Friday 30 November 2012

Mega trends

I see three, at least:

One: gas and oil from fracking. Making the US and other countries (the UK, if it wants, Australia) independent of Middle East Oil.  Seems Israel also has exploitable resources, that it could export to Europe.  Imagine that as a game changer!  The savings in carbon dioxide emissions from this technology already outweigh all those from renewables.

Two: a new spaceplane, with revolutionary engine that is both jet and rocket: the Skylon.

Three: the Arab winter (aka "spring"), which is bringing Islamism ever more widely and deeply to the Middle East, and will be a key challenge to the west.   And depress even further economic growth in those benighted countries.

Thursday 29 November 2012

"The voodoo maths of nuclear energy opponents"

After the loss of 10 million American lives in the Three Mile Island calamity in 1979, the death of two billion in the Chernobyl holocaust in 1986, and now the abandonment of all of northern Japan following the death of millions in last year's Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, it is hardly surprising that the world's biggest users of nuclear power are shutting their plants down.
Oh, wait a minute … nobody died in the Three Mile Island calamity, some 30 people were killed and 15 others subsequently died of thyroid cancer in the Chernobyl holocaust, and nobody died in the Fukushima catastrophe. In fact, northern Japan has not been evacuated. But never mind all that. They really are shutting their nuclear plants down.
They have already shut them down in Japan. All of the country's 50 nuclear reactors were closed for safety checks after the tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant, and only two have reopened so far. The government wants to close every plant in Japan permanently by 2040, though pressure by business and community groups means it has been forced to reconsider. Replacing the missing nuclear energy with an increase in renewable energy, as Japan intended, will take decades, and nobody has yet found an economically sustainable way to sequester the greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. The truth is that the world's third-largest user of nuclear energy has decided to go back to emitting lots and lots of carbon dioxide.
In Germany, Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel has promised to close all its nuclear reactors by 2022. She also promised to replace them with renewable power sources, of course, but the reality there will also be that the country burns more fossil fuels.
Even France, which has taken most of its power from nuclear plants for decades without the slightest problem, is joining the panic. President Francois Hollande's new government has promised to lower the country's dependence on nuclear energy to 50 per cent of the national energy mix. But you can see why it had to do it. After all, nuclear energy is a kind of witchcraft, and the public is frightened.
The greens prattle about replacing nuclear power with renewables. But for now, closing nuclear plants will lead to a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions, in precisely the period when the race to cut emissions and avoid a rise in average global temperature of more than 2 degrees Celsius will be won or lost.
Fortunately, such superstitious fears are largely absent in more sophisticated parts of the world. Only four new nuclear reactors are under construction in the European Union, and only one in the US, but there are 61 being built elsewhere. Over two-thirds of them are being built in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), where economies are growing fast and governments are increasingly concerned about both pollution and climate change.
But it's not enough to outweigh the closure of so many nuclear plants in the developed world, at least in the short term.
More people die from coal pollution each day than have been killed by 50 years of nuclear power operations - and that's just from lung disease. If you include future deaths from global warming due to burning fossil fuels, closing down nuclear power stations is sheer madness.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist

Wednesday 28 November 2012

"Calls to End Child Marriages in Malaysia After 12-Year-Old Weds "

You see, Sharia it is, that allows the underage marriage of girls in Muslim countries.  I wrote about that in more detail here.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The marriage of a 12-year-old Malaysian girl has outraged advocates for children and women, who called Monday for a ban on child marriage.
In Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, the legal marrying age is 16 for Muslim girls and 18 for Muslim men. However, they can marry before those ages with the permission of their parents and the Shariah courts.
The girl, Nor Fazira Saad, married her boyfriend, Mohammad Fahmi Alias, 19, on Nov. 17 and the groom’s family held a celebration last Saturday, according to local news media reports.

Saturday 24 November 2012

'Islam changed life of terror suspect'

Well, yes, it did change his life.  It made him plan to "...  to join al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their plot to kill Americans and bomb US bases abroad, including the Philippines."
Crazy story here.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Two views on Gaza and Israel

I post these links with no comment -- for the moment -- both in today's International Herald Tribune, under the titles "Gaza I" and "Gaza II", respectively:

Hamas left Israel no choice.  Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.
What can the Arabs do? Patrick Seale, author of "The Struggle for Arab Independence"

Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?

You've got to hand it to the Islam apologists, they hold on to their cognitive dissonance to the bitter end:  "Islam is a religion of peace", despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Here, for example, is Mustafa Kuko, commenting on the four Muslim charged with planning terrorist acts in the US:
Kuko said he is frustrated whenever Islam is linked with terrorism.
“Sometimes when people see this in the media, people will say, ‘This is Islam,’” he said. “Then they won’t believe what we say when we say Islam is a religion of peace.”
Gee, why don't we believe that Islam is a "religion of peace"?
  • Maybe because 94% of terrorist acts in the US are by Muslims.
  • Maybe because of the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, the Times Square bomber, the Fort Hood bomber, etc, etc, are all pious Muslims.
  • Maybe because other jihad terror plotters such as Adbulhakim  Muhammad, Khalid Aldawsari, Baitullah Mehsud and Roshonara Choudhry, among many others, reference Islamic teaching to justify violence against unbelievers.
  • Maybe because 98% of religious terrorist organisations, are Islamic.
  • Maybe because we see Saudi Arabia -- a Sunni theocracy -- export murderous radical Wahhabi doctrines worldwide.
  • Maybe because we see Iran -- a Shia theocracy -- provide weapons to terrorists and try to develop the bomb, to wipe Israel off the map.  And Hamas' charter calling for the killing of all Jews. [Article 7].
  • Maybe because we see how other Islamic countries -- Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Libya  -- treat women, homosexuals, apostates and non-Muslim minorities: treatment that ranges from simple suppression to death by stoning.
Do you think, Mr Mustafa Kuko, that this might have something to do with why we "won't believe what [you] say when [you] say Islam is a religion of peace."?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

"The sheer wilful stupidity of official inaction on pollution" in Hong Kong

The single most effective thing the government could do to ensure it can meet
its future health care liabilities would be to cut local pollution levels
The always worth-reading Tom Holland, a few days ago in the South China Morning Post, makes the best case for action on pollution.  Hong Kong's a great place to live, but the single biggest drawback, mentioned by literally everyone living here, is pollution.  Direction from the top, and things could be done.
Tom's article is below the fold.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

... Islam, peace and concessions

The summary paras of Peter Hitchens' [brother of the late Christopher] blog in the Mail: 
My guess is that, as the Muslim population grows [in the UK], this process [Islamisation] will continue more strongly. The moment at which we might have said ‘Yes, you are welcome but this is and remains a specifically Christian society’ seems to me to have passed. It will be very interesting to see how this is dealt with at the Coronation of our next monarch - which must inevitably come, sad as it is to contemplate the loss of our present Queen.
Likewise, the moment at which we could have limited the levels of migration has probably gone. It would now be politically far easier to leave things as they are than to place new limits of migration. This means that the current arrangement, under which more or less wholly Muslim communities now exist in several parts of the country, into which there is continued migration of young husbands and wives from these communities’ ancestral countries, will continue indefinitely. To some extent this will mean that these communities always remain at least partly first-generation.  
Read it all here.

8 Viral Obama photos

These are kind of cool....

Sunday 18 November 2012

Battle over Christmas in Denmark

From "How one local decision created a national 'War on Christmas'"....

Christmas is typically such a festive time, but for one housing association in the Zealand town of Kokkedal, it has, thus far, been anything but.
It all started when the association’s nine-person board, five of whom are Muslim, voted against having a Christmas tree this year. They apparently balked at the estimated 7,000 kroner of the tree, but had earlier had no qualms about spending some 60,000 kroner on a party celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid. 
On BBC radio yesterday, they interviewed some Danish citizens on the issue.  The first one said that this was a matter of "democracy".  If the association voted this way, then that was democracy and he was fine with it. I thought, "huh??"  What if they voted to institute Sharia in Kokkedal?  Would that be fine too?  Fact is, no association, no organisation, can vote to contract themselves out of the laws of the country.  This case clearly was, in its discrimination against Christian beliefs.

On the plus side, it does appear to be a wake up call to Danes, about Islamic supremacism and separatism.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Anti fascism march in France, and thoughts on "high dosage affirmative action" for French Muslims

Meantime, another French related story: the mainstream media finds out that Islam is nasty!  John Vinocur's "French Estrangements".

Vinocur suggests that what is needed to overcome the anti-white racism of the Muslims in France is "massive investment -- call it high dosage affirmative action -- on the newcomers' future education and employment".

A few points on this:
1.  When I arrived in Australia in the mid fifties, I spoke only Italian and so was sent to what was then called  a "migrant's class" to learn English.  I, like the millions of southern Europeans then migrating to Australia, learnt English quickly and integrated into Oz society. The same is true for later floods of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Greek and Chinese migrants to Australia. Neither they, nor I, needed "high dosage affirmative action". Why should Muslims?  And if they really do, surely that begs the question of why let more into the country, when they are so high maintenance.
2.  Wouldn't "high dosage affirmative action" lead to resentment by the other groups in society that have made an effort to integrate, to assimilate into society, and made a positive contribution to it?  In other words, isn't this a classic case of the oil going to the squeakiest wheel, in this case "squeak" being the violence and supremacism of Muslims in France (and elsewhere in the west, for that matter).  That is, giving this "high dosage affirmative action" would be rewarding the very anti-social behaviour that we're seeking to prevent.
3.  There is no connection between poverty, unemployment and terrorist violence.  All the terrorist attacks since 9/11, in the UK, in Spain, in Indonesia, and elsewhere, have been carried out by educated and well-employed Muslims.  Muslims, in other words, who are well-versed in the Trinity of Islam.

Friday 16 November 2012

"What about Xi Jinping's election"

That's the question from an occasional reader....
"What about Xi Jinping's election?".  That is as the new supreme leader in China, the head of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, Xi Jinping.
My answer: "Long predicted; I don't expect anything new from him".
Question: "Fair enough, but what new things would you want?"
Answer: about four:
1.  A real move against corruption.  In particular a move against confiscation of people's property.  This is such a sore point in China that there are literally tens of thousands of demonstrations against it every year; but little done.
2.  Make the Yuan fully convertible. So that it floats and allows free flow of capital in and out of China.
3.  Full media freedom.
4.  Independent Judiciary

And I guess I ought to add a fifth: move to democratic selection of the leadership

But I don't expect any move on any of these, even the first four, let alone the fifth.  Not with the current line up, which leans to a conservative "business as usual" crowd.  Some are really tough-line, anti change. And some are old-line big state enterprise types.  Not hopeful.  (and why would they change?  It's much safer to carry on as is...).

The best of the articles I've read so far is "Beijing's dangerous self-protection" in the International Herald Tribune (NYT) today.  The South China Morning Post has been the best of international press coverage on the leadership change, with regular daily in-depth articles on all the candidates for top leadership. And even they find little of comfort in the new leadership, save that they're going to be a safe pair of hands... or seven safe pairs.... But not visionary.

Thursday 15 November 2012

The coffee shop fallacy

This is the "coffee shop fallacy": you're in a coffee shop, an outdoor cafe somewhere.  In a pleasant square, maybe Taksim Square in Istanbul, or the Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakesh, or even in a non-Muslim country, Piazza Navona in Rome, say. And you get into a friendly discussion with the folk at the next table.  Turns out they're Muslims, they invite you to join them, maybe, or even dine with them.
And you come away thinking "goodness me, I never knew Muslims before and I always suspected them; now I find they're regular people.  That business about Islam being violent and dangerous: it must be wrong...".
Here it is in the latest incarnation in "The Stories of Our Fathers", by Aman Ali, IHT Global Opinion, 9 Nov.
Ali, a sometime stand-up comedian, gives a performance in Berlin, after which a fellow named David comes up to him:
“I’ve never met a Muslim before.”
He continued: “And I’ll be honest with you, I’m really afraid of you guys. I hear about all this stuff in the news, and the idea of Muslims living here really used to scare me. But then I saw your performance and learned about who you were, and I realized I forgot that we are all human beings. Now I feel ashamed to have ever been afraid.
You see this version of the "coffee shop fallacy"?  David meets one Muslim, the first one he's ever met (!), finds him pleasant, and so overturns his previous views. Now, I'd say that David ought to have been "ashamed to have ever been of afraid"; for that's not the proper reaction to resurgent Islam.  And it's probably the case that his previous views of Muslims and Islam were bigoted, to the extent that they were ignorant, based on no research. 
No, the correct reaction to resurgent Islam ought to be self-education. To learn about the Islamic Trinity; to find out about the ideology of Islam (even the BBC has implicitly acknowledged that Islam is an ideology). And then to take whatever action seems to be appropriate for one's circumstances: which at the very least ought to be to resist the Islamisation of western countries: whether it be more Sharia Courts, sexual segregation, promotion of Sharia Finance, muffling of freedom of speech and freedom to criticise for the sake of "sensitivity" to this one faith -- a sensitivity only to this one faith -- or of any other special treatment of the religion of peace over other religions.
In short, the reaction to resurgent Islam ought not be be "fear", on the one hand, or "the coffee shop fallacy" on the other ("this is a nice Muslim comedian, therefore Islam must be fine").  
The reaction should be knowledgeably robust resistance to the expansion of a uniquely intolerant religion.  
Andwe ought to try to stop its expansion if we care for the rights we have fought so hard for, in the west, over centuries. Western Enlightenment rights. 
The rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and equal rights for women and minorities.
That ought to be the minimum -- resistance -- if this backward, anti-enlightenment and profoundly problematic religio-ideology is to be stopped.

See also my earlier post on this topic, here.

What is a "moderate" Islamist?

I've been hearing that term a lot lately on BBC Radio here in Hong Kong: "moderate Islamist".
Just what is this creature?  Interpolating from the context of BBC's reports, I'm inclined to think that a "moderate" Islamist is one who's in power (Morsi in Egypt), or one who may be about to ascend to power (Mouaz al-Khatib in Syria).  That way, by labelling these fundamentalist Muslims as "moderate", they become, by the magic of terminology, people that -- as the BBC has it -- we can "welcome" to power.
But the definition of Islamist, wherever you look on the internet, would seem to preclude their being "moderate".  Unless by "moderate" you mean that they will try to instil Sharia law only step-by-step, say, rather than all at once; or to expand the Islamic caliphate by stealth rather than by terror.
For any Islamist, whether "moderate", or "extreme", or anything in between is committed to:
  • Implementing Sharia in their country;
  • Promoting introduction of Sharia in the west;
  • Expanding Islam worldwide, by force or by stealth; and...
  • Re-establishing the Islamic caliphate: initially in Muslim countries, and ultimately globally.
And if any of these aims are those that you can consider "moderate", well.. I guess we'll just have to differ on that one...

As a by-the-by, the key element of Islamism, is that it's an ideology that holds Islam is as much a political system as a religious one.  Now that's patently true, if you read the Islamic Trilogy.  Yet, if a non-Muslim is to suggest that Islam is a regio-politico ideology (instead of simply a "religion of peace"), they will be labelled "Islamophobes".
So, is the BBC -- now freely using the terms "Islamism" and "Islamist" --  Islamophobic?  Or is it fine  and acceptable now for us to talk of the reality of Islam: that it is a expansionary political movement more than it is a peaceable religious faith.

"To slow global warming, tax carbon"

This article by Dieter Helm strikes me as rather sensible.  He notes, inter alia, that the numbers for wind farms just don't add up.  Nor do they for all the other present-day renewables. And that nuclear must be a part of any mix of lower-carbon futures.
Another significant trend just starting to seep into public consciousness: that the US may soon be energy independent, and have oil output greater than Saudi Arabia.  And, btw, that  US carbon emissions are dropping faster than in any other developed country (move to gas, and better efficiencies), and way better than China.
Anyway, read the article; it's a good one.

Saturday 10 November 2012

"Respecting Islam"

This article covers in some detail the question I've often asked myself: "why would anyone convert to Islam?".
I mean, I understand why people remain Muslim who are born Muslim: it's a social and cultural thing.  And in many countries, leaving it is very bad for one's health.
But as to why you'd convert, assuming that you did your due diligence, which must at the very least  involve a reading of its core documents -- the Trinity of Islam -- that one's always puzzled me.  You read of the violence inherent in that Trinity, its supremacism, homophobia, misogyny, anti-semitism, and deep-down hate of anyone not Muslim, and then you say to yourself "yup, that's the religion for me".  That truly puzzles me, unless you buy into all that horrid stuff.
Professor Joseph Spoerl's essay is a learned look at the question and well worth the read.

Shaken, not stirred...

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Obama by a landslide (my prediction)

I thought months ago that he'd win by a landslide and still think that.
The polls have him pretty even with Romney.
But I'm betting people will think again when they enter the voting booth...
Let's see...
LATER (10 NOV): well, I got it exactly right: Florida's gone to Obama and that makes 331 (I think) electoral votes for Obama, vs 203 for Romney, plus win on popular vote to Obama, which pretty well makes it a "landslide", I reckon..

Monday 5 November 2012

Knowing nice Muslim folk doesn't mean Islam is benign

I have overcome my own prejudice by getting to know Muslims.  [In "Is the New York Times Review of Books  afraid of Islam?"]
This is such a common comment: you get to know Muslims, your neighbours, or those on a trip to the middle east, or Africa, and they're just like ordinary folk! And so, by extension, there's nothing to worry about in Islam.
It's also nonsense. It makes no more sense than meeting nice folk in the old Soviet Union and concluding that there was nothing to worry about in Communism.
I have myself met many very nice and friendly Muslims: in all my travels in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, so many, so friendly.  I had a Muslim colleague I was doing business with in Egypt, a fine man, we planned to joint venture with; nothing to worry about with him.  Indeed, I can safely say that I've not met one, not one Muslim anywhere in my travels, who's given me cause for concern about Sharia, the caliphate, Islamic supremacism, let alone terrorism.
But that's not led me to conclude that Islam is benign. Because clearly it is not: not in its Trinity of core documents: the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah, the life of Muhammad.  Nor in its practice by the many many of that so-called "minority" of extremists.  They're many; just that I haven't met them.  It would be the grossest naive mistake to conclude from one's nice Muslim friends that there's nothing to worry about in the ideology of their religion.
BTW: one of Weiss' key points is that it's "Islamophobic" to suggest there's an aim in Islam to create a caliphate. He should get out more; or read more. The caliphate is a core aim of Islam.  Of that there is no doubt, as many pious Muslims will confirm.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Dopey article....

In the Huffpo, naturally: "What Would America's Founding Fathers Say About Islam?"
I had this to say, in a quick comment, awaiting moderation:

But John Adams' son, John Quincy, the 6th President had this to say about Islam:
"The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force."

Why do you suppose that there is such a thing (allegedly) as "Islamophobia", but not Hindu-phobia, Buddho-phobia, Catho-phobia? Quite simply because Islam is sui generis: unique amongst religions in having a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates warfare against unbelievers.

Considine's last para is correct: "...both sides must dedicate themselves to the principles expressed by the Founding Fathers."

But there are too many representatives of the Islamic community, including the Council of American Islamic Relations, who wish to see Sharia supplement the Constitution. If that changed, and all were committed to the Constitution and spirit of the Founding Fathers, there'd be no such thing as Islamophobia.

Tunisia, a sad year later

The New York Times finally twigs. This is what the counter-jihad movement was warning about all along, for which they get labelled cynical and "Islamophobic"....
A year later, we have no democracy, no trust in elected officials, no improved constitution. Human rights and women’s rights are threatened. The economy is tanking....
The rest is here.