Friday, February 23, 2007


By His Eminence, Dr. George Pell, Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney

Global warming doomsdayers were out and about in a big way recently, but the rain came in Central Queensland and then here in Sydney. January also was unusually cool. We have been subjected to a lot of nonsense about climate disasters as some zealots have been painting extreme scenarios to frighten us. They claim ocean levels are about to rise spectacularly, that there could be the occasional tsunami as high as an eight story building, the Amazon basin could be destroyed as the ice cap in the Arctic and in Greenland melts. An overseas magazine called for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics while a U.S.A. television correspondent compared skeptics to "holocaust deniers".

A local newspaper editorial's complaint about the doomsdayers' religious enthusiasm is unfair to mainstream Christianity. Christians don't go against reason although we sometimes go beyond it in faith to embrace probabilities. What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition.

I am deeply skeptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. I would be surprised if industrial pollution, and carbon emissions, had no ill effect at all. But enough is enough. A few fixed points might provide some light.

We know that enormous climate changes have occurred in world history, e.g. the Ice Ages and Noah's flood, where human causation could only be negligible. Neither should it be too surprising to learn that the media during the last 100 years has alternated between promoting fears of a coming Ice Age and fear of global warming! Terrible droughts are not infrequent in Australian history, sometimes lasting seven or eight years, as with the Federation Drought and in the 1930s. One drought lasted fourteen years.

We all know that a cool January does not mean much in the long run, but neither does evidence from a few years only. Scaremongers have used temperature fluctuations in limited periods and places to misrepresent longer patterns. The evidence on warming is mixed, often exaggerated, but often reassuring. Global warming has been increasing constantly since 1975 at the rate of less than one fifth of a degree centigrade per decade.

The concentration of carbon dioxide increased surface temperatures more in winter than in summer and especially in mid and high latitudes over land, while there was a global cooling of the stratosphere. The East Anglia university climate research unit found that global temperatures did not increase between 1998 - 2005 and a recent NASA satellite found that the Southern Hemisphere has not warmed in the past 25 years. Is mild global warming a Northern phenomenon?

While we might have been alarmed by the sighting of an iceberg off Dunedin as large as an aircraft carrier we should be consoled by the news that the Antarctic is getting colder and the ice is growing there. The science is more complicated than the propaganda!


Literacy breakthrough in Queensland?

Kids to learn plain English at last, apparently

QUEENSLAND students from Year 1 to Year 10 will have a new plain English syllabus from the middle of next year. It will emphasise the teaching of reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation and the importance of literature. "Curriculum waffle is out, clear English is in," Education Minister Rod Welford said. He said the new syllabus would take a "nuts-and-bolts" approach to help children write well and speak clearly while encouraging them to read and think.

The syllabus is being drawn up by the Queensland Studies Authority after a review of the preschool to Year 10 syllabus last year. The review was conducted by Sunshine Coast-based education consultant Ray Land, a former teacher and education official. Part of the draft syllabus will be available on the authority's website from next month for public scrutiny and feedback, and the full syllabus is to be ready for approval by the authority's board by October. This will allow support materials and teacher training to be provided ahead of the introduction of the syllabus from the start of Semester 2 next year.

The new syllabus was welcomed by Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations executive officer Greg Donaldson. "If this new QSA syllabus is going to improve the literacy levels of our kids we would support it," he said. Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said teachers had been heavily involved in the process and were satisfied with the new syllabus.

The redeveloped syllabus would be organised in three strands: speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and writing and shaping. "There will be greater emphasis on correct spelling, grammar and punctuation," said QSA assistant director (syllabus services) Bob Dudley. He said the syllabus would be more balanced in terms of the texts studied with wide range of books, poetry and plays to be read. He said material from the internet, films and television programs would also be included.

The syllabus will be much more specific than it is at present. For example, it is envisaged that by the end of Year 3 students will be able to:

* Identify and record main ideas and make simple inferences.

* Organise and sequence one or two main ideas with some supporting detail.

* Create texts that tell stories, recount, report on, explain, give opinions or transact.

* Use punctuation to signal the meaning boundaries of simple sentences.

* Create and play with representations of people, places, events and things for an audience by selecting descriptive words, images, facial expressions and gestures.

The syllabus requires teachers to use a range of measures, including phonics and whole word recognition, to teach reading to young children. Students' progress will also be tightly monitored under the new syllabus. The syllabus is being drawn up by a team of QSA staff with input from a panel of 20 teachers. Focus groups of parents have also been consulted


Cloud Kirby land: Pampered Justice Kirby is out of touch with the real world

Obnoxious comparison of 9/11 attacks to AIDS by homosexual judge

It is disappointing but necessary to have to explain the difference between murder and illness to a member of Australia's highest court. But once again, High Court judge Michael Kirby has shown just how out of touch he really is with the community he is supposed to serve. Justice Kirby dismissed what he called the US "obsession" with the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in which 2900 people were killed. Justice Kirby said more people died every day from AIDS than died in the attack on the Twin Towers. Furthermore, according to Justice Kirby, the attack happened overseas and we should "keep our eye on the threats to Australia". To extend Justice Kirby's logic, more people die from breast cancer than spousal abuse, so Australia should end its obsession with stopping domestic violence. And the millions who die each year from malaria are foreigners, so let's stop our malaria research effort and concentrate on something that matters at home.

Justice Kirby's comments say much about the man who professionally enjoys one of the nation's most privileged positions, and personally enjoys a waterfront life with a gun-barrel view of the jewels of Sydney Harbour. How would he feel if a terror strike erased the Sydney Opera House and took thousands of innocent lives? The September 11 attack was part of long-running campaign of provocation against the US and the West by forces hostile to the way of life that Justice Kirby is fortunate enough to enjoy to its fullest. The campaign has continued since September 11 with a series of terrorist strikes in Britain, Spain and elsewhere. Terrorist bombings in Bali and Jakarta prove Australia is not immune to the threat. Claims that post-September 11 attacks against the West are in response to Western provocation, or the invasion of Iraq, misrepresent the facts. The 9/11 and the Bali bombings predated the invasion of Iraq. The US has every right to be "obsessed" with terrorist threats to its security, and Australia has every interest in offering its fullest support. This includes dealing responsibly with those citizens who may have been swept up in the jihadist cause.

The appeal case before the High Court regarding the control order imposed on "Jihad" Jack Thomas amply demonstrates the global village that exists when it comes to Islamic extremism. The control order is designed to restrict the movements and communications of the first man convicted under Australia's new anti-terror laws while he awaits a retrial after his original conviction was quashed because of the circumstances in which his admissions were made while in custody in Pakistan. Justice Kirby's view is that of the pampered elite, shielded from global reality by the freedoms bestowed on them. The irony is it is Justice Kirby and his ilk who would no doubt fare worst should the enemies of democracy whom they defend ever get their way.


Justice catches up with crooked Leftist judge

CRIMINAL charges against former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld are "imminent", with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions poised to prosecute him over his alleged false speed camera claims. Einfeld's own lawyers revealed the impending charge as they fought to avoid further details of the police investigation from being made public. But in a dramatic court ruling late yesterday, the besieged former judge lost his bid to muzzle the media.

Following two hours of in-camera argument in the Supreme Court, Justice Megan Latham found there was no substance to Einfeld's bid to conceal further details of his now-notorious attempt to avoid paying a $77 speeding fine in January last year. The speeding charge against him was dismissed in August after Einfeld said he had lent his car to an old friend, US-based academic Professor Teresa Brennan. It later emerged she had died three years earlier. Einfeld then claimed another woman with a similar name was driving the car.

The latest twist in the saga occurred yesterday when his lawyers argued that charges were about to be brought against Einfeld so any further publication of the case would interfere with the judicial process. Justice Latham ruled the argument was a hollow one with no legal basis....

The judge then ordered Einfeld pay the legal costs of Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph, along with those of his own senior counsel and lawyers, estimated to be a total of $20,000. Einfeld's latest attempt to suppress details of the police investigation began late on Tuesday night when he sought an after-hours order to prohibit publication of yesterday's front-page story in The Daily Telegraph. The article revealed Einfeld's friend, Vivian Schenker, recently told police she was a passenger in the car driven by Einfeld when it was photographed by a speed camera in January last year...


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