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Articles Posted in August 2008

 

A depressing new agenda for Aboriginal politics

(24 Aug 08) “.....In the build-up to the last election campaign, a small news item got largely lost in the melee. Since the Rudd victory, however, the reported topic has assumed a new importance in the Australian political agenda. On September 13 2007 the United Nations' General Assembly adopted its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The assembly recorded 143 votes in favour of the declaration, eleven abstentions and four votes against. The last were cast by Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States..... the then Howard government saw this declaration as supporting the creation of separate indigenous states. The declaration itself makes it clear that this is, indeed, its aim. Article 3 Indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and they freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.....As well as the old ATSIC campaign for a black state, the declaration endorses other policies long demanded by radical Aboriginal activists. It supports the establishment of a body very much like ATSIC itself, that is, for the revival of a separate indigenous “parliament”......” A depressing new agenda for Aboriginal politics Keith Windschuttle , sydneyline.com “....In the face of the manifest failure of the separate Aboriginal school curriculum which made the learning of English optional — an experiment now notorious for leaving the current generation of Aboriginal adolescents and young adults functionally illiterate — the UN declaration nonetheless demands more of the same. Article 14.1 Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.... In short, the United Nations has endorsed a program which, if introduced in Australia, would revive the entire separatist agenda of Aboriginal politics of the Hawke-Keating era, an agenda which, apart from lucrative positions here and abroad for a select class of tertiary-educated activists, has had no positive outcomes for Aboriginal people to speak of, and whose awful failings are reproduced with depressing frequency in the reports of one commission of inquiry after another....Meanwhile, of course, the obscene contrast between the lives of most Aboriginal people and the Aboriginal political elite will remain unaffected. The losers will be the women and children in those dysfunctional communities that produce some of the world's highest rates of murder, violence and sexual abuse. The winners will be the activists who are no doubt already booking their first-class air tickets and hotel suites in Geneva and New York for the upcoming rounds of meetings and conferences....”

History's Back

(22 Aug 08) “.... One wonders whether Russia's invasion of Georgia will finally end the dreamy complacency that took hold of the world's democracies after the close of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union offered for many the tantalizing prospect of a new kind of international order. The fall of the Communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. Great power conflict and competition were a thing of the past. Geo-economics had replaced geopolitics..... Unfortunately, the core assumptions of the post-Cold War years have proved mistaken. The absence of great power competition, it turns out, was a brief aberration. Over the course of the 1990s, that competition reemerged as rising powers entered or reentered the field. First China, then India, set off on unprecedented bursts of economic growth, accompanied by incremental but substantial increases in military capacity, both conventional and nuclear. By the beginning of the 21st century, Japan had begun a slow economic recovery and was moving toward a more active international role both diplomatically and militarily. Then came Russia, rebounding from economic calamity to steady growth built on the export of its huge reserves of oil and natural gas... The autocracies of Russia and China have figured out how to permit open economic activity while suppressing political activity.....” History's Back , Robert Kagan, The Weekly Standard  “....They have seen that people making money will keep their noses out of politics, especially if they know their noses will be cut off... In the long run, rising prosperity may well produce political liberalism, but how long is the long run? It may be too long to have any strategic or geopolitical relevance.... There are the ethnic nationalisms that continue to bubble up in the Balkans and in the former republics of the Soviet Union. But more significant is the return of great power nationalism. Instead of an imagined new world order, there are new geopolitical fault lines where the ambitions of great powers overlap and conflict and where the seismic events of the future are most likely to erupt....One of these fault lines runs along the western and southwestern frontiers of Russia. In Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and even in the Balkans...., Europe never expected to face this kind of challenge at the  end of history. This great 21st-century entity, the EU, now confronts 19th-century power, and Europe's postmodern tools of foreign policy were not designed to address more traditional geopolitical challenges. There is a real question as to whether Europe is institutionally or temperamentally able to play the kind of geopolitical games in Russia's near-abroad that Russia is willing to play....”

The Real Population Bomb

(22 Aug 08) “....It's been 40 years since Stanford University population biologist Paul Ehrlich warned of imminent global catastrophe in his book "The Population Bomb." As it turns out, the book was aptly, though ironically, named....Ehrlich predicted that, “In the 1970's, the world will undergo famines hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death … At this late date, nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate …” Forty years later, no such mass starvation has come to pass..... Ehrlich also warned in "The Population Bomb" that manmade emissions of carbon dioxide would cause catastrophic global warming. He suggested that a few degrees of heating could melt the polar ice caps and raise sea level by 250 feet, even out fear-mongering Al '20-foot tidal wave' Gore on his best worst day..... But average sea level rise between 1961 and 2003 was only about 0.007 inches per year, (0.18 millimetres) according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and no one can offer more than mere speculation as to the cause of that barely noticeable increase....” The Real Population Bomb , Steven Milroy, JunkScience.com “.... Ehrlich's proposal to avert global catastrophe was to limit or stop population growth. The most efficient way of doing this, he suggested, was for the government to add chemicals to the water or to food to temporarily sterilize people...he proposed a Department of Population and Environment to implement population control laws....Given how Ehrlich's predictions turned out, you might think that he vanished into the dustbin of Chicken Little history or at least revised his ideas, right? Wrong. The Stanford professor is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and has been honored by the United Nations, MacArthur Foundation, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Ecological Society of America and the American Institute of Biological Sciences to name a few. Worse, he's still at it....Contrary to Ehrlich-think, however, more people have been a boom, not a bomb. They've led to an economic boom rather than a bust. In any event, who should decide who is to be born free-willed individuals or Ehrlich's population police?

Dying for some Hamas Television

(22 Aug 08) From the Andrew Bolt blog. Free speech, yes, but not if that speech threatens us with violence, and raises money for terrorists:

Authorities are trying to stop an anti-Semitic satellite TV station broadcasting into Australia from Indonesia — which has already rejected US efforts to take the channel off the air. It is the third time Australia has acted against al-Manar, a channel owned by Hezbollah, the militant Shiite Muslim Lebanese political party. The United States lists it as a banned terrorist organisation. Australia lists only its armed wing, the External Security Organisation. Al-Manar promotes and raises money for terrorism, particularly against Israel. It has just started broadcasting again into Asia and the Pacific from Indonesia, using a company part-owned by the Indonesian Government, and is available to people with satellite dishes. The station is viciously anti-Semitic — perpetuating the medieval “blood libel” that Jews use the blood of Christian children in their Passover meals — as well as anti-Israel and anti-US. What's worrying is that this TV program has a glad audience in Australia.

Appeasement of Olympian proportions

(17 Aug 08) “....To some, China's muscular domination of the Olympic medal table is a powerful allegory of the shifting balance of global power. A far better and more literal testimony to the collapse of the West may be seen in the distinctly weak-kneed response to Russian aggression in Georgia by what is still amusingly called the trans-Atlantic alliance. Once again, the Europeans, and their friends in the pusillanimous wing of the US Left, have demonstrated that when it comes to those postmodern Olympian sports of synchronised self-loathing, team hand-wringing and lightweight posturing, they can sweep gold, silver and bronze. There's a routine now whenever some unspeakable act of aggression is visited upon us or our allies by murderous fanatics or authoritarian regimes. While the enemy takes a victory lap, we compete in a shameful medley relay of apologetics, defeatism and surrender. There is usually self-blame and an expression of sympathetic explanation for the aggressor's actions....It ought not to be necessary to point out the differences between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Mr Saakashvili's Georgia, but for those blinded by moral relativism, here goes -- Georgia did not invade its neighbours or use chemical weapons on their people. Georgia did not torture and murder hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Georgia did not defy international demands for a decade and ignore 18 UN Security Council resolutions to come clean about its weapons programs. And Georgia is led by a democratically elected president who has pushed this once dank backwater of the Soviet Union, birthplace of Stalin and Beria, towards liberal democracy and international engagement....” Appeasement of Olympian proportions , The Australia “...We need to be morally clear about what is going on in Georgia. Saying that Saakashvili, in recklessly seeking to stamp out separatists, got what he asked for is like saying a woman in a miniskirt who gets drunk at a bar is asking to be raped. European governments are the ones who usually insist military force alone can achieve little and who say diplomacy must be given a chance. Now they seem to say that since we can't stop Russia militarily, there is nothing else we can do.... the Europeans this week showed the same sort of resolve they showed in the Balkans in the early 1990s, when they stood by as genocide unfolded on their own continent. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as EU chief, came back from a trip to Moscow and Tbilisi, waving a piece of paper and acclaiming peace in our time... we should never forget what Sarkozy and his EU officials got up to this week. There can be no clearer indication of the perils that threaten the West if the EU wins more clout in the world.

Where are the Marchers for Peace?

(17 Aug 08) “....I wonder is there the slimmest of chance to see millions of exalted young people passionately marching for peace in Georgia… It shouldn't be too much of an effort. All they have to do is brush the dust off from the "not in our name", "no blood for oil", "war is not the answer", etc placards, paste Vladimir Putin's and Dmitri Medvedev's faces over Bush's or Blair's on the "worst ever", "mass murderer" and "real terrorist" placards and voila! ready to march for peace....” Where are the Marchers for Peace? The Brussels Journal “...I am also wondering, will we hear of passionate peace activists, who are determined to go and chain themselves to Georgian government buildings and other such sites to offer human shield against malicious and deliberate bombing by Russian planes on civilian targets. Anyone? Also, it would be refreshing to see similar sense of outrage and hysteria on the part of western media that we witness when American planes hit a "wedding party", armed to their teeth, when reporting bombings of apartment buildings and markets by Russian air forces in Georgia..... Ah, who am I kidding? It is one thing to march against the country that liberated half of Europe and kept it that way for the following 50 years. It is quite another to march against a nation that enslaved half of Europe and kept it under a bloody slavery for 50 years....”

Anzac spirit but not battle ready

(15 Aug 08) “….Consider this: in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the US-led coalition would have liked us to take overall responsibility for a province, the sort of thing we did in Vietnam. In both cases we declined because our forces are no longer capable of that kind of operation. This is a disturbing situation… Recently retired major general Jim Molan has written one of the most important books published about Australia's defence, called Running the War in Iraq. It details his experience in 2004 as chief of operations in the US-led coalition in Iraq…. Let's start with some troubling facts. During the Iraq war of 2003, our F-18s had to be upgraded to go to Iraq at all, but at no stage could they be deployed in the most dangerous area around Baghdad because they did not have the electronic warfare self-protection kit. The F-111s were not able to be deployed to Iraq at all in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 or in 2003…Australia could not deploy its Black Hawk helicopters into Afghanistan because they too lacked the ability to deal with modern threats. And remember, this is not all-out conventional war but a stabilisation operation against non-state irregulars….” Anzac spirit but not battle ready , Greg Sheridan, The Australian “…Key technical positions in our submarines are manned by Americans because we cannot produce the people and the Americans want to keep our capability alive. We debate whether to buy 100 Joint Strike Fighters, but we've never been able to produce more than 60 combat pilots at any one time…. Molan points out that the Dutch, British and Canadians use their ordinary infantry battalions in Afghanistan to do the same jobs for which we use only our special forces…. In 2003 we were still incapable of producing fighters that could enter the Missile Exclusion Zone around Baghdad, and bombers that could even participate in conventional war as bombers or reconnaissance aircraft. We needed to quickly rebuild our armoured vehicles before we sent them to the south of Iraq in 2005, into the safest province in all of Iraq….It is common for Australians to scoff at the soft European military forces. But Molan makes the point that regular Dutch infantry units have equipment that only our special forces have, things like 50-calibre machineguns, 40mm automatic grenade launchers, bunker-buster weapons, towed and self-propelled 155mm artillery, joint direct attack munitions, which are precisely targeted air-support weapons…..”   

The Global Warming Test

(10 Aug 08) See how well you know your stuff with these 10 questions in The Global Warming Test

Alexander Solzhenitsyn feeds the darkest temptation

(8 Aug 08) “...Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning writer who died this week, spotted the danger back when it was called communism. Mind you, it took no great brains to see evil in an ideology that was trying to destroy him....But we should be warned. When Solzhenitsyn published The Gulag Archipelago in English from 1974, warning of the horrors of the Soviet system he'd somehow survived, his revelations struck many intellectuals in the West like a clap of thunder...What Solzhenitsyn described in his greatest work - a history rather than a novel - was how ideology licensed even intelligent people to be cruel. It convinced its followers that the rest of us could be made to be happy, and anyone standing in the way of that moral plan must, of course, be evil. It was a duty to remove them....What Solzhenitsyn described was, of course, just the latest appeal to the totalitarian instinct that has tempted intellectuals from Plato to Marx. But with Marxism now dead, at least outside universities, what new ideology now tickles that temptation?...” Alexander Solzhenitsyn feeds the darkest temptation , Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun “...Why is it so many former Marxists and almost everyone of the Left is so attracted to the cult of man-made warming, with its call to force us into eco-virtuous lives? Why is it, say, that the former editor of the Communist Party of Australia's newspaper, NSW University's Associate Professor David McKnight, not only now preaches global warming, but demonises sceptical scientists as enemies of the revolution, likening them this week to Holocaust deniers and tobacco lobby shills, and suggesting they were so corrupt they'd been bought off by Big Oil? Again and again we now see the budding totalitarians of global warming demand individuals be sacrificed for this latest cause.... How much further will this cult go when we've already named as Australian of the Year a man who warns us to prepare for a dictator? Read for yourself Tim Flannery's best-selling The Weather Makers , in which he says if the world warms much more, " humans would have no choice but to establish an Earth Commission for Thermostatic Control.....As horrific as such an outcome is, if we delay action to combat the climate crisis, the carbon dictatorship may become essential for our survival ."  Solzhenitsyn would have recognised this longing for "order", this subjugation of individuals for a great cause, this fear of freedom. Can you?

Enlightened spirit of inquiry

(7Aug 08) “….There is no doubt the West is suffering from a dangerous moral disorientation. It is not clear that we value the very idea of the West any more. Enlightenment values such as genuine inquiry and reason, which ought to flow like blood delivering a vibrant pulse to the Western project, have been dislodged by the noxious intruders of unreason and fear. If talk about the Enlightenment sounds like some quaint historical curiosity debated by poseurs in the ethereal world of academe, think again. The determination to quash inquiry and reason infiltrates just about every aspect of our lives…. And it is the modern world's notion of human beings that explains why we have become so fearful of words. The conception of freedom that fuelled the Enlightenment was based on a radical view of humans as autonomous, resilient beings with the capacity to exercise their power in a rational, reasoned manner. Rational, reasoned human beings deserved the widest freedoms….. the phrase "human impact" would have been celebrated during the Enlightenment. Today, it is a negative term because humans are viewed as destructive; so destructive, we obsess about our carbon footprint to the point where, he says, "the best thing people can do is stay at home and never get out of bed". A modern world has lost confidence in what it means to be human and therefore lost confidence in basic values of freedom, such as free speech….” Enlightened spirit of inquiry , Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian “….. Nowhere is this more evident than in the embrace of global warming, where anyone who questions the orthodoxy is labelled a denier, a heretic who should not be heard. Genuine inquiry is not encouraged; it is jettisoned…. Herman, a historian, is not surprised. History tells us there will always be fanatics who peddle invisible fears and doomsday scenarios and, equally, there will always be people drawn to a priestly class - think Al Gore - who claim to know the answers. And so springs up a modern-day theology given over to supplications and modern sacrifices such as banning the innocuous plastic bag. The debate over global warming stopped being a scientific debate long ago, Herman says. Scientific consensus, not dispassionate inquiry, is the name of the game. And governments and politicians have long since stopped bothering with the evolving science. Here again, Herman says, we need to revive the Enlightenment values of scepticism, inquiry and reason…. in so many areas, inquiry and reason have been abandoned, drowned out by group-think orthodoxies….”

Antarctic Ice: A Global Warming Snow Job?

I guess we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for this “Inconvenient Truth” to be exposed by Marian Wilkinson and 4 Corners...Note the numerous headline  back flips in the body of the story.

(6Aug 08) “.... Climate scientists have long suspected that warming the oceans around a very cold continent is likely to dramatically increase snowfall. Consider Antarctica. It's plenty chilly, dozens of degrees below freezing, and it's surrounded by water. The warmer the water, the greater the evaporation from its surface, and, obviously, the more moisture it contributes to the local atmosphere. So, when this moisture gets swirled up by a common cyclone, do you think it's going to fall as rain in Antarctica? A recent study, no shocker to real climatologists (but perhaps to climate doomsayers), demonstrates this simple physics. It appears in the latest SciencExpress , and it shows that the vast majority of the Antarctic landmass is rapidly gaining ice and snow cover....” Antarctic Ice: A Global Warming Snow Job? World Climate Report “....Obviously this moisture comes from the sea. And, being deposited in solid form on the land-way-down-under, this lowers the earth's sea level. Like we said, this should shock no climatologist. The fact is that the vast majority of global warming stories that have come out of Antarctica are based upon observations and events on and around the Peninsula. This isn't surprising as it conforms to my theory of “Predictable Distortion” recently published in my book Meltdown . Indeed, the number of stories about Antarctic melting is roughly in inverse proportion to the percentage of the Antarctic continent that they pertain to (and thus their global significance). For instance, most of Antarctica has actually been cooling for the past couple of decades (see here for more details). And now comes word that the snow and ice cover over large portions of Antarctica has been increasing, leading to a drawdown of global sea level....”

Stop Climate Change

Ian Plimer is the Professor of Mining Geology at The University of Adelaide and Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at The University of Melbourne.

(4 Aug 08) “....If we humans want to stop climate change, then we have a huge task ahead of us.....We need to stop continents moving, stop the shape of the sea floor changing, stop pulling apart the ocean floors, stop building mountains, stop volcanoes belching out greenhouse gases and dust, stop hot flushes of gas rising from the Earth's core, stop earthquakes, stop comets breaking up in the upper atmosphere, stop the changes in the Earth's orbit, stop the cycles of solar changes and stop radiation hitting Earth from deep space. Our generation did not discover climate change, the Earth's climate has always changed. If we Australians stopped burning fossil fuels, this would make not one iota of difference to the global climate....Because of lags resulting from the large volume of seawater and ice, any sea level rise or changes in the ice sheets result from events that took place hundreds to thousands of years earlier.... We humans live on ice sheets, on mountains, at the tropics, at sea level and in deserts. We are adaptable. If we moved from Hobart to Darwin, the average temperature rise would be 18 degrees Celsius yet this warmth does not seem to be lethal for Darwinians. Both animals and plants constantly migrate to adapt to climate change....” Stop Climate Change, by Ian Plimer “....The climate change cacophony demonstrates that the community knows little about how our dynamic evolving planet works. A little bit of basic geology would be a good start. An understanding of the processes of science would be another good start....Science is not about consensus or belief, these words are those of politics and religion....The tail has wagged the dog and squeaky wheels and a sensationalist media have forced both major political parties, against their better judgment, to make political comments about climate change. These comments have nothing to do with science. They are pragmatic political survival..... Climate change has become the new dogmatic religion and woe betide heretics, sinners and the wealthy. We are all now to pay papal carbon indulgences to the Archbishops of climate change.....My concerns are that the great gains made in the Renaissance regarding logic, argument, challenges to authority, rationality, the use of evidence and an understanding of the world around us have been lost in the space of a decade. This was an incredible politically driven social change. The word sceptic is now a pejorative word and criticism, questioning and the integration of a broad spectrum of science is either dismissed or regarded as evil...We are now starting to reap the rewards of dumbing down science education....”

For other interesting features be sure to visit July 2008

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