Tuesday, October 31, 2006


During the brief time I've been blogging, two Australian lefties -- Antony Loewenstein and Tim Lambert -- have been the subject of numerous posts. I blog these guys as a public service; to make as many people as possible aware of the nonsense they write. Loewenstein, while ignorant, is a "what you see is what you get" sort of guy who seldom resorts to trickery. Lambert on the other hand is a weird and obsessive character with rat cunning and aggression aplenty; and like a rat possesses an uncanny ability to escape through the nearest crack when confronted.

Here's the latest example of Lambert craftiness. He recently challenged Tim Blair's interpretation of Richard Garfield's remarks on the Lancet Iraq study -- misinterpreted by Blair as critical of the 600,000+ figure -- prompting Blair to issue a correction. Despite Blair's correction being posted on the same day as Lambert's challenge, Lambert has not updated his post to reflect the correction, with the post still concluding "Blair is unrepentant." Now we all know that many readers aren't going to bother reading through the post's comments and will be be unaware that Blair did the honourable thing in correcting.

Lambert has also manipulated the thread's comments in an attempt to stifle discussion. He held my first comment in this thread for over nine hours before posting it. As usual he ignores my comment, refusing to address the three cited examples of his past posts requiring correction. Eventually, one of his readers attacks my comment -- employing the typically diversionary Lambert tactic of focussing on but one of my points. My response was intercepted by Lambert and held in moderation for over 26 hours. This ensured that it didn't appear in the recent comments area of the sidebar and is for all practical puposes destined for oblivion. Very sneaky stuff.

Anyway, Lambert is unwilling (or unable) to own up to his mistakes and misrepresentations, even when proven to be wrong. For example, here Lambert refuses to acknowledge that the word "toady" is not abusive -- he used abuse as a pretext for removing one of my comments. He is not offended, however, when one of his frequent commenters uses the word.

Here Lambert makes a complete fool of himself but refuses to admit it. (When pressured he calls a pro-Tim Blair commenter a groupy (toady?) and questions the person's sexual preferences -- to get around Lambert's old blog link-bouncing copy and paste http://timlambert.org/2005/12/dumberer/.

Here Lambert -- away from his blog and the support of his toadies -- scurries off when challenged (scroll down to comments from dave tribe, myself and Lambert).

Here Lambert gets caught telling lies, at which point he flees through a crack -- it's truly amazing how he squeezes that great big head through such small openings.

Here Lambert refuses to discuss the DDT nonsense he continues to spout, diverting attention by accusing me of attention seeking. (Make sure to scroll down to the last few comments.)

Here Lambert erroneously claims Africa Fighting Malaria is "trying to prevent bednets from being used to fight malaria" but refuses to acknowledge that this is wrong.

Lambert is shown to be wrong here, here, here, here, here and here. All of these posts remain uncorrected.

Like emptying septic tanks, exposing Lambert is dirty work that needs to be done.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Welcoming the dawn, Hydarabad, Afghanistan.


How do the overweight react to the ever increasing pressures to slim down:
In a paper published Oct. 10 in Obesity, Dr. Brownell and his colleagues studied more than 3,000 fat people, asking them about their experiences of stigmatization and discrimination and how they responded.

Almost everyone said they ate more.
Take the hint, busybodies.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Conservative Muslim women might wear figure disguising formless outer-clothing but underneath they're fashion tigers:
"The girls I know from Saudi have an incredible love of fashion," she says. "It's precisely because they wear abayas that they can be so outlandish underneath. Because it all goes on beneath the veil and behind closed doors, they don't feel inhibited. Sequins, miniskirts, pink hot pants - the more garish the better."
Yeah well, that's got me feeling uninhibited... anyone want to know what I wear under my jeans?


The British government is going to control emissions through taxes:
The proposals, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, show that the Government is considering introducing a raft of hard-hitting 'eco-taxes' that will have a devastating effect on the cost of living.

Families with big cars could end up paying more than £1,000 a year extra in tax. And nearly every household in Britain will be hit in the pocket.

Most controversial of all, the documents reveal the Government is planning to grab billions of pounds of extra revenue from motorists - without telling them. It is considering introducing a special mechanism so that whenever oil prices go down, the Government would get the cash in extra fuel tax - not the motorist.

A leaked letter from Environment Secretary David Miliband to Chancellor Gordon Brown says the advantage of this is that the Government would gain billions of pounds 'without individual announcements on fuel-duty rises needing to be made'. The Government was immediately accused by the Conservatives of trying to introduce more 'stealth taxes' and failing to be honest with voters about the consequences of dealing with climate change.

Mr Miliband calls for a new 'paypermile pollution tax' on motorists. And he urges VAT on air travel to EU destinations and new taxes on inefficient washing machines and light bulbs.

He also backs fresh laws to let town halls impose a 'rubbish tax' on households by using 'spies' placed in dustbins to weigh non-recyclable refuse.

The letter says: 'Differential charging for waste at household level can have a significant role to play and local authorities should be given the powers to do so.'

Mr Miliband also called for landfill tax - paid by businesses and local councils that bury rubbish - to be increased from £21 a ton to £75. But one environmental expert said this could lead to more flytipping unless it is properly policed.

The letter to Mr Brown, marked ' Restricted', demands urgent and radical action in next month's public-spending review and next year's Budget.

Changing people's behaviour can be achieved only by 'market forces and price signals', it says, adding: ' Marketbased instruments, including taxes, need to play a substantial role. As our understandings of climate change increases, it is clear more needs to be done.'
The only thing you get with big government is bigger and badder ideas.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Australia, already one of the most urbanized countries, is in danger of increasingly dense urban populations. Danger? Many:
We might see a worsening of the obesity epidemic that we already have, and I think just in terms of their general psychological wellbeing we might see children that are more stressed, less confident, less outward-looking, more insular and introspective.

One imagines, sort of, high-rise environments in which children are really marginal, a generation of Ritalin-dependent children who are kind of sad because we've marginalised them.

There is a higher likelihood that there will be exposure to violence and, just because people are living on top of each other, and that often the poorer environments have higher rates of unemployment and alcohol use and so these things compound to make it often very detrimental to children's development.
How would Sydneysider children, already living in a sardine-like density of 345.7 persons per square kilometre (4023 persons per square kilometre in inner Sydney), manage to cope with the 24,448 persons per square kilometres of Paris (over 100,000 persons per square kilometres in some areas)? They could always keep their weight down, fitness levels up and nerves calm by attacking police and burning cars and busses. Maybe we should start putting Ritalin in the water.

Friday, October 27, 2006


North Korea accuses the United States and South Korea of preparing for war:
"The madcap nuclear war moves against the DPRK (North Korea) are extremely reckless proactive acts that make the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula all the more difficult to resolve and drive the situation to its worst," the Korea National Peace Committee said in a statement carried on the North's KCNA news agency.
What is it with commies and language?


The BBC's David Loyn, embedded with Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, writes admiringly of those from whose midst he is reporting:
They clean their teeth with sharpened sticks taken from trees, and sleep with only the thinnest shawls to cover them.

They have surprised the British by the ferocity of their fighting and their willingness to take casualties.
Along the way he unwittingly supports the notion the Taliban are using civilians as human shields:
When we stopped for the night, they would break into groups to eat in different houses in a village.

They demand and get food and shelter from places where they stop, but it is impossible to say how enthusiastic the villagers really are.

They say that since they wear only the loose long cotton shirts and trousers - shalwar kameez - of any local villager, then the British cannot easily tell them apart.
Civilians killed by NATO forces suit the Taliban just fine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Irfan Yusuf is not impressed with my suggestion his review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's The Caged Virgin is similar to an earlier review:
Thank you for defaming me on your blog by suggesting I may have plagiarised from someone else's review.
He describes me as a member of the "lunatic fringe of the Far-Right" and even includes "neo-Nazi" just for good measure. Hmm, it seems I touched a nerve.


Tim Blair makes a mistake, is challenged on it and in short order posts a front page correction.

Tim Lambert contradicts himself, is challenged on it and hides the correction in a post more than a year old.

Tim Lambert misrepresents something, is challenged on it and refuses to correct (see update).

Draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), jointly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is under attack:
The creators of AGRA claim the initiative will bring benefits to the African continent’s impoverished farmers who—they assert—until now have been bypassed by the first Green Revolution. A day later, probably in an orchestrated move, Jacques Diouf, Director General of UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), called for support for a “second Green Revolution” to feed the world’s growing population. UN boss Kofi Annan also weighed in to support the initiative.

The AGRA plan is remarkable given that, according to a World Bank evaluation, over the last twenty-five years the CGIAR—which brings together the key Green Revolution research institutions—has invested 40-45% of their $350 million/yr budget in Africa (The World Bank 2004). If these public funds were not invested in a Green Revolution for Africa, then where were they spent? If they were spent on the Green Revolution, then why does Africa need another one? Either the Green Revolution’s institutions don’t work, or the Green Revolution itself doesn’t work —or both. The Green Revolution did not “bypass” Africa. It failed. Because this new philanthropic effort ignores, misinterprets, and misrepresents the harsh lessons of the first Green Revolution’s multiple failures, it will likely worsen the problem.
Bureaucracies are about spending money and shifting paperwork and not about getting results.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Antony Loewenstein crows about the success of My Israel Question:
Once again, it is clear that despite the best (and hopelessly muddled) attempts of Zionists to smear and discredit my book, the vast commercial, critical and personal response proves that very many people across religious and ethnic backgrounds want an open and free debate on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
I have no idea how many books he's sold -- he really should astound us with the figures. And oddly, his commercial success and high public profile aren't helping his blog; currently drawing 230 hits a day.

Update: In an attempt to broaden his readership Loewenstein links to a humour video. Funny, I've always pictured the guy as humourless.


With 28 posts on the new Lancet Iraq study it's safe to say Tim Lambert's obsessed -- he recently claimed to have 100 posts on the two studies together. But there's more to his posting than mere obsession: multiple posting dilutes the few negative comments from those foolhardy enough to enter the Deltoid echo-chamber, thus sparing the delicate sensibilities of his mostly lefty readers. Any comments that are too impertinent could well end up like this one from dave surls:

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Any scientists and science journals not wholeheartedly supporting the Lancet death toll figures can expect the Lambert treatment:
I guess that the next time a new physics study comes out Science will ask epidemiologists what they think of it. You see, John Bohannon, the reporter for Science, decided that opinions from a couple of physicists and an economist were more important than getting comments from experts in epidemiology.
The irony of a computer scientist criticising physicists for criticising epidemiologists escapes him. He is good with numbers though.


Britons are increasingly frightened of young people (bold as in source):
Last year more than 1.5 million Britons thought about moving away from their local area due to young people hanging around and 1.7 million avoided going out after dark as a direct result.

British adults are less likely than those in other European countries to stop teenagers committing anti social behaviour. Sixty five per cent of Germans, 52 per cent of Spanish and 50 per cent of Italians would be willing to intervene if they saw a group of 14 year old boys vandalising a bus shelter, compared to just 34 per cent of Britons.
So, what's the problem?
In the past, local parents tended to look out for children in a community, deciding what behaviour was appropriate, how it should be dealt with and supporting each other in doing so. In closer knit communities, adults supervised their neighbours' children. These days, adults tend to turn a blind eye or cross over on the other side of the road rather than intervene in the discipline of another person’s child, often because they fear they might be attacked.
The elderly, far more vulnerable than adolescents thugs, are apparently bringing this violence on themselves. And the situation isn't going to get better any time soon:
A rise in social paedophobia will simply make matters worse.
Nicolas Sarkozy also feels little sympathy for the victims of crime:
I would like to say one thing, in what is my conception of the Republic, security is the responsibility of the State, I am against militias, I am against the private ownership of firearms, and I’m trying to make you think about that. If you are assaulted by an armed burglar, he’ll use his weapon more effectively than you anyway so you’re risking your life. If the criminal is not armed and you are and you shoot, your life will be ruined, because killing someone over a theft is not in line with the republican values that are mine. The private ownership of firearms is dangerous. I understand your exasperation for having been burglarized two times, I understand the fear that your wife and daughter may have but the answer is in the efficiency of the police and the efficiency of the judiciary process, the answer is not in having guns at home.
The police who arrive 20 minutes later aren't going to be much help to the someone who is beaten senseless and robbed. Maybe if old timers were armed and trained in the use of firearms...

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Airtours is offering Britons a 23 day, 32,000 kilometer, 10 stop, £4,499 planet-killer of an around the world flight:
As environmentalists were quick to point out, they will also emit a staggering 2,289 tonnes of carbon - equivalent to the weight of 286 double-decker buses.

"This must be one of the most polluting package holidays possible," said a spokesman for Friends of the Earth yesterday.
Thus a whole new area of toruism opens up, the environment polluting holiday. I wouldn't mind taking a flame-thrower to one of those carbon laden Siberian peat bogs that's going to thaw out eventually anyway. Sounds like fun.


As most of you are probably aware, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entertained the crowd at this year's Qods day rally by threatening Israel, America and Europe:
He repeated predictions that Israel would soon disappear but, in a fresh warning, said European countries could pay a much higher price than the US for their backing.

"We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbours of the nations in this region," he said. "We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt. It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals ... this is an ultimatum. Don't complain tomorrow."
The atmosphere at the rally was festive despite (or perhaps because of) Ahmadinejad's bluster:
Mr Ahmadinejad's outburst came amid a carnival atmosphere in which throngs of children carrying balloons milled among the crowds. Dozens swapped paintings depicting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for T-shirts donated by Tehran city council.

A display of banners featured one bearing the phrase "Israel must be wiped off the map" in Hebrew. Others accused companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Nestlé and Marks and Spencer of being pro-Israel. A stall recruiting potential "martyrs" was selling CD-roms showing volunteers from the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas preparing suicide attacks against Israel.
To show that Ahmadinejad also has a lighter side the Guardian features an audio report from Tehran, the link titled "Ahmadniejad pokes fun at Zionist lobby." The fun gets poked when Ahmadinejad mocks the Zionist lobby for failing to organize effective demonstrations during his recent visit to New York. Not many people could pull off Islamofascist stand-up.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The ABC today aired an interview with former Australia Defence Force supremo General Peter Cosgrove. The way the ABC plays up Iraq's non-possession of WMDs you'd think this was a point of contention:
ELEANOR HALL: The former leader of Australia's Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, has acknowledged that Australia entered the war in Iraq on a false premise.

It was the first time General Cosgrove has made such a definitive statement on the debate over the Iraq war. He made the comments in Sydney where his biography was being launched by the Prime Minister.
The banner for the interview reads, "Australia went into Iraq on false premise: Cosgrove." I'm sure Elanor Hall and the majority of ABC staffers would have much preferred Cosgrove to have insisted that Iraq actually did have WMDs. Anyway, what did Cosgrove say that's so revealing?
Well, I think at the outset, we went in on a premise which we now know was not correct - that there were weapons of mass destruction - so, set that aside, I think you would want to make sure that the defence force that they had at the time could somehow help you earlier than they were able to by being sent home and then having to be re-recruited, retrained.
Yep, Cosgrove admitted some mistakes were made but says nothing about lies or deceptions. And what of the notion the Iraq war is making us less safe?
ANNIE GUEST: You've made comments about the effectiveness of the campaign in Iraq, in quelling terrorism. Do you think it may have fuelled that activity?

PETER COSGROVE: No, I believe that what we've seen is obviously an ability for people of that ideology to focus on a particular geographical space. But if you look at this perhaps as a global campaign, in many other places, terrorism has been thwarted.

ANNIE GUEST: Sure, so what you're saying is there's been success fighting terrorism some parts of the globe, but those campaigns in the Middle East haven't held?

PETER COSGROVE: No, I didn't say that at all. I'm saying that obviously where the coalition presents a critical mass, people who are focused on terrorism see an opportunity there, but by the same token, this global war in terrorism is showing us that we can keep the populations safe.
Hmm, it seems to me the ABC could have used a banner like "War in Iraq does not make us less safe: Cosgrove" instead of the obviously much more negative non-revelation concerning WMDs. The leading question from Annie guest makes the ABC's anti-government agenda clear.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Northern Territory's policy of naming and shaming juvenile offenders is under attack:
ANNE BARKER: Barrister Mark Hunter believes the Territory laws not only breach Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, but fly in the face of what justice is all about.

MARK HUNTER: It can have a disintegrative and stigmatising effect, tending to create a class of outcasts, particularly within already marginalised sectors of the young population.
The ABC's The Law Report covered this in early October:
Damien Carrick: Barrister Mark Hunter speaking there about one of his clients who was 15 when he was involved in a brawl and was charged with a number of counts of aggravated assault.

When he went to court, the teenager made it onto the front page of Darwin's daily newspaper.

The boy's father, Doug Duncan, says even years later the whole family, but especially his son, are still paying the price.

Doug Duncan: He walks around with a chip on his shoulder now because it's just very hard for him to get a job, because then he's recognised and put on the front of the papers.

Damien Carrick: Do people ever approach him in the street, or did people at the time approach him in the street and say, "I recognise you?"

Doug Duncan: Yes, when he was 17, after he went to court and everything, he'd been picked on shopping centres up here, walked over, approached by older... and blokes walking over and saying, "You're the little punk that was on the pages" and everything.

Damien Carrick: Tell me, was there any impact on yourself and other family members?

Doug Duncan: Yes, my wife used to get up at night, having problems with sleeping, trying to think what's happening to him and everything. But even myself, we couldn't have a decent night's sleep over it. Look, I don't condone what my son has done or anything, in any way, shape or form, but to name them like that, I think you're just cutting their legs out from under them; they've got no option but to go on the streets, live on the streets, and live by their wits. They can't get jobs, decent jobs, anyhow. And with him, we're six years down the line now, and he still can't get a job.
The ABC revisited this story today, with Doug Duncan's story now a bit different:
ANNE BARKER: A few years ago Doug Duncan's 15-year-old son got himself into a brawl and was charged with several counts of assault. He was convicted and given a two-year good behaviour bond, a penalty he's long since paid.

DOUG DUNCAN: Well, he can't get a decent job, he can't go out in public, he cannot dare show his face around town.

ANNE BARKER: Even now?

DOUG DUNCAN: Yeah, even now. You know, his mother still has nightmares him getting hurt or something or the police are going to damage him, or something. He's picked on by the police, the police picks on him all the time now.
Naming and shaming either forces kids to live on the streets or prevents them leaving the house. If they aren't leaving the house they're probably not being a nuisance to the community. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


In an efffort to stifle the free flow of information the Iranian government is shutting down too-independent newspapers and confiscating privately owned satellite dishes. The internet, already censored, is being slowed down:
In a blow to the country's estimated 5 million internet users, service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages. The move by Iran's telecommunications regulator will make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.
Jeez, you'd think Ahmadnijad and his merry men are civil rights-stealing Republicans.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


As previously noted, some dubious American art is on display in London. Adrian Searle also dislikes the works but not because it's outrageous:
After 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina, after Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, what should one expect from American culture, apart from rage and crawl-into- a-hole-in-the-ground-and-die abjection?

Most of art's audience already know what they think about the state of America and the war on terror. The job of artists, novelists, film-makers, musicians and playwrights demands that they go further than stating the obvious. USA Today is an expression, more than anything, of impotence.
A Bushitler painting spattered with real Iraqi blood would have been a show-stopper.


Any who remain could end up collaterally damaged:
The head of the Islamabad-based Al-Quds Media Centre has received an audio message from a senior Taliban leader in which he asked Muslims living in the US to leave the country as soon as possible “because God’s punishment would fall on America in the month of Ramazan.”
If there is a God and he's wanting to punish someone...

Monday, October 16, 2006


P. J. O'Rourke makes a long overdue return to form:
Immigration policy will fence the border, providing economic stimulus to the Mexican ladder industry. The National Guard is stationed on the Rio Grande--U.S. troops standing between you and yard care. President Bush said that if illegal immigrants want citizenship they'd have to do three things: pay taxes, hold meaningful jobs, and learn English. Bush doesn't meet those qualifications.
The Democrats don't get away unbloodied:
There is also the problem of issues for the Democrats to run on. You're going to elect Democrats to control government spending? And you're going to marry Angelina Jolie for her brains. The privacy issue--government spying on U.S. citizens--isn't going to work. True, NSA has been collecting all our telephone information, but anyone who's answered the phone during dinner knows that every telemarketer on earth has that information already. Illegal immigration? When the Democrats were in charge, the illegal immigrants were from al Qaeda. And as for Iraq, the best the Democrats have been able to do is make the high school sex promise: "I'll pull out in time, honest."

Maybe I won't work for the Demo crats. It's too much of a job. And jobs are not something the Democratic base is famous for having. Maybe I'll just act like a Democrat and stay away from the polls on November 7 and hang around the house drinking beer. In fact, I think I'll start practicing that now, so I'll be ready on Election Day.
Read the whole thing to be reminded why you hate all politicians.


The World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) is vigourously campaigning for the adoption of the European Union's proposed legislation that would eliminate a number of currently legal "toxic" chemicals. The European Commission, through its Directorate General Environment, in turn provides financial support to the WWF (see bottom of linked page). That seems to make WWF REACH campaign one of those fake grassroots public relations efforts (aka Astroturf organizations) lefties are always crying about.

Well, scientists are fighting back:
Leading toxicologists have warned green groups are "misleading" the public with chemical contamination campaigns.

They said they are deliberately and unfairly scaring the public.

In particular, they criticised a WWF campaign that has highlighted the presence of chemicals in blood, food and in babies' umbilical cords.

The scientists said the minute levels detected did not warrant the group's focus on health dangers, but WWF has denied it was scare-mongering.
An environmental group trying to scare us? Never. Hit that last link and read the whole thing.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


British Muslim support teacher Aishah Azmi has been suspended for refusing to work unveiled. The suspension is under review. Ms Azmi offered this justification for hiding her face:
"The veil is really important to all Muslim women who choose to wear it. Our religion compels us to wear it because it's in the Koran."
If the Koran compels Muslim women to wear a veil how is that many choose not to?

Update: In other religion related job suspension news:
BRITISH Airways has suspended a Christian woman who wears a necklace with a crucifix to work, even though it allows Muslims and Sikhs to wear headscarves and turbans, a newspaper reported overnight.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Richard Horton, certified moonbat and George Galloway support act, has had an interesting tenure as editor of The Lancet. In 1998 The Lancet published former Horton colleague Andrew Wakefield's bogus study linking the MMR vaccine to autism, laying the groundwork for a legal assault on the vaccine's evil profit-making manufacturer.

When it became obvious that Wakefield's study was fatally flawed -- one of the problems being the extremely small cherry-picked sample of only 12 children -- Horton immediately turned on Wakefield, disowning (in an underhanded way) the study. But the damage had been done, however, with concerned parents in developed nations shunning the vaccine -- contributing to something of a mumps epidemic and parental distrust of vaccines in general.

In 1999 The Lancet published a study by Dr Arpad Pusztai and Dr Stanley Ewen making controversial claims regarding the safety of GM foods. Following Pusztai's comments that publication in The Lancet vindicated his research findings Horton commented:
"This is absolutely not a vindication of Dr Pusztai's claims. But we can now draw a line under the phoney debate we have had for the last year."
Anti-GM activists clearly saw The Lancet's publication of the study as crucial:
Charles Secrett, executive director of anti-GM campaigners Friends of the Earth said: "We think the publication of the work in the Lancet is very important indeed. There is no scientific consensus about the safety of GM food. The government should stop all GM trials and take the precautionary approach - it is better to be safe than sorry."
The Royal Society was not amused at The Lancet's publication of the GM food study, which it regarded as flawed, with Horton claiming he was threatened with violence.

In 2005 Horton attacked the Royal Society for its lack of activism calling it "a lazy institution resting on its historical laurels" and "little more than a shrill and superficial cheerleader for British science." The Royal Society was not amused.

It's therefore no surprise that Horton has again published an Iraq death toll study by socialist darling Les Roberts. They worked together to try to swing the 2004 presidential election, as Horton has pretty much admitted:
"For the sake of a country in crisis and for a people under daily threat of violence, the evidence we publish today must change heads as well as pierce hearts."
It's no surprise that highly educated lefty activistists are again trying to influence an American election using the tools available to them.

Update: In 2003 The Lancet publicly advised doctors to "pause before prescribing" AstraZeneca's anti-cholesterol drug Crestor. The company was accused of marketing the drug "too hard and too fast." The drug has been successful nonetheless.

Update II: A survey published in The Lancet paints a damning picture of post-Aristide Haiti:
A shocking new report in the British medical journal the Lancet on human rights abuses in Haiti finds that 8,000 people were murdered and 35,000 women and girls raped during the U.S.-backed coup regime that followed Jean Bertrand Aristide.
An impartiality issue has emerged, however:
Ms. Kolbe herself is now the subject of controversy after revelations that the 30-year-old master's degree student at Wayne State University's school of social work in Detroit used to be an advocacy journalist who wrote under the name Lyn Duff and worked at a Haitian orphanage founded by Mr. Aristide.

"How can Kolbe/Duff's research into the issues of human-rights violations be regarded as objective when she herself states that for 3.5 years she worked with the Lafanmi Selavi centre for street children, where she befriended Aristide himself and presumably some of the boys who later left the centre . . . [who] then acted as armed enforcers?" Charles Arthur, co-ordinator of the British-based Haiti Support Group, wrote this week in a letter of complaint to The Lancet
Maybe it's just me but it sure looks like The Lancet gets involved in lots of controversies.


Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a Christian-Jewish convert to Islam thought to be in Pakistan, is the first American in over 50 years to be charged with treason:
Originally thought to be merely a translator for al Qaeda, Gadahn, 28, has emerged recently as the most prominent American involved in extremist Islam thanks to his appearance in videos alongside al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
He discovered Islam as a teenager while living with his grandparents:
The grandson of a well-known Orange County urologist, Gadahn was home-schooled on a goat farm by parents who had "eclectic religious tastes [and] shunned the modern world," according to the Times.

At 16, he moved in with his grandparents — his grandfather was a board member of the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization — during a period of rebellion and soul-searching that saw him study fundamental Christianity, obsess over death-metal music and finally discover Islam on the Internet using his grandmother's computer, the Orange Country Register reported. He began attending a nearby Islamic Center where he was influenced by the followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is currently serving a life sentence for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Maybe goat-temptation screwed him up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


It looks like our enlightened European friends could soon be endarkened:
Europe is at risk of power shortages because demand exceeds investment in new power outlets, says consultancy firm Capgemini.

Colette Lewiner of Capgemini said the study represents a "wake-up call" for the energy industry, governments and regulators.

"How can companies plan for a 10 or 20-year return on investment when governments keep changing the rules of the game?" Ms Lewiner asked.
Never fear, the bureaucracy has a solution:
A commission action plan – due out next week - will propose new EU design regulations for household items such as boilers, TVs and light bulbs and suggest extending EU rules on energy-saving for building design.
A no-more-new-rules rule would be a real sign of progress.


Lefties are all lathered-up over the new Lancet study showing over 600,000 deaths resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Go figure.

With four posts on the study already (and lots of lefty bloggers linking to him) and lots of posts on the earlier Lancet study, computer scientist Tim Lambert is something of a self-appointed Lancet study expert. But when reading Lambert it must be remembered he's more of a political blogger than a science blogger.

One of Lambert's posts deals with the politics surrounding the study. Its title: How many Iraqis have to die before it is front page news? He starts off by accusing the Washington Post of downplaying the very important Lancet study:
The Washington Post buried the story of 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq on page A12.
The article does indeed appear on page A12. This ignores the fact that the WaPo front page features (above the fold) a large photo of a grieving Iraqi mother with a referral to the Lancet Iraq article on page A12 :
Study Cites Significantly Higher Death Rate

A new study says 655,000 more Iraqis have died violently since the invasion than otherwise would have been killed. A12
The WaPo couldn't have done much more to draw attention to the study.

Is Lambert intentionally misinforming his readers in an effort to score political points or did he simply fail to take the time to research this properly? He should correct his post regardless. Don't hold your breath.

Update: In another of Lambert's Lancet threads there's this comment from Donald Johnson:
Those of us who are American or British citizens should probably spend more of our energies writing to newspapers and politicians demanding a definitive study to determine how many people we are killing in Iraq and less time squabbling about it online. If the two governments refuse(as they almost certainly will) and if the press doesn't pressure them over it ( we're only talking about a humanitarian catastrophe possibly worse than Darfur and we're responsible), then that will tell us exactly how much we can trust either the press or the government to tell the truth on this issue.
Now I'm all for the coalition taking the blame (or credit depending on how you look at it) for any innocent Iraqi civilians killed as a result of military activity but if a local kills a local it's hardly the fault of the coalition. After all, except on rare occasions, we don't blame the police when someone is murdered.

Update II: Many thinks to Tim Blair for linking; my counter desperately needed the boost.

Update III: Lambert probably made the mistake of claiming the WaPo buried this story because he saw page A12 attached to the article online: in looking at the article online he didn't realize there was a photo and referral prominently displayed on the print edition's front page. As an experienced blooger he should have realized, however, that he was taking a chance in not checking to see what was on the front page of the print edition -- the pages are , after all, irrelevant in the online edition.

So, I've had a change of heart concerning the situation. My original post above was mildly accusatory but civil; frankly, that just doesn't do the situation justice. I've caught Lambert out again and again telling lie after lie after lie that he won't own up to. I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning if didn't call it like it is: the guy is a liar; nothing he writes can be trusted. End of story.

Update IV: Lambert has updated his post:
In comments, ragout informs me that the story was referenced on the front page. The actual story, however, was not on the front page, but buried on page 12.
Commenter chairman me points out the obvious to Lambert:
That is the lamest, most weasily defense I've seen in some time. So because they only included a huge picture of an Iraqi woman with a coffin plus a prominent referral to page A12, you consider it buried. You know sometimes it's better just to admit you did something boneheaded instead of defending it in such a way that makes you look ridiculous.
His response:
cm says:
You know sometimes it's better just to admit you did something boneheaded instead of defending it in such a way that makes you look ridiculous.
And the innumerate Lancet critics will be doing this when?
In short, he knows he's wrong but isn't about to admit. An interesting trait for a scientist.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Exactly how the North Korea situation will play out is uncertain. One possibility: "gnarly chaos".


Surely as a nuclear power North Korea could come up with something better than this:
"If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The statement didn't specify what those measures could be.
So, how are they going to retaliate... pester back?


The Italian journalists who revealed the US use of the dreaded but perfectly legal white phosphorous in Fallujah have discovered another use of questionable weaponry:
An investigative report to be aired on Italian television Wednesday raises the possibility that Israel has used an experimental weapon in the Gaza Strip in recent months, causing especially serious physical injuries, such as amputated limbs and severe burns.

The weapon is similar to one developed by the U.S. military, known as DIME, which causes a powerful and lethal blast, but only within a relatively small radius.
Jews using a a horrible new experimental weapon invented by Americans. The only thing this story is missing is a bombed orphanage. These are still allegations at this point but that didn't stop Haaretz putting this caption under the photo of an injured Palestinian:
Wounds inflicted by the experimental weapon used in strike [sic] on the Gaza Strip.
It seems the jury's in.


Australian lawyer Irfan Yusuf says he doesn't recognize the Islam (and its treatment of females) described in Ayaan Hirsi Ali's The Caged Virgin. I wonder if he recognizes Australian Islam?
A RELIGIOUS feud between a Muslim father and his teenage daughter may have sparked a bloody domestic dispute on the Gold Coast which left the man's wife dead and him fighting for life in hospital.

Police are investigating suggestions the violence erupted after the 17-year-old girl told her father she wanted to opt out of the Islamic faith and convert to Christianity. The girl's mother is believed to have stepped in to protect her daughter, only to be fatally stabbed with a kitchen knife.
It will also be interesting to see if those lefties currently voicing serious concerns about supposed corporate paedophilia have anything to say about this attempted murder of a Muslim female minor.

Editing note: "murder of a Muslim female minor" was corrected to "attempted murder of a Muslim female minor".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


It's almost as if the states are trying to force the federal government to become more involved in education:
The move to teach text messaging in some Victorian high schools has sparked more acrimony between state and federal education minsters.

The Federal Minister Julie Bishop has condemned it and says it proves that the federal government needs to implement a common national curriculum.
Professor John Frow supports the move to teach SMSing:
If we were simply teaching students how to do text messaging, then it would be a waste of time.

But if we're teaching them about the range of different languages that exist in English, and about translating from one language across to another, if we're teaching them both that kind of skill, but also to think critically about these processes of moving between languages, then that seems to me entirely appropriate.
That sounds reasonable but this from Professor Pam Peters is outright silly:
I doubt that most students when faced with a piece of paper or keyboarding in the fullest screen, would work with SMS which is very much a reduced code to fit into a tiny mobile phone screen, and people who use it know that's why you have those very cut-down words.

Once you've got a whole sheet of paper, a whole screen in which to craft your prose, there isn't this incentive to reduce it to the minimal.
We all have incentive to take accepted shortcuts like Mr, Mrs, PS and RSVP. If kids get accustomed to using truncated SMS language they'll be inclined to use it for the sake of economy; it's only natural. There'a also the little matter of SMSing and IQ reduction.


Al Gore has taken the Inconvenient Truth dog and pony show to Europe, where his doom mongering and bad-mouthing of the US is favourably received:
In line with the scientific research highlighted in his movie, Mr Gore suggested the world is currently going through a "full-scale planetary emergency."

"Our planet has a fever. And the fever has been going steadily higher and it's not going away," he added.

"I understand your frustration over the fact that the US had taken the wrong path," on this subject he said, referring to the current Republican administration's opposition to the Kyoto treaty as the country's "moral lapse."
The morally superior locals couldn't resist having a dig at the US and Bush:
EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, also present at the event co-organised by the Brussels-based think tank the Lisbon Council, noted that the world needed "the full involvement" of the most powerful country.

"A crucial next step will be for the United States to realise that it is in their own interest to lead the fight against climate change," he said, adding that he wished Europeans could vote in the US presidential elections to influence the country's policies that affect the globe.

The Brussels-based audience gave a loud cheer to Mr Dimas' comment referring back to the 2000 presidential elections when Mr Gore, under the Democrat administration of Bill Clinton, lost to his Republican competitor, the current president George W. Bush.
Funny, I'll bet this emissions' graphic didn't make it into the presentation.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Bill Clinton has hammered out a deal with five big US snack food companies to voluntarily limit kids' in-school access to calorie rich, salty foods. The plan hasn't even been implemented and the kids have come up with a work-around:
Carlos Rodriguez, 13, said his school already stocks its vending machines with health food — but it hardly matters.

"Kids will buy what they want," he said. "We just stop by the bodega on the way home."
That leaves the lefties with three fall-back strategies: put the kiddies into government run education camps: legislate the naughty foods out of existence; or take all of our money off us. We all know deep down they really want the trifecta.


Eyropean Commission vice-president Franco Frattini wants Europe's Muslims to respect European values if they themselves want respect:
We can guarantee respect of traditions of the Muslim community only if these are not in contrast with our core rules, even if they are unwritten."

He suggested that... silence by the European elite during the pope controversy was the same one that occurred some time later when Italy was shocked by cases of Muslim girls being locked at home or being killed by their own families.

"We are not governed by sharia, after all," he said in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica published on Monday (9 October).
I wonder if Irfan Yusuf recognizes the Islam that locks ups and kills its females?


News from North Korea:
The 4th National Korean Wrestling Tournament for the "Grand Bull Prize" was held at the Korean wrestling ground on Rungra Island of Pyongyang from September 28 to October 2 amid the great interests of the entire Korean people. Pak Chun Min from Pyongyang placed the first and won the grand bull prize.
No, the guy wasn't awarded a real bull; that would have blown the country's meat budget for the next six months.


Somehow I doubt many Republicans will be in the audience for the premiere of polysexual film director John Cameron Mitchell's latest film, Shortbus:
"I remember (Jerry) Falwell listing the direct causes of 9/11 as homosexuals, immigrants and a whole list of other things that were unbelievable," Mitchell says. "But that made sense psychologically. Anything that was 'other' was dangerous. A terrorist was equally as dangerous as two girls who wanted to get married."

So Mitchell decided to give his countrymen a fun date with their fears and "put that so-called scary thing in their face to remind them that it's something they can relate to."

One of the more memorable scenes depicts three men engaged in fellatio while singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Another shows one of the main characters, James, a former hustler who has severe depression, succeeding, through a series of yogic maneuvers, in fellating himself. Soon after this feat, he persuades his long-term boyfriend, also called James, to open up their relationship. The Jameses find their sexual solution in a beautiful younger man, whom they meet at the salon and bring home often.

The other main story line follows a couples counselor who has never had an orgasm. Like the classic porn movie "Deep Throat," the plot of "Shortbus" is driven by a woman's quest for sexual climax; but instead of making the quest hot, Mitchell fill its with sweet slapstick.
Unlike the makers of Deep Throat Mitchell has artistic pretensions. Like Deep Throat, Shortbus is probably crap.

Note: Corrected the spelling of Deep Throat and pretension. Duh.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Charles Krauthammer compares the Foley scandal to a similar situation involving a Democrat:
In 1983, REPRESENTATIVE GERRY Studds, Democrat of Massachusetts, admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old male page. He was censured by the House of Representatives. During the vote, which he was compelled by House rules to be present for, Studds turned his back on the House to show his contempt for his colleagues' reprimand. He was not expelled from the Democratic Caucus. In fact, he was his party's nominee in the next election in his district--and the next five after that--winning reelection each time. He remained in the bosom of the Democratic Caucus in the House for the next 13 years.

In 2006, Republican congressman Mark Foley was found to have been engaged in lurid sexual Internet correspondence with a 16-year-old House page. There is no evidence yet of his ever laying a hand on anyone, let alone having sex with a page. When discovered, he immediately resigned. Had he not, says Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "I would have demanded his expulsion." Not only is Foley gone, but half the Republican House leadership has been tarred. Hastert himself came within an inch of political extinction.

Am I missing something? There seems to be an odd difference in the disposition of the two cases. By any measure, what Studds did was worse. By any measure, his treatment was infinitely more lenient.
Krauthammer left out a few incidentals but got it essentially correct:
On July 14, 1983 the House Ethics Committee concluded that Rep. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) had engaged in sexual relationships with minors, specifically 17-year-old congressional pages. In Crane's case, it was a 1980 relationship with a female page and in Studds's case, it was a 1973 relationship with a male page. Both representatives immediately pleaded guilty to the charges and the committee decided to simply reprimand the two.

However, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) demanded their expulsion. On July 20, 1983, the House voted for censure, the first time that censure had been imposed for sexual misconduct. Crane, who subsequently apologized for his transgression, lost his bid for reelection in 1984.

Studds, although he did admit that he had made "a very serious error in judgement", also called a press conference with the former page, in which both stated that the young man, who was 17, consented. Studds did not break any U.S. laws in what he called a "private relationship." He continued to be reelected until his retirement in 1997.
Sex scandals are a big deal for Republicans; for Democrats they're business as usual.


A Canadian researcher thinks she has rediscovered a novel treatment for alcoholism:
Dr. Erika Dyck, who studies the history of medicine, recently published a paper on a series of experiments conducted by psychiatrists in Saskatchewan in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Dr. Humphry Osmond wanted to know whether a tab of acid could mimic the effect of delirium tremens in problem drinkers – and encourage them to quit.

“What he found was that the LSD caused these patients to undergo a kind of spiritual experience,” said Dyck.

Osmond and his colleagues dosed more than 700 volunteers with LSD over a decade of testing, and claimed about half of them managed to quit the bottle – at least during the follow-up period.
Treatment with LSD is, however, not risk free:
“One patient described his experience and said, ‘There are some worms. They’re nodding at me. Am I dying? I must be dying because they’re eating my flesh,’” Dyck wrote.
Mescal drinkers beware.


How many Muslims have Israelis killed over the years? How many Muslims have Muslims killed? Why does the world loudly condemn the former while largely ignoring the latter? Possible answers here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Ayaan Hirsi Ali's The Caged Virgin is "reviewed" by Irfan Yusuf in the Weekend Australian. Actually, it's a subtle attack on Hirsi Ali masquerading as a review.

Yusuf doesn't recognise the Islam described by Hirsi Ali:
One would expect Ayaan Hirsi Ali's criticisms of Islam to be based on knowledge and experience. She was, after all, born into a conservative Muslim environment, reared "to be a Muslim, a good Muslim" with family life dominated by Islam "down to the smallest detail". Further, her book, subtitled A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason, would also be expected to contain elements of Islam that Muslims immediately recognise.

Ali and I were born in the same year, and we grew up in middle-class, culturally Muslim families. Yet I found her descriptions of a typical Islamic upbringing almost completely unfamiliar.
Without realizing it Yusuf, a male, accounts for his non-recognition of the Islam Hirsi Ali describes:
Its difficult themes reflect her troubled upbringing as the daughter of a political dissident frequently on the move.
It could be that Yusuf, as a Muslim male, just doesn't want to acknowledge that Hirsi Ali accurately describes the plight of many Muslim women. The fact that most of the "review" is devoted to discrediting Hirsi Ali leads me to think that's the case.

It's also worth noting that Yusfu's review is strikingly similar, especially in describing Hirsi Ali's background, to an earlier, equally scathing review in The Nation.

Friday, October 06, 2006


The Royal Academy of Arts in London is trying to pass crap off as art:
The show features semen-stained newspapers, a painting of a young girl performing a sex act on a man, and a battle scene involving rats.
Here's more on the sticky newspapers:
Adopting all the attitude of hip hop posturing, Dash Snow’s Fuck the Police presents a prized collection of newspaper headlines emblazoned with instances cop corruption. Each salacious story is splattered with cum and framed and mounted as a trophy. Wittily combining protest with hard-core bravado, Snow’s installation draws upon fictional connotations to conjure sociopathic images of gangsta persona. In his ballsy statement of counter-culture vehemence, Snow merges Warhol reference with Tarantino sensationalism in humorously pathological display.
Dash just loves to play with his camera (CAUTION: SEXUALLY EXPLICIT).

Art was once about masterful creation; now it's about breaking taboos. Sad, really.


Serially unsilenced whiner Antony Loewenstein takes up the cause of unfortunate Aussie Jew David Langsam, who's suffering blowback following ill-considered comments:
I wrote: "If an Arab country did to Israel what Israel is doing to Lebanon - let alone Palestine - it would have been nuked weeks ago." I thought it was witty. Others thought it half-witted.
Bear in mind this guy's a professional writer. So, you'd reckon the mighty Israel lobby went after Langsam baying for blood, right? Wrong:
Two of the most important people in my family misinterpreted my letter and instead of seeing it as a simple condemnation of misdirected Israeli brutality using overwhelming force, turned the meaning around.

Somehow my closest family members turned that into a call for nuking Israel. Given that I oppose uranium mining let alone nuclear weapons, one might have paused to consider the likelihood of that conclusion, but they did not, which demonstrates that people don't necessarily hear the message a writer attempts to input.
So, how does Langsam respond to this family problem? He goes on ABC radio and has a big cry. I'll bet that smoothed the ruffled feathers. Loewenstein is, by the way, something of a family alienation expert.


Environmental consultant Aron Gingis makes a dire, and highly scientific, prediction for Tasmania should the proposed Gunn's pulp mill ever be built:
TIM JEANES: How can a pulp mill change rainfall?

ARON GINGIS: The pulp mill will produce large quantities of fine and ultra-fine particles, which by mixing with the clouds will change the cloud microphysics and make this cloud in fact constipated, in other words, the clouds will be still rolling in, but production ability of those clouds will be substantially reduced.
It sounds like Metamucil cloud seeding might be in order. Either that or all that water will remain airborne forever.


The Australian reports on a carjacking in Sydney's west:
The pair were approached by five young men of Middle Eastern appearance after parking outside a cinema on Parramatta Road in Auburn about 8.20pm yesterday, police said.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the same story:
The pair were approached by five young men after parking outside a cinema on Parramatta Road in Auburn about 8.20pm yesterday, police said.
Maybe SMH staff just missed the appearance part in their haste to get this story out. Let's see what the police report says:
Police are appealing for public assistance following a carjacking incident in Sydney’s west yesterday.

Police believe five males with the following descriptions might be able to assist with their inquiries.

The first is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance...

The second male is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance...

The third man is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance...

The fourth and fifth males are described as being of Middle Eastern appearance...
Maybe not.

Via reader Mark C.


The Australian Consumers' Association's publication Choice, deeply concerned that Australian children are rapidly turning into little (or is that big?) tubs of lard and aware that parents are no longer willing to control their offspring, offers a solution to the obesity epidemic:
Given the grave nature of childhood obesity, CHOICE thinks immediate and urgent precautionary measures are warranted, in the form of government regulation of food marketing to children across all media. [Bold in original.]
Too much government is never enough.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


An inconvenient finding:
The data revealed that electrons released by cosmic rays act as catalysts, which significantly accelerate the formation of stable, ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules which are building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei. A vast numbers of such microscopic droplets appeared, floating in the air in the reaction chamber.

‘We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons do their work of creating the building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei,’ says team leader Henrik Svensmark, who is Director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research within the Danish National Space Center. ‘This is a completely new result within climate science.’

The experimental results lend strong empirical support to the theory proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen that cosmic rays influence Earth’s climate through their effect on cloud formation. The original theory rested on data showing a strong correlation between variation in the intensity of cosmic radiation penetrating the atmosphere and the amount of low-altitude clouds. Cloud cover increases when the intensity of cosmic rays grows and decreases when the intensity declines.

It is known that low-altitude clouds have an overall cooling effect on the Earth’s surface. Hence, variations in cloud cover caused by cosmic rays can change the surface temperature. The existence of such a cosmic connection to Earth’s climate might thus help to explain past and present variations in Earth’s climate.

Interestingly, during the 20th Century, the Sun’s magnetic field which shields Earth from cosmic rays more than doubled, thereby reducing the average influx of cosmic rays. The resulting reduction in cloudiness, especially of low-altitude clouds, may be a significant factor in the global warming Earth has undergone during the last century. However, until now, there has been no experimental evidence of how the causal mechanism linking cosmic rays and cloud formation may work.
Svensmark didn't exactly gloat but couldn't resist a bit of a dig at the Al Gore crowd:
"The greenhouse effect must play some role. But those who are absolutely certain that the rise in temperatures is due solely to carbon dioxide have no scientific justification. It's pure guesswork."
Svensmark must be a brave man; the global warmingists don't take dissent kindly.


A British Bobby has been reassigned in unusual circumstances:
PC Alexander Omar Basha - a member of the Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Group - refused to be posted [to guard the Israeli embassy] because he objected to Israeli bombings in Lebanon and the resulting civilian casualties of fellow Muslims.

In a move which has caused widespread astonishment at Scotland Yard, senior officers in the DPG agreed that that PC Basha should be given an alternative posting.
It's just as well he asked to be reassigned rather than realizing in the middle of a terrorist attack that he doesn't want to protect Israelis.

Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair was apparently not involved in the reassignment but probably approves:
Last night senior Scotland Yard sources stressed the decision not to post PC Basha to the Israeli embassy was taken by 'locally' senior officers in the DPG.

They stressed Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, who has been dubbed Britain's most politically correct police chief, had "absolutely no involvement in the case".

But Met insiders blame Sir Ian for creating a culture of political correctness since taking over as head of the force in February last year.

One of the first initiatives taken by Sir Ian after taking up the post was to change the Met's log from a handwritten style to a bland type in capitals because it discriminated against short-sighted people.

Next he approved the hiring of 24 'diversity advisors' to give advice on race and gay issues to police investigating major crimes.

Last year he was found 'guilty' of 'hanging three white detectives out to dry' to prove his anti-racist credentials.
Allowing Basha to reject the assignment does indeed set a dangerous precedent:
The case has provoked unease from those who worry that officers may be able to start picking and choosing their duties. John O'Connor, a former Flying Squad commander, told today's Sun: "This is the beginning of the end for British policing. If they can allow this, surely they'll have to accept a Jewish officer not wanting to work at an Islamic national embassy? Will Catholic cops be let off working at Protestant churches. Where will it end?"
Nah, political correctness isn't a problem.

Update: Jonathan Freedland reports that safety concerns may have motivated Basha to seek reassignment:
The Association of Muslim Police Officers says that PC Basha pulled out not for moral reasons but on "welfare" grounds, since he had family in both Lebanon and Syria. According to this version, the constable felt "uncomfortable and unsafe" outside the Israeli embassy.

That would put the case in a rather different light, but still we would need to know more. Did he feel "uncomfortable" simply because he disapproved of Israel's actions? If he did, then that's just another way of saying he didn't want to serve on moral grounds.

Or perhaps the crucial word here is "unsafe". It's unlikely that the constable feared Israeli diplomatic staff were going to beat up a uniformed officer of the Metropolitan police, so he must have had some other threat in mind. Perhaps he feared, as James Naughtie suggested on the Today programme (audio file), that he would be "subject to intimidation and violence" from his fellow Muslims, if they discovered where he was working.

If that turns out to have been the reason, then there can be few who would object to his reassignment.
I fear there's no hope for Britain.

Via the always informative Brussels Journal.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Following close on news that some Muslim taxi drivers refuse to transport alcohol carrying fares comes unsettling news that the Australian government is under pressure to mandate ethanol's use as a fuel. Looks like Australia's Muslims might have to give up driving: I mean, if it's haram to operate a vehicle containing a sealed bottle of hooch, it just wouldn't be right to drive around with a multi-litre fuel tank full of the stuff. Life can be so complicated.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Medical anthropologist Ann Hale, is studying humour:
She believes jokes rely on the juxtaposition of two mismatched or incompatible concepts.

For example, she tells the joke about the prisoner who plays cards with his wardens. But the prisoner cheats, so they kick him out of prison.

"Prisons have rules that they lock you up," Ms Hale said.

"But if you cheat you get kicked out. So you have two concepts there."
That explains why I find the combined concepts lefty and common sense so funny. Here are two more that are good for a laugh: Bill Maher and funny. How about academic and useful? The possibilities are endless.

Update: Science PhD candidate and literate?

Monday, October 02, 2006


With the World Health Organization's Roll Back Malaria program proving less than a roaring success something needed to be done. The new head of the malaria program, head-kicker Dr. Arata Kochi, is determined to get results. The WHO's entrenched bureaucracy is, of course, resisting Kochi-instigated change -- it's an institutional inertia thing.

Being a lefty, self-appointed malaria guru Tim Lambert supports the bureaucrats against the new boss who's quite happy for those not totally committed to actually controlling malaria to find some place else to work, the sooner the better. Kochi's support for the wider use of DDT also riles Lambert. Thus Lambert's recent hatchet job on Kochi.

Lambert starts off his post with a long excerpt from a New York Times article by Celia W. Dugger. The anti-Kochi article focuses on his advocacy of the dreaded DDT which Dugger incorrectly claims is "documented" as "causing cancer." Dugger also makes a big deal of Kochi's supposedly dictatorial style, from which Lambert deduces that Kochi thinks he knows more about malaria than do the experts on his staff. Perhaps Kochi would be more supportive of his staff had they produced results.

Lambert then finds fault with a WHO press release, claiming it lies in saying the WHO began to turn away from DDT in the early 1980s. A long excerpt from a journal (to get around Lambert's link bouncing copy and paste http://timlambert.org/2005/10/curtis/ ) is offered as proof that DDT was still the WHO's malaria insecticide of choice in 1994. Here's what the article says:
The World Health Organization and many malariologists argued strongly that the ban should not be extended to its use against DDT-susceptible malaria vectors. W.H.O. (1984) recommended DDT as the insecticide of choice for such vectors.
Did Lambert lie in claiming DDT was still the WHO's malaria insecticide of choice in 1994 when his source refers to 1984? Regardless, it's silly of Lambert to try to discredit the whole WHO press release because of a quibble about dates -- the WHO did turn away from DDT; who cares if this happened in the early, mid or late 1980s?

Lambert then says that DDT was downgraded from "insecticide of choice" to simply recommended because there were concerns about its adverse health effects. This is really strange because DDT has been intensely studied and is of very low toxicity to humans. In any event, the WHO still recommends Bendiocarb for indoor spraying despite its withdrawal from the American market, in part because it is especially harmful to children when used indoors.

As proof that the WHO continued to promote DDT Lambert offers a quote from former malaria program bureaucrat Alan Schapira:
WHO has never given up in its efforts to ensure access to DDT where it is needed.
Lambert has selectively quoted Schapira in an effort to deceive. Here's the Schapira quote in broader context ( http://timlambert.org/2005/02/ddt2/ ):
When interviewed, I explained that we sometimes had to give up trying to convince a specific donor to financially support indoor spraying with DDT, if they flatly refused because of its perceived toxicity and ecological hazard. This has occasionally occurred in countries where the government wished to use DDT, and there was evidence that it was the best option for malaria-vector control.

However, in general terms, the WHO has never given up in its efforts to ensure access to DDT where it is needed. At meetings of the intergovernmental negotiation committee on the Stockholm Convention—which seeks to control the spread of persistent organic pollutants—the WHO has successfully defended the right of countries to use DDT for disease-vector control, if no suitable alternative can be found. The WHO also supports worldwide efforts to develop alternative products and phase in alternative control strategies.
So, the WHO defended the right to use DDT if no alternative was available while favouring the development of alternative products and strategies. The WHO was clearly not promoting DDT use.

Lambert also offers a Roll Back Malaria statement on the use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) as proof that the WHO promotes DDT use. Whereas the statement does support IRS in some circumstances, DDT is not mentioned. This is another Lambert deception; there are more than 10 WHO approved insecticides available for indoor spraying.

The case in then made for ITNs as the vector control method of choice for tropical Africa, with a WHO report cited as proof. Here's the crucial part:
Africa south of the Sahara, except for South Africa and some of the islands, was not incorporated into the global malaria eradication campaign of 1955-1969, except for a number of pilot projects aimed at examining the feasibility of interrupting malaria transmission. Therefore, few of the countries developed the infrastructure to undertake IRS on a national scale. As a consequence, most countries have concentrated their malaria control efforts on the development of primary health care to make appropriate disease management accessible to the whole population, limiting mosquito control to urban areas and certain economic development projects.

This situation weighted heavily in favour of ITNs versus IRS as the malaria vector control measure of choice for tropical Africa.
This doesn't say that ITNs are better than IRS, it's a justification for the decision to opt for ITNs instead of IRS. I suppose we'd all be better off walking if the government hadn't decided to invest in transport infrastructure.

Lambert then provides several extracts from the new WHO position statement on indoor residual spraying. He aims to show that under Kochi the WHO's malaria program will charge into using DDT IRS in situations where it might be inappropriate. Oddly, Lambert fails to note the report's first paragraph:
WHO’s Global Malaria Programme recommends the following three primary interventions that must be scaled up in countries to effectively respond to malaria, towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals for malaria by 2015 and other health targets:

• diagnosis of malaria cases and treatment with effective medicines;
• distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to achieve full coverage of populations at risk of malaria; and
• indoor residual spraying (IRS) as a major means of malaria vector control to reduce and eliminate malaria transmission including, where indicated, the use of DDT.
Sounds reasonable to me.

Nothing Lambert writes about the use of DDT in the fight against malaria can be trusted to be correct.


If Robert Fisk is to be believed -- I can't believe I just typed that -- Jews are some of the world's best marksmen. First an Israeli air-to-ground missile hits an ambulance dead centre on the Red Cross painted on its roof. Now it emerges that an Israeli warship fired a single shot hitting the cab of a pick-up truck packed with 27 people. This is truly amazing considering the distance involved: you see, the Israeli navy was by this time (July 15th) staying well off the coast after one of its vessels had been hit by a missile the day before while some 16 km out to sea.

Now, I have no idea what happened to the pick-up, if anything, and I'm certainly not making light of any deaths that might have resulted, but Fisk's retelling of this tale just doesn't ring true:
Ali Kemal drove north from Marwahin, away from the Israeli border, then west towards the sea. He must have seen the Israeli warship and the Israeli naval crew certainly saw Ali's pick-up. The Israelis had been firing at all vehicles on the roads of southern Lebanon for three days - they hit dozens of civilian cars as well as ambulances and never once explained their actions except to claim that they were shooting at "terrorists". At a corner of the road, where it descends to the sea, Ali Kemal suddenly realised his vehicle was overheating and he pulled to a halt. This was a dangerous place to break down. For seven minutes, he tried to restart the pick-up.

According to Mohamed's son Wissam, Ali - whose elderly mother Sabaha was sitting beside him in the front - turned to the children with the words: "Get out, all you children get out and the Israelis will realise we are civilians." The first two or three children had managed to climb out the back when the Israeli warship fired a shell that exploded in the cab of the pick-up, killing Ali and Sabaha instantly. "I had almost been able to jump from the vehicle -- my mother had told me to jump before the ship hit us," Wissam says. "But the pressure of the explosion blew me out when I had only one leg over the railing and I was wounded. There was blood everywhere."
Hmm, this all sounds vaguely familiar. Here's something new, the hovering low-flying Apache:
Within a few seconds, Wissam says, an Israeli Apache helicopter arrived over the f vehicle, very low and hovering just above the children. "I saw Myrna still in the pick-up and she was crying and pleading for help. I went to get her and that's when the helicopter hit us. Its missile hit the back of the vehicle where all the children were and I couldn't hear anything because the blast had damaged my ears. Then the helicopter fired a rocket into the car behind the pick-up. But the pilot must have seen what he was doing. He could see we were mostly children. The pick-up didn't have a roof. All the children were crammed in the back and clearly visible."

Wissam talks slowly but without tears as he describes what happened next. "I lost sight of Myrna. I just couldn't see her any more for the dust flying around. Then the helicopter came back and started firing its guns at the children, at any of them who moved. I ran away behind a tel [a small hill] and lay there and pretended to be dead because I knew the pilot would kill me if I moved. Some of the children were in bits."
Isn't it just like Jews to throw caution to the wind, hovering a helicopter where it's vulnerable to small-arms fire, RPGs and missiles, in order to confirm it's children they're attacking, and then machine-gunning the wounded?

Fisk may have it right but he's not to be trusted, ever:
...Israel would respond with 34 days of air-strikes and bombardments that killed more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians. Hizbollah missiles would kill fewer than 200 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
Hezbollah rockets mostly killed civilians:
Hezbollah's rocket force possesses about 13,000 rockets and is Hezbollah's main attack weapon in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, having fired some 3,970 rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon, killing at least 42 civilians and 12 soldiers (as of August 14, 2006).

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Organic rules bar the use of manufactured fertilizer on their crops, so organics use composted manure and other animal wastes on their fields. Animal manure is the ultimate source of the virulent E. coli O157:H7, which contaminated the spinach.