Thursday, June 30, 2005


Kofi Annan has asked the US to consider sending troops to Haiti. There's a very simple reason why:
[Annan] expressed hope that the United States would participate in a planned U.N. rapid reaction force, authorized by the Security Council earlier this month, that would have the firepower to intimidate armed gangs threatening the country's fragile political transition. Officials said that similar requests are being considered for other countries, including Canada and France. "We want scarier troops," one senior U.N. official said.
Surely the Canadians and French are scary enough. On second thought ...


The UN has reacted to rumours the US is holding terrorist suspects on secret gulag ships:
The UN's special investigator on terrorism Manfred Nowak said in Vienna on Tuesday that although the accusations are rumours, the situation is sufficiently serious to merit an official inquiry.
Nowak must think there are bribes or kickbacks or the like to tap into.


There's political blood in the water and the sharks are attacking each other:
Former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett has apologised to former Labor leader Mark Latham for questioning his mental health.

Mr Kennett is the chairman of the Beyond Blue depression support group and yesterday he told the ABC he was concerned Mr Latham's biography showed signs of a person suffering a bi-polar illness.

Mr Kennett says Mr Latham has denied he is ill and has expressed hurt at his comments.

He says he withdraws the comments and did not intend to harm or embarrass Mr Latham or his family.

"Mark rang up and indicated that he was hurt by the comments I'd made and indicated that he'd like an apology and a retraction," Mr Kennett said.

"It is not a crime to be sick, it's not a crime to be ill and therefore we encourage people to seek help for anything that disturbs them," he said.

"That was the basis on which I made the comments in good faith, but he's taken exception and I'm happy to apologise and withdraw."
Maybe it's my imagination but Kennett doesn't seem sincere.


Here's some lateral scientific thinking:
Global warming looks set to be much worse than previously forecast, according to new research. Ironically, the crucial evidence is how little warming there has been so far.

Three top climate researchers claim that the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere should have warmed the world more than they have. The reason they have not, they say, is that the warming is being masked by sun-blocking smoke, dust and other polluting particles put into the air by human activity.
The next thing you know we'll be told that the particulates from coal fired power plants cancel out the carbon dioxide. Best not to think about it until the super-brains figure out what, if anything, is really going on with climate.


James Wolcott predicted that David Frum and Cliff May would provide favourable reviews of Chimpy's recent address to the nation. After the speech Wolcott observed:
I was half-wrong. Frum, after marveling at Bush's vibrant rapport with the troops (rhymes with dupes) owned up that the speech was "neither very good nor very convincing."
That's a typical stab at humour for a guy like Wolcott (rhymes with runt).


The Guardian's Timothy Garton Ash:
I don't want to overstate this. One is still gobsmacked by things American Republicans say. Take the glorification of the military, for example. In his speech, Bush insisted "there is no higher calling than service in our armed forces". What? No higher calling! How about being a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, an aid worker? Unimaginable that any European leader could say such a thing.
There is no higher calling than putting your life on the line for others. Anyway, soldiering is a higher calling than that recommended by Bubba:
"... I urge all Americans to rise to the highest calling in our land -- the calling of active citizenship," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.
So, an activist lefty is the equal of a soldier. I think I'm gonna vomit.


Maybe it only seems like every single person associated with the EU is on the take:
A European Commission official responsible for development projects in Colombia is under suspicion of having staged his own kidnap in April.

Carlos Ayala-Saavedra, a 59 year old Bolivian turned Spanish national, is being investigated by the European Commission and the Colombian authorities for allegedly staging his own kidnap to extort a €10 million ransom from the EU's coffers.
No EU offical is worth €10 million.


Iran's new president threatens all non-Muslims everywhere:
“Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [the current Iranian year] will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world,” he said. “The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.”
World-wide revolution, eh? Sounds vaguely familiar.


Oh Jeez:
"Ass cleavage is really in right now," said Antonio Jeffery, a national denim specialist at Diesel Jeans in Union Square. Ass cleavage, like regular cleavage, used to be strictly for women. Even the least careful observers of fashion will recall that a few years back, the rises on women’s jeans plummeted with the stock market; at one point, pants got so low that Christine Aguilera was literally prancing in assless chaps. This summer, it’s the men who are artfully displaying the tops of their bottoms, as dudes, gay and straight, squeeze themselves into ever-lower-riding jeans from Paper, Prada and Levi’s.
The men-wearing-their-pants-too-low craze hasn't hit in Western Australia just yet – we're in a different time zone; think 1985. Living in the past has its advantages.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Muhammad Al-Sheikh in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah:
"We must admit that our relations with America were the cornerstone for our development and progress. In return, we must ask what we have gained from our relations with the Arab world. Speaking frankly and unequivocally, all we got from them was trouble. Our brothers, as they call themselves, conspired against us, attacked us, and used all the means at their disposal to derail our plans for unity."
Al-Sheikh's either very brave or suicidal.

Via the always worth visiting Clear and Present.


Someone needs to market projectile-proof umbrellas:
Three people were killed by celebratory gunfire in Lebanon overnight after the re-election of pro-Syrian politician Nabih Berri as parliamentary speaker, police said.

Another seven people were injured when Berri supporters fired automatic weapons into the air in celebrations that ran through the night in Beirut's majority Shiite southern suburbs and the eastern Bekaa valley, they said.


The EU is investigating a number of apparently less than noble causes:
The European Union's anti-fraud office is investigating 32 charities, non-governmental organisations and aid companies from Britain and nine other states for suspected fraud on a mass scale.

Brussels refused to release the names of the groups under investigation but said the abuses involved "a lot of money".

The inquiry was launched in 2001 but has mushroomed into a "systematic" inquiry after anti-fraud offices from all the major donor states started pooling information last year.

The EU spends €7billion a year on foreign aid, including funds for long-term projects and emergency aid for disasters.
Gee, the EU hasn't exactly moved with lighting speed on this. Wonder if a statute of limitations applies?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


James Wolcott loves him so you know Jim Kunstler's gotta be good:
The public indeed may be losing its appetite for the Iraq project, but not for Nascar racing, fried chicken buckets, car trips to Six Flags, and round-the-clock air conditioning. What shock of recognition will flash across the TV screens when the connection is finally made that keeping all these things going is why we're in Iraq? War is the answer.
With a surname like Kunstler Jim must have really copped it as a kid – you know, like what do you get when you cross a kunt with a rustler? ... Maybe that's why he seems to be consumed with the left disease: hate.

I'll have the 21 piece bucket of original, thanks, and don't spare the oil.


The left's relentless efforts to undermine the US military is affecting the troops on the ground:
Aged 20 to 25, the four friends are ambivalent about the war but upbeat about their role in it and have no regrets about volunteering. The feedback from home, however, is unsettling.

Later today, George Bush will address an increasingly sceptical nation about Iraq, where sentiments have changed since the invasion two years ago. In a recent Gallup poll 56% said the war "wasn't worth it". Enthusiasm for action that has already claimed 1,730 American lives has turned to disquiet, and this is trickling down to the troops.

Sgt Brad Wilson, the radio controller, shuddered at the latest batch of letters from well-meaning primary school pupils. "It's all, 'Please don't die in that place.' My God, it's so depressing."
It'll be party time if there are a few high profile fraggings.


ASIO's raids on suspected terrorists have some people very upset:
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, Amnesty International and Liberty Victoria have criticised ASIO's increased terrorism powers after raids in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) and ASIO officers conducted raids on properties in Melbourne and Sydney but no charges have been laid.

The Federal Government's anti-terrorism legislation is under review, though the Government has indicated it wants to retain the broader powers introduced in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Mr Fraser says he is concerned Australia is losing its democratic values.

"You can be arrested because ASIO thinks you know something which you don't know and then your defence is to prove you don't know it," he said.

"Well, how do you prove a negative? And how do you prove you don't know something if you don't know something in the first place?"
Fraser makes a very good point about proving a negative: it would be impossible for him and his fellow moaners to prove their not idiots.


Hopefully, this will be my last post on DDT – see earlier posts here, here and here, but that's pretty much up to Tim Lambert and John Quiggin.

Quiggin and Lambert – what a name for a comedy team, eh? – refuse to acknowledge the role of environmentalists in the de facto banning of DDT in the fight against malaria. Quiggin, probably beginning to realise he has his money on the wrong horse, posted the following in his comments section:
Note that the article cited by JF Beck correctly says that the primary reason for the decline of DDT was the rise of resistance.
DDT was falling out of favor even before the 1962 publication of ‘’Silent Spring,’’ ... DDT had not been sold as a way to control malaria but to eradicate it, so the world would never have to think about malaria again. But eradication failed—it is now considered biologically impossible—and because DDT had not lived up to its billing, disillusion set in. At the same time, DDT’s indiscriminate use was provoking the development of resistance among mosquitoes, and many countries were shifting to decentralized health systems, which meant they were no longer able to organize nationwide house spraying.

Undoubtedly, there have been instances where misguided opposition to DDT led to its abandonment in situations where it would have been useful. Equally, there have been many cases where overenthusiastic use of DDT did more long-run harm than good. None of this justifies the kind of hyperbolic claims made by promoters of the DDT blood libel.
Sure resistance was a problem in general use, which is what the extract above relates to, but for house spraying it's the repellency effect that's important. This has been realised since way back:
The consequences of resistance in terms of malaria and other diseases are indicated by reports from many parts of the world. An outbreak of yellow fever in Trinidad in 1954 followed failure to control the vector mosquito because of resistance. There has been a flare-up of malaria in Indonesia and Iran. …

Some malaria mosquitoes have a habit that so reduces their exposure to DDT as to make them virtually immune. Irritated by the spray, they leave the huts and survive outside.
Thus, very small amounts of DDT can be sprayed on house walls, not to kill mosquitoes, but to keep them outside away from the people inside.

Anyway, Tim Lambert reckons I'm nothing more than an attention seeking fool that should disappear simply because I post comments at his blog that he doesn't like:
Tim Lambert Says:
June 26th, 2005 at 11:24 pm

JF Troll, it is dishonest for you to claim that there is a de facto ban on DDT when it is used in countries containing billions of people.
Tim Lambert Says:
June 28th, 2005 at 1:28 am

Beck, you are a troll because you have repeatedly posted the same specious argument. DDT is not banned. Your intent is not to persuade but just to get attention. Go away.
Fact-check boy Lambert is looking a lot like in-need-of-anger-management boy. Lambert makes no effort whatever to address the substance of my posts. This despite Lambert taking Rafe Champion to task for not posting the correction Lambert thinks warranted, but isn't:
Attempts to get some of those responsible for spreading the false claims about environmentalists and DDT to correct them have proved largely unsuccessful.

Rafe Champion did not make even a token correction.
A correction from Champion isn't warranted because the role of environmentalists, both inside and outside governments, is widely perceived. Further assorted examples of these perceptions follow – see earlier posts linked above for other examples :

Balancing risks on the backs of the poor

Amir Attaran (2), Donald R. Roberts (1), Chris F. Curtis (3) & Wenceslaus L. Kilama (4)

1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA

2 Center for International Development Kennedy School of Government Harvard University Cambridge Massachussetts 02138, USA

3 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine London WC1E 7HT, UK

4 Chairman, Malaria Foundation International; also Chairman-Coordinator, African Malaria Vaccine Testing Network C26/27 Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology Building, Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, P.O. Box 33207 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Above all, rich countries must allow, and even facilitate, poor tropical countries to make choices about DDT freely, and with informed consent. African countries in particular lack the resources to dispatch health experts to the treaty negotiations, and although it provides financial assistance, the United Nations Environment Programme has declined to assist with this, or even to provide a translator when French- and English-speaking diplomats meet to discuss DDT. The resulting lack of knowledge suffocates debate. At worst, threats are used, as Belize learned when the US Agency for International Development demanded that it stop using DDT.

Such arm-twisting is as lamentable as it is effective. Highly indebted poor countries must of necessity rank poverty reduction over environmental orthodoxy, and stimulating growth and foreign investment will require nearly eliminating malaria from economically productive zones. This is essential for development in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria subtracts more than one percentage point off the gross domestic product growth rate, for a compounded loss (since 1965) now reaching up to $100 billion a year in foregone income32.

Seen in this way, the insistence to do without DDT is 'eco-colonialism' that can impoverish no less than the imperial colonialism of the past did.

Greens vs. the World's Poor

Limited use of DDT could save millions from malaria. So why are environmentalists and the U.N. hellbent on ending its production?

By Ronald Bailey, Reason Science Correspondent

Imagine that an international governing body got together with a cadre of special interests to deny millions of poor people access to a cheap substance capable of saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually. You'd think such an effort would be considered highly immoral, right? Probably even cause street demonstrations, boycotts, and other signs of public outrage.

Well, just such a campaign was launched three years ago by the United Nations Environmental Program, acting in conjunction with several major environmentalist organizations. There have been no demonstrations, no boycotts, and sadly, few signs of outrage.

Why this relentless pursuit of DDT down to the last molecule? Vice-President Albert Gore suggests one answer in his introduction to the 1994 reissue of Silent Spring, a book often cited as the founding text of contemporary environmentalism. Before Carson's book, he writes, "There was virtually no public dialogue about the growing, invisible dangers of DDT and other pesticides and chemicals." The fears that have come down the decades from Rachel Carson are summarized in the WWF Core Issues Statement, which claims that "even small quantities of …POPs can wreak havoc in human and animal tissue, causing nervous system damage, disease of the immune system, reproductive and developmental disorders, and cancers." Eliminating POPs generally, and DDT specifically, are at the very heart of the modern environmentalist movement.

Doing so may be a noble cause to greens, but the cost of success will be measured in human lives. Setting aside health concerns about other POPs, and accepting that using DDT in agriculture harmed wildlife, it simply isn't true that using DDT to control malaria is a health risk.

"The scientific literature does not contain even one peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking DDT exposures to any adverse health outcome" in humans, says Amir Attaran. "No study in the scientific literature has shown DDT to be the cause of any human health problem," concludes Richard Tren and Roger Bate in When Politics Kill: Malaria and the DDT Story, a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Such facts have failed to undermine environmentalist dogma. "Because Carson’s work led to the ban on DDT," Al Gore concluded in his commemorative introduction to Silent Spring, "It may be that the human species…or at least countless human lives, will be saved because of the words she wrote."

Sadly, it's more likely that, because a blinkered orthodoxy cannot accept the heretical notion that DDT has some beneficial purposes, countless human lives will be lost.

DDT From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In 1962 Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published. The book argued that pesticides, and especially DDT, were poisoning both wildlife and the environment and also endangering human health. The public reaction to Silent Spring launched the modern environmental movement in the United States, and DDT became a prime target of the growing anti-chemical and anti-pesticide movements during the 1960s. Charles Wurster, the chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, was quoted in the Seattle Times of 5 October 1969, as saying: "If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before. In a sense, much more is at stake than DDT." (Tren & Bate, 2004). However, many of the claims made in Silent Spring were scientifically inaccurate. A 2004 study in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons concludes
"Public pressure was generated by one popular book and sustained by faulty or fraudulent research. Widely believed claims of carcinogenicity, toxicity to birds, anti-androgenic properties, and prolonged environmental persistence are false or grossly exaggerated."
Donor organizations have often refused to fund public health DDT programs[5]. Many countries have been coming under pressure from international health and environment agencies to give up DDT or face losing aid grants: Belize and Bolivia are on record admitting they gave in to pressure on this issue from the US. Agency for International Development. [6]. In 1977 environmental groups sued to ban exports of DDT, after which many countries could no longer obtain any. The World Bank extended $165 million dollars to India's malaria sufferers, but specified that no DDT could be used. Dozens of other countries, where massive numbers of malaria deaths continue to occur, also cannot receive financial aid unless they agree to control mosquitoes by not using DDT. In 1986 Secretary of State George Schultz telegraphed orders to all embassies stating that "The U. S. cannot, repeat cannot, participate in programs using any of the following: (1) lindane, (2) BHC, (3) DDT, or (4) ieldrin." [7]

June, 2002
Journal of Vector Ecology

Role of residual spraying for malaria control in Belize

Donald R. Roberts 1,6, Erol Vanzie 2, Michael J. Bangs 3 , John P. Grieco 1, Hilbert Lenares 2, Paul Hshieh 1, Eliska Rejmankova 4, Sylvie Manguin 5 , Richard G. Andre 1 and Jorge Polanco 2

1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences,
Bethesda, MD 20814-4799

2 Ministry of Health, Belize City, Belize, Central America

3 U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Box 3, APO AP 96520-8132

4 Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

5 Centre de Biologie et Gestion des Populations (CBGP), Campus International de Baillarguet, CS 30 016, 34988 Montferrier sur Lez.cedex, France

6 Corresponding Author

Received 27 May 1999; Accepted 4 September 2001

Belize was pressured to stop using DDT by the United States Agency for International Development. Opposition to public health use of DDT also came from environmental and agricultural advocacy groups.

DDT, Global Strategies, and a Malaria Control Crisis in South America

Donald R. Roberts, Larry L. Laughlin, Paul Hsheih, and Llewellyn J. Legters

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Countries are banning or reducing the use of DDT because of continuous international and national pressures against DDT (e.g., the International Pesticide Action Network is "...working to stop the production, sale, and use..." of DDT [14]) and aggressive marketing tactics of producers of more expensive alternative insecticides. It has become easier for political pressures to succeed given the global strategy to deemphasize use of the house-spray approach to malaria control. A recent agreement of the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation for eliminating the production and use of DDT in Mexico within the next 10 years3 is the latest development in the campaign to eliminate DDT.
Resistance has little to do with reduced use of DDT. It was pressure from environmentalists that produced a de facto ban. There's no getting around it.

Quiggin and Lambert are both welcome to comment but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to visit me here at the dark side.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Human Rights Watch and the ACLU – what a lovely couple – are upset that 70 people were held as "witnesses" after the 9/11 attacks:
The United States detained dozens of US-based Muslim men without charge following the September 11, 2001 attacks, on baseless accusations of terrorist links, said US rights groups.

The US Justice Department held the men under a federal law allowing the arrest and detention of witnesses thought to have important information and considered to be flight risks, said Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a 101-page report, the groups said only a "handful" of the men were later charged with terrorism-related charges, with about half of the detainees never brought to testify.
It was a hefty handful, as you'll discover if you read through to the 14th, and last, paragraph:
Only 28 people were charged with offences and just seven charged with providing material support to terrorist bodies, according to the groups.
Seems like a pretty decent haul to me.


Leftist pretend native American Ward Churchill blames his computer's grammar checker for the little Eichmann's slur:
He did not intend to suggest the 9-11 victims were "little Eichmanns" he claims now. Instead, he blamed the grammar checker for changing what he says he actually wrote: "little Entenmanns" -- referring to the brand of pastries.

"My metaphorical use of food in the essay is, of course, complex to the layman, but surely you've all heard the expression 'as American as apple pie,'" he said. "Well, I'd meant to relate the 'Americanness' and 'lovability' of those poor people who died on 9-11 to the well-known popularity of Entenmann's glazed donuts."
Gee, a layman like me does find that hard to understand, much less believe. Here's my low-brow food based response: eat shit, moron.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


John Quiggin posts the following after a spirited but civil exchange of comments:
To sum up, as I said right at the beginning, there has never been a global ban on the anti-malarial use of DDT, mainly in the form of hut spraying. Widespread spraying of DDT has been abandoned, mainly because the development of resistance made it ineffective, and no-one serious is advocating resumption of this practice.

There is general agreement that where possible, DDT should be phased out and replaced by less damaging alternatives, the sticking point being the fact that these are more expensive. Within this general agreement, there has been dispute over target dates, protocols and similar.

Would any reader of Devine’s and similar pieces have drawn these conclusions?
Not even close. Let's see what conclusions can be drawn from this article by Tina Rosenberg in the New York Times on environmentalists and DDT:
In her 297 pages,Rachel Carson never mentioned the fact that by the time she was writing, DDT was responsible for saving tens of millions of lives, perhaps hundreds of millions.

DDT killed bald eagles because of its persistence in the environment. ''Silent Spring'' is now killing African children because of its persistence in the public mind. Public opinion is so firm on DDT that even officials who know it can be employed safely dare not recommend its use. ''The significant issue is whether or not it can be used even in ways that are probably not causing environmental, animal or human damage when there is a general feeling by the public and environmental community that this is a nasty product,'' said David Brandling-Bennett, the former deputy director of P.A.H.O. Anne Peterson, the Usaid official, explained that part of the reason her agency doesn't finance DDT is that doing so would require a battle for public opinion. ''You'd have to explain to everybody why this is really O.K. and safe every time you do it,'' she said -- so you go with the alternative that everyone is
comfortable with.
DDT resistance is mentioned only in passing but it is noted that DDT repels even resistant mosquitoes.

Quiggin should do the right thing and admit the damage done by environmentalists promoting a de facto ban on the responsible use of DDT.

And, isn't it politically incorrect, to the say the least, for Quiggin to use the term "hut" to describe the best home a bread-winner can provide for his family?


Iran's election was a victory for the hard-liners:
Iran's conservative press hailed president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday as a man who could take on the United States and uphold the moral principles of the Islamic revolution.
I predict Iran will boom but that things will be much quieter when the dust settles.


Leszek Kolakowski's three volume Main Currents of Marxism will soon be rereleased as a single volume. Roger Kimbal takes a look at Kolakowski, his work, and communism in an article at The New Criterion. It's well worth reading, not least for this little tidbit:
Finally, Kolakowski’s new preface contains an arresting aside about the book’s publication history. Written in Polish between 1968 and 1976 “when their publication in Poland could only be dreamed of,” the three volumes of Main Currents were first published in Paris by the Institut Littéraire from 1976–78 and were circulated underground in Poland. They were not published legally in Poland until 2000. In the intervening years the book has been translated into many languages, including Chinese. In French, however, only the first two volumes, which take the story of Marxism through the death of Lenin, have been published. The third volume, which deals with Stalinism and its allotropes—including New Left thinkers like Louis Althusser and Sartre—is still waiting for a French translation. Why? Perhaps, Kolakowski, speculates, because its publication “would provoke such an outrage among French leftists that the publishers were afraid to risk it.” I wish that some public-spirited soul would publish a French version so that we could make the experiment.

The philosopher David Stove once observed, “As an item on the intellectual agenda, Marxism is scarcely even a joke… . Marxism is a fearful social—and police—problem, but so is the drug trade. It is a fearsome political problem, but so is Islamic fundamentalism. But an intellectual problem Marxism is not, any more than the drug trade or Islamic fundamentalism.”
Outraged French leftists? Go figure.

Some just refuse to get it through their thick heads that communism is a cruel joke, except for those pulling the levers. If you'd like to help out the Poms (British), go here and vote for one of the truly great philosophers. (How Karl Marx got into a great philosophers contest in the first place is beyond me. Could it be a leftist MSM thing?)


It's hard to believe a single union can thwart the government:
Controversial government plans to introduce identity cards for every Briton were dealt a severe blow last night after the union representing the officials charged with implementing the scheme dramatically came out against it.

Unison, Britain's biggest union with 1.3 million members, used its annual conference to attack the proposals in a move likely to set alarm bells ringing in government.

The scheme cannot work without the full backing of the public sector workers who will administer and maintain the system. The union plans to outline members' concerns to the group of almost 100 Labour MPs who are affiliated to it.
I don't know that identity cards are a good idea but I do know that a union cannot be allowed to preempt legislation.


Here's the latest on my son's surfing injury. Early Friday afternoon he rang the hospital as instructed by a detailed hand-written note provided by hospital staff. He was told that he would have surgery on Saturday morning and that he was wanted in hospital immediately. As it's impractical to get there by bus and it's an hour by car, he told them he couldn't possibly get there before late afternoon, after I got off work. Whoever he spoke to wasn't happy about the travel arrangements but said he should come on in. I dropped him off.

Brad home late Saturday morning. No surgery for him today – the swelling needed to go down more. He was ... annoyed. Nobody seemed to know what was going on. His bed-side phone didn't work and the promised technician had failed to show. He couldn't even watch TV – at $7 a day – because he didn't have his wallet with him. He was a bit surprised to be told that his two front teeth might be knocked out during intubation. It was also news to him that the surgery wasn't minor by any means: a piece would be removed from the back of his skull and used to repair his damaged eye-socket. Oh well, tomorrow it would be done and in a few days he could go home. As if.

Brad rang at 9:30 Sunday morning. This time he was angry. He had been told surgery had been put off again due to swelling. He was desperate to be picked up. I was on my way. Only a few minutes down the road my mobile rang. It was a somewhat panicy hospital staffer wanting to know if I knew where Brad was. I said he was probably in the lobby waiting to be picked up. She said she couldn't understand this as Brad was due in surgery. I said that he had told me surgery had been cancelled. She said no, that's not right, surgery is still on. I headed home.

God-dammit, what the hell is going on here. I couldn't figure out what to do. There was no point ringing the hospital: Brad was in the hospital and he didn't know what was going on. After waiting at home for about 30 minutes I got back in the car and headed to the hospital, determined to sort things out. A few minutes later Brad rang my mobile. Surgery had definitely been postponed until Tuesday. He was now told there had been an emergency case that preempted him. Hospital staff couldn't find him because he was in the smoking area listening to heroin addicts' tales of woe. It was better than watching the TV he couldn't watch.

Obviously the public hospital system is having problems. (For those of you outside Australia, we have parallel public and private hospital systems: those who can afford it take out private cover and use the private system.) Brad's surgery is considered urgent and he's still being messed around. Just imagine what public patients waiting for elective surgery have to put up with.

Update: The Tuesday surgery thing was poorly explained to Brad. This came to light when I asked him what time he had to be back at hospital on Tuesday. He gave me a card given to him at hospital. It shows he has an appointment Tuesday morning at a different hospital. His problem has been hand-balled. Updates will follow.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News takes a look at an American west exhibition in the UK and reveals she doesn't like America or its past:
There are still men who work cows and who wear the traditional regalia (especially on Saturday nights when they hit the bars looking for girls who don't mind sexually transmitted diseases as long as they come with a ten-gallon hat and boots). Film-maker Vanalyne Green, visiting Wyoming a decade ago, made a documentary, Saddle Sores, detailing her amatory and medical adventures following an encounter with a local cowboy. A few years later Kim Shelton made a gritty documentary called The Highly Exalted, about present-day Nevada cowboys. Last year, when I bumped into someone who knew the cowboys in the film and asked what had become of them, he remarked casually that they were probably all in jail - ranch work is a dependable fall-back job for ex-convicts.

In recent years "cowboy" has come to stand for shoddy, don't-give-a-damn construction work and rude, boisterous behaviour. And, as this exhibition shows, it has also taken on a political colour, not of the decent, stalwart protector, but of an aggressive, foolhardy bully who forces weaker entities to submit to his will. The west has come to symbolise the policies and character of a country increasingly hated in the larger world, cutting fences and forcing its cows through. Thus has the heroic myth circled back to bite its creator on the ass.
As it turns out, Ms Proulx is not a happy camper. In her most recent "essay" she comments on a visit to Santa Fe:
There were an enormous number of people walking with their dogs, strolling, leaping, trotting, posing for photographs, urging each other on through the twisting path and jabbering loudly... For one used to the outdoor emptiness and silence of Wyoming such a crush of people was almost unendurable and I got into a bad temper, partly in response to everyone else's jolliness.
I'll bet she'd be happy if Bush abandoned Iraq.


Animal Liberation Front (ALF) thugs in the UK are firebombing people who know people who might have once worked for Huntingdon Life Sciences, the research laboratory that uses animal testing in some of it's programs:
In Newtown Linford, Leicestershire, Andy Johnson and his wife Carmel, who were targeted with a firebomb which failed to go off last week, appealed for the extremists to leave them alone. Mr Johnson, who returned home to find a home-made bomb in his car port, said he had also had car tyres slashed and ALF graffiti daubed over their garage. His "crime" was that he had bought his cottage 18 months ago from a lawyer who works for Fisons.
Leftist utopian thugs.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Africa's leaders want our money, not our advice:
The African Union has rejected calls from the UK and the US to put pressure on Zimbabwe to stop its demolition of illegal houses and market stalls.

An AU spokesman told the BBC that it had many more serious problems to consider than Zimbabwe.

The UN says that 275,000 people have been made homeless. At least three children have been crushed to death.


"If the government that they elected say they are restoring order by their actions, I don't think it would be proper for us to go interfering in their internal legislation," AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

His comments were backed up by South Africa, Zimbabwe's giant neighbour, which some see as the key to solving Zimbabwe's problems.

Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said he was "irritated" by calls from UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to do more to end the "horrors" in Zimbabwe.

"South Africa refuses to accept the notion that because suddenly we're going to a G8 summit, we must be reminded that we must look good and appease the G8 leaders," he said.

"We will do things because we believe they are correct and right."


Correspondents say that many African leaders see Mr Mugabe as a hero for leading the fight against colonial rule.
There's really no doubt about it, Africa's a corrupt shit-hole.


Mark Steyn's conclusion to his latest piece in The Spectator:
Any large gathering of world leaders is a waste of time, especially if there’s any kind of permanent secretariat or bureaucracy involved. Mr Bush will be polite at Gleneagles, but it’s no coincidence that his closest relationship is with a man he hardly ever meets in person, and never at the big talking-shops — John Howard of Australia, who doesn’t get to go to the G8 or Nato or the EU and yet works more effectively with America than Canada or any of the so-called ‘major European allies’ like France and Germany. Summits are, so to speak, one huge bluff.

According to my favourite foreign minister these days, Australia’s Alexander Downer, ‘Iraq was a clear example about how outcomes are more important than blind faith in the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and multilateralism.... Increasingly multilateralism is a synonym for an ineffective and unfocused policy involving internationalism of the lowest common denominator. Multilateral institutions need to become more results-oriented.’

Which is pretty much the Batman thesis: It’s what we do that defines us.
Read the whole thing.


There's a big brouhaha over a Karl Rove speech to New York conservatives in which he has a go at liberals:
Democrats said Thursday that White House adviser Karl Rove should either apologize or resign for accusing liberals of wanting "therapy and understanding" for the Sept. 11 attackers, escalating partisan rancor that threatens to consume Washington.

Rove, in a speech Wednesday evening to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, said, "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
Hey, if the Democrats ever win back Congress they can socialize medicine so we can all have free therapy and understanding.

Update: A partial transcript of Rove's speech is available here.


It seems like a brilliant Republican strategy:
The Republican National Committee today unveiled a new web ad entitled “Wild Thing,” highlighting the Democrats’ recent over-the-top rhetoric.
The ad – full transcript here – features Democrats shooting from the lip:
A long, long time ago…

[Montage of past presidents]

FDR: “The only thing we have to fear…”

Truman: “… and are determined to work for peace on earth…”

JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.”

[Text on Screen]


[VIDEO] Howard Dean:

“I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country. I really do.”

[VIDEO] Hillary Clinton:

“It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth.”
To view the ad, go here and then click on LATEST RNC VIDEO. (Be aware the ad took forever to load over my dial-up connection.)


Aid expert David Reiff isn't convinced endorsed fundraising schemes are a good thing. Here he comments on Geldof's earlier extravaganza, Live Aid:
But every seasoned aid worker knew then, and knows now, that there is no necessary connection between raising money for a good cause and that money being well spent, just as there is no necessary connection between caring about the suffering of others and understanding the nature or cause of that suffering.
Geldof's fundraising shindigs make participating celebrities feel good about himself while gaining them publicity. In the end, it's more about self-promotion than altruism.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Monday evening's blogging was interrupted by a phone call. It was a friend of my younger son calling to let me know that Brad had hurt himself surfing and was in hospital. Brad was apparently Okay after his board hit him in the face, it was just that his eye had popped out.

It was a good thing I was sitting down at the time because there’s nothing that puts a parent – this parent, anyway – into a head spin like being told one of your kids has been injured, possibly seriously.

I immediately got on the phone to the district hospital nearest to where my son lives but couldn’t really find out much because the only doctor on duty was with a patient. The doctor, who was a really nice guy by the way, eventually rang back. He explained that Brad had taken a pretty good shot to the eye causing the lower part of his left eye socket to blow out – it’s apparently a common injury resulting from a blow to the eye. The doctor added, however, that it was difficult to assess the extent of the injury because Brad was a very sick boy: he was still vomiting up the blood that continued to leak into his sinus and down his throat. The doctor was certain Brad would have to be flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service for specialist treatment.

At least his eye hadn’t actually popped out. Great! Reassured, I went to bed and eventually got to sleep.

Just after 4 AM I woke to my daughter banging on my bedroom door. She said Brad had just been on the phone. He was at a Perth hospital and wanted to be picked up. This seemed really strange: only a few hours before he was in a bad way and now he was ready to come home? Obviously his injury wasn’t as bad as first thought. I quickly dressed and jumped into the car and was off to pick up my son.

When I arrived at the emergency room it was deserted except for staff. The woman at the desk, who was obviously perturbed to be taken away from her magazine, knew nothing of my son. After a bit of gentle prompting she got on the phone and discovered he had been admitted. I didn’t know exactly what to do but eventually decided that 5:15 wasn’t the best time to discuss his medical situation. So, I headed home.

After waiting until I thought breakfast had finished I rang the hospital to check on Brad. Hospital enquiries put me through to his room. He was very groggy but seemed Okay. Assuming he was doped up on painkillers I told him I’d ring him back.

By early afternoon Brad was up to having a semi-normal conversation. It was obvious he was bugging hospital staff to let him go home. Late in the afternoon they eventually agreed he could leave. When I first saw him at hospital he looked pretty much normal except for the huge piece of gauze covering his eye.

Here’s what actually happened. It was a good day to surf at Bears (Three Bears). He was on the first wave of the day – about a 10 foot face, he reckons – from which he bailed to avoid getting hammered. Somehow he miscalculated the arch his body would take through the air, causing him to come down head first facing the wave. The tip of his board hit him just under the brow on the outside of the eye, the tip moving across toward the bridge of his nose. This either cut or tore his eyelid for about and inch and a half. When the tip of the board reached the upper corner of his eye near the bridge of his nose, something had to give. The board punched through his eye socket into his sinus. Ouch.

Brad knew straight away he was in big trouble and mustn’t pass out, not if he wanted to make it to the beach alive. But, it wasn’t going to be easy to get to shore because he had an extreme case of double vision. He eventually got to the beach and struggled up the rocks to his car. Luckily two young guys had just parked near by and offered to drive him, in his 4WD, to the local hospital.

Hospital staff super glued the gashed eyelid and told him to go home – the assumption was that the big quantity of blood was coming from a simple blood nose. He protested but there wasn’t much he could do so friends picked him up. These same friends eventually took him to the larger district hospital where he was X-rayed and the extent of the injury began to emerge. The Royal Flying Doctor Service air-evacuated him to Perth. He’s scheduled for surgery this coming Saturday to repair the damaged eye socket.
It was really nice of the two locals he’d never met to take him to hospital. His friends were really great in looking after him. The Royal Flying Doctor Service did a really fantastic job in flying him to Perth – this is, by the way, the second RFDS medical evacuation for my family.

The moral of this story? Actually there are a few. Never take life for granted; make the most of it. There are lots of nice people in the world. Never lose touch with your children. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a wonderful organization that deserves our support. Why not make a donation, you never know, you might need their service some day?

Update: The son's surgery was scheduled for this morning (Saturday) but was postponed until tomorrow to allow the swelling to go down. He's a bit annoyed, having fasted for nothing.

He's in the public system because he can't afford private hospital cover. The service has been pretty good but he does have two complaints: emergency unit staff are rude – the bigger the hospital the ruder they become; and, nobody seems to know for certain what's going on, ever, about anything. Oh yeah, he wasn't pleased to be told that there's a remote possibility his two front teeth might accidentally be knocked out when he's intubated for surgery. I don't think they bothered to mention there's also the remote possibility he might die.

Update: For the latest eyeball news go here.


Jeff Luers torched three SUVs at an Oregon dealership, refused to plea bargain and ended up sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison. Gregory Dicum interviews anarchist punk Luers for SF Gate:
Did you consider yourself engaged in terrorism when you set fire to those SUVs?

No. Really, when you look at the use of the word today, terrorism is nothing more than a way to define armed struggles that you disagree with.

We were trying to draw attention to the use of resources in America that are contributing to climate change and global warming. Obviously, during an act of property destruction, objects are smashed, burned or demolished. That happens. But what makes an individual act of sabotage more heinous than crimes committed by governments and transnational corporations? If we're going to look at the definition of terrorism or the definition of violence, then we need to put it in its proper perspective. We certainly ought to open the definition up to corporate destruction of rivers, forests, oceans and all ecosystems, because those certainly aren't acts of love.

The SUV caper wasn't your first attempt to bring attention to environmental issues. What other efforts had you been involved in prior to that action?

I had been involved in civil-disobedience direct action. I spent a year and a half in an endangered old-growth forest outside of Eugene. I've done tree sits, roadblocks, lockdowns and some more confrontational things. I've been involved in street protests. I've met with and lobbied members of Congress. I've debated with timber-industry officials.

Was burning the SUVs the most extreme thing you'd done?

Yeah, I'd say it was.

Were you conscious of it being a step in a new direction for you?

I was trying to move into the realm of more radical actions. If you compare arson actions that have happened in the U.S., the majority of them were quite major. That's the goal that I was working toward -- to be more of an underground guerrilla activist. The SUVs were kind of a baby step.
Jeez, how does someone end up on the ecoterrorist career path? By the look of him I'd say his career options were limited.

If I had my way the 22 year six month sentence would be set aside and this clown would disappear into the gulag. I mean really, if you have a gulag, you might as well use it.


I've always admired Oriana Fallaci; she call 'em like she sees 'em. Here she is on Europe's future:
"Europe is no longer Europe, it is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty." Such words--"invaders," "invasion," "colony," "Eurabia"--are deeply, immensely, Politically Incorrect; and one is tempted to believe that it is her tone, her vocabulary, and not necessarily her substance or basic message, that has attracted the ire of the judge in Bergamo (and has made her so radioactive in the eyes of Europe's cultural elites).

"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder," the historian Arnold Toynbee wrote, and these words could certainly be Ms. Fallaci's. She is in a black gloom about Europe and its future: "The increased presence of Muslims in Italy, and in Europe, is directly proportional to our loss of freedom." There is about her a touch of Oswald Spengler, the German philosopher and prophet of decline, as well as a flavor of Samuel Huntington and his clash of civilizations. But above all there is pessimism, pure and unashamed. When I ask her what "solution" there might be to prevent the European collapse of which she speaks, Ms. Fallaci flares up like a lit match. "How do you dare to ask me for a solution? It's like asking Seneca for a solution. You remember what he did?" She then says "Phwah, phwah," and gestures at slashing her wrists. "He committed suicide!" Seneca was accused of being involved in a plot to murder the emperor Nero. Without a trial, he was ordered by Nero to kill himself. One senses that Ms. Fallaci sees in Islam the shadow of Nero. "What could Seneca do?" she asks, with a discernible shudder. "He knew it would end that way--with the fall of the Roman Empire. But he could do nothing."
I predict a painful, lingering death.


There's talk but no action, so far, but the EU's coming around, maybe:
"Europe has been split down the middle, but people are now willing to put the divisions of the past behind them", UK foreign secretary Jack Straw said, referring to last week's Franco-British row over the EU's 2007-2013 financial plan.

His comments echoed earlier remarks from the Irish, US and eastern European delegations that the talks were marked by a forward-looking spirit on all sides, with French, Iranian and Syrian diplomats declining to revisit former jibes at the US and UK's intervention in the region.

"We are now in a different phase", a western European diplomatic contact noted. "And that's - stuff it! We didn't like what you did but now we'll have to get together and help, to work for a good cause".
Gee, maybe there's even a chance the Democrats will stop trying to undermine coalition efforts in Iraq. Sorry, I lost my mind there for a second, it ain't gonna happen.


It was inevitable there would be casualties resulting from Mugabe's retaliation against those who opposed his reelection:
Two Zimbabwean children were crushed to death by rubble during the demolition of illegal houses this month in a government crackdown that has made tens of thousands homeless, state media reported.

Rights groups Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) said on Thursday that more than 200 African and international non-governmental organisations had called on the United Nations and African Union to intervene over the clean-up operation.

"The coalition of organisations urged Nigerian President (Olusegun) Obasanjo, as Chair of the Africa Union, to put the crisis in Zimbabwe on the agenda of the upcoming AU Assembly," Amnesty and the COHRE said in a statement.

"We would like to urge those demolishing illegal structures to ensure the safety of everyone," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the newspaper.
Yes, they really should get together and discuss the situation. Meanwhile, Mugabe's thugs turn out to be environmentalists:
The UN estimates up to 1,5 million people were left homeless. The political opposition, which has its base among the urban poor, says the four-week-old campaign is meant to punish its supporters.

On Tuesday vegetable gardens the urban poor plant in vacant lots around Harare were added to the police's targets. The government says the plots are threatening the environment.
Anything for a better environment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Let's play nice and share:
The current EU president, Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker, attributed the collapse of the talks on the [EU] budget to the clash of two opposing visions.

Speaking before the Luxembourg parliament on Tuesday (21 June), Mr Juncker compared Mr Blair's vision of Europe to a "large shop where all the products are white" and where one is unaware of the "origin and composition".

His own vision, by contrast, is of a "Europe of solidarity where the richer countries support the poorer countries".
Next thing you know we'll have a Star Trek-like Federation of Planets. Not to worry, the Klingons ain't gonna share their shit with nobody.


In a rare moment of lucidity Susan Estrich makes sense:
I work for Fox News as a commentator. I say whatever I want. I’m the blonde on the left, figuratively and literally - the one who’s usually smiling because it’s TV, not the Supreme Court or Congress, and I find civility more effective in any event.

Besides, why shouldn’t I be smiling? Prior to working for Fox, I worked for ABC and NBC, spent a lot of time at CNN, and almost ended up at CBS. I worked for a bunch of local stations in Los Angeles and had a talk-radio show at KABC for six years. In other words, I’m fortunate enough to have been around, and Fox News is the best place I’ve ever worked.
For her honesty Estrich gets this:
How much did Roger Ailes pay for your soul? How much does a conscience go for on the open market these days? I realize that your lifestyle is expensive - those Hollywood plastic surgeons don’t do charity facelifts, after all - but wouldn’t you have been better off calling a madame that specializes in middle-aged call girls (uh, women) and peddling your ass for money? I think that becoming a literal whore would have allowed you to stay truer to your feminist principles than being Fox’s "liberal" Uncle Tom.
And that's just for starters. Deep down every single lefty would like to put a bullet in the brain of every single person who doesn't toe the line.


This is no way to role model:
The worldwide push to curb global warming has suffered a major blow with new figures showed European Union emissions in the 15 oldest member states increased by 1.3 per cent between 2002 and 2003.

The figures also show the EU is way off track in meeting its Kyoto Protocol target of cutting emissions by 8 per cent by 2012.

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth called the new figures "shocking".

"Time is running out. Unless urgent action is taken on climate change, the impacts will ruin countless lives and could wipe out a million species of wildlife."
I'm guessing he pulled that one million number out of his arse.

Update: Those arriving via Tim Blair – thanks again, Tim – might like to have a look at Europe's socialist future.


Another GITMO sob story:
The new Australian civilian lawyer for Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks says he is shocked by his client's appearance and mental health, after their first meeting.

Mr McLeod says his initial impression of David Hicks is that he is at physical and mental breaking point.

"David's not well. He's got a bad back, his eyesight is failing," he said.

"If you imagine going down to the zoo and watching the gorillas in an enclosure, that's how they're being held," he said.
Do the right thing, take a few bananas the next time you visit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Lunatic lefty blogger Anthony Loewenstein doesn't know what Douglas Wood's role was in Iraq but is inclined to think him a war profiteer:
Before we start labelling people like Wood heroes, let's take a closer look at their role in the post-occupation phase and who is really benefiting. Daily Flute blog puts it best: "If profiteer Douglas Wood gets into trouble in Iraq again, what say he pays for the rescue efforts?" And a prediction. The money Wood will receive for appearing on Channel Ten television next week will not be going to the Iraqi people. I'd like to be proven wrong. Thus far, Wood has proven himself to be a lover of money rather than showing any affection for the people he was supposedly helping in Iraq.

UPDATE: Douglas will not be returning to Iraq. Perhaps he can make some money in another occupation zone. There must be some vital jobs in Afghanistan.
Loewenstein's hit count has been sliding of late – it's hard to believe, it's lower than mine – so he's apparently trying to generate some controversy hits. He should do what I do and tackle a blogger with a bigger readership; it's a sure way to increase interest. I suggest Loewenstein take on Tim Blair; anyone who's obsessed with plastic turkeys can't be fully together in the head.


Lefty doom-and-gloom-monger James Kuntsler is pessimistic about America's energy future:
Iraq is not Vietnam, all right, because there is no way the US can pull out now without severe consequences, namely the loss of our access to all the oil in the Middle East -- where two-thirds of the world's remaining oil is.
Not everyone agrees with these oil reserve figures:
The Middle East does not have two thirds of world oil reserves, as is claimed by the oil companies and the US Dept. of Energy.

In fact, the Middle East contains only two thirds of one type of reserve. According to the US Geological Survey, the Middle East has only half to one third of world oil reserves.

There is a large supply of oil elsewhere in the world which is available at higher but affordable prices. The idea that only the Middle East has the key to the world's energy future is not true and is politically dangerous.
Time will tell.

By the way, it's worth clicking on the Kuntsler link above just to get a look at his smarter-than-thou lefty smirk. Silly Kuntsler.


Put a bit of pressure on Kofi and threaten to halve US financial support for the UN and it's amazing how quickly things change. Here's Kofi:
Today I am traveling to Brussels to join representatives of more than 80 governments and institutions in sending a loud and clear message of support for the political transition in Iraq.

A year ago, in Resolution 1546, the U.N. Security Council set out the timetable that Iraq, with the assistance of the United Nations and the international community, was expected to fulfill. The Brussels conference is a chance to reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges.
The United Nations has been strongly urged by a wide spectrum of Iraqis to help them maintain momentum, as we did with January's elections. They have sought our support in constitution-making, in preparing for the October referendum and the December elections, and in coordinating donor assistance for the political transition as well as reconstruction and development.

Our response has been prompt and resolute. We have set up a donor coordination mechanism in Baghdad, deployed a Constitutional Support Unit, and established an active and collaborative relationship with the assembly's constitutional committee. Today more than 800 U.N. personnel -- both local and international, including security staff -- are serving in Iraq in the U.N. assistance mission.

In a media-hungry age, visibility is often regarded as proof of success. But this does not necessarily hold true in Iraq. Even when, as with last week's agreement, the results of our efforts are easily seen by all, the efforts themselves must be undertaken quietly and away from the cameras.

Whether U.N. assistance proves effective will depend largely on the Iraqis. Only they can write a constitution that is inclusive and fair. The United Nations cannot and will not draft it for them. Nor do we need to, because Iraqis are more than capable of doing it themselves. They would welcome advice, but they will decide which advice is worth taking.
Thus Annan curries favour with the Bush administration and positions the UN to take credit if democracy takes hold, while laying blame on the Iraqis should things not work out. Brilliant, Annan must have taken a look at Rove's play-book.

Update: There's a slightly different take on Annan's article at Decision '08.


Tim Dunlop has a post at The Age's Media Blog on MSM fact checking in which he praises John Quiggin and Tim Lambert while questioning my journalistic credibility:
A good example is this post by John Quiggin and this one by Tim Lambert in which they discuss what Miranda Devine and others have said about the use of DDT as an anti-malarial. Other bloggers are also involved in the discussion, such as Rafe Champion from the free-market blog, Catallaxy, and JF Beck, the self-identified Right-wing Death Beast (maybe we can do a separate post on the correlation between blog-names and journalistic credibility!).
The royal "we" and the gratuitous exclamation mark must be to add gravity.

Anyway, blogging is simply a hobby for me; I don't claim to be a journalist because I'm certainly not. That said, unlike Dunlop, I have never intentionally misled my readers - other than when trying to be funny - and never will.


Saddam's former American guards have spoken about their talkative charge:
Saddam Hussein loves Doritos, hates Froot Loops, admires President Reagan, thinks Clinton was "OK" and considers both Presidents Bush "no good." He talk a lot, worries about germs and insists he is still president of Iraq.
Now that he's powerless he comes across as a nice but strange guy:
Saddam was friendly toward his young guards and sometimes offered fatherly advice. When O'Shea told him he was not married, Saddam "started telling me what to do," recalled the soldier. "He was like, `You gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean.'"

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to doing his laundry in the sink.

The soldiers also said Saddam was a "clean freak" who washed after shaking hands and used diaper wipes to clean meal trays, utensils and table before eating. "He had germophobia or whatever you call it," Dawson said.

The article said Saddam preferred Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast, telling O'Shea, "No Froot Loops." He ate fish and chicken but refused beef.

For a time his favorite snack was Cheetos, and when that ran out, Saddam would "get grumpy," the story said. One day, guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Saddam forgot about Cheetos. "He'd eat a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes," Dawson said.

Rory Carroll takes up the story for the Guardian but with a slightly different emphasis, and a bit of embellishing:
The guards said Saddam admired Reagan, whose administration fed Iraq intelligence and weapons in its war with Iran in the 1980s, and had said President Clinton was "OK".
The least Carroll could do is elaborate on the weapons provided by the Reagan administration.

Update: Australia's ABC provides a bit more detail:
The jailed former Iraqi leader described how Mr Reagan, who was president during the time of Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, sold him planes and helicopters.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Mugabe isn't finished taking out the trash:
"We are moving everywhere, including the northern suburbs and some rural areas, everywhere where there is an illegal structure, we will get there," Harare police spokesman Whisper Bondayi told the AFP news agency.
Click here for revealing before and after aerial photos.


As expected, Tim Lambert has sided with John Quiggin in the ongoing DDT fray (go here for my earlier post re Quiggin's original post, which refers to Rafe Champion's post).

First, a bit of Tim Lambert history. His blog shows a total of nine posts on DDT. The thrust of Lambert's posts is that anti-environmentalists are spreading a DDT hoax , or as Lambert calls it, The Great DDT Hoax:
Anti-environmentalist writers frequently claim that after DDT had all but eliminated malaria from Sri Lanka, environmentalist pressure forced Sri Lanka to ban DDT, leading to a resurgence of malaria...
The Great DDT Hoax has evolved somewhat over time to include any claims that DDT use is or was banned in general. (It should be noted that it is impossible for DDT to have been totally banned as India and China continued to manufacture and use DDT throughout. By ban, I am referring to an effective de facto ban resulting from pressure not to use DDT. Naturally, this de facto effective ban was neither total nor totally effective.)

Right, back to Lambert, who posted the following on 30 March 2005:
The latest folks to spread the DDT hoax are Kopel, Gallant and Eisen. They claim:
[Malaria] is a disaster manufactured by First World political correctness; DDT prohibition is scientifically indefensible, and is responsible for millions of deaths every year.
However, as explained in my posts on DDT, DDT is not banned from use against malaria, and while it is still helps against malaria in some places, it is not the panacea that Kopel et al make it out to be.
They also write
But rather than limiting DDT use, the United Nations is actively encouraging a worldwide ban on DDT.63
But reference 63 is to the Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants, which specifically exempts DDT use for vector control from the ban. Banning agricultural use of DDT greatly aids its use against malaria, since mosquitoes will be much less likely to develop resistance.
In comments I made Lambert aware of a Belmont Club post addressing some of the issues he had raised – due to Belmont Club's hosting problems at the time the link no longer works and I can't find the post. Anyway, Lambert replied:
Thanks for the tip. I guess I’ll do a post on Roberts’ tripe.
I responded:
Is Roberts’s Lancet article included in the “tripe”?
Lambert never did respond to Roberts's tripe, a Lancet article – Lambert loves Lancet, he must, he's made 45 posts on the 100,000 killed in Iraq Lancet study. Maybe he doesn't want to address the claims in Roberts's article because he's worried it will undermine Lancet's credibility, thus throwing a shadow over the 100,000 killed claim.

Regardless, Lambert's most recent post on The Great DDT Hoax follows:
John Quiggin catches Miranda Devine spreading the DDT Hoax in the Sun Herald. If DDT is banned, how come this company will sell you some? They say:
In the past several years, we supplied DDT 75% WDP to Madagascar, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Africa, Namibia, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, Algeria, Thailand, Myanmar for Malaria Control project, and won a good reputation from WHO and relevant countries’ government.
Yes, DDT is available but its use is forcefully discouraged as indicated by this edited news release from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (my bold):
KAMPALA, 2 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - The European Union has cautioned Uganda against the use of an organic pollutant to control malaria, commonly known as DDT, warning that its use could pose dire consequences for exports to the European market.

"If Uganda is to use DDT for malaria control, it is advisable to do so under strictly controlled circumstances, and in consultation with other countries in the region which may be affected," the Brussels-based union said in a statement.

A parallel system to monitor foodstuffs for the presence of DDT also had to be set up. "This would ensure that any contamination of foodstuffs is detected and corrective measures taken," the EU noted. "Such measures would also address DDT-related health concerns of consumers both in Uganda and in export destinations."

Scientifically known as chlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane, DDT is toxic, persistent and bioacumulative in the tissues of living organisms, including man. Studies indicate that 50 percent of DDT can remain in the soil for 10 to 15 years after application.

"It has been detected in human breast milk, is acutely toxic to birds and highly toxic to fish," the EU statement pointed out. "There is therefore no doubt of DDT contamination of the food chain."

The EU head of delegation in Uganda, Sigurd Illing, told IRIN that Europe was Uganda's main market, accounting for over 30 percent of annual exports. Many of Uganda's exports to the EU are food-related, including fish, coffee and other agricultural products.

"We support the fight against malaria, and we are major contributors to the Global Fund on Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS," Illing said. "We just made a general warning that we want to see that all considerations are made before the spraying. Uganda also needs to decide why it should use DDT - is there no other alternative - because there could be many implications with DDT."

The government has indicated its readiness to use residual spraying in people's homes to reduce the incidence of malaria, but environmentalists have argued against the move.

"DDT is a dangerous organic pollutant," Ugandan MP Ken Lukyamuzi told IRIN. "If the government wants its use it in Uganda, it must first seek the sanction of fellow members of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), which we ratified in July 2004."

Lukyamuzi questioned the rationale of spraying homes. "The government should explain why it should spray people's houses where mosquitoes do not breed," he told IRIN. "If they cannot, then they have no moral authority to spray people's houses. DDT was outlawed 50 years ago - it seems we are being taken back to the dark ages."
The EU was in effect trying to ban the use of DDT by the Ugandan government. Such anti-DDT pressure was even more intense in the lead up to the implementation of the ill-fated total DDT ban. So great was the pressure not to use DTT back then that in his Lancet article, Roberts et al
specifically refer to a ban and even use the heading, Consequences of the ban.In a 1997 article on DDT and malaria Roberts et al mention the pressures in passing:
Countries are banning or reducing the use of DDT because of continuous international and national pressures against DDT (e.g., the International Pesticide Action Network is "...working to stop the production, sale, and use..." of DDT [14]) and aggressive marketing tactics of producers of more expensive alternative insecticides. It has become easier for political pressures to succeed given the global strategy to deemphasize use of the house-spray approach to malaria control. A recent agreement of the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation for eliminating the production and use of DDT in Mexico within the next 10 years3 is the latest development in the campaign to eliminate DDT.
Less scientific but nonetheless telling is this from the 14 December 2000 Economist:
The widespread use of DDT in the 1950s and 1960s all but eliminated malaria in several developing countries and saved an estimated 500m lives by 1970. Since then, the use of the stuff has shrunk. Of the roughly 100 countries where malaria is endemic, only 23 now employ DDT to fight the disease. And that is frequently the fault of aid donors who help to finance the battle against malaria.

In the early 1990s, for example, the United States Agency for International Development stopped the governments of Bolivia and Belize from using DDT. In Madagascar, the United Nations Development Programme tried to persuade the government to replace DDT with Propoxur, a less effective pesticide. To its credit, Madagascar refused. In Mozambique, both NORAD, the Norwegian development agency, and SIDA, its Swedish counterpart, said that they could not support the use of DDT, as it was banned in their own countries. That the problems of a desperately poor malarial country in Africa might be somewhat different from those of wealthy, non-malarial Scandinavia seems not to have occurred to them.
There's also this from the British Medical Journal:
Alternatives to DDT house spraying can substitute in some cases but not all cases. Case detection and treatment can help to lower mortality from malaria but can never stop morbidity that does not present in clinic. Insecticide treated bed nets, although promising, will often have the limitation that they protect one or two people under the net and not the entire household. Integrated vector management, an ecological approach against mosquitoes touted by DDT's opponents,6 is as yet only an experimental strategy that has never been used in a national malaria control programme (for the 33 years since 1966, Medline, Biological Abstracts and CAB Abstracts list only 19 references on integrated vector management or control). And while house spraying with alternative insecticides to DDT can work, it is often fraught with insecticide resistance, and costs double or morea real constraint in African countries, where the health ministry's budget may be less than £3 per person.

South Africa illustrates these limitations in practice. Facing pressure from environmentalists, the national malaria control programme abandoned DDT in favour of more expensive pyrethroid insecticides in 1996. Within three years, pyrethroid resistant A funestus mosquitoes invaded KwaZulu-Natal province, where they had not been seen since DDT spraying began in the 1940s. Malaria cases then promptly soared, from just 4117 cases in 1995 to 27 238 cases in 1999 (or possibly 120 000 cases, judging by pharmacy records). Other provinces experienced similar catastrophes, and South Africa was forced to return to DDT spraying this year. It had little alternative: no other insecticide, at any price, was known to be equally effective.
Clearly there was an effective de facto ban on the use of DDT. This ban was neither total nor totally effective but it was a ban nonetheless.

It is worth noting that all of the above, except the UN news release, are linked at the Malaria Foundation International homepage. Quiggin and Lambert aren't silly enough to suggest that MFI is a corporate tool, are they?

Sunday, June 19, 2005


There's speculation Douglas Wood and his wife stand to gain from his ordeal:
It is understood the couple, who were accompanied by a freelance cameraman, are negotiating to sell the story of Mr Wood's capture and release in Iraq.
Fair enough.

There's also speculation from Hilali himself that a movie is in the works:
Of course this is a difficult and dangerous case and the hard time in Baghdad. I have enough for like a film, movie in Baghdad!
A useless self-promoter like Jesse Jackson would be perfect for the role of Hilali in the al-Hilali story. I wonder if Wood would get a mention?


John Quiggin takes exception to a recent post by Rafe Champion and an article by Miranda Devine, citing factual error:
DDT has never been banned in antimalarial use. The main reason for declining use of DDT as an antimalarial has been the development of resistance. Antimalarial uses have received specific exemptions from proposals to phase out DDT, until alternatives are developed. Bans on the use of DDT as an agricultural insecticide, promoted by Rachel Carson and others, have helped to slow the development of resistance, and therefore increased the effectiveness of DDT in antimalarial use (links on this here)
Quiggin bases his assertion, that DDT use declined due to the development of resistance, on a letter to the the Australian by Dr Alan Lymbery and Professor Andrew Thompson in response to an article by Christopher Pearson. Well fellas, you've got it wrong, DDT use declined mostly because of pressure from environmentalists.

Anyone doubting that pressure from environmentalists created a de facto DDT ban should check the ample evidence at Malaria Foundation International. Take as indicative the following excerpts from DDT house spraying and re-emerging malaria as published in the Lancet of 22 July 2000:
Even in the earliest field studies, DDT showed spectacular repellent, irritant, and toxic actions that worked against malaria vector mosquitoes.10 When DDT was sprayed on house walls (2 g/m2) it exerted powerful control over indoor transmission of malaria.11 As a consequence, house spraying produced excellent and rapid results in 1943 in the Mississippi Valley, USA, then in Italy, Venezuela, Guyana, India, and several other countries. House-spraying programmes functioned as national malaria-eradication services. The strategy encompassed vector control and case-treatment campaigns during the attack phase (3-5 years), followed by case treatment to eliminate the remaining parasites during consolidation and maintenance phases. As such, it was a multifaceted approach to disease control. Most countries adopted the malaria-eradication strategy that was formulated and coordinated by WHO. Colonial Africa was left out of the "global" programme because of the lack of national structure and expertise. Even so, some African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland) developed successful national eradication programmes. Although malaria transmission could not be stopped by DDT in some areas such as the wet savannas of West Africa,12 the overall effect of vertically structured programmes for applying DDT to house walls was an almost complete reduction or elimination of malaria.11,13,14. For example, malaria was eradicated from most of North America and Europe, and strong decreases in prevalence were seen in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, the Far East, and even in southern Africa.


Since the early 1970s, DDT has been banned in industrialised countries and the interdiction was gradually extended to malarious countries. The bans occurred in response to continuous international and national pressures to eliminate DDT because of environmental concerns. Global trends of decreasing numbers of sprayed houses started with changing strategy from the vector-control approach to malaria control. Despite objections by notable malariologists18 (also Arnoldo Gabaldon19), the move away from spraying houses was progressively strengthened by WHO's malaria control strategies of 1969, 1979, and 1992. These strategies were adopted even though published WHO documents and committee reports have consistently and accurately characterised DDT-sprayed houses as the most cost effective and safe approach to malaria control.12,20-22 Changing the emphasis on house spraying was further strengthened by a WHO plan, first introduced by the Director General of WHO in 1979,23 to decentralise malaria-control programmes. This plan was adopted in World Health Assembly Resolution 38.24 in 1985.24 From then on, for countries to qualify for foreign or international assistance, they were expected to comply with WHO guidance on house spraying and to incorporate malaria control programmes into primary health-care systems. Additionally, assistance from industrialised countries was often specifically contingent on not using DDT.

Other mechanisms also have been used by environmental advocates to stop use of DDT for malaria control. A recent example is the agreement of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) that forced Mexico to stop producing and using DDT for malaria control.25 This agreement also eliminated a rare source of DDT for malaria control in other countries in South America. Claims by environmental advocates26 that Mexico is "now" a test-bed for a new model of "malaria control without DDT" ignores the simple fact that Mexico is a developed country (ie, it is one of the richest of malaria-endemic countries). Consequently, years from now, the outcome for Mexico will show how a scientifically and economically rich country can or cannot control malaria without DDT. Even if Mexico is successful in maintaining control of malaria without use of DDT,27 this success will not be relevant for countries with serious malaria problems and the methods used may not be useful or affordable in more needy and scientifically impoverished countries.

On a landscape scale, a sprayed house will only have a very small amount of DDT enclosed in the walls. Nevertheless, environmentalists are still seeking a global ban26,28,29 arguing that if DDT is produced for use in improving public health, it will also be used for agriculture and lead to global pollution of the environment.26,27 This instance of environmental advocacy seems to have won approval of powerful pesticide companies because it allows them to sell their more expensive insecticides. The replacement of DDT by organophosphate, carbamate, or pyrethroid insecticides is commonly proposed even though price, efficacy, duration of effectiveness, and side-effects (eg, unpleasant smell), are major barriers to their use in poor countries. High costs and downward trends in foreign assistance discourage many countries that cannot afford the switch to DDT alternatives. Although arguments can be mounted on both sides of the issues of cost-effectiveness, duration of activity, and safety of alternative insecticides, there should be no confusion about what happens to public health when use of DDT is banned.
There are other sources at Malaria Foundation International making similar reference to pressures from environmentalists.

It is worth noting that the Lancet article linked above states that there was at the time writing in 2000 a "ban" on the use of DDT. The article also describes the consequences of this "ban":
When a malaria-endemic country stops using DDT, there is a cessation or great reduction in numbers of houses sprayed with insecticides, and this is accompanied by rapid growth of malaria burden within the country.1,12,17 DDT house spraying was stopped in Sri Lanka in 1961, and this was followed by a major malaria epidemic. Since then, numerous epidemics have occurred in many countries, after suspension of DDT house treatments, such as Swaziland (1984) and Madagascar (1986-88), where malaria killed more than 100 000 people. In both cases, the authorities restarted DDT house spraying and stopped the catastrophic epidemics.8 In Madagascar, malaria incidence declined more than 90% after just two annual spray cycles. Today, few countries still use DDT and most have no way to even buy this insecticide. Without DDT, malaria rates are returning to those seen in the 1940s, affecting additional millions of infants, children, and adults.

WHO's Global Malaria Control Strategy (GMCS)30 of 1992 and the current Roll Back Malaria31 initiative emphasise treatment of cases and protection of people with impregnated bednets. The failure to include DDT house spraying results from antagonism between the horizontal medical structures and the vertical ones that are needed to restart house-spraying programmes. In other words, more is involved than some undefined opposition to use of DDT. Additionally, some sponsors make the banning of DDT a condition of their support and also require that malaria control be done within a primary health-care system. Because of these multiple factors, the GMCS or Roll Back Malaria initiative, as formulated, will not stop progression of the ongoing global resurgence of malaria.
Clearly, the authors of this article think opposition to the use of DDT has had dire consequences.

On the DDT issue the smarter-than-thou brigade is, of course, wrong and should shut the fuck up.

Update: For the latest on Quiggin, go here.


It seems terrorists are running short of personnel willing to take the suicide bomb short-cut to heaven:
Islamic militant networks are on a recruiting drive across Europe for potential suicide bombers in Iraq, according to US and European police and security sources.

The claim comes amid evidence that the high number of recent attacks is forcing terrorist leaders into a drive for new volunteers.
The ultimate dead end career.


Far left historian Howard Zinn gives a short course on American history:
Invoking God has been a habit for American presidents throughout the nation’s history, but George W. Bush has made a specialty of it. For an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, the reporter talked with Palestinian leaders who had met with Bush. One of them reported that Bush told him, “God told me to strike at al Qaeda. And I struck them. And then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” It’s hard to know if the quote is authentic, especially because it is so literate. But it certainly is consistent with Bush’s oft-expressed claims. A more credible story comes from a Bush supporter, Richard Lamb, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who says that during the election campaign Bush told him, “I believe God wants me to be president. But if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay.”

Divine ordination is a very dangerous idea, especially when combined with military power (the United States has 10,000 nuclear weapons, with military bases in a hundred different countries and warships on every sea). With God’s approval, you need no human standard of morality. Anyone today who claims the support of God might be embarrassed to recall that the Nazi storm troopers had inscribed on their belts, “Gott mit uns” (“God with us”).
Somehow I knew Nazis were going to come up in there somewhere.

Update: Those arriving via Tim Blair will want to read John Quiggin's post on plastic turkeys and DDT. I find fault with Quiggin's fact checking here.