Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Al Gore: Do as I say, not as I do

Environmental prophet, oracle and high-priest, Al Gore, took advantage of the Oscars to promote his agenda and his alarmist non-documentary yet again.

The man is a real hypocrite. Besides the fact that he claims that he actually won the 2000 presidential election, he goes about preaching the merits of reducing CO2 emissions, changing our lifestyles, reducing consumption and lobbying governments to sign the Kyoto protocols.

Firstly, the guy goes about jet-setting the world in his private jet, which creates tonnes of C02.

And only yesterday, Drudge leaked the story about Al Gore's electricity bill for only *one* of his homes:

Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
But the most hypocritical moment is perhaps when he visited Australia last year and met with the Victorian premier Steve Bracks:

Gore arrived in a greenhouse-friendly Toyota Prius.

Bracks was outside with his deputy John Thwaites when a cramped Gore arrived.

Bracks: ‘’Good to see you in a hybrid.’’

Gore (confused): ``Pardon me?’’

Bracks: ``A hybrid, is it?’’

Gore: ``Yes, yes it is. I’m trying to walk the walk.’’

Shortly after 11am, Gore left. This time talking the talk in a thirsty Ford Fairlane.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Australian government goes green on us

As of 2009, Australia will be the first nation in the world, to force all people to use only compact fluorescent light bulbs. This kind of stupid green socialism would be typical from any one of our Labor led state governments, but whats really enraging is that it was announced by our supposedly moderate federal government. In fact, it was devised by none other than the Liberal party's new minister for the environment, Malcolm Turnbull.

I really hope that some drastic event happens that makes the government backflip and drop this awful promise. I wouldn't wish that they lose the next federal election, because the ALP are even worse and would regulate our lives and trample our freedom to no extent, with promises to regulate industrial relations and implement the Kyoto protocol, along with other grand schemes.

What are they going to do to enforce these light bulb laws ? Invade our homes and check our light fittings ? Its our property and our right to do with it as we please. When you restrict what people can do with their property, you erode the very fundamentals of property rights. I cannot emphasise enough how important property rights are in developing a free and prosperous society where people are motivated to save, work and look after their private property.

So anyway, Greenie Watch has a list of some of the massive problems we can soon expect from these expensive compact fluro light bulbs.. hopefully we won't have to wait till they are compulsory for the media to create an uproar.

1. Compact fluorescent bulbs are almost always Edison (screw) type, whereas most Australian lighting uses bayonet fittings. This could no doubt change but may push up costs because the lights would have to be made for just the Australian market.

2. They are often physically larger than the incandescent bulbs they replace and simply may not fit the lamp or fixture conveniently or at all. People often have very fancy light-fittings that cost hundreds of dollars. Millions of those may have to be abandoned.

3. The funny elongated or circular shape may result in a less optimal lighting pattern.

4. Many models have light output claims that are only achieved at the optimum operating temperature and/or in some optimum burning position that achieves an optimum internal temperature. Many light output claims are outright exaggerated, often by about 15 percent and in a few extreme cases by 25 percent.

5. Compact fluorescent lamps usually do not produce full light output until they warm up for a minute or two. A few models require about three minutes to fully warm up and produce as little as 20-25 percent of their full light output when first started.

6. Some types may produce an annoying 120 Hz (or 100 Hz) flicker.

7. There are many small incandescent lamps (e.g. in refrigerators) that could not conceivably be replaced by the bulky fluoros we have today. Technology MAY be able to solve that but the costs will probably be large. The compacts we have today are already the endpoint of a big effort at downsizing.

8. May produce Radio Frequency Interference (RFI).

9. The up-front cost is substantial (unless there is a large rebate): $10 to $20 for a compact fluorescent to replace a 60W incandescent bulb that costs 40 to 70c.

10. Due to the high up-front cost, the pay-back period may approach infinity.

11. While their life may be 20,000 hours, a wayward ball will break one of these $10 to $20 bulbs as easily as a 40 cent incandescent.

12. Few commonly available compact fluorescent lamps designed to fit into 240 volt ordinary light bulb sockets match or exceed the light output of a 100 watt standard incandescent lamp.

13. Lots of people just don't like the type of light they get from fluoros -- to glary, too white, too flickery etc.

Greenie Watch also has the following update from one of their alert readers:


A reader adds:

"The untold story here is that it is a tax grab by the gubmin. There are approx 7.4 million households in Australia and I would guesstimate there are on average 10 light bulbs per household. With the average cost of the fluoro replacement being $15.00 this generates $1.50 GST per unit fluoro to the gubmin x 10 x 7.4 million = $111 million tax grab. Added to this is the number in all other locations likely doubling the number of light bulbs. Since these fluoros are manufactured mainly overseas you can most likely double the tax take due to import tarrifs. We are looking at a half Billion Dollar rip-off by the gubmin."

Johann Hari: Its our fault the Palestinians are killing each other

The latest piece of garbage from Johann Hari is so easy to debunk, and here is a thorough fisking of his piece which blames everyone else for the death cult society that the Palestinians have created.

When I was in the bullet-pocked, rocket-rocked Gaza Strip last month, I could feel the Palestinian political ground fracturing beneath my feet. The rival political parties Hamas and Fatah were tooling up for a civil war, in their weapons dumps and in their minds. The dull cruelty of killing the other side's children had begun. Even the two leading campuses in Gaza - the Islamic University (Hamas) and Al Azhar (Fatah) - were firebombed just after I visited them, their status as inviolate oases of peace suddenly burned away. Locked in their box by the Israeli army, starved of resources by the international blockade, the Palestinians were turning on each other.
So after years of the Palestinians turning on their neighbors, trashing every peace agreement, continuing escalation and armament and a breeding of a culture based on religious incitement to violence and genocide, its all terrible that the Israeli army enforces its own borders ? And its unacceptable that foreign governments stop handing over their money after countless peace deals were violated by the Palestinians and the foreign aid was used to purchase weapons and fuel terrorism ? Is Johann even aware that the Palestinians elected a terrorist group as their government ?
If Palestine turns into a Somalia-replica, it will obviously be a catastrophe for the sallow children of Palestine, who have already been so strangled by the four decade-long Israeli occupation and the current international boycott that more than half of them will go to bed hungry and traumatised tonight.
Ohh spare the children !! How were the living conditions before 1967 ? How were Palestinians treated under the Jordanian and Egyptian occupation ? These aren't very interesting questions for Johann. Actually, how were living standards for the Palestinians in the 1980's and even early 1990's ? They were pretty damn good. Why, even in 2005, the UN published a report stating that Palestinian Arabs live better than most other Arabs (poor Johann is too obsessed with his Palestinians to notice anybody else).
But a September 19 Nexis search showed no news coverage of the study’s ranking of Palestinian Arabs under “Israeli occupation” higher than Algerians (103), Syrians (106), Egyptians (119), Moroccans (124) and Yemeni (151). Based on data for 2003 – a period of frequent Israeli counter-terrorism responses to the “al-Aqsa intifada” – the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip also were not far behind Tunisians (89) and Jordanians (90).
Johann continues with his next gloomy forecast:
But it will also be a catastrophe for Israel. At the moment, Hamas and Fatah could - in the context of a peace deal - ensure between them that there is all quiet on the Qassam Front: an end to missile attacks on civilians in Israeli cities
Hamas and Fatah *could* ensure an end to missile attacks the same way that a serial paedophile could ensure that he stops abusing children. Or a vegetarian could ensure they start eating meat. Or a pig flying...
But if Gaza dissolves into civil war with a hundred different warring centres of authority, this slips off the table. Every side will instead demonstrate its machismo by firing into Israel.
As opposed to the last 5 years, where every side demonstrated their machismo by firing into Israel ?
The world has been demanding a unity government under Mahmoud Abbas ever since - and now we've got one.
No.. its been demanding an end to violence and terrorism, and most people also demand a recognition of Israel's right to exist.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, says it is not enough that Hamas has pledged to "respect" all the agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority, including implicitly the recognition of Israel's right to exist within the 1967 borders. No: Olmert demands more.
Read that again. Hamas has promised (they are trustworthy, aren't they ?) to respect agreements which implicitly recognise Israel, so long as Israel retreats to 1967 borders and hands over land as the first step. Sounds sensible to me, but not to Johann.
"Israel cannot negotiate with a government that has extremist components which deny Israel's right to exist", says German chancellor Angela Merkel. Why doesn't she mention that the Israeli government has extremist components who deny Palestine's right to exist - not least Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who openly advocates ethnic cleansing and the drowning of Palestinian prisoners? Why doesn't she mention that Israel is physically preventing Palestine's right to exist as we speak, by occupying the West Bank?
Errr.. because it isn't true, thats why. Israel has a bunch of checkpoints and security posts, and that is somehow the same as Hamas and Fatah who send armed militants and suicide bombers to slaughter random Israelis in schools, cafes and buses ? And Lieberman's opinions are taken way out of context, and held up as being typical whilst they are quite rare to find in Israel.

He concludes thus:
Today, a glistening opportunity to avert a Palestinian civil war is being kicked into the trash by 'the international community' with a glib, finger-wagging sneer.
Wow, powerful closing words. So much pomposity and arrogance and whining - the mark of a true British journalist.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book review: Freakonomics

I've finished reading Levitt and Dubner's famous best-selling book, Freakonomics, and I had a great time reading it. It was a pretty easy read too, and you can see that they've targeted it at the average layman in simple terms.

Levitt and Dubner also have a Freakonomics blog where you can sample some of their writings. They generally apply economic theory and analysis to your everyday social issues which provides a new level of insight, something quite distinct and often contrary to the conventional wisdom or common mass-media consensus.

Freakonomics, in the opening chapter, openly states that this book has no unifying theme. It does not attempt to focus on one area of public policy, nor does it try to explain economic theory and principles. It does however use the data available and statistics, coupled with some reasoning, to analyse a few colourful issues in the first 3 chapters, which are:

  • Chapter 1: What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
  • Chapter 2: How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
  • Chapter 3: Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?
These chapters are all very illustrative, balanced, but above all - fun to read. Unlike most economic textbooks, the theory is applied to scenarios where most people thought was beyond the realm of economic analysis.

In fact, the subtitle of the book is "a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything". And this is precisely what the book does. It illustrates how economics can be applied to every issue. It also shows how analyzing an issue and proposing regulations, incentives or penalties to deal with that issue is something extremely risky and uncertain, and should not be done from a moral perspective alone.

It seems every issue has unknown quantities, a lack of information on one side by decision makers, or some unwanted side-effect once you introduce legislation that doesn't deliver what was originally intended.

e.g When US public schools in 2002 had to comply with high-stakes testing whereby the results were linked to a school or teachers budget, then there was a huge spike in teachers cheating and modifying test scores.

But above all, I appreciate Freakonomics for promoting critical and rational thought. Things are often more complex than the conventional wisdom would suggest. The media are often duped and fairly ignorant of some of the processes and mechanisms that work behind the scenes in any issue. It takes some patience and diligence to analyse something, and to be frank, most journalists and pundits do not have the time or patience to really critically evaluate whats going on in the world.

They do have the time to publish headlines, produce news-reels and sound-bytes for the daily news. But critical thought is obviously where you don't swallow someone else's analysis, and you filter out the facts and data to develop your own analysis. This book may introduce new doubts about a particular belief or value held by the mainstream that is demonstrably false, and hopefully this blog will continue to build upon those foundations.

Monday, February 12, 2007

For you Melburnians: The Breakfast Blog

Wow is all I can say. The breakfast blog is terrific, with some excellent detailed reviews and photos of Melbourne's best breakfast spots. Thanks to their advice, my next breakfast dish will likely be at Turtle Cafe.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Disturbing the patients in the asylum

Hey let's party .. head down to headquarters of global warming hysteria, the spiritual Mecca of their faith, the SMH comments section. The author wrote a post saying that Australia is in no position to lecture China because we are also bad polluters, to which I responded:

China produces 10 times as much greenhouse gases as Australia.

Why should anyone cut emissions when there are other higher priorities that need addressing ?

Unless of course your aim is to get us to cut living standards and increase poverty through the western world.

Oh boy -that certainly shook things up in the asylum. The preachers came out with a fiery sermon condemning those who doubt that Gaia will destroy us all with her mighty warming:

However, it would be wrong to shut our eyes to the question of total production when obviously China (and many other countries) produces more Green House Gases than Australia.

But it is also wrong to justify our wasteful and environmentally damaging lifestyles based on the fact that there are fewer of us than there are of them.

True, it would be foolish to allow china to continue polluting unchecked, but it is hypocritical of us to condemn them for merely seeking the same development opportunities and lifestyles that we have enjoyed for so long.

... Posted by: Ro at February 8,:01 PM

Thanks Ro. And yes, you make a marvelous point. We should all strive to live in poverty the Chinese way ! Forget about having lots of food, technology, medicine and opportunities, the planet demands we live in poverty or else it will destroy us all !

Next is this moonbat:
Jono at 1104am must have his script written by John Howard. We have the grand daddy of a fight on our hands, and barely a soul on this blog has accepted that we ALL need to change our behaviour and our expectations. With our standard of life here it is disturbing to hear people refusing to give up anything in their selfish, materialistic life-styles. We have to set examples here or all is lost.
...Posted by: Georgie at February 8, 2007 2:47 PM
NOOO Georgie found out my secret.. quick John Howard, tell me what to say !! All is lost !! You hear that. Not some balanced remark about how man made global warming could be costly... just a statement that the apocalypse is coming unless we change our lives !

Hmm, funny thing Georgie, you don't mind using computers and electricity, you're not setting a very good example !! Don't you know that tonnes of steel, coal, fuels and metals are used in the manufacturing of computers ? You are destroying the planet you hypocrite !!

As for giving up something from my selfish materialistic lifestyle .... it won't be at the hands of thieving Green politicians voted in by you. You're not asking me to give up something, you're trying to vote in a party who will steal, tax and regulate even more of my life.

And we also get a lesson in economics from this brainiac:

Part of the problem is our Prime Minister is living in the past, he seems to think that fossil fuels are economical heaven, unwilling to acknowledge that the consequences could cause hell on earth, with a very high price tag.

Even if the worst case scenario turns out not to come to pass, surely it makes sense to clean up the air we breathe, save ourselves money by being more energy efficient and change to renewable energy now rather than when we have no choice?

Ask who stands to get the most out of burning fossil fuels, it's not the majority of the population, it's the the industry bosses and business who make billions of dollars profit, out of consumers. It's not the miners, making the big bucks, the miners work much harder, maybe miners would rather be employed in the building of solar power stations?.
.... Posted by: A Hutchins at February 8, 2007 2:06 PM
Whoah, there they go again these religious types, evoking images of hell to get us to repent for our sins. The IPCC themselves warned of 1.8 to 5 degrees of warming in the next century. Its nothing short of hell on earth !!

As for saving ourselves money, umm, what is the cheapest source of energy ? Hint: its not solar or wind !

And that mighty profitable solar industry, it sure does pay well ! Those thousands of stupid miners, who think they get paid excellent salaries - its all just fiction.

What I detect here is a consistent lack of critical thought. These people just swallow whatever headlines the SMH publishes about global warming, and never research the underlying claims. I doubt they actually bother to read the whole article.

Star Wars Episode 7 ?

This young Jedi suspects he has found the Sith Lord. The force is indeed strong with these two. Will he be tempted to join the dark side, and become Darth Obama ?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Letter to the PM

Dear Prime Minister,
I would like to congratulate you, and fellow members of the Liberal Party, who had the common sense to ridicule the climate change alarmists amongst the Greens and ALP.

Although the current global warming hysteria is bolstered by widespread media support, through alarmist headlines and mis-reporting of scientific research and evidence, I believe that it will be a passing fad, even if it takes 10 or 20 years to fade.

Environmental groups were warning of global cooling only 30 years ago, and a 1932 edition of the NY times which was published this week contained an article warning of (non man made) catastrophic global warming and oceans rising, predicting fish would swim in Buckingham palace.

I will continue to support the Liberal party so long as it doesn't cave in to the environmental groups. I believe it already has gone too far, with billions in wasteful spending towards solar energy.

I think you should spend more time articulating why you take a skeptical and cautious approach to the issue, and relate it to the Liberal party ideology, suggesting that free markets, property rights and enterprise will deliver the best environmental outcomes, and that governmental regulation is a poor and inferior mechanism at prioritising issues and allocating resources.

I hope you find some spare time to read Bjorn Lomborg's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, to see how there are far better priorities for alleviating human suffering in the world, such as supplying Africa with drinking water and fighting the spread of AIDS and malaria.

You should reiterate that "everybody" accepts Climate Change as fact... the planet is a dynamic and complex system after all. The only doubt exists as to the direction of change, the magnitude of impact that human activity actually has, the likely impact of costly regulation and side effects created by carbon trading schemes (refer to New Zealand and Germany to see what a failure it is).

The biggest uncertainty of all, is whether a small amount of warming is harmful or beneficial. Some Russian farmers can now grow crops where there was only fields of ice.

I also encourage you to read this 10 part report in Canada's National Post about the global warming debate

Run Rudy Run !

On Fox News, Rudy Giuliani announced he filed papers for his candidacy and would run for President in 2008. I'm hoping he can win the Republican primary vote and run for President next year, instead of Hillary or Barack Obama. Well, my first pick would be libertarian candidate Ron Paul, but it isn't likely he will get far with his limited popularity and resources.

Watch the interview below and you may well be convinced that he represents what could be one of the greatest presidents, and the perfect man for the job. Unlike other Republican contenders, he has universal appeal. Sam Brownback is too much of a religous-theoconservative type, and Mitt Romney is even more inconsistent in his policy than John Kerry.

Small government, strong on defence, moderate on gay marriage and abortion. Even though Hillary may not be too different (well, except for the fact that she loves big government spending), she is a much more unsettling character and less personable than the heroic Giuliani who ran towards the twin towers on 9-11 and showed leadership and authority.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lessons of the 20th century

In any field or profession, there exists a documented record of past theories and knowledge. When we try to evaluate how valid or useful a particular theory is, we test it against reality and empirical evidence.

When a theory, technique or practice is proven to be false and useless, we discard it entirely. Hence we no longer have witch doctors in the modern world. Conversely, if something is successful, accurate or proven to be true, it is accepted and promoted in the modern world.

This doesn't seem to hold true with economics and political theory however. I bring you these quotes from before the Great Depression.

1929 February:
“…the boom will collapse within a few months.”

Friedrich von Hayek. Austrian Institute of Economic Research Report. One of the few economists to predict the crash….he was awarded the Nobel Laureate in 1974.

1929 Summer:

“…a great crash is coming and I do not want my name in any way connected with it.”

Ludwig von Mises…. The reason Von Mises gave for rejecting a high position at Kredit Anstalt (then one of the largest banks in Europe)… two years later this Austrian bank was declared bankrupt.

“There will be no more crashes in our lifetime.”
John Maynard Keynes, renowned British economist and graduate of Cambridge….is quoted by several sources to have uttered these words to Felix Somary (Austrian School economist and Swiss banker) when warned against buying stock as a crash was imminent.

1929 September:
"Stock prices are not too high and Wall Street will not experience anything in the nature of a crash.”
“Stocks are now at what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
Irving Fisher. Fisher graduated from Yale and was regarded as one of America’s greatest economists. Also an inventor and author, Fisher made a fortune when he sold his index file system to Remington Rand. His reputation was tarnished when he kept insisting throughout the Great Depression that a recovery was imminent.

“Sooner or later a crash is coming, and it may be terrific…factories will shut down…men will be thrown out of work…the viscous circle will get in full swing and the result will be a serious business depression.”

Roger Babson, speaking at his Annual National Business Conference.

1929 October 28th, “Black Monday”….stock market loses 13%.

1929 October 29th, “Black Tuesday”….stock market loses 12%.

1929 October 30th:

“This is the time to buy stocks. This is the time to recall the words of the late J.P.Morgan… that any man who is bearish on America will go broke. Within a few days there is likely to be a bear panic rather than a bull panic.”

R.W. McNeel, market analyst New York Herald Tribune.

1929 November 10th:

“A severe depression such as 1920-1921 is outside the range of probability. We are not facing a protracted liquidation. ”

Harvard Economic Society.

1929 November 14th:

“The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few days at most.”

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics Yale

1930 June: “The depression is over.”

U.S. President Herbert Hoover.

1932 June…………….. stocks have crashed 91% to a low of 34.


“…the Harvard Economic Society was liquidated in 1932.”
John Rothchild, The Bear Book, John Wiley & Sons, 1998.

John Maynard Keynes: in spite of his brilliance as an economist, Keynes failed to see the crash coming and is reported to have remained fully invested and lost one million English pounds in the Crash of ’29.

Professor Irving Fisher, Ph.D. Economics, held steadfastly to his view of an imminent recovery from the Crash of ‘29, and went on to lose close to $140 million in today’s dollars. Defying his predictions, the Dow lost some 90 per cent over the next two years and investment trusts crashed 95 per cent.

poor little David Hicks

I hear that his growing fan base will soon be airing TV commercials showing young David as a freckled 9 year old boy. Strange choice that, seeing as he is now 31 and has the following allegations against him (via Iain Hall):





a/k/a “David Michael Hicks”
a/k/a/ “Abu Muslim Australia”
a/k/a “Abu Muslim Austraili”
a/k/a “Abu Muslim Philippine”
a/k/a “Muhammad Dawood”


Providing Material Support for Terrorism;
Attempted Murder in Violation of the Law of War


1. The accused, David Matthew Hicks (a/k/a “David Michael Hicks,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Australia,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Austraili,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Philippine,” a/k/a “Muhammad Dawood;” hereinafter “Hicks”), is a person subject to trial by military commission for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission, as an alien unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities against the United States. At all times material to the charges:


2. Jurisdiction for this military commission is based on: the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-366, hereinafter “MCA;” its implementation by the Manual for Military Commissions (MMC), Chapter II, Rules for Military Commissions (RMC) 202 and 203; and, the final determination of September 30, 2004 by the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) that Hicks is an unlawful enemy combatant as a member of, or affiliated with, al Qaeda.

3. The charged conduct of the accused is triable by military commission.


4. Hicks was born on August 7, 1975 in Adelaide, Australia.

5. In or about May 1999, Hicks traveled to Tirana, Albania and joined the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a paramilitary organization fighting on behalf of Albanian Muslims. Hicks completed basic military training at a KLA camp and engaged in hostile action before returning to Australia.

6. While in Australia, Hicks converted from Christianity to Islam. In or about November 1999, he traveled to Pakistan where, in early 2000, he joined a terrorist organization known as Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LET), meaning “Army of the Righteous” or “Army of the Pure.”

a. The LET is the armed wing of Markaz-ud-Daawa wal Irshad (MDI), (a/k/a Markaz Jamat al Dawa), a group formed by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and others.
b. The LET’s known goals include violent attacks against property and nationals (both military and civilian) of India and other countries in order to seize control of Indian held Kashmir and violent opposition of Hindus, Jews, Americans, and other Westerners.
c. Starting around 1990, LET established training camps and guest houses, schools, and other operations primarily in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the purpose of training and supporting violent attacks against property and nationals (both military and civilian) of India and other countries.
d. Since 1990, members and associates of LET have conducted numerous attacks on military and civilian personnel and property in Indian-controlled Kashmir and India.
e. In 1998, Saeed called for holy war against the United States after U.S. missile attacks against terrorist training facilities in Afghanistan killed LET members.
f. On or about April 23, 2000, in a bulletin posted on the internet, LET claimed that it recently killed Indian soldiers and destroyed an Indian government building, both in Indian Kashmir.
g. On or about December 26, 2001, the United States designated LET a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
7. After joining LET, Hicks trained for two months at LET’s Mosqua Aqsa camp in Pakistan. His training included weapons familiarization and firing, map reading and land navigation, and troop movements.

8. Following training at Mosqua Aqsa, Hicks, along with LET associates, traveled to a border region between Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and Indian-controlled Kashmir, where he engaged in hostile action against Indian forces.

9. In or about January 2001, Hicks, with assistance from LET, traveled to Afghanistan and attended al Qaeda training camps.


10. Al Qaeda (”The Base”) was founded by Usama bin Laden and others in or about 1989 for the purpose of opposing certain governments and officials with force and violence.

11. Usama bin Laden is recognized as the emir (prince or leader) of al Qaeda.

12. A purpose or goal of al Qaeda, as stated by Usama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, is to support violent attacks against property and nationals (both military and civilian) of the United States and other countries for the purpose of, inter alia, forcing the United States to withdraw its forces from the Arabian Peninsula and in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel.
13. Al Qaeda operations and activities are directed by a shura (consultation) council composed of committees, including: political committee; military committee; security committee; finance committee; media committee; and religious/legal committee.

14. Between 1989 and 2001, al Qaeda established training camps, guest houses, and business operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries for the purpose of training and supporting violent attacks against property and nationals (both military and civilian) of the United States and other countries.

15. In August 1996, Usama bin Laden issued a public “Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans,” in which he called for the murder of U.S. military personnel serving on the Arabian peninsula.

16. In February 1998, Usama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and others, under the banner of “International Islamic Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders,” issued a fatwa (purported religious ruling) requiring all Muslims able to do so to kill Americans – whether civilian or military – anywhere they can be found and to “plunder their money.”

17. On or about May 29, 1998, Usama bin Laden issued a statement entitled “The Nuclear Bomb of Islam,” under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders,” in which he stated that “it is the duty of the Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorize the enemies of God.”

18. In or about 2001, al Qaeda’s media committee created As Sahab (”The Clouds”) Media Foundation which orchestrates and distributes multi-media propaganda detailing al Qaeda’s training efforts and its reasons for its declared war against the United States.

19. Since 1989 members and associates of al Qaeda, known and unknown, have carried out numerous terrorist attacks, including, but not limited to: the attacks against the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998; the attack against the USS COLE in October 2000; and the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

20. On or about October 8, 1999, the United States designated al Qaeda (”al Qa’ida”) a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and on or about August 21, 1998, the United States designated al Qaeda a “specially designated terrorist” (SDT), pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.


21. Paragraphs (11) through (20) of the General Allegations are realleged and incorporated by reference for Specifications 1 and 2 of Charge I.

22. SPECIFICATION 1: In that the accused, David Matthew Hicks (a/k/a “David Michael Hicks,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Australia,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Austraili,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Philippine,” a/k/a “Muhammad Dawood;” hereinafter “Hicks”), a person subject to military commission as an alien unlawful enemy combatant, did, in or around Afghanistan, from in or about December 2000 through in or about December 2001, unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally provide material support or resources to an international terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, who the accused knew to be such organization that engaged, or engages, in terrorism, and engaged in hostilities against the United States, that the conduct of the accused took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict, namely al Qaeda or its associated forces against the United States or its Coalition partners, and that the material support or resources provided by the accused, included, but was not limited to, the following:

a. That in or about January 2001, Hicks traveled to Afghanistan, with the assistance of Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LET), to include LET’s recommendation, funding, and transportation, in order to attend al Qaeda terrorist training camps.

b. That upon entering Afghanistan, Hicks traveled to Kandahar where he stayed at an al Qaeda guest house and met Richard Reid (”Abdul Jabal”), Feroz Abbasi (”Abu Abbas al-Britani”), and other associates or members of al Qaeda. While attending al Qaeda’s training, Hicks would use the kunya, or alias, “Abu Muslim Austraili,” among others.

c. That Hicks then traveled to and trained at al Qaeda’s al Farouq camp located outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. In al Qaeda’s eight-week basic training course, Hicks trained in weapons familiarization and firing, land mines, tactics, topography, field movements, and basic explosives.

d. That in or about April 2001, Hicks returned to al Farouq and trained in al Qaeda’s guerilla warfare and mountain tactics training course. This seven-week course included: marksmanship; small team tactics; ambush; camouflage; rendezvous techniques; and techniques to pass intelligence to al Qaeda operatives.

e. That while Hicks was training at al Farouq, Usama bin Laden visited the camp on several occasions. During one visit, Hicks questioned bin Laden regarding the lack of English al Qaeda training material.

f. That after Hicks completed his first two al Qaeda training courses, Muhammad Atef (a/k/a Abu Hafs al Masri), then the military commander of al Qaeda, summoned and individually interviewed certain attendees. Hicks was interviewed about: his background; knowledge of Usama bin Laden; al Qaeda; his ability to travel around the world, to include Israel; and his willingness to go on a martyr mission. After this interview, Muhammed Atef recommended Hicks for attendance at al Qaeda’s urban tactics training course at Tarnak Farm.

g. That in or about June 2001, Hicks traveled to Tarnak Farm and participated in this course. A mock city was located inside the camp, where trainees were taught how to fight in an urban environment. This city tactics training included: marksmanship; use of assault and sniper rifles; rappelling; kidnapping techniques; and assassination methods.

h. That in or about August 2001, Hicks participated in an advanced al Qaeda course on information collection and surveillance in an apartment in Kabul, Afghanistan. This course included practical application where Hicks and other student operatives conducted surveillance of various targets in Kabul, including the U.S. and British embassies. This surveillance training included weeks of: covert photography; use of dead drops; use of disguises; drawing diagrams depicting embassy windows and doors; documenting persons coming and going to the embassy; and, submitting reports to the al Qaeda instructor who cited the al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole as a positive example of the uses their training. During this training, Hicks personally collected intelligence on the American Embassy.

i. That during the surveillance course, Richard Reid (”Abdul Jabal”) visited on two separate occasions. After the course, Hicks returned to Kandahar airport, where Abdul Jabal taught a class on the meaning of jihad. Hicks also received instruction from other al Qaeda members or associates on their interpretation of Islam, the meaning and obligations of jihad, and related topics, at other al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

j. That on or about September 9, 2001, Hicks traveled to Pakistan to visit a friend. While at this friend’s house, Hicks watched television footage of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, and expressed that it was a good thing this happened.

k. That on or about September 12, 2001, Hicks returned to Afghanistan and, again, joined with al Qaeda. Hicks had heard reports that the attacks were conducted by al Qaeda and that America was blaming Usama bin Laden.

l. That upon arriving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Hicks reported to Saif al Adel, then al Qaeda’s deputy military commander and head of the security committee for al Qaeda’s Shura council, who was organizing al Qaeda forces at locations where it was expected there would be fighting against the United States, Northern Alliance, or other Coalition forces. Hicks was given a choice of three different locations (city, mountain, or airport), and he chose to join a group of al Qaeda fighters near the Kandahar Airport.

m. That Hicks traveled to the Kandahar Airport and was issued an Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947 (AK-47) automatic rifle. On his own, however, Hicks armed himself with six (6) ammunition magazines, 300 rounds of ammunition, and three (3) grenades to use in fighting the United States, Northern Alliance, and other Coalition forces.

n. That on or about October 7, 2001, when the Coalition Forces, Operation Enduring Freedom, bombing campaign began, Hicks had been at the Kandahar airport for about two weeks and entrenched in the area where the first bombs were dropped. At this site, other al Qaeda forces who were in battle positions based a couple of hundred meters in all directions, and under the direction of another al Qaeda leader.

o. That on or about October 10, 2001, after two nights of bombing, Hicks was reassigned and joined an armed group outside the airport where he guarded a tank. For about the next week Hicks guarded the tank, and every day received food, drink, and updates on what was happening from the al Qaeda leader in charge of them.

p. That Hicks heard fighting was heavy at Mazar-e Sharif, that Kabul would be next, and that western countries, including the United States, had joined the Northern Alliance.

q. That Hicks implemented his al Qaeda training by training some of the others positioned with him at Kandahar. After apparent resistance to his training, and no enemy in sight at the time in Kandahar, Hicks decided to look for another opportunity to fight in Kabul.

r. That on or about October 17, 2001, Hicks told the al Qaeda leader in charge of his plans, and then traveled to Kabul. Hicks also took his weapon and all his ammunition.

s. That Hicks arrived in Kabul and met a friend from LET, who requested Hicks go to the front lines in Konduz with him, and Hicks agreed.

t. That on or about November 9, 2001, Hicks and his LET friend arrived at Konduz, the day before Mazar-e Sharif was captured by the Northern Alliance and U.S. Special Forces. Sometime after Hicks arrived at Konduz, he went to the frontline outside the city for two hours where he joined a group of fighters, including John Walker Lindh and others, engaged in combat against Coalition forces. Hicks spent two hours on the frontline before it collapsed and Hicks had to run away. During the retreat, Hicks saw bullets flying and that the Northern Alliance had come over the top of the trench with the tanks.

u. That Hicks spent two to three days walking back to Konduz while being chased by the Northern Alliance and being fired upon.

v. That Hicks made it safely back to the city of Konduz, where he approached some of the Arabs and asked about their plans. The Arabs said they were going to go back into Konduz, and fight to the death. Hicks decided, instead, to use his Australian passport and go back to Pakistan.

w. That Hicks then moved secretly within Konduz to a madafah, an Arab safe house. Hicks wrote the Arabs a letter that said not to come look for him because he was okay, and left the safe house. At this time Hicks still had his weapon, and moved again, secretly, to another house where he stayed for about three weeks. Afterwards, a man spoke some English helped Hicks sell his weapon, so he could return to Pakistan.

x. That in or about December 2001, one week after the control of Konduz changed from the Taliban to the Northern Alliance, Hicks took a taxi in an attempt to get to Pakistan. However, Hicks was captured by the Northern Alliance in Baghlan, Afghanistan.

23. Paragraphs 22(a) through (x) of Specification 1 are realleged and incorporated by reference for Specification 2 of Charge I.

24. SPECIFICATION 2: In that the accused, David Matthew Hicks (a/k/a “David Michael Hicks,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Australia,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Austraili,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Philippine,” a/k/a “Muhammad Dawood;” hereinafter “Hicks”), a person subject to military commission as an alien unlawful enemy combatant, did, in or around Afghanistan, from in or about December 2000 through in or about December 2001, unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally provide material support or resources to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out, an act of terrorism, that the accused knew or intended that the material support or resources were to be used for those purposes, that the conduct of the accused took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict, namely al Qaeda or its associated forces against the United States or its Coalition partners.


25. SPECIFICATION: In that the accused, David Matthew Hicks (a/k/a “David Michael Hicks,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Australia,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Austraili,” a/k/a “Abu Muslim Philippine,” a/k/a “Muhammad Dawood;” hereinafter “Hicks”), a person subject to military commission as an alien unlawful enemy combatant, did, in or around Afghanistan, from on or about September 11, 2001, through in or about December 2001, unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally attempt to commit murder in violation of the law of war, by directing small arms fire, explosives, or other means and methods, with the intent to kill divers persons of the United States, Northern Alliance, or other Coalition forces, while the accused was without combatant immunity as an unlawful enemy combatant who was part of, or supporting, al Qaeda, Taliban, or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States or its Coalition partners, and that the conduct of the accused took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A balanced view on climate change

There is a lot of hysteria circulating right now through the mainstream media, political circles and global regulatory bodies such as the U.N after last Friday's alarmist IPCC report which said that anthropogenic (man made) global warming is "very likely".

Most people swallow up the headlines and unfortunately, accept the IPCC report as being solid scientific evidence. But the IPCC is highly politicised, to say the least.

Senator Inhofe today commented on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Summary for Policymakers. "This is a political document, not a scientific report, and it is a shining example of the corruption of science for political gain.
Instead of providing raw data and a basic statistical analysis, the report is very selective about the data it chooses, refuses to acknowledge huge uncertainty and unknown quanitities, and spends a great number of words suggesting policy prescriptions for governments to follow. In fact, it seems it really does revise the scientific conclusions to suit its policy recommendations:
The IPCC concedes it alters the underlying scientific conclusions on page 4 of "Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work": "Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.
All of these prescriptions are based on reducing industrial output and household consumption, which will reduce living standards, life expectancy, wealth and economic growth.

Of course, its kind of pointless and a massive waste of resources to focus all discussion on what kind of policy and regulations need to be implemented immediately. It is simply folly to assume that there is any kind of overwhelming scientific consensus.
To support Kyoto or other policy frameworks, one must bend their mind to assume all of the following uncertainties and doubts as their set of religious truth:
  • The planet is warming (highly probable) and will continue to warm every year in the future (highly unlikely seeing as 2006 was colder than 2005, 2004, and 2003.
  • The warming is largely due to human activity (very unlikely) and not related to solar cycles, clouds or natural variations.
  • Future warming is, overall, a bad thing that has more costs than benefits (also uncertain, seeing as some people including Russian farmers benefit from warmer tempertures)
  • The economic cost of regulation is much less than the economic cost of global warming.
  • The warming can be stopped or lessened by governments implementing regulation (very bloody unlikely, government regulation always has side effects and perverse incentives).
There should be more doubts echoed about global warming. The invaluable Greenie Watch blog reports all sorts of scientific debate and uncertainty about the issue, and should be read before anyone gets too hysterical or alarmist about what gets reported in the papers.

In the end, I ultimately and wholeheartedly oppose any form of environmental regulation. If indeed the scientific evidence does point to costly and deadly man made global warming, then free markets will innovate and provide the solution. Past history reveals that the wealthier and more economically advanced and free societies are those which have the smallest impact on the environment and are best at preserving natural wonders for future generations, because they can capitalise on them for tourism, or because property rights bestow ownership upon a party who has an interest to preserve the value of land/resources for the future.

Most socialists and greens have invented the Orwellian phrase "sustainable growth" to suggest that without regulation, economic growth is harmful, unsustainable and will lead to some kind of giant economic collapse. This entails running out of resources and energy, lower air and water quality and other hysterical scenarios. But in truth, free markets driven by entrepeneurs, are dynamic and adjust to new technologies and new methods of production much faster than any bunch of regulator and Soviet style technocrats ever could.

Climate change is indeed a big issue. But there is no role for governments to get involved and make our lives worse.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The lessons of Victorian public transport

Okay fellow citizens. Its time for me to use the case study of Victorian trains and public transport to give you all a lesson in why socialism fails, why central planning of an industry is a slow and unresponsive way to manage and allocate resources, why politicians and bureaucrats have very little regards for individual happiness and prosperity, and much more regard for their own public image and power.

I was angry enough to write this post, but given that the Number 16 tram this morning just flew right past my stop at 8:35am, even though it wasn't full, this is the final straw. I registered a complaint with Yarra Trams who are supposed to get back to me within 7 days.

Heres a brief background of recent events in the news. Firstly:

Connex, the private operator running Melbourne train services, has already cancelled 37 daily peak services indefinitely after taking almost half its Siemens fleet out of service.
Yesterday, despite reassurances from public officials and bureaucrats:
The Age can reveal that another Siemens train was impounded late yesterday after it overshot the platform at Seaford station just before 6pm.
The 4.55pm Flinders Street to Frankston six-carriage train yesterday overshot the Seaford Station platform.

Then today, this report:

The rail operator has already prepared a crisis plan to run its weekday services on a Saturday timetable if all 72 of the Siemens trains are withdrawn.

The move could result in almost 400 cancellations every day, creating peak-hour chaos, worsening overcrowding and causing delays across the system.

And its not just brake problems causing havoc:
An overhead power fault disabled two peak-hour Connex trains in Melbourne's north-east this morning.
The trains stopped for up to an hour between Greensborough and Macleod during this morning's peak hour.

Due to cutbacks in number of trains, the remaining trains were over-crowded. Who ever said over-crowded trains were limited to the 3rd world countries such as India ?
Last week, one Connex commuter rode in the driver's cab with 14 other passengers because there was no room left on the train. Claire Reynoldson said she tried to board a morning peak-hour train at Balaclava station when the driver invited her and a group of passengers to ride with him.
Now .. if this were a private sector business. People would be voting with their dollars - meaning that Connex would be kicked where it hurts, as they lose millions in revenues from lost customers. Connex managers would be scrambling to fix the system quickly and keep as many services running as possible. This mechanism comes about because of the profit incentive under private enterprise.

Better yet, there would be another valuable mechanism in place due to the profit incentive. Connex managers and stakeholders would have greater reason to avoid such calamity in the first place seeing as they are risking their own money. They would perform better servicing of trains, and only purchase trains that had an excellent safety/reliability record with extensive testing.

But .. this is the public sector people ! Look closely at the mechanisms in any public sector business that occur when there are failures, shortages and quality issues. The first mechanism is to reassure the public that something is being done and to convince them that your tax dollars are being well spent, so nobody will dare ask for them back. All you get is:

  • Ass-covering by the Connex spokesperson:

Mr Cassidy said there was no problem with the trains, but could not say when the overhead voltage problem would be fixed.

"Our technicians are working on it at the moment. I don't have an estimate."

  • Contradictory statements, about how the "system" still works:
"There is a risk that the trains could slide by an amount, some by just a few metres, some by further than that," Mr Osborne told reporters today.

"But in terms of managing the risk of that problem I'm confident that the safety of the system is intact and is continuing."
And yesterday on the radio, the leader of the opposition criticised Connex and suggested the trains be pulled. The Connex spokesperson, rather than consider the public's safety, lashed out against the criticism saying that "Ted Baillieu is undermining confidence in the system".

Oh heaven forbid that we criticise our public servants, administrators and bureaucrats ! Don't you dare criticise the system !

But Ted Baillieu responded wisely:
"I tell you what undermines the confidence in the public transport system: when the brakes don't work.
Of course, there is another government bureaucracy in place to regulate safety. But like any arm of government, they absolutely oppose people trying to live their lives, use other forms of transport and get to where they need. They insist that the government service is indispensable, perhaps because it is tied in to their funding. Check out this amazing statement, it defies belief:
But the safety regulator said it was unnecessary to remove all Siemens trains.

"If . . . we closed the system down and everybody ended up on the road system in their cars then they would experience an awful lot higher level of risk if they did."
And its not just train users who suffer under the measure. As a cyclist myself, I find I am often stuck at boom gates. Just last week, there was a faulty boom gate that remained down for 5 minutes after a train left. It took the next train to trigger it to lift !
Under the new safety measures, trains must approach platforms at 25km/h, not at the 45km/h speed previously allowed.

Boom gates at level crossings will come down sooner and stay down longer as well.
On a final note, let me show you a quote from Connex that really reveals the socialist mindset. There is very little care for individual people, their level of satisfaction and happiness, the profitability of the enterprise, and whether resources (trains, infrastructure, staff) are allocated effectively.

This final quote shows an immense level of idiocy, arrogance and an elitist viewpoint that sees citizens as guinea pigs. There is only concern for ... the system:
"We're actually learning an awful lot by keeping the trains in service, and provided they continue to present no risk to members of the public I'd see nothing being served by taking them off," Mr Osborne said.

UPDATE: This absolute gem of a quote from Steve Bracks, in a 2003 media release:
The Premier, Steve Bracks, today welcomed the new M>train to Melbourne’s rail tracks - the first of 62 new three-carriage trains that are being built at a cost of $500 million.

Mr Bracks said the new M> train, built by Siemens, would improve passenger safety, comfort and accessibility on Melbourne’s public transport system.

“The new M> trains mark a new era in public transport travel,” he said.

“The trains offer increased room, digital information displays and announcements, push-button operated doors and air-conditioning.

“M>Train have contracted to purchase 62 trains, all of which will be riding Melbourne’s tracks by mid 2005 and will replace the ageing 1970s Hitachi trains.”