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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

‘Sunburnt’ was the headline on the front page of Saturday’s Adelaide Advertiser.

In the accompanying article, The Advertiser revealed the shocking news that the costs of government subsidies to people who installed solar panels, both the installation subsidies and the feedback tariff subsidies, would have to be paid by other electricity users, and that this could add $120 per year to the average power bill.

The article notes the justifiable concerns expressed by some welfare groups:

Welfare groups say the scheme, which rewards householders with 44c a kilowatt hour for electricity they feed back into the grid, effectively results in low-income families subsidising bills of the rich.

“We’re not opposed to a solar feed-in tariff. But those people who are missing out are lower-income households, who simply can’t afford to pay for solar panels, even with a subsidy, yet they are having to pay for everybody else’s solar panels,” UnitingCare Wesley spokesman Mark Henley said.

I don’t know why people find this so hard to comprehend. When the government pays subsidies, whether to ‘renewable’ energy companies, child care centres, or metropolitan bus travellers, it is you, the ordinary tax payer, who pays those subsidies.

This is not shocking. It is obvious. The time to think about it, and to make it a headline story, is before the subsidies are implemented.

Writing in American Thinker, Robert Simmons, Jr says Sarah Palin should run for president, and can win if she does.

His argument is that she is a genuine social conservative/economic libertarian – just what is needed to counteract the interventionist bumbling of the Obama administration, that she is honest, intelligent and has strong administrative experience, and that even after the unprecentedly vicious and dishonest attacks on her and her family by the legacy media, she is still probably the USA’s most visible and popular politician.

It is unlikely the other potential Republican candidates, Romney, Pawlenty, Hunstman, for example, could garner such widespread popular appeal. In addition the media have so far given them an easy run. If one of them won the nomination, that would change, and the full fury of the liberal establishment would turn upon them in the months before the election.

But they have already run out of ammunition on Sarah Palin. She has been subjected to that same fury for the last three years and is still looking like a winner.

Although The Age is a left leaning paper, I was a regular reader up until a few years ago.

I am not sure what changed, but it seemed to me that The Age was no longer content with giving people the news and then saying ‘This is what we think about it.’

Instead ‘what we think about it’ was presented as the  news. Alternative opinions, even on the letters page, were not welcomed or considered.

So I stopped buying it. As did other people. Circulation declined notably more rapidly than other metropolitan dailies.

But in the last week, two columns have appeared which offer opinions different from The Age’s customary editorial line.

The first was Paul Sheehan’s article on the SBS crockumentary Go Back to Where You Came From.

In this column Sheehan points out that the SBS uses its customary cut and paste tricks to mislead viewers – see Immigration Nation for several spectacular examples – and notes that real empathy for refugees would lead to policies quite different from those of our present government.

The second was an article by Professor Bob Carter on the fallacies and dangers of climate change alarmism.

Here are some of the facts Bob thinks Australians should be aware of:

Fact 1. A mild warming of about 0.5 degrees Celsius (well within previous natural temperature variations) occurred between 1979 and 1998, and has been followed by slight global cooling over the past 10 years. Ergo, dangerous global warming is not occurring.

Fact 2. Between 2001 and 2010 global average temperature decreased by 0.05 degrees, over the same time that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased by 5 per cent. Ergo, carbon dioxide emissions are not driving dangerous warming.

Fact 3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial. In increasing quantity it causes mild though diminishing warming (useful at a time of a quiet sun and likely near-future planetary cooling) and acts as a valuable plant fertiliser. Extra carbon dioxide helps to shrink the Sahara Desert, green the planet and feed the world. Ergo, carbon dioxide is neither a pollutant nor dangerous, but an environmental benefit.

Fact 4. Closing down the whole Australian industrial economy might result in the prevention of about 0.02 degrees of warming. Reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 (the government’s target) will avert an even smaller warming of about 0.002 degrees. Ergo, cutting Australian emissions will make no measurable difference to global climate.

Fact 5. For an assumed tax rate of $25 a tonne of carbon dioxide, the costs passed down to an average family of four will exceed $2000 a year.

So the cost-benefit equation is this: ”Your family pays more than $2000 a year in extra tax in return for a possible cooling of the globe by two one-thousandths of a degree.” Remember, too, that Garnaut’s recommendation is that the tax rate should be increased at 4 per cent a year, which would result in a cost doubling in less than 20 years.

I think the $2000 estimate of costs to the avergae family is too low, and does not take sufficiently into account the flow on from increased energy and transportation prices.

Nonetheless, I suspect that this will be the first time Age readers have been exposed to opnions/facts from an actual scientist questioning the media consensus.

There is a poll at the end of that article which asks readers ‘Do you think tackling climate change should be a priority for Australia?’

At the time of writing the results were: 74% No, 26% Yes.

When that sort of result appears in a poll in The Age, then maybe the tide of public opinion and commonsense is finally pulling the Titanic of the Australian print media back on course.

A few days ago Viscount Monckton suggested that those who think like professional climate boogeymen Ross Garnaut are on a short road to fascism.

Cue legacy media frenzy of horror. His comments were bizarre, appalling, distasteful, etc, etc. He should be disinvited from everything and no one should ever be seen near him again.

Yeah, but, yeah, but ….

When a group of well paid politicians, public servants, movie stars and journalists claim that some people should not be heard or published, that they should be imprisoned for their views, that they should be tattooed so that they can be easily identified, that is is fine to abuse them – not just for their views on matters of science and policy but for their physical appearance,  that democracy should be suspended, that it is amusing to show videos of children being blown up at the the press of a button…

Then how does that not sound like they are on a short road to fascism?

I doubted that Sarah Palin was electable as US president, even if she won the Republican nomination.

I have changed my mind.

She could do the job. The democrat/liberal claim she is stupid is based on nothing but fear of a formidable opponent.

Anyone who thinks she lacks intellect or education has not listened to her speak on key issues, or read her articles.

She has experience of life and of opposition and intimidation, and has faced even the most revolting comments about her and her family with grace and generosity.

Just as importantly, she has experience in actually running things – something the present incumbent lacks – and she seems to have an awareness of, and an ability to think clearly about, key world and domestic issues.

What I thought made her unelectable was the sheer magnitude of the campaign against her. She has been so thoroughly vilified in the media that everyone’s opinions of her have been touched to some extent by constant misrepresentations and accusations.

What has changed my mind is Steve Bannon’s film ‘Undefeated.’

It portrays Sarah as a woman of intelligence, integrity and courage, and it shows how these things enabled her to be extraordinarily effective as Governor of Alaska. Her care for ordinary people and determination to do what is right shine through the film.

I hope she will run, but whatever she decides, God bless her and her family.

Harold Camping was wrong. 200 million Christian believers were not ‘raptured’ up to heaven on Saturday.

If Christian fundamentalists keep this up, it will only be another 100 or so wrong predictions and they will have as much of a credibility problem as the global warming alarmists.

Seriously.

How is it that someone like Camping gets two predictions wrong, and the media treats him like a clown, and people like Paul Ehrlich, James HansenTim Flannery and others, get hundreds of predictions wrong and are lauded by the media and given six figure salary jobs selling government climate policy?

This is a picture of a tolerant crowd outside Campings radio headquarters gloating over his mistake.

Gloaters

Maybe science won’t make a fool of you, but bad science will, and so far, it’s doing a better job than Harold Camping.

I am against taxpayer funded subsidies as a matter of general principle. Subsidies mean the government thinks it knows how to use your money better than you do.

For example, I have a 100km return trip to work each day, and live in a remote area where petrol costs a third more than in Adelaide. But the state government still thinks I should be subsidising the travel costs of people who live in Adelaide, pay less for petrol, and travel 10 kms to work.

I’m sure that makes sense to someone. Well, any politicians whose voters live in Adelaide.

Now the federal government is using your money to pay for set top boxes at $350 each for people on government benefits. This enables them to receive digital TV broadcasts on their old analog set.

High definition set top boxes retail for about $100. You can buy a new digital TV for $300.

I’m sure this amazing plan makes sense to someone.

Probably the same people who decided it would be fair to take your tax money and give it to people who wanted solar panels on their roofs. And then use your tax money to pay those same people twice as much for the electricity they generated through the panels you paid for as the power companies could sell it for – leaving you to pay the difference in increased power bills.

Not only was this dumb to start with, the contractors who put these panels in appear to have performed with the same level of diligence as the blokes who contracted to put dodgy insulation in pensioners’ roofs at your expense. In other words, stuff all, except when it came to collecting the cheques.

Now National Electricity and Communications Association chief executive James Tinslay has called for a nationwide review of solar panel installations after revelations that 5 per cent of those in Port Macquarie in northern NSW contained potentially fatal flaws.

Mr Tinslay said botched solar installations put homeowners at risk of fire and electrocution, and a national audit would be likely to cost millions of dollars.

His comments follow reports that NSW Fair Trading inspectors who visited 55 solar installations in Port Macquarie in February found problems with 16 sites — three serious.

Thirty-five out of 40 installations audited were found not to comply with the Home Building Act.

Pretty much as expected, then, based on past performance.

Fortunately this particular rort is likely to come to an end fairly quickly, as governments realise they face an electoral backlash over increased power bills caused largely by the payment of exorbitant feed-in tariffs to owners of solar panels. State governments plan to cut feed-in back to levels which are still unrealistic, but which will cost taxpayers less.

But the graspers are not going to go down quietly. The solar panel industry is having a hissy fit, with claims thousands of jobs will be lost.

They are brilliant at grasping the subsidies. One thing they don’t seem to grasp is that the money to pay for those subsidies is taken from ordinary people and businesses who if they still had that money, would be able to employ people to do something useful, productive, worthwhile. Every government, or government subsidised job, costs nearly two jobs in the private sector.

The solar panel industry are as much a bunch of carpet-baggers as the insulation and set top box boys. Although with the government dishing out money for these loony schemes you can hardly blame people for stepping up to take their share.

But I am two minds about householders who signed up for solar panels.

They must have known, or should have known, that their cheap panels and high feed-in tariffs were being paid for by other taxpayers. However, if state governments have really entered into contracts with them for tariffs at a certain level, those contracts should be honoured – even though they should never have been put in place.

Governments must honour their contracts. There can be no confidence for anyone if they don’t. Even in this case, darn it!

‘Will your home be underwater?’ asks the Adelaide Advertiser, which seems to be taking on a new role as the Adelaide (Labor Party) Advertiser.

Under political pressure over its unspecified carbon tax, the Federal Government will release its latest topographical information about rising sea levels which shows up to 43,000 residential properties along the Adelaide coast, valued at between $4.4 billion and $7.4 billion, will be compromised by flooding on an annual basis or even more often.

The latest modelling also shows a sharp increase in heat-related deaths is predicted as the number of hot days above 35C more than triples by 2050.

The research, to be unveiled in Adelaide today by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, uses detailed colour maps and shows significant areas of the city’s coastal fringes will be subjected to regular flooding by the end of the century.

The only meaningful words in this story are ‘Under political pressure over its unspecified carbon tax…’

‘Unspecified’ is probably the ideal word to describe this government, with its unspecified carbon tax, its unspecified illegal immigration policies, its unspecified $6000 per household internet connections, its unspecified health ‘reforms,’  its unspecified national curriculum, etc, etc.

Sadly for Greg Combet, residents of Adelaide are not as dumb as he would like them to be. These are a few comments from readers of the Advertiser story:

wayne of barossa Posted at 1:04 AM Today

if this ever happens what will difference be if we all pay a carbon tax, i suspect nothing. but we will have less money and the incompetent government that lied to us and said no carbon tax before we elected them will have more of our money to waste and give away to other countries.

Sick of all the con games of The Poorhouse Posted at 4:57 AM Today

How will melting ice caps cause flooding if 90% of ice is already underwater? Put some ice in a glass and fill to the brim with salty water, betcha the water wont overflow when the ice melts. Also, how exactly is paying truckloads of money going to cool the planet? Is climate change really about saving the planet or is it just another scam to fleece an already overworked overtaxed and cash strapped public?

KM of Adelaide Posted at 5:46 AM Today

Does anyone actually believe this BS anymore! The government can release as many figures as it likes, this whole thing is the biggest scam ever!

WTF of Adelaide Posted at 5:52 AM Today

The sky is falling, the only reason there will be a increase in heat related deaths is that electricity is to expensive to use for pensioners, and with the carbon tax it will get worst, politicians are breeching their duty of care with their policies and should be personally liable

drbob Posted at 6:00 AM Today

Inundation of these coastal areas has occurred many times in pre-history … to link the next ‘predicted’ event to atmospheric carbon dioxide increases is junk science, junk journalism and junk government policy …

Will Thornton of Adelaide Posted at 6:10 AM Today

Give me a break, “the centre of Port Adelaide will flood at high tide!”. I can remember 50 years ago stepping out of our front door in Dale St and wading in the Port River. Was that man made global warming back then Combet? of course not, the world will change from time to time and there is NOTHING you can do about it. I just love watching you Labor clowns dangle on strings whilst the idiotic Greens pull the strings.
 
Bill of West Beach Posted at 6:33 AM Today

Well thats one way to have the government attempt to reduce property values.Let the scaremongering begin

The Sydney Peace Foundation has handed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange its gold medal for extraordinary achievement in promoting peace with justice.

Excuse me while I throw up.

The Foundation glowingly reports that this is only the fourth time in its history that the gold medal, its highest honour, has been awarded.

Foundation director Professor Stuart Rees said the award was to honour Mr Assange’s work in challenging official secrecy.

Urrghh… Sorry, throwing up again.

Director Rees says the Australian government has been complicit in demonising Assange, who has broken no laws, and is a really cool dude and everything.

Tell that to the women he raped (allegedly), or the people whose lives he has put in danger. It is not just the nasty USA that says Mr Assange’s profit before anyone else’s rights philosophy has put people in danger, incidentally, but human rights organisations including Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, in equally barf-worthy and unsurprising news, Assange has demanded that all Wikileaks employees sign a confidentiality agreement which specifies that the information stolen by Wikileaks is the sole property of Wikileaks, that Wikileaks has a proprietory interest in such information, and threatens anyone who leaks this information with a penalty of $20 million.

Julian Assange is not remotely concerned for human rights, peace or justice. He is a profiteering reseller of stolen information. And a rapist (allegedly).

In the early eighties I went through a stage of uncertainty about the ordination of women to the priesthood. I was living in Adelaide at the time, studying at Flinders/The Adelaide College of Divinity for priestly ministry in the Anglican Church.

I had listened to debates about this in New Zealand. The bishops all seemed to be earnestly in favour, and that made it something I had to consider. I read books, listened to the debates at Synod. There was lots of talk about justice, but I was not entirely convinced.

I went to a public discussion. The usual arguments were put. There was much nodding of heads by serious bearded gentlemen, and grumpy-looking nuns.

So I asked how we could reconcile what was proposed with the example of Jesus, the teaching of the Apostles, and the universal practice of the Church. Did we really believe that Jesus, the Apostles and the entire Church before us had misunderstood the will of God, and that our generation was the first to see things clearly?

The answer was a look of astonished fury, and the raising of two fingers, accompanied by laughter from the serious bearded gentlemen and grumpy nuns.

That was a turning point for me. If anger, rude gestures and public mocking were the best arguments they had, then this was not much to stack up against what Jesus had done, the Apostles had taught, and the entire Chuch had practised for 2,000 years.

Sadly, this is a style of debate that still has its adherents. Example:

Via WUWT.

The best arguments they have are to swear, call people names, suggest anyone who disagrees with them is corrupt or stupid, and wave their boobies.

They might have a chance of convincing people if they answered a few questions:

Is there any correlation between human activity and changes in global climate? (Answer – No)

Is there any evidence human actvity has changed the rate of sea level increase? (Answer – No)

Is there any evidence for the claimed positive feedback from water vapour that would increase a possible but harmless 1 degree increase in temperature caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 to a dangerous four degrees or more? (Answer – No)

Or if they showed any sign of engaging with, or even awareness of, the vast body of peer reviewed literature that questions the global warming frenzy (and associated government funds feeding frenzy).

Till then, thanks, but I think I prefer this:

I wrote a few weeks ago that the death penalty should be kept as an option, but used very rarely – when it seemed to be the only way to protect society from a vicious and dangerous criminal.

Osama bin Laden fitted that category.

The operation that lead to his death was carefully planned and carried out.  Those involved in both planning and operations deserve congratulations.

Two quotes from George Bush seem appropriate:

“When I take action, I’m not going to fire a 2 million dollar missile at a 10 dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

In the end, it was on Barack Obama’s watch that the time came when it was possible to take that decisive action. Justice has been done.

But the search for Osama bin Laden was not the prosecution of a criminal offence. It was a response to an act of war, a war declared and ongoing.

No one can doubt bin Laden’s intention and plans for his minions to carry out further attacks on the West.

If you start a war, you should be prepared for the people you have attacked to respond. You can’t destroy buildings and murder thousands of people and then cry ‘no fair’ when the country you have attacked decides the world would be a safer place without you.

The US responded to these threats in what seem to me to be the most fair and responsible manner imaginable.

It removed the person making them.

Al Qaeda is a many headed monster, but some heads are more equal than others, and the head removed was the most equal of all.

The attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was a military victory. It deserves to be celebrated, for the courage of those who participated, and for the outcome.

A message has been sent: If you murder our citizens, if you attack our people, we will find you, and there will be nothing inspiring or noble about your end, which be like the end of a vicious, worm infested dog whose body is thrown by the side of the road to rot.

Also, Pakistan is not our friend.

There are three possibilities.

1.  Pakistan’s security forces had no idea bin Laden was living in their neighbourhood. In that case they are mind bogglingly incompetent and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

2.  Some members of Pakistan’s security forces knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but they protected him rather than tell Pakistan’s political leaders. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It is unstable and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

3.  Pakistan’s poltical leaders knew, but protected him rather than tell their allies. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It may not be unstable, but it is definitely not our friend. It already has nuclear weapons, which it has developed rather than spend money on vital infrastructure.

Instead, the West has paid for much of its infrastructure with massive doses of aid.

Pakistan needs to demonstrate some trustworthiness, and a commitment to the welfare of its own people, including its non-muslim minorities.

Until it does, that aid should stop.

The World Bank’s annual index shows global food prices have soared 36 per cent in 12 months, adding a further 44 million people to the 1.2 billion who live in extreme poverty.

The greater proportion of your income you need to spend on food, the greater the impact of higher food prices. If you spend 15% of your income on food, as many westerners do, then a 36% increase in food costs is a nuisance. If you spend 75% of your income on food, a 36% increase could mean starvation.

Government pressure to include a proportion of bio-fuels in petrol has put pressure on food prices. There are other factors of course, but the additional pressure from diversion of food crops into fuel is still significant.

Nor are biofuels any better for the environment than fossil fuels. Palm oil is efficient compared with other oil crops in the amount of oil produced per hectare. But a new palm oil plantation would take 840 years of efficient cropping for biofuel to recover the carbon emitted when the forest it replaced was cut down and burned.

Now a new study has shown that a proposed biofuel plantation in Kenya could generate up to six times more CO2 than it saves:

Tribal Elder, Joshua Kahindi Pekeshe, who lives in the forest says:
“My people have lived here for generations.  If the jatropha plantation goes ahead, we will become squatters on our own land.  We will lose our homes, farms and the only school our children have.

“The company promised us jobs, dispensaries, roads and water, but it just makes me laugh. When somebody wants something from you, they know they must give you promises.  We don’t trust them because nothing was written down.

“This is a direct violation of our rights.  We voted for the new constitution that says the community owns the land directly. What right do they have to take it from us?”

Tim Rice, ActionAid’s biofuels expert, said:
“Biofuels are far from the miracle climate cure they were thought to be. Like most other biofuels, jatropha could actually end up increasing carbon emissions. Crucially the Dakatcha case also shows how biofuel plantations can rob entire communities of their land, homes and jobs.”

Fifteen years later, a letter from the then CEO of Cypress (a US designer and manufacturer of semi-conductor based technology) is still the best response to demands for quotas of women or minorities on company (or other) boards.

On April 23, 1996, Cypress received a letter from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The latter is a religious congregation of approximately 1,000 women and was, at the time the letter was written, the beneficial owner of a number of Cypress shares. The letter was a form letter, and it carried the stamped signature of Doris Gormley, OSF.

In the letter, Sister Doris, speaking for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as a Cypress shareholder, expressed the view that a company “is best represented by a Board of qualified Directors reflecting the equality of the sexes, races, and ethnic groups.” The letter went on to say that it is the congregation’s policy “to withhold authority to vote for nominees of a Board of Directors that does not include women and minorities.”

In response, CEO TJ Rodgers wrote a long letter in which he described the sisters’ position as unsound, even immoral, and more related to political correctness than Christianity.

This is the beginning:

Dear Sister Gormley:

Thank you for your letter criticizing the lack of racial and gender diversity of Cypress’s Board of Directors. I received the same letter from you last year. I will reiterate the management arguments opposing your position. Then I will provide the philosophical basis behind our rejection of the operating principles espoused in your letter, which we believe to be not only unsound, but even immoral, by a definition of that term I will present.

The semiconductor business is a tough one with significant competition from the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Koreans. There have been more corporate casualties than survivors. For that reason, our Board of Directors is not a ceremonial watchdog, but a critical management function. The essential criteria for Cypress board membership are as follows:

•Experience as a CEO of an important technology company.
•Direct expertise in the semiconductor business based on education and management experience.
•Direct experience in the management of a company that buys from the semiconductor industry.
A search based on these criteria usually yields a male who is 50-plus years old, has a Masters degree in an engineering science, and has moved up the managerial ladder to the top spot in one or more corporations. Unfortunately, there are currently few minorities and almost no women who chose to be engineering graduate students 30 years ago. (That picture will be dramatically different in 10 years, due to the greater diversification of graduate students in the ’80s.) Bluntly stated, a “woman’s view” on how to run our semiconductor company does not help us, unless that woman has an advanced technical degree and experience as a CEO. I do realize there are other industries in which the last statement does not hold true. We would quickly embrace the opportunity to include any woman or minority person who could help us as a director, because we pursue talent — and we don’t care in what package that talent comes.

I believe that placing arbitrary racial or gender quotas on corporate boards is fundamentally wrong. Therefore, not only does Cypress not meet your requirements for boardroom diversification, but we are unlikely to, because it is very difficult to find qualified directors, let alone directors that also meet investors’ racial and gender preferences.

I infer that your concept of corporate “morality” contains in it the requirement to appoint a Board of Directors with, in your words, “equality of sexes, races, and ethnic groups.” I am unaware of any Christian requirements for corporate boards; your views seem more accurately described as “politically correct,” than “Christian.”

My views aside, your requirements are — in effect — immoral. By “immoral,” I mean “causing harm to people,” a fundamental wrong. Here’s why:

I presume you believe your organization does good work and that the people who spend their careers in its service deserve to retire with the necessities of life assured. If your investment in Cypress is intended for that purpose, I can tell you that each of the retired Sisters of St. Francis would suffer if I were forced to run Cypress on anything but a profit-making basis. The retirement plans of thousands of other people also depend on Cypress stock — $1.2 billion worth of stock — owned directly by investors or through mutual funds, pension funds, 401k programs, and insurance companies. Recently, a fellow 1970 Dartmouth classmate wrote to say that his son’s college fund (“Dartmouth, Class of 2014,” he writes) owns Cypress stock. Any choice I would make to jeopardize retirees and other investors from achieving their lifetime goals would be fundamentally wrong.

Rodgers goes on to explain in more detail what the consequences of quotas would be for employees, shareholders and the wider economy.

Follow the link above to read the whole letter.

Nothing better than to lob a hundred mortars over the border, fire a few rockets at school buses, and then shout ‘Cease fire!’

Because then Hamas can say, ‘But we want peace, we want a ceasefire. Why is Israel causing all this trouble?’

Fortunately, no one is taken in by that kind of posturing. Well, no one except the UN and the mainstream media.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says a cease fire would be a dangerous waste of time, noting that Hamas has fired more than 130 rockets and mortars into Israel since last Thursday, that Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and that previous ceasefires have simply been opportunities for Hamas to re-arm before resuming attacks.

Nonetheless Israel’s Defence Forces agreed yesterday to a conditional ceasefire. Shortly afterwards a Kassam rocket was launched into Israel and exploded near Askelon.

On Sunday, 13 rockets were fired into Israel, and a senior official in the Defense Ministry, who requested anonymity, told reporters that Israel decided to hold its fire as long as Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups ceased launching attacks on civilians. “It all depends on the other side,” the Defense Ministry official said. “If a barrage of missiles falls in a town and there are casualties, that will change the situation – but if a rocket lands in an open field we will look at that differently.”

What sort of message is that comment sending? ‘Feel free to bomb us, and as long as you don’t kill anyone, or only kill a few, we won’t try to stop you.’ ??

Here’s a little tip for Hamas. Israel has no territorial ambitions other than to defend its own borders. They only retaliate to stop attacks after you have made them. If you want peace, stop firing rockets and mortars into Israel, and get on with the job of governing Gaza.

I have written before that the more aid a country receives, the more likely it is to be locked into a cycle of increasing poverty.

So it is interesting that Eritrea has just written to the UN to say it does not want any UN aid, because such aid makes the situation worse.

The reason, given in a January 26 notification letter from the country’s powerful Finance Minister, obtained by Fox News, is that “aid only postpones the basic solutions to crucial development problems by tentatively ameliorating their manifestations without tackling their root causes. The structural, political, economic, etc. damage that it inflicts upon recipient countries is also enormous.” In other words, the government argues, U.N. aid does more harm than good.

Kenyan economist James Shikawati explains why this is so in an interview with Der Spiegel. In essence, providing free food and clothes undermines any local industry, and encourages corruption and a passive expectation of rescue, which then leads to increasing resentment.

SPEIGEL: The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

What works to bring nations out of poverty, as South Korea and Taiwan have demonstrated, is open trade, democratic government, and reward for effort and invention.