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After two weeks of protests over the possibly rigged re-election of Iranian President Imanutjob in which twenty people were killed and hundreds arrested, things are back to normal in Iran.

Irans’ supreme executive body, Guardian Council, has refused to annul the elections. A spokesman for the council said they were “among the healthiest elections ever held in the country”.

Given Iran’s history, that may well be true.

G8 foreign ministers have issued a statement saying they intend to write a letter saying how angry they are.

Oh, sorry. I was almost right. The statement says they deplore the post-election violence, and urge Iran to resolve the crisis through democratic dialogue.

Seinfield should find out who their writer is and give him a job.

Meanwhile President Obama has issued a stern warning that if the violence keeps up, he may be forced to consider using adverbs.

But there are some possible positives:

Regardless of any change in Iranian domestic politics, the crackdown could influence the Middle East by undercutting public support for Islamist groups and perhaps by pushing others to reevaluate their ties with the country.

The scenes of Muslims being killed by other Muslims for voicing their beliefs will “weaken the argument of Islamists in the region who have been holding Iran up as a model,” Palestinian analyst and pollster Ghassan Khatib wrote in the online publication Bitterlemons.org. “The damage is irreversible regardless of the outcome” and could affect debate within Palestinian society divided between Hamas and the more moderate (read, slightly less nasty) Fatah movement.

And then, like Neville Chamberlain, Barack Obama may begin to realise that being nice to dictators does not mean that they will be nice to you.

Michael Jackson has died of a heart attack. he was fifty. The same age as me.

He was a bit of a Peter Pan, always seeming young, despite the ghastly plastic surgery.

The last several years have been difficult for him, with accusations of child abuse followed by declining income.

People with high public visibility are easy targets. An accusation of child abuse is enough to destroy a career.

This gives money seeking predators enormous power. All that is needed is to arrange for a child to be alone with the star for a few minutes, and that is enough to have a basis for blackmail.

‘Give me $2 million or I’ll go to the police.’

Because there is no way to prove something did not happen, and people are so willing to believe the worst, it may seem easier for a high profile personality to pay the money. Then if that gets out, the celebrity magazines take it as proof of guilt.

Of course some celebrities really are drug abusing, child molesting monsters. I don’t think it is fair to Michael to assume he was – there is not enough evidence to make that judgment.

But there is enough evidence to be thankful for his contribution to music and dance.

It became fashionable to dislike his music after ‘Bad’ (which really wasn’t). But you only have to watch the videos of ‘Beat It’  (from ‘Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time) or ‘Black or White’ (the biggest selling single of the nineties), to realise that he was an entertainer who was genuinely creative, and genuinely entertaining.

Requiscat in Pace.

I love the song, this is a great version, and the impression of the rising storm using hands and feet is amazing.

I am not sure that some of the criticism directed at President Barack Obama over his reticence to comment on the Iran election is entirely fair.

He can reasonably comment on the brutal suppression of dissent, and he has recently done so.

But given the lack of clarity about the election result, and the West’s history of poor understanding of popular feeling in Iran, it seems wisest to restrain (as Obama has done) from making any public statements questioning the way the election was run, or its result.

Some organisations have claimed there is evidence the election was fixed. They might be right. But without clear evidence, claims that this is so by governments are likely to do more harm than good.

Whether we like it or not, Imanutjob is a popular figure in Iran, not least because he is percieved to have stood up to the US. For the US to interfere, even to make public comment, is as likely to strengthen conservative elements in Iran as to give comfort to the protestors and others who want a more liberal regime.

Meanwhile, violence continues, and Iran makes progress towards the development of nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, Obama deserves far more criticism than he has so far received for the sacking of Inspector General Gerald Walpin.

Inspectors General have wide powers to investigate corruption, and are supposed to be free from the threat of politcally based dismissal. The president is obliged to give an IG 30 days notice, and to advise Congress of specific reasons for a dismissal. Obama did neither of those things.

Gerald Walpin was investigating possible misue of charity funds by a major Obama campaign donor. He was doing his job. He was fired. As far as I can tell, this story, which broke  a week ago, has only appeared on Fox News and on right-wing blogs. Why?

Kathy and I cared for foster children over a number of years, including babies and toddlers.

I well understand the diffculties of blending work and the responsibilities of caring for children. There are a number of worksplaces and public facilties which are not supportive of people with children. Whether it is appropriate to expect that they should be or need to be is another question.

The Australian Federal Parliament is not a child-unfriendly place.

The work that senators do is serious. They review legislation which potentially affects the lives and well-being of every Australian. They are paid well to do so. Parliament is set up so they can do their work in an atmosphere free from distactions and unnecessary annoyances.

Senators come from all walks of life. I am glad that amongst the business men and women, unionists and career politicians, there are some people with young children.

As well as personal staff, members of parliament have access to tax-payer funded child care services, and quiet rooms where they be with their children without disrupting discussion in the house, where they can hear any debate, and from where their vote can be recorded.

So with all this support, and other options available, why did Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young insist on taking her two year old daughter Kora into the Senate chamber?

As Wendy Hargreaves pointed out in yesterday’s Herald Sun:

Infantile screaming is nothing new to our Federal Parliament. Political bawlers come in all ages and political colours.

But this week’s wah-wah effort by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young takes political mewling to an all-time low …

It’s not enough that they make us feel guilty for turning on a heater. Now they’re sending the Senate into a guilt trip for refusing infants.

This isn’t a play centre. This is the Upper House of Australia’s Federal Parliament.

Australian parents know the difficulty and the cost of arranging child care, and the pain of leaving a child to be looked after by someone else. They do it day after day without complaining.

By all means let Senator Hanson-Young take her daughter to Canberra. And to parliament if she cannot organise anything else.

But please Senator, don’t tell us you are hard done by if you don’t follow the rules, and won’t use the resources we pay for to help you do your job.

Senator Steve Fielding says he believes it would be irresponsible for any member of parliament to vote for the Australian Federal Government’s carbon emission trading scheme, given that it will cause substantial damage to the economy, and that the environment minister and her chief scientific advisor are unable to answer simple questions about the causes and extent of climate change, and the effect on climate of the proposed legislation.

In related news, local councils are saying that a carbon tax of $20 per ton will add $344 million per year to their operating costs. If that money cannot be raised from rate-payers or additional government grants, there will be drastic reductions in council services.

That will bite hard. Local government is the level of government in which most people are least interested, but which arguably has the greatest impact on day to day life – provision of local roads, community facilities, parks, street lighting, libraries, etc.

This Cap and Tax Maze from the Carbon Sense Coalition illustrates the questions that would need to be answered before the legislation could responsibly be enacted:

Cap and Tax Maze

Cap and Tax Maze

Added to all this is the fact the proposed legislation won’t even come into effect until 2011. There is plenty of time to do more research, to ask more questions, to consider the costs of the scheme and other options more carefully.

So why is the government in such a rush to ram it through before the end of this week?

I seriously doubt it.

This article in today’s Australian points to a 159% increase in the number of women facing dometic violence charges over the last eight years as an indicator that women are becoming more violent.

It is more likely simply that police and care groups are beginning to take complaints made by men about domestic violence more seriously.

For a long time I have been concerned about campaigns which say something like ‘To violence against women, Australia says no.’  Why single out women in particular? Is violence against everyone else OK?

Such campaigns are based on the assumption that violence aginst women needs to be targeted because women are more frequently the victims of violence. But this is simply untrue. Outside the home, men are far more likely to be victims of violence than women.

But what about inside the home?

There is a vast body of research to show that women are just as likely as men to be perpetrators of domestic violence as men. There is a substantial online bibliography collected by Martin Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University. Some research suggests that women are more likely to be the initiators of violence, and are more likely than men to use a weapon against their partner or children.

Erin Pizzey, the pioneer of shelters for victims of domestic abuse, points out that research suggests violence is a learned behaviour. When children see adults using violence as a means to resolve disagreements they learn those behaviours, whether the violence is used by male or female or both.

Women’s violence against men has frequently been treated as joke, both in entertainment (see the film ‘Stakeout’ for example, in which the character played by Richard Dreyfuss is viciously assaulted by his partner in what is meant to be, and to female members of the audience clearly was, a vastly amusing scene) and in real life, where male victims of domestic violence who report such violence to police are belittled or told to be a man and stop complaining.

If feminists and policy-makers are serious about ending domestic violence, they must take violence against men and children as seriously as they do violence against women.

In domestic violence, just as in economic and foreign policy, effective action must be based on facts, not on ideology.

The ABC (pleasant surprise!) has just posted a remarkably fair article on this story, with some interesting comment by Sue Price, co-director of the Men’s Right’s Agency.

The last few days have been the longest break without a post since I began this blog.

There used to be two IT businesses on Kangaroo Island. Two weeks ago my only competitor closed down. I am glad to have the extra business, but it means less time for other things. I think I have always been reasonably good at time managment, but I am going to have to find some new strategies!

Also, as regular readers would know, my sister Amanda has been unwell. She was flown over to Adelaide by the flying doctor just over a week ago. Kathy and I were able to travel to Adelaide and visit her this last Saturday and Sunday. That meant that time we would normally have spent doing other things – work around the house, sleeping, taking the dogs for a walk, doing research for the blog, playing WoW – didn’t get done.

Lots of catching up to do!

But Carrie Prejean is still a lady:

I worked in good faith to meet my responsibilities as Miss California USA. I have met every scheduled appearance, and responsibility, as recently as May 31st. I have followed the proper protocol requested of me and haven’t made any appearances or speaking engagements without the consent or approval from the Miss California USA or Miss Universe Organizations. I have not signed with any book publisher or taken on any business proposals. As of today, June 11, 2009, I have done everything possible to honor my contract.

I hope Americans watching this story unfold, take away the most important lesson I have learned through all of this: nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be. I’ve done my best under the difficult circumstances to handle the vicious attacks with integrity and show respect to others, even those who don’t agree with me.

A pity that some of those around her did not share her beliefs. No not that one (though I agree with her and so does the new Miss California), the one about acting with integrity and showing respect even to people who disagree with you.

In another article from Townhall, Chuck Norris draws on an open letter from Lou Pritchett, a former vice president of Procter & Gamble, to list a few scary things about Obama and his administration.

He starts with the obvious, something I have mentioned a number of times, that the man who is now running the largest economy and the most powerful nation in the world, has never run or managed anything before in his life. Quite frankly, on his record, I wouldn’t give him a job running my little shop on Kangaroo Island.

Here’s more, some from Pritchett, some from Chuck:

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll. …

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you really do believe that going into massive amounts of debt can remedy our economy in the long run.

You scare me because you repeatedly still play the blame game with the Bush administration but never blame the Clinton administration, even though it was responsible for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subprime fiasco via the proliferation of loans to unqualified borrowers.

You scare me because you claim to be a fighter for minorities and the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness yet do not defend the unborn. What greater minority is there than those in the womb, against whom you already have enacted more pro-abortion laws than anyone since the Roe v. Wade decision?

John Hawkins has written a great article at Townhall about five myths liberals believe about themselves.

Here they are, in summary form:

1. Liberals are pro-women. Liberals are pro-women as they as women know their place and have the right opinions. If they don’t, it is perfectly OK in liberal society to belittle and abuse them, and make jokes about their teenage daughters being raped.

2. Liberals are concerned about blacks. And how do they demonstrate this? By encouraging blacks to see themselves as victims, and funding them to remain in places and lifestyles which ensure they will remain outside the mainstream of economic and political life.

3. Liberals are compassionate. Conservatives give consistently more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in church, or as volunteers intheir communities.

4. Liberals are brainier. Pardon? Anyone who has ever engaged in debate with a liberal knows how quickly ad hominem arguments or cruel humour are  likely to be used. In my experience, liberals are far more likely to be driven by feelings, especially about what seems to be right, while conservatives are more likely to be influenced by evidence about what actually works.

5. Liberals are tolerant. Well, yes. Of people who agree with them. Just ask Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin, or Ian Plimer.

If you think you are a conservative, but are not quite sure what kind, then you may find this short quiz of interest.

Apparently, I am a Free Marketeer, also known as a fiscal conservative. You believe in free-market capitalism, tax cuts, and protecting your hard-earned cash from pick-pocketing liberal socialists.

But changing just one answer made me a Faith Based Fighter, or religious conservative. I assume there is a bit of overlap!

The quiz is very much US based, but still interesting to those of us who live in the nether regions.

I noted in my introduction to global warming Profits of Doom, that:

The IPCC’s warming figure of 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century is doubtful, for at least two reasons.

First, no one knows for certain how much of that increase is due to what is called the Urban Heat Island effect. Industry, air-conditioners, vehicle traffic and other human activity, along with large amounts of concrete and asphalt, can increase the night-time temperature in city areas by as much as three degrees compared with that of surrounding countryside. Many temperature recording stations which were in rural areas at the time they were established are now well within city limits.

The difference this makes can be seen clearly in these two graphs which compare average temperatures in the six Australian capital cities from 1882 to 1992, with records from twenty-five regional and remote Australian recording stations. The graph of city temperatures shows an increase of about 0.8 degrees, which the IPCC claims is the average global increase over this period:

Australian Capital City Temperature Change

Australian Capital City Temperature Change

This second graph, of rural and remote stations, shows minor fluctuations, but no overall increase at all:

Australian Rural Temperature Change

Australian Rural Temperature Change

Now Michael Hammer has posted an article on Jennifer Marohasy’s blog which looks in much more detail at the urban heat effect in one major Australian city, Melbourne, compared with surrounding rural areas including regional centres.

He concludes:

The data for Ballarat, Alexandra and Mildura suggest no temperature rise at all over the measurement period and especially (Ballarat and Mildura) over the last 3 decades.  Horsham data suggests some temperature rise early in the century but if anything cooling over the last 3 decades.  Cape Otway is questionable, there is an 0.7C rise in minimums but a 2.1C fall in the maximums most of which occurred in the early part of the century before the rapid rise in carbon dioxide. The last 3 decades have seen a return to the temperatures of the 1920’s.

Overall one would have to say the Bureau data suggests no significant warming over the last century and in particular the last 3 decades in Victoria.  On the other hand it does show significant UHI.  Consider that an increase of 1.5C in the minimums for Melbourne over the last 3 decades corresponds to 5C per century.  Averaging the minimum and maximum readings yields a rise from 14.7C to 15.7C over 30 years equating to 3.3C per century and Melbourne is far from the worst city in the world for UHI.

The data analysed here is real, high quality, data from Australia’s premier weather/climate organisation. It is completely at odds with the claims of about 0.6C of warming over the 20th century predominantly in the last 3- 4 decades.  Is Victoria really so anomalous or are the AGW claims questionable?

Or maybe not.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly got the most votes. But a couple of things point to the possibility the result may have been, let’s say, adjusted. For the people’s benefit, of course. Because they don’t really know what is best for them.

First, the voter turnout was massively higher than ever before. That in itself doesn’t prove anything. But that almost every one of those additional votes was a vote for Imanutjob does make one wonder. Worthwhile news and debate on this from this New York Times blog.

It is certainly clear that some Iranians feel cheated. Again, there are always some people who feel cheated after any election. But the strength of feeling, and the willingness to protest openly despite the risks, suggests that this is not just a whining minority.

And then, Mousavi’s opposition party claims to have evidence that 10 million votes were counted without the required national identification numers being recorded.

The numbers Imanutjob is claiming show massive support for his repressive and aggressive regime. But if those numbers have been faked, it is possible the tide of popular feeling in Iran is turning against the anti-west, great Satan sentiments of the past.

But with protests being banned, and protestors being beaten and worse, there is still a long a painful road ahead.

The West must not abandon those working for change in Iran.

Update:

In a startling turn of events, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a formal investigation into allegations of electoral fraud:

The decision has offered hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

State television quoted him directing a high-level clerical panel, the Guardian Council, to look into charges by pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has said he is the rightful winner of Friday’s presidential election.

Such an election probe by the 12-member council is uncharted territory and it not immediately clear how it would proceed or how long it would take.

Election results must be authorized by the council, composed of clerics closely allied with the unelected supreme leader. All three of Mr Ahmadinejad’s challengers in the election – Mr Mousavi and two others – have made public allegations of fraud after results showed the president winning by a 2-to-1 margin.

‘Issues must be pursued through a legal channel,’ state TV quoted Khamenei as saying. The supreme leader said he has ‘insisted that the Guardian Council carefully probe this letter.’

The day after the election, Khamenei urged the nation to unite behind Mr Ahmadinejad and called the result a ‘divine assessment.’

The results touched off three days of clashes – the worst unrest in Tehran in a decade. Protesters set fires and battled anti-riot police, including a clash overnight at Tehran University after 3,000 students gathered to oppose the election results.

I am currently at the number one position on Yahoo and Bing for the phrase ‘leading conservative blog,’ and at the number three position on Google.

They are results I am happy with, given it takes a long time to build blog traffic, and Qohel has only been running for about six months.

I am still only just making enough in advertising revenue to cover my hosting costs. But that’s cool.

But over the last week I have noticed something interesting.

Google ads always display correctly for traffic coming from Google or Yahoo. But two out of three times, do not display correctly for traffic coming from Bing.

Is that error, co-incidence, or is Google being clever?