It certainly isn’t getting any warmer here, with the coolest start to Summer in Australia for the last fifty years. But according to the alarmists, that’s just weather.
Ed Caryl suggests that most of the land based warming recorded in the USA over the last 60 years can be traced to the influence of nearby heated buildings, with measuring stations more than 100 metres away from a heated building showing cooling rather than warming over the same period.
As can be seen on the plot, town population made almost no difference to the trend. The dots are nearly completely random with respect to population. On the other hand, the distance from a heated dwelling made a much larger difference. The two coolest sites were more than 100 meters from the nearest building. Within the population limits of this study, the Urban Warming Influence is simply the distance to the nearest heated building, not the size of the city.
This phenomenon is the reason for much of the Arctic warming. Urban Warming in the Arctic, and indeed in the Antarctic, is an occupied-building-to-temperature-sensor distance problem. In the polar regions, the temperature differential between occupied buildings and the outdoor temperature sensors is much greater than in the temperate mid-west U. S., so the distance must be greater to avoid the UWI problem. But man doesn’t like digging long cable trenches in ice or permafrost (it’s like concrete!), or walking long distances in –40° weather, so the measurements are not done properly.
It is clear to this author that measured “Global Warming” is simply due to increasing nearby energy use and the temperature sensor proximity to the resulting heat.
In other words, as Ed himself points out, if you heat up your thermometers, you will find warming.
It is a tad disappointing that church leaders trot out the same bland comments about illegal immigrants year after year. You might hope that if all they can up with is platitudes, they could at least try to find some new ones.
But no. This year, yet again, we heard that Jesus was a refugee, and that this means we have an obligation to be warm and welcoming to anyone who arrives here, no matter where they come from. We are asked to imagine the fear felt by Jesus’ family as they fled the violence of Herod’s persecution, and to understand that refugee families feel the same fear and desperation.
These are worthwhile thoughts. Or they would be if church leaders had not battered us with them every Christmas for the last twenty years.
Just as cliches in writing are to be avoided like the pox, cliches in preaching are to be avoided like polio, and for the same reason. Cliches become cliches because they express a thought strikingly. They make you think. As soon as they become cliches they cease to express anything very much. They are just boring and predictable and don’t encourage thought at all. It is the same with lazy, cliched preaching.
Church leaders who talk year after year about the need to be compassionate to refugees are not going to convince anyone, because everyone is already convinced. We all know we need to find a compassionate way to deal with refugees, including those who make their way to Australia illegally.
What most Australians understand, but which seems to have escaped the bishops and moderators, is the complexity of going from good feelings and wanting to do the right thing, to formulating and enacting policy which really does do some good.
Under the Howard government, people smuggling and illegal immigration had slowed to a trickle. That left more resources for the Department of Immigration to allocate to refugees who were in greatest need, and to supporting those refugees in their transition to life in Australia. When Labor was elected there were fewer than 400 people in immigration detention. Now there are over 4,000. That number is growing rapidly as new boats arrive every week.
At least 400 people have died in transit since Labor came to office. Yet there has been no acceptance of responsibility, no acknowledgement that the kinder policies demanded by churches and refugee advocate groups have been responsibile for the current cruel and expensive mess. Instead, the same people are serving up the same tripe about the ‘need for compassion.’
A lack of compassion is not the problem. A lack of willingness to think is. If church leaders really want to help, they need to stop the reflexive bagging of conservative politicians and recognise that it is possible for politicians on both sides of parliament, and for ordinary people, to feel the same depth of concern, but to have completely different ideas about the best way forward.
The best way forward, of course, is the one that works. What works is stopping illegal immigration, and concentrating resources on bringing to Australia people who are most in need, and who are most likely to share, or to come to share, Australia’s key values of rule of law, equality for men and women, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, fair work for fair pay, generosity and ‘having a go.’
And by way of contrast, thank God for Queen Elizabeth.
I would have thought the primary motivation for becoming a journalist was to make the world a better place by helping people to know the truth.
So it is a constant source of dismay that so many journalists and media outlets decline to be truthful, either by not covering stories which don’t match their own viewpoint, or by leaving out crucial facts, or by outright distortion of reality. The refusal to cover or even mention the constant attacks against Israel by state supported terrorists from Gaza and the West Bank is an example of the first. Calling the massive and ongoing violence by muslims against Christians ‘sectarian violence’ is an example of the later.
The so-called “Arab Spring” continues to transition into a “Christian Winter,” including in those nations undergoing democratic change, such as Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis dominated the elections—unsurprisingly so, considering the Obama administration has actually been training Islamists for elections.
Arab regimes not overthrown by the “Arab Spring” are under mounting international pressure; these include the secular Assad regime of Syria, where Christians, who comprise some 10% of the population, are fearful of the future, having seen the effects of democracy in neighboring nations such as Iraq, where, since the fall of the Saddam regime, Christians have been all but decimated.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that “Christians are being refused refugee status [in the U.S.] and face persecution and many times certain death for their religious beliefs under Sharia, while whole Muslim communities are entering the U.S. by the tens of thousands per month despite the fact that they face no religious persecution.”
Categorized by theme, November’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed according to theme and in alphabetical order by country, not necessarily severity.
Ethiopia: More than 500 Muslim students assisted by Muslim police burned down a church, while screaming “Allahu Akbar” (and thus clearly positing their attack in an Islamic framework); the church was built on land used by Christians for more than 60 years, but now a court has ruled that it was built “without a permit.”
Indonesia: Hundreds of “hard-line” Muslims rallied to decry the “arrogance” of a beleaguered church that, though kept shuttered by authorities, has been ordered open by the Supreme Court. Church members have been forced to hold services on the sidewalk, even as Indonesia’s leading Muslim clerics warned Christians that it would be “wise and sensible” for the church to yield to “the feelings of the local believers, specifically Muslims.”
Iran: The nation’s minister of intelligence said that house churches in his country are a threat to Iranian youth, and acknowledged a new series of efforts to fight the growth of the house church movement in Iran.
Nigeria: Islamic militants shouting “Allahu Akbar” carried out coordinated attacks on churches and police stations, including opening fire on a congregation of “mostly women and children,” killing dozens. The attacks occurred in a region where hundreds of people were earlier killed during violence that erupted after President Jonathan, a Christian, beat his closet Muslim rival in April elections.
Turkey: The ancient Aghia Sophia church has been turned into a mosque. Playing an important role in ecumenical history, the church was first transformed into a mosque in 1331 by the jihadist Ottoman state. As a sign of secularization, however, in 1920 it was turned into a museum. Its transformation again into a mosque is a reflection of Turkey’s re-Islamization.
Apostasy and Proselytism
Afghanis around the world are being threatened for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity. One exile, who changed his name after fleeing Afghanistan in 2007 when an Islamic court issued an arrest warrant for his conversion, is still receiving threats: “They [Afghan officials] were very angry and saying that they will hit me by knife and kill me.” Even in distant Norway last September, an Afghan convert to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a refugee processing center: “If you do not return to Islam, we will kill you,” his attackers told him.
Algeria: Five Christians were jailed for “worshiping in an unregistered location.” International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group investigating the case, states that the five Christians are charged with “proselytizing,” “unauthorized worship,” and “insulting Islam.”
Iran: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who caught the attention of the world after being imprisoned and awaiting execution for leaving Islam, remains behind bars as officials continue to come up with excuses to force him to renounce Christianity, the latest being that “everyone is [born] a Muslim.” A Christian couple “who had been snatched and illegally-detained” by authorities for eight months without any formal charges, were finally released, beaten again, and have since fled the country. While imprisoned, they were “ridiculed and debased” for their Christian faith.
Kashmir: Muslim police arrested and beat seven converts from Islam in an attempt to obtain a confession against the priest who baptized them. After the grand mufti alleged that Muslim youths were alternatively being “lured” and “forced” to convert by an Anglican priest “in exchange for money,” the priest was arrested in a “humiliating” manner. Recently released, his life is now “in serious danger.”
Kenya: A gang of Muslims stabbed and beat with iron rods a 25-year-old Somali refugee, breaking his teeth; he was then stripped naked, covered with dirt, and left unconscious near a church. Although he was raised Christian since age 7, he was attacked on the “assumption that as a Somali he was born into Islam and was therefore an apostate deserving of death.”
Nigeria: The Muslim militant group, Boko Haram, executed two children of an ex-terrorist and “murderer” because he converted to Christianity. When still a terrorist, he “was poised to slit the throat of a Christian victim” when “he was suddenly struck with the weight of the evil he was about to commit.” After finding he converted to Christianity, “Boko Haram members invaded his home, kidnapped his two children and informed him that they were going to execute them in retribution for his disloyalty to Islam. Clutching his phone, the man heard the sound of the guns that murdered his children.”
Egypt: After a Christian inadvertently killed a Muslim in a quarrel begun by the latter, thousands of Muslims rose in violence, “collectively punishing” the Copts of the village. Two Christians “not party to the altercation” were killed; others were stabbed and critically wounded. As usual, “after killing the Copts, Muslims went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian-owned homes and businesses.” Even so, “Muslims insist they have not yet avenged” the death of their co-religionist, and there are fears of “a wholesale massacre of Copts.” Many Christians have fled their homes or are in hiding.
Kenya: Suspected Islamic extremists, apparently angered at the use of wine during communion—Islam forbids alcohol—threw a grenade near a church compound killing two, including an 8-year-old girl, and critically wounding three others. The pastor of another congregation received a message threatening him either to flee the region “within 48 hours or you see bomb blast taking your life and we know your house, Christians will see war. Don’t take it so lightly. We are for your neck.”
Nigeria: In the latest round of violence, soon after mosque prayers were heard, hundreds of armed Muslims invaded Christian villages, “like a swarm of bees,” killing, looting, and destroying virtually everything in sight; at the end of their four-hour rampage, some 150 people had been killed—at least 130 of them Christians. Another 45 Christians were also killed by another set of “Allahu Akbar!” shouting Muslims who burned, looted, and killed. Hundreds of people are still missing; the attacks have included the bombing of at least ten church buildings. Nearly all the Christians in the area have fled the region.
Pakistan: A 25 year-old Christian was shot dead by “an unidentified gunman in what his family believes was a radical Muslim group’s targeting of a Christian.” According to the son, “We firmly believe that my father was killed because of his preaching of the Bible, because there is no other reason.” He began to receive threats “after voicing his desire to start a welfare organization for the poor Christians” of the region.
(General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslim “Second-Class Citizens”)
November’s major instances of dhimmitude come from two Muslim nations notorious for violating Christian rights—Egypt and Pakistan—neither of which is even cited in the U.S. State Department’s recent International Religious Freedom report:
Egypt: Following October’s Maspero massacre, when the military killed dozens of Christians, some run over intentionally by armored vehicles, Egypt’s military prosecutor detained 34 Christians, including teens under 16, on charges of “inciting violence, carrying arms and insulting the armed forces”; many of the detainees were not even at the scene and were just collected from the streets for “being a Christian.” Three are under 16 years of age, including one who, after having an operation to extract a bullet from his jaw, was chained to his hospital bed. Hundreds of Christians also came under attack from Muslims throwing stones and bottles, after the Christians protested against the violence at Maspero: “Supporters of an Islamist candidate for upcoming parliamentary election joined in the attack on the Copts.” Meanwhile, a senior leader of the Salafi party, which came in second after the Muslim Brotherhood in recent elections, blamed Christians for their own massacre, calling “Allah’s curse on them.” Muslim Brotherhood leaders asserted that only “drunks, druggies, and adulterers” are against the implementation of Sharia—a clear reference to Egypt’s Christians.
Pakistan: A new U.S. government commission report indicates that Pakistani school textbooks foster intolerance of Christians, Hindus, and all non-Muslims, while most teachers view religious minorities as “enemies of Islam.” “Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” notes the report. Accordingly, in an attempted land-grab, Muslim police and cohorts of a retired military official, beat two Christian women with “batons and punches,” inflicting a serious wound to one of the women’s eyes after the women spoke up in defense of their land, and shot at Christians who came to help the women. “In the last few years Muslims have made several attempts to seize the land from the Christians, usually succeeding because Christians are a marginalized minority.” Likewise, under a “false charge of theft,” a Christian couple was arrested and severely beaten by police; the pregnant wife was “kicked and punched” even as her interrogators threatened “to kill her unborn fetus.” A policeman offered to remove the theft charges if the husband would only “renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.”
What strikes me about this is not so much the courage, but the kindness of the store clerk.
Mustafa comes at him with a gun, threatening his life for money. Derek knocks the robber out with a single punch and calls the police. But there is no more shouting or violence. Derek sits with him, almost in a comforting way, and gives him paper towels to help with the bleeding.
He has good advice to offer too: If you want money, get a job. Work, like everyone else.
Jimmy Carter is a kind-hearted and sincere man who, partly because of his own honesty and gentleness, cannot seem to believe in the dishonesty and brutality of others. He is a Christian who does not believe people can be evil. This naivety made him a bad president, and makes him a poor judge of foreign policy and a dangerously incompetent commentator on social issues.
Michael Wiess in the UK Telegraph is right to point out just how destructive some of Carter’s comments and actions have been. But I cannot get distressed at Carter’s reported sending of condolences to Kim Jong Il’s son Kim Jong Un. Jong Il was a vile dictator. We may be glad his reign is over. But his family still suffers grief at his death, and it is right that we condole with them.
Nor can I share in the sentiments expressed by John McCain, for whom I have considerable respect:
“The world is a better place now that Kim Jong Il is no longer in it,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement after the North Korean leader died, reportedly of a heart attack. “For more than six decades, people in North Korea have been consigned to lives of dire poverty and cruel oppression under one of the most totalitarian regimes the world has ever known. I can only express satisfaction that the Dear Leader is joining the likes of Qaddafi, Bin Laden, Hitler, and Stalin in a warm corner of hell.”
I hope not. None of us is worthy of salvation. If Qaddafi and Kim Jong Il don’t deserve to be in heaven, well, no more do I. Jesus came to save them as much as to save me, and if he loved them enough to go to the cross for them, then I cannot rejoice at their deaths, nor hope for damnation for them.
That is not to deny the harm they have done, and the immense suffering they have caused. My prayer for the family of Kim Jong Il is that they will be comforted in their time of sorrow, and that both the sorrow and the comfort will lead to a change of heart, then to changes in policy and eventually to freedom for North Korea.
A few grammatical points.
1. Comprise means ‘is made up of.’ Comprise should not be followed by ‘of.’ Comprise includes the ‘of.’
This is a frequent error in real estate agents’ descriptions of their properties. ‘This house comprises of four bedrooms, three bathrooms … ‘ No it doesn’t. It comprises four bedrooms, three bathrooms, etc. Writing ‘comprises of’ or ‘comprised of’ makes you look like an idiot.
2. It’s always means ‘it is.’ Always. If you mean its coat, its temperature, etc., you do not need an apostrophe. The possessive pronouns ‘his,’ ‘hers,’ ‘its,’ etc., do not take an apostrophe.
Real estate agents seem to have difficulty with this one too, as do signwriters. ‘It’s bathroom is tiled in blue.’ No it isn’t. What that sentence means is ‘It is bathroom is tiled in blue.’
3. Plurals do not take an apostrophe. I don’t know why this is so difficult to understand. If you want to say there is more than one of something, you do not need an apostrophe. More than one tomato is tomatoes, not tomato’s. More than one CD is CDs, not CD’s.
4. Unique means ‘one of a kind.’ Whatever it is, it cannot be ‘very unique,’ or ‘quite unique.’ It is either one of a kind or not. It is either unique or not. Nothing can be partly unique.
5. To beg the question means to avoid the question, to answer without answering. For example, if Mr Obama was asked ‘Has unemployment risen during your presidency?’ and he answered ‘Our policies are designed to ensure ongoing economic growth,’ he would be begging the question.
If a statement makes you want to ask another question, or leads naturally to a question, that is not ‘begging the question.’ For example, it is not correct to say the statement ‘Black men suffer higher rates of imprisonment than white men,’ begs the question ‘Are the courts biased in their sentencing?’ It might invite the question, or lead to the question. It does not ‘beg the question.’
You could use any one of a dozen expressions to mean that a statement leads naturally to another question. If that is what you mean, use one of them.
What you should not say is, it ‘begs the question.’ It doesn’t. That has a specific meaning, which is to avoid answering a question by giving an answer unrelated to what has been asked. It is a useful expression, and worth preserving.
The best tribute to the despicable and admirable Christopher Hitchens is to read, hear and inwardly digest his words.
This interview taped in 2002 for Uncommon Knowledge is brilliant. Two highly intelligent, eloquent men, with deep knowledge of history, talk about something that is still critically important.
In the war on terror, who are our enemies?
I rarely do product reviews, and even more rarely write anything negative about something we have sold in the shop, but my experience with OKI has really been something special.
We have mostly sold Canon and Epson inkjets, and HP, Brother and Fuji/Xerox laser printers. Occasionally we have had a dud, and when we have had a problem the manufacturers have generally been helpful, replacing failed product or arranging for repairs. Then there is OKI.
I wanted something at a lower price point to offer as a special. Synnex (national IT wholesalers) had the OKI B2520 multi-function printer with an RRP of $299 for sale at $159. You have to add GST and freight to that, but even so, I thought we could sell these at $249, have some happy customers who had got a good deal, and still make a few dollars. So I bought four to see how they would go.
They all sold. But three out of four came back with problems.
First customer back – there are no Windows 7 drivers. Windows 7 has been out for over two years, so this is simply inexcusable for a ‘current’ product. You can get the B2520 MFP to run under Windows 7, but it constantly reports that it needs troubleshooting, and the bundled ‘software suite’ will not run at all. I can put up with the trouble-shooting requests, and I would not have used the suite anyway, so I gave the customer a new Fuji printer and took the OKI home, where it replaced my older but Win 7 compatible, cheap to run and super reliable Sharp MFP.
Next customer, annoyed for two reasons. First, I had sold her the OKI as a budget printer. But the RRP on cartridges is over $250. My reaction to this when I first tried to order some was WTF!? I would not have ordered the printers if I had known this. How can I tell a customer I am selling her a good value printer if the cartridges cost more than the printer, and twice as much as comparable cartridges for Canon or HP printers?
Anyway, I ordered three OKI toner cartridges, and sold one to my client at cost. She was back two days later. The ‘reset card’ that comes with the cartridge had not worked, and having just installed a cartridge that cost her $200, the printer was still telling her she needed to replace the toner. I went to her home and checked. She was right. The card simply would not reset the printer.
Efforts to contact OKI and ask for a replacement card were unsuccessful. The only possible purpose for a ‘reset card’ is to force consumers to buy the exorbitantly priced OKI toner cartridges instead of generics, and to stop people refilling them. Greed, in other words.
So I gave her a Samsung MFP, and found a place in Hong Kong where I could order a replacement reset card for the B2520 for about $30. The OKI went into my office, where it replaced an older, but Win 7 compatible and reliable HP printer.
Third customer. He had the same problem as customer number one – no Win7 drivers – but like me was willing to put up with this as long as the OKI B2520 actually printed.
His wasn’t printing any more. Instead there was a message on the printer LCD screen saying ‘No printer.’ Yep. the printer was saying ‘No printer.’ Nothing would print from the computer, and if you tried to use any of the stand-alone functions – copy or fax, for example, you got a message saying ‘Printer busy’ for a few seconds, before it went back to saying ‘No printer.’ Great.
I definitely did not need or want another OKI printer, so I told the client I would contact OKI and try to arrange repairs under warranty. After some to-ing and fro-ing, a representative confirmed it would be repaired under their ‘return to base’ warranty. I have no idea how long that might take, and my client needs a printer for his small office. I gave him a new Fuji printer. Gol darn it. So now this dud OKI is mine again.
But at least I can get it repaired for free, right? Well, yes. But the nearest OKI repair centre is 200 kilometres away, and I live on a island. Cost to get it there, about $50 in each direction, plus packing materials and time. So I will get it back having cost me an additional $100 on top of what I paid for it in the first place.
But I can’t sell it as new now. It isn’t new. It has to be a secondhand or demo model. So the absolute most I can hope to sell it for is $200. And I would need to give the new buyer a warranty, and put a new cartridge in it. So on top of the $190 or so it cost me in the first place, I would be spending an additional $100 in transport costs plus $200 on a new cartridge, to be able to sell the printer for $200 at most, and have to offer a warranty, which given the odds, well you get the picture.
So the latest OKI B2520 to come back to me is not going back to OKI, it is going to the dump, and I will never sell another OKI product again.
My advice to anyone thinking of buying an OKI printer? Don’t.
Why is the world silent on the constant terrorist attacks on Israel?
From the Chicago Tribune, by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Envoy to the UN:
Silence. Just silence from the U.N. Silence from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. And silence from major media outlets throughout the world.
Imagine for just a moment if this were happening to cities in, say, Texas. Imagine that the citizens of El Paso, Laredo and San Antonio have to stay inside their homes. Schools are closed, businesses are shut and people have to suspend their lives. Not because of some natural disaster or a nuclear or chemical accident, because groups in Mexico have purchased and are firing thousands of deadly missiles at Texans across the border. Sometimes a school is hit, sometimes a grocery store, and every so often someone is killed.
Imagine a similar occurrence in Seattle, Detroit or Cleveland — with rockets raining in from Canada.
Your reaction to this imagined scenario is, no doubt, incredulity. The very thought of terrorists in another country attacking Americans at random is ludicrous. You know the president would immediately order the U.S. military to respond, root out the terrorists and make sure that the Canadian or Mexican governments clearly understood that this behavior would not be tolerated. The United Nations Security Council would immediately condemn this infringement on a country’s sovereignty and the safety of its citizens. The U.N. charter makes a country’s self-defense as legal as it is logical. This is universally understood.
So if it is natural to be outraged and support the defense against terrorists who attack Texas, or England or Russia or China, why is it not natural to support the same for Israel? Since the beginning of October, more than 70 rockets and missiles have rained down on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, which remains under the control of the Hamas terrorist organization. Last week, Israel’s densely populated northern towns were hit by rockets fired from Lebanon.
Hamas deliberately fires rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities, which have exploded on playgrounds, near kindergarten classrooms and homes. Last month, a man was killed when a rocket struck his car on his evening commute home. Many more people have been injured. In the last month alone, more than a million Israelis had to stay home from work and more than 200,000 students were unable to attend school. You don’t read about this because if it’s covered at all, it’s buried in the back pages of newspapers.
Although these horrific attacks should appall good people everywhere, not one word of condemnation has come from the Security Council in the United Nations. Peace activists that regularly criticize my country are silent on this one as well.
Underlying the violence that continues to emanate from Gaza is a deeply rooted culture of incitement. Last month, would-be Palestinian suicide bomber Wafa al-Biss was released from prison as part of an exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Al-Biss offered a breathtaking challenge to cheering schoolchildren at her Hamas welcome-home rally. She said, “I hope you will walk the same path that we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.” Her crime? She tried to kill doctors, nurses and patients by blowing herself up in an Israeli hospital. Luckily, she failed to detonate.
These are the poisonous values that are being fed to the next generation of children in Gaza. When Israel looks at children, it sees the future. When Hamas looks at children, it sees suicide bombers and human shields. If only incitement were confined to Gaza. It also pervades the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — and many other corners of our region. In schools, mosques and media, generation after generation of children across the Middle East have been taught to hate, vilify and dehumanize Israelis and Jews.
The intolerance all too common in the Middle East finds its way around the world, even entering the halls of the U.N. Today the U.N. is home to a triple standard: one standard for democracies, a different standard for dictatorships and a special, unobtainable standard for Israel. So I pose this ethical question, not from a philosophy course at a great university but based very much in the real world: If it is not OK to fire deadly rockets at the citizens of any of the other 193 member states that make up the United Nations, why is the world silent when the victims are Israelis?
If there was ever any way the outrageously expensive National Broadband Network could have paid for itself, that prospect ended on Friday:
NBN Co has been forced to back down on its plans to restrain Telstra from promoting its wireless internet services as a substitute for the $36 billion fibre network for two decades after pressure from the competition watchdog.
The Weekend Australian can reveal that the $11bn deal between Telstra, the government and NBN Co for Telstra to decommission its copper network and shift its customers to the new service will be revised following concerns by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission that the curbs on Telstra’s marketing of its wireless services could hinder competition for wireless voice and broadband services.
Instead of Telstra agreeing not to promote wireless as a direct substitute for fibre, it is understood Telstra will effectively pledge that it would not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct about the NBN in its marketing — which is prohibited anyway under Australia’s consumer law.
The only way the NBN could have been competitive was to shut down competing technologies.
The ACCC’s decision is a good one for Australian consumers. The NBN will no longer be allowed to stop other companies implementing superior internet delivery systems.
But Australian tax payers will still be stuck with a bill of $6,000 for every household to pay the cost of what should have been clear from the beginning was a bloated, inefficient and already outdated system.
This essay by Mario Vargas Llosa is a month old now. It has been available since then behind paywalls. I only today found a site where the whole essay is available free.
This is the first few paragraphs:
What is lost on collectivists is the prime importance of individual freedom for societies to flourish and economies to thrive.
The blessings of freedom and the perils of its opposite can be seen the world over. It is why I have so passionately adhered to advancing the idea of individual freedom in my work.
Having abandoned the Marxist myths that took in so many of my generation, I soon came to genuinely believe that I had found a truth that had to be shared in the best way I knew—through the art of letters. Critics on the left and right have often praised my novels only to distance themselves from the ideas I’ve expressed. I do not believe my work can be separated from its ideals.
It is the function of the novelist to tell timeless and universal truths through the device of a fashioned narrative. A story’s significance as a piece of art cannot be divorced from its message, any more than a society’s prospects for freedom and prosperity can be divorced from its underlying principles. The writer and the man are one and the same, as are the culture and its common beliefs. In my writing and in my life I have pursued a vision not only to inspire my readers but also to share my dream of what we can aspire to build here in our world.
Yes. Simply being ‘transgressive’ does not make something art. Art, in whatever form, is art because it helps us to see things in a new way. Good art, art that has lasting value, tells the truth. Bad art may be beautifully executed, but if it is not truthful, it is not good.
Unlike the occupy mobsters, these ladies have a point, it is a point worth making, they don’t leave a mess for anyone else to clean up, and no one got raped or murdered.
Femen 5, Occupiers 0.
FEMEN, a Ukrainian feminist group, is up in arms about the win of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in the Dec. 4 elections.
To show their disapproval, FEMEN protesters stripped down in front of The Cathedral Of Christ The Savior in Moscow on Friday, holding signs that said, “God Get Rid Of The Czar.’
The women were detained by security guards and taken into police custody, Reuters reports. The women were released shortly after being detained.
Wayne Swan has put ANZ on notice he will not tolerate the bank moving its lending rates independently of the Reserve Bank, after it revealed it would take the audacious step to review its rates on the second Friday of every month.
The move, ordered by boss Mike Smith and ANZ’s Australian chief executive Phil Chronican, was touted as a bid to knock down the notion that lending rates were tied to the official cash rate only.
The ANZ is quite right – there is no reason why bank lending rates should be absolutely tied to official cash rates. The ANZ and other banks should be at liberty to set rates wherever they like. For example, banks should be free to respond to market conditions – to charge more when there is a high demand for lending, less when there is competition for borrowers.
I don’t understand the liberal (in Australia this means the Labor Party/Greens alliance) obsession with regulating the banking sector. There are so many banking options in Australia that it would be virtually impossible for any one bank to charge substantially more for its services than the others. Any bank which was treating people unfairly would soon be out of business.
Bankers know more about their business than politicians. Excessive regulation adds to consumer costs rather than reducing them. But never miss a chance to meddle is the motto, I guess.
It seem unlikely Australian political leaders (those allied with the Greens, anyway) will take any notice of this story, which is yet another reason to dump them at the next Federal election.
From Canada’s National Post:
We have long argued that the Ontario government’s headlong rush to convert Canada’s industrial heartland to “green” energy would turn out to be nothing but a colossal waste of money. Since most alternative energies remain commercially impractical (that’s why they’re still alternative and not mainstream), the blind rush by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to substitute wind, solar and bio energy for coal and oil was never likely to produce much new energy, just higher power rates for residential and industrial consumers. But even we underestimated the extent to which the Ontario Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act had failed in just over two-year’s time.
In one of the most scathing indictments of government mismanagement we have ever witnessed, Ontario Auditor-General Jim McCarter reported Monday that Mr. McGuinty’s green dream has rapidly become an $8-billion nightmare for Ontario taxpayers and electricity users. Almost no new net power will be generated by all the green-energy projects hastily funded since the bill was passed, but the average residential consumer will see more than $400 a year added to his power bill for a decade to pay for all the bad contracts with and subsidies to eco-friendly power suppliers.
I was amused to see in this weekend’s Adelaide papers (which I never buy – the supermarket was giving them away), advertisements for rooftop solar panels, telling readers that with recent dramatic increases in domestic electricity costs, there had never been a better time to buy solar. Not a hint, not a sausage nor a whisper to indicate that the primary cause of the last two years of huge price rises has been government subsidies for the capital cost of rooftop solar installations, and the government’s forcing power companies to pay owners of rooftop installations a feed in tariff as much three times the retail price of electricity.
These schemes have been so ridiculously generous that I was briefly tempted to have solar panels installed. But I don’t approve of ripping off ordinary taxpayers despite the possibility of a temporary benefit. Welfare agencies (generally in favour of meaningless green schemes) have pointed out that the tax breaks and feed in tariffs are actually subsidising richer households who can afford solar panels, at the expense of poorer families who cannot.
Let’s see. Ugly, expensive, disadvantage the poor. Sounds like a perfect Labor Party programme.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives another of his perfectly timed impressions of an extremely intelligent person with no brains at all:
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says Jesus would have joined protesters from the anti-corporate Occupy movement who have been camped outside London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral for more than seven weeks.
In a British magazine, the leader of the world’s 78 million Anglicans worldwide insisted that Jesus would be “there, sharing the risks, not just taking sides.”
The demonstrators pitched their tents outside the iconic cathedral in mid-October to protest what they see as the unfairness and illegalities of the global financial community.
In his article written for the Christmas edition of the Radio Times magazine, the archbishop said Jesus was “constantly asking awkward questions” in the Bible.
In the St. Paul’s encampment, Williams added, Jesus would be “steadily changing the entire atmosphere by the questions that he asked of everybody involved — rich and poor, capitalist and protester and cleric.”
Perhaps one of those questions might have been ‘Would you please stop pooing in the cathedral?’
Sitting around banging drums, sniffing toes, and whining about how unfair it all is, while expecting people who work to feed you, clothe you and clean up after you is not an adult way to protest anything.
Meanwhile, from St Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 3:
Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ we command you to stay away from any believer who refuses to work and does not follow the teaching we gave you. You yourselves know that you should live as we live. We were not lazy when we were with you. And when we ate another person’s food, we always paid for it.
We worked very hard night and day so we would not be an expense to any of you. We had the right to ask you to help us, but we worked to take care of ourselves so we would be an example for you to follow. When we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Anyone who refuses to work should not eat.”
We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They do nothing but busy themselves in other people’s lives. We command those people and beg them in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and earn their own food. But you, brothers and sisters, never become tired of doing good.
If some people do not obey what we tell you in this letter, then take note of them. Have nothing to do with them so they will feel ashamed. But do not treat them as enemies. Warn them as fellow believers.