Wednesday, November 26, 2008
More Emotional Plague from the United Nations
Freedom From Speech
Wed. Nov 26, 2008
The United Nations saw another shred of its tattered dignity stripped away November 24, when a committee of the General Assembly approved what amounts to a direct assault on Western liberal democracy. In an 85-50 vote, with 42 abstaining, the so-called Third Committee adopted a resolution, submitted by a caucus of Islamic nations, to criminalize expressions deemed to be "defamation of religion," with special concern for Islam. All U.N. member states would be called on to amend their criminal codes accordingly. The measure's next stop is the General Assembly, where it is expected to win handily, probably in December.
The U.N. is no stranger to assaults on decency and common sense. Indeed, the new ban on religious defamation is essentially a restatement of a measure approved by the General Assembly last year but barely noticed at the time.
What makes this year's resolution different, and more dangerous, is that it is supposed to move on from the General Assembly to another forum, where it might acquire real teeth: the second World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, scheduled to convene next April in Geneva.
Many legal scholars believe that the decisions of international conferences of this sort can be incorporated into international law, putting them under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Individual nations could not be forced to amend their laws, but they might find Interpol knocking at their doors, serving them extradition requests to hand over their cartoonists and novelists. Stand-up comics and philosophers might find they're unable to cross international borders for fear of being arrested and remanded for trial in Jordan or Malaysia.
The Geneva conference is planned as a follow-up to the first world conference against racism, which took place in early September 2001 in Durban, South Africa. That meeting did some serious work, but it was memorably upstaged by a parallel gathering of nongovernmental activists, who staged a noisy show of anti-Israel and antisemitic speech-making, rallies and parades, all under U.N. auspices. And, of course, a week later, on September 11, 2001, all hell broke loose.
The years since then have not been kind to the spirit of reconciliation supposedly invoked at Durban. It has been a decade of intense friction between the West and the Muslim world, of invasions and terrorism, of cartoon wars, eavesdropping, beheadings, Guantanamo and intifada. The religious defamation ban is part of an effort by Muslim nations to retake the initiative. The resolution, which is being pushed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, is seen as winning back some of Islam's lost stature in world opinion and offering some protection to Muslim minorities in increasingly suspicious Western societies. The idea, it seems, is to reduce Western suspicion of Islam by outlawing criticism.
The Muslim charm campaign also features an escalation of hostility toward Israel. The package of resolutions prepared for debate and adoption in Geneva breaks new ground in diplomatic Israel-bashing. It accuses Israel of crimes against humanity, of practicing "a new kind of apartheid" and - apparently for the first time in a formal document - "a form of genocide."
It's a risky game the Islamic countries are playing. They may have overestimated the strength of its automatic majority at the U.N. The resolution on religious defamation, for example, failed to win a majority in the committee this year and passed only by a plurality. That is, a majority of U.N. members refused to support the Islamic nations' proposal, a rare setback. The 85 votes the ban did secure represent a sharp decline from last year, when the same measure received 108 votes.
Also facing unexpected resistance is the anti-Israel draft language. Efforts are underway to organize a Western boycott of the Geneva conference if the anti-Israel language is not softened. Canada has already announced plans to stay away. On Capitol Hill, Jewish and black representatives are working together to line up support in the administration and in various African capitals to reject the defamation ban. France is flatly threatening to stay home if the anti-Israel language is not changed, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be reaching out to other European leaders to close ranks.
Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia is leading its own behind-the-scenes effort, with moderate Arab states, to soften the anti-Israel language and prevent a Western boycott, according to several close U.N. watchers. Saudi King Abdullah is said to view the extreme anti-Israel rhetoric as an Iranian ploy to alienate the West and sabotage the conference. Abdullah favors cooperation with the West, and he fears Iran. That's why he's offered his own peace plan, convened an inter-religious dialogue and invited Israeli President Shimon Peres to his recent New York tolerance forum. Abdullah can't boycott Geneva, but he can work quietly within the Islamic bloc to cut out the worst Israel-bashing. But he needs something to show the folks back home that he is defending the faith. Some diplomats speculate that he might accept a ban with fewer teeth.
If Europe, America and their close allies were to skip Geneva en masse, the conference would become a gathering of Third World nations rather than a world forum, and the proceedings would lose their significance. That would hurt sub-Saharan Africa, where the Durban process is cherished as a long-delayed acknowledgement of African suffering under colonialism. The prospect of a boycott, then, puts pressure on the Africans to find a way of softening their Muslim allies' stance.
No one, however, has more to lose than Europe. European leaders view the Durban process as a form of penance for their role in Africa, and they're anxious to see progress at Geneva. On the other hand, Europe is home to large and restive Muslim minorities, and the clash of cultures puts tolerance to the test daily. Friction between traditionalist and sometimes militant Muslims and the freewheeling societies of Denmark and the Netherlands has already led to crisis and bloodshed. Legislating absolute protection for religious sensibilities without equal protection for secular, democratic beliefs would tilt the playing field against the European democracies as they struggle to defend their values on their own home turf. But holding firm could undermine Abdullah, arguably the best hope for reconciliation.
Reminder on Conference 2009
1-2 August, Saturday-Sunday, Summer 2009
A Scientific Conference, Open to the General Public
Hosted by OBRL (Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory)
Greensprings Center near Ashland, Oregon, USA.
Also (see below) Professional
Times: From 10 AM until 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday.
Other Activities To be announced. There may be a Friday Open House event, on the evening before the Conference. The OBRL telescope observatory, as well as the OBRL Orgone Energy Darkroom, may be open to visitors for a limited time on Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting.
Fees: $90 for the full Conference. Children under 18 half-price, under the age of 8 free. Babies in arms welcome.
Registration: By post or e-mail or telephone, confirmed by full payment in advance. Late registration accepted if places are still available. Checks payable to OBRL, Visa-Mastercard accepted.
Lodging & Food: Available at local holiday accommodations in or close to Ashland. You must make your own arrangements for a place to stay at one of the nearby Inns or Motels, or down in Ashland. Meals are not included, but a coffey-tea service will be provided. Plan to bring a sack-lunch for eating under the trees with the wild deer, as local restaurants are not "fast food". For local lodging see here:
Language: all presentations will be in English.
Spam-reduction: replace the "(at)" with "@" in your email.
PLEASE REGISTER AND MAKE YOUR OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.
Getting There: See the information given in the "Lodging" weblink above.
All the basic information is posted to this webpage, and to the linked web pages provided above.
OBRL: Orgone Biophysical Research Lab
A Non-Profit Institute
CALL FOR PAPERS
The forthcoming New Research in Orgonomy Conference held in Summer 2009, and hosted by the OBRL (Orgone Biophysical Research Lab), will focus upon new research findings in the field of social and biophysical orgonomy, and will include various lectures, with slides and demonstrations. The event will be open to the general public for attendance. This will be a meeting of working scientists and researchers in the field of orgonomy, presenting their original findings to their peers, and to the interested public.
Poster Presentations are also possible, in addition or alternative to orally-presented papers. Displays should cover a maximum size of around 2 meters width by 1.5 meters height, and be prepared with Poster title, author(s) and affiliations. Displays should have full descriptions of the work being presented, with as much detail and photos with captions as possible, including citations. Posters should be organized for easy reading from a distance -- type should be no less than about 1cm height. Poster presentations should follow all guidelines for Paper presentations, including submission of an Abstract.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Global warming predictions are overestimated
By Krishna Ramanujan
Grant Stone, QCCCE
Savanna fires occur almost every year in northern Australia, leaving behind black carbon that remains in soil for thousands of years.
A new Cornell study, published online in Nature Geosciences, quantified the amount of black carbon in Australian soils and found that there was far more than expected, said Johannes Lehmann, the paper's lead author and a Cornell professor of biogeochemistry. The survey was the largest of black carbon ever published.
As a result of global warming, soils are expected to release more carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, which, in turn, creates more warming. Climate models try to incorporate these increases of carbon dioxide from soils as the planet warms, but results vary greatly when realistic estimates of black carbon in soils are included in the predictions, the study found.
Soils include many forms of carbon, including organic carbon from leaf litter and vegetation and black carbon from the burning of organic matter. It takes a few years for organic carbon to decompose, as microbes eat it and convert it to carbon dioxide. But black carbon can take 1,000-2,000 years, on average, to convert to carbon dioxide.
By entering realistic estimates of stocks of black carbon in soil from two Australian savannas into a computer model that calculates carbon dioxide release from soil, the researchers found that carbon dioxide emissions from soils were reduced by about 20 percent over 100 years, as compared with simulations that did not take black carbon's long shelf life into account.
The findings are significant because soils are by far the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, producing 10 times more carbon dioxide each year than all the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities combined. Small changes in how carbon emissions from soils are estimated, therefore, can have a large impact.
"We know from measurements that climate change today is worse than people have predicted," said Lehmann. "But this particular aspect, black carbon's stability in soil, if incorporated in climate models, would actually decrease climate predictions."
The study quantified the amount of black carbon in 452 Australian soils across two savannas. Black carbon content varied widely, between zero and more than 80 percent, in soils across Australia.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Stalinist-Feminist PC Gone Haywire
UCI prof risks job by refusing sexual harassment training
Prominent biologist Alexander McPherson calls requirement 'sham.'
By GARY ROBBINS
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
A prominent UC Irvine biologist who generates millions in research funding might be placed on an unpaid leave for refusing to take sexual harassment prevention training he calls a "sham" that offends his sensibilities and casts suspicion on his reputation.
UCI has already relieved Alexander McPherson of his duties supervising scientists in his lab, where he studies proteins, the "building blocks of life." The campus also ordered that his teaching responsibilities be reassigned, but the order was rescinded.
Campus officials say McPherson, 64, could be placed on leave if he doesn't attend a training course Nov. 12 to comply with Assembly Bill 1825. The state law, passed in 2004, requires businesses that regularly employ 50 or more people to have supervisors undergo sexual harassment prevention training.
McPherson, who has generated about $20 million in research funding since joining UCI in 1997, says he won't attend the course, even if it leads to his suspension from a job that pays $148,740 a year.
"I have consistently refused to take such training on the grounds that the adoption of the requirement was a naked political act by the state that offended my sensibilities, violated my rights as a tenured professor, impugned my character and cast a shadow of suspicion on my reputation and career," McPherson said.
"I consider my refusal an act of civil disobedience. I even offered to go to jail if the university persisted in persecuting me for my refusal. We Scots are very stubborn in matters of this sort."
McPherson says he has never been accused of any form of sexual harassment and offered, in writing, to allow the university to make his personnel records public to prove his claim.
Tim Osborne, chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Albert Bennett, dean of the School of Biological Sciences, declined to comment on the matter, referring inquiries to other executives.
Susan Menning, a campus spokeswoman, said UCI does not comment on personnel matters.
She added that "those who do not comply (with the requirement for training) by Oct. 6 will be relieved of all supervisory responsibilities, including supervision of staff and graduate students."
McPherson, who has had experiments fly on the space shuttle, Mir space station and the International Space Station, said he wasn't fully relieved of those responsibilities until Oct. 31.
The showdown between McPherson and the university has largely taken place through e-mails that have created a rift that comes at a sensitive time. UCI is seeking millions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health for a graduate trainee program that McPherson would help run. If McPherson is placed on unpaid leave, it could damage UCI's bid for the money.
The dispute began to escalate Oct. 6 when Osborne told McPherson by e-mail that he was being relieved of supervisory and teaching duties. McPherson was preparing to travel to the East Coast for personal and professional reasons, and he hotly objected to UCI's action.
"The state has no right whatsoever, in my view, to inflict its narrow political, social, or cultural proclivities on me, an individual," he told Osborne by e-mail.
"This sexual harassment edict is a blunt political act, and I will not be subject to their will. My greatest amazement is that so few of my colleagues at UCI and at other campuses have not spoken out against this offense. What is next? Kneel and kiss the ring of the State Assembly leader? Political re-education camp?"
Osborne responded, in part, by saying in an e-mail, "I know this (training) comes from politically motivated roots but it has been passed down to us like you know what flows downstream. The training is not meant as an attack or insult to anyone's personal integrity."
McPherson offered his version of a compromise, asking UCI to sign a disclaimer that says the training is "strictly a pro forma condition for his continued employment" and that he'd never sexually harassed anyone under his supervision in the UC system.
UCI turned down his offer. Bennett, the dean, told McPherson he faced "leave without pay" if he does not comply with AB 1825.
Menning said 119 of 3,522 faculty and staff supervisors have yet to take the training. Two more training sessions will be offered before Nov. 12.
"Our overall compliance rate to date is 97 percent," she said.
A deal like the one McPherson is seeking is rare, but not without precedent. Earlier this year, Cal State Fullerton rehired a lecturer who had refused to sign a loyalty oath required as a condition of employment. The woman, a Quaker, had objected to the militaristic tone of the oath, in which employees pledge to defend the state and national constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
The CSU allowed her to attach a statement to the oath saying would abide by the constitution, but that she did not promise to bear arms or engage in other forms of violence.
A compromise doesn't appear likely in the McPherson dispute. He said he would "probably be forced into retirement" if he's placed on unpaid leave.
When asked what his wife has to say about the dispute, McPherson said, "She said, 'Alex, just do the training.' "
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Global Warming Hi-Jinks -- Massaging the Data
The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.
A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.
If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)
Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.
Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising "very much faster" than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.
Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world's governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
A New Wall Street Outrage -Sharia-Compliant Financing: "Jihad with Money!"
Thursday, November 06, 2008
BBC Shuns Popular Naturalist Critic of CO2 Theory
BBC SHUNNED ME FOR DENYING CLIMATE CHANGE
SHUNNED: Naturalist David Bellamy
FOR YEARS David Bellamy was one of the best known faces on TV.
A respected botanist and the author of 35 books, he had presented around 400 programmes over the years and was appreciated by audiences for his boundless enthusiasm.
Yet for more than 10 years he has been out of the limelight, shunned by bosses at the BBC where he made his name, as well as fellow scientists and environmentalists.
His crime? Bellamy says he doesn't believe in man-made global warming.
Here he reveals why - and the price he has paid for not toeing the orthodox line on climate change.
CLANGER: Bellamy says Al Gore has 'no proof' that millions will die due to global warming
"When I first stuck my head above the parapet to say I didn't believe what we were being told about global warming I had no idea what the consequences would be.
I am a scientist and I have to ?follow the directions of science but when I see that the truth is being covered up I have to voice my ?opinions.
According to official data, in every year since 1998 world temperatures have been getting colder, and in 2002 Arctic ice actually increased. Why, then, do we not hear about that?
The sad fact is that since I said I didn't believe human beings caused global warming I've not been allowed to make a TV programme.
My absence has been noticed, because wherever I go I meet people who say: "I grew up with you on the television, where are you now?"
Where have the Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclones gone the last 2 years?
Upon examination of all tropical cyclone activity in the basins throughout the Northern Hemisphere for the past 2 years, a remarkable downward trend in cyclone energy has continued and reached historic levels of inactivity. ...
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