Archive for November, 2007

>United Nations states that CO2 emissions are not that dangerous

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

>The United Nations is promoting a CO2 reduction position for the Bali negotiations that allows the world’s largest emitter, China, and sometime in the not so distant future top emitter, India, off the economy-limiting hook.

In pushing this position the UN demonstrates that emitting CO2 is, in fact, not dangerous. Why else would they not impose the same requirement on all countries?

Substitute CO2 emissions for mercury or lead being pumped into rivers and the ocean. Does it make sense to allow China and India, or any other country, a position in which toxic waste is pumped willy nilly into the water system?

Of course not.

Obviously, emitting CO2 can’t be that bad…

China and India should be spared the full burden of fighting climate change, the United Nations said on Tuesday in an agenda-setting report published just days ahead of an intergovernmental conference to agree to a successor to the Kyoto protocols.

The report of the UN Development Programme recommends that countries such as China and India should be required to reduce their emissions by only 20 per cent by 2050, while the rich industrialised countries shoulder a cut of 80 per cent.

The report will provide ammunition for developing countries wishing to avoid adopting stringent targets on emissions. China, India and others have argued that rich countries should carry more responsibility for the climate because most of the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere came from the growth of their industry.

But the White House made it clear at international meetings on climate change in September that it would not sign up to any agreement that did not include China and the other developing nations going through rapid industrialisation.

Heated discussions over the share of the burden that each country should take for cutting emissions are likely to be the main focus of UN talks on climate change beginning next week in Bali, Indonesia. The talks, the most important since the Kyoto protocol was drafted in 1997, will mark the first negotiations on a potential successor to the treaty, the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

The report estimates that the world needs to spend about 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product each year until 2030 in order to prevent emissions rising to dangerous levels. Developed countries should aim to cut their emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, the UNDP report said.

In a sign of the scale of the task facing ministers at Bali the report also risked opening old wounds by questioning whether the carbon-trading system established at Kyoto was less effective at reducing emissions than a straightforward carbon tax – such as the one proposed on Tuesday by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in Beijing.

Kevin Watkins, lead author of the report, said: “Cap-and-trade is not particularly working. We need to develop the strategy into a carbon tax.”

Emissions trading finally started under the Kyoto protocol in 2005, and last year the market was worth about $30bn, according to the World Bank. Most of the transactions took place under the European Union’s emissions trading system, which was designed to help EU member states meet their commitments to cut emissions under the protocol.

Mr Watkins told the Financial Times: “If the rich countries can cut emissions by 80 per cent we have a 50:50 chance of [limiting] temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels [which scientists say is the limit of safety].”

The UN’s report came as internet search company Google supplied fresh evidence of investor enthusiasm for low-carbon technology by saying that it would branch out into renewable energy.

>Christmas greetings – a powerful example of the influence of the cultural left

November 28, 2007 4 comments

>There are few more powerful examples of the influence of the cultural left than the replacement of “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings”. Ostensibly it’s to ensure that people from minority religions are not offended. In reality it’s simply an attack on Christianity and Judeo-Christian values.

When Muslims in Western countries demand concession due to cultural sensitivities they know they do so in an environment in which they enjoy the support of leftist institutions including the media, university, advocacy groups and political parties.

Examples of concessions made on cultural and religious grounds include:

  • Replacement of “Merry Christmas” etc with non-aligned terms
  • Footbaths for Muslims in various universities
  • Support for Muslim taxi drivers to not have to pick up people with alcohol, guide dogs etc
  • Halal menus at various education institutions, which have replaced normal menus
  • Realignment of toilets in Britain’s prisons so that they don’t face Mecca (one wonders which way toilets in Mecca face)
  • Introduction by banks of Sharia-compliant loans
  • Redefinition of racism to include a non-race – Islam

The fact that concessions for Islam make up nearly all of the list either shows a bias on this author’s behalf or demonstrates the success they’re having with their demands. If someone can show me the same cultural kow-towing to Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs or Zoroastrians etc then I’ll be happy to update the list.

When a Westerner travels to, let’s use an extreme example to make the point, Saudi Arabia then should the Saudis allow women to drive, wear what they like and not having everyone pray towards Mecca five times a day because it’s likely to offend other cultures?

Of course not, it’s ridiculous, and proves the moral bankruptcy of the self-defined cultural elites whose agenda is simply to subvert Western cultural values in order to impose one-world socialism.

From a recent Rasmussen Reports poll:

As the holiday season begins, 67% of American adults like stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 26% prefer the Happy Holidays line.

There is no gender gap on this question and few demographic differences. From a politically partisan perspective, 88% of Republicans prefer “Merry Christmas” while just 57% of Democrats favor the saying.

Heading into Thanksgiving week, only 27% say they have begun their Christmas or holiday shopping . Consumer confidence among American consumers has been sliding in recent months, giving retailers a cloudy profit forecast in 2007. Most Americans say they plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year. Rasmussen Reports will be updating those figures throughout the holiday season.

Meanwhile, 57% of respondents say they will attend a Christian service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year. A little less than one-third (30%) won’t go to a special service. Women are more likely to attend a Christmas service than men.

Why is it that when two-thirds of the population supports retaining a cultural institution their wishes are completely discounted in the name of cultural equivalence?

When the left talks about a Culture War who is it that is doing the attacking and who is it that is doing the defending?

(Nothing follows)

Categories: Culture, Politics

>Phoning overseas in North Korea earns you the death penalty

November 28, 2007 Leave a comment

>The concentration camp known as North Korea demonstrates its terrific respect for human rights, as codified in the United Nations’ Charter.

The blathering multiculturalists who tell us that all cultures are equal and that we have to respect others’ values are quiet when North Koreans execute people for making overseas phone calls but if foreigners ever come to Australia then the same group noisily protests that it’s a woman’s ‘right’ to wear the veil or dress up like an organic mailbox by donning a full burqa.

A North Korean factory chief was executed by a firing squad in front of a stadium of 150,000 people after being accused of making international phone calls, an aid group reports.

The man had been caught calling overseas on 13 phones he had installed and hidden away in a factory basement, the South Korean aid agency Good Friends said in a report on the North’s human rights.

A massive crowd of 150,000 filled a stadium and watched the man die.

Despite an overall decline since 2000, public executions have recently been on the increase and officials accused of drug smuggling, embezzlement and other crimes are the main targets.

In the same incident, six people were crushed to death and 34 others were injured as people stampeded out of the stadium.

So what caused the stampede? Ironically, more people were killed exiting the event than were actually being executed in the first place.

Most North Koreans are banished from communicating with the outside world because of the country’s regime that seeks to prevent any possibility of challenge to leader Kim Jong Il.

The North has carried out four other similar executions to various other factory chiefs in the past few months, the group reported.

“It is aimed at educating (North Koreans) to control society and prevent crimes,” Good Friends head Venerable Pomnyun said.

No wonder the left doesn’t make much noise. “…control society…” is what they’re all about and they all have a totalitarian streak a mile wide.

The group has not said how it obtained the information and has given no details of how many executions have taken place.

The report comes just a week after a UN General Assembly Committee adopted a draft resolution expressing concern at reports of maltreatment and human rights violations in North Korea.

Hands up anyone who thinks that the UN is anything other than morally bankrupt when it treats regimes like North Korea not only with kid gloves but also to handouts of millions of aid dollars – in cash.

The country has blasted the report, however, saying it is inaccurate and biased.

They say they do not violate human rights but the regime has long been accused of imposing the death penalty for political reasons, torturing border-crossers and restricting freedom on expression and religion.

People eat bark off the trees to survive but they don’t violate human rights. No worries.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: United Nations

>Union gold means union rules

November 26, 2007 Leave a comment

>Having paid millions of dollars to ensure a Labor win in last Saturday’s Australian election, union bosses are already looking for payback in the form very favourable, pro-union industrial relations changes.

This is a real issue for Kevin Rudd, as the resulting workforce inflexibility will both severely restrict Australia’s ability to compete on the world stage and lead to extremely difficult circumstances for Australian families should there be a world economic downturn in the same way that Bob Hawke’s union Accord caused so much misery during the ‘recession we had to have’.

If Rudd can keep the unions from wrecking things, which Labor’s pre-election IR policies would achieve, then Australia should continue to prosper.

It will be a good test of his leadership.

THE ACTU has claimed credit for snaring 24 marginal Coalition seats for Labor in Saturday’s federal election after a campaign that targeted at least 240,000 union members.

The boast by Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow yesterday was a strong reminder to Kevin Rudd that unions expect full restoration of rights, such as collective bargaining, as a reward for theirsupport.

Ms Burrow said the ACTU’s battle plan in 25 marginal seats, including a computer program to recruit members to help in the fight, was largely responsible for Labor’s historic win.

Her comments came amid the revelation that unions planned to continue their fight if necessary, this time against Labor, with a million-dollar “war chest”.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson, critical of the prime minister-elect for not recognising the union role in Labor’s victory, told The Australian: “We always said we were going to keep the campaign going after the election. One reason we’ve seen the government pass such extreme laws is that people were not organised in workplaces, and we’re never going to let that happen again.”

Mr Robertson voiced his frustration with Labor in July for watering down its industrial relations policy, telling supporters he would “pull Kevin Rudd on once he’s prime minister”.

Mr Rudd, who told Mr Robertson to “take a cold shower” in July, yesterday rejected the NSW union chief’s push to have Labor abolish the Howard government’s Australian Workplace Agreements retrospectively.

The Labor leader said the party’s revamped industrial relations laws would be a priority, but said: “Mr Robertson is wrong. We will adhere to the implementation agenda of our industrial relations policy as outlined during the election.”

National Union of Workers NSW chief Derrick Belan said Labor could deal with many changes immediately by regulation, and not wait for legislation to be introduced into parliament next year. “(Incoming workplace relations minister) Julia (Gillard) should deal with it immediately,” Mr Belan said.

“Workers backed them and they should keep their promise.”

Mr Belan was also critical of ACTU leaders Ms Burrow and Jeff Lawrence for going soft on Labor by accepting a “step-by-step approach” to changes.

“That’s not an unexpected answer from those two,” he said. “I believe they’re both on their way to parliament.”

Ms Burrow said the ACTU believed its campaign made a big difference to how people voted.

“Clearly the impact was deeper in those seats where we had concerted visibility for up to two years.” She said eight out of 10 people who voted Labor said industrial relations was the number one issue in exit polls.

“Even the government is acknowledging that Work Choices was their downfall.”

Dean Mighell, the outspoken leader of the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria, said he had “no confidence” in Ms Gillard to address union concerns in Labor legislation.

“I think she’s got to win the trust of people who supported her for a long, long time, who might have turned a blind eye to some of the less union-friendly comments she made during the election campaign, and hoped she remembers where she came from and all the people who helped her to get to where she is,” he said.

Categories: Australia, Politics

>Fight climate change OR stay competitive – the two are mutually exclusive

November 26, 2007 Leave a comment

>A good article in The Independent by Dominic Lawson – Fight climate change? Or stay competitive? I’m afraid these two aims are incompatible – demonstrates exactly how (especially) European politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths on the issue of climate change. They know that actually achieving stated targets will pretty much destroy their countries’ economies (which will have a side effect of wrecking the environment as society breaks down) so talk about tough targets while having no desire to see them reached.

Isn’t politics wonderful? Within days of Gordon Brown’s address to the conservation group WWF, in which he pledged eye-wateringly tough reductions in British emissions of Co2, the Government has announced its support for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. “This time he really gets it,” Greenpeace’s executive director had enthused after the Prime Minister’s “Let’s save the polar bear” speech. Yesterday, following the Transport Secretary’s endorsement of BAA’s expansion plans, Greenpeace was back to its default position, spitting ecological tacks.

You might think this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (or possibly the left hand not knowing what the left hand is doing) especially given the Government’s growing reputation for administrative chaos. In fact it is entirely deliberate. The Government both wants to claim “leadership in the fight against climate change” while at the same time it – quite understandably– does not want to do anything which might reduce this country’s international competitiveness. It knows that these two objectives are incompatible – very well, then: it will contradict itself.

Gordon Brown’s commitment to the most stringent reductions in C02 emissions yet announced by a British Prime Minister follows exactly the path set by his predecessor. Mr Blair would, with a great moral fanfare, pledge this nation to achieve some carbon emission target. Then, when it became completely clear that we were not on track to meet it, he would announce – with equal confidence and certainty – not an easier target but an even tougher one than that which we were failing to achieve.

The civil servants who live in the real world of facts and actually have to devise the practical policies to meet these political flourishes have become increasingly panicky. A month ago there was a leak of an especially desperate memo in which officials warned that the previous Prime Minister’s commitment to produce 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 was facing “severe practical difficulties”.

As we know, that is senior civil servant speak for “this will be absolutely impossible.” One of the memos rather plaintively pointed out that if we admitted this publicly and tried to advocate a general lowering of such targets internationally, there would be “a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership”.

Here we see the absurd grandiosity of our global ambitions, partly a legacy of Tony Blair’s messianic approach, but which is to some extent a characteristic of the British political class as a whole. More than half a century since the collapse of the British Empire, our leaders still seem to think that what we do or say is as important in the eyes of the rest of the world as it was when we really did rule the waves. It is a grotesque vanity, economically as well as politically.

It has been written often enough that any likely reduction in Co2 emissions from our own generation of electricity is not just sub-microscopic in terms of any measurable effect on the climate: the People’s Republic of China is now opening two new coal-fired power stations every week. Real “climate change leadership” would be developing “clean coal” technology and selling it to the Chinese – but for some reason that does not fascinate politicians in the way that targets do. It is insufficiently heroic.

We can see the same national self-obsession in the debate over the environmental consequences of opening a third runway at Heathrow: last year China announced plans to expand 73 of its airports and build 42 new ones. Yes, the British government could demonstrate “increased climate change leadership” by blocking BAA’s plans to build another runway at Heathrow. Does anyone seriously imagine that the consequence of further congestion and delays will be something other than a transfer of traffic from that airport to others in the immediate vicinity, such as Charles de Gaulle, which already has much more capacity?

For those on the provisional wing of the British environmental movement, arguments about a loss of business to other countries are irrelevant. They would insist that this complaint makes no more sense than saying that it’s necessary to sell arms to unpleasant dictatorships because if we don’t, other countries will, to the benefit of their own economies.

If, like George Monbiot, you regard flying as morally equivalent to “child abuse”, then, yes, the executives of BAA should be thrown in jail ( after a fair show trial, of course) and never be let out. As for any recession deriving from a closing down of Heathrow – pah! A recession would be a good thing, since it would lead to further reductions in Co2 emissions.

I accept that there will be many sensible people living in the area around the Heathrow Terminals who will not welcome the increase in planes taking off and landing. On the other hand, there has been an aerodrome at Heathrow since the 1930s and the first Terminal was opened by the Queen in 1955: that is to say, there are unlikely to be many home-owners living in the Heathrow area who bought under the impression that he or she would enjoy peace and quiet. Doubtless the property prices there reflect that fact.

Anyway, why worry about airports when we are going to ban the plastic bag? That, you will recall, was the “eye-catching initiative” within Mr Brown’s WWF speech. It was artfully designed to capture the headlines in the popular press, and duly did so. The Prime Minister declared that we should “eliminate single-use plastic bags altogether in favour of more sustainable alternatives.” Perhaps, since Mr Brown argued that fighting climate change was the political challenge for the younger generation, students should already have been marching on Whitehall with placards declaring “Ban the Bag.”

The only problem with that is that plastic bags, though undeniably irritating when left lying around, are essentially the by-product, rather than the cause, of fossil fuel generation. Approximately 98 per cent of every barrel of oil, once refined, is consumed as petrol or diesel. If the remaining two per cent of naphtha was not used for packaging, it would almost certainly be flared off – which is pure waste.

Paper bags have the reputation of being environmentally sounder, but I don’t see how this can be justified. They require significantly more space in landfill, being much less compressible – and don’t they come from trees, which we are meant to be preserving as capturers of Co2? Besides, if the plastic bag is to be banned, what are we going to use to line our rubbish bins? We need to know the answer to such important questions, Prime Minister, before we allow you to put us forward as the saviours of the planet.

Categories: Climate Change

>Sunday night Aussie rock

November 25, 2007 Leave a comment

>Australia has a new federal government and that gives the opportunity to post some Aussie songs by activist left wing bands and performers. There are a heap more of those than conservative bands, of course, so I’ll probably miss a big hit from the following short list. Naturally, there has to be an entry from Midnight Oil, which featured our minister for the environment in waiting, Peter Garrett, on vocals.

Goanna – Solid Rock

Redgum – I Was Only Nineteen

Midnight Oil – Hercules

The Whitlams – No Aphrodisiac

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Music

>Congratulations to the Australian Labor Party

November 24, 2007 Leave a comment

>Congratulations to the Australian Labor Party for winning the Australian Federal Election.

The seat count looks something like:

Labor: 84
Coalition: 64
Independent: 2

After 11 years out of power Labor supporters can now spend the next few days whooping it up and having a good time, as they deserve to do and they’ll be absolutely loving the fact that it looks like they’ve knocked off the Prime Minister in his seat of Bennelong.

As discussed yesterday, Labor has run an absolutely brilliant campaign compared to the Coalition’s ramshackle, feckless effort.

If Labor can match the outgoing Coalition government’s record then Australia will continue to prosper.

I wish them all the best in this endeavour.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Politics

>Aussie election – FINAL betting market info

November 23, 2007 Leave a comment

>Betting is now closed on the Australian federal election and according to all of the markets the opposition Labor Party is headed for victory.

Here’s the final graph of the market over the course of the election campaign:

Coalition: $3.58 Labor $1.31

The final bookies’ market making up the composite graph above is:

You can see how the market has gone against the Coalition since their early-campaign mini recovery.

Over the last 7-10 days the seat by seat betting at Portlandbet has moved in Labor’s favour with the following being the final prediction:

Coalition: 66
Labor: 82
Independent: 2

Implied uniform swing: Labor: +5.7%
Implied two party preferred vote: Labor 53.0%

As soon as possible after the election I’ll post a comparison of the outcome of each seat compared to expectation of the seat by seat market.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Politics

>Coalition to sneak home in Australian election with the help of miners and old folk

November 23, 2007 1 comment

>Nobody has ever accused me of not being ready to give my opinion on the big issues. This time, I’m really putting my neck on the line by giving the election to the government, as I have since it was called. My seat count is as follows:

Coalition   76
Labor 72
Independent 2

All of the polls show a Labor victory with only the Galaxy poll giving the government a chance. That’s handy, as Galaxy has proved itself to be the most reliable of the forecasters. On the flip side, the betting markets always tend to prove accurate – with the famous exception of the Kennett government’s loss – and Portlandbet’s seat by seat market has it Labor 82, Coalition 66, Independent 2.

There is one parameter that has gone largely unreported in this election cycle – the grey vote. It is my understanding that the old folk stopped answering the phone or opening the door some weeks ago in what is the most polled election in history.

The grey vote tends to go to the Coalition. If it breaks Labor’s way then there’s no hope of the government being returned.

My calculation is that the grey vote will go with the Coalition.

It’s not guaranteed that Labor will pick up any seats in Victoria. If the grey vote goes as predicted then that should be enough to maintain the status quo.

The Coalition may well pick up a seat in WA. Even so, it’s very likely that they’ll retain their numbers there on the back of the mining boom. Never has the phrase “Go west to make your fortune” been more true.

I still think that Queensland is problematic for Labor and, again, I think it’s the grey vote that may do them in. NSW and SA look like being the states where the most damage will be inflicted on the Coalition.

That said, whoever has been running the Labor campaign deserves a hearty congratulations. Never in the history of this country (or any other, I imagine) has a campaign worked so well by hitting the targets that need hitting, dodging the issues that needed dodging and presenting a friendly, non-threatening face to the electorate.

On the other side of the aisle, a huge brickbat for the team running the Coalition election campaign. It’s as if they’ve hired Gary Gray to give them advice. If the polls do stand up and they’re defeated then they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.

Categories: Australia, Politics

>Aussie election 6 bookie poll

November 23, 2007 2 comments

>Composite price comprising odds from: Betfair, Centrebet, IAS, Sportingbet, Sportsbet and SportsAcumen. Lower on the graph is better. For a much more comprehensive analysis trot over to The Oz Politics Blog.

Coalition: $3.69 Labor $1.30

Portlandbet seat by seat betting market predictions:

Coalition: 66
Labor: 82
Independent: 2

Implied uniform swing: Labor: +5.7%
Implied two party preferred vote: Labor 53.0%

Categories: Australia, Politics