by noting at which points its demands conflict with the teaching and practice of the Church. In our case, I suspect, in the areas of gender, sexuality, and ‘self-realisation.’ But instead I’ll stick with wondering who the next Pope might be.
We start with a potential field of all unmarried baptised adult male Catholics. Betting website paddypower.com offers odds of 666 to 1 on Richard Dawkins. You can also bet on Fr. Ted at 1,000 to 1 if you are absolutely determined to lose your money.
Read the rest at Quadrant.
One of four.
Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.
Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.
Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.
Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study. The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated. On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.
There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.
Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.
In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.