My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam.
I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)
So much for Energy Saving Day...
I know people here are thinking about having a similar sort of day here...I hope the public acts the same way.
Energy Saving Day was a flop, its organiser admitted last night after the National Grid confirmed that across Britain energy use went up by just over one per cent.
The day, which began at dusk on Wednesday evening with candles being lit in St Paul's cathedral, had received the backing of the minister for climate change, Joan Ruddock, Lord May, the former president of the Royal Society, and groups including the National Trust, Tesco and the power companies.
The E Day website encouraged participants to turn off as many appliances as possible and to leave them unused for as long as possible.
But by mid afternoon it was clear from the meters on the Day's website that consumption was about 600 megawatt hours across the country, higher than what the National Grid estimated was used on a normal February day.
Will Abbas turn to terror???
Geez...and he's considered the moderate!
Israel's partner in peace talks and the head of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority - enjoys a reputation as a "moderate," largely in light of his juxtaposition with the arch-terrorists of his rivals/allies in Hamas. However, he now says that terrorism and violence against Israel are actually the preferred approach, and certainly need not be ruled out in the future.
"At present," Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper A-Doustour, "I am against an armed struggle against Israel because we can't do it, but in the coming stages, things may change."
"I do not rule out a return to the way of armed struggle against Israel," he said in the Wednesday night interview.
Palestinians improving range of Kassams...
Who said the Palestinians don't have a thriving high-tech industry - why, they are really investing heavily in rocket technology...
Hamas will likely be able to expand the range of its homemade rockets to 20 kilometers by the end of the year, an Israel security official said Thursday.
Such an upgrade could give Hamas an unlimited supply of rockets for targeting the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, which is 17 kilometers from Gaza and has 110,000 residents, military analysts said.
Currently, Hamas uses smuggled military-issue Iranian rockets, of which it has a limited supply, to take occasional aim at Ashkelon. Four such rockets hit the southern part of the city Wednesday, including one that fell in the parking lot of a hospital, as part of an escalation in Israel-Gaza cross-border fighting that has killed 23 Palestinians and an Israeli man in the past two days.
The IDF said Hamas's rockets, which started out with a range of 7-8 kilometers in 2001, now have a reach of up to 16 kilometers. The rockets are widely referred to as Kassams because they were developed by Hamas's militant group's military wing, Izzedine al Kassam.
Muslim threats close a Berlin gallery.....
Muslims are learning that censorship works...
A Berlin gallery has temporarily closed an exhibition of satirical works by a group of Danish artists after six Muslim youths threatened violence unless one of the posters depicting the Kaaba shrine in Mecca was removed, it said on Thursday. The Galerie Nord in central Berlin said it had closed its "Zionist Occupied Government" show of works by Surrend, a group of artists who say they poke fun at powerful people and ideological conflicts.
On Tuesday, four days after the exhibition opened, a group of angry Muslims stormed into the gallery, shouting demands that one of the 21 posters should be removed, said the gallery.
"They were very agrressive and shouted at an employee that the poster should be taken down otherwise they would throw stones and use violence," the gallery's artistic director Ralf Hartmann told Reuters.
The Muslims objected to a depiction of the Kaaba -- the ancient shrine in Mecca's Grand Mosque which Muslims face to say their prayers -- which gave a "bitingly satirical commentary against radicalism," said the gallery in a statement.
Flying once in a lifetime???
Yes, so-called experts in Australia are calling for the drastic reduction of the use of cars and planes...
OVERSEAS trips may become a once-in-lifetime experience and car travel needed to be cut by 80 per cent if we have any hope of avoiding "dangerous" climate change, experts say.
Energy experts from Monash University said the carbon emission standards recommended by the government-hired Professor Ross Garnaut would not be possible if Australia’s love affair with cars and planes continued.
“The car is doomed,” Associate Professor Damon Honnery said.
“People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking.”
His colleague, Dr Patrick Moriarty, said air travel needed to be reduced by the year 2050 in order to meet the emission targets recommended by Prof Garnaut.
“An overseas trip might become a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than an annual event,” Dr Moriarty said.
How on earth do people get away with saying such stuff...this is from the UK...
The BBC has launched its biggest ever drive to recruit from ethnic minority groups, as it attempts to counter criticism of a lack of diversity.
The corporation has announced that 90 employees will join a mentoring programme over the next three years.
Half will be from ethnic minorities, 18 will be disabled and the remaining 27 posts will be open to anyone.
The corporation denied that the move constitutes positive discrimination, which is illegal.
Just 4.4 per cent of BBC managers are from ethnic minorities, far below its target of seven per cent, set by Greg Dyke, the former director general who described the corporation as "hideously white".
More on the temperature data...
I'm not predicting global cooling by any stretch...but how many cool months will it take before we start to forget about global warming?
Global warming sceptics are pointing to recent record cold temperatures in parts of North America and Asia and the return of Arctic Sea ice to suggest fears about climate change may be overblown.
According to the US National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the average temperature of the global land surface in January 2008 was below the 20th century mean (-0.02°F/-0.01°C) for the first time since 1982.
Temperatures were also colder than average across large swathes of central Asia, the Middle East, the western US, western Alaska and southeastern China.
The NCDC reported that the cold conditions were associated with "the largest January snow cover extent on record for the Eurasian continent and for the Northern Hemisphere".
In some parts of China and central Asia, snow fell for the first time in living memory, the NCDC noted.
"For the contiguous United States, the average temperature was 30.5°F (-0.83°C) for January, which was 0.3°F (0.2°C) below the 20th century mean and the 49th coolest January on record, based on preliminary data".
More on global cooling...
Source: World temperatures according to the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction.
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.
No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.
I've always heard coffee can be dangerous...
And, here's proof...
A married university professor has been sentenced to 180 lashes and eight months in prison for having coffee with a female student.
The professor of psychology at Umm al-Qra University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was caught in a "honey trap" operation after angering members of the religious police during a training course, his lawyer said.
The academic is said to have received a call from a supposed student, who asked to discuss a problem in person; he agreed, provided she brought along a brother as a chaperone.
When the man arrived at the meeting place, the girl was alone, and he was arrested for being in a state of khulwa - seclusion - with an unrelated female.
Any medic, muslim or otherwise, who won't adhere to proper hygiene should be fired..this is from the UK...
Health officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.
Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed.
Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest.
Similar concerns were raised at Leicester University and Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic refusing to "scrub" because it left her forearms exposed.
Al-Dura: An interview with Tom Gross
Is this what the Greens Want???
A society that looks like North Korea?Source: GlobalSecurity.Org
A New Ice Age???
Well..one cold winter does not make climate..but...
Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as "a drop in the bucket." Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to "stock up on fur coats."
He is not alone. Kenneth Tapping of our own National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.
The last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age that lasted about five centuries and ended in 1850. Crops failed through killer frosts and drought. Famine, plague and war were widespread. Harbours froze, so did rivers, and trade ceased.
It's way too early to claim the same is about to happen again, but then it's way too early for the hysteria of the global warmers, too.
An interesting conference on global warming....
...which will be totally ignored by the press....
Let's hope Mr. Lomborg is wrong in his fear that the media are uninterested in showcasing a real debate on climate change. The proof may be found next week, when hundreds of scientists, economists and policy experts who dissent from the "consensus" that climate change requires radical measures will meet in New York to discuss the latest scientific, economic and political research on climate change. Five tracks of panels will address paleoclimatology, climatology, global warming impacts, the economics of global warming and political factors. It will be keynoted by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has argued that economic growth is most likely to create the innovations and know-how to combat any challenges climate change could present in the future. (Information on the conference is here.)
The conference is being organized by the free-market Heartland Institute and 49 other co-sponsors, including a dozen from overseas. Heartland president Joseeph Bast says its politically incorrect purpose is to "explain the often-neglected 'other side' of the climate change debate. This will be their chance to speak out. It will be hard for journalists and policy makers to ignore us."
I wonder. Already, environmental groups have sent out their opinion to their media friends that the conference is simply a platform for corporate apologists and can safely be ignored. One group alleges the conference will have "no real scientists" present despite an impressive array of speakers such as Patrick Michaels, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Critics point out that ExxonMobil gave nearly $800,000 to Heartland between 1998 and 2005 and that the group's board of directors include several people with ties to energy companies. The authors of the blog Real Climate don't engage the issues raised by the conference but instead attack it as stuffed with shills. When Heartland experts tried to respond to those charges, they were blacklisted from the comments section of the Real Climate Web site.
All this has led the Western Standard, a Canadian magazine sympathetic to the global warming skeptics, to predict that "the gathering will be completely ignored, even though it's being held in the news media capital of the world." Let's hope not. Global warming is too important a subject to not to debate, and we in the U.S. may rue the day we rushed pell-mell into expensive and shortsighted solutions when much more rational and cost-effective ones were readily available.
Pakistan bans YouTube....
They don't want people to see the trailer for Geert Wilders film about Islam...
Pakistan has banned access to YouTube on the grounds that "anti-Islamic" movies have been posted on the site.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority told the country's 70 Internet service providers on Friday that the video sharing site would be blocked until further notice.
The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a movie trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release an anti-Koran movie portraying the religion as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.
Criticizing global warming from the left..
Alexander Cockburn is yet another heretic...here he talks about what's happened to him when he started challenging global warming dogma...
Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted. I wrote a series of articles on climate change issues for the Nation, which elicited a level of hysterical outrage and affront that I found to be astounding - and I have a fairly thick skin, having been in the business of making unpopular arguments for many, many years.
There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I sometimes think to myself, ‘Boy, I’m glad I didn’t live in the 1450s’, because I would be out in the main square with a pile of wood around my ankles. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus.
This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism. That is clear in the use of the word ‘denier’ to label those who question claims about anthropogenic climate change. ‘Climate change denier’ is, of course, meant to evoke the figure of the Holocaust denier. This was contrived to demonise sceptics. The past few years show clearly how mass moral panics and intellectual panics become engendered.
In my forthcoming book, A Short History of Fear, I explore the link between fearmongering and climate catastrophism. For example, alarmism about population explosion is being revisited through the climate issue. Population alarmism goes back as far as Malthus, of course; and in the environmental movement there has always been a very sinister strain of Malthusianism. This is particularly the case in the US where there has never been as great a socialist challenge as there was in Europe. I suspect, however, that even in Europe, what remains of socialism has itself turned into a degraded Malthusian outlook. It seems clear to me that climate catastrophism represents a new form of the politics of fear.
Killer cold snap in Vietnam...
Global warming hits again...
Record-setting cold weather has killed more than 8,000 cattle and 100,000 hectares of paddy rice in northern Vietnam since mid-January, officials said Tuesday. Most of the cattle have died in northern mountainous provinces, where temperatures during the month-long cold spell have sometimes dropped to below zero Celsius, a rarity in Vietnam.
"We fear that the number of cattle killed by coldness and shortage of food in northern provinces will keep rising in the coming days," said Hoang Kim Giao, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Livestock Department.
The cold spell, which the National Hydrometeorology Forecast Center says is the longest ever in Vietnam, has also killed up to 100,000 hectares of the winter-spring crop of paddy rice throughout the northern provinces.
A model muslim school???
Is this a typical case of a muslim school???
A prestigious Islamic school in London was forced to shred 2,000 textbooks used to poison pupils' minds with lessons of hate, a former teacher claimed yesterday.
Colin Cook, who taught English at the King Fahad Academy for 18 years, told a tribunal how "incompetent" Ofsted inspectors reported that the school's teaching of Islamic studies was "mostly good".
But their report was wildly inaccurate, he said, because pupils as young as five were being taught by rote from Arabic textbooks describing Jews as "monkeys" and Christians as "pigs".
Mr Cook said that when he exposed the racist teaching, the school's head Dr Sumaya Alyusuf lied on television, insisting that hateful passages had never been taught.
Under public pressure the Academy eventually agreed to destroy 2,000 books but photocopied them first for future use, he told the tribunal.
Zimbabwe's economic miracle...
Robert Mugabe is a genius!
Robert Mugabe wakes up to his 84th birthday today with a damning present from Zimbabwe's government statisticians - official inflation figures of more than 100,000 per cent.
With Harare's shop shelves bare of basic commodities and prices rising daily, it is a wonder that inflation can be calculated at all, but the Central Statistical Office's work is a marvel of precision.
"The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of January 2008, as measured by the All-items Consumer Price Index, stood at 100,580.2 per cent," it said in a statement yesterday.
The figure is an increase of 34,367.9 percentage points over December's 66,212.3 per cent, it added.
Independent observers believe the true figures are even higher. A single cigarette now costs Z$500,000.
Is Iran producing nuclear warheads???
Is Iran actually accelerating the development of nuclear weapons???
An exiled Iranian opposition group on Wednesday claimed that Teheran has accelerated its alleged nuclear weapons program, including the production of nuclear warheads.
"The Iran regime entered a new phase in its nuclear project," said Mohammad Mohaddessin, a representative of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.
He claimed that, for the first time, Teheran had established a command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and that southeast of the capital it was also setting up a center to produce warheads.
Hitchens sends a message to Bush...
Let's now forget about Iran...
I want to underline what might be called a seismic imperative. A serious earthquake in Iran could wreak untold damage not just on the Iranian people but on their neighbors, and the clerical regime is doing nothing to prepare for this eventuality or to protect against it.
In the aftermath of the 2003 earthquake that rocked Bam, American search-and-rescue teams performed prodigies of valor and skill and became so popular locally that the news of their achievements had to be hushed up by the regime's less-than-perfect censorship. Consider, then, the "public diplomacy" impact of a serious public offer to Iran, made through international media and from the podium (so often usurped by the clownish Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) of the United Nations. The U.S. could propose the following: a commitment to help Iran protect its centers of population and its key installations against an earthquake. Along with the provision of expertise and advice would come a request for inspections of key facilities, especially those which might, if ruptured, pose a Chernobyl-type threat to neighboring countries.
At one stroke, this would make a strong appeal, on a matter of urgent material interest, to the general Iranian public. It would point a contrast between our priorities and those of the regime. And it would position us, before the fact, for something not unlike the well-improvised post-tsunami operation mounted by the U.S. Navy in Indonesia.
In the same speech it ought to be said that the U.S. and its allies -- committed as they are to assisting Iran to acquire a peaceful nuclear energy capability, and alarmed as they are by signs of a deceptive strategy in this regard -- would like to be sure that our negotiating partners truly represent the Iranian people. It could even be said that our intervention in Iraq, and the consequent liberation of the Shiites, will prove to have long-term positive consequences.
Iran warns Holland.....
Free speech is not important...
Iranian officials have formally demanded the Dutch government stop the screening of a film in the Netherlands about the Qur’an that was produced by a politician.
The film, its title still under wraps, is by Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders, who says his film shows the Muslim holy book as something that motivates people to murder.
The Iranian justice minister, Gholam Hussein Elham, wrote to his Dutch counterpart, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, calling for a ban. He urged Ballin to prevent this "provocative and satanic act on the basis of European Convention on Human Rights.
"We must not allow the freedom of speech … to be used as a cover for assaulting the sensibilities, and exalted moral and religious values which are respected by all of humanity," Elham said in the letter.
The Dutch government has refused to intervene. At the same time, it also has plans for an emergency evacuation of its nationals and diplomats from the Middle East should the Wilders film be shown.
UK to issue Islamic bonds???
Last week it was sharia law...now it's islamic bonds...
A new sharia law controversy erupted last night over Government plans to issue special "Islamic bonds" to pay for Gordon Brown's public-spending programme by raising money from the Middle East.
Britain is to become the first Western nation to issue bonds approved by Muslim clerics in line with sharia law, which bans conventional loans involving interest payments as "sinful".
The scheme would mark one of the most significant economic advances of sharia law in the non-Muslim world.
It will lead to the ownership of Government buildings and other assets currently belonging to British taxpayers being switched wholesale to wealthy Middle-Eastern businessmen and banks.
The Government sees sharia-compliant bonds as a way of tapping Middle-East money and building bridges with the Muslim community.
BBC equates Hariri and Mughniyeh....
Well, at least they apologized...but how could they???
In an uncommon act of journalistic contrition, the BBC has apologized for equating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh as "great national leaders."
The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, The Associated Press's former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as "an outrage" and "beyond belief."
American journalist Mell was held up at gunpoint by Mughniyeh's men as his colleague Terry Anderson, AP's chief Middle East correspondent, was kidnapped in Beirut in March 1985.
Hawkesley's report on what he called "an amazing day for Lebanon," when a memorial rally for Hariri was followed by Mughniyeh's funeral, concluded: "The army is on full alert as Lebanon remembers two war victims with different visions but both regarded as great national leaders."
The clip was also posted on the BBC's Web site.
Mell's letter of complaint, which accused the BBC of doing "a huge disservice" to "your great institution and nation," was made available to The Jerusalem Post for publication.
Attacked at home....
The message is clear - don't go public with human rights abuses...
Calgary police are investigating an assault on one of three women who recently launched a human rights complaint against a local Muslim leader.
Police are looking for two people who pushed their way into the Coral Spring Mews N.E. home of Robina Butt about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Const. Paban Dhaliwal said a man and a woman knocked on the door of Butt's home, and when questioned, identified themselves as members of the press.
When Butt opened the door, the couple forced their way into the home, pushing Butt against the wall a number of times and producing a weapon.
Dhaliwal said the victim did not recognize the intruders.
He said the woman was fully covered in a dark burka and was wearing black gloves. The male suspect is described as of East Indian descent, about 45 years old with a short moustache, five feet nine with a slim build and wearing blue jeans, a light shirt and black jacket.
Butt's husband, Najeeb, said his wife was badly shaken by the attack, suffering a number of cuts to her hand as well as bumps and bruises.
"There were some neighbourhood kids coming home from school who were talking outside. We think the attackers might have thought they were coming to our house, so they ran off," said Najeeb Butt.
Robina Butt and two other Calgary women filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in late December against Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.
The complaint alleges they were subjected to abusive language and threats during a Nov. 11 meeting at the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre, where Soharwardy also serves as imam.
Soharwardy has denied all allegations in the human rights complaint.
Butt said he's convinced Wednesday's attack was not random.
Butt said the male attacker told his wife, "We come from Al-Madinah; if you ever talk anything about Al-Madinah . . . this is the first instalment."
Riots continue in Copenhagen....
We'll soon need a daily riot report for Europe.....
Police arrested 50 people after mobs of youths torched cars and school and lobbed rocks at officers and firefighters in a sixth consecutive night of violence in Danish cities, police said Saturday.
Youths were arrested overnight in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Ringsted, Slagelse and other cities, police spokesman Jan Marker said. At least 19 cars were torched in Copenhagen, he said.
"It's been more spread out in the country but it's not been as bad (in Copenhagen) as the previous nights," he said.
It remained unclear exactly what triggered the unrest. Some say immigrant youths were protesting alleged police harassment, and that the reprinting of a controversial cartoon lampooning the Prophet Muhammad aggravated the situation.
The Loch Ness Monster was killed by global warming.....
Now, it all makes sense...
LEGENDARY Nessie hunter Robert Rines is giving up his search for the monster after 37 years.
The 85-year-old American will make one last trip in a bid to find the elusive beast.
After almost four decades of fruitless expeditions, he admitted: "Unfortunately, I'm running out of age."
World War II veteran Robert has devoted almost half his life to scouring Loch Ness.
He started in 1971. The following year, he watched a 25ft-long hump with the texture of elephant skin gliding through the water.
His original trip was to help another monster hunter with sonar equipment and quickly identified large moving targets.
He was smitten and returned the next year, which is when, he says: "I had the misfortune of seeing one of these things with my own eyes."
Since then, he has been obsessed with tracking down the creature with a staggering array of hi-tech equipment. It was this gear that took the famous "flipper" picture that year which created a stir around the world.
Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming.
Free speech and Islam...
An important opinion piece from Flemming Rose, culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published the Mohammed cartoons..
For the past three months Mr. Westergaard and his wife have been on the run. Mr. Westergaard did the most famous of the 12 Muhammad cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 -- the one depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban. The cartoon was a satirical comment on the fact that some Muslims are committing terrorist acts in the name of Islam and the prophet. Tragically, Mr. Westergaard's fate has proven the point of his cartoon: In the early hours of Tuesday morning Danish police arrested three men who allegedly had been plotting to kill him.
In the past few days 17 Danish newspapers have published Mr. Westergaard's cartoon, which is as truthful as Picasso's painting. My colleagues at Jyllands-Posten and I understand that the cartoon may be offensive to some people, but sometimes the truth can be very offensive. As George Orwell put it in the suppressed preface to "Animal Farm": "If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
Sadly, the plot to kill Mr. Westergaard is not an isolated story, but part of a broader trend that risks undermining free speech in Europe and around the world. Consider the following recent events: In Oslo a gallery has censored three small watercolor paintings, showing the head of the prophet Muhammad on a dog's body, by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been under police protection since the fall of 2007. In Holland the municipal museum in The Hague recently refused to show photos by the Iranian-born artist Sooreh Hera of gay men wearing the masks of the prophet Muhammad and his son Ali; Ms. Hera has received several death threats and is in hiding. In Belarus an editor has been sentenced to three years in a forced labor camp after republishing some of Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad cartoons. In Egypt bloggers are in jail after having "insulted Islam." In Afghanistan the 23-year-old Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death because he distributed "blasphemous" material about the mistreatment of women in Islam. And in India the Bengal writer Taslima Nasreen is in a safe house after having been threatened by people who don't like her books.
Every one of the above cases speaks to the same problem: a global battle for the right to free speech. The cases are different, and you can't compare the legal systems in Egypt and Norway, but the justifications for censorship and self-censorship are similar in different parts of the world: Religious feelings and taboos need to be treated with a kind of sensibility and respect that other feelings and ideas cannot command.
This position boils down to a simple rule: If you respect my taboo, I'll respect yours. That was the rule of the game during the Cold War until people like Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Andrei Sakharov and other dissenting voices behind the Iron Curtain insisted on another rule: It is not cultures, religions or political systems that enjoy rights. Human beings enjoy rights, and certain principles like the ones embedded in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights are universal.
New intelligence on Iran?
Shouldn't this be huge news?
The U.S. has recently shared new intelligence with the International Atomic Energy Agency on key aspects of Iran's nuclear program that Washington says shows Tehran was directly engaged in trying to make a bomb, diplomats said Thursday.
One of the diplomats said Washington also gave the IAEA permission to confront Iran with at least some of the evidence in an attempt to pry details out of the Islamic republic, as part of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's attempts to investigate Iran's suspicious nuclear past.
How about this for a cut in emissions???
These targets are totally ridiculous...
Japan, the European Union and the United States would each need to cut greenhouse gasses by more than 80 percent for the world to meet a goal of halving emissions by 2050, Japanese scientists said Thursday.
A summit last year of the Group of Eight rich nations agreed to "seriously consider" halving global emissions by 2050 in hopes of halting global warming.
To achieve such a goal, Japan -- which is already far behind in meeting its current commitments -- would need to cut emissions by 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, said Norichika Kanie, assistant professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
His joint research with Yasuaki Hijioka, researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Studies, found that the United States would need to cut emissions by 88 percent and the European Union by 83 percent.
Shame on the EU....
The refuse to fund the security of Hirsi Ali...
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in Brussels to plead for political backing for a controversial proposal to get the EU to pay for her protection.
She was invited by French Socialist MEPs, who launched the initiative to set up a special fund for the former Dutch Parliamentarian who has received death threats because of her critical views of Islam.
"Today I find myself in the embarrassing position that I have to come to ask for help," she told the European Parliament. "I need you to support this fund to protect people like me whose only crime is free speech."
Ms Hirsi Ali has been living under police protection since the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, with whom she made a film about Islam's treatment of women. A note targeting her by name was found on van Gogh's body.
The Dutch government stopped paying her security bills last year when she left to work in the US. "I think it was the wrong decision. I am forced to do fund raising and will have to do into hiding when the money runs out," she said simply.
Despite a high-publicity campaign in Brussels, the Somali-born Hirsi Ali is likely to come away empty-handed. The proposal has received the backing of just one in seven MEPs (85 out of 785) - and just two Dutch MEPs.
Global warming blamed for cold spell...
Once again, a headline blaming global warming for cold weather...
As Hong Kong shivers through its second-longest cold spell since 1885, scientists point to global warming to explain the abnormal cold weather phenomenon worldwide.
Unusually cold weather is gripping a number of countries, including China and Canada.
"We are seeing extremely unusual weather across the world," said polar researcher Rebecca Lee Lok-sze. "This is due to human activities and our style of living. Carbon dioxide emissions are heavy, which is changing the weather rapidly. We could see colder winters and hotter summers in the future in Hong Kong."
Greenpeace echoed the view, saying mainland scientists had also concluded that the extreme cold weather in China was triggered by climate change. "This does not only cause an increase in global warming but also causes extreme weather patterns," said campaigner Edward Chan.
Hong Kong yesterday recorded its second- longest cold spell - 21 days. The longest cold period - when temperatures fall below 12 degrees Celsius - lasted 27 days in 1968. This record is expected to remain intact as the thermometer is forecast to register a low of 13 degrees by Sunday.
Hong Kong has also experienced more than 456 hours of cold weather this winter - more than double the 205-hour record in January 2004.
Global warming related to the sun...
Dr. Sallie Baliunas is an astrophysicist....
In her lecture series, "Warming Up to the Truth: The Real Story About Climate Change," astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas shared her findings Tuesday at the University of Texas at Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Baliunas' work with fellow Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Willie Soon suggests global warming is more directly related to solar variability than to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, an alternative view to what's been widely publicized in the mainstream media.
"Some people argue solar influence is large; some argue it is small. I'm somewhere in the middle," she said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Anti-semitism a feature of everyday life in the Netherlands...
We blogged several weeks earlier that the word 'Jew' is now an insult in Germany...
Anti-Semitic insults and expressions had "tended
to become a feature of everyday life in Holland, a pan-European anti-racism commission said in a report released Tuesday.
According to the Strasbourg-based European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), these insults “reflect in part a similar trend in Holocaust denial, notably among the younger generations."
The report said that the word "Jew" is increasingly used as an insult and different aspects of the Holocaust are reportedly questioned in everyday situations, including in schools.
I kid you not - cold wave in India blamed on global warming....
I blame global warming as a joke...but here...it's for real..
The recent cold wave sweeping across Mumbai and other parts of India could be attributed to global warming, experts said on Tuesday here at an environmental conference.
Addressing the ‘Combat Global Warming’ conference at the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) here, former Union minister for power and environment Suresh Prabhu said global warming was primarily a problem created and induced by human beings.
He said the increase in emission of green house gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and methane had resulted in the situation, which could prove catastrophic if unchecked.
Prabhu said the cold wave that swept Maharashtra and other parts of India recently could be attributed to the phenomenon of global warming.
Terrorists at the heart of Britain???
Hard to know what this really means, but it's not good...
Islamist extremists have infiltrated Government and key public utilities to pass sensitive information to terrorists, the security services have warned.
Counter-terrorism officials say "insiders" or their associates are almost certainly working "undetected" in sensitive posts and are actively supporting the activities of extremists.
In some cases, lifelong relationships between friends or relatives are being exploited to obtain crucial information from those in sensitive posts.
The development is detailed in intelligence reports circulated to the Home Office, police and Whitehall officials.
The London Underground, Gatwick airport and BT are cited as examples of organisations which have been targeted by individuals linked to terrorists.
Officials say the idea of "penetrating the enemy is pervasive" for Islamist extremists.
Tajikistan faces global warming crisis....
Yes, blame everything on global warming...
Tajikistan is facing a growing humanitarian crisis. United Nations agencies warn that the health of large parts of the population is already affected, as the country struggles with a cold and energy emergency.
The central Asian republic, home to about 7 million people, is currently experiencing its harshest winter for three decades. The average temperature is around minus 15 degrees Celsius, dropping to as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius at night. Roads between several districts are blocked by heavy snowfall, affecting supplies of food and other basic products.
The cold wave has also led to severe problems with the water supply system, as supply lines either break or freeze.
The energy problems are seriously affecting the health sector: 50% of all health facilities in the four major districts of Tajikistan - Kulyab, Rasht valley, Kurgan-Tube and Sogd oblast - report severe power shortages and complete blackouts. According to a WHO assessment, all hospitals in the Kulyab district are without water supply. Hospitals and heath facilities in other districts are facing serious water shortages. Maternal morbidity and cold-related diseases are reported to be on the increase.
China's CO2 emissions....
I keep on saying this - as long as China doesn't control its CO2 emissions, then all global warming treaties are useless. Here's a new forecast for China...
If China's carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country's carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world's CO2 production today. That's just the most stunning in a series of datapoints about the Chinese economy reported in a policy brief in the latest issue of the journal Science.
Coal power has been driving the stunning, seven plus percent a year growth in China's economy. It's long been said said that China was adding one new coal power plant per week to its grid. But the real news is worse: China is completing two new coal plants per week.
That power is being used to drive an enormous manufacturing expansion. China has increased steel production from 140 million tons in 2000 to 419 million tons in 2006, the authors report. Even more recent numbers from the International Iron and Steel Institute show China's production leading the world at 489 million tons, more than double Japan and the US combined. That steel is getting used quickly too. In 1999, Chinese consumers bought 1.2 million cars. That number had increased 600% by 2006, when 7.2 million cars were sold.
Anti-semitism in Vancouver...
And, this is part of Freedom to Read week?
British novelist Martin Amis recently confessed to being at a loss for words whenever he encounters the hysterical, "endocrinal state" that seems to befall certain people when the subject of Israel comes up in conversation.
"I just don't understand it," Amis said. "I know we're supposed to be grown up about it and not fling around accusations of anti-Semitism, but I don't see any other explanation."
And this got me to thinking. If it's not anti-Semitism, then what's the proper word for it?
What is the right word for a book like Greg Felton's The Host and the Parasite: How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America?
What is the right word for Felton's thesis, which is that a Zionist "junta" was at work on Sept. 11, 2001, and that al-Qaida is a mere concoction in a secret plan to subvert the American Constitution, demonize Muslims and commit mass murder?
What do you call it when the Vancouver Public Library decides to present Felton, an apologist for the book-banning, journalist-jailing Iranian theocracy, as the featured author on the evening of Feb. 25, and as the library's contribution to national Freedom to Read Week?
What are we allowed to call Felton, who traces his Zionist plot back to the 1940s, when these same Zionists made "common cause" with the Nazis to rid Europe of its Jews, and participated in the herding of Jews into Hitler's gas chambers?
What Felton calls himself is an award-winning investigative reporter and Middle East specialist. His last legitimate journalism job appears to have been with a Vancouver weekly newspaper in the late 1990s, when his brief career as a columnist came to a famously embarrassing end. The column that got Felton into such trouble was also about Zionists.
In that column, Felton traced Zionist swindles and trickery back through time and across Europe to a massive coverup of events that occurred in the Caucasus Mountains about 1,000 years ago.
Europe's Jews aren't Jews at all, Felton wrote. Almost all of them are "Khazars," a long-extinct Turkic tribe from somewhere north of the Caspian Sea.
Felton has been peddling this kind of thing ever since his departure from the weekly Vancouver Courier. He now writes for fringe Arab webzines and an online journal out of Tehran affiliated with the Iranian theocracy's Islamic Propagation Organization.
An interview with Bat Ye'or...
Bat Ye'or is a European intellectual whose book, Eurabia, warns about the Islamification of Europe.
Chesler: What do you see is happening at this moment?
Bat Ye’or: The West is engaged in a very careful exercise of self-censorship. We are trying not to offend Muslim sensibilities. Western governments want to impose respect for Muslim sensibilities in the hope that this will avoid jihad. They are ready to suppress the truth.
Chesler: What do you think of an Obama Presidency?
Bat Ye’or: Obama and his supporters do not seem to understand that Europe has failed. Today, European dissidents are forming movements against the European Union whose policies have led to the Islamification of Europe. Europe is suffering from a huge Muslim immigration problem. The Muslim immigrants do not want to integrate into a modern, tolerant state and they want to impose Sha’ria law on us all.
Chesler: What does this remind you of?
Bat Ye’or: All these Western gestures of appeasement remind me of the dhimmi regulations. These are a whole set of regulations whose purpose is to respect Muslim sensibilities. Therefore, Christians must conduct “quiet” services and dhimmis (infidels) must wear special clothing so as not to shock or offend Muslims with their too-fashionable or too-expensive clothing. Long ago, infidels had to dismount from their donkeys when a Muslim approached and a dhimmi could only pass a Muslim on the left (or impure) side, not on the right side.
I am not in favor of inciting anyone but really, where will this all end? And why this super-sensitivity only to Muslims? There is only one answer. Our intellectuals and politicians want to have a good relationship with the Muslim world. They think they will always have the freedoms that they currently enjoy. They do not understand that those freedoms are at risk.
Chesler: Where does Israel fit into this picture?
Bat Ye’or: Europeans have imagined that the problem is only Israel. They were committed to allowing the Arabs to destroy Israel if that kept them, the Europeans, safe. But these Europeans do not seem to remember that Islam persecuted and then destroyed Christianity in Muslim lands. We see a repetition of this in Europe today.
Chesler: Such politicians and intellectuals are suicidal, don’t you think?
Bat Ye’or: Absolutely. But they want so much to be loved that they are reaching out to their enemy. This is the politics of self-destruction. They are making concessions about their basic security and freedom.
Inbreeding remarks cause outcry...
Oh, yes....his remarks were 'racist' and 'Islamaphobic'...
Demands were growing yesterday for the sacking of a government minister after he warned about the problems of marriage between Pakistani first cousins.
Phil Woolas claimed that this had caused a surge in birth defects in the UK.
The Environment Minister also suggested the issue was being ignored by Muslim leaders, declaring it was the "elephant in the room" which urgently needed to be addressed.
It set off another heated debate about Muslims in Britain, following the outcry over the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks on sharia law.
MPs said Mr Woolas's comments were insensitive and wrong, while the Muslim Public Affairs Council said they were "racist" and "Islamaphobic".
Muhammad paintings banned in Oslo...
If only he had painted caricatures of George Bush, then everything would be fine...
An Oslo gallery has banned Swedish artist Lars Vilks from exhibiting water-colour caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
The owner of the gallery, Randi Thommessen, explained that she did not want to risk the exhibition stirring up a fuss in the mass media. The private Lautom Contemporary gallery in Oslo offered the artist the chance to exhibit work on another theme but Vilks refused, reports the Swedish newspaper Helsinborgs Dagblad.
In a letter to Vilks, Thommessen is reported to express her admiration for the Skåne-based artist but felt that the 'exaggerated debate with regard to the Muhammad caricatures was over and done with on her part.'
Vilks explained that the gallery's decision fits perfectly into his own current project regarding artistic freedom.
"The main purpose has been to illustrate how the art market conducts itself. Artists can do what they like, but certain subjects became incredibly sensitive," Vilks told Helisngborgs Dagblad.
Muslim in-breeding in the UK....
Marrying cousins is problematic...
A government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects - comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society.
Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the “elephant in the room”. Woolas, a former race relations minister, said: “If you have a child with your cousin the likelihood is there’ll be a genetic problem.”
The minister, whose views were supported by medical experts this weekend, said: “The issue we need to debate is first cousin marriages, whereby a lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children].”
Woolas emphasised the practice did not extend to all Muslim communities but was confined mainly to families originating from rural Pakistan. However, up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins.
Medical research suggests that while British Pakistanis are responsible for 3% of all births, they account for one in three British children born with genetic illnesses.
A Jihad for Love...
I have to see this film about muslim gay men and women...
Parvez Sharma's documentary "A Jihad for Love" is a sober testament by gay men and women whose sexuality is outlawed in their Muslim homelands but who strive to follow the religious path anyway.
The film will likely show up at gay festivals especially because of the bravery of some of those taking part, who have elected to make their plight public though several contributors choose to remain anonymous. Mainstream audiences, especially those who find the demands of some faiths inexplicable, might find it less absorbing.
Several of the faces are obscured as Muslims exiled from India and Iran relate their sad tales, and the simple tears of the few bold enough to reveal themselves are moving. Much of what is shown onscreen, however, is atmospheric filler, while the various characters describe being made outcasts because of their sexuality while holding on to their commitment to their faith.
The ferocious grip that cultural and religious training has on its subjects does become frighteningly clear, however, when one gay man asks his Muslim children what they would do if he were arrested and sentenced to be stoned to death. Their wish is that the first stone would kill him so that he did not suffer.
Suicide bombings...as required!
Hamas is promising more suicide bombings...and more border breaches...
"Don't rule out the possibility of hoards of Palestinians bursting through the borders of Israel and Jordan just like they did at the Rafah border crossing into Egypt," Hamas's deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk warned on Saturday.
In an interview with Qatari newspaper Ayam, Marzouk said that Hamas would carry out suicide bombings "as required," and insisted that Israel could not break the spirit of the Palestinian people.
Iran defends amputations...
I guess our multiculturalists cannot condemn this...
Iran's ambassador to Spain has compared chopping off the hands of thieves to a "surgeon amputating a limb to prevent the spread of gangrene".
In a defence of Iran's tough implementation of Islamic law, Seyed Davoud Salehi called for "the traditions, religion and economic development" of Iran to be taken into account by those monitoring human rights in the country. He also argued that the death penalty was necessary "to preserve the health of society as a whole".
Mr Salehi said during a speech in Madrid that the highest court in Iran had decided to limit public executions to prevent images of hangings and stonings in public squares being broadcast around the world and used as propaganda against the regime.
"Our laws allow for the amputation of the hand that steals. This is not accepted by the West, but the field of human rights should take into account the customs, traditions, religion and economic development," he said in comments reported by the newspaper El Mundo.
"Some laws are needed to preserve the health of society, if not, it would be in danger."
Iran has the second highest number of recorded executions in the world after China, according to Amnesty International.
More than 300 people were condemned to death last year, an increase of more than 70 per cent on 2006.
So far this year 20 public executions have taken place and the hands or feet of at least five offenders have been amputated.
The ambassador criticised claims that Iran had a poor record in human rights and attributed it to "the arrogance of the West", which used the argument to harm the image of the country.
The Cato Institute and Global Warming...
The Cato Institute - a terrific libertarian think tank - has just published a great report on what do about climate change...
Halting climate change would reduce cumulative mortality from various climate-sensitive threats, namely, hunger, malaria, and coastal flooding, by 4–10 percent in 2085, while increasing populations at risk from water stress and possibly worsening matters for biodiversity. But according to cost information from the UN Millennium Program and the IPCC, measures focused specifically on reducing vulnerability to these threats would reduce cumulative mortality from these risks by 50–75 percent at a fraction of the cost of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). Simultaneously, such measures would reduce major hurdles to the developing world's sustainable economic development, the lack of which is why it is most vulnerable to climate change.
The world can best combat climate change and advance well-being, particularly of the world's most vulnerable populations, by reducing present-day vulnerabilities to climate-sensitive problems that could be exacerbated by climate change rather than through overly aggressive GHG reductions.
Some global warming quetions....
Jerry Carlson asks some very interesting questions...
1. Why don't advocates of restricting and burying CO2 ever mention opportunities of longer growing seasons and higher CO2 availability for crops?
Agronomic research shows that doubling atmospheric CO2 levels to about 700 parts per million raises corn and soybean yields 20% to 40%. We see more opportunity in using CO2 for higher crop yields than in burying it under the sea floor. Greenhouses commonly enrich their atmospheres with carbon dioxide.
Historically, advances in civilizations have accompanied warmer, wetter epochs in climate cycles. Dr. Raymond H. Wheeler and hundreds of research assistants documented this with a lifetime of analysis beginning in the 1930s. If the climate follows Wheeler's cyclical pattern, we may well be entering a warmer, wetter epoch which will benefit agriculture.
Two decades ago I had many visits with physicist Iben Browning, a climate researcher and author of many works including Climate and the Affairs of Men, written with Nels Winkless III and published in 1975. Browning documented that past climate change has impacted humanity in massive ways, such as the barbarian invasion of China and the Phoenician presence in Stonehenge Britain.
He reminded readers in his 1975 book that the climate since 1925 had been unusually mild and beneficial; that a cooling could occur anytime.
And Browning told me that as he refined his computer models of climate change, "We get our best correlation with measured climate data when we ignore the presence of man and his use of carbon-emitting fuels."
2. Why is the IPCC's projected future global warming almost linear or accelerating, when it's well-known that the greenhouse-gas impact of CO2 fades sharply with each incremental increase of CO2 in the atmosphere?
Some background: The trendline level of CO2 in the air measured at Mona Loa, Hawaii, was 385 parts per million (ppm) in January 2008. When observations began at Mona Loa in 1958, the level was 315 parts per million.
Since 1990, annual increases of CO2 have ranged from 0.5 to 2.6 ppm. At a trendline rise of about 1.8 ppm per year, it will take 35 years to increase atmospheric CO2 to 450 ppm. CO2-control advocates claim this high a level has never occurred in 650,000 years, and would force devastating global warming.
However, the dominant "greenhouse effect" comes from water vapor in the atmosphere. CO2 causes only 3% of infrared heat blocking, and the physics of CO2 are such that the greenhouse effect of each added increment of CO2 shrinks on a logarithmic scale.
An analogy: If one layer of insulation in your ceiling traps half of the roof's energy loss, adding an identical second layer traps only half the loss escaping the first layer. Each added increment of CO2 in the atmosphere has a logarithmically diminishing greenhouse effect.
Although physicists proved this years ago, you won't see it in the dramatic graphs of Al Gore's slide show, An Inconvenient Truth. It projects a nearly parabolic soaring of global temperature from a linear rise in CO2.
Advocates of man-caused global warming defend their case by saying that although CO2 itself has only a 3% role, it amplifies warming by various feedback mechanisms.
"This is a hypothesis, not a proven fact," counters Dr. John Christy, Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Other scientists argue that current climate models underestimate the cooling influence of cloud cover.
Go to the link and check out his other questions...
Northern Hemisphere snow cover largest since 1966...
Ahhh, global warming works in mysterious ways...
There have been a number of indications that January 2008 has been an exceptional month for winter weather in not only North America, but the entire Northern Hemisphere.
We’ve had anecdotal evidence of odd weather in the form of wire reports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and China where record setting cold and snow has been felt with intensity not seen for 30-100 years, depending on the region.
From our remote sensing groups, we have reports of significant negative anomalies in both the RSS and UAH global satellite data for the lower troposphere. The there’s NOAA’s announcement that January 2008, was below 20th century averages, plus news that Arctic sea ice has quickly recovered from the record low extent of Summer 2007. Finally, there’s the massive La Nina said to be the driver of all this but may be a harbinger of a more permanent phase shift according to veteran forecaster Joe Bastardi.
More on the Sun and Climate...
Yes, the Sun is the major driver...easily beating the effects of CO2...
Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.
Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century.
Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.
This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe.
Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.
Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." But he and his colleagues need better equipment.
In Canada, where radio-telescopic monitoring of the sun has been conducted since the end of World War II, a new instrument, the next-generation solar flux monitor, could measure the sun's emissions more rapidly and accurately.
As we have noted many times, perhaps the biggest impact on the Earth's climate over time has been the sun.
For instance, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar Research in Germany report the sun has been burning more brightly over the last 60 years, accounting for the 1 degree Celsius increase in Earth's temperature over the last 100 years.
R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada's Carleton University, says that "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales."
Rather, he says, "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet."
Patterson, sharing Tapping's concern, says: "Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth."
"Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again," Patterson says. "If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."
In 2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov made some waves — and not a few enemies in the global warming "community" — by predicting that the sun would reach a peak of activity about three years from now, to be accompanied by "dramatic changes" in temperatures.
Global warming is too simplistic explanation...
The collapsing ice shelf in the Antarctic is not totally due to global warming...
Global warming may not be entirely to blame for the collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf in 2002, according to research published today.
The 10,000-year-old Larsen B ice shelf was initially believed to be a victim of climate change.
But a paper published in the Journal of Glaciology claims the shelf had been teetering on collapse for decades.
Professor Neil Glasser, of Aberystwyth University, the paper's lead author, said cracks and fault lines in the ice had significantly weakened the structure.
"Ice shelf collapse is not as simple as we first thought," he said.
"Because large amounts of meltwater appeared on the ice shelf just before it collapsed, we had always assumed that air temperature increases were to blame.
"But our new study shows that ice shelf break-up is not controlled simply by climate.
"A number of other atmospheric, oceanic and glaciological factors are involved. For example, the location and spacing of fractures on the ice shelf such as crevasses and rifts are very important too because they determine how strong or weak the ice shelf is."
Good news - Underground Kassam Silos in Gaza
Nothing like good news....
In a clear sign that Hamas is adopting Hizbullah tactics, IDF troops uncovered underground Kassam launch silos inside the Gaza Strip during an early-morning foray there on Thursday. During the operation, the troops killed seven Palestinian gunmen affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Pictures released by the IDF Spokesperson's Office showed two underground Kassam rocket silos, a meter in diameter and two meters deep. The launchers, the army said, were big enough to hold a Kassam or Grad-model Katyusha rocket that could be launched by remote control.
A planetary cold-spell???
Is the Sun the primary driver of our climate???
Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a “stethoscope for the sun.” Recent magnetic field readings are as low as he’s ever seen, he says, and he’s worked with the instrument for more than 25 years. If the sun remains this quiet for another a year or two, it may indicate the star has entered a downturn that, if history is any precedent, could trigger a planetary cold spell that could bring massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.
The last such solar funk corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. While there were competing causes for the climatic shift—including the Black Death’s depopulation of tree-cutting Europeans and, more substantially, increased volcanic activity spewing ash into the atmosphere—the sun’s lethargy likely had something to do with it.
Good news for Europe...
Hey...build those projects in Canada...
A growing number of European industrial groups are scrapping investments because of EU plans to make them pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases, an energy industry association said Wednesday.
"Every week a project is being cancelled," said Johannes Teyssen, vice chairman of the World Energy Council, which represents groups in 96 countries.
Teyssen, who said he had lost count of the number of projects that had been called off, cited in particular the cancellation in recent weeks of plans for several coal-fired power plants in Germany.
While the shelving of the projects was "probably a reflection of increased costs," it was also a a result of the European Commission's "rigid and tough" stance on emissions, he said.
I guess this is exactly what the Europeans want...
Is the UK ready to surrender???
This is hard to believe - the Archbishop of Canterbury is saying that Sharia law is inevitable...
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.
Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.
For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.
He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
A good article from the Washington Post...
The rising wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela is part and parcel of this effort by Chávez's increasingly repressive regime. The complex housing the Jewish community school and cultural and sports center has been inexplicably raided twice by Venezuelan police since Chávez came to power. It is especially dangerous when law enforcement carries out these kinds of unfounded acts, since some may interpret them as justification to commit violence against Jews. When a community is singled out and bullied in this way, the danger exists for xenophobes and anti-Semites to take license from the government's actions to spread their hate.
Certain government officials and commentators in the official media frequently resort to implicit and explicit anti-Semitic displays, including rehashing the ancient canard about Jewish control, vilifying Jews and Israel as agents of imperialism, and adopting anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish financial influence. Instead of denouncing such hateful speech, Chávez chooses to overlook anti-Jewish rhetoric and often endorses notorious anti-Semites in the media. As dangerous and hurtful as this is for the small Venezuelan Jewish community, it is a symptom of something much deeper and far riskier for all Venezuelans: the breakdown of democratic ideals and institutions.
Chávez has repeatedly compared Israel to Hitler and the Nazis, and he has accused Israel of engaging in genocide against Arabs. These views have been expressed in various Venezuelan government-sponsored media outlets, on radio and TV broadcasts, and in newspaper articles and political cartoons.
Chávez has aligned Venezuela with countries and radical Islamic movements that are a verifiable threat to Israel and world Jewry, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Hezbollah's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah; and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He has also fostered relationships with convicted guerrilla terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (a.k.a. "Carlos the Jackal") and the now-deceased Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole of Argentina.
Iran to have nuclear weapons in 3 years?
The latest intelligence estimate from the Mossad...
Israel's Mossad spy agency estimates Iran will develop a nuclear weapon within three years and continue to provide rockets to regional armed groups, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Mossad director Meir Dagan, in an intelligence assessment presented to Israel's powerful foreign affairs and defence committee on Monday, said the Jewish state would face increased threats on all fronts, Maariv daily said.
Suzuki wants to jail politicians..
This is from a speech at McGill University...
He urged today’s youth to speak out against politicians complicit in climate change, even suggesting they look for a legal way to throw our current political leaders in jail for ignoring science – drawing rounds of cheering and applause. Suzuki said that politicians, who never see beyond the next election, are committing a criminal act by ignoring science.
More ice than ever in Antarctica....
Yes....there is far more ice now than expected...
Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we can also look at the departure from the average for ice mass in a given month. At present, the coverage of ice surrounding Antarctica is almost exactly two million square miles above where it is historically supposed to be at this time of year. It's farther above normal than it has ever been for any month in climatologic records. Around now, because it's summer down there and the ice is headed towards its annual low point, there should be about seven million square miles of it. That means, as data in University of Illinois' web publication Cryosphere Today shows, that there is nearly 30% more ice down in Antarctica than usual for this time of the year.
All of the IPCC's models of Antarctica in the 21st century forecast a gain in ice, as a warmer surrounding ocean evaporates more water, which subsequently falls in the form of snow when it hits the continent. It's simply too cold for rain in Antarctica, and it'll stay that way for a very long time.
Concerning Antarctica as a whole, the IPCC's new climate compendium notes "the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region." Other studies, such as Peter Doran's in Nature in 2003, show actual cooling in recent decades. (There is a small area of significant warming in the peninsula that points towards South America, but this is less than 2% of Antarctica's total land mass.)
There's brand new evidence, just published in mid-January in Geophysical Research Letters, of a striking increase in snowfall over that peninsula. The few snowfall records that are available elsewhere in Antarctica show considerable variation from decade to decade, so discriminating the "signal" of increased snowfall caused by global warming from all the rest of the "noise" may be very difficult indeed.
We see the same problem with hurricanes and global warming. Their strength and numbers vary considerably from year to year. 2005 was the most active year ever measured in the Atlantic Basin, while 2007 was one of the weakest in history. How do you find the fingerprint of global warming amidst such variation?
So it's not warming up, and the snowfall data are equivocal, yet the continent is experiencing a net loss of ice. How can this be, and is it even important? The current hypothesis is that warmer waters beneath the surface are somehow loosening the ice. That's plausible, but again, there's precious little proof of it.
And further, the bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.
China's winter coldest in 100 years....
But, of course, this is all consistent with our theories of global warming...
The China Meteorological Administration said the weather was the coldest in 100 years in central Hubei and Hunan provinces, going by the total number of consecutive days of average temperature less than 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Al-Qaeda focusing on WMD?
A disturbing report from the LA Times...
After a U.S. airstrike leveled a small compound in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions in January 2006, President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence officials announced that several senior Al Qaeda operatives had been killed, and that the top prize was an elusive Egyptian who was believed to be a chemical weapons expert.
But current and former U.S. intelligence officials now believe that the Egyptian, Abu Khabab Masri, is alive and well -- and in charge of resurrecting Al Qaeda's program to develop or obtain weapons of mass destruction.
Given the problems with previous U.S. intelligence assessments of weapons of mass destruction, officials are careful not to overstate Al Qaeda's capabilities, and they emphasize that there is much they don't know because of the difficulty in getting information out of the mountainous area of northwest Pakistan where the network has reestablished itself.
But they say Al Qaeda has regenerated at least some of the robust research and development effort that it lost when the U.S. military bombed its Afghanistan headquarters and training camps in late 2001, and they believe it is once again trying to develop or obtain chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons to use in attacks on the United States and other enemies.
For now, the intelligence officials believe, that effort is largely focused on developing and using cyanide, chlorine and other poisons that are unlikely to cause the kind of mass-casualty attack that is usually associated with weapons of mass destruction.
An interview with Patrick Moore
We've blogged this many times before - the ex-founder of Greenpeace is a huge advocate of nuclear power...
Q: When people look at your biography and see you're a Greenpeace co-founder and now a nuclear advocate, they don't believe it. Could you give us a synopsis of your personal history on this issue?
Moore: Well, actually I did feel a little lonely in that corner for a while, but I've been joined by the likes of Stewart Brand, Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs, and Steel), and (environmental author) Tim Flannery, and now we form a fairly serious phalanx of pro-nuclear environmentalists. In fact, I'm the honorary chair of the Canadian chapter of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, which has 9,000 members worldwide.
As a co-founder of Greenpeace, even though I was a scientist, I made the same mistake in those days as all the rest of my colleagues did. We kind of lumped nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons as if all things nuclear were evil. It was an honest mistake. We were totally focused on the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War. Nuclear testing was what Greenpeace started on and we were peaceniks, and I think it's fair to say that the antinuclear-energy movement to some extent was formed out of the peace movement.
But in retrospect, I believe we failed to make an important distinction between the peaceful versus the destructive uses of a technology. There are many technologies that are very good that can be used for destructive purposes. Cars can be made into car bombs as long as you have a little bit of fertilizer and diesel oil. Machetes have killed more people than any other weapon in the last 20 years, over a million, and yet they're the most important tool for farmers in the developing world.
It wasn't until after I'd left Greenpeace and the climate change issue started coming to the forefront that I started rethinking energy policy in general and realized that I had been incorrect in my analysis of nuclear as being some kind of evil plot. The perception at the time that nuclear energy equaled nuclear weapons was to some extent based on the fact that the only exception to the separation of peaceful and military nuclear technology was when India bought a reactor from Canada and then broke their promise and used that peaceful reactor to make plutonium to make their first weapon.
The French say Iranians still pursuing nuclear bomb...
I'd love to know more details...
French Defence Minister Herve Morin cast doubt on reports that Iran had halted its suspected nuclear weapons drive, speaking Thursday on a visit to Washington.
"Coordinated information from a number of intelligence services leads us to believe that Iran has not given up its wish to pursue its (nuclear) program," and is "continuing to develop" it, Morin told reporters.
Jewish tourists stoned in London.....
A despicable act...where's the mainstream media???
THE Holocaust Memorial Day marking the genocides of the 20th century was marred on Sunday when a gang of youths stoned Jewish tourists on a guided tour of London's East End.
A group of 96 visitors looking at sites of Jewish interest were attacked by youths hiding behind a fence in a back street in Whitechapel.
Two were struck by the missiles, an American woman just starting a new post at London's Metropolitan University and a Canadian lecturer.
The woman had blood pouring from her head and needed hospital treatment.
The tour was organised by leading local historian Clive Bettington, who was later asked by police if he wanted officers to accompany him in future, but declined.
"That would be admitting there are 'no go' areas," he said.
Terrorist recruiters in Norway....
It appears they are very active in Norway....raising the question of how active they are elsewhere...
The head of Norway's intelligence and security agency believes young, Norwegian muslims are being targeted by militant extremists to carry out terrorist attacks and holy war overseas.
Jørn Holme, chief of The Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste PST), confirmed for the first time on Monday that active recruiting efforts are being carried out by older, militant extremists in Norway.
Holme refused to go into detail, but he told newspaper Aftenposten that intelligence gathering indicates that the terror challenge in Norway has gone beyond extremists' efforts to gain support for terrorist activity abroad.
"We've had reports about older, manipulative Islamic extremists here in the country, who have tried to motivate youth to take part in jihad (holy war) attacks abroad," he told Aftenposten. He said PST is taking the reports seriously.
He wouldn't say how many efforts have been made, how they're carried out or how the extremists come in contact with Norwegian youth. Nor would he say whether PST knows of any successful recruiting efforts. But he confirmed that recruiters are in the country, and active.
3rd undersea cable cut...
This is the 3rd underseas cable to have been damaged in the last week....
An undersea telecoms cable linking Qatar to the United Arab Emirates was damaged, disrupting services, telecommunications provider Qtel said on Sunday, the latest such incident in less than a week.
The cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, Qtel's head of communications Adel al Mutawa told AFP.
Cables were also damaged last week in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Dubai, causing widespread disruption to Internet and international telephone services in Egypt, Gulf Arab states and south Asia.
The cause of the damage is not yet known.
Mutawa said Qtel's loss of capacity had been kept below 40 percent over the weekend thanks to what he said was Qatar's large number of alternative routes for transmission.
The UAE telecommunications watchdog said disruption to Internet and telephone services in the Gulf state was likely to continue for 10 another days.
UAE telecoms provider "du" said in an statement on its website that the owners of the Mediterranean cables, FLAG Telecom and SEA-ME-WE4, were fixing the damage.
"While no schedule is available yet for the repair, initial estimates indicate it will take two weeks to repair the FLAG cable," the statement said.
"du has already started transfering Internet and international voice traffic through other cable systems that have not been affected, although some congestion may be expected at peak times until the issue is resolved."
The UAE's other telecoms provider, Etisalat, and Saudi Arabia's STC said they had not been affected.
Egypt's ministry of communications said on Saturday that Internet disruption would last another 10 days.
A repair ship was expected to begin work to fix the two cables in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday. They were damaged on Wednesday, rupturing connections not only in Egypt but also thousands of kilometres away.
The UK's new rules on the language of terrorism...
They want to turn this into multicultural mush.....how can we really fight islamic terrorism if we can't really describe it properly?
A new counter-terrorism phrasebook has been drawn up within Whitehall to advise civil servants on how to talk to Muslim communities about the nature of the terror threat without implying they are specifically to blame.
Reflecting the government's decision to abandon the "aggressive rhetoric" of the so-called war on terror, the guide tells civil servants not to use terms such as Islamist extremism or jihadi-fundamentalist but instead to refer to violent extremism and criminal murderers or thugs to avoid any implication that there is an explicit link between Islam and terrorism.
It warns those engaged in counter-terrorist work that talk of a struggle for values or a battle of ideas is often heard as a "confrontation/clash between civilisations/cultures". Instead it suggests that talking about the idea of shared values works much more effectively.
The guide, which has been passed to the Guardian, is produced by a Home Office research, information and communications unit which was set up last summer to counter al-Qaida propaganda and win hearts and minds.
It shows that the government is adopting a new sophistication in its approach to counter-terrorism, based on the realisation that it must "avoid implying that specific communities are to blame" if it is to enable communities to challenge the ideas of violent extremists robustly. The new lexicon of terror surfaced briefly last month when the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, made a speech on counter-terrorism declaring violent extremism to be "anti-Islamic".
UK to give benefits to husbands with multiple wives....
How on earth could they allow this???
Husbands living in a "harem" with multiple wives have been cleared to claim state benefits for all their different partners.
A Muslim man with four spouses - which is permitted under Islamic law - could receive £10,000 a year in income support alone.
He could also be entitled to more generous housing and council tax benefit, to reflect the fact his household needs a bigger property.
Ministers have decided that, even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, polygamous marriages can be recognised formally by the state - provided they took place overseas, in countries where they are legal.
The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife.
Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.
Potentially, the benefits bill for income support could reach £10m.
New guidelines on income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state: "Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate (£92.80).
"The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65."
Income support for all of the wives may be paid directly into the husband's bank account, if the family so choose.
Who's going to influence who?
This might be the multicultural rage, but will the British schools show them what western society is all about...or will they bend over backwards to accomodate the madrassahs???
BRITISH schools are to be twinned with madrasahs in Pakistan to show pupils there how much they have in common with children in the West and to combat extreme Islamist ideology.
The British Council is to put £6m into linking British schools with classrooms in countries where children may be at risk of being groomed by Muslim extremists. The programme will operate in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia and Pakistan, including the largely lawless North West Frontier Province, regarded as a stronghold for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Last week British teachers met groups from Pakistan to discuss establishing the first collaborative projects this spring. A madrasah in Peshawar and one in the Swabi district are among those preparing to take part in the programme, which will involve 220,000 pupils in Britain, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan alone.
The role of madrasahs in fostering extremism came under scrutiny after it emerged that one of the suicide bombers behind the explosions in London on July 7, 2005, had attended a religious school in Pakistan. Shehzad Tanweer spent two months at a madrasah in Lahore in 2004.
Most religious schools in Pakistan are moderate, serving poor rural families, but others have a reputation for preparing young men for jihad, or holy war. Pakistan has an estimated 14,000 madrasahs, compared with only 137 at the time of partition from India in 1947.
The British Council, which is funded by the Foreign Office to promote British culture and education abroad, aims to link all schools in Britain with a school overseas by 2012. The UK’s 30,000 schools will receive grants to conduct community projects with their “twins”.
Although the plan is designed to broaden British children’s understanding of poorer cultures,
Why isn't the plan designed to broaden the Pakistani children's understanding of western culture?
Half of European anti-semitism linked to radical Islam...
This deserves a lot of media attention...but won't get it...
Some 50 percent of anti-Semitic incidents on the European continent are connected to radical Islamic elements, according to a senior European Commission official.
The figure comes from European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini, who is responsible in the EU for combating racism and anti-Semitism in Europe. Frattini mentioned it in a conversation with Minister for Diaspora Affairs Isaac Herzog last week, and said it was based on European Union reports.
A letter to PEN Canada
One of my friends just wrote a letter to PEN Canada - the Canadian association of writers who are supposed to uphold freedom of speech.
My wife and I have been aware of your organization for some time and have valued the work that you do to advocate for freedom of speech and expression worldwide.
We have perused your site a number of times now to ascertain your position on the recent cases involving journalistic freedoms in Canada concerning Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, but to no avail. Frankly, it baffles us that there seems to be no mention whatsoever of these important and, we dare say, pivotal challenges to free speech in a western democracy. We can clearly see from the “Freedom of Expression in Canada” section of your site that you do not limit your concerns to offshore issues and therefore find your silence on this matter to be disconcerting.
Would you please respond with your position on this matter and some explanation as to why this has not been addressed on your website.