Monday, June 27, 2016

Gun regulation:  Is Australia a model that the USA should adopt?

In the wake of the recent shootings at Orlando and elsewhere, many Leftist commentators have pointed to the strict gun controls introduced by Australia in 1996 and have noted that Australia has had NO mass shootings since the laws were enacted.  They assert that this is powerful evidence for the enactment of such laws in America. But is it true?  Did Australia's strict laws reduce gun deaths?

Before I answer that, I think I might point out that there are important demographic differences between the U.S. and Australian populations.  In particular, the minorities are different.  Australia has negligible Africans but large numbers of Han Chinese.  And those two groups differ greatly in propensity to crime generally and homicide in particular.  The Chinese are as pacific as Africans are violent.  I don't think I have ever heard of a Han Chinese breaking into someone's house, whereas that happens daily in the USA.  So Australians have a much smaller need for guns as self-defense.  I love the Han.

But one part of the Leftist claim is true.  There have indeed been no mass shootings since 1996 in Australia. But such shootings were rare anyway and gun crimes were already on the way down in Australia so how do we allow for that?  Below is an article from a major medical journal that has done all the statistics. Its conclusions have been widely reported but almost always misreported.  So I produce the actual journal abstract below.

As you can see, they found that the decline in gun deaths had speeded up but not to a statistically significant degree.  More interestingly, the rate for all crimes had declined even more than the decline in gun deaths.  So all we can say is that Australia has been getting steadily safer for a long time now.  There is no evidence that guns have anything to do with it.  The journal article:

Association Between Gun Law Reforms and Intentional Firearm Deaths in Australia, 1979-2013

Simon Chapman et al.



Rapid-fire weapons are often used by perpetrators in mass shooting incidents. In 1996 Australia introduced major gun law reforms that included a ban on semiautomatic rifles and pump-action shotguns and rifles and also initiated a program for buyback of firearms.


To determine whether enactment of the 1996 gun laws and buyback program were followed by changes in the incidence of mass firearm homicides and total firearm deaths.


Observational study using Australian government statistics on deaths caused by firearms (1979-2013) and news reports of mass shootings in Australia (1979–May 2016). Changes in intentional firearm death rates were analyzed with negative binomial regression, and data on firearm-related mass killings were compared.


Implementation of major national gun law reforms.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Changes in mass fatal shooting incidents (defined as ≥5 victims, not including the perpetrator) and in trends of rates of total firearm deaths, firearm homicides and suicides, and total homicides and suicides per 100 000 population.


From 1979-1996 (before gun law reforms), 13 fatal mass shootings occurred in Australia, whereas from 1997 through May 2016 (after gun law reforms), no fatal mass shootings occurred. There was also significant change in the preexisting downward trends for rates of total firearm deaths prior to vs after gun law reform. From 1979-1996, the mean rate of total firearm deaths was 3.6 (95% CI, 3.3-3.9) per 100 000 population (average decline of 3% per year; annual trend, 0.970; 95% CI, 0.963-0.976), whereas from 1997-2013 (after gun law reforms), the mean rate of total firearm deaths was 1.2 (95% CI, 1.0-1.4) per 100 000 population (average decline of 4.9% per year; annual trend, 0.951; 95% CI, 0.940-0.962), with a ratio of trends in annual death rates of 0.981 (95% CI, 0.968-0.993). There was a statistically significant acceleration in the preexisting downward trend for firearm suicide (ratio of trends, 0.981; 95% CI, 0.970-0.993), but this was not statistically significant for firearm homicide (ratio of trends, 0.975; 95% CI, 0.949-1.001). From 1979-1996, the mean annual rate of total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths was 10.6 (95% CI, 10.0-11.2) per 100 000 population (average increase of 2.1% per year; annual trend, 1.021; 95% CI, 1.016-1.026), whereas from 1997-2013, the mean annual rate was 11.8 (95% CI, 11.3-12.3) per 100 000 (average decline of 1.4% per year; annual trend, 0.986; 95% CI, 0.980-0.993), with a ratio of trends of 0.966 (95% CI, 0.958-0.973). There was no evidence of substitution of other lethal methods for suicides or homicides.

Conclusions and Relevance

Following enactment of gun law reforms in Australia in 1996, there were no mass firearm killings through May 2016. There was a more rapid decline in firearm deaths between 1997 and 2013 compared with before 1997 but also a decline in total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths of a greater magnitude. Because of this, it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms.

JAMA. Published online June 22, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8752

Grant-hungry scientists stage a tantrum about the Barrier Reef while on their holiday in Hawaii

Many causes of bleaching alleged but not a word about El Nino, the most probable cause.  These guys are just con-men.  Document probably written by a small but powerful clique only

As the largest international gathering of coral reef experts comes to a close, scientists have sent a letter to Australian officials calling for action to save the world's reefs, which are being rapidly damaged.

The letter was sent on Saturday to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull imploring the government to do more to conserve the nation's reefs and curb fossil fuel consumption.

The letter, signed by past and present presidents of the International Society for Reef Studies on behalf of the 2000 attendees of the International Coral Reef Symposium that was held in Honolulu this week, urged the Australian government to prioritise its Great Barrier Reef.

"This year has seen the worst mass bleaching in history, threatening many coral reefs around the world including the whole of the northern Great Barrier Reef, the biggest and best-known of all reefs," the letter said.

"The damage to this Australian icon has already been devastating. In addition to damage from greenhouse gases, port dredging and shipping of fossil fuels across the Great Barrier Reef contravene Australia's responsibilities for stewardship of the Reef under the World Heritage Convention."

Scientists are not known for their political activism, said James Cook University professor Terry Hughes, but they felt this crisis warranted such action.

A call to action from three Pacific island nations whose reefs are in the crosshairs of the largest and longest-lasting coral bleaching event in recorded history was presented on Friday at the conclusion of the symposium in Honolulu.

The heads of state from Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands attended the conference and will provide a plan to help save their ailing coral reefs.

The call to action, signed by the three presidents, asked for better collaboration between the scientific community and local governments, saying there needs to be more funding and a strengthened commitment to protecting the reefs.

In response to the letter, the scientific community at the conference said they would work with national leaders of Micronesia, the Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the world "to curb the continued loss of coral reefs."

Bleaching is a process where corals, stressed by hot ocean waters and other environmental changes, lose their colour as the symbiotic algae that lives within them is released. Severe or concurrent years of bleaching can kill coral reefs, as has been documented over the past two years in oceans around the world. Scientists expect a third year of bleaching to last through the end of 2016.

In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, close to half of the corals have died in the past three months, said Hughes, who focuses his research there.

But the panel of scientists emphasised the progress they have made over the past 30 years and stressed that good research and management programs for coral reefs are available. The scientists said they just need the proper funding and political will to enact them.


Some rare realism about prospects of Far Northern agricultural development

Developing the "empty North" has long been a dream.  But there are good reasons why it is mostly empty -- as the Ord River scheme showed.  A story here shows that investors are rightly skeptical of projects there

An expert says opportunities to expand agricultural production in northern Australia have been dramatically overstated.

"It's a very fierce climate, ask any farmer if they'd like to go farm somewhere with a guaranteed drought every year?'" said Charles Darwin University Professor Andrew Campbell.

"Evaporation is markedly greater than rainfall and has water scarcity, and there are many novel pests and diseases, inputs costs are much higher, labour is more difficult to attract, infrastructure is much poorer and supply chains are much more vulnerable."

Speaking at the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (ATSE) conference, he said food production is only likely to increase by around 5 per cent in northern Australia.

He highlighted as a rare exception, the mango industry outside Darwin. Built by Vietnamese immigrants with links to the market traders in Sydney and Melbourne, which has become a $100 million industry.

Indigenous wild rices on the flood plains have genetic diversity that could be cross bred with mainstream rices, to improve resilience in a changing climate.

Investment banker David Williams of Kidder Williams told the conference he was highly critical of big scale failures in the Ord Irrigation scheme, with its long history of crops destroyed by pests and a vicious climate.


Federal election 2016: PM must tell voters home truths about Shorten

Grace Collier

No one should be shocked by Bill Shorten’s Medicare scare election scam. There is a reason this present crop of Labor types is so at ease telling bald-faced lies to camera. Like Shorten, most of them are former union officials and, as such, are expert in the art of devious, malicious deception.

These guys have run hundreds of enterprise bargaining agreement campaigns, which are mini election campaigns in the workplace. Union officials regularly have relied on far-fetched lie-telling to force frightened workers, like herded cattle, through the right gate.

Though an EBA campaign occurs within a single workplace, and an election occurs across the national landscape, in both processes a political contest between labour and capital occurs, and that contest leads up to one defining moment: a democratic vote for all.

Both sides vie for the hearts and minds of the voters, and put material out to state their case. In the end the voters are often overwhelmed, bewildered. They cannot read everything, so instead they take a leap of faith. Voters cast their vote to the side they like most and trust them to tell them how to vote. Then they hope for the best.

The way unions win EBA campaigns is by telling terrifying lies to the workers about the conditions and entitlements they will lose if they vote yes to the EBA. If management hasn’t anticipated the lies, it is not positioned to counter as it should. It doesn’t prepare the workers beforehand for the lies that will be told and doesn’t strike back hard afterwards with direct communication, even ridicule, setting out the truth.

Instead, management reacts with shock and outrage-induced paralysis sets in. On display is the processing of its personal emotional response to the lies (how could they say this stuff, it’s an outrage!), which workers are not interested in. Leadership falls by the wayside. Campaign momentum and control is lost.

In the same way an EBA provides the means for unions to control a workplace, a federal election provides a chance for unions to control our government. Our present election is not a referendum on keeping Medicare; it is a referendum on whether we want the unions running Australia.

Shorten is the union rep, screaming about how we are all going to lose our entitlements. Is manipulation of vulnerable people via the use of scary nonsense an unethical thing to do? Labor cares not; it is a tried-and-true EBA tactic. Anyway, the end justifies the means.

Malcolm Turnbull is the manager, caught up in his own indignation. Has Turnbull ever been in an EBA campaign? Not likely. He must be reeling at the effrontery and wondering how low this union bloke is prepared to go. While Turnbull is busy denying the lies about himself, he is not pointing out the facts about his opponent.

If the community had the truth about Shorten put before it, very few would vote the way he asks. For Turnbull, shattering trust in Shorten would be an easy task, especially among the traditional Labor base. Labor’s brand is that it cares about the low-paid workers and puts people first, yet the party couldn’t have chosen a leader more unfitting, more ridiculously inappropriate, to promote it.

Shorten’s history can be found on the transcript from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Past case studies include Chiquita, Cleanevent and more. Under Shorten’s rule, his union boomed, inflated by false membership numbers gained by dirty deals done dirt cheap. How much wage theft occurred, how much did the lowest paid miss out on? Perhaps half a billion.

Shorten derided penalty rates as fanciful in the real world, a gold standard, when justifying a dodgy deal done behind the backs of workers to trade their wages away. These words, his exact quotes, should be used in a brutal advertising campaign.

Today, Shorten’s campaign runs partly on dirty money. Dodgy deals, done behind the backs of workers at Coles, Woolworths and more, have been funnelled through a union into Labor. There are probably 500,000 workers missing out on penalty rates, unlawfully, right now. Turnbull could stand up and condemn this and demand Shorten renounce it.

When the 7-Eleven wage rip-offs came to light, Shorten used the case to announce a policy to increase penalties on employers. But his proposed reform exempts small business, meaning 7-Eleven franchisees wouldn’t be caught in Labor’s so-called plan to catch them. Turnbull could point this out and pose a question along the lines of: Is this a genuine error, just staggering stupidity or has yet another dodgy deal, somewhere, with someone been done?

Shorten calls Turnbull a rich man’s Tony Abbott. Turnbull should call Shorten a celebrity union official to the rich and the best friend a corrupt business could have. Turnbull should say all of the above and more.

For as long as he doesn’t, of the two men, who do you think the voters will see as stronger, hungrier, more determined: Shorten, who has the guts to tell outrageous lies about Turnbull; or Turnbull, who hasn’t the guts to tell simple truths about Shorten?


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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