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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

I can understand this guy being annoyed: along the trails through his property used by illegal immigrants are piles of litter including human faeces, diapers, chewing gum and drug wrappers. Immigrants have destroyed fences, killed cattle, and stolen property.

Over the last ten years he has handed over 12,000 illegal immigrants to authorities. That’s 1200 per year, over three every day, and that’s just the ones he’s caught. He put a tap (faucet) in a tank so that trespassers could access water without damaging his property. None have been injured while in his care. Now he’s being sued because some of them felt threatened.

I can’t help wondering how the lawyers behind this litigation would feel if a constant stream of trespassers wandered through their home, leaving filth and litter behind them, destroying property as they went.

I think the guy is a hero.

And don’t let the truth get in the way.

Via Michelle Malkin, this story of Ashley Judd’s appearance in a Widlife Action Fund video, complaining about the culling of wolves in Alaska.

The video portrays Sarah Palin as bloodthirsty and unconcerned about the environment. But this is exactly the opposite of the truth. The culling operation is designed to protect other widlife such as moose and caribou in areas where there are high wolf populations.

I am glad that the Sea Shepherd (which might be more appropriately named the Sea Wolf) has stopped harrassing Japanese whaling vessels. Even if you feel strongly about ending whaling, that is no excuse to ram other vessels in the Southern Ocean.

Amusingly, Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd, claims his reason for ending the terror tactics aginst Japanese vessels is that they are concerned about being stopped and searched by a Japanese ship. If recent events are anything to judge by, the Japanese ships have far more reason to be concerned about Paul Watson than the reverse.

This is a tragic waste of a life and a tragic loss for Piotr Stanczak’s family.

Piotr Stanczak was an engineer. Thank goodness for the courage of people like him, who in spite of the dangers, continue to travel to Muslim countries to help build infrastructure, and with it, hope for the future.

In the US in January.

Too soon to blame Obama? Well maybe. This crisis is a direct result of intervention in domestic lending markets by the Carter and Clinton administrations. Bush’s attempts to get more accountability from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were blocked. But no, that’s not Obama’s fault.

When I heard the story of this explosion in unemployment on the TV news last night, the reporter offered her opinion that we would see a change once the ‘stimulus’ package got started. I agree there is likely to be a change, but I doubt it will be positive.

Increased unemployment levels are indicative of a lack of business confidence. If business owners believe things are going to be get better, they don’t lay people off. Good staff are hard to find, and take time and money to train.

One of the reasons I thought Obama’s election would be a mistake was his utter lack of experience in running anything. The stimulus package reflects this lack of understanding of both business practice and basic economics. In these circumstances it is hard for the business-owners who power the economy to feel anything other than concern.

In this case, on Afghanistan. As with Gitmo, and his cabinet candidates, and … and …  it might have been better to have done the research and asked the questions before stating the policies which were part of his election platform, and which are now being discovered to be unworkable.

In both foreign policy and economic policy, a careful assessment of evidence is essential if results are going to be anything other than disastrous. Wishful thinking and ideology are not a basis for sound policy.

Dr Andrew Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and 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.

But obviously getting his name in the papers was more important.

I don’t see any moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.

The UN agency which oversees delivery of aid to the Palestinian Territories has suspended deliveries to Gaza after Hamas last week stole 3500 blankets and 450 food packages from a warehouse, and this week stole ten trucks containing aid for the Palestinian people.

After previous thefts of aid, constant violence, including the torture and murder of Palestinian supporters of Fatah, the neglect and destruction of key infrastructure, the sated intention of continuing attacks on Israel, and the utter chaos and misery of Gaza, it baffles me that anyone can still believe Hamas to be a legitimate government.

Not the biggest, but the deadliest. So far 108 people reported dead. This figure is likely to increase because some bodies are still in burnt homes and vehicles.

750 homes destroyed. Whole communities have disappeared into ash.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the deaths as ‘mass murder.’ Many of them were deliberately started.

Thousands of people have lost everything – not just their homes and physical possessions, but loved ones, and along with them, the things that you would normally treasure after such a loss – photos and toys, for example.

Cash donations to help provide shelter and emergency care can be made through the Red Cross.

I don’t know what I think about this. The Tamils have not been treated well by the majority Sinhalese. Tamils are in the majority in the north of Sri Lanka. I can understand their wanting a state of their own.

On the other hand, this has been a terrible civil war in which some 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, with allegations of atrocities on both sides.

If the Sinhalese do finally defeat the Tamil Tigers, I hope their victory will not be seen by the government as an opportunity for payback or further oppression against the Tamil people.

And no, as far as I recall there have been no all-night sessions at the UN or world-wide protests about this.

Greedy or stupid policiticans, probably… 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gets one thing right in his 7,000 word reiteration of the destructive Whitlam era philosophy that big government, big spending and high taxes are good. The thing he gets right is this: ‘Soft or hard, protectionism is a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression, as it exacerbates the collapse in global demand.’

Virtually everything else in the essay is wrong, and can be shown to be wrong. Rudd blames ‘extreme capitalism and unrestrained greed’ for the present crisis. This is utterly counter-factual.

The cause of the present crisis was do-gooding intervention in domestic home loan markets by successive US Democrat administrations.

In essence, starting with Jimmy Carter, those administrations offered incentives to lenders to give home loans to people who would not have qualified under normal lending criteria (or penalties to lenders who did not). This is the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage market, which consisted of giving loans to people who could not afford to repay them.

If you assume (as seems likely) a complete lack of understanding of basic economics in those who formulated this policy, you can allow that it may have been well-intentioned. In fact it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain that it would leave those to whom the loans were given worse off in the long run, because they were likely not only to lose their homes, but any money they put into them, and their credit rating.

It should also have been obvious to anyone with half a brain that such a system could not be maintained. You cannot continue indefinitely to lend billions of dollars to people who have no chance of repaying it without eventually having a serious impact on the whole economic system.

In 2001 the Bush administration tried to get real answers from the Government Sponsored Enterprises (Fannie May and Freddie Mac) which underwrote those loans, and to ensure proper lending criteria were in place. These efforts were defeated by a consortium of Democrat representatives and senators, many of whom were in receipt of large donations from those bodies.

John Pilla on publicopiniononline.com has more details.

After Geithner, Daschle, Richardson, Killefer, et al, further consideration of Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has been postponed because her husband ‘only yesterday paid off tax liens, some of which had been pending for up to 16 years’.’

What is it with Obama’s team and taxes? Is forgetting to pay your taxes part of the whole ‘wealth redistribution’ thing?

‘At the the end of the process the nominee is asked one final catch-all question: Is there anything that could cause you, your family, or the President embarrassment if it became public?
Either Obama and his nominees aren’t easily embarrassed, or the vetters have tin ears the size of satellite dishes.’

Either these people are dishonest, or they are incompetent, or they are just plain stupid. Whichever it is, events so far hardly inspire confidence in the incoming administration.

Interesting to compare New Zealand’s stimulus package with those proposed in Australia and the US.

New Zealand has a conservative government made up mostly of people who have actually run things before, including in many cases their own farms or other businesses.

The NZ package includes some infrastructure spending, but the focus is on building business confidence through reduced taxation, and simplifying the tax system.  Well done.

In Australia, Kevin Rudd is proposing that home owners should get free ceiling insulation.  Great.

There’s always something to be scared about. But in the history of things to be scared about, this has to be at the very bottom of the list.

The Murray is Australia’s largest and longest river. It’s not all that spectacular by world standards, but we’re quite fond of it.

Before European intervention, The Murray was what most Australian rivers are – a series of inter-connected waterholes along a dry bed, which were linked during flood times, when water would spread out over a wide area. After the floods, water in the river would gradually dry up, returning the river to its normal dry bed. For almost all of its history, except for the last seventy years, it has regularly been possible to walk across The Murray.

Over the last century flows in and out of the river have been increasingly carefully managed, so that for much of its length water is maintained at a fixed level, and there is always some flow, even in times of prolonged drought. Testing at centres along the river, including Morgan in its lower South Australian reaches, show that salinity and turbidity (the amount of suspended matter in the water) are both decreasing.

In other words, even during times of low rainfall and consequent low inflows, the river’s health has been good. The river is a major source of tourism income, and supports vast areas of irrigation where grapes and citrus fruit are grown. It will never be returned to its ‘natural’ state.

The lower lakes are similarly an entirely artificial creation. The Coroong, the name of the estuary and lower lakes, was a tidal, that is, salt water estuary, which was occasionally filled with fresh water in times of flood. The flow of water in and out to the sea was blocked when barrages were built across the mouth of the river about seventy years ago, and the current permanent fresh water lake system created

About 500 gigalitres of water is lost from these artificial lakes each year through evaporation. This leads to higher levels of salinity, but levels which still do not approach those of the sea water which used to fill the lakes. There are questions about whether this loss is sustainable, or whether the barrages should be removed and a weir built across the real mouth of The Murray, where it enters the lower lakes at Wellington.

This would reduce loss of fresh water through evaporation and make management of the river in its lower stretches (from Morgan to Wellington) easier. But it would create considerable difficulties for the communities which have grown up around the lower lakes, and especially for the town of Meningie.

Further study and debate will help to clarify the best solution. But scare-mongering headlines will not help.

A brave busker versus the Evil Dunedin Council of Doom (EDCOD, P.O. Box 666, Dunedin Central). Ha ha.

I learned the pipes as a teenager, and love pipe music. But I am also a business owner. In this case I think my sympathies are with the local shopkeepers.

There’s a time and a place for (almost) everything. A retail centre during shopping hours is not the time and place for a piper.