Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shades of 1934

As Mark Twain said, "History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme". Below is a cartoon from the Chicago Tribune, 1934 (click to view larger image):

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How quaint!

Labour Party embroiled in race row after candidate told she was 'too white and Jewish' to be selected

Cutting costs...

Kidney cancer patients denied life-saving drugs by NHS rationing body NICE
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 12:55 AM on 29th April 2009

Thousands of kidney cancer patients are likely to lose out on life-prolonging drugs.
The NHS rationing body, NICE, has confirmed a ban on three out of four new treatments.
It has reversed its position on just one, Sutent, which will now be allowed for patients with advanced cancer.

NICE has the last say on which drugs are administered by the NHS
But campaigners who fought NICE's original blanket ban said this was not enough. They said some patients with heart problems cannot tolerate Sutent.
Kate Spall, head of the Pamela Northcott Fund campaign group, said the ruling meant that fewer than half of newly diagnosed patients would be eligible for therapy.
She added: 'Families will be denied time together and doctors will be unable to give patients the best treatment.'
Campaigners are angry that NICE appears to have ignored new official guidelines widening access to life-prolonging drugs.
Sutent, also known as sunitinib, can double the life expectancy of patients, to 28 months, compared with standard interferon treatment. It costs around £24,000 a year.
The rejected drugs - bevacizumab (Avastin), sorafenib (Nexavar) and temsirolimus (Torisel) - have similar costs and are used in other countries.

Nicole Farmer, of Bayer Schering Pharma Oncology, which makes Nexavar, said: 'This shows why the UK sits 16 out of 18 EU countries with regard to cancer outcomes'.
Dr Thomas Powles, Clinical Senior Lecturer, at Barts and The London NHS Trust, said the 'one size fits all' policy would disadvantage many of the 7,000 patients diagnosed each year with kidney cancer.
He said: 'This one dimensional approach will leave some patients without potentially beneficial treatments, indeed some patients will not be eligible for any effective treatments whatsoever.'
Stella Pendleton, executive director of the Rarer Cancers Forum, said: 'This decision contradicts the spirit of the recommendations made by Professor Mike Richards on improving access to medicines for NHS patients, and highlights flaws in the current system for appraising drugs.
'We call on Nice to reverse this decision.'

Let's call it what it is "The Obama upsurge"

Triple car bomb strikes Baghdad
Three car bombs have exploded in the Shia district of Sadr City in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 41 people, police say.
Local hospitals said more than 70 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in busy markets in the impoverished area.
Suicide bombings last week killed at least 150 people in just two days.
Correspondents say the violence has raised concerns that Iraq could slide back into sectarian conflict.
The Iraqi police said that the bombs went off in quick succession in three adjacent markets in Sadr City.
Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area, which has long been a stronghold of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
The bombings are the latest in a recent upsurge of attacks, all directed against busy Shia areas or holy places.
Last Thursday and Friday, four suicide bombings killed around 150 people, including at least 60 at Baghdad's main Shia shrine.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the attacks are the kind of provocation, blamed on militant Sunni Islamists, which triggered and fuelled a deadly spiral of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007
One eyewitness in the area hit by Wednesday's attacks said that angry residents threw stones at the Iraqi army units stationed in the area, accusing them of doing nothing to stop the bombings.
Senior Iraqi leaders have played down the recent spate of attacks.
They say they violence will not affect plans for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities by the end of June, and from the rest of the country by 2011.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Amazing pictures

Hubble's greatest hits: Hubble space telescope images

Latest newspaper stats.

USA TODAY -- 2,113,725 – (-7.46%)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- 2,082,189 -- 0.61%
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- 1,039,031 -- (-3.55%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- 723,181 -- (-6.55%)
THE WASHINGTON POST -- 665,383 -- (-1.16%)
DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK) -- 602,857 -- (-14.26%)
NEW YORK POST -- 558,140 -- (-20.55%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE -- 501,202 -- (-7.47%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- 425,138 -- (-13.96%)
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC -- 389,701 -- (-5.72%)
THE DENVER POST (02/28/2009 to 03/31/2009) -- 371,728 -- N/A
NEWSDAY -- 368,194 -- (-3.01%)
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS -- 331,907 -- (-9.88%)
STAR-TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS -- 320,076 -- (-0.71%)
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES -- 312,141 -- (-0.04%)
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- 312,118 -- (-15.72%)
THE BOSTON GLOBE -- 302,638 -- (-13.68%)
THE PLAIN DEALER, CLEVELAND -- 291,630 -- (-11.70%)
DETROIT FREE PRESS -- 290,730 -- (-5.90%)
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER -- 288,298 -- (-13.72%)
THE STAR-LEDGER, NEWARK, N.J. -- 287,082 -- (-16.82%)
ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES -- 283,093 -- (-10.42%)
THE OREGONIAN, PORTLAND -- 268,512 -- (-11.76%)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE -- 261,253 -- (-9.53%)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Could you imagine the eruption of name calling had a Republican administration suggested this?

Obama legal team wants defendants' rights limited
By MARK SHERMAN – 2 days ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overrule long-standing law that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, another stark example of the White House seeking to limit rather than expand rights.
The administration's action — and several others — have disappointed civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, after the Democrat's call for change during the 2008 campaign.
Since taking office, Obama has drawn criticism for backing the continued imprisonment of enemy combatants in Afghanistan without trial, invoking the "state secrets" privilege to avoid releasing information in lawsuits and limiting the rights of prisoners to test genetic evidence used to convict them.
The case at issue is Michigan v. Jackson, in which the Supreme Court said in 1986 that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one, unless the attorney is present. The decision applies even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.
Anything police learn through such questioning cannot be used against the defendant at trial. The opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time.
The justices could decide as early as Friday whether they want to hear arguments on the issue as they wrestle with an ongoing case from Louisiana that involves police questioning of an indigent defendant that led to a murder confession and a death sentence.
The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision "serves no real purpose" and offers only "meager benefits." The government said defendants who don't wish to talk to police don't have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers' questions.
At the same time, the administration acknowledges that the decision "only occasionally prevents federal prosecutors from obtaining appropriate convictions."
The administration's legal move is a reminder that Obama, who has moved from campaigning to governing, now speaks for federal prosecutors.
The administration's position assumes a level playing field, with equally savvy police and criminal suspects, lawyers on the other side of the case said. But the protection offered by the court in Stevens' 1986 opinion is especially important for vulnerable defendants, including the mentally and developmentally disabled, addicts, juveniles and the poor, the lawyers said.
"Your right to assistance of counsel can be undermined if somebody on the other side who is much more sophisticated than you are comes and talks to you and asks for information," said Sidney Rosdeitcher, a New York lawyer who advises the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
Stephen B. Bright, a lawyer who works with poor defendants at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said the administration's position "is disappointing, no question."
Bright said that poor defendants' constitutional right to a lawyer, spelled out by the high court in 1965, has been neglected in recent years. "I would hope that this administration would be doing things to shore up the right to counsel for poor people accused of crimes," said Bright, whose group joined with the Brennan Center and other rights organizations in a court filing opposing the administration's position.
Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and former FBI Director William Sessions are among 19 one-time judges and prosecutors urging the court to leave the decision in place because it has been incorporated into routine police practice and establishes a rule on interrogations that is easy to follow.
Eleven states also are echoing the administration's call to overrule the 1986 case.
Justice Samuel Alito first raised the prospect of overruling the decision at arguments in January over the rights of Jesse Montejo, the Louisiana death row inmate.
Montejo's lawyer, Donald Verrilli, urged the court not to do it. Since then, Verrilli has joined the Justice Department, but played no role in the department's brief.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Constitution is an impediment to people like Mr. Hurley

Obama Names MADD CEO to Head NHTSA

Friday, April 24, 2009
EDITORIAL: MADD about regulation

President Obama's pick to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration raises a few red flags. If confirmed by the Senate, Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, will drive motorists over the cliff with regulation.
The nation's traffic-safety czar has broad powers to control the roads and road-going habits of Americans. Mr. Hurley has a history of pushing laws that harass millions of law-abiding citizens to ensnare a few lawbreakers. He supports returning the 55 mph speed limit to our highways as well as roadblocks and random pullovers to make sure drivers aren't doing anything wrong. This methodology is based on a presumption of guilt - not innocence - of the average driver who is doing nothing wrong.
Mr. Hurley has promoted a mania of overregulation at MADD. Absent from his advocacies is the principle that a punishment should fit the crime, or that a crime even needs to be committed to incur a penalty. Under this influence, MADD has been lobbying to lower the allowable blood-alcohol content (BAC) for drivers to .04 - which means one glass of Pinot can land anyone behind bars. We do not condone drinking and driving, but the constant lowering of BAC limits has separated what is punishable from what is actually dangerous.
As a result of MADD-fueled binges for tougher laws, extreme drunken driving punishments - such as loss of driving privileges, jail time, fines and legal fees beyond $10,000 - often apply to individuals who were not drunk and in some cases were not even driving. Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously upheld a driving-under-the-influence conviction against a man who was sleeping off his bender in his car even though the keys were not in the ignition. In 2005, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a DUI sentence for a tipsy man riding a motorized skateboard. The Georgia State Police charged a woman with drunken driving for riding a horse.
Such absurd cases will continue to proliferate as long as the breathalyzer machine is the sole determinant of guilt rather than evidence of unsafe conduct. Machines are prone to error, and basing guilt on a digital reading leaves little room for the specific facts of an individual situation. The same reliance on machines can be seen in Mr. Hurley's obsession with red-light and speed cameras. Mr. Hurley is a former board member of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running. The innocuous-sounding outfit frequently testifies at congressional hearings as if it were a nonprofit victim's advocacy group. In reality, it is a well-heeled lobbying shop for big business.
The so-called National Campaign's phone number - (202) 828-9100 - is answered by a receptionist at the public-relations firm Blakey and Agnew. Among that firm's big-ticket clients are the traffic-camera companies Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, Gastometer BV of the Netherlands and Lasercraft Inc. of Britain. These foreign corporations all seek to rewrite state laws to allow machines to issue traffic-camera tickets, thus reaping huge profits for the companies that operate them - including Redflex, Gastometer and Lasercraft.
The position of NHTSA chief requires an administrator of sound judgment, not a zealot beholden to special interests. Mr. Hurley's associations and background raise the specter that he could use NHTSA regulations and safety grants to benefit his friends and coerce states into adopting his overbearing pet policies. Mr. Hurley should be offered one (but only one) for the road and sent on his way.

The search for utopia drives some raving mad...

Depopulate and die of boredom
Chris Berg
April 26, 2009
Why cut Australia's population to 7 million when it already suffers from too few people.
IT MUST take a rather active imagination to look at a map of Australia and think that it is too full.
Last week Sandra Kanck, the national president of the environmental group Sustainable Population Australia, urged the country to cut down its population from 21 million souls to just 7 million. To do so, she recommended we adopt a one-child policy, completely eliminating middle-child syndrome and saving the planet in the process. China's one-child policy appears to have gone from a massive human rights violation that is universally condemned to "Hey, now that's an idea".
One article on the Sustainable Population Australia website berates Nadya Suleman for being a "criminal" and a "murderer". Best known as "Octomum", the Californian Suleman famously gave birth to eight children earlier this year. And she is — at least according to Sustainable Population's site — "killing all of us".
Fair enough: someone needs to stand up to those murderous breeders. No opportunity to inform them about their criminal behaviour can be wasted; the environment demands it. For example, transport regulations may require you give up your seat to a pregnant woman, but once the mother-to-be has sat down, you have a good opportunity to berate her for destroying the planet.
Certainly, Sustainable Population Australia is just a fringe environment group, and criticising them for their warped moral compass is like criticising the Citizens Electoral Council for their bad economics. But the idea that we desperately need to shut down breeding for a while in order to save the planet is surprisingly widespread.
In Britain, one of Gordon Brown's environmental advisers has been urging the Prime Minister to support the halving of Britain's population to just 30 million. And the president of the Sea Shepherd Society — an organisation regularly praised for stalking Japanese whalers — wants to reduce the global population to less than a billion. Yet, the population of the world continues to grow, not least in the developing world.
But if you believe that population growth will eventually lead to the collapse of our civilisation and planet, then the last millennium of human history must be very confusing. Over and over, we have demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to innovate our way out of any theoretical "limit to growth".
So it takes a strange sort of intellectual hubris to imagine that the exact moment you are alive just happens to be the exact moment in human history that we cross the "too many people" line. In the 1970s, zero population growth advocates were pretty sure the end was nigh, but humanity has managed to barrel on for a few more decades. Anyway, few species have found flirting with extinction a particularly effective survival strategy.
But we could spend all day debating the impact of population on the environment. I'm more concerned about another thing: can you imagine how excruciatingly boring Australia would be with only 7 million people?
Last week's Sunday Age reported that a large proportion of "tree-changers" regretted their decision to move from the suburbs to the quieter countryside. Shockingly, in remote and regional Victoria there are fewer and less varied jobs available, fewer services and less commercial activity than in the cities.
An Australia with just 7 million people would be like a mandatory tree-change for everybody, with those who survived the great population decline skulking about the ruins of this once-busy nation.
Australia already suffers because of its small population. We have a small audience for culture. We have a small market for goods and services, and a small base to produce them from. If it weren't for the fact that we can trade stuff with other countries, it would hardly be worth having an Australia at all.
Pretty much everything interesting and exciting about the world is the direct result of human action. Fewer people would mean fewer people doing cool stuff. How would life be without basil pesto, the British version of The Office, single malt whisky, SuperTed or Facebook? Nasty and brutish, sure, but agonisingly long.
And let's face it — whatever meaning has been imposed on the environment has been imposed by people. So when deep greens exalt nature as morally superior to humanity, it comes across as just a little bit stupid. When the chips are down, surely our loyalty lies with the human race.
Chris Berg is a research fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs and editor of the IPA Review.

Any further doubts about the goal of the environmental movement.

Just what we need advice from a bunch of tin pot dictators. In sum they represent a GDP of let's see, perhaps, Hollywood. In spite of their deep and longstanding commitment to communism/socialism success eludes their countries. They still want the US to provide them with aid, why? Cuba is not under a blockade. The rest of the world can trade with them to their heart's content. But, they don't want to since Cuba has reneged on all of it's financial repayments. Those years of getting goodies for free from the Soviets addled their brains. They think everybody owes them because of some misplace sense of entitlement.
If you take away the drug business, the oil and a few other natural resources these countries would be as poor as Bangladesh. But, they do have copious amounts of anger. I say screw them. If they've got the "way" show us.

The Declaration of Cumaná: Capitalism 'threatens life on the planet'
By derrick
Created Apr 24 2009 - 4:58pm
Story Publish Date:
April 24, 2009
We, the Heads of State and Government of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela, member countries of ALBA, consider that the Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:
- The Declaration does not provide answers to the Global Economic Crisis, even though this crisis constitutes the greatest challenge faced by humanity in the last decades and is the most serious threat of the current times to the welfare of our peoples.
- The Declaration unfairly excludes Cuba, without mentioning the consensus in the region condemning the blockade and isolation to which the people and the government of Cuba have incessantly been exposed in a criminal manner.
For this reason, we, the member countries of ALBA believe that there is no consensus for the adoption of this draft declaration because of the reasons above stated, and accordingly, we propose to hold a thorough debate on the following topics:
1. Capitalism is leading humanity and the planet to extinction. What we are experiencing is a global economic crisis of a systemic and structural nature, not another cyclic crisis. Those who think that with a taxpayer money injection and some regulatory measures this crisis will end are wrong. The financial system is in crisis because it trades bonds with six times the real value of the assets and services produced and rendered in the world, this is not a “system regulation failure”, but a integrating part of the capitalist system that speculates with all assets and values with a view to obtain the maximum profit possible. Until now, the economic crisis has generated over 100 million additional hungry persons and has slashed over 50 million jobs, and these figures show an upward trend.
2. Capitalism has caused the environmental crisis, by submitting the necessary conditions for life in the planet, to the predominance of market and profit. Each year we consume one third more of what the planet is able to regenerate. With this squandering binge of the capitalist system, we are going to need two planets Earth by the year 2030.
3. The global economic crisis, climate change, the food crisis and the energy crisis are the result of the decay of capitalism, which threatens to end life and the planet. To avert this outcome, it is necessary to develop and model an alternative to the capitalist system. A system based on:
- solidarity and complementarity, not competition;- a system in harmony with our mother earth and not plundering of human resources;- a system of cultural diversity and not cultural destruction and imposition of cultural values and lifestyles alien to the realities of our countries;- a system of peace based on social justice and not on imperialist policies and wars;- in summary, a system that recovers the human condition of our societies and peoples and does not reduce them to mere consumers or merchandise.
4. As a concrete expression of the new reality of the continent, we, Caribbean and Latin American countries, have commenced to build our own institutionalization, an institutionalization that is based on a common history dating back to our independence revolution and constitutes a concrete tool for deepening the social, economic and cultural transformation processes that will consolidate our full sovereignty.
ALBA-TCP, Petrocaribe or UNASUR, mentioning merely the most recently created, are solidarity-based mechanisms of unity created in the midst of such transformations with the obvious intention of boosting the efforts of our peoples to attain their own freedom. To face the serious effects of the global economic crisis, we, the ALBA-TCP countries, have adopted innovative and transforming measures that seek real alternatives to the inadequate international economic order, not to boost their failed institutions. Thus, we have implemented a Regional Clearance Unitary System, the SUCRE, which includes a Common Unit of Account, a Clearance Chamber and a Single Reserve System. Similarly, we have encouraged the constitution of grand-national companies to satisfy the essential needs of our peoples and establish fair and complementary trade mechanisms that leave behind the absurd logic of unbridled competition.
5. We question the G20 for having tripled the resources of the International Monetary Fund when the real need is to establish a new world economic order that includes the full transformation of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, entities that have contributed to this global economic crisis with their neoliberal policies.
6. The solutions to the global economic crisis and the definition of a new international financial scheme should be adopted with the participation of the 192 countries that will meet in the United Nations Conference on the International Financial Crisis to be held on June 1-3 to propose the creation of a new international economic order.
7. As for climate change, developed countries are in an environmental debt to the world because they are responsible for 70% of historical carbon emissions into the atmosphere since 1750. Developed countries should pay off their debt to humankind and the planet; they should provide significant resources to a fund so that developing countries can embark upon a growth model which does not repeat the serious impacts of the capitalist industrialization.
8. Solutions to the energy, food and climate change crises should be comprehensive and interdependent. We cannot solve a problem by creating new ones in fundamental areas for life. For instance, the widespread use of agricultural fuels has an adverse effect on food prices and the use of essential resources, such as water, land and forests.
9. We condemn the discrimination against migrants in any of its forms. Migration is a human right, not a crime. Therefore, we request the United States government an urgent reform of its migration policies in order to stop deportations and massive raids and allow for reunion of families. We further demand the removal of the wall that separates and divides us, instead of uniting us.
In this regard, we petition for the abrogation of the Law of Cuban Adjustment and removal of the discriminatory, selective Dry Feet, Wet Feet policy that has claimed human losses. Bankers who stole the money and resources from our countries are the true responsible, not migrant workers. Human rights should come first, particularly human rights of the underprivileged, downtrodden sectors in our society, that is, migrants without identity papers. Free movement of people and human rights for everybody, regardless of their migration status, are a must for integration. Brain drain is a way of plundering skilled human resources exercised by rich countries.
10. Basic education, health, water, energy and telecommunications services should be declared human rights and cannot be subject to private deal or marketed by the World Trade Organization. These services are and should be essentially public utilities of universal access.
11. We wish a world where all, big and small, countries have the same rights and where there is no empire. We advocate non-intervention. There is the need to strengthen, as the only legitimate means for discussion and assessment of bilateral and multilateral agendas in the hemisphere, the foundations for mutual respect between states and governments, based on the principle of non-interference of a state in the internal affairs of another state, and inviolability of sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples.
We request the new Government of the United States, the arrival of which has given rise to some expectations in the hemisphere and the world, to finish the longstanding and dire tradition of interventionism and aggression that has characterized the actions of the US governments throughout history, and particularly intensified during the Administration of President George W. Bush. By the same token, we request the new Government of the United States to abandon interventionist practices, such as cover-up operations, parallel diplomacy, media wars aimed at disturbing states and governments, and funding of destabilizing groups. Building on a world where varied economic, political, social and cultural approaches are acknowledged and respected is of the essence.
12. With regard to the U.S. blockade against Cuba and the exclusion of the latter from the Summit of the Americas, we, the member states of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America, reassert the Declaration adopted by all Latin American and Caribbean countries last December 16, 2008, on the need to end the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the Government of the United States of America on Cuba, including the implementation of the so-called Helms-Burton Act. The declaration sets forth in its fundamental paragraphs the following:
“CONSIDERING the resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly on the need to finish the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, and the statements on such blockade, which have been approved in numerous international meetings.
“WE AFFIRM that the application of unilateral, coercive measures affecting the wellbeing of peoples and hindering integration processes is unacceptable when defending free exchange and the transparent practice of international trade.
“WE STRONGLY REPEL the enforcement of laws and measures contrary to International Law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, and we urge the Government of the United States of America to finish such enforcement.
“WE REQUEST the Government of the United States of America to comply with the provisions set forth in 17 successive resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly and put an end to the economic, trade and financial blockade on Cuba.”
Additionally, we consider that the attempts at imposing the isolation of Cuba have failed, as nowadays Cuba forms an integral part of the Latin American and Caribbean region; it is a member of the Rio Group and other hemispheric organizations and mechanisms, which develops a policy of cooperation, in solidarity with the countries in the hemisphere; which promotes full integration of Latin American and Caribbean peoples. Therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to justify its exclusion from the mechanism of the Summit of the Americas.
13. Developed countries have spent at least USD 8 billion to rescue a collapsing financial structure. They are the same that fail to allocate the small sums of money to attain the Millennium Goals or 0.7% of the GDP for the Official Development Assistance. Never before the hypocrisy of the wording of rich countries had been so apparent. Cooperation should be established without conditions and fit in the agendas of recipient countries by making arrangements easier; providing access to the resources, and prioritizing social inclusion issues.
14. The legitimate struggle against drug trafficking and organized crime, and any other form of the so-called “new threats” must not be used as an excuse to undertake actions of interference and intervention against our countries.
15. We are firmly convinced that the change, where everybody repose hope, can come only from organization, mobilization and unity of our peoples.
As the Liberator wisely said:
Unity of our peoples is not a mere illusion of men, but an inexorable decree of destiny. — Simón Bolívar

Friday, April 24, 2009

The one-thought party

The Democrats can't afford to take any chances with the global warming myth as it underpins all their efforts to take over our economic system. Totalitarians hate opposition.

Report: Democrats Refuse to Allow Skeptic to Testify Alongside Gore At Congressional Hearing
Thursday, April 23, 2009By Marc Morano
'House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated'
Climate Depot Exclusive
Washington, DC -- UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.
“The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,” Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “They are cowards.”
According to Monckton, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Energy & Commerce Committee, had invited him to go head to head with Gore and testify at the hearing on Capitol Hill Friday. But Monckton now says that when his airplane from London landed in the U.S. on Thursday, he was informed that the former Vice-President had “chickened out” and there would be no joint appearance. Gore is scheduled to testify on Friday to the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment's fourth day of hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The hearing will be held in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.
According to Monckton, House Democrats told the Republican committee staff earlier this week that they would be putting forward an unnamed 'celebrity' as their star witness Friday at a multi-panel climate hearing examining the House global warming bill. The "celebrity" witness turned out to be Gore. Monckton said the GOP replied they would respond to the Democrats' "celebrity" with an unnamed "celebrity" of their own. But Monckton claims that when the Democrats were told who the GOP witness would be, they refused to allow him to testify alongside Gore.
“The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the US Constitution. Congress Henry Waxman's (D-CA) refusal to expose Al Gore's sci-fi comedy-horror testimony to proper, independent scrutiny by the House minority reeks of naked fear,” Monckton said from the airport Thursday evening.
“Waxman knows there has been no 'global warming' for at least a decade. Waxman knows there has been seven and a half years' global cooling. Waxman knows that, in the words of the UK High Court judge who condemned Gore's mawkish movie as materially, seriously, serially inaccurate, 'the Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view,'” Monckton explained. Monckton has previously testified before the House Committee in March. (See: Monckton: Have the courage to do nothing...US Congress told climate change is not real ) Monckton has also publicly challenged Gore to a debate. (See: Al Gore Challenged to International TV Debate on Global Warming By Lord Monckton - March 19, 2007 )
A call to the Democratic office of the House Energy and Commerce Committee seeking comment was not immediately returned Thursday night.

Is this what you want for America?

EDF strikers cut power to French homes

Where is America going...

"Is America Disappearing?"
I am terrified for America and feel impelled to continue to sound the alarm. Americans must wake up.

A couple of issues have come to my attention, which I would like to touch upon here:


The first is an article by Rick Santorum, former Sena tor from Pennsylvania. Today he is a practicing attorney and a Senior Fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. This is a man with considerable expertise who knows whereof he speaks.

He has written an article called The Elephant in the Room: Obama vs. The United States. Subtitle: "The president is contemptuous of American values. And one key nominee prefers the judgement of other countries and global elites."

Watching Obama in action has convinced Santorum that he has "a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions."

Of immediate concern to Santorum is Obama's nomination of former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh to be the State Department's top lawyer: "Let's set aside Koh's disputed comments about the possible application of Sharia law in American jurisprudence. The pick is alarming for more fundamental reasons having to do with national sovereignty and constitutional self-governance.
"What is indisputable is that Koh calls himself a 'transnationalist.' He believes U.S. courts 'must look beyond national interest to the mutual interests of all nations in a smoothly functioning international legal regime. ...' He thinks the courts have 'a central role to play in domesticating international law into U.S. law' and should 'use their interpretive powers to promote the development of a global legal system.'
"Koh's 'transnationalism' stands in contrast to good, old-fashioned notions of national sovereignty, in which our Constitution is the highest law of the land. In the traditional view, controversial matters, whatever they may be, are subject to democratic debate here. They should be resolved by the American people and their representatives, not 'internationalized.' What Holland or Belgium or Kenya or any other nation or coalition of nations thinks has no bearing on our exercise of executive, legislative, or judicial power.
"Koh disagrees. He would decide such matters based on the views of other countries or transnational organizations - or, rather, those entities' elites."


My second issue of concern -- intrinsically related to the first -- is the fact that the Obama administration -- as the result of information released when certain Justice Department memos were recently declassified -- is considering the prosecution of persons in the Bush administration involved after 9/11 with crafting laws that led to the possible deprivation of civil rights and even torture of suspected enemy agents during interrogation. Not only those who crafted the laws, but the lawyers who gave legal advice, interpreting the laws.

This is blood chilling. Don't like the way it was done before? Disavow the past. But don't take off after those who were seeking to protect America during a time of national emergency and serious threat.

And that is the point. The people involved were patriots, seeking to do right for America.

As Ben Johnson writes, in Front Page Magazine:

"The mere threat to prosecute lawyers for giving legal advice – a dubious and unprecedented action – will unleash the paralyzing fear into those tasked with providing American counterterrorism: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. Who will craft a robust anti-terrorism interrogation program about a hatching terrorist plot, or trust his instincts to shoot the oncoming jihadists, if he fears prosecution in eight years for doing what is legal today?"

Johnson describes th e story of a Navy SEAL, Marc Luttrell, who was part of a covert mission in Afghanistan. He and his fellow SEALs were spotted by a group of "goat herders." They thought of killing them but let them go, knowing they would be accused of murdering "innocent civilians."

"Within an hour of their hesitation, al-Qaeda terrorists killed 19 SEALs. Luttrell reflected he and his men were 'tortured, shot, blown up, my best buddies all dead, and all because we were afraid of the liberals back home, afraid to do what was necessary to save our own lives.'” (emphasis added by Johnson)


The vast irony is that this practice during the Bush administration DID save lives -- possibly many lives. Jeff Jacoby describes this: "What's missing from all this sanctimony and censure is any acknowledgement of the circumstances under which the CIA interrogations took place, let alone the successes with which they have been credited. That may be a good way to score cheap political points. It doesn't add much to the public discourse.
"Context matters. Actions that are indisputably beyond the pale under normal conditions -- waterboarding a prisoner, for example -- can take on a very different aspect when conditions are abnormal, as they surely were in the terrifying wake of 9/11.
"...According to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury's memo dated May 30, 2006, 'intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al-Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West' since 9/11. Senior terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at first 'resisted giving any answers' when asked about future attacks, but waterboarding led him to divulge 'specific, actionable intelligence.' One result was the foiling of al-Qaeda's planned 'Second Wave' -- a 9/11-like plot to crash a hijacked airliner into a Los Angeles skyscraper.
"But what if it hadn't been foiled? Suppose the CIA had been denied permission to use brutal interrogation tactics, and al-Qaeda had consequently gone on to murder thousands of additional victims in California. What kind of conversation would we be having once it became known that the refusal to subject KSM to the waterboard had come at so steep a price? How many of those now blasting the Bush administration for allowing torture would be blasting it instead for not preventing a second bloodbath?"
Now, it's possible that this move to prosecute will go nowhere. Obama, after denials that this path would be pursued, put the issue in the hands of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has now said, "We owe the American people a reckoning.”
Johnson claims, "Obamas's move carries20out the marching orders of his party's far-left base,, which boasted it 'bought' the Democratic Party in 2004," and is now pushing for prosecution.
But Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama's own national intelligence director, has written:
“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time...
"We did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with. Our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans."
There are two sources for distress here. One is the holier-than-thou, retributive attitude -- the very antithesis of the spirit of unifying the nation which was at the heart of Obama's campaign. (I'm being told by Americans in the know that the entire mood in Washington now is one of weakening and belittling Republicans. So much so that it's barely a two-party system in operation. There's a meanness in the air.)
The other source of distress is a policy that -- unequivocally! -- has now put Americans at greater risk of another terrorist attack.
I am keenly aware that a democratic nation must strike a balance between maintaining its values with regard to human rights and humane behavior, and protecting its citizens from enemies. And I know that not everyone agrees as to how that balance must be struck.
But I have the sense that the current administration, intent on a good guy approach, is oblivious to the seriousness of the Jihad threat leveled against the West and is letting its guard down.
Johnson tells the story of what happened to FBI agent Harry Samit in August 2001. Highly suspicious of one Zacarias Moussaoui , he sent 70 e-mails to the FBI's National Security Law Unit (NSL) begging for permission to search this guy's laptop. The guidelines in place at that time -- which were actually stricter than what the law required -- had been established during the Clinton administration. Samit's request was denied.
Later, it was learned that this computer contained the plans for 9/11.
Bush subsequently, and in response to 9/11, changed the way the game was played. Did he change it too much? Was there too much harshness? I'm not about to judge this now. What I do know is that if the rules had been different in August 2001, there would have been no 9/11.
Protection against an enemy can bring about a pyrrhic victory -- in which a nation changes so much, so abandons its protection of human rights, that the very nature of that nation is changed.
But it is also the case that the enemies who would destroy America count on use of the American system to protect them even as they plot against the nation where they are kept safe. This is an obscene perversity in the end.
And so I advise Americans to consider this issue with the greatest of gravity. And to remember that indeed there really IS an enemy set on destroying America.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Meet the happy-faced spider sure to make you smile

Obama is already a believer

Pernicious Best-Seller
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Latin America: Whatever else he is, Hugo Chavez is quite a salesman. The anti-American book he shoved at President Obama last weekend soared to No. 2 on Amazon's sales rankings. Our advice: Save your money.

The screed Chavez presented to Obama, called "The Open Veins of Latin America," by Eduardo Hughes Galeano, is probably the biggest reason why people tune out when the subject of Latin America comes up.
Galeano, a Uruguayan with a bad case of white liberal guilt, wrote his florid blame-the-U.S. polemic way back when hippie beads were "in" in 1971. But his "history" is nothing but a systematic effort to blame the U.S. and Europe for all the ills of the hemisphere.
That's something President Obama, at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, had actually tried to urge Latin Americans to walk away from.
"We can't blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere," he said. "That's the old way, and we need a new way."
This book has it all: hate of capitalism, fury over trade, guerrilla worship, rage against responsibility, and zero-sum economics.
"The strength of the imperialist system as a whole rests on the necessary inequality of its parts," Galeano wrote. "The more freedom is extended to business, the more prisons have to be built for those who suffer from those businesses." These are just some of the book's self-pitying tenets designed to erase all responsibility for dictators, mercantilism, liberation theology and absence of property rights that have kept the region underdeveloped.
Naturally, Galeano thinks the U.S. is on its last legs. "Obama presides over a failed state," he told a gathering at a Mexican university on April 2, as Chavez was saying nearly the same thing.
His book is already a staple in Latin American studies classes in the U.S., unfortunately. It has misinformed an entire generation.
If one is curious about Galeano's nonsense, the book to read is the one that dissects it, called "The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot," by Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner, and Alvaro Vargas Llosa. The critique, whose third chapter, "The Idiot's Bible" was written by three real Latin American intellectuals, debunks the romantic nonsense that has kept the region back.
This isn't just about name-calling. The book came about in 2001 after the three authors found themselves fuming together in a taxi following a demagoguery-filled conference. They were so disgusted they decided to write the book, which deserves to be read.
And it has a sequel, written in 2007, "The Idiot's Return," which sums up Latin America's problems even better than the first. It's all about Hugo Chavez.
© Copyright 2009 Investor's Business Daily. All Rights Reserved.

I bet they're just sooo disappointed.

The UN is like a giant wash tub. Clean and dirty go in and everything comes out dirty

Racism conference groups expelled
The UN has expelled three groups from an anti-racism conference in connection with a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The groups - two Jewish and one Iranian - had been expelled for "unacceptable behaviour", a spokesman said.
Mr Ahmedinejad's speech, in which he called Israel a racist regime, overshadowed the five-day conference.
As he was delivering it, a pair of protesters dressed in wigs threw red noses at him while others shouted.
The speech also prompted EU delegates to walk out of the conference.
The groups banned from the event are the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Coexist - a non-governmental organisation affiliated to UEJF - and the Iranian Neda Institute for Political and Scientific Research, UN spokesman Rupert Colville said.
Inflammatory material
The head of the UEJF, Raphael Haddad, was one of the two people who staged a protest in rainbow-coloured wigs amid shouts of "racist" and "shame", AFP news agency reported.
He and his fellow protester were removed from the conference hall by security guards.
There was cheering and applause from others in the hall.
The Neda Institute had distributed inflammatory material to conference participants, Mr Colville said.
Mr Ahmadinejad spoke on Monday at the start of the five-day conference, which is being held in Geneva.
He said that after World War II Western nations had made Palestinians homeless "by exploiting the Holocaust and under the pretext of protecting the Jews".
Jewish migrants, he said, had been sent from Europe and the US after World War II "in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine".
The UN subsequently said that Mr Ahmadinejad had dropped language from his speech describing the Holocaust as "ambiguous and dubious".
The speech attracted widespread criticism, including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Iran said the criticism was "one-sided".
The US, Israel and other states had boycotted the conference over the presence of Mr Ahmadinejad, who had previously denied the Holocaust.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Mark Steyn celebrates Earth Day:

April 22nd - Lenin's birthday - is also Earth Day, a day to ponder what we hard-hearted right-wingers regard as the ultimate Milf. It was, oddly enough, thinking about eco-alarmism that got me started on the road to America Alone. This National Post column is from 2002:

In 1968, in his best-selling book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines - hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."

In 1972, in their influential landmark study The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead, and gas by 1993.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States incredible as it may seem, confidently predicted that "we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade."

Now, in 2002, with enough oil for a century and a half, the planet awash in cut-price minerals, and less global famine, starvation and malnutrition than ever before, the end of the world has had to be rescheduled. The latest estimated time of arrival for the apocalypse is 2032. Last week, the United Nations Global Environmental Outlook predicted "the destruction of 70% of the natural world in 30 years, mass extinction of species, and the collapse of human society in many countries ... More than half the world will be afflicted by water shortages, with 95% of people in the Middle East with severe problems ... 25% of all species of mammals and 10% of birds will be extinct ..." Etc., etc., for 450 pages. But let's cut to the chase: As The Guardian's headline writer put it, "Unless We Change Our Ways, The World Faces Disaster."

Ah, yes. The end of the world's nighness is endlessly deferred but the blame rests where it always has. With us - with what the UN calls "the current 'markets first' approach." Klaus Toepfer, the UN Environment Program executive director, believes that "under the 'markets first' scenario the environment and humans did not fare well."

Really? The "markets first" approach was notable by its absence in, say, Eastern Europe, where government regulation of every single aspect of life resulted in environmental devastation beyond the wildest fantasies of the sinister Bush-Cheney-Enron axis of excess. Fortunately in Communist Romania there was very little clear-cut logging because Ceausescu had the tree. But in Iraq, the report points out, 30% of arable land has had to be abandoned because of bad irrigation practices. Those crazy speculators on the Baghdad Stock Exchange with their Thatcherite economics will kill you every time, eh?

But what's this? "In richer countries water and air pollution is down, species have been restored to the wild, and forests are increasing in size." So the environment's better in rich countries? Rich countries with ... market economies?

Thirty years after the first doom-mongering eco-confab in Stockholm, it should be obvious even to the UN frequent-flyer crowd: Markets aren't the problem, but the solution to the problem. The best way to clean up the neighbourhood is to make people wealthier. To do that, you need free markets, democracy, the rule of law and public accountability. None of those things exist in the Middle East, which is the real reason they'll be taking communal showers once a month in 2032.

Since 1970, when the great northern forest was being felled to print Paul Ehrlich best-sellers, the U.S. economy has swollen by 150%; automobile traffic has increased by 143%; and energy consumption has grown 45%.

During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29%, toxic emissions by 48.5%, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3%, and airborne lead by 97.3%. For anywhere other than Antarctica and a few sparsely inhabited islands, the first condition for a healthy environment is a strong economy. President Carter and the other apocalyptic prognosticators of the Seventies made a simple mistake: In their predictions about natural resources, they failed to take into account the natural resourcefulness of the market. The government regulates problems, but the market solves them. So if, as Kyoto does, you seek to punish capitalism in the West and restrict it in the developing world, you'll pretty much guarantee a poorer, dirtier, unhealthier planet.

I'd like to be an "environmentalist," really I would. I spend quite a bit of my time in the environment and I'm rather fond of it. But these days "environmentalism" is mostly unrelated to the environment: It's a cult, and, like most cults, heavy on ostentatious displays of self-denial, perfectly encapsulated by the time-consuming rituals of "recycling," an activity of no discernible benefit other than as a communal profession of faith.

Think globally, act locally, they say. But, in fact, environmentalists, like most cultists, are crippled by tunnel vision. "As long as we believe that our biggest threat is terrorism, we will never be truly prepared," wrote Carl Russell of Bethel, Vermont, to The Valley News after September 11th. "Humans are behaving like all living organisms whose habitat becomes depleted of necessary resources. Global warming, pollution, soil depletion, plant and animal extinction etc., are all signs of environmental degradation, too complex for most of us to agree on, let alone find solutions to. Our subconscious reflex to this lack of control is anxiety. Anger, intolerance and violence, however inappropriate, are common expressions of anxiety." Osama bin Laden might have thought he was ordering his boys into action because he hates America, but subconsciously he was merely acting out, however inappropriately, his anxieties about plant extinction.

"We are going through a maturing process for the human species, and for the Earth," concluded Mr. Russell. "Human lives have been lost and devastated, but our connections go deeper than that. Think of our Earth." So September 11 was about soil depletion? Wow. That's what I call a root cause.

In fact, the eco-cultists and the Islamofascists share the same Year Zero: 1492, the year not just of the "tragedy of Andalucia" - the fall of Moorish Spain that Osama's always boring on about -- but also of the most cataclysmic setback for the global environment. As Kenneth Branagh solemnly intoned, narrating the documentary The Last Show On Earth, "It was Columbus, 500 years ago, who heralded the modern age of discovery and environmental destruction." Hmm. Remind me again what was it he discovered.

And who knows what the Columbuses of tomorrow are planning to wreck? This weekend, Professor Rick Steiner proposed that the moon be designated a UN World Heritage Site, even though, technically, it's out of this world. But the point is: Think globally, act lunarly. As far as I know, there's not a lot of development planned for up there, though a British men's magazine recently announced plans to screen a giant image of Jennifer Lopez's bottom on the surface of the moon. J. Lo's butt would be visible from anywhere on earth without a telescope. So what's new? But, if Professor Steiner has his way, this sort of commercial exploitation would be forbidden. As Nick Denton commented on his Web site, "The moon is an airless, lifeless, pockmarked ball of rock. I would far rather industrial development took place off-planet, or in Antarctica, for that matter. English meadows, or California redwood forests, are far more valuable to me than a wasteland that most human beings will never visit. And, if anyone is worried that development will spoil the view of the full moon, we can always put the industrial zone on the far side."

Well, here's my prediction for 2032: Jean Chretien will be the oldest serving Prime Minister in Commonwealth history. Other than that, I'm inclined to be cautious. But, at the risk of scaremongering, let me say this: unless we change our ways the world faces a future ... where things look pretty darn good. If we change our ways along the lines advocated by the UN, all bets are off. As the great Australian wag Tim Blair puts it, "If the UN's doomsday scenario turns out to be correct, I'll donate every single thing I own in 2032 to the UN and Secretary-General Chelsea Clinton-Mathers. If the UN turns out to be wrong - man, what are the odds of that? - I get France. Deal, Kofi?"

Personally, I'm inclined to be more charitable. Looking back on all the doomsday extrapolations of 30 years ago, the economists Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson pointed out that, if you were to extrapolate from 1970s publishing trends, there would now be 14 million different doomsday books, or more than half as many books as in the entire Library of Congress. But there aren't. The Seventies doomsday book went the way of the trolley car and the buggy whip. So we should cherish these 450 pages of apocalyptic UN eco-guff. Like the peregrine falcon, despite all the odds, the doomsday book is still hanging in there.

Well, I've changed my mind a bit since that breezy penultimate paragraph: The world faces a future that looks pretty darn bad - not for any of the reasons touted by the eco-crowd but by the one problem no progressive soul gives a thought to: the self-extinction of the civilization that's done most for human progress and prosperity. As for the climate-change cult, my sense is that it's waning. But not before having done an awful amount of damage. Here's my column from Earth Day last year:

Last week, Time magazine featured on its cover the iconic photograph of the U.S. Marine Corps raising the flag on Iwo Jima. But with one difference: The flag has been replaced by a tree. The managing editor of Time, Rick Stengel, was very pleased with the lads in graphics for cooking up this cute image and was all over the TV sofas talking up this ingenious visual shorthand for what he regards as the greatest challenge facing mankind: “How To Win The War On Global Warming.”

Where to begin? For the last ten years, we have, in fact, been not warming but slightly cooling, which is why the eco-warriors have adopted the all-purpose bogeyman of “climate change.” But let’s take it that the editors of Time are referring not to the century we live in but the previous one, when there was a measurable rise of temperature of approximately one degree. That’s the “war”: one degree.

If the tree-raising is Iwo Jima, a one-degree increase isn’t exactly Pearl Harbor. But General Stengel wants us to engage in preemptive war. The editors of Time would be the first to deplore such saber-rattling applied to, say, Iran’s nuclear program, but it has become the habit of progressive opinion to appropriate the language of war for everything but actual war.

So let’s cut to the tree. In my corner of New Hampshire, we have more trees than we did a hundred or two hundred years ago. My town is over 90 percent forested. Any more trees and I’d have to hack my way through the undergrowth to get to my copy of Time magazine on the coffee table. Likewise Vermont, where not so long ago in St Albans I found myself stuck behind a Hillary supporter driving a Granolamobile bearing the bumper sticker “TO SAVE A TREE REMOVE A BUSH.” Very funny. And even funnier when you consider that on that stretch of Route Seven there’s nothing to see north, south, east, or west but maple, hemlock, birch, pine, you name it. It’s on every measure other than tree cover that Vermont’s kaput.

So where exactly do Time magazine’s generals want to plant their tree? Presumably, as in Iwo Jima, on foreign soil. It’s all these third-world types monkeying around with their rain forests who decline to share the sophisticated Euro-American reverence for the tree. In the Time iconography, the tree is Old Glory and it’s a flag of eco-colonialism.

And which obscure island has it been planted on? In Haiti, the Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was removed from office on April 12. Insofar as history will recall him at all, he may have the distinction of being the first head of government to fall victim to “global warming” — or, at any rate, the “war on global warming” that Time magazine is gung-ho for. At least five people have been killed in food riots in Port-au-Prince. Prices have risen 40 percent since last summer and, as Deroy Murdock reported, some citizens are now subsisting on biscuits made from salt, vegetable oil and (mmmm) dirt. Dirt cookies: Nutritious, tasty, and affordable? Well, one out of three ain’t bad.

Unlike “global warming,” food rioting is a planet-wide phenomenon, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Ivory Coast to the tortilla rampages in Mexico and even pasta protests in Italy.

So what happened?

Well, Western governments listened to the eco-warriors, and introduced some of the “wartime measures” they’ve been urging. The EU decreed that 5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from “biofuels” by 2010, rising to 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. added to its 51 cents-per-gallon ethanol subsidy by mandating a five-fold increase in “biofuels” production by 2022.

The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you’ve suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it’s not “you” who’s got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.

Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that to date the “carbon debt” created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse.

The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized: “The production of biofuel is devastating huge swathes of the world’s environment. So why on earth is the Government forcing us to use more of it?”

You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here’s the self-same Independent in November 2005:

At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a ‘biofuel obligation’ on oil companies... This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol…

Etc. It’s not the environmental movement’s chickenfeedhawks who’ll have to reap what they demand must be sown, but we should be in no doubt about where to place the blame — on the bullying activists and their media cheerleaders and weathervane politicians who insist that the “science” is “settled” and that those who query whether there’s any crisis are (in the designation of the strikingly non-emaciated Al Gore) “denialists.” All three presidential candidates have drunk the environmental kool-ethanol and are committed to Big Government solutions. But, as the Independent’s whiplash-inducing U-turn confirms, the eco-scolds are under no such obligation to consistency. Finger-in-the-wind politicians shouldn’t be surprised to find that gentle breeze is from the media wind turbine and it’s just sliced your finger off.

Whether or not there’s very slight global cooling or very slight global warming, there’s no need for a “war” on either, no rationale for loosing a plague of eco-locusts on the food supply. So why be surprised that totalitarian solutions to mythical problems wind up causing real devastation? As for Time’s tree, by all means put it up: It helps block out the view of starving peasants on the far horizon.

from The New York Sun, April 28th 2008

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The End of Free Speech in England

As a lifelong Anglophile, this saddens me. As an American who sees the roots of the same lack of respect for basic freedoms and PC idiocy here, it pisses me off.

BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely.

There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.

Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology". Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.

The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".

In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government's anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: "If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you." Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: "If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings." It took him five years to clear his name.

Page was at least an adult. In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

A 10-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge, for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boya "Paki" and "bin Laden" during a playground argument at a primary school (the other boy had called him a skunk and a Teletubby). When it reached the court the case had cost taxpayers pound stg. 25,000. The accused was so distressed that he had stopped attending school. The judge, Jonathan Finestein, said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. This is nonsense."

Finestein was fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders, as in those witch-hunt trials where any who spoke in defence of an accused or pointed to defects in the prosecution were immediately targeted as witches and candidates for burning.

Hate-crime police investigated Basil Brush, a puppet fox on children's television, who had made a joke about Gypsies. The BBC confessed that Brush had behaved inappropriately and assured police that the episode would be banned.

A bishop was warned by the police for not having done enough to "celebrate diversity", the enforcing of which is now apparently a police function. A Christian home for retired clergy and religious workers lost a grant because it would not reveal to official snoopers how many of the residents were homosexual. That they had never been asked was taken as evidence of homophobia.

Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

There have been innumerable cases in recent months of people in schools, hospitals and other institutions losing their jobs because of various religious scruples, often, as in the East Germany of yore, not shouted fanatically from the rooftops but betrayed in private conversations and reported to authorities. The crime of one nurse was to offer to pray for a patient, who did not complain but merely mentioned the matter to another nurse. A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class, faces the sack for seeking support from her church. A private email from her to other members of the church asking for prayers fell into the hands of school authorities.

Permissiveness as well as draconianism can be deployed to destroy socially accepted norms and values. The Royal Navy, for instance, has installed a satanist chapel in a warship to accommodate the proclivities of a satanist crew member. "What would Nelson have said?" is a British newspaper cliche about navy scandals, but in this case seems a legitimate question. Satanist paraphernalia is also supplied to prison inmates who need it.

This campaign seems to come from unelected or quasi-governmental bodies controlling various institutions, which are more or less unanswerable to electors, more than it does directly from the Government, although the Government helps drive it and condones it in a fudged and deniable manner.

Any one of these incidents might be dismissed as an aberration, but taken together - and I have only mentioned a tiny sample; more are reported almost every day - they add up to a pretty clear picture.