Thursday, June 20, 2013

Free Speech Goes Down to Defeat in Canberra

Student newspaper members at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have recently learned the hard way how various Muslims do not accept criticism and condemnation like adherents of other faiths. Amidst the ecumenical satire of ANU's Woroni, the outrage and disciplinary threats provoked by the school newspaper's mocking of Islam suggests that this faith shall enjoy a privileged position among all beliefs.

As the Woroni editors explained on the newspaper website on May 26, 2013, the "'Advice from Religion' infographic on the back page" of the year's Edition 5 from April 18 "caused a flurry of activity." This infographic mocking Islam "was the fifth in a series that satirized facets of different religions; chronologically, Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Judaism." Many readers "condemned the piece as insulting and offensive to Islam and to religion in general." The editors acknowledged being "accustomed to receiving heated feedback," but "in this instance the extent of interference" by university officials "was unprecedented."

The day after publication, ANU Chancellery members met with Woroni's entire editorial board to discuss a "formal complaint submitted by the International Students Department" (ISD). As the Chancellery later stated to Woroni, the Islamic infographic violated "University rules" and Australian Press Council (APC) principles. The Chancellery added that the "University has a large international footprint and is mindful of maintaining its reputation of providing a welcoming environment for a diverse student and academic population." Referencing the 2005 Danish Muhammad caricatures and September 15, 2012, Muslim protests against the Innocence of Muslims film in Sydney that turned violent, Chancellery officials expressed concern about ANU's reputation and security.

To Chancellery calls for an apology and the infographic's official retraction, Woroni reacted "in a similar manner" to past complaints. A published "apology" would follow "to any readers who felt victimized... stressing" the infographic's "satirical" intent. The subsequent April 19, 2013, Woroni public response expressed these sentiments and denied any intention "to make anybody feel uncomfortable."

Yet the Chancellery remained unappeased. Regular uploading of Edition 5 as a PDF to the Woroni website archive and Facebook pages prompted a second meeting with Woroni editors and the three infographic authors. The Chancellery therein warned that the continued presence online of the Edition 5 PDF would lead to disciplinary action under Section 3.1(b) of the ANU Discipline Rules condemning as "misconduct" behavior that "unreasonably hinders other persons in the pursuit of their studies in the University or in participation in the life of the University." These disciplinary measures, along with threats to Woroni's ANU student funding, prompted removal of the back page from the Edition

As The Australian reported (subscription for original story required), the infographic at the origins of the controversy asked from a mockingly Islamic perspective "How should I value women?" The "answers referenced Aisha, the prophet Mohammed's nine-year-old wife, and described the 72 'houris' -- women depicted in the Koran as large-bosomed virgins who are a reward in paradise -- as a 'rape fantasy'." The Australian added that someone from ISD effectively told one of the authors, Jamie Freestone, that he did not "understand the seriousness of this. In Pakistan, people get shot for this kind of thing."

Yet, as the May 26 explanation indicated, Woroni "regularly features material that is challenging, and even at times confronting," befitting universities as "forums to critique ideas and beliefs." Edition 1's premiere backpage "Advice from Religion" infographic, for example, asks "I'm a man. Can I have sex with this person?" Sarcastic answers from "Catholicism" included molesting priests and lack of female consent.

Edition 2 references various conspiracies and esoteric beliefs in presenting the answers of "Scientology" to "Should I be candid and tell the truth?"

While Edition 3 only has its cover page uploaded, Edition 4 shows "Judaism" giving answers of "Exterminate them" (Old Testament) and "Segregate them and claim what's yours" (modern Israel) to the question "How should I treat other cultures?"

Nonetheless, pages 10-11 of Edition 6 posted on the Woroni Facebook page document the controversy the Islam infographic generated in reader letters. ISD President Muhammad Taufiq bin Suraidi bemoaned that the student-funded Woroni had not shown a "certain level of cultural sensitivity" amidst ANU's student body, a quarter of which is from abroad. Bin Suraidi promised, though, that the ISD would "work closely with the Woroni... such that an incident of this nature does not reoccur."

Nadiatul Akmal Mohd Radzman from the executive committee of ANU's Muslim Students Association (MSA) also took issue with Woroni. She, for example, contested various assertions of the infographic such as the "myth" of "72 virgins in Paradise," something controverted by Freestone in his adjacent letter with Koranic verses (55:56, 56:22, 78:33).

Radzman called "making fun of others... bullying" and falsely equated Islamic beliefs as a "way of life, not just a religion" with ethnicities like Asians. "We have racial tolerance, why can't we have religious tolerance?" she mistakenly analogized. "There are many other funny things that you can make fun of," she superficially concluded, "like botox and iPhones."

In contrast, Freestone's Edition 6 letter, also published on his personal website, saw no "reason to have a special standard for established religions that we would never conscience for any secular group, political party or new religious movement," even though "it's highly unsettling and confronting for believers to have their faith mocked."

In the future, though, Freestone will no longer make this principled stand for open debate at Woroni, for he described this letter as "my last contribution to Woroni." As the May 26 explanation noted, though, the evident "implications of these events for freedom of speech" will remain.


Huge bungle:  Millions spent as revival of West Australian  power station stalls

The State Opposition is calling on the government to explain why it has spent $250 million on a failed attempt to revive the mothballed Muja power station.

In 2009, the government announced the private sector would pay to refurbish the ageing coal-fired station, near Collie, by December 2011.

Four years later, the power station still is not fully operational and it appears the private company involved has pulled out amid ballooning project costs.

Labor says it is taxpayers, not the private sector, who now face a $250 million bill.

The Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says the government has serious questions to answer.  "We need to get to the bottom of how what was supposed to be a free development for the taxpayers, put in place by the private sector, now looks like costing taxpayers $250 million," he said.

"How can that massive waste of money have taken place?  And, we don't have a properly operational power station."

The Energy Minister Mike Nahan has conceded the original plan was for the private sector to foot the bill as part of a joint venture with state-owned corporation Verve Energy.

But, he says the private company involved was unable to cover ballooning project costs and the venture is not working.  "It is collapsing yes, it hasn't proven to work out and when we make the final decision I will make a full public comment on the history, costing and problems with the joint venture," he said.

The Premier Colin Barnett says the Government announced the refurbishment before realising how badly the power station's boilers were corroded.  He says the facility may never become fully operational because of those safety concerns.
"At this stage I can't say whether units 1 and 2 will come on, the extent of the corrosion damage is so extensive, that (they are) unacceptable from a safety point of view," he said.  "From an economic point of view I don't know if it's viable but three and four have been refurbished and are operational."



Three current articles below

Climate BS ignores the facts

All sorts of bad things are happening as a result of climate change, according to the claims below.  Problem:  There has been no temperature change for 17 years.  So all the problems listed CANNOT be a result of "climate change".  They are natural

The cost of climate change on human health has Monday been hit home with a report by the Australian Climate Commission outlining the serious threat of extreme weather.

According to the report, heat causes more deaths than any other type of extreme weather event in Australia, and the country's hottest days are still getting hotter.

"Climate change is a serious threat to our health with the elderly, the very young, rural and indigenous communities and those with pre-existing medical conditions being particularly vulnerable," said Dimity Williams, general practitioner and spokesperson for Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA).

According to the report, the duration and frequency of heatwaves has been increasing and is projected to continue to do so in the future -- posing risks for Australians and putting additional pressure on health services.

"During a heatwave our body is placed under extreme stress and we can experience lethargy and heatstroke, with heart attack and even death effecting vulnerable people.

"During the 2009 heatwave in Victoria there were 374 excess deaths and a surge in demand for ambulance and emergency care," said Williams.

Climate change may also lead to various other health consequences for Australians and the global population.

Changes in temperature and rainfall may allow mosquito-borne illness like dengue fever to spread south in Australia, and air quality may also be affected worldwide with increased concentrations of ozone, fine particles and dust.

"Climate change will have far reaching consequences for health and will also lead to increases in certain types of air pollutants as well as airborne allergens like pollen. These have serious impacts on lung diseases like asthma and on heart disease," Williams said.

"As a GP who has many patients with asthma I am concerned that climate change will mean an increase in the frequency and severity of asthma attacks for my patients," she added.

Climate change and extreme weather are also reported to lead to mental health issues, with increased depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide and self-harm -- as seen in the wake of recent natural disasters in Australia.

Western Australian GP George Crisp added, "we are already seeing increasing mental health problems from the impacts of extreme weather events and changing rainfall patterns particularly in rural communities and in younger people."

The Climate Commission has previously announced that 2011-2020 is the critical decade for tackling climate change -- particularly for turning around rising emissions of greenhouse gases and stabilising the climate system.

"Climate change is making many extreme events worse in terms of their impacts on people, property, communities and the environment, " said Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery in a statement.

"Protecting the community means strong preventative action through deep and swift cuts in emissions this decade, to stabilise the climate and halt the trend toward more intense extreme weather, " he added.


No drink container deposit for Qld

And the Greens are peeved that their suspect survey was ignored

AN overwhelming majority of Queenslanders want a 10c cash-for-containers recycling scheme but the idea has been rejected by the State Government.

The Federal Government is investigating a national deposit scheme which would feature a 10c refund per can or bottle.

Greenpeace campaigner Reece Turner said a decision would be made within weeks on the issue, despite opposition from Queensland.

The Newspoll, which found 85 per cent of people in Queensland wanted the scheme, was commissioned by Greenpeace and recycling group the Boomerang Alliance.  [I'd like to see the wording and sampling frame]

"With state leaders due to make a decision any time in the next few weeks, this poll should send a clear message that we have had enough of trash polluting our parks and waterways and killing our birdlife," Mr Turner said.

State Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the sticking point for any refund scheme was that someone had to pay for it.

"While the Newman Government is passionate about reducing litter and improving recycling rates, we do not believe increasing the cost of living is the best way to achieve that outcome," he said.

"Rather than increasing the cost of living for Queenslanders, this Government has introduced a range of initiatives to improve recycling rates and reduce litter."

These included boosted litter clean-ups, the rollout of a bin network and grants to help councils crack down on illegal dumping.

Clean Up Australia's Ian Kiernan backs the refund scheme, which is aimed at reducing litter.

Most packaging material would be returned either through current collection systems, collection depots such as charity bins or via the retailer.

Australians use 13 billion to 14 billion drink containers a year and Clean Up Australia estimates 45 per cent of the rubbish collected every Clean Up Australia Day is beverage-industry related.

Waste such as plastic and balloons launched at functions are devastating for creatures such as marine turtles and birds.

South Australia has had a container-deposit scheme since 1977 and has a recycling rate of cans and bottles of up to 85 per cent, while other states are less than half of this.

A similar scheme in the Northern Territory was stopped after Coca-Cola, Lion Nathan and Schweppes took the NT government to court.


Financing wind power in Australia

So then, just where do these huge subsidies go?  Are they used to line the pockets of those who propose these renewable plants?

Well, no, not directly, but in the long run.

Let’s do a scenario, based on virtually every renewable power plant proposal.(and here I’ll use the most common, a Wind Plant)

Here you need to realise that ALL the costs for the plant are recovered from the sale of the electricity to the grid for consumption by, well, consumers of power from the grid, in those three sectors, Residential, Commerce and Industrial. Those costs are the up front Capital cost for the construction, (all of it associated with that) maintenance, wages, upkeep, and of course the profit margin, and everything associated with the Plant. That electricity is then sold to the grid, and the retailers then add on their extras, including their profit margin as well, so that’s why there is a large disconnect between the wholesale price and the retail price.

So then let’s have a wind plant around 500MW, around 250 towers. The most recent one proposed, that for King Island comes in at around $2 Billion. That cost has to be recovered from the sale of electricity, calculated over the (hoped for) 25 year life of the Plant.

However, as is the case with every renewable plant, Governments, both Federal (the larger amount) and States will chuck in up to half that cost, so now all the plant has to recover for the sale of their electricity is only $1 Billion, making it now obvious how the cost of the electricity generated seems cheaper, now the cost has been, umm, manipulated.

Now, on top of that, in that stage when the plant is, umm, negotiating with Government, a further subsidy is now worked out. The government will subsidise that wholesale cost of electricity by giving the wind plant operators a set amount per MWH for the electricity that they generate. So now, the wholesale cost of electricity has come down again, further making it seem cheaper to generate. As part of negotiations, it is further mandated that the retailers MUST purchase ALL the power generated from the wind plant, no matter when it is generated, so, as is often the case, anything up to half and more of that power is generated while we all sleep, when consumption is at its lowest, and the plants that run all the time cover all that consumption, so, given the chance, retailers would (naturally) purchase only the cheapest power for that period, and no be locked into having to purchase the expensive wind power, which is more often than not, not even being consumed, because the load is already being covered by those 24/7/365 plants with their infinitely cheaper electricity.

This adds to the retail price, but does not make wind cheap, and in fact seemingly gives the opposite impression, adding to the out of hours electricity wholesale cost by bumping up the average cost for those hours, making coal fired power seem to be more expensive.

The third subsidy is that now this is a renewable plant, they now receive renewable energy certificates for the power they generate, and these certificates can then be on sold to CO2 emitting plants to cover their CO2 emissions debt.

So, now we have three relatively large subsidies.

All are put towards that wholesale cost for electricity, lowering it significantly, and allowing now for any slight increase adding to the overall profit margin going back to the operators, if you can see that point, because even just a couple of dollars extra amounts to a huge amount, and THAT is what goes into the pockets of the operators.

However, this is not free money for these people. Someone has to pay. The governments (both of them) get their money back by now setting their part of the return from the retailers, thus adding to the cost of every consumer’s power bill.

This added extra comes in at around 14 to 16% of your total electricity bill, not just for you in the residential sector, but for the huge consumers, those in the Commerce and Industrial sectors.

So, while 14 to 16% (some people) may see as reasonable, here’s the rub.

That 14 to 16% extra on your power bill is for only 2 to 2.5% of the power actually being provided for sale.

So, while wind power seems cheap and coal fired and even gas fired power now seems more expensive, at each stage those costs have been artificially manipulated.

Either way, it’s not cheap, because all those original costs are being paid for, by you and me and everyone who consumes electricity, and commerce and industry overheads (their electricity bills) are all passed down to consumers anyway.

WE pay. WE pay. WE pay.

Now, while all these wind plant protests concentrate on bird and bat chopping, health problems, loss of visual aspect etc, and while these problems have their own significance, by far the biggest thing we should be concentrating on is CAPACITY FACTOR, and the total inability of Wind Plants to deliver their power at better than 30to 35%, and at intermittent times instead of for times when power is being consumed the most. Wind supporters and their lobbyists can fight those first mentioned problems by quoting a lack of published evidence, and how any and all of these are (quoted off the cuff in a dismissive manner) anecdotal. What they have no answer to is a direct question about that failure to deliver, Capacity Factor, and intermittence. This was classically shown last night in an interview between Ticky Fullerton and Morton Albaek from the Vestas Company, touring Oz at the moment to drum up business. When asked about Baseload, one fleeting question, he totally ignored it, continued with the meme and mentioned the overall MIX of electricity supply.

We pay an absolute Motza for wind power in ways we don’t even realise, and yet, at every step, we are told it is cheap, and in fact getting cheaper.

If all these subsidies were totally removed, watch how proposals for wind plants would disappear, and disappear ….. IMMEDIATELY.

This is an absolute con job, and no one even mentions it.

See how they are winning.


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