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And those of us who are not Roman Catholics, but have an interest in the integrity of the faith.

I am disturbed by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn’s invitation to Medjugorje ‘visionaries’ to speak and lead prayers at the Vienna Cathedral.

At very least this is an act of grave disrespect and uncollegiality with the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

Diane M. Korzeniewski at Te Deum Laudamus has more:

What does this say about collegiality when a bishops permit visionaries from another diocese to do things they are not permitted to do in their home diocese, and what are its fruits?   What message does it convey to the faithful, if not to create confusion and pit one bishop against another, if only in their hearts?  What feelings does it cause towards the local ordinary, if not contempt and disdain because he does not permit these things?

How can I possibly reconcile the thought that the Blessed Virgin Mary would cooperate with other bishops in the world by appearing to visionaries in their cathedrals when those visionaries are not permitted to do so by their own bishops in the diocese or country of origin?   In fact, that this behavior takes place at all flies in the face of authenticity.

Quite right. The consistent demands by the Medjugorje apparition (if there even is an apparition) that those to whom it appears should disobey and undermine those in authority is proof enough for me that these are not authentic visions.

Marco Corvaglia’s website Medjugorje Without a Mask is a valuable resource for anyone with questions.

Decriminalisation is legalisation. If something is not treated as a crime, and no sanctions are imposed, then it is legal.

I enjoy Reason Magazine – I am a Kindle subscriber. But I do find Reason’s constant nagging about the pointlessness of the ‘War on Drugs’ frustrating.

A free society always has to tolerate some behaviours which are harmful to the individual and to others. Drunkenness, excessive gambling, the use of pornography, for example.

Legislators attempt to balance the general good of freedom against the harm occasioned by particular behaviours. Sometimes they get the balance wrong.

My belief is that there should be a bias in favour of allowing people to act as they choose, and that behaviour should not be legally sanctioned unless there are compelling reasons to do so. But I am not at all convinced by Reason’s nagging, or by other discussions I have seen, that the balance, the overall good of society, will best be served by legalising all forms of drug use.

Writing in the UK’s Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips looks at actual facts. The ‘actual’ in that sentence is a weasel word, I know, but I don’t care. Forget about the theory, what really happens when drugs are legalised?

She concludes:

The bottom line is that legalisation would mean more people on drugs, more addiction, more disease and death and more violence, antisocial behaviour and harm to the rest of society. The campaign to undermine the UN drug laws is being promoted by some very bad people indeed and a large number of useful idiots. We need drug legalisation like… well, like a hole in the head.

For anyone not familiar with online role playing games (RPGs), while it is possible to complete much of a game such as World of Warcraft or Rift on your own, players frequently form groups to win fights or complete quests which would be impossible for a single player.

People take specific roles in a group. DPS (damage per second) players are the most numerous, usually three players out of a five person group. Their job is to kill the enemy.

Healers heal other players in the group.

Support players, usually found only in larger groups, provide enhancements (buffs) to other players, increasing their strength, spell power, health, etc. DPS, healer and tank players may also have group buffs.

Tanks offer themselves as targets to enemies. Their job is to draw the enemy’s attention to keep the healer safe, and to let the dps players focus on wearing the enemy down. The healer’s job is primarily to keep the tank alive.

If the tank is doing his job well, the enemy’s attention should stay on him, and dps players should suffer little damage, except for unavoidable aoe (area of effect) attacks.

The key task of any tank is make himself the most attractive target. In an RPG this is called threat generation.

Threat generation is largely a product of how a player is specced. This means how players distribute the talent points they accumulate as they progress through the game. Rift has a maximum of 66 talent points, reached when you get level 50. Sometimes players talk about ‘build’ when they are describing how they have used their talent points.

Although any class except a mage can act as a tank in Rift, there are very few circumstances where a cleric or rogue will be as effective as a well geared and properly specced warrior.

This is especially so since the new 1.6 Ember Isle update, which gave warriors several enhancements to threat generation.

The most common complaint about a tank player is not that he is hard to keep alive, but that he cannot hold aggro. This means that the enemies keep attacking the dps players or healer rather than the tank. The reason this happens is (usually) that the tank is not generating enough threat to hold the enemy’s attention.

The number one ability a tank needs to spec for is threat.

This is a link to my endgame rift tanking build.

This is Paladin/Warlord/Reaver build.

My pre-raid HP on this build is just over 12,000. With the Paladin’s Touch of Life, this effectively means an HP of about 20K.

This build takes every possible threat enhancement except the 20 point Warlord skill Promise of Steel, because that ability gives only marginal overall threat enhancement, and reaching it would mean taking too many self-healing or block abilities out of the Paladin or Reaver trees.

The only thing besides threat a tank should be concerned about is the best possible balance of armour, endurance, self-heal and block enhancements. A tank is not primarily concerned with group buffs, hence points in Tip the Balance, a self-heal, rather than Reverent Protection, a group protection buff, in the Paladin tree.

It is worth going up the Reaver tree to get Master of the Abyss, a superb aoe damage ability that heals for 100% of damage done, and for Soul Devour, an enhancement to the self-heal ability Soul Feast.

Where a tank needs to put points into damage to reach other skills, the total damage done is more important than the tree looking tidy, hence 1 point into Wasting Away rather than another point into Planar Attunement in the Reaver tree.

This build also gives you Intercept, which enables the tank to transfer threat from another player (often the healer) to himself.

Just a couple of notes for dps players. The point of your participating a group is not so you can gloat over the size of your dps. It is to get the group safely through to the end of the raid, dungeon or rift. This means you may need to sacrifice some of your highest dps abilties if they are also high threat. If you do pull aggro, don’t automatically blame the tank. Apologise to the group – it’s a pain for the healer as well as the tank. Think about which ability you used that was high threat. If you must use that ability again, let the tank know first so he can throw a threat enhancement like the Warlord’s Imposing, or use Intercept.

And remember, it’s a game, people!

Rule of law and tolerance for religious diversity were two of the qualities of life in Indonesia that Barack Obama praised on his visit there a year ago.

You have to wonder what he had been drinking.

During a brutal and enthusiastically videoed attack on an Ahmadiyah home on the island of Java, in which three men died and five others were badly injured, Dani bin Misra was filmed bashing a man’s skull in with a rock. He was sentenced to three months in jail. An Ahmadi man was sentenced to six months jail for wounding an attacker during a raid on his family home.

Emily Rauhala writes in Time Magazine:

A key measure of the level of justice and compassion in any society is how it treats its minorities — often its most vulnerable citizens. On that score, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is failing. In the past year, public violence against religious minorities, who together make up about 12% of the 240 million population, has been relentless: there has been a slew of incidents, from burnings and bombings of churches to attacks by radical Muslims on moderates. The authorities appear unable or unwilling to firmly intervene. …

Suryadharma Ali, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, was unapologetic in tone: he said Indonesia respects religious freedom, but that minorities could not use that freedom to “completely modify” Islamic beliefs.

In other words, you can expect tolerance if you are a Muslim. If not, and someone comes to your house to murder you and your family, don’t expect the courts or the government to be concerned.

The margin is not high, but still, that’s one little bright spot in a world of depressing news.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Americans might be more frustrated with Obama than they are irritated by Netanyahu.

“A poll conducted by the group Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that 52.3 percent of Americans rate Netanyahu positively, compared to 51.5 percent for Obama,” reports Israel Today Magazine. “The results of the poll were enthusiastically discussed on Israel’s Channel 10 News on Thursday.”

This comes shortly after Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a liar, and Obama responding that if Sarkozy was fed up with him, he should keep in mind that Obama had to deal with him every day.

Via Gateway Pundit.

Melanie Phillips has more on the extraordinary and ongoing vilification of Israel and Netanyahu by western leaders who are either desperately ignorant, or desperately cowardly.

1) The actual reason for the collapse of the ‘peace process’ is that Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly maintains that he will never accept that Israel is entitled to be a Jewish state, hails Palestinian terrorists as heroes for murdering Israelis and does nothing to end the incitement to murder Jews disseminated in schools, mosques and media under his control. In other words, Abbas is not a legitimate interlocutor in any civilised ‘peace process’ since he remains committed to the eradication of Israel. Yet Netanyahu is blamed for the impasse.

2) It is only Israel that has made concessions in this ‘peace process’ (as noted here). The Palestinians not only failed to deliver what was expected of them under the Road Map but now, with their UN gambit, have unilaterally reneged on their previous treaty obligations. Yet Abbas is given a free pass while Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

3) The claim that the ‘settlements’ are the key to resolving the dispute is ridiculous. First, they take up no more than one or two per cent of West Bank territory. Second, even when Netanyahu froze such new building for ten months as a sign of good will, Abbas still refused to negotiate. Yet this is all ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

4) The claim that the establishment of a Palestine state would end the dispute is also ridiculous. Such a state was on offer in 1948; Israel offered to give up more than 90 per cent of the West Bank for such a state in 2000; and an even more generous offer was subsequently made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Palestinian response was in every case war and terror. Yet all this is ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

5) Whatever land Israel may choose to give up in its own interests, under international law Jews are entitled to settle anywhere in the West Bank.  There is no such thing as Palestinian land and never was. The West Bank and Gaza never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from Mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman empire. Israel’s ‘borders’ are in fact merely the cease-fire lines from its victory in 1948 against the Arab armies that tried unsuccessfully to exterminate it at birth. It is therefore more correct to call the West Bank and Gaza disputed territory. Yet this history and law are denied and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

6) The Jews alone have the legal – as well as the moral and historical — right to settle within the West Bank and Gaza, a right given to them by the Great Powers after the First World War on account of the unique historical claim by the Jews to the land then called Palestine. This Jewish right to settle anywhere in that land was entrusted to Britain to deliver under the terms of the Mandate for Palestine – an obligation which it proceeded to break. Yet this history and law are denied, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

It is therefore as absurd as it is malicious to blame Netanyahu for the breakdown of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet this is precisely what many in the west do – principally because, unlike Israeli politicians on the left, Netanyahu (who certainly has his flaws) is less prepared to play fast and loose with truth, justice and history while offering up Israel’s throat to be cut. For this inconvenient obduracy he is branded as ‘right-wing’ and therefore beyond the pale and impossible to deal with.

Or as has been said elsewhere, when Jews can live in peace, build synagogues, run for parliament, become police officers and judges, own land and run businesses in Jordan and Mecca and Gaza, as Arabs can in Israel, then it will be time to talk about Israeli racism. Until then, stop being so god-damned stupid.

In 1989 the UN was telling us that entire nations would be wiped off the earth if global warming were not reversed by the year 2000.

As Donna Laframboise points out, since this hasn’t happened, aren’t we at least entitled to an explanation from the same people issuing the same warnings twenty years later?

If the UN and the IPCC were religious organisations, the media would have stomped all over them and fallen about laughing.

This is a very common problem. It is potentially diasastrous, yet it is not addressed or even acknowledged on the Microsoft answers website.

The issue is that on the first restart after a Windows XP repair install a screen appears saying ‘This copy of Windows needs to be activated before you can log on. Do you want to activate now?’

If you click no, the computer logs out. If you click yes, the computer loads the desktop background but nothing else. Control-Alt-Delete does not work, nor do any other tricks or workarounds to get a task bar or start menu or any programs running.

The solution is as follows:

Start the computer into safe mode. It will probably not start in safe mode with networking, but will start in ordinary safe mode.

Check whether you have XP Service Pack three installed. If SP3 is not installed, install it. If you don’t already have a copy, download the XP SP3 standalone installer from Microsoft and burn it to a CD. It will run and install in safe mode.

Restart the computer into safe mode.

Install Internet Explorer Eight. If you don’t already have it, you should download the IE8 standalone installer from Microsoft and burn it to a CD. It will install in safe mode.

Restart the computer. It should now start without a problem. You may still get the activation screen, but if so, the activation window will now open, and you can activate over the internet or via telephone.

This problem is caused by the repair install corrupting internet explorer seven, making it impossible for the activation screen to open.

Installing Internet Explorer 8 fixes the problem. But IE8 will not install if you do not have either internet access or XP SP3. In this situation you do not have networking so you have no internet access, so you need to install SP3 first.

Who?

If you haven’t heard of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, then maybe we do need an inquiry into the mainstream media.

Yousef is a Christian pastor in Iran. He has never been a Muslim. Yet he has been sentenced to death for apostasy on the basis that his ancestors were Muslims.

From Melanie Phillips:

The brutal regime in Iran continues to inflict appalling levels of barbarity upon its own citizens.

A Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, aged 35 and the father of two children, has been sentenced to death for apostasy, a crime for which he was jailed two years ago. But this savage punishment is far worse even than it seems. For Nadarkhani is deemed to have committed apostasy merely because he has Islamic ancestry. Whether he was ever actually a practising Muslim was not even established. The Washington Post reported:

‘The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

‘However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.’

Now the Iranian authorities have claimed he is to be executed not for apostasy at all but for a slew of other crimes. As CNN reports:

‘Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a “rapist.” A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion. “His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” Rezvani told Fars. “He is guilty of security-related crimes.”

‘In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani. “Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,” reads the brief.’

If there is enough international pressure, Iran may relent.

So pressure! Email your MP. Write (politely) to the Iranian Ambassador. Pray.

Menzies House is doing its best to make people aware of the appalling censorship of public comments on the laughable (and depressing) “Clean Energy Future’ legislation.

A parliamentary joint select committee (I always thought a joint committee was impartial, but perhaps not if it is ‘select’) called for public submissions on the 1000 page plan to impose a tax on Carbon Dioxide.

An unprecedented 4500 Australians took the time to write to submit detailed submissions to the committee. All of these were rejected, with only 70 (mainly pro-tax) submissions published. At no time in the history of the Australian Parliament has a Committee flatly rejected to even consider the opinions of the Australian people.

In contrast, the government was more than happy to receive previous submission in support of the carbon tax, even if they were as simple as “I am writing to express my support for the government to legislate to put a price on carbon. I urge the government to move ahead with the Carbon Tax” (Rob Feith). This two sentence email was accepted as a submission by the Department. Yet 4500 detailed submissions by Australians opposed to the carbon tax were rejected.

Gillard’s government really wants to hear your views, as long as you agree with it.

Amongst people who agree with the Gillard/Brown government are the cheerful souls at Say Yes Australia. You can add your voice by creating a sign expressing your opinion about the proposed CO2 tax. The expectation is that your opinion will be some variation of ‘Gosh yes, let’s stop carbon pollution and save the planet for our children.’

Those who can think for themselves might have a different view.

I added ‘Are you nuts? CO2 is not a pollutant.’ Other possibilties were: ‘CO2 is the basis of all life.’ ‘CO2 is a positive by-product of cheap energy.’ ‘Plants need CO2 – more CO2 means better crops.’

Go and make a sign of your own. But I dare say none of those will be appearing on their website, or the lawn of Parliament House.

Also on the Menzies House website, a link to a wonderful review of Rob Lyon’s wonderful book, Panic on a Plate:

Here are a a few bits of the review, from the blog Velvet Glove, Iron Fist:

In the last eighty years, the proportion of household income spent on food has dropped from a third to less than a tenth. Fruit and vegetables from around the world are on the shelves all year round. Women are no longer chained to a life of domestic drudgery. Malnutrition and rickets are a distant memory. For the first time in history, we who are lucky enough to live in the West do not have to worry about food.

But worry we do – about genetic modification, fast food, BSE, childhood obesity, adult obesity, salt, margarine, cholesterol, fat, pesticides, red meat, food miles, carbon footprints and school dinners. At the very moment when we should be most relaxed about the food supply, we are bombarded with fears. Fast food is “addictive”, so we are told, and the food industry is trying to kill us for profit. Unless we take drastic action, most Britons will be obese by 2030.

As Rob Lyons patiently explains in this splendid plea for sanity, these beliefs owe more to ignorance and prejudice than fact. Take the humble hamburger, which obesity crusaders have chosen as their very own Moby Dick. On the face of it, it is bewildering why “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”—to quote the old Big Mac slogan—should be the embodiment of evil. A burger is only bread, meat and salad. Each Big Mac contains 500 calories – a fifth of a man’s daily ‘limit’ – and you wouldn’t want to copy Morgan Spurlock’s silly experiment of eating nothing else, but it is no more fattening than the supposedly more wholesome alternatives. Ketchup is rich in vitamin C and so are fries – surprisingly, a portion of fries contains between a quarter and a third of an adult’s daily recommended vitamin C intake. There are better candidates for demonization in every middle class kitchen. “Cheese is roughly one third fat. Parmesan is also pretty salty. Olive oil is pure fat. Butter must be, by law, 80 per cent fat,” writes Lyons. “Honey and raisins – usually regarded as ‘good’ – are practically pure sugar. Orange juice is 87 per cent water, almost all the rest is sugar.”  

“Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” says the writer Michael Pollan. Mmm, all those handpicked vegetables and buxom maidens toiling over churns of butter. Jumpers for goalposts. Marvellous.

Or perhaps not. Your grandmother would probably not recognize spaghetti, hummus or kiwi fruits as food, but she would certainly be familiar with bread and dripping, gruel, fried everything and the early symptoms of scurvy. The range and quality of British food has improved immeasurably since the turn of the last century and supermarkets have broadened our horizons considerably.

I have played World of Warcraft for nearly three years. Now I am playing Rift.

I had two WoW accounts. That was from the time when you couldn’t have characters from both factions on the same account on a PvP server.

Because I had opened the accounts in different names I was not able to combine them even after that rule was changed – despite the fact they were paid with the same credit card, and all other personal information was the same.

Both accounts were hacked. Each time that happened, the response from Blizzard was accusatory, even rude.

I bought authenticators for both accounts. But the login only asked for an authentication key about quarter of the time.

Earlier this year I got an email from Blizzard saying one of my accounts had been banned, because I had been using a ‘hack.’ That’s a mini programme that enables you to move faster, walk through walls etc.

I had two 85s on that acccount, an ele Shaman and an unholy DK, plus a few other minor toons. I enjoyed playing the Shaman, who also had top level skinning, leatherworking and cooking. I was anxious to get that account back.

I emailed Blizzard saying I had not logged into that account for several weeks, and had never used a hack. I got a curt email back saying the decision would not be reconsidered. I emailed again, asking politely for an explanation. I didn’t get a reply.

I continued to play my other account for a while – I have three 85s on that one, a Lock, a Druid and a Pally. But my heart was not in it any more.

A month ago I said goodbye to WoW forever. For the last couple of weeks I have been playing Rift. It doesn’t yet have the depth of content WoW has, but gameplay is as good or better, professions are definitely better, the dynamic content is great, and support staff seem helpful and interested.

So far I have a level 32 Champion Warrior, and a level 14 Pyro Mage.

Rift will have to work hard to match the new content in WoW, and the attractions of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which launches in December of this year.

I have a suggestion.

One of the nice things about Rift is the soul tree system, which enables players to combine talents from different streams within a single class.

A major improvement, and something no other MMORPG has, would be to allow players to combine soul trees from any class – essentially allowing them to create their own classes. So you could combine a Champion/Riftblade Warrior with the Necro stream from the Mage class, or any other combination of any trees from any class.

This could be boosted by allowing any character to wear any armour, giving for example, speed and spellpower bonuses to cloth armour, parry and strength bonuses to plate.

This would add a uniquely flexible character and combat system to an already interesting game. If new content continues to be added, I think this change would make Rift unbeatable.

Over the last weekend I thought I would give up writing this blog. It has been an interesting couple of years. Some 1200 posts, half a million words.

This Winter has been difficult. Constant personal issues involving health and family for the last five years have begun to drain my emotional energy – and it does take emotional energy to force yourself to sit down and think, I mean really think, and then write, about the issues of the day. 

The real problem has been time. There are fewer tourists, and local people have less money to spend. This has meant working longer hours to try to cover the costs of staying in business. And I do need some time just to switch off and relax, and some time for family and friends.

Maintaining Qohel was beginning to look like a very low priority.

But after yesterday’s Federal Court decision, it is increasingly important to persist, and to insist on the importance of free speech.

I find many of Tim Lambert’s blog posts offensive, both because of his personal attacks on people he disagrees with and because of his determined resistence to facts. But I still link to him, and would be very disturbed if it was seriously suggested bloggers who hold his views or write in the way he does should be forced to modify their thinking.

Democracies work because people are informed. They come to be informed through considering a variety of viewpoints and theories. Free speech is essential to effective democracy. The fewer restrictions on free speech, the better a democracy will work.

Even David Irving and Mahmoud Imanutjob have the right to speak. They cannot insist on any right to force us to listen. But forcing people to hear particular views and only those views is only a short step behind the silencing of others.

Democracy and freedom of speech are incompatible with an imagined right not to be offended. Attempts to establish such a right, and especially to give that right to particular groups, will create, and always has created, obstacles to the exchange of facts and ideas, and just as importantly, will create divisions and resentments which undermine respect and trust.

A Geraldton man is disgusted after his two year old daughter started chewing on a used condom she allegedly picked up in the McDonald’s playground.

I have eaten at that McDonalds. It was clean and tidy. Many of its customers were not.

How is it Macca’s fault that some moron tossed a used condom over their fence? Even the best cleaners can’t be everywhere.

The father is right to be disgusted – who wouldn’t be? But making it into media headlines sounds like a cash grab.

Somehow, in the shambolic mess of Justice Bromberg’s mind, a person who says that race should make no difference, and that people should be rewarded and assisted according to their abilities and needs, is guilty of racial discrimination.

Somehow, in the blinkered hollow of Justice Bromberg’s mind, people who claim extra rights and privileges on the basis of race, which they claim to be free to determine without reference to any racial characteristics whatever, are entitled to those privileges, and any questioning of this is insulting, intimidating, discriminatory and inflammatory.

God help us.

If you only read or watch or listen to Australian news sources.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has cut trade and diplomatic relations with Israel, is increasing naval activity close to Israel, has threatened to attack Cyprus if US company Noble Energy proceeds with plans to drill for gas near its Leviathan field (between Israel and Cyprus), and has announced plans to visit Gaza.

This confirms Turkey’s resurgent desire to become the leading power in the region as the ‘Arab Spring’ weakens long standing regimes. Turkey seeks to re-establish its credibility with the Arab/Muslim world by repudiating its former close relationship with Israel. This is, or should be, a major security concern for Israel and Western nations.

Russia is rebuilding a railway line to a previously unsuccessful special economic zone in North Korea. The DPRK hopes that easier access to the zone, around the port city of Khasan at the North-East corner of North Korea, where the borders of North Korea, China and Russia meet, will revitalise its trade and economic development.

More open trade could bring new and much needed openness and prosperity to the DPRK, or it could be a sign of a worrying coziness between North Korea, China nd Russia.

Russia under Putin is reverting to dictatorial centralist government.

China will need to weigh its relationship with the DPRK against its very important economic links to the US and Australia. But China may very well feel that its hand in those relationships is so strong that it can do what it likes.

Monsoonal floods in southern Pakistan have killed over 100 people, and severely damaged rice, cotton and sugar crops.

The West will come to their aid again, and it is right that we should do so. But these seasonal floods are regular and predictable. Why does Pakistan’s government not build appropriate infrastructure to mitigate their effects? Perhaps any future defense aid to Pakistan could be tied to measurable efforts to protect its people from predictable natural events.

Finally, just six months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan has been struck by the most damaging typhoon for the last seven years. Over 100 have been killed, and thousands are still trapped or missing.

May God bless and protect them.

Not if by ‘intellectual’ you mean someone who is capable of considering events and evidence, and coming to reasonable conclusions, a person capable of careful and objective analysis.

His article in the Sydney Morning Herald on September 2nd was called ‘A Pressing (ha, ha, I’m sure he felt very clever about that) Case for Standing Up To Rupert Murdoch’s Bullying.’

News Ltd owns 70 per cent of the circulation of major newspapers in Australia.  If Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, were an  apolitical or a distant figure, this might not matter, but he has a powerful set  of ideological beliefs and is determined to maintain tight control over the  political line of all his papers on issues that interest him.

That may be news to many of Murdoch’s editors, to judge from the diversity of opinion expressed in their editorial pages, and their public support for different parties at the last election.

There is no evidence in Murdoch papers of bullying, or even ‘tight control.’ Nor is there any reason to think that a family of papers in which such a diversity of views are welcome could have the nefarious effect on public opinion that is causing Professor Manne so much worry.

Maybe he is frustrated that only 30% of Australians read papers which share his views:

The company’s domination of our newspaper market poses a real and present danger to the health of Australian democracy.

Really? Murdoch started a long way behind the pack, with just one Adelaide paper. Now 70% of Australians prefer to to read a Murdoch paper. That sounds to me like democracy in action.

Compare the variety of opinion in Murdoch editorials with, say, The Age or the ABC.

The ABC is supposed to be our ABC. We pay for it. But there is no programme on the ABC in which my views are regularly aired or considered. As for The Age, any thought of diversity of opinion in the pages of Professor Manne’s favourite paper is a joke.

It is reasonable for a paper to have a consistent editorial line on political matters. Some Murdoch papers do this.

It is less reasonable to refuse to allow the expression of alternative views in opinion columns or letters pages. No Murdoch paper does this.

Refusing to publish news which is unwelcome to one side of politics means that a paper has ceased to be a reliable news source and has become a party rag. The Age does this. This morning’s edition is a perfect example.

Rupert Murdoch seems to be a global warming believer, so it is difficult to see how The Australian’s regular publication of dissenting views, despite Manne’s angst about this, does anything other than disprove Manne’s assertion of megalomaniacal control.

The mild dominance of Murdoch papers in the Australian market is not evidence of Murdoch bullying, or of rigid editorial control, but rather of ordinary Australians’ preference for news sources which report the news fairly, and in which their views get a fair hearing.

Professor Manne’s problem seems to be that he simply cannot understand why most Australians don’t share his opinions. Since he is right about everything, this can only be because there is some dreadful conspiracy. Or because the rest of us are stupid.