Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Vin ordinaire report

After the fuss that the do-gooders kicked up about it, I thought I should try some of Dan Murphy's $2 wine. I bought a couple of bottles yesterday -- a shiraz and a chardonnay. Anne made us quite a nice moussaka for dinner (recipe here) so I opened the shiraz first. I am afraid that it was tres ordinaire -- with a definite barnyard taste. I tipped most of it down the sink.

So then I opened the chardonnay and was surprised to find it perfectly passable, with quite a pleasant fresh taste. I would not be embarrassed to serve it to guests. I don't plan to buy any more of it as I am rather fixated at the moment on Tyrrells verdelho and Taylors Promised Land unwooded chardonnay but if anybody is a bit short of the shekels these days, stocking up on the chardonnay would not be a bad decision -- though tastes do differ so try it for yourself first. Maybe I just got a rare good bottle.

Climate change delusion a real problem

By Andrew Bolt

PSYCHIATRISTS have detected the first case of "climate change delusion" - and they haven't even yet got to Kevin Rudd and his global warming guru. Writing in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Joshua Wolf and Robert Salo of our Royal Children's Hospital say this delusion was a "previously unreported phenomenon". "A 17-year-old man was referred to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne with an eight-month history of depressed mood . . . He also . . . had visions of apocalyptic events."

(So have Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery, Profit of Doom Al Gore and Sir Richard Brazen, but I digress.)

"The patient had also developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people through exhaustion of water supplies."

But never mind the poor boy, who became too terrified even to drink. What's scarier is that people in charge of our Government seem to suffer from this "climate change delusion", too. Here is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday, with his own apocalyptic vision: "If we do not begin reducing the nation's levels of carbon pollution, Australia's economy will face more frequent and severe droughts, less water, reduced food production and devastation of areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu wetlands."

And here is a senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist aghast at the horrors described in the report on global warming released on Friday by Rudd's guru, Professor Ross Garnaut: "Australians must pay more for petrol, food and energy or ultimately face a rising death toll . . ."

Wow. Pay more for food or die. Is that Rudd's next campaign slogan? Of course, we can laugh at this - and must - but the price for such folly may soon be your job, or at least your cash. Rudd and Garnaut want to scare you into backing their plan to force people who produce everything from petrol to coal-fired electricity, from steel to soft drinks, to pay for licences to emit carbon dioxide - the gas they think is heating the world to hell.

The cost of those licences, totalling in the billions, will then be passed on to you through higher bills for petrol, power, food, housing, air travel and anything else that uses lots of gassy power. In some countries they're even planning to tax farting cows, so there's no end to the ways you can be stung.

Rudd hopes this pain will make you switch to expensive but less gassy alternatives, and - hey presto - the world's temperature will then fall, just like it's actually done since the day Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth.

But you'll have spotted already the big flaw in Rudd's mad plan - one that confirms he and Garnaut really do have delusions. The truth is Australia on its own emits less than 1.5 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide. Any savings we make will make no real difference, given that China (now the biggest emitter) and India (the fourth) are booming so fast that they alone will pump out 42 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases by 2030. Indeed, so fast are the world's emissions growing - by 3.1 per cent a year thanks mostly to these two giants - that the 20 per cent cuts Rudd demands of Australians by 2020 would be swallowed up in just 28 days. That's how little our multi-billions of dollars in sacrifices will matter.

And that's why Rudd's claim that we'll be ruined if we don't cut Australia's gases is a lie. To be blunt. Ask Rudd's guru. Garnaut on Friday admitted any cuts we make will be useless unless they inspire other countries to do the same - especially China and India: "Only a global agreement has any prospect of reducing risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels."

So almost everything depends on China and India copying us. But the chances of that? A big, round zero. A year ago China released its own global warming strategy - its own Garnaut report - which bluntly refused to cut its total emissions. Said Ma Kai, head of China's powerful State Council: "China does not commit to any quantified emissions-reduction commitments . . . our efforts to fight climate change must not come at the expense of economic growth."

In fact, we had to get used to more gas from China, not less: "It is quite inevitable that during this (industrialisation) stage, China's energy consumption and CO2 emissions will be quite high."

Last month, India likewise issued its National Action Plan on Climate Change, and also rejected Rudd-style cuts. The plan's authors, the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, said India would rather save its people from poverty than global warming, and would not cut growth to cut gases. "It is obvious that India needs to substantially increase its per capita energy consumption to provide a minimally acceptable level of wellbeing to its people." The plan's only real promise was in fact a threat: "India is determined that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions will at no point exceed that of developed countries."

Gee, thanks. That, of course, means India won't stop its per capita emissions (now at 1.02 tonnes) from growing until they match those of countries such as the US (now 20 tonnes). Given it has one billion people, that's a promise to gas the world like it's never been gassed before.

So is this our death warrant? Should this news have you seeing apocalyptic visions, too? Well, no. What makes the Indian report so interesting is that unlike our Ross Garnaut, who just accepted the word of those scientists wailing we faced doom, the Indian experts went to the trouble to check what the climate was actually doing and why.

Their conclusion? They couldn't actually find anything bad in India that was caused by man-made warming: "No firm link between the documented (climate) changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established." In fact, they couldn't find much change in the climate at all.

Yes, India's surface temperature over a century had inched up by 0.4 degrees, but there had been no change in trends for large-scale droughts and floods, or rain: "The observed monsoon rainfall at the all-India level does not show any significant trend . . ."

It even dismissed the panic Al Gore helped to whip up about melting Himalayan glaciers: "While recession of some glaciers has occurred in some Himalayan regions in recent years, the trend is not consistent across the entire mountain chain. It is, accordingly, too early to establish long-term trends, or their causation, in respect of which there are several hypotheses."

Nor was that the only sign that India's Council on Climate Change had kept its cool while our Rudd and Garnaut lost theirs. For example, the Indians rightly insisted nuclear power had to be part of any real plan to cut emissions. Rudd and Garnaut won't even discuss it. The Indians also pointed out that no feasible technology to trap and bury the gasses of coal-fired power stations had yet been developed "and there are serious questions about the cost as well (as) permanence of the CO2 storage repositories".

Rudd and Garnaut, however, keep offering this dream to make us think our power stations can survive their emissions trading scheme, when state governments warn they may not.

In every case the Indians are pragmatic where Rudd and Garnaut are having delusions - delusions about an apocalypse, about cutting gases without going nuclear, about saving power stations they'll instead drive broke. And there's that delusion on which their whole plan is built - that India and China will follow our sacrifice by cutting their throats, too. So psychiatrists are treating a 17-year-old tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers? Pray that their next patients will be two men whose own delusions threaten to drive our whole economy over the edge as well.


Nutty Leftist "terror studies"

Why are these clowns funded when medical schools are greatly underfunded for the demand on them?

University departments dominated by so-called critical terror studies are consigning themselves to ever greater irrelevance, according to security analyst Carl Ungerer. Dr Ungerer, who left the University of Queensland in January to join the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said security agencies were open to outside advice and "deeply interested in engaging with the academic community". But he said policymakers could see no value in critical terror studies, which in its hostility to sovereign states implied a moral equivalence between terror and counter-terror and even blamed open societies for the rise of religious extremists.

"So, the traditional policy analysis work is now being done by ASPI and the Lowy Institute and the Kokoda Foundation and others," Dr Ungerer said. "If any point comes across strongly since I've been here (in Canberra), it's the way in which the gap between academe and the policy community has widened, which is interesting because the Rudd Government is tapping a wide range of voices. "(But) in the security field they're just not interested in these critical theory ideas. It offers them absolutely nothing to be told that we need to rethink sovereignty or that (terror is) our fault."

In 2006 Dr Ungerer and UQ colleague David Martin Jones first spoke out against the rise of critical terror studies. They said the policy implication of this emerging discipline was "radical pacifism". This week Dr Ungerer described as "eyebrow raising" the February appointment of critical theorist Anthony Burke to the University of NSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy. "The lecturers at ADFA are teaching the next generation of military leaders," Dr Ungerer said.

Speaking from Israel, Dr Burke, the author of Beyond Security Ethics and Violence: War Against The Other, said he did not oppose "controlled and measured" use of military force. He said nation states were ambiguous since they could provide citizens with security as well as subject them to abuse. Some state actions -- such as Israel's approach in the "occupied territories" and possibly the sanctions against Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- were similar to terrorism in that they targeted civilians and sought to inflict suffering and fear for a political purpose, he said. Dr Burke said critical terror studies was a new discipline with lively internal debate. To say it dominated academe was "a neoconservative, highly culture wars-type argument".

Soon after the September 11 attacks, Dr Burke wrote: "These events have brought enormous levels of organised military violence -- intensifying Israeli Defence Force operations in Palestine, the war on Afghanistan and sabre-rattling against Iraq -- but also quasi-military, normalised patterns of violence and coercion in the form of domestic security, surveillance, and the 'deterrence' of asylum-seekers."


Yet another DOCS meltdown

The Department of Community Services arranged for a 13-year-old to see a doctor for the pill after she spent three days living with an 18-year-old boy. While enabling Lauren Ryall to get birth control, the same department failed to file a missing persons report with police when it lost her two weeks ago because the department was not her "next of kin". DOCS staff had abandoned Lauren at Parramatta train station on June 23 with money to buy a ticket home to the South Coast but she instead fled to the home of a teenager in Cronulla.

A day after she was found by police, her case worker took her to a doctor at a women's health clinic in Wollongong where she was prescribed the pill, which required the permission of a guardian.

Lauren's outraged mother Judith Meredith, who suffers from a mental illness and volunteered her daughter into care, said she would never have granted Lauren permission for the pill because of her age. "The exact words were, 'We're placing Lauren on the pill' and then she (Lauren's DOCS case worker) asked how I felt about it," Ms Meredith said yesterday. "I said it is going to stop an unwanted pregnancy but it won't stop STDs . . . they are promoting promiscuity. They told me they were taking her for a medical. The decisions have been taken out of my hands. People need to know DOCS is a joke."

Medico Legal director for the Australian Medical Association Sarah Bennett confirmed a girl of Lauren's age would need the consent of a parent or guardian for a doctor to prescribe the pill. DOCS said Ms Meredith's permission had been obtained for the appointment and that the case worker stayed outside the consultation room. "When the teenager subsequently emerged, she had been prescribed a contraceptive pill," DOCS said.

A spokeswoman said the case worker had sought Ms Meredith's permission after Lauren was prescribed the pill. "Police have investigated an allegation that this teenager had underage sex and DOCS has referred subsequent allegations to police," DOCS said.


Pop off, Popov

Answers wanted on suspect surgeon and lazy medical regulators

A patient whose surgery was allegedly botched by a doctor accused of a string of negligent operations has demanded to know why he was allowed to continue to practise. The woman said the operation by Ivan Lubenov Popov turned into her "worst nightmare".

The doctor has recently been referred by the Medical Board of Queensland to the Health Practitioners Tribunal over alleged professional negligence regarding surgery and medical procedures on seven women over 10 months. The obstetrician and gynaecologist, who worked at Caboolture Hospital and is believed to have moved to South Africa, is alleged to have lied to patients and misled staff about his procedures to cover up surgical mistakes and potentially illegal operations between July 2006 and May 2007.

One woman had an ovary removed by Dr Popov, who allegedly lied to her about the reason for the procedure. Another alleged victim, who asked not to be named because of possible legal action, demanded to know who was watching over Dr Popov when he was supposed to be watching over her. "I am devastated and disappointed with myself that I really didn't do anything earlier, but I was just too traumatised," the woman said. "It has taken me such a long time to recover. I still experience pain. "For a surgery that should have been a safe and pretty much problem- free surgery, it really did turn into my worst nightmare."

She said she felt betrayed and questioned Queensland's Health culpability. "I wonder why surgery was allowed to go ahead with me. Wasn't there someone that was senior to him, who would have checked my history?" she said. "Was it really just up to him - just one person? And that is scary if that is the case."

Queensland Health said in a statement that Dr Popov was referred to the Ethical Standards Unit in 2007. "Dr Popov resigned before Queensland Health's action was finalised," it said. Dr Popov left the hospital last July but did not resign until six weeks ago. "The Health Practitioners Tribunal will determine whether the significant adverse medical events which occurred were the result of inappropriate clinical practice or by circumstance beyond the doctor's control," the statement said.

Restrictions on Dr Popov were only imposed by the Medical Board of Queensland last month -- after he resigned and other investigations were completed. A tribunal date is yet to be set to hear Dr Popov's case.


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