Friday, October 24, 2014

No apologies to Bob Carter?

When Carter first drew attention to the cessation of global warming after 1998, he was roundly abused, condemned and told he was wrong.  Now that even Warmists admit to what they call the "pause" in warming, is anybody apologizing to Carter and admitting that he was right after all?  Certainly no Warmists are

It was an Australian scientist, Bob Carter, who first drew attention to the flattening trend in an article in Britain’s The Telegraph in April 2006. Carter reviewed the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia for the years 1998 to 2005 and asked: “Does something not strike you as odd?”

Carter’s reward for identifying the lack of global warming was to have his professional reputation trashed. When Carter repeated his suggestion in the Australian press a year later, the CSIRO felt obliged to respond. Carter had presented “an unethical misrepresentation of the facts”, wrote Andrew Ash, acting director of the CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship. “All scientists welcome honest criticism since it helps to sharpen our analyses and improve our understanding, but scepticism based on half-truths and misrepresentation of facts is not helpful.”

ABC online’s The Drum refused to run his commentary. ABC Radio National’s science broadcaster Robyn Williams gave an open microphone to Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change communications director Bob Ward, who accused Carter of “desperately seeking bits of information to back up a ­theory”.

Political scientist Robert Manne said the likes of Carter, award-winning geologist Ian Plimer and former head of the National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology William Kininmonth “have to be resisted and indeed denounced” along with the “anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues, the right-wing media and the fossil fuel corporations”.

As recently as two years ago, former finance minister Nick Minchin was mocked on the ABC’s Q&A for suggesting that temperatures had plateaued. “There is a major problem with the warmist argument because we have had rising CO2 but we haven’t had the commensurate rise in temperature that the IPCC predicted,” he said.

“That’s just not true Nick,” responded Anna Rose, chairwoman of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

The University of NSW’s Matthew England joined in. “What Nick just said is actually not true. The IPCC projections of 1990 have borne out very accurately the projections now 22 years old.”

As it happens, it was true. The 1990 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicted temperature rises of 0.3C each decade. In fact, according to the latest report global temperatures have risen only 0.14C per decade since 1978.

In September last year a draft version of the fifth assessment report of the IPCC’s working group 1 that assesses the physical science of climate finally acknowledged the gap between computer projections and observed surface temperatures between 1998 and 2012. The IPCC was not so bold as to admit that its previous reports were wrong. It did accept, however, that there had been a “global mean surface temperature trend hiatus”, which amounts to the same thing.

If science worked as purely as Francis Bacon suggested it should, by the application of induction and observation, climate science would have moved on by now. Experts, however, are only human. Too many professional reputations have been invested in a fixed idea for it to be simply abandoned.

The heating has not stopped, we are told, it has simply “paused”. The word bristles with presumption. Despite their appalling track record in the past 20 years, climate scientists still believe they can predict how temperatures will move in the future.

“The ocean is absorbing huge amounts of heat energy and then will toss it back on us further along,” Dr Karl told Delroy.

Nobody suggested that temperatures should rise in a straight line, he said. “It’s much more complicated than that … there are so many factors involved, El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc, that suggests that you need a 17-year window to able to look past the noise.

“And here they are saying we’re looking at a nine-year window and it looks sort of not as uppity as before. Well that’s easy, it’s not a 17-year window.” [Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is ignoring facts that even Warmists now admit -- the "pause" has gone on for 18 years]


A mixed up Syrian in Australia

She has been labelled everything from a government spy to a pro-Bashar al-Assad mouthpiece to a Kim Kardashian wannabe. But Syrian-Australian blogger Maram Susli, who goes by Mimi Al Laham or 'Syrian Girl', says she is just a patriot 'dedicated to the truth'.

Her YouTube channel has received more than 2.5 million views, where she posts videos such as 'Exposed: The "Assad backs Al-Qaeda" Myth' and 'If Syria Disarms Chemical Weapons We Lose The War'.

Born in Damascus in 1987 to what she describes as a middle class, professional family of the majority Muslim sect, Ms Susli moved to Australia when she was a child.

'My mother was a big fan of the series Neighbours during the early 90s and was convinced Australia would be just like it,' she said.

Ms Susli says she speaks out on social media because she is dismayed by watching her birth country being destroyed. She is critical of Syrian rebels, ISIS and the United States. She wants to see Syria's 'army strong' and its 'borders solid'.

'People are dying, and I have a duty as a human being and as someone of Syrian origin to expose the truth about why,' Ms Susli said.

'A duty to give a voice to those Syrians who have not been heard, who have rejected the instability caused by the US support of the extremist rebels.'

But along with her loyal followers come her many detractors who say she is a fame-hungry conspiracy theorist. Some of her more controversial assertions include that 9/11 was an 'inside job', that Ebola could be a US biological weapon and that chemical weapons are Syria's 'only hope'.

She says she was recently accused by one commentator of doing what she does because aspires to have 'Kim Kardashian fame'. 'Highly offensive when I do what I do because I'm watching the country of my birth destroyed before my eyes.'

Ms Susli believes that many don't take her seriously simply because she's a female talking about politics.  'You have to fight tooth and nail for respect and legitimacy that would have comes naturally if you were a middle-aged man in a suit and tie,' she said.

'But far worse are journalists who, because they disagree with my point of view, attack me with misogyny rather than argue against me with facts.

'They would rather abuse me with accusations of plastic surgery than discuss the content of what I'm saying.'

She is often described as being 'pro-Assad' – a label she rejects.  'One doesn't need to be pro-government to support their military against an external terror threat,' she said.

Ms Susli is currently studying a postgraduate degree in Australia after completing a science degree with a double major in biophysics and chemistry.

But she dedicates a large amount of time to blogging about her country of origin, which she has visited many times while living in Australia over the past two decades.

'Politics has been my passion even before the war in Syria, so it's logical that when war began in the country of my birth, which I visit often and where my extend family reside, I'd be even more passionate,' she said.

'When people I know have died, when others have had their lives turned upside down, when it's my family that I couldn't go back to say goodbye to on their death beds, how would I not become emotional about that?'


McCloy's challenge may derail NSW's political finance laws

Last week NSW Premier Mike Baird announced changes to the state's political finance laws. They amount only to an interim measure, with long term reforms to follow based upon the report of the government's expert panel on political donations chaired by Kerry Schott.

Looming over both is the constitutional challenge lodged in July by former Newcastle Mayor Jeff McCloy. His case has the potential not only to frustrate these changes, but to derail ICAC's ongoing investigation into developer donations and political corruption.

Evidence tendered before ICAC shows that McCloy is a property developer who has made a number of political donations. Indeed, he has said of the state's politicians: "They all come to see me for money, I feel like a walking ATM some days."

NSW electoral funding rules ban property developers from making political donations. As a result, McCloy faces the prospect of being found by ICAC to have engaged in "corrupt conduct".

Rather than await such a finding, he has launched a pre-emptive strike in the High Court. His argument is that the ban is invalid, and thus that there is no law in place to prevent him as a developer from making political donations. If he succeeds, the ICAC cases against him and the politicians who accepted such donations could unravel.

In recent weeks, McCloy has broadened his challenge. He has done so because his case overlooked another ground upon which he may have broken the election rules.

NSW law also made it an offence at the 2011 election to provide a political donation of more than $5,000 to a political party or $2,000 to a candidate. The evidence shows that McCloy breached this, and so he is now also asserting that the caps on political donations are unconstitutional.

McCloy's case is far from fanciful. In December 2013, the High Court unanimously struck down a NSW ban on political donations by corporations, unions, and any person not on the electoral roll. The challenge succeeded on the basis that the ban infringed the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of political communication.

There is no doubt that the developer donation ban also restricts freedom of political communication. The High Court said as much last year when it held that the freedom is burdened wherever a law restricts the sources of funds available to political parties and candidates to meet the costs of their political communication.

However, this is not enough to have the law struck down. The law will be saved if the NSW government can show that it is a proportionate response to addressing a legitimate purpose.

The ban on union and corporate donations failed this test because the Court found that it was not directed at preventing corruption, and indeed that it lacked any justifying purpose at all. By contrast, the ban on developer donations can be seen more readily as a measure aimed at stopping corruption. Certainly, the ban was introduced in response to scandals showing how developers can exert undue influence over politicians.

If the court accepts that the law has this purpose, it must then determine whether the law is proportionate to achieving this aim. This is harder to determine. The ban has a wide ambit, not only in applying to developers and their associates, but even to their spouses. The ban might also be seen as discriminatory because, along with the bans on donations from tobacco, liquor and gambling interests, it singles out particular donors, while leaving others untouched. All up, the likely outcome in the High Court is very difficult to predict.

If the developer donation ban is struck down, the scheme will need to be adjusted. The government might respond by lowering the general cap on donations so as to limit the influence developers or others might have.

A far greater problem would arise if the High Court also struck down the cap on political donations. This goes to the heart of how the scheme operates. If commercial and other interests are able to give unlimited amounts of money to parties and candidates, no scheme of political finance regulation can be effective.

Fortunately, this second argument will be far harder to sustain. The cap on donations restricts political communication, but it does so in a general, across-the-board way. Moreover, it does so in response to long-standing concerns about the possibility of large donations corrupting the political process. It seems very unlikely that it will be struck down.

With less than half a year to go to the next state election, it might have been expected that the rules governing political donations would be clear and certain. Instead, they are in a state of flux. Reforms have been proposed, but they are only interim measures, and even then they may be swept away by the High Court's pronouncement in the McCloy case.


Crackdown bid on hookah pipe cafes

Doctors and a coalition of public health groups have called for closure of a legal loophole that allows indoor shisha smoking in Victoria.

The Australian-Lebanese Medical Association joined the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, and Quit Victoria, in asking the Coalition and Labor to commit to banning the practice ahead of next month's state election.

Labor says it wouldn't support a ban because it could be unfair to our multicultural community.

Dr Walid Ahmar, a cardiologist and ALMA president, said shisha smoking, popular in cafes in parts of Melbourne, had wrongly been considered harmless.

He said in a one-hour session, users could inhale 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled in a single cigarette, increasing their risk of heart disease and a range of cancers.

"Water-pipe usage is associated with serious potential health hazards not only to the smoker but to those who are exposed to the smoke. It can cause a number of cancers, lung, stomach, oesophageal, oral cancer in addition to the development and progression of coronary artery disease.

"Given the well-known and documented impacts of second-hand smoking it is absolutely unacceptable to continue to expose staff and customers to this risk, because of a legislative oversight."

Dr Ahmar said shisha smoking is banned in restaurants in Lebanon, "yet it is still prevalent here" and in Turkey, TV ads warn of its harmful effects.

He called on all political parties "to show leadership to support and put the health of our community first and foremost in closing this loophole ahead of next month's state election".

In 2006, the state government banned smoking in enclosed workplaces. But the ban, using a definition in the Tobacco act of 1987, applied to consumption of tobacco product whose "main ingredient" was tobacco.

Because waterpipe tobacco consists of a mix of tobacco, molasses and flavourings, tobacco may not be the main ingredient. Molasses and fruit flavouring can account for up to 70 per cent of the mixture.

The lobbyists propose that the definition of "tobacco product" be amended to remove the term "main ingredient", and be defined as "tobacco, or a cigarette or cigar, or any other product containing tobacco and designed for human consumption or use".

Shadow Health Minister Gavin Jennings said Labor had implemented many reforms such as banning smoking in pubs, clubs and workplaces.

"But reform has to get the balance right. Banning shisha, particularly when it has no tobacco content, could unfairly affect parts of our multicultural community."

Cancer Council Victoria director of prevention Craig Sinclair said Victoria is "unfortunately the only state in the country that still allows such a practice to still continue".

He said given the "well-known and very well-documented health impacts of second-hand smoke", it was "unacceptable that this practice can continue, to expose both staff and customers to this risk because of what is clearly a legislative oversight".

But Rashid Freihat, owner of Arabesque Shisha Lounge and Cafe in Sydney Road, Coburg, said a ban would shut down his business.

Mr Freihat knows of 18 shisha businesses along Sydney Road. Smoking the hookah was a cultural and social practice. At his lounge, friends could gather to  watch soccer and eat tapas together. He doesn't serve alcohol.

He said shisha mix was "only about 10 to 15 per cent tobacco and the rest is flavoured fruit".

He hadn't been affected by second-hand smoke in three years working there, and the lounge had an exhaust system.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis said: "The Government's immediate priority will be implementing the announced ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas, but will examine the issue raised today."


Reebok fined for misleading customers about EasyTone sneakers

Reebok has been penalised $350,000 and ordered to issue refunds for misleading customers about its EasyTone shoe range, which it claimed for years would boost muscle tone of calves, thighs and derrières more than ordinary sneakers.

The sportswear company conceded in the Federal Court it made false and misleading claims about the benefits of wearing EasyTone sneakers and sandals on shoe boxes, swing tags, booklets and posters.

Reebok, without scientific evidence, claimed "balance pods built-in under the heel" and "balance ball-inspired technology with moving air" in EasyTone shoes would increase "muscle activation" of the buttocks by 28 per cent and of thighs and calves by 11 per cent.

The international advertising drive featured Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr who said: "I work out, do yoga and wear my EasyTone wherever I go so that know that I'm benefitting my body as I go about my daily routine".

The Federal Court found Reebok breached three sections of Australian Consumer Law and had no reasonable grounds to make such representations.

In an agreement reached with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which instigated the court action in December last year, Reebok will issue $35 refunds to customers, set up a hotline, publish corrective notices and start a compliance program.

The EasyTone shoe range has been on sale in Australia since late 2009, but the court action relates to promotional material from September 2011 and February 2013.

In September 2011, the United States arm of Reebok agreed to pay $US25 million in a settlement after the Federal Trade Commission claimed it was deceiving customers about the better legs promise.

Reebok Australia was aware of the US settlement but supplied 16,448 pairs of EasyTone shoes in boxes emblazoned with the false statements between September 2011 and May 2012.

In the 2012 financial year, Reebok raked in half a million dollars in revenue from the sales of Easytone shoes to retailers.

The ACCC first raised concerns with Reebok in August 2012, but it was not until May this year that the sporting goods maker admitted it was in the wrong.

"Where businesses claim their products have certain performance characteristics and benefits, they have a responsibility to ensure that those claims are accurate and supported by credible evidence," said ACCC's deputy chair, Delia Rickard.

"This is particularly important in cases such as this where it is difficult for consumers to independently verify the claims."

Reebok Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of sporting goods distributor True Alliance. Its brand manager Karl Pohlman told Fairfax Media that its customers were the first priority.

"We are happy to have resolved the ACCC's inquiry over our historical EasyTone advertising so that we can return our focus to inspiring people everywhere to be their absolute best," he said.

Retailers which flogged the EasyTone range include Myer, Sports Locker, Rebel Sport and Foot Locker.


No comments: