Israel:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rundle: Greater Israel, Greater Schmisrael — the Zionist entity is mad as a bag of cats” (Friday, item 3). What Guy Rundle wrote, “in defending the flotilla as one does and must,” is pure unadulterated bias and garbage; and of course defeats the objective … to get people to read the article as one could be forgiven for reading that little tarnish and think “well that’s Rundle, the Andrew Bolt of the loopy left” and just stop reading. That would be a shame and I for one did not stop reading as I really appreciate Rundle’s way. And really he has got a lot of what he wrote correct.

One would have to agree that the right wing kooks that are the majority political party in Israel are, relatively speaking, not very competent — and that often comes when a political party stands for individuality over collective good. However, oh and what a big “however”, Israel is at war. Just about everyone in the world that can read knows that.

When one is “at war” it comes down to winning and if I was an Israeli and even if I had a government that operated with a screw loose, my first priority would be about winning.

Israel is democracy in a sea of non democratic nations. Democracies do throw up not so good governments from time to time — a very close similarity between ourselves and Israel.

Ask yourself what you would do if it happened here.

RSPT:

Mark Heydon writes: Re. “Truth suffers in the RSPT war” (Friday, item 21). I have seen it written before, so it is not a new thought, but why is there such furore around the government announcing plans to introduce a new tax prior to consulting the parties affected? I don’t recall being consulted when, for example, the superannuation contributions surcharge was brought in — and that tax was ridiculously ill conceived, being incredibly difficult and costly to administer.

I also wasn’t consulted when the GST came in. Sure, some level of consultation to ensure there are not going to be significant adverse unforseen impacts of the tax should take place, but, beyond the hyperbole of the mining industry trying to protect their rent, this doesn’t appear to be the case with the RSPT.

So why doesn’t the government simply prepare the legislation and introduce it into the parliament?

An Obama visit:

Matthew Powell writes: Re. “Obama staying home a blessing”, “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (3 June, item 11). Many God-fearing Canberrans will be praying to whatever deity they worship that the President Of The United States (POTUS, to you Americophiles) stays in his own capital rather than fronting up to our one. Atheist Canberrans will simply be wishing he stays home.

The last time we had a POTUS visit, the meaning of “inconvenient” had to be re-defined as the Hausmann-esque boulevards that the locals use for commuting here were by turns, closed, re-directed, detoured, etc to ensure POTUS could zoom between his various appointments without seeing a single citizen, either waving in obsequious joy or giving him the finger.

Weighed against his private benefit, the public cost for citizens of this burg was interminable traffic delays in undertaking the usual ritual of getting to and from work, dropping off the kiddies, shopping, socialising, etc. This occurred before and during The Visit with road closures put in place a week or more before we were graced with Dubya’s presence.

The mindless jibe about Canberra being a “graveyard with lights” must’ve been made manifest to Dubya who, had he occasion to look out the window of his speeding Lincoln Continental, would’ve been struck by the singular lack of humanity. However, a further glance into the distance beyond the cops and barricades and he might’ve noticed the car-driving populace sitting in their motionless vehicles, inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) screaming.

Obama seems like a nice guy and no doubt his excess of charisma would be welcome if it could spill over onto our PM. But this time around, it’s not so much a case of “Yankee Go Home”, but don’t come in the first place.

Airport fog:

Thomas Marshall writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). Crikey published: “Why is Melbourne Airport still disrupted by fog? The airport announced a new instrument landing system (ILS) in March, which gives the airport the same system as Heathrow and Frankfurt. So why the delays?”

Having Melbourne airport certified for the new ILS (looks like Category 3B from the press release) is only one of the 3 pieces of the puzzle to enable landings in reduced visibility. As well as the airport, the planes and the aircrew also need to be certified for Category 3.

So it’s all great to have the airport certified for landings at visibilities down to 75m, but if the airplane or the aircrew aren’t certified to land in those conditions, then you’re still sh-t out of luck.

Of course, the better the ILS system, the more expensive it is to keep the equipment and people certified, so it’s always a play between how often do you need the ability for ILS and how much does it cost.

Repeating tabloid headlines:

Nic Maclellan writes: Re. “Starting to resurrect an issue”, “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Friday, item 12). Don’t you do any fact checking of your regular contributors? Richard Farmer says: “A day when an academic report says most Pacific islands have been getting larger rather than smaller….”

Nonsense.

The widely misreported study looks at 27 specific islands from low-lying atoll nations, not “most Pacific islands”.

Around the world, journalists have seized elements of an article in the New Scientist, and the resulting headlines say Pacific islands are “growing” rather than sinking. This in turn has been seized by bloggers as an argument against urgent action on climate change.

The Australian’s editorial on the topic, criticising climate alarmists, says that the research study was published in the New Scientist. Wrong again. The New Scientist just wrote a report on the study published in the journal Global and Planetary Change.

There’s a dangerous tendency for journalists to leap on any scientific study as an opportunity to re-hash their prejudices, without reading the original research. While documenting changing land areas, the new report notes significant environmental changes in the 27 coastal formations studied, such as ocean shoreline displacement toward the lagoon in 65 per cent of the islands. Some of the “growth” comes from natural phenomena like storm surges, some from human activity like building causeways.

None of this addresses other problems that may affect the future viability of small island developing states in the Pacific. Changes in precipitation are leading to new patterns of drought and floods, which affect water supply and food security in atoll nations. Acidification of the ocean is affecting reef ecology and the fish stocks that island nations rely on. Storm surges which rearrange the coastline can also leave a legacy of salinity on agricultural land, which affects food production and children’s nutrition.

I can understand that Andrew Bolt, a busy man, doesn’t have time to get his head around the details, but I’d hope that Crikey would avoid repeating tabloid headlines that misrepresent an interesting piece of research.

Manningham:

Jim Hart writes: Re.”Racism claims flying thick and fast at Manningham” (Friday, item 16). Council debates in Manningham must be especially, um, colourful.  I am appalled to learn that the mayor “goaded Cr Ellis several times to hit him with members of the public still in the chamber.”

I have no problem with robust debates, and the occasional application of fisticuffs adds colour to the proceedings, but really, let’s draw the line at using the innocent bystanders as weapons, OK?

Global warming:

Matt Andrews writes: Re. Tamas Calderwood (3 June, comments). On Planet Earth, the state of climate science is stronger than ever, … that is, if we’re talking about the actual science, the actual data, and the actual conclusions.  The evidence continues to mount, and it’s basically all one way: there are many many solid lines of evidence that the world is warming and that human activities are responsible, and the number of substantial lines of evidence against these conclusions continues to be precisely zero.

On Planet Denial, of course that is heresy, and every possible cherry-picked factoid, irrelevant soundbite, and outright falsehood must be marshalled in the PR war on reality.

For instance, Calderwood sends word from Planet Denial that climate scientist Michael Mann is being “investigated for fraud”; but on Planet Earth, he has been exonerated of all such charges, as have the climate scientists of the University of East Anglia. Basically, if the purpose of the ugly and criminal exercise dubbed “ClimateGate” was to show some sort of unethical manipulation of data or fraudulent treatment of results, then it was a colossal failure. A non-Gate. In fact, the stolen emails revealed the opposite: the absence of any such wrongdoing shows quite clearly that the process and the results are sound.

In his next breath (of whatever they breathe on Planet Denial) we’re told that there’s a “12-year cooling trend”.  This is such a furphy that most other deniers have quietly abandoned that line. On Planet Earth, you need at least 15 years of global data to show any meaningful trend.  So Calderwood’s claim would be irrelevant, if it were true.  And, by the way, the claim is false: look at the trend since 1998 (the hottest El Nino in a century, thus a favourite starting point for deniers) and all four major indexes show warming since then.

Calderwood goes on to laud Ian Plimer, a man whose book Heaven and Earth is so riddled with errors, false citations and misleading statements that the president of the Academy of Science said that, if it were a paper written by an honours student, it would be failed. Calderwood makes the bold claim that Plimer and others have “very convincing observations that raise serious questions about the global warming hypothesis”.  Bullsh*t.

If that were actually true on Planet Earth, you’d be hearing a lot more about it, believe you me.  If Calderwood believes otherwise, he should present it in detail, because it would be news to those who’ve bothered to learn the basics of climate science.  The deniers’ pronouncements at their Heartland Conference contained precisely zero evidence of any substance against the basic conclusions and observations of AGW.

On Planet Earth, the physical reality is that things are getting more and more urgent.  Yet large sections of the aging white male population – including Tony Abbott, who is apparently being advised by Plimer — seem to be so happy to believe that these charlatans are right, and that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists are wrong, that they’re prepared to sell their grandchildren’s grandchildren’s future down the gurgler.

Or, in Kevin Rudd’s case, they’re so lacking in the courage of their convictions that they’re watering down and delaying action to the point of meaninglessness.

Charming behaviour.

Chris Owens writes: Although Geoff Russell and Adam Rope (Friday, comments) dealt with Tamas Calderwood’s alleged arguments admirably, there is one further point. Tamas refers to “this damned 12 year cooling trend”. Interestingly enough, in “Comments etc” on 15 January 2010, Tamas referred to a cooling trend from 2001 in reference to a Possum Comitatus blog entitled “Andrew Bolt, Knowledge Weight and Flagship Media” of 13 January 2010.

However, in the comments to that blog, Possum thoroughly demolished Tamas’ argument to the extent that Tamas wrote, “Fine, there is no trend”. But now the trend is back according to Tamas, with three years added on to suit his argument, notwithstanding that 2010 is on track to be the hottest year on record.

Tamas’ exploits may have amused us at first, but now he is nothing more than a troll, waiting for the merest mention of climate change to bring up his already refuted arguments.

Tamas is akin to a streaker at the MCG on a Sunday, and in much the same way that the television cameras no longer show the streakers at the footy, it is high time Crikey stopped showing us Tamas’ foolishness.

Brett Gaskin writes: It’s been a while since the last Tamas missive, and to be honest I didn’t really miss it.  However I’ve now realised what I do miss are the immediate replies to Tamas.

It’s easy to understand the climate change deniers that have a stake in the game — e.g. coal miners.  They are probably prepared to lie simply to protect the huge sums of money at risk, however short sighted that may be. It’s harder to understand why the Tamas Calderwood’s of the world are prepared to disregard the overwhelming scientific evidence in favour of listening to the people with every reason to lie.

Either that or some Bond like evil mastermind has managed to brainwash thousands of scientists to achieve the one world government (which I guess the evil mastermind sees herself running). Regardless, please continue to publish the replies to Tamas as they are very entertaining.

Peter Fray

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