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Military pressure has forced the release or abandonment of two more hostage held by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Phillipines.

Leah Patris, an employee of a micro-finance company, was kidnapped on February 3rd.

Peace activist Umar Jaleel was released last Thursday after being kidnapped on February 13th.

Still no news about Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni, who was taken by Abu Sayyaf, along with two other Red Cross workers, on the fifteenth of January.

At least in the Phillipines, terrorists are getting the message that kidnapping is no longer likely to be a profitable activity.

Perhaps the tin pot generals who run Burma hoped that with the media’s attention on the show trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, their latest vicious attacks on ethnic and religious minorities would go unnoticed.

The tragedy is, they might be right.

So far not a single story in mainstream news outlets about the horrific attacks which have forced over 3,000 people to flee Ler Per Her refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border near Mae Sot.

Karen Refugees Flee Ler Per Her

Karen Refugees Flee Ler Per Her

The Free Burma Rangers have more, including this story of a 14 year old girl being gang raped by Burmese soldiers, and a man having his hands cut off after being accused of talking with members of resistance groups.

A well-known TV psychologist has said that one way to find peace in your daily life is to finish all the things you have started…….

So I looked around my house to see things I’d started and hadn’t finished.

Before leaving home this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonay ,a bole of Baileys, a butle of Kehuha, a pockage of biskuts, the mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the Chesescke, some saltins an a bax a cholates…

Yu haf no idr who gud I fel.

While we’re thinking about global warming.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center has a tool which allows you to compare the extent of sea ice in any two years from 1978 to 2009.

Here are figures for sea ice in May of three different years:

1980 Southern Hemisphere = 9.5 million sq km
1980 Northern Hemisphere = 14.0 million sq km
Total = 23.5 million sq km

2008 Southern Hemisphere = 11.5 million sq km
2008 Northern Hemisphere = 13.2 million sq km
Total = 24.7 million sq km

2009 Southern Hemisphere = 11.4 million sq km
2009 Northern Hemisphere = 13.4 million sq km
Total = 24.8 million sq km

A Russian climatologist says global warming played a ‘significant part’ in the crash of Air France flight 447 in the Atlantic a couple of days ago.

If you don’t know, you might as well make something up. Especially if what you are making up might get you some more grant money.

Reading that article reminded me of this list of all the things scientists have so far claimed are caused by global warming. The Earth spins faster. The Earth is slowing down. Widespread floods. Widespread droughts. Maple syrup production down. Maple syrup production up. Mountains breaking up. Mountains getting taller. Farmers getting richer. Farmers getting poorer. Polar bears becoming aggressive.

Well, that settles it for me. Those polar bears have always been so gol darn cute and cuddly before. I just know something’s going on.

From 8.9% to 9.4% in May.

US Unemployment Rate

US Unemployment Rate

Former White House spokesman Tony Fratto is less than impressed with the current administration’s claim that thousands of jobs created have been created by the stimulus plan:

After nearly twenty years in Washington I thought I’ve seen every trick ever conceived, but the White House claims of “jobs saved” attributed to the stimulus bill is unrivaled. What causes the jaw to drop is not just the breathtaking deception of the claim, but the gullibility of the Washington press corps to continue reporting it.

News stories from President Obama’s event last week hailing the 100-day mark since the stimulus was passed typically repeated the assertion that the stimulus has already “created or saved 150,00 jobs.” (“And that’s just the beginning,” the President crowed.)

Here’s an important note to my friends in the news media: the White House has absolutely no earthly clue how many job losses have been prevented because of the stimulus bill. None.

Forget that only a trickle of stimulus spending has yet made its way into the real economy. Set aside your views on whether or not the stimulus has any job-saving or -creating impact. And leave for another day the White House’s failing to account for changing macroeconomic conditions and seasonal adjustments.

There is only one necessary data point to make the “jobs-saved” claim: an accurate measure of expected employment levels in the future. That baseline data is critical to measure what the employment level would be in the absence of the stimulus. Unfortunately for the White House, they cannot possibly know that measurement within any degree of confidence — and they know it …

A self-respecting press corps would vigorously question the White House on their claims. We’ll see if we have one.

Anyone want to put money on it?

Google often changes its logo to match the day – public holidays, festivals, even sports get their own logo de jour.

On June 6th 2008 Google remembered the birthday of Spanish painter Diego Velasquez.

I like Velasquez. Las Meninas, the painting suggested in the logo, is a wonderfully rich image that draws in the viewer, and almost forces him or her to wonder, to ask questions, to participate in the painting. It really is one of those rare paintings you can lose yourself in.

On June 6th 2009 Google remembered the invention of the game Tetris. Tetris was a milestone in computer games. It is simple to play, highly addictive, and has probably been played by more people than any other video game.

But hang on. Important as those things might be, June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day.

2009 is the 65th anniversary of the day on which allied forces, mostly men from the US and UK, landed on beaches in Normandy and began to roll back the horror of the Nazi domination of Europe. The beaches were more heavily defended than expected, and losses were horrific.

The film Saving Private Ryan gives a frighteningly accurate portrayal of the conditions under which the landings took place.

I am not the only person to think there is something wrong at Google HQ if D-Day can be consistently considered less important to remember than a painter or a video game. (There is something wrong at Wikipedia as well, but that’s a post for another time).

On June 6th 2009 Bing had a photo of a Normandy beach.

Time to change search engines.

No s%#t, Sherlock.

A study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth’s climate.  The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution. Past research has shown that the sun goes through eleven year cycles.  At the cycle’s peak, solar activity occurring near sunspots is particularly intense, basking the Earth in solar heat.

Solar activity has shown a major spike in the twentieth century, corresponding to global warming. Recent cooling corresponds to a cyclic decline in sunspot activity. Comparable up and down changes in atmospheric temperature have been observed on Mars, Jupiter, and most other places which receive light and heat from the sun. 

June 1 is the beginning of the North Atlantic hurricane season. Benita Dodd, of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, notes that:

Odds are a mild hurricane season will be blamed on … global warming. Odds are an active hurricane season will be blamed on … global warming.

One of my friends is a dizzy blonde beauty therapist. She spends a considerable amount of time ripping hair off people’s private parts.

Last night she showed me a brochure for a new product – lightening gel for sensitive areas.

Apparently with so many people now permanently hairless down under, looking one’s best everywhere has become a major concern. You don’t want to look brown. Pink is the go.

So you smear this cream on your rectum and it goes a nice pink colour. Celebrites are ordering with confidence, according to the South Beach website.

The process is also known as anal bleaching.

But why would you do it? Who would be looking?

The fire broke out in a tyre depot next to the daycare centre in Hermosillo in northern Mexico.

Of about 180 children at the centre at the time, 29 are reported dead from asphyxiation.

May God grant them a place in His heavenly Kingdom, and give comfort to their families.

And perhaps someone could investigate why a childcare centre was built right next to a business storing large quantities of highly flammable materials.

Global temperature has (possibly, no one is really sure) risen by about half of one degree over the last hundred years.

Given that seals have survived the last several million years of climate changes, varying from ice ages to periods considerably warmer than now, their ability to survive this miniscule change is hardly surprising.

Unless you are a raving climate catastrophist who looks for horror stories around every corner. In which case you would have been pleasantly suprised by growing numbers of protected Russian seals. Or horribly disappointed.

In further news, disobedient sea otters and polar bears also continue to increase in number.

Yesterday Qohel was at the number one position on Bing for ‘leading conservative blog.’ Today it has dropped out of their listings completely.

Bing’s webmaster tools report they had trouble finding my sitemap last time they crawled the site. I’ve checked that and pinged Bing with the sitemap address. But Qohel is not showing as blocked, and surely a missing sitemap could not cause an already listed site to disappear completely?

I’m confused.

From Quadrant Online:

From the editorial of Island magazine, Autumn 2009 edition:

Ruth Sunderland discusses the gender issues she feels are being ignored in the endless analysis of our current economic crisis. She writes: ‘This mess was made by men’ and goes on to argue that women should be vitally involved in the development of solutions. In this issue of Island I have invited activists and radical thinkers, Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh, to engage in a conversation about this very dilemma. It seems timely for us to listen seriously to those who think outside the square, especially when it is clearly inside-the-square thinking which has precipitated these disasters.

Extracts from “Thinking Beyond, Thinking Deep” by Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh in Island magazine, Autumn 2009 (not available online):

… in a time of global warming it’s crucial to spell out the links between ecology and women, North and South.

Australian commitments under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism may cause Indonesian women to lose their communal livelihood as forests are turned into externally financed carbon sinks. This kind of policy is neocolonial and regressive.

The European study on men’s consumption choices causing more global warming than women’s, reminds me of very fine US research by Pat Hynes in which she found that when men spend, they buy luxuries – cigarettes, alcohol, petrol, pornography and women’s bodies for their individual use. Whereas when women spend they buy survival goods – food, shelter, medicines and schooling for themselves, their children and others who depend on them, including male partners.

This, of course, is why women’s personal items, fashion, perfume, make up etc, typically occupy seven times more space in shopping malls and retail centres than men’s personal items. And women don’t drink, smoke or drive.

Sad, really, because the Defence Department is  notoriously difficult, and department staff and military personnel both seem to have respected Joel Fitzgibbon’s abilities.

The trigger for his resignation was a lack of clarity about contact between Mr Fitzgibbon and his staff, and his brother Mark, head of Australian health insurer NIB, and US health insurance giant Humana. In particular, Mr Fitzgibbon failed to declare accommodation paid for by NIB.

This was the last in a long series of failures to declare gifts including accommodation and travel.

Defence Department staff again affirmed they had no knowledge of any departmental investigation of links between Fitzgibbon and possible Chinese spies. This was reported in the Australian as PURE FICTION: Media reports of spy affair inaccurate, which is hardly the same thing.

As I have said before, Fitzgibbon is either totally brainless (and he’s not) or he lied repeatedly about his relationship with Chinese/Australian business woman Helen Liu. People who think they need to lie usually have something to lie about. Fitzgibbon had to go.

I wrote about the taxpayer funded Australian film Samson and Delilah a couple of weeks ago.

Gary Johns has written a review of the film. The review appears in today’s Australian.

Here’s a bit to get you started:

The film opens with a typical day in Samson’s life. He wakes to reggae music from his brother’s band playing on the porch of the archetypal concrete box house. He sniffs a can of petrol. There’s nothing to do, no work, no school. Instead, Samson follows young Delilah around as she cares for her grandmother. He is clearly taken with her, but cannotor will not say so. Instead, Samson throws stones at Delilah to catch her attention.

The next day, Samson whacks a band member over the head with a lump of wood, and in retaliation his brother beats him senseless. Samson takes his filthy rubber mat and blanket across the road and camps outside Delilah’s concrete box. Delilah’s grandmother dies, Delilah is beaten by other women in punishment for the death; the two steal a four-wheel-drive and head for town. In town Delilah is kidnapped by youths, possibly raped and certainly beaten. Nevertheless, the next day she returns to Samson who has taken shelter under the bridge on a dry river bed. He did not think to look for her. Next day, they wander out into traffic and she is run down. He did not think to look for her. The ambulance people return her, patched up.

One critic said it was “one of the bravest Australian films I’ve ever seen”. And so it was, as a documentary. Except in one respect: Delilah enters a church (suspiciously like the John Flynn church in Alice Springs) and then wanders out under the stern eye of a clergyman, who offers no help. If this is meant to convey a message about the missions, it fails. The missions saved more than souls in outback Australia, they saved lives.

Thornton says: “As far as telling a story that’s realistic, I needed to go all the way and not hold back on how grim things are. Most 14-year-olds in Alice are walking around with the knowledge of a 90-year-old, from what they’ve experienced. They’re bulletproof.”

No they are not, they are traumatised and despondent.

Any answers, Warwick? How did you escape? What is your optimistic story? How did you learn to read and write? Do you live on country, totally dependent on the white man’s petrol and canned food?

Like many films and documentaries before it, Samson and Delilah succeeds in showing the hopelessness and violence of life in remote aboriginal communites. Like those others, it offers no solutions.

Despite the rantings of deranged critics, writing from the comfort of their Melbourne apartments, this film offers neither joy nor hope.

Film makers can be agents of change. They can and must do better than simply preaching or pointing accusing fingers.