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>Japan’s nuclear non-story

>On 11 March a once in a lifetime magnitude 9.1 earthquake sent a wall of water hurtling towards Japan that would destroys hundreds of thousands of homes and take tens of thousands of lives.

By any definition, it’s a calamity.

What has also been a calamity has been the reporting. From the time it was announced that the nuclear power plant at Fukushima had been damaged the focus of the media turned from the massive human tragedy to overblown hysteria about the possibility of a nuclear meltdown and radiation throughout the world.

Even the normally reliable The Australian newspaper has fallen for the anti-nuclear agitprop:

People are in dire need and yet this is the sort of drivel we get.

To be clear: there is zero, zip, zilch, nada, nil, none, no problem for anyone living anywhere in the world outside of the perimeter of the compound itself. None.

I happened to have dinner with a scientist who is expert on these matters and helps oversee nuclear safety in Australia a week or so after the tsunami in Japan and he was even more apoplectic than I was (which I didn’t think was possible) about the media’s reporting.

Even my old mum asked me about what was going to happen when I was driving her home one day. She was genuinely surprised that I said it was all hooey and no problem for anyone other than the plant operators and, politically, the government.

Such is the media hype and scaremongering that even the most senior Japanese politicians have to be seen to be on top of the nuclear plant issue and ‘doing something’ to protect the citizens. To ‘do nothing’, even though nothing needs to be done, is to commit political harakiri.

The tragedy is twofold.

Firstly, the Japanese government’s attention is taken away, even for a short time, from the real task at hand and that is helping the people affected by the tsunami.

Secondly, those people who need help most from all over the world are not getting it due to the blanket media coverage of the nuclear non-event.

I agree with those who reckon that Fukushima will put back the nuclear debate in Australia by 10 years, such is the public’s lack of understanding of the reality of nuclear power.

However, what a fantastic example of the true safety of nuclear power we have seen. Faced with an earthquake of much higher magnitude than engineers ever anticipated and a tsunami nearly twice as high (10m vs 5.5m or so) as what the plant was designed for the thing still shut down in an orderly manner, minimising the possibility of a large problem. Certainly, there have been problems that have needed dealing with. Given the scale of the problem that hit them it’s hardly surprising.

But does the media tell us how remarkable a story this is of nuclear safety? No. Instead we get hysteria that radiation levels are 100,000 times normal while at the same time ignoring the fact that it’s still many orders of magnitude below the level needed to cause a problem.

It’s yet another example of how deeply the left’s messages and propaganda have seeped into society that normally rational people would be so concerned by what is only a serious local issue.

(Nothing Follows)


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Categories: Japan, Media, Politics

>Thomas Friedman writes one of the great speeches

October 13, 2009 1 comment

>Thomas Friedman is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of US political commentators. He takes an almost European approach to domestic matters while being a traditional Kennedy Liberal on international affairs.

To read Friedman on domestic affairs is almost as cringeworthy as reading Maureen Dowd; he is in lock step with the Democrat left on health care, global warming, social security and taxes. His articles lack depth, intellectual rigour and, most disturbingly, the support of hard evidence, relying more on emotion than logic.

Once he’s taken his medicine, however, and turns his attention to matters beyond the US mainland then he becomes a serious, deep and impressive thinker. I might disagree with him on some of his foreign policy solutions but I can’t fault him on his thought process.

Every man and his dog has had a crack at the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for not only making an ass of itself for awarding the prize to President Obama but also for diminishing the meaning of the award, yet again, so that it is now even more meaningless than it was after being given to Al Gore.

Friedman weighs in with the speech that the president should give at the acceptance ceremony. It is one of the great pieces of (speech)writing of modern times.

“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army,Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi fascism. I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers and sailors who fought on the high seas and forlorn islands in the Pacific to free East Asia from Japanese tyranny in the Second World War.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American airmen who in June 1948 broke the Soviet blockade of Berlin with an airlift of food and fuel so that West Berliners could continue to live free. I will accept this award on behalf of the tens of thousands of American soldiers who protected Europe from Communist dictatorship throughout the 50 years of the cold war.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American men and women who are still on patrol today in Iraq, helping to protect Baghdad’s fledgling government as it tries to organize the rarest of things in that country and that region — another free and fair election.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the thousands of American soldiers who today help protect a free and Democratic South Korea from an unfree and Communist North Korea.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American men and women soldiers who have gone on repeated humanitarian rescue missions after earthquakes and floods from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia. I will accept this award on behalf of American soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping force in the Sinai desert that has kept relations between Egypt and Israel stable ever since the Camp David treaty was signed.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American airmen and sailors today who keep the sea lanes open and free in the Pacific and Atlantic so world trade can flow unhindered between nations.

“Finally, I will accept this award on behalf of my grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who arrived at Normandy six weeks after D-Day, and on behalf of my great-uncle, Charlie Payne, who was among those soldiers who liberated part of the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald.

“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers.

“Until the words of Isaiah are made true and lasting — and nations never again lift up swords against nations and never learn war anymore — we will need peacekeepers. Lord knows, ours are not perfect, and I have already moved to remedy inexcusable excesses we’ve perpetrated in the war on terrorism.

“But have no doubt, those are the exception. If you want to see the true essence of America, visit any U.S. military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will meet young men and women of every race and religion who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom.

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”

Give the man his credit. That is one terrific piece of writing. It is even suited to the president’s style of speech.

There has been no greater force for peace than the US military. If you disagree then you need to name what group has done more to achieve peace, not talk about it or simply wish it were so.

I hope that by December President Obama has made the tough decisions he needs to in order to succeed in Afghanistan, which would then make giving this speech even more effective.

(Nothing Follows)

>Time Magazine 1980 – Is Capitalism Working?

>How’s the saying go?

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.

Something like that, anyway.

Thanks for the most part to Jimmy Carter’s inept presidency, America’s economy was in dire strait some 29 years ago.

Naturally, instead of blaming Keynesian economic policies, unsound monetary policy or reckless fiscal policy, Time magazine chose to question that one thing that the talking heads in the media always give a kicking to when things are down – capitalism.

Sound familiar?

Check out the cover of Time’s April 21, 1980, edition:

The article itself is somewhat less bearish than the attention grabbing cover.

Capitalism: Is It Working…? Of Course, but…

In an age of economic anxiety, real and rising concerns about whether free enterprise can surmount the problems of inflation, energy and productivity.

The relentless daily pounding of dismal news drives deeper the public’s conviction that the economy is in a profound and morose crisis. Feverish inflation, previously a rare malady limited primarily to wartime, has become chronic. Price spurts once associated with profligate banana republics are now common to North America and Western Europe and threaten the foundations of democratic societies. With every sign showing that prices in the U.S. will continue soaring even as the nation begins slumping into recession, President Carter, his re-election jeopardized by the economy more than by anything else, is stuck in an economic morass.

The litany of U.S. economic woes at times seems endless. Week after week, interest rates crack new records; home owners face 17% mortgages, and companies confront 20% business loans. Energy, the oxygen of industrial life, has become so costly and politically controlled that the U.S. can no longer be certain of enough fuel to keep its factories running and homes heated. The output of goods per hour worked has stagnated. From 1948 to 1973, the productivity of American employees increased 2.9% annually, thus permitting steadily higher real wages and higher standards of living. Last year productivity dropped .9%. The real median income of American families jumped 64% from 1950 to 1970, but has crawled up by less than 1% a year in the past decade. Weekly real take-home pay has been declining for two years. That gauge of American economic health, the stock market, has been sharply depressed.

Amid all this, the Carter Administration has appeared paralyzed and unable to cope with problems that it does not fully understand. Quips Alfred Kahn, the hapless presidential anti-inflation adviser: “Anybody who isn’t schizophrenic these days just isn’t thinking clearly.”

While these travails are felt most acutely in the U.S., the situation is common to nearly all Western nations. Since the mid-1970s, industrial economies have grown about as well as wheat in a drought, while inflation has expanded dangerously. Even countries that have adapted best to recent economic problems, notably West Germany and Japan, suffer inflation or slow growth. The world money system that functioned like a Swiss watch for a quarter-century has been sending off alarms. Gold, the barbarous relic that Shakespeare called the “common whore of mankind,” has become the refuge for a world fearful of returning to an economic jungle.

As industrialized and developing nations meet the challenges of the new economic era, they must choose between two essentially different economic systems: the market economy and the command economy. Neither exists in pure form. They overlap, and there are myriad variations within each model. But the difference between them is basic. In market economies the principal business decisions are taken by individuals, who freely exchange their goods or services. In the command economy, the state makes the fundamental business decisions.

Capitalism, the system that relies on the maximum use of free markets and the minimum of government controls, is today being challenged as at no time since the Great Depression. On all sides the haunting questions arise: Is capitalism working well enough? Can the system suffer and survive these problems? Can it be repaired or is it fatally flawed?

One might be tempted to say: What else is new? The free enterprise system has been constantly questioned and condemned ever since that absent-minded Scots professor Adam Smith, another revolutionary of 1776, enunciated its basic philosophy. But today’s doubts are deeper and the assaults more virulent. They come not only from capitalism’s old critics but from its longtime champions. Leftist Economist Robert Lekachman of the City University of New York declares: “The central economic fact of our day is the declining vitality and élan of capitalism and capitalists.” And Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca also says: “Free enterprise has gone to hell.”

Read the rest here.

Capitalism’s resilience has been remarkable in spite of serious assaults by government bureaucracies around the world.

How many standards boards are there?

In a free market you wouldn’t need any.

How would you know a butcher serves clean meat? Because people still shop there. If he didn’t then the market would know that and he’d go out of business.

How many regulations are there? Tax rules? Taxes?

And yet, despite massive inefficiency in government spending programs, capitalism has been able to keep free economies alive.

Viva La Capitalism!

Long may it continue to lift people out of poverty the world over.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Economics, Media

>Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is a cry baby

>Apparently, Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is wetting his bed over the thought that his fellow Australians might think somewhat less of him for so enthusiastically promoting the idea of an Internet filter.

Is Conroy a youngest child?

You know the type – the ones that used to go crying to their mother because their older siblings did what older siblings have done for time immemorial – held him down and farted on his head.


Senator Conroy reflects on the extra methane he breathed in as a kid

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Federal Government will begin trawling blog sites as part of a new media monitoring strategy, with official documents singling out a website critical of the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy.

Tender documents issued by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy reveal it is looking for a “monitoring service for print and electronic media”. The department later attached a clarification confirming this included “blogs such as Whirlpool”.

Whirlpool has strongly criticised Senator Conroy’s plan to filter internet content and his handling of the Government’s $15 billion national broadband network. It is a community-run forum devoted to discussing broadband internet access.

Senator Conroy’s spokesman said: “Whirlpool … covers a wide range of topics across the telecommunications sector. It and other web sites provide valuable insight into the industries in which we work.”

Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin claimed it was “extreme” to expand media monitoring activities to blogs.

“Blogs such as Whirlpool provide an open forum … and do play an important role in our democracy. Moves to monitor this space seem an unacceptable use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Not only are we going to suffer slower Internet speed due to the government’s filter that is supposed to block child pornography, bomb making sites and the like but we now get a huge does of Big Brotherism as the government targets its politic opponents.

Folks, this is Australia.

We’re meant to have a free society.

Why is it always the left that uses the power of the state to impinge upon free speech?

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Media, Politics

>John Stewart spots Obama’s similarity to George W Bush

January 22, 2009 1 comment

>You know, I don’t care that John Stewart is a lefty, that he spent eight years making fun of the way George W Bush speaks (and badly, I always thought) or that he asks a dopey question the other day about why Israel can’t be criticised in the media (proving that he doesn’t actually read the media; but that’s another story).

He is a funny guy and The Daily Show is generally great viewing.

He also has at least a modicum of honesty, which he displays here in a very funny and biting look at Obama’s inauguration speech.

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Obama’s first official call was to terrorist Fatah leader Abbas.

He then signed an order to close Gitmo but is going to take his time doing it. What odds can I get that it’s still open in a year?

Surely, that’s going to give John Stewart more material to work with, as will the massive Porkathon disguised as a stimulus package.

Let’s hope he continues to skewer those things that deserve skewering.

(Nothing Follows)


Categories: Media, Politics, United States

>Proof that media bias is as prevalent as ever

October 30, 2008 Leave a comment

>When I discuss media bias with my left wing friends and, unfortunately, family members they look at me and ask what the heck I’m talking about and then generally carry on about media bias being yet another right wing conspiracy theory.


Because these people agree with what the papers write and, critically, do not understand where the political middle is, they come to the false conclusion that newspapers present a fair and balanced view of the world.

Frontpagemag’s John Perazzo tells us what is obvious to anyone with even the most basic analytical skills.

During the 2008 presidential election, even center-left observers have noted the unmistakable bias of the prestige news media toward Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party in general. As we shall reveal, the bias of the media is pervasive, ideologically motivated, and quantifiable: that is, it has been admitted, measured, and analyzed in statistical terms. Those results reveal a media doggedly out-of-touch with the political center and tilted decidedly leftward.

One of the most striking aspects of the current presidential campaign is the news media’s assault on Sarah Palin. The Republican vice presidential candidate has been portrayed as a ditzy know-nothing; a Christian fanatic who uses her office to vengefully carry out personal vendettas and who may even have faked her motherhood of her son Trig. From the media coverage of Palin, readers and viewers would never know that she effectively ran an important state, or that she had the highest voter-approval ratings of any governor in the U.S.

But the double standards of the media in their election coverage are as striking as their bias. Scant attention has been paid to the litany of idiocies that have flowed from the tongue of Palin’s vice-presidential opponent, Joe Biden. Some lowlights include the following:

  • Biden exhorted a wheelchair-bound state senator at a Missouri campaign rally to stand up and take a bow;
  • He told interviewer Katie Couric that in times of crisis, it was incumbent upon the U.S president “to demonstrate that he or she knows what they are talking about,” in the tradition of President FDR, whom he said “got on the television” to allay Americans’ fears “when the stock market crashed” in 1929. Of course, Herbert Hoover was president at the time (FDR would not take office until early 1933), and TV would not be introduced to the public until 1939;
  • At a pair of October fundraisers, Biden advised supporters to “gird your loins” because, within six months after Barack Obama’s inauguration, an adversary somewhere in the world would undoubtedly manufacture a “crisis” in order to “test” the young president “like they did John Kennedy”;
  • During his debate with Sarah Palin, Biden stated authoritatively: “Vice President Cheney…doesn’t realize that Article One of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the executive – he works in the executive branch. He should understand that.” But in fact, Article One of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch of government, not the executive branch; and
  • At a recent campaign appearance, Biden said that John McCain’s “last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack [Obama] says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.”

None of these gaffes are important. But neither is Gov. Palin’s wardrobe. And unlike her new clothes, Biden’s slips – like the reporting of his infamous plagiarism of a speech by British Labor leader Neil Kinnock in his abortive 1988 presidential run, a plagiarism so thorough that it resembled identity theft – received little mention in the mainstream media.

As they say, read the whole thing, as it really does put the media bias argument to rest.


(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Media, Politics

>EU wants to ban ‘sexist’ advertising

September 7, 2008 Leave a comment

>EU regulators must have too much time on their hands to be considering a ban on so called sexist advertisements…

MEPs want TV regulators in the EU to set guidelines which would see the end of anything deemed to portray women as sex objects or reinforce gender stereotypes.

This could potentially mean an end to attractive women advertising perfume, housewives in the kitchen or men doing DIY.

Such classic adverts as the Diet Coke commercial featuring the bare-chested builder, or Wonderbra’s “Hello Boys” featuring model Eva Herzigova would have been banned.

The new rules come in a report by the EU’s women’s rights committee.

Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson urged Britain and other members to use existing equality, sexism and discrimination laws to control advertising.

She wants regulatory bodies set up to monitor ads and introduce a “zero-tolerance” policy against “sexist insults or degrading images”.

Ms Svensson said: “Gender stereotyping in advertising straitjackets women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed down for both sexes.”

She added: “Gender stereotyping in advertising is one of several factors that have a big influence in efforts to make society more gender equal.

“When women and men are portrayed in a stereotypical way the consequence may be that it becomes difficult in other contexts to see women and men’s resources and abilities.”

The Advertising Standards Authority however had said there are already checks in place to prevent “discriminatory or harmful” material.

A spokesman said: “Although the ASA supports the overall objectives of the report… the approach suggested is inflexible and impractical.”

What sort of ads could actually be shown if such a ridiculous idea was implemented?

Would PETA want animal ads banned? Ads for meat and milk banned?

Would the Climate Faithful want ads for motor cars banned? Air travel? Tourism?

The totalitarian instinct of the left is on clear display for all to see.

After half a century of living under the protection of the United States’ military Europe seems to have bred people who have no idea of what’s important.

(Nothing Follows)


Categories: Europe, Media, Politics