Monday, July 14, 2008

Fluff-headed British journalist reports about Israel

It may not even be bias -- just stupidity and ignorance. Sad to see in my favourite newspaper

An interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared in the Sunday Times this week. The interview took place in Jerusalem's American Colony Hotel. It was concerned with Blair's role as the Quartet's Middle East envoy, and was written by journalist Lesley White. Journalist Lesley White is evidently not a specialist on the Middle East. I say "evidently" because the article contains a series of ludicrous errors which leave one slack-jawed in astonishment at the standards apparently now prevailing in this august publication.

Lesley White starts as she means to go on. Lunch with Blair, we are told, takes place under parasols which overlook "east Jerusalem's temples and mosques." I have lived in Jerusalem for just under two decades. It does contain quite a large number of mosques. Temples, however, are conspicuous largely by their absence. The clue is that religions worshipping in temples - Hindus, Buddhists - have scant regard for Jerusalem, and hence don't bother to build facilities for worship in it.

There was of course a quite important Temple in Jerusalem at one time. But this particular one, built by the Jews, was destroyed by the Romans in ad 70, and a rather large Mosque currently coincidentally stands where it once stood, so it's unlikely that Lesley White saw it, unless she was being unwittingly affected by a bout of the well-known "Jerusalem Syndrome." This syndrome causes visitors to Jerusalem to imagine themselves as Biblical figures, and experience visions and hallucinations. An additional religion that has facilities called temples - US Reform Judaism,- is also not known to have constructed any places of worship of this type in the area of the American Colony Hotel, where the White-Blair lunch occurred.

Lesley White mentions the "Palestinians I spoke to" in her article. These, however, do not seem to have been offset by any Israelis that were "spoken to" - at least they appear nowhere in the text. This perhaps explains another, more interesting error. Lesley White refers to a person described as Israel's "head of security." This person, apparently, is called Gabi Ashkenazi, and he is, Lesley White tells us, "considered by many the nation's de facto leader."

Well, Lesley White, first of all allow me to tell you that Israel, like most other countries, doesn't have a post called "head of security." The Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel has a head of security. I dare say Annabel's nightclub in London has a "head of security." The State of Israel doesn't. What Israel does have is its armed forces, and Gabi Ashkenazi is currently what is called the Chief of Staff of the said armed forces.

Israel has some other things, too. Israel has universal adult suffrage, a parliament, regular free elections, a defence minister, a prime minister and a president. Not all of these necessarily always contribute to effective or wise decision-making. But Lesley White, if she had found the time to talk to any Israelis, might have learned a little about these institutions, and would have discovered that Israel is a democracy, and that Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi is no more "de facto ruler" of Israel than is General Sir Richard Dannatt the de facto ruler of Great Britain.

Would a little fact-checking have been so difficult? This article was, after all, not just any old article. It was an interview with a former British Prime Minister. It did, after all, appear in a newspaper - and not just any old newspaper. The Times, including its Sunday edition, used to be one of the most venerable publications in the western world, with a reputation based on the delivery of meticulous, carefully examined information. Not any more, apparently.

More here

Crime pays: Getting away with terror at British taxpayers' expense

Pictured: Smiling preacher of hate Abu Qatada enjoying an 800,000 pounds home and a life of benefits

The Daily Mail refers to Abu Qatada, the "preacher", as Al-Qaeda's "ambassador to Europe." As if al-Qaeda was a diplomatic service. You're looking at Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe.

Of course he's smiling. Look at what he's getting:
1. He can't be extradited to Jordan "because his human rights would have been breached."
2. He lives in a $1.6 million house.
3. He receives $100,000 in (British) government benefits.
4. He's under house arrest but meanders freely.
5. Supposedly he's on disability receiving $300/week for a back injury but can carry a knapsack in public. He's not worried that anyone would jail him for fraud.
6. His "45-year-old wife is said to be entitled to child benefits, income support, housing and council tax credits which exceed œ800 each week." (that would be approx. $1600.) Plus, "The family is also said to pick up around œ210 in income support."
7. AND he gets a tax break: "the couple is exempt from paying the œ2,283 yearly council tax bill on their home."

This photograph of the smiling al-Qaeda operative telescopes to the rest of the world the message that the UK officially has signed a suicide pact.


Dirty British hospital kills patient

A patient died during an outbreak of the Clostridium difficile bug that affected six at a Glasgow hospital, it emerged today. Nicola Sturgeon, the Health Secretary, said that the patient died on June 24 and confirmed that C.diff was a contributory factor. The death, at the Victoria Infirmary, comes after an outbreak of the same bug at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, affected more than fifty people and killed nine.

Ms Sturgeon announced details of the death in response to a Scottish parliamentary question from Jackson Carlaw, the Conservative public health spokesman. She said that an outbreak control team was reviewing the circumstances and would prepare a full report. Ms Sturgeon also said that six patients at the infirmary had been affected by a C.diff outbreak in October last year. The cause of that outbreak could not be determined.

Mr Carlaw said: “This really is not acceptable. The Scottish NHS needs to usher in a new era of openness, and fast ... we need to know who is being held to account.”


How the Hadley Centre spins the data on non-warming

Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. On the one hand, the Hadley Centre is a firm believer in the hypothesis that humans are the main cause of global warming and that we're heading toward catastrophe. It even devotes several of its web pages to waving a nagging finger at those foolish enough or unprincipled enough to believe otherwise.

On the other hand, the Hadley Centre, as part of the British Meteorological Office, is also churning out data showing that the planet isn't warming at the moment, and hasn't for the past 10 years or so.What to do?

As principled scientists, the Hadley staff can't cook the books so the temperature figures fit the hypothesis, although at least one other major climate centre is doing its best to keep its figures matching the hypothesis. On the other hand, if the general public got the idea that maybe the planet wasn't warming after all, despite what we've all been told so often, they might rebel against punitive carbon taxes and go back to their materialist-loving ways.

The Hadley Centre's solution is a combination of spin-doctoring and let's hope nobody notices.You find the spin in its finger-wagging admonitions that we mustn't take this non-warming trend at all seriously. Just temporary. Planet's still warming. Move along; nothing to see here.So, in its webpage on Climate Facts #1, it says: "There is indisputable evidence from observations that the Earth is warming."

This is hardly controversial; even the pesky warming skeptics who annoy the Hadley Centre so much agree on the earth is, overall, on a warming trend. But, just to make sure we're clear so far: the earth is in an overall warming trend (interglacial) right now and would be whether humans were a factor or not. Humans causing `most of the warming'?

Hadley goes on: "Concentrations of CO2, created largely by the burning of fossil fuels, are now much higher, and increasing at a much faster rate, than at any time in the last 600,000 years. Because CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the increased concentrations have contributed to the recent warming and probably most of the warming over the last 50 years" So, just so we're clear: humans are the primary (Al Gore likes to use the term "principal") cause of global warming - that's what's meant by causing "most of the warming."

But then, Climate Fact #3 tells us: "Earth's climate is complex and influenced by many things, particularly changes in its orbit, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the energy emitted from the Sun. It is well known that the world has experienced warm or cold periods in the past without any interference from humans". So, humans are causing "most of the warming" at the moment, but not warming in the past, and there are many other causes of warming as well, all natural, and all, one would think, a lot more powerful - solar orbit changes, volcanoes, variations in solar energy - than anything humans could throw at the planet.

The site goes on: "In recent ice ages, natural changes in the climate, such as those due to orbit changes, led to cooling of the climate system. This caused a fall in CO2 concentrations which weakened the greenhouse effect and amplified the cooling. Now the link between temperature and CO2 is working in the opposite direction. Human-induced increases in CO2 are driving the greenhouse effect and amplifying the recent warming".

Driving or amplifying? They aren't the same thing. We've got two processes here, described by two different verbs: driving and amplifying. Even though the planet is warming naturally (Fact #1), which would naturally tend to increase CO2 levels anyway, human-emitted CO2 is "driving" the greenhouse effect. This is an amazing feat when you consider that human-added concentrations of CO2 are only about five per cent of natural carbon emissions every year from factors like rotting vegetation, volcanoes, and the like. And amazing considering that 90 to 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect is produced by water vapor, not CO2.

Never mind. For the Hadley Centre, five per cent of a trace gas like carbon dioxide (CO2 is only 380 parts per million in the atmosphere, to which human emissions add about 10 ppm every five years) is "driving" the greenhouse gas system.

Then the Centre backtracks a bit and says we humans are "amplifying," rather than "driving," the recent warming. How much are we "amplifying" natural warming? Presumably about five per cent. Is an amplification of five per cent enough to produce "most of the warming" we've experienced over the past 30 years? It's unlikely, especially considering that the planet warmed about the same amount from 1850-1940, when human carbon emissions were still relatively low.

Furthermore, in the 1850s the planet came out of more than 400 years of cooling known as the Little Ice Age. Before that, during the Medieval Warm Period (900-1350), global temperatures were a degree or two Celsius higher than today's. Temperatures were warmer about 2,000 years ago (the Roman Warm Period) and about 3,500 years ago (the Minoan Warm Period).Natural warming occurs every 1,000 years or so. This means that over the past 5,000 years there's been a major warming and cooling cycle every 1,000 years or so. The current warming, a millennium after the Medieval Warm Period, is right on track as part of that cycle. In other words, the planet may be going about its natural warming at the moment, with a bit of "amplification" - five per cent? - from humans. "Amplifying" doesn't mean the same as "driving" the climate, but the Hadley Centre doesn't make this fine distinction.

Then there's that pesky decade of warming. To counter this inconvenient truth, Hadley tells us in its webpage on Climate Facts #2 that "the rise in global surface temperature has averaged more than 0.15 øC per decade since the mid-1970s. Warming has been unprecedented in at least the last 50 years, and the 17 warmest years have all occurred in the last 20 years. This does not mean that next year will necessarily be warmer than last year, but the long-term trend is for rising temperatures."

Translating this into understandable English, the Centre is saying that just because it's not warming now doesn't mean it hasn't warmed in the past, which is hardly news. Therefore, it concludes, because it's been warm in the past three decades, the planet is going to be warmer in the future. It was warm from 1850 to 1940, too, but in 1940 the planet cooled for 30 years. However, this cooling can't happen again, according to the Hadley Centre.

How does it know? Because its computers tell it so - the same computers that couldn't predict the recent 10 years of non-warming. But why isn't the planet warming now? After all, humans are "driving" the climate, aren't we? Well, not quite. As the Hadley Centre tells us in Fact #2: "The recent slight slowing of the warming is due to a shift towards more-frequent La Nina conditions in the Pacific since 1998. These bring cool water up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, cooling global temperatures" ("slight slowing of the warming" is an unsual way of describing "no warming").

So the oceans are driving this non-warming through an El Nina (a cold current), overriding our human-caused carbon dioxide. Maybe humans aren't as powerful a "driving" force as the Hadley Centre would like us to believe after all. And if humans aren't the main cause of cooling, maybe we're not the main cause of warming, either.

How Hadley chart buries non-warming

Finally, again, the Hadley Centre is stuck with a bunch of numbers that show the planet isn't warming, despite its computers' predictions that human CO2 would warm things up. It can't sweep this data under the rug so it does the next best thing: it produces a graph that makes the lack of warming barely discernible. Here's the chart the Hadley Centre uses to illustrate temperatures over the last 157 years:

Hadley Centre temperature data, 1850-2007. The current flat-lined warming shows as a tiny, horizontal tail on the right side of the chart. If you get out a magnifying glass, you'll see that, yes, the blue temperature line flattens out after the year 2000. I've searched the Hadley site and can't find any graphic that shows the last 10 years in detail, although the numbers are there as a long list.

However, on his site, Anthony Watts has produced a graph of the past 10 years, using the Hadley Centre's numbers. Here's what that graph looks like (I've added a red line to show average temperatures).Anthony Watts chart, 1988-2008, from Hadley Centre data

Why hasn't the Hadley Centre produced a graphic like this? Isn't an average temperature that hasn't gone up in 10 years worthy of public attention? Shouldn't even a temporary pause in warming be good news? Why bury that news in a tiny fillip at the end of a very long-term chart? Why work so hard to hide the truth? Because the truth doesn't agree with the Centre's hypothesis that humans are the "driving" force behind climate. In short, it's an embarrassment, and therefore to be underplayed as much as possible.

I argue that much of what the public is told by "consensus" climate science about global warming is misleading, exaggerated, or plain wrong. The Hadley Centre's spin effort isn't exaggerating the data (far from it), nor is it plain wrong - the true figures are on the site. But the Centre is doing everything it can to mislead the public in hopes that the planet will start warming again before the peasants figure out that, maybe, the "consensus" climate science prophets are, in fact, plain wrong.


Women in Britain having more children: "Women are having more children than at any time since the 1970s, with almost one in four born to foreign mothers, official figures show. Each woman now has 1.91 children on average - the highest since 1973 - according to the Office for National Statistics. As a result the number of births - 690,000 - increased by 20,000 in 2007 compared to the previous year, when there were 1.86 children per woman. A third of those were born to British mothers and the rest to women originally from overseas. One factor in the rise is the tendency for foreign-born mothers, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, to have large families. Another is women choosing to have children when they are in their more fertile 20s, rather than delaying until they are in their 30s and 40s. However, those who do delay are having more children due to improvements in fertility treatment. The figures, which relate to England and Wales, indicate the overall fertility rate has now increased for six successive years. Its lowest point came in 2001 when it sank to 1.63 children per woman."

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