Sunday, July 15, 2007

Double standard for global warming skeptics and believers

Thanks mainly to sensation-mongering media, global warming is the modern version of a State religion. The editorial below from "The Australian" pushes for more balance

AMONG all the arguments unleashed in the Thursday night ABC TV debate about Martin Durkin's documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, it was left to journalist Michael Duffy to query the way Durkin was being dealt with. Why, Duffy asked the debate's moderator, Lateline host Tony Jones, was Durkin's argument being held to a higher scholarly standard than Al Gore's global warming documentary? And why was Durkin's argument being eviscerated when one of the academic architects of the global warming orthodoxy, Nicholas Stern, got a much less critical reception on Lateline last March?

Fair questions both. They illustrate one of the greatest dangers in the debate - that accepting humanity plays a part in the way the planet is warming is no longer enough. It is now an article of popular faith that the worse-case scenarios are always right.

Thus professor Tim Flannery gets an uncritical go in much of the media when he warns the weather is going to get worse unless we heed his advice and cut back on coal. In September 2005, he told Lateline there was a clear link between Caribbean hurricanes - including Katrina, which had just flattened New Orleans - and global warming. Except there isn't, according to Swedish scientists who reported last month that Katrina was unexceptional. Professor Flannery had another go in February, disputing the International Panel on Climate Change's estimate that global warming would increase the sea level by 0.6m by the end of the century. Instead, he told Lateline two years of data demonstrated all the Artic's ice could melt in five years. And he has spoken of sea level rises of 80m - 160 times the IPCC's consensus on a maximum figure - by 2100.

None of this is good enough. As American oceanographer Carl Wunsch put it on Thursday night, "it is very important for the science community to try to retain its credibility by not exaggerating what the science says''. Or as another American, the second president of the US, John Adams, put it: "Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.''


That good ol' public transport the Greenies love (for others; not for themselves)

Quadriplegic left on an Australian government-run train after a breakdown. Nobody gave a stuff. Only his cellphone saved him -- with the assistance of voluntary workers. Despite much notification, at no time did any government worker lift a finger to assist him

A QUADRIPLEGIC left stranded on a train for four hours without essential medication was told by CityRail staff he would be assisted in "two or three days". Wheelchair-bound Mark McCauley suffered the humiliation of eventually being removed by construction workers using a forklift during the first Harbour Bridge train fiasco. Quadriplegic and paraplegic advocates yesterday blasted CityRail for the shameful - and potentially life-threatening - treatment of Mr McCauley, a senior lecturer at the College of Law in St Leonards.

An internal investigation report, revealed by The Daily Telegraph yesterday, found CityRail has absolutely no procedures for the care of disabled passengers in emergencies. All other passengers in the March 14 incident were evacuated three hours earlier, leaving Mr McCauley alone without any advice about when he would be rescued.

"I started to get agitated because no one seemed to know I was stuck on the train and it was getting towards the time when I need my medication," Mr McCauley told The Saturday Daily Telegraph. "I rang CityRail and told the lady I was stuck . . . and at the end of the conversation she said 'That's fine sir, somebody will get back to you in two or three days'. "I said 'Don't bother I'll be dead by then.' It was like she was a robot."

Mr McCauley then called triple-0 and asked police to intervene. They arranged to have another CityRail manager call him back just before 8pm. "She said we can't get you off the train until we restore power - it could be in the early hours of the morning. I said to her 'I'm a quadriplegic do you know what that means?' She said yes but she clearly didn't."

It took construction workers at North Sydney station to volunteer to use a forklift to take Mr McCauley off the train just before 10pm - more than four hours after he boarded for the 15 minute journey to the city.

Mr McCauley said four letters to Premier Morris Iemma and Transport Minister John Watkins went unanswered. CityRail posted him two one-day free rail passes, which he described as a slap in the face.

Reeling from a week of rail shame, a contrite Mr Watkins last night said CityRail's treatment of Mr McCauley was "completely unacceptable". "I'm disappointed we have not responded more formally to him and I will certainly write to him detailing the outcomes in the final report and the steps the Government is taking to prevent it happening again," he said.

The Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Association of NSW last night demanded CityRail develop protocols to rescue people with mobility aids and other disabilities. "What would they do in the event of a terrorist attack?," ParaQuad chief executive Max Bosotti said last night.


Queensland government ambulance system still not fixed -- despite much outcry and many promises

INCOMING Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts is facing a revolt from disgruntled ambulance officers, with a new report revealing high stress and fatigue levels and plummeting morale. Paramedics fed up with a controversial roster system they say is ruining their lives want Mr Roberts to go on the road with them to see first-hand the pressure they are under. They say the system is leaving them exhausted, compromising patient care and leading to marriage break-ups and health problems.

A survey by the Emergency Medical Service Protection Association, which represents ambulance officers, found 94 per cent of paramedics had low morale. More than 90 per cent said their fatigue and stress levels had risen, 70 per cent felt their job satisfaction had decreased and 70 per cent were taking more sick leave. "To say I am unhappy is an understatement," one said. "I have no time to see my family, and I find I may not actually see my partner for days." Another wrote: "In the 10 years I have been in the job, I have not seen morale so low or job dissatisfaction so low. Stress is increasing, not only mental, but physical stress-related illness as well."

Paramedics previously worked two 10-hour days and two 14-hour days before having four days off. But in 2005, the Queensland Ambulance Service introduced 10-hour maximum shifts, which it said were designed to improve home and work life for paramedics. But EMSPA president Prebs Sathiaseelan said it had done the opposite, with paramedics still working long hours but not getting adequate down-time. "We are so tired, we are so fatigued - and if something isn't done soon, we're going to burn out," he said. "We are not shop workers. We confront trauma and have the lives of the public in our hands daily, and we need time off to recuperate."

Mr Sathiaseelan said former emergency services minister Pat Purcell, who was forced to resign last week after allegedly assaulting two senior bureaucrats, had failed to listen to paramedics' concerns. "We're hoping the new minister will discuss this issue in a civil manner - I'd love him to come out on the road with us to see exactly what we're talking about," he said. "We learn how to use new equipment and new drugs without complaint - but these rosters are causing untold distress."

The QAS has been beset by problems including emergency response time blowouts and high sick and stress leave rates.


Lazy police in South Australia too

They are public servants after all

FEDERAL police should investigate deaths in custody because South Australian police are plagued by "shortcomings", the Coroner says. Coroner Mark Johns yesterday pinpointed 15 mistakes in the handling of suicidal prisoner Colin Sansbury, who hanged himself with jail-issue overalls in the Elizabeth police station cells in November, 2004. Mr Johns said Mr Sansbury's death was compounded by a police "attitude of complacency" and the "troubling" use of Aboriginal liaison officers to get information from suspects.

He said the "gulf" between the expectations of commissioned officers and the day-to-day realities of policing was so wide, they could "belong to different organisations". Mr Johns singled out Police Commissioner Mal Hyde and Deputy Commissioner Gary Burns, who gave evidence that management programs addressing prisoner monitoring were now in place. "It is almost as if Deputy Commissioner Burns belongs to a different organisation from those more junior officers," he said.

Mr Johns criticised Mr Hyde for seeking to suppress evidence "without proper thought", because it had already been made public. The Coroner said a Commissioner's inquiry into Mr Sansbury's death was "flawed", as vital evidence could not be located before it was shredded. The 15 mistakes highlighted in the Coroner's findings include:

LEAVING Mr Sansbury in the jail-issue overalls after a change of clothes had been provided.

TURNING off the lights in his cell, meaning he could not be seen on closed-circuit TV, and shutting its door.

NOT checking on him for 40 minutes but instead escorting an airconditioner mechanic around the station.

ALLOWING an Aboriginal constable to "induce" the belief he would receive bail.

The Coroner said federal or interstate officers should step in to supervise or replace local investigations that were regarded as "defensive, or lacking in enthusiasm, where an officer is investigating his colleagues". Mr Johns said Mr Sansbury had told police he was "dead inside", "wouldn't be here tomorrow" and asked for "six foot of rope". He also signed papers, denying him bail, with a stick-figure drawing of a hanged man.

Mr Johns said Mr Sansbury was visited several times by an Aboriginal Community Constable - a liaison role created by the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. However, that constable questioned Mr Sansbury about his knowledge of the Aboriginal "Gang of 49" and stolen guns. Mr Johns said there was "no doubt" this was an "inappropriate" use of the Royal Commission's concept.

He was further concerned by "lack of consistency" in the evidence of five officers who guarded Mr Sansbury. Each gave a different answer as to how often a suicidal prisoner should be checked, from 15 to 40 minutes.

Mr Hyde yesterday afternoon issued a statement conceding "shortcomings in our investigation into this death in custody" but expressing surprise at the Coroner's recommendations. "The nature of those shortcomings would not seem to warrant the recommendations," Mr Hyde said. "It is the police practice to conduct a thorough investigation with a view to putting all material, warts and all, before the Coroner."

Mr Hyde said the counsel assisting the Coroner had commended police in an email, which said: "I think you did a really great job with this case." Mr Hyde said, in light of this commendation, he was "particularly surprised at the Coroner's comments". "Deaths in custody are distressing and police have rigorous processes in place to manage prisoners in the safest possible way," he said. "Since Mr Sansbury's death, we have reviewed and implemented custodial management practices that assist in the safe detention of prisoners in police facilities. "We will look at the Coroner's specific findings and will respond in due course."


Australian Leftist leader condemns politically correct indoctrination

LABOR leader Kevin Rudd has warned against excessive political correctness following reports young children are being taught to sing sorry to the Stolen Generation of Aborigines in NSW schools. Sorry Song by Kerry Fletcher was written in 1998 for Sorry Day and has been included in the ABC Song Book, distributed to NSW primary schools.

The words of the controversial song include: "If we can say sorry to the people from this land, sing, sing loud, break through the silence, sing across this land. "They Cry, they cry, their children were stolen, they still wonder why.''

Hamish East, the father of an eight-year-old boy who sang the song at a school in Kiama on the NSW south coast, has protested over what he called a political stunt which had confused his son, The Daily Telegraph reported today. Mr East, a Kiama councillor, said controversial political issues should not "be forced down the throats of our children''.

Mr Rudd said today people must be wary about the issue. "I think we're starting to look at too much political correctness on those sorts of questions,'' Mr Rudd said. "We've got to watch out for political correctness going mad.'' Mr Rudd said children should be educated about the facts of Australia's history, including respecting indigenous culture, but left to make up their own minds about what's right and wrong. "Our young kids just need to be introduced to facts in our history and facts in our society and then later on as they move through high school they can start making up their own minds about what's right and what's wrong.''


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