Friday, 30 November 2007

United Nations states that CO2 emissions are not that dangerous

The United Nations is promoting a CO2 reduction position for the Bali negotiations that allows the world's largest emitter, China, and sometime in the not so distant future top emitter, India, off the economy-limiting hook.

In pushing this position the UN demonstrates that emitting CO2 is, in fact, not dangerous. Why else would they not impose the same requirement on all countries?

Substitute CO2 emissions for mercury or lead being pumped into rivers and the ocean. Does it make sense to allow China and India, or any other country, a position in which toxic waste is pumped willy nilly into the water system?

Of course not.

Obviously, emitting CO2 can't be that bad...
China and India should be spared the full burden of fighting climate change, the United Nations said on Tuesday in an agenda-setting report published just days ahead of an intergovernmental conference to agree to a successor to the Kyoto protocols.

The report of the UN Development Programme recommends that countries such as China and India should be required to reduce their emissions by only 20 per cent by 2050, while the rich industrialised countries shoulder a cut of 80 per cent.

The report will provide ammunition for developing countries wishing to avoid adopting stringent targets on emissions. China, India and others have argued that rich countries should carry more responsibility for the climate because most of the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere came from the growth of their industry.

But the White House made it clear at international meetings on climate change in September that it would not sign up to any agreement that did not include China and the other developing nations going through rapid industrialisation.

Heated discussions over the share of the burden that each country should take for cutting emissions are likely to be the main focus of UN talks on climate change beginning next week in Bali, Indonesia. The talks, the most important since the Kyoto protocol was drafted in 1997, will mark the first negotiations on a potential successor to the treaty, the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

The report estimates that the world needs to spend about 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product each year until 2030 in order to prevent emissions rising to dangerous levels. Developed countries should aim to cut their emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, the UNDP report said.

In a sign of the scale of the task facing ministers at Bali the report also risked opening old wounds by questioning whether the carbon-trading system established at Kyoto was less effective at reducing emissions than a straightforward carbon tax – such as the one proposed on Tuesday by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in Beijing.

Kevin Watkins, lead author of the report, said: “Cap-and-trade is not particularly working. We need to develop the strategy into a carbon tax.”

Emissions trading finally started under the Kyoto protocol in 2005, and last year the market was worth about $30bn, according to the World Bank. Most of the transactions took place under the European Union’s emissions trading system, which was designed to help EU member states meet their commitments to cut emissions under the protocol.

Mr Watkins told the Financial Times: “If the rich countries can cut emissions by 80 per cent we have a 50:50 chance of [limiting] temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels [which scientists say is the limit of safety].”

The UN’s report came as internet search company Google supplied fresh evidence of investor enthusiasm for low-carbon technology by saying that it would branch out into renewable energy.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Christmas greetings - a powerful example of the influence of the cultural left

There are few more powerful examples of the influence of the cultural left than the replacement of "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings". Ostensibly it's to ensure that people from minority religions are not offended. In reality it's simply an attack on Christianity and Judeo-Christian values.

When Muslims in Western countries demand concession due to cultural sensitivities they know they do so in an environment in which they enjoy the support of leftist institutions including the media, university, advocacy groups and political parties.

Examples of concessions made on cultural and religious grounds include:
  • Replacement of "Merry Christmas" etc with non-aligned terms
  • Footbaths for Muslims in various universities
  • Support for Muslim taxi drivers to not have to pick up people with alcohol, guide dogs etc
  • Halal menus at various education institutions, which have replaced normal menus
  • Realignment of toilets in Britain's prisons so that they don't face Mecca (one wonders which way toilets in Mecca face)
  • Introduction by banks of Sharia-compliant loans
  • Redefinition of racism to include a non-race - Islam
The fact that concessions for Islam make up nearly all of the list either shows a bias on this author's behalf or demonstrates the success they're having with their demands. If someone can show me the same cultural kow-towing to Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs or Zoroastrians etc then I'll be happy to update the list.

When a Westerner travels to, let's use an extreme example to make the point, Saudi Arabia then should the Saudis allow women to drive, wear what they like and not having everyone pray towards Mecca five times a day because it's likely to offend other cultures?

Of course not, it's ridiculous, and proves the moral bankruptcy of the self-defined cultural elites whose agenda is simply to subvert Western cultural values in order to impose one-world socialism.

From a recent Rasmussen Reports poll:

As the holiday season begins, 67% of American adults like stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 26% prefer the Happy Holidays line.

There is no gender gap on this question and few demographic differences. From a politically partisan perspective, 88% of Republicans prefer “Merry Christmas” while just 57% of Democrats favor the saying.

Heading into Thanksgiving week, only 27% say they have begun their Christmas or holiday shopping . Consumer confidence among American consumers has been sliding in recent months, giving retailers a cloudy profit forecast in 2007. Most Americans say they plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year. Rasmussen Reports will be updating those figures throughout the holiday season.

Meanwhile, 57% of respondents say they will attend a Christian service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year. A little less than one-third (30%) won’t go to a special service. Women are more likely to attend a Christmas service than men.
Why is it that when two-thirds of the population supports retaining a cultural institution their wishes are completely discounted in the name of cultural equivalence?

When the left talks about a Culture War who is it that is doing the attacking and who is it that is doing the defending?

(Nothing follows)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Phoning overseas in North Korea earns you the death penalty

The concentration camp known as North Korea demonstrates its terrific respect for human rights, as codified in the United Nations' Charter.

The blathering multiculturalists who tell us that all cultures are equal and that we have to respect others' values are quiet when North Koreans execute people for making overseas phone calls but if foreigners ever come to Australia then the same group noisily protests that it's a woman's 'right' to wear the veil or dress up like an organic mailbox by donning a full burqa.
A North Korean factory chief was executed by a firing squad in front of a stadium of 150,000 people after being accused of making international phone calls, an aid group reports.

The man had been caught calling overseas on 13 phones he had installed and hidden away in a factory basement, the South Korean aid agency Good Friends said in a report on the North's human rights.

A massive crowd of 150,000 filled a stadium and watched the man die.

Despite an overall decline since 2000, public executions have recently been on the increase and officials accused of drug smuggling, embezzlement and other crimes are the main targets.

In the same incident, six people were crushed to death and 34 others were injured as people stampeded out of the stadium.
So what caused the stampede? Ironically, more people were killed exiting the event than were actually being executed in the first place.
Most North Koreans are banished from communicating with the outside world because of the country's regime that seeks to prevent any possibility of challenge to leader Kim Jong Il.

The North has carried out four other similar executions to various other factory chiefs in the past few months, the group reported.

"It is aimed at educating (North Koreans) to control society and prevent crimes," Good Friends head Venerable Pomnyun said.
No wonder the left doesn't make much noise. "...control society..." is what they're all about and they all have a totalitarian streak a mile wide.
The group has not said how it obtained the information and has given no details of how many executions have taken place.

The report comes just a week after a UN General Assembly Committee adopted a draft resolution expressing concern at reports of maltreatment and human rights violations in North Korea.
Hands up anyone who thinks that the UN is anything other than morally bankrupt when it treats regimes like North Korea not only with kid gloves but also to handouts of millions of aid dollars - in cash.
The country has blasted the report, however, saying it is inaccurate and biased.

They say they do not violate human rights but the regime has long been accused of imposing the death penalty for political reasons, torturing border-crossers and restricting freedom on expression and religion.
People eat bark off the trees to survive but they don't violate human rights. No worries.

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Union gold means union rules

Having paid millions of dollars to ensure a Labor win in last Saturday's Australian election, union bosses are already looking for payback in the form very favourable, pro-union industrial relations changes.

This is a real issue for Kevin Rudd, as the resulting workforce inflexibility will both severely restrict Australia's ability to compete on the world stage and lead to extremely difficult circumstances for Australian families should there be a world economic downturn in the same way that Bob Hawke's union Accord caused so much misery during the 'recession we had to have'.

If Rudd can keep the unions from wrecking things, which Labor's pre-election IR policies would achieve, then Australia should continue to prosper.

It will be a good test of his leadership.
THE ACTU has claimed credit for snaring 24 marginal Coalition seats for Labor in Saturday's federal election after a campaign that targeted at least 240,000 union members.

The boast by Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow yesterday was a strong reminder to Kevin Rudd that unions expect full restoration of rights, such as collective bargaining, as a reward for theirsupport.

Ms Burrow said the ACTU's battle plan in 25 marginal seats, including a computer program to recruit members to help in the fight, was largely responsible for Labor's historic win.

Her comments came amid the revelation that unions planned to continue their fight if necessary, this time against Labor, with a million-dollar "war chest".

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson, critical of the prime minister-elect for not recognising the union role in Labor's victory, told The Australian: "We always said we were going to keep the campaign going after the election. One reason we've seen the government pass such extreme laws is that people were not organised in workplaces, and we're never going to let that happen again."

Mr Robertson voiced his frustration with Labor in July for watering down its industrial relations policy, telling supporters he would "pull Kevin Rudd on once he's prime minister".

Mr Rudd, who told Mr Robertson to "take a cold shower" in July, yesterday rejected the NSW union chief's push to have Labor abolish the Howard government's Australian Workplace Agreements retrospectively.

The Labor leader said the party's revamped industrial relations laws would be a priority, but said: "Mr Robertson is wrong. We will adhere to the implementation agenda of our industrial relations policy as outlined during the election."

National Union of Workers NSW chief Derrick Belan said Labor could deal with many changes immediately by regulation, and not wait for legislation to be introduced into parliament next year. "(Incoming workplace relations minister) Julia (Gillard) should deal with it immediately," Mr Belan said.

"Workers backed them and they should keep their promise."

Mr Belan was also critical of ACTU leaders Ms Burrow and Jeff Lawrence for going soft on Labor by accepting a "step-by-step approach" to changes.

"That's not an unexpected answer from those two," he said. "I believe they're both on their way to parliament."

Ms Burrow said the ACTU believed its campaign made a big difference to how people voted.

"Clearly the impact was deeper in those seats where we had concerted visibility for up to two years." She said eight out of 10 people who voted Labor said industrial relations was the number one issue in exit polls.

"Even the government is acknowledging that Work Choices was their downfall."

Dean Mighell, the outspoken leader of the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria, said he had "no confidence" in Ms Gillard to address union concerns in Labor legislation.

"I think she's got to win the trust of people who supported her for a long, long time, who might have turned a blind eye to some of the less union-friendly comments she made during the election campaign, and hoped she remembers where she came from and all the people who helped her to get to where she is," he said.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Fight climate change OR stay competitive - the two are mutually exclusive

A good article in The Independent by Dominic Lawson - Fight climate change? Or stay competitive? I'm afraid these two aims are incompatible - demonstrates exactly how (especially) European politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths on the issue of climate change. They know that actually achieving stated targets will pretty much destroy their countries' economies (which will have a side effect of wrecking the environment as society breaks down) so talk about tough targets while having no desire to see them reached.
Isn't politics wonderful? Within days of Gordon Brown's address to the conservation group WWF, in which he pledged eye-wateringly tough reductions in British emissions of Co2, the Government has announced its support for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. "This time he really gets it," Greenpeace's executive director had enthused after the Prime Minister's "Let's save the polar bear" speech. Yesterday, following the Transport Secretary's endorsement of BAA's expansion plans, Greenpeace was back to its default position, spitting ecological tacks.

You might think this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (or possibly the left hand not knowing what the left hand is doing) especially given the Government's growing reputation for administrative chaos. In fact it is entirely deliberate. The Government both wants to claim "leadership in the fight against climate change" while at the same time it – quite understandably– does not want to do anything which might reduce this country's international competitiveness. It knows that these two objectives are incompatible – very well, then: it will contradict itself.

Gordon Brown's commitment to the most stringent reductions in C02 emissions yet announced by a British Prime Minister follows exactly the path set by his predecessor. Mr Blair would, with a great moral fanfare, pledge this nation to achieve some carbon emission target. Then, when it became completely clear that we were not on track to meet it, he would announce – with equal confidence and certainty – not an easier target but an even tougher one than that which we were failing to achieve.

The civil servants who live in the real world of facts and actually have to devise the practical policies to meet these political flourishes have become increasingly panicky. A month ago there was a leak of an especially desperate memo in which officials warned that the previous Prime Minister's commitment to produce 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 was facing "severe practical difficulties".

As we know, that is senior civil servant speak for "this will be absolutely impossible." One of the memos rather plaintively pointed out that if we admitted this publicly and tried to advocate a general lowering of such targets internationally, there would be "a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership".

Here we see the absurd grandiosity of our global ambitions, partly a legacy of Tony Blair's messianic approach, but which is to some extent a characteristic of the British political class as a whole. More than half a century since the collapse of the British Empire, our leaders still seem to think that what we do or say is as important in the eyes of the rest of the world as it was when we really did rule the waves. It is a grotesque vanity, economically as well as politically.

It has been written often enough that any likely reduction in Co2 emissions from our own generation of electricity is not just sub-microscopic in terms of any measurable effect on the climate: the People's Republic of China is now opening two new coal-fired power stations every week. Real "climate change leadership" would be developing "clean coal" technology and selling it to the Chinese – but for some reason that does not fascinate politicians in the way that targets do. It is insufficiently heroic.

We can see the same national self-obsession in the debate over the environmental consequences of opening a third runway at Heathrow: last year China announced plans to expand 73 of its airports and build 42 new ones. Yes, the British government could demonstrate "increased climate change leadership" by blocking BAA's plans to build another runway at Heathrow. Does anyone seriously imagine that the consequence of further congestion and delays will be something other than a transfer of traffic from that airport to others in the immediate vicinity, such as Charles de Gaulle, which already has much more capacity?

For those on the provisional wing of the British environmental movement, arguments about a loss of business to other countries are irrelevant. They would insist that this complaint makes no more sense than saying that it's necessary to sell arms to unpleasant dictatorships because if we don't, other countries will, to the benefit of their own economies.

If, like George Monbiot, you regard flying as morally equivalent to "child abuse", then, yes, the executives of BAA should be thrown in jail ( after a fair show trial, of course) and never be let out. As for any recession deriving from a closing down of Heathrow – pah! A recession would be a good thing, since it would lead to further reductions in Co2 emissions.

I accept that there will be many sensible people living in the area around the Heathrow Terminals who will not welcome the increase in planes taking off and landing. On the other hand, there has been an aerodrome at Heathrow since the 1930s and the first Terminal was opened by the Queen in 1955: that is to say, there are unlikely to be many home-owners living in the Heathrow area who bought under the impression that he or she would enjoy peace and quiet. Doubtless the property prices there reflect that fact.

Anyway, why worry about airports when we are going to ban the plastic bag? That, you will recall, was the "eye-catching initiative" within Mr Brown's WWF speech. It was artfully designed to capture the headlines in the popular press, and duly did so. The Prime Minister declared that we should "eliminate single-use plastic bags altogether in favour of more sustainable alternatives." Perhaps, since Mr Brown argued that fighting climate change was the political challenge for the younger generation, students should already have been marching on Whitehall with placards declaring "Ban the Bag."

The only problem with that is that plastic bags, though undeniably irritating when left lying around, are essentially the by-product, rather than the cause, of fossil fuel generation. Approximately 98 per cent of every barrel of oil, once refined, is consumed as petrol or diesel. If the remaining two per cent of naphtha was not used for packaging, it would almost certainly be flared off – which is pure waste.

Paper bags have the reputation of being environmentally sounder, but I don't see how this can be justified. They require significantly more space in landfill, being much less compressible – and don't they come from trees, which we are meant to be preserving as capturers of Co2? Besides, if the plastic bag is to be banned, what are we going to use to line our rubbish bins? We need to know the answer to such important questions, Prime Minister, before we allow you to put us forward as the saviours of the planet.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Sunday night Aussie rock

Australia has a new federal government and that gives the opportunity to post some Aussie songs by activist left wing bands and performers. There are a heap more of those than conservative bands, of course, so I'll probably miss a big hit from the following short list. Naturally, there has to be an entry from Midnight Oil, which featured our minister for the environment in waiting, Peter Garrett, on vocals.

Goanna - Solid Rock

Redgum - I Was Only Nineteen

Midnight Oil - Hercules

The Whitlams - No Aphrodisiac

(Nothing Follows)

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Congratulations to the Australian Labor Party

Congratulations to the Australian Labor Party for winning the Australian Federal Election.

The seat count looks something like:

Labor: 84
Coalition: 64
Independent: 2

After 11 years out of power Labor supporters can now spend the next few days whooping it up and having a good time, as they deserve to do and they'll be absolutely loving the fact that it looks like they've knocked off the Prime Minister in his seat of Bennelong.

As discussed yesterday, Labor has run an absolutely brilliant campaign compared to the Coalition's ramshackle, feckless effort.

If Labor can match the outgoing Coalition government's record then Australia will continue to prosper.

I wish them all the best in this endeavour.

(Nothing Follows)

Aussie election - FINAL betting market info

Betting is now closed on the Australian federal election and according to all of the markets the opposition Labor Party is headed for victory.

Here's the final graph of the market over the course of the election campaign:

Coalition: $3.58 - Labor $1.31

The final bookies' market making up the composite graph above is:

You can see how the market has gone against the Coalition since their early-campaign mini recovery.

Over the last 7-10 days the seat by seat betting at Portlandbet has moved in Labor's favour with the following being the final prediction:

Coalition: 66
Labor: 82
Independent: 2

Implied uniform swing: Labor: +5.7%
Implied two party preferred vote: Labor 53.0%
As soon as possible after the election I'll post a comparison of the outcome of each seat compared to expectation of the seat by seat market.

(Nothing Follows)

Coalition to sneak home in Australian election with the help of miners and old folk

Nobody has ever accused me of not being ready to give my opinion on the big issues. This time, I'm really putting my neck on the line by giving the election to the government, as I have since it was called. My seat count is as follows:
Coalition   76
Labor 72
Independent 2
All of the polls show a Labor victory with only the Galaxy poll giving the government a chance. That's handy, as Galaxy has proved itself to be the most reliable of the forecasters. On the flip side, the betting markets always tend to prove accurate - with the famous exception of the Kennett government's loss - and Portlandbet's seat by seat market has it Labor 82, Coalition 66, Independent 2.

There is one parameter that has gone largely unreported in this election cycle - the grey vote. It is my understanding that the old folk stopped answering the phone or opening the door some weeks ago in what is the most polled election in history.

The grey vote tends to go to the Coalition. If it breaks Labor's way then there's no hope of the government being returned.

My calculation is that the grey vote will go with the Coalition.

It's not guaranteed that Labor will pick up any seats in Victoria. If the grey vote goes as predicted then that should be enough to maintain the status quo.

The Coalition may well pick up a seat in WA. Even so, it's very likely that they'll retain their numbers there on the back of the mining boom. Never has the phrase "Go west to make your fortune" been more true.

I still think that Queensland is problematic for Labor and, again, I think it's the grey vote that may do them in. NSW and SA look like being the states where the most damage will be inflicted on the Coalition.

That said, whoever has been running the Labor campaign deserves a hearty congratulations. Never in the history of this country (or any other, I imagine) has a campaign worked so well by hitting the targets that need hitting, dodging the issues that needed dodging and presenting a friendly, non-threatening face to the electorate.

On the other side of the aisle, a huge brickbat for the team running the Coalition election campaign. It's as if they've hired Gary Gray to give them advice. If the polls do stand up and they're defeated then they'll have nobody to blame but themselves.

Aussie election 6 bookie poll

Composite price comprising odds from: Betfair, Centrebet, IAS, Sportingbet, Sportsbet and SportsAcumen. Lower on the graph is better. For a much more comprehensive analysis trot over to The Oz Politics Blog.

Coalition: $3.69 - Labor $1.30

Portlandbet seat by seat betting market predictions:
Coalition: 66
Labor: 82
Independent: 2

Implied uniform swing: Labor: +5.7%
Implied two party preferred vote: Labor 53.0%

Friday, 23 November 2007

Steve McIntyre discusses the Hockey Stick's pseudoproxies

Climateaudit's Steve McIntyre became famous for demolishing the validity of the IPCC's iconic Hockey Stick (featured so prominently in the Third Assessment Report but now given diminished status in the new Fourth Assessment Report). He then demonstrated errors in James Hansen's US temperature record that required a significant enough change to leave 1934 as the hottest year in the US, supplanting 1998.

In this post, McIntyre revisits the issue with the updated Mann et al 2007 work.

For those people who believe, as an article of faith, in the quality of the science conducted by the supposed 2,500 IPCC climate scientists - prepare to have that faith shaken.
Judith Curry and JEG have expressed an interest in talking about Mann et al 2007. Looking past the annoying and amusing faults, here are some thoughts about the substance of the article. There are two sorts of results in Mann et al 2007: results on the MBH98 network and pseudoproxy results. The pseudoproxy results are much weakened because they only consider results from one quirky and idiosyncratic multivariate method (RegEM TTLS) in a very tame pseudoproxy network without (a) comparing results from the method to other methods other than their own equallty quirky RegEM Ridge, or (b) examining results from networks that are flawed and, in particular, flawed in ways that may potentially compromise MBH. I’ve posted on both these issues and will review some thoughts on this. It is somewhat surprising to see another lengthy effort to rehabilitate the MBH98 network, which is analysed complete with original (incorrect) PC series without conceding a comma to the NAS panel or Wegman reports or even mentioning the bristlecone problem. Mann shows that he can recover the bristlecone shape using RegEM if we spot him the PC1 or raw bristlecone series. This was never in doubt - see MM (EE 2005) and, other than for polemical reasons, it’s hard to see any purpose or interest in the application of RegEM to this flawed network.

MBH98 Network
The main properties of the MBH98 network have been known for some time. MM (EE 2005) and Wahl and Ammann (2007), despite the claims made in the latter, agree on virtually every specific calculation, as is unsurprising since our codes matched. If you do an MBH98-type calculation with 2 NOAMER covariance PCs, the bristlecones get downweighted and you don’t get a HS; if you increase the number of covariance PC2 to 5, you include the bristlecones and you get a HS. If you use correlation PCs, the bristlecones dominate the PC2, which is attenuated a little, and you get a HS; if you do a calculation without bristlecones, you don’t get a HS regardless of method. If you do a calculation without a PC analysis and without bristlecones, you don’t get a HS; if you do a calculation with bristlecones and without a PC analysis, you get a HS. The incorrect Mann method promoted bristlecones into the PC1 of the AD1400 network and made the HS shape of the bristlecones appear to be the “dominant component of variance” as opposed to a local phenomenon (and very reliant on chronologies done by Graybill.)

Where does RegEM fit into this dispute? It really has nothing to do with it. After the construction of their PC-proxy network, Mann carried out an “inverse regression” analysis - described in the most overblown and uninformative terms imaginable. I’ve worked through the linear algebra of this and confirmed (as have UC and Jean S) that, in the early AD1400 and AD1000 steps where only one temperature PC is reconstructed, that the weights of each proxy are in direct proportion to their correlation with the temperature PC1. This is a form of Partial Least Squares regression (one-stage) - a method used in chemometrics.

In the Mann et al 2007 proxy section, they use RegEM (Total Least Squares version) instead of Partial Least Squares regression. They say that the process is non-linear and that they are unable to calculate weights for each proxy - a claim also made for MBH98, which proved untrue. Their network is based on the identical MBH98 network - warts and all, including the incorrect PC series, criticized by both the NAS Panel and Wegman, which seems pretty insolent towards other climate scientists and rather weak reviewing by JGR.

Using RegEM, they “get” a NH reconstruction that is said to be pretty similar to the MBH98 reconstruction and I don’t doubt that this is true. What I don’t “get” is exactly what this proves in the scheme of things. My instinct is that RegEM (TTLS) is generating coefficients somewhere (or is approximated by this) and that the weights are more or less approximated by the weights from Mannian inverse regression.

In MM (EE 2005), we discussed the situation where Mannian inverse regression was done with no PCs; in this circumstance, because there are a lot of Graybill bristlecones, they dominate the network without PC analysis - but any pretense of geographic balance was sacrificed in the process, one of the warranties of MBH that led to its acceptance. So the fact that RegEM leads to a similar result in a case where the network is dominated by bristlecones is a nothing and has been known since 2004 and a response given in MM (EE 2005).

Mann et al 2007 do not mention the word “bristlecone” even once - a remarkable omission since they still continue to imprint his results. Indeed, one might argue that Mann’s major innovation was his introduction of the known-to-be-problematic bristlecone chronologies into multiproxy reconstructions - a temptation resisted by Bradley and Jones 2003 and Jones et al 1998 (but perhaps anticipated in Hughes and Diaz 1994).
As they say. Read the whole thing.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

If Australia ratifies Kyoto then we'll suffer the same economic headaches as New Zealand

If Labor is successful in this weekend's Australian election and then keeps its commitment to ratify Kyoto then we'll have started down a road that has, predictably, started to really affect the New Zealand economy.

Higher energy costs are leading to increased inflation and higher interest rates.

I confidently predict that Labor's energy/climate policies will drive Australian interest rates over 10% within the first term of a Labor government.
WELLINGTON - New Zealand policies aimed at tackling global warming from next year could become another headache for the central bank, with higher energy costs threatening to heat up inflation pressures.

An emissions trading scheme, which will cap the amount of greenhouse gases companies can emit or make them pay if they cannot, will result in higher fuel and electricity prices.

Analysts say this will flow directly into consumer prices, adding as much as 1 percentage point to inflation, which the central bank is already battling with record high interest rates of 8.25 percent - the highest in the industrialised world.

Longer term, this could raise an even bigger concern for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the central bank. "They are probably more concerned that people might use this to increase prices and therefore raise inflation expectations. Then you get into a higher inflationary cycle," said Adolf Stroombergen, chief economist at research think tank Infometrics.

The central bank, which has lifted interest rates by a total of 1 percentage point this year, said in its October policy statement that the emissions trading scheme posed an inflation risk.

The central bank is widely expected to keep rates at record levels well into next year to combat the inflationary threat of rising commodity prices and increased government spending.

But some analysts say higher energy costs will boost the case for rates being on hold for longer than expected and could even prompt another rate rise.

"The central bank is very mindful of medium-term inflation pressures and that anything that might surprise on the upside, whether it be real or policy-related, is going to make their job of reducing inflation all that more difficult," said Craig Ebert, senior economist at Bank of New Zealand.


New Zealand is a net emitter of greenhouse gases. Under the mandatory cap-and-trade scheme, to be phased in over the next six years, groups or companies that exceed their limits on greenhouse gas emissions will have to buy credits from those using less than their permitted level.

The first stage of the scheme starts next year, but the biggest impact on energy prices is expected to come in 2009 when petrol and diesel suppliers will be required to participate.

"There is an energy cost embedded in just about anything that's part of the supply chain of business," said Phil O'Reilly, chief executive of industry lobby group Business NZ.

"Inevitably, if businesses can pass that price on to consumers they will definitely do that. That's the nature of economics," he said.

The central bank's most recent forecast, which did not take into account the impact of the climate change policies, put annual inflation at 3 percent in the year to March 2009 and 2.6 percent in the following year.

The central bank is required to keep inflation within a target range of 1 percent to 3 percent on average over the medium term.

The country's high interest rate was a key factor that drove the currency in July to its highest level since it was freely floated 23 years ago.

Since then the New Zealand dollar has fallen 6.5 percent after the turmoil in the global credit sector curbed investors' appetite for risky assets.

Petrol prices will rise as a result of firms' passing on rising energy costs to consumers, but the extent of the expected increase will largely depend on the price of carbon credits.

In a report released in September, the Ministry of Environment said a carbon credit price of NZ$15 a tonne would add around 4 NZ cents to the pump price of a litre of petrol.

Westpac Bank predicts a carbon credit price of NZ$25 will add 0.5 percentage point to the CPI in total between 2008 and 2011 while NZ$50 a tonne will increase the key index by 1 percentage point over that period.

The government has not said what the price of the credits will be, and analysts expect them to be set around or slightly lower than those in the European market.

One unit of carbon credit, the equivalent to a reduction in emissions of one tonne of carbon dioxide, is currently being traded around 25 euros (NZ$48) on the European Climate Exchange. (1 euro=NZ$1.93) (Editing by Neil Fullick)
(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

World extreme weather records don't support climate hysteria

In 2005, at the Montreal United Nations Climate Change Conference the director of the Greenpeace movement for Quebec said, "Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with." The fact that not one of the 10,000 delegates at the conference called him on it is a damning indictment of the true political nature of the Climate Faithful's agenda.

Al Gore has been spouting off about a "planetary emergency" for so long now that Webster's has had to change its dictionary to provide a new definition for the word 'emergency'.

The IPCC has recently released a more dramatic appraisal of the danger the world is in but still doesn't go far enough for the politically charged activists driving the world's climate agenda.

Polar bear are disappearing. The polar ice caps are melting. Greenland is melting. Tuvalu, and other low lying islands, are being inundated. The snow atop Mt Kilimanjaro is melting. Lakes are disappearing. Glaciers are retreating.

The world is ending.

And it's all happening right now, before our very eyes, while we blissfully go about our business going to work, flying overseas, playing Xbox, watching TV, warming ourselves, cooling ourselves, washing ourselves, feeding ourselves, watering the garden and generally kicking back and relaxing with a beer.

Or is it?

In order to support the position that we really are in a "planetary emergency" - and I'll use the Al Gore term here, you can substitute your own expression - then we should see evidence in the temperature record? Right? Right.

The following table is from the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and lists the hottest temperatures ever recorded for each continent and the date upon which the record was set.

Have a look at the dates that the records were set. All bar one were set prior to 1950 and the last was set at Antarctica in 1974. Surely, it's reasonable to expect that a temperature record would be set somewhere in the world in the last 30 years given that's the period of supposed rapid increase in CO2 output and average global temperatures, as 'demonstrated' by the infamous Hockey Stick?

I've marked the period in which most of the high temperature records have been set in the following Hockey Stick graph:

Now check out a table of the coldest temperatures ever recorded. The lowest in Europe is measured in Russia but the date was unknown so the next lowest, from Sweden, is also listed.

Compare the dates that low temperature records were set for each continent with the high temperature table.

Notice anything?

With the exception of Asia, and possibly Europe, all the records for low temperatures were set after the high record.

So I say phooey to the Climate Faithful.

If we're really in a "planetary emergency" then we should at least have seen the odd record temperature set over the last 30 years.

We haven't.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 19 November 2007

John Christy tells why there's no Climate Consensus

John R Christy is Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, US. He has contributed to all four major IPCC assessments, including acting as a Lead Author in 2001 and a Contributing Author in 2007 and is a real thorn in the side of the Climate Faithful due to the fact that his work is based on looking at the real world rather than at climate models.

In this article, amazingly published on the BBC website, Christy provides a nice summary of why there's no consensus on climate change and why we can't trust the models.
The IPCC is a framework around which hundreds of scientists and other participants are organised to mine the panoply of climate change literature to produce a synthesis of the most important and relevant findings.

These findings are published every few years to help policy makers keep tabs on where the participants chosen for the IPCC believe the Earth's climate has been, where it is going, and what might be done to adapt to and/or even adjust the predicted outcome.

While most participants are scientists and bring the aura of objectivity, there are two things to note:
  • this is a political process to some extent (anytime governments are involved it ends up that way)
  • scientists are mere mortals casting their gaze on a system so complex we cannot precisely predict its future state even five days ahead
The political process begins with the selection of the Lead Authors because they are nominated by their own governments.

Thus at the outset, the political apparatus of the member nations has a role in pre-selecting the main participants.

But, it may go further.

Unsound bites

At an IPCC Lead Authors' meeting in New Zealand, I well remember a conversation over lunch with three Europeans, unknown to me but who served as authors on other chapters. I sat at their table because it was convenient.

After introducing myself, I sat in silence as their discussion continued, which boiled down to this: "We must write this report so strongly that it will convince the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol."

Politics, at least for a few of the Lead Authors, was very much part and parcel of the process.

And, while the 2001 report was being written, Dr Robert Watson, IPCC Chair at the time, testified to the US Senate in 2000 adamantly advocating on behalf of the Kyoto Protocol, which even the journal Nature now reports is a failure.

Follow the herd

As I said above - and this may come as a surprise - scientists are mere mortals.

The tendency to succumb to group-think and the herd-instinct (now formally called the "informational cascade") is perhaps as tempting among scientists as any group because we, by definition, must be the "ones who know" (from the Latin sciere, to know).

You dare not be thought of as "one who does not know"; hence we may succumb to the pressure to be perceived as "one who knows".

This leads, in my opinion, to an overstatement of confidence in the published findings and to a ready acceptance of the views of anointed authorities.

Scepticism, a hallmark of science, is frowned upon. (I suspect the IPCC bureaucracy cringes whenever I'm identified as an IPCC Lead Author.)

The signature statement of the 2007 IPCC report may be paraphrased as this: "We are 90% confident that most of the warming in the past 50 years is due to humans."

We are not told here that this assertion is based on computer model output, not direct observation. The simple fact is we don't have thermometers marked with "this much is human-caused" and "this much is natural".

So, I would have written this conclusion as "Our climate models are incapable of reproducing the last 50 years of surface temperatures without a push from how we think greenhouse gases influence the climate. Other processes may also account for much of this change."

Slim models

To me, the elevation of climate models to the status of definitive tools for prediction has led to the temptation to be over-confident.

Here is how this can work.

Computer models are the basic tools which are used to estimate the future climate. Many scientists (ie the mere mortals) have been captivated by an IPCC image in which the actual global surface temperature curve for the 20th Century is overlaid on a band of model simulations of temperature for the same period.

The observations seem to fit right in the middle of the model band, implying that models are formulated so capably and completely that they can reproduce the past very well.

Without knowing much about climate models, any group will be persuaded by this image to believe models are quite precise.

However, there is a fundamental flaw with this thinking.

You see, every modeller knew what the answer was ahead of time. (Those groans you just heard were the protestations of my colleagues in the modelling community - they know what's coming).

In my view, on the other hand, this persuasive image is not a scientific experiment at all. The agreement displayed is just as likely to do with clever software engineering as to the first principles of science.

The proper and objective experiment is to test model output against quantities not known ahead of time.

Complex world

Our group is one of the few that builds a variety of climate datasets from scratch for tests just like this.

Since we build the datasets here, we have an urge to be sceptical about arguments-from-authority in favour of the real, though imperfect, observations.

In these model vs data comparisons, we find gross inconsistencies - hence I am sceptical of our ability to claim cause and effect about both past and future climate states.

Mother Nature is incredibly complex, and to think we mortals are so clever and so perceptive that we can create computer code that accurately reproduces the millions of processes that determine climate is hubris (think of predicting the complexities of clouds).

Of all scientists, climate scientists should be the most humble. Our cousins in the one-to-five-day weather prediction business learned this long ago, partly because they were held accountable for their predictions every day.

Answering the question about how much warming has occurred because of increases in greenhouse gases and what we may expect in the future still holds enormous uncertainty, in my view.

Explosive view

How could the situation be improved? At one time I stated that the IPCC-like process was the worst way to compile scientific knowledge, except for all the others.

Improvements have been adopted through the years, most notably the publication of the comments and responses. Bravo.

I would think a simple way to let the world know there are other opinions about various aspects emerging from the IPCC font would be to provide some quasi-official forum to allow those views to be expressed.

These alternative-view authors should be afforded the same protocol as the IPCC authors, ie they themselves are their own final reviewers and thus would have final say on what is published.

At that point, I suppose, the blogosphere would erupt and, amidst the fire and smoke, hopefully, enlightenment may appear.

I continue to participate in the IPCC (unless an IPCC functionary reads this missive and blackballs me) because I not only am able to contribute from my own research, but there are numerous opportunities to learn something new - to feed the curiosity that attends a scientist's soul.

I can live with the disagreements concerning nuances and subjective assertions as they simply remind me that all scientists are people, and do not prevent me from speaking my mind anyway.

Wise teachings

Don't misunderstand me.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase due to the undisputed benefits that carbon-based energy brings to humanity. This increase will have some climate impact through CO2's radiation properties.

However, fundamental knowledge is meagre here, and our own research indicates that alarming changes in the key observations are not occurring.

The best advice regarding scientific knowledge, which certainly applies to climate, came to me from Mr Mallory, my high school physics teacher.

He proposed that we should always begin our scientific pronouncements with this statement: "At our present level of ignorance, we think we know..."

Good advice for the IPCC, and all of us.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Sunday night Aussie rock

Way back in time, when watching Countdown was the thing to do, we would occasionally be served up with something a bit left field that zoomed up the charts. Here's an example.
Austen Tayshus (pronounced "ostentatious") is the stage name of the Jewish Australian comedian Alexander 'Sandy' Gutman, born Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on March 17, 1954.

Austen Tayshus burst into the consciousness of Australians in 1983 performing his comedy single, Australiana, a piece written by fellow comedian Billy Birmingham. This was a spoken word piece using Australian terms that conjured up different words built on extensive sets of equivocations, such as " mate Boomer rang", " you wanna game of Euchre Lyptus", and " much can a koala bear?"). It was the nation's biggest selling single of the bloody year.

(Nothing Follows)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Why muck around with these ninemsn polls?

In a long series of poll fixing at the increasingly unreliable ninemsn come the following two. I didn't keep a large number of screen shots, as the topics didn't seem to be worthy of manipulation even if there is a left wing position to push.

The first came about due to Santas being told not to use the phrase 'ho ho ho' and to use 'ha ha ha' instead. One of the reasons given is that the phrase might be offensive to women (especially black ones). Someone is kidding.

Anyway, the vote was going along at a rate of about 50-60:1 to the No vote and it was leading 20,000+ to 400 before, whammo, a heap of votes came in for the Yes vote.


Next up, in response to police being a bit over the top using Tasers the question was asked about whether Australia should have them. The vote was going along 2:1 in favour over more than 15,000 votes (i.e. 10,000 - 5,000) before the usual overnight fixing.

Leaving aside whether these questions are at all relevant they do indicate that ninemsn has not yet implemented poll fixing software to combat the issue.

By not doing so ninemsn damages the credibility of its brand, especially when they quote their own online poll results in stories on their website from time to time.

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 16 November 2007

The great carbon offset scam

Terrapass is a US company set up to sell carbon offsets to those who are inclined to buy them.
The first step you can take to fight global warming is to reduce your carbon footprint through conservation. Drive less. Turn down the thermostat. Buy locally produced goods. A recent survey of TerraPass customers shows that they're already taking all kinds of steps to reduce their impact.

Then use TerraPass to balance the emissions you can't reduce.

When you buy a TerraPass, your money funds clean energy and efficiency projects such as wind farms. These projects result in verified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

...Every TerraPass member has taken a simple positive step to fight global warming. Every TerraPass purchase is a vote for innovation, efficiency, and clean energy. Together, we have eliminated over 500 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Terrapass includes a handy calculator to allow you to work out your car's emissions (and flights and home etc).

Based on 12,000 miles per year (the US average, as per the Terrapass website = 20,000 km) the following is the amount of money you'll need to pay to assuage your carbon emissions guilt.

The Cadillac Escalade 2007 model is a thumping, great V8 SUV that pumps out 403hp (301kw), gets 13mpg around town and emits an atmosphere-searing 14,673lbs of CO2 per year.

An Escalade owner doing the average 12,000 miles per year at 13mpg means that they'll need to drop into the local Exxon and buy 923 gallons of gas. At $3 per gallon that's $2,769 they'll be spending.

So how much would you expect to pay to buy carbon offsets from Terrapass so that your Gaia-raping guilt can be relieved? $3,000? $1,000? $500?

Nope. How about the bargain price of $79.95?

Not only that, but you can do another 6,000 miles for the same price. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself.

Here are a few other cars that sneak into the $79.95 nearly-all-you-can-emit fee:

Ferrari 430

Aston Martin DB9

So what's the other end of the scale look like? The small car, small engine type?

Here's Toyota's 97 pound weakling, the Yaris (aka Vitz) with a 1.5L 106hp (75kw) donk.

The 12,000 miles per year will cost $1,058 in gas due to its 34mpg city economy.

How much will you pay to offset your emissions? A massive $39.95 - more than half the aforementioned Gaia rapers above.

Lost a little faith in the credibility of 'fixing' your driving miles through credits?

Here's the car that your pretentious Climate Hypocrite loves to drive - the iconic Toyota Prius.

Surely there's no cost for punting around town all year in one of these morally superior pieces of Japanese climate bling?

Oops. Even Prius owners need to pay $29.95 per year to offset their emissions.

How ridiculous is the whole carbon credit concept?

If these credits really, truly offset your emissions then it's far more sensible to save the cost premium of the Prius over its same-size competitors and simply pay another $10 per year to Terrapass.

This whole thing has to be one of the greatest scams of all time. It's only the gullible know-nothings on the left are getting sucked into this stuff. Unfortunately, due to a combination of factors we may soon live in a world where we all get slugged in the wallet if the Democrats win the 2008 election and impose carbon quotas into the US economy.

(Nothing Follows)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

It's official...Australia is the world's best CO2 emitter!

You have to hand it to us Aussies. For a nation of only 20 million we really do excel in a number of interesting and socially important areas.

From a US think tank comes new research stating that Australia is now top of the list, per capita, of countries that enhance the environment and reduce cold-related deaths by sticking the life-giving, airborne fertiliser CO2 into the atmosphere.
A US-commissioned study of the world's power stations ranks Australia as the world's worst greenhouse gas emitter on a per capita basis.

The Washington-based Centre for Global Development has surveyed the emissions of 50,000 power stations around the world.

It finds that Australia's power sector is the world's worst in per capita carbon dioxide emissions.
Is there anything else we're terrific at while I'm on the job?

How about this?

Of any country with more than 1M people, Australia wins more Olympic medals per capita than any other.

Waaaaaait a minute. More medals per capita? More CO2 per capita?

Clearly, our endeavours to win Olympic glory is leading to our high CO2 output.

Because, as you know, correlation equals causation.

At least to Al Gore and his Climate Acolytes.

Australia has the world's most deadly snake. And the 2nd through 10th ranked deadly snakes, as well.

Our Funnel Web spider is regularly cited as the world's most venomous.

Unbelievable, but true, we're only 4th ranked when it comes to drinking beer.

However, congratulations to Darwin. They have the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.

There's that per capita again. Gee, it seems so meaningful.

What a lot of dribblers the Climate Faithful are. Who cares about per capita? It's completely meaningless. Australia generates less than 2% of the world's greenhouse gasses. China adds more than that every year to its output.

We've always been #1 or #2 when ranked per capita. Nothing has changed.

Please take up the climate change issue with China and leave us alone. We're not part of the problem though with our clean technologies research we're certainly more of the solution than most of the rest of the world and especially those who point the finger at us.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

UN continues predictable fecklessness in Darfur

When I described the United Nations as the #1 institution that ruins the world it was for reasons of political partisanship, corruption, incompetence and fecklessness.

And because it simply doesn't uphold its charter.

The casual observer probably doesn't understand that the UN is effectively an arm of the EU, which uses it as a lever to counter what it sees as US hegemony in the world. Given the EU's remarkable record of not achieving anything remotely resembling positive results with its diplomatic gabfest interventions around the world such as in Iran it comes as no surprise that the UN achieves nothing either.

While its main priority is countering the US and not upholding the UN charter we should expect resolutions to the Darfur conflict, Iran's nuclear weapons program, North Korea's nuclear weapons program and a multitude of other issues around the world to be a long time coming...if ever.
For more than a week, U.N. helicopters have flown back and forth from Darfur, ferrying rebels in the bush to peace talks in Libya and envoys to the bush for consultations with the rebels, U.N. officials say.

But since convening the latest international talks to end the 4½-year conflict in the vast region of western Sudan, international mediators have been unable to achieve accord on even the most basic points of the negotiations themselves -- where they should be held and when, and who should take part.

International envoys say low-level discussions continue in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte, the home town of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, who provided a marble convention hall the size of a basketball arena for the negotiations.

But all major rebel leaders boycotted the opening round of the talks. Substantive negotiations between Sudan's government and the rebels are due in December.

Rebel leaders pledged this week to boycott that round as well unless the sponsors of the talks, the United Nations and the African Union, picked a site other than Libya and met other conditions.

When the talks began, U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson described them as "a moment of truth" toward political resolution of the conflict.

But U.N. officials this week stressed partial goals, including a cease-fire by both sides and uniting the fragmented rebel movements.

"We should not have had very high expectations from the outset. We did try to be realistic," Ahmed Fawzi, a U.N. spokesman for the mediation, said by phone from New York. U.N. officials hope "as many people will board the train as possible," he added.

The Darfur rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination against the ethnically African villagers of Darfur. The rebels and international groups say the government responded in part by arming militias, known as Janjaweed, although the government denies that. The fighting has left as many as 450,000 people dead and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes.

The U.S. envoy for Sudan, Andrew S. Natsios, said in an interview late last week that the Libya talks were "the beginning of a process. It's real. It's going to happen."

The obstacles are many.

The Darfur talks have become snarled in the fraying of a peace deal in a separate conflict in Sudan, the 21-year civil war between north and south that killed an estimated 2 million people.

Southern rebel leaders last month pulled out of a power-sharing government set up by a 2005 peace deal. The southern rebels accused Sudan's government of reneging on most parts of their pact, including by allegedly remilitarizing the oil-rich border regions between north and south.

The Washington Post late Wednesday obtained a copy of a report due to be made public next week by an international panel monitoring compliance with the 2005 accord. The report notes that key parts of the deal have yet to be achieved, including reconciliation efforts and resolution of disputes over the border.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to discuss the north-south accord and Darfur in a meeting Thursday in Washington with Salva Kiir Mayardit, a southern rebel leader who became a vice president in the Sudanese government under the power-sharing accord.

Fresh approaches to the problems are hard to come by.

The United States already has imposed more sanctions on Sudan than any country in the world, said Ted Dagne, an expert on Africa with the Congressional Research Service. Sudan's economy has grown despite the sanctions, as China, India, Malaysia and other countries remain eager to do business.

Natsios in recent days proposed revising some of the terms of the north-south peace accord, officials close to the talks said. Such a move would risk opening the full accord for renegotiation. Natsios said by telephone Tuesday that the proposal was no longer on the table.

But sources said that Natsios was still pushing southern officials Wednesday to accept his plan and that it remained on the agenda with Rice. "This is the opening up" of the full accord, Kiir said Wednesday night in an interview in Washington. "I don't agree with this plan."

Watching the terms of the 2005 north-south agreement go unfulfilled has been a "major disincentive" for the Darfur rebels, Dagne said.

Experts say the international community must do more to ensure that already signed agreements are carried out, Dagne said.

For Darfur, that includes giving a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force scheduled to begin work next year the mission of safeguarding the return of Darfur civilians now living in camps, he said.

"Without implementation of existing agreements, you can have three or four or five agreements, and you are still not going to end the violence in Darfur," Dagne said.

Leaders of one of the oldest Darfur rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement, said this week they would not attend the round of talks in December unless lesser rebel groups were barred.

Another point of contention is the talks' host, Gaddafi.

Envoys and experts in Darfur said Gaddafi has backed both sides in the conflict at different times.

In the late 1980s, Gaddafi supported an armed "Islamic Legion" that fought an unsuccessful battle against the government of Chad, which borders Libya and Sudan. Those fighting on Gaddafi's side included the first Janjaweed Arab militias, said Alex de Waal, a longtime scholar of Sudan.

At the end of the conflict in Chad, the Janjaweed militiamen retreated to their home region of Darfur, taking with them Gaddafi's weapons and his message of Arab pride, de Waal said. Today, the militiamen are accused of killing and raping people and razing villages in Darfur. "If he hadn't inflamed the conflict in Chad and brought in all those weapons, I don't think we would have a conflict in Darfur now," de Waal said.

Gaddafi's selection as host of the Darfur talks was supposed to mark his transformation from pariah to statesman, after the lifting of U.N., U.S. and European Union sanctions against his country.

Word at the talks, however, was that Gaddafi became enraged when two key rebel leaders refused to attend. Gaddafi swept into the talks and declared the Darfur conflict a tribal dispute that the international community should stay out of.

Fawzi, the U.N. mediation spokesman, said there were no plans to change the venue of the talks.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

FBI agent says Saddam Hussein cried at last meeting

Following on from news from trustworthy sources such as Michael Yon about the success of the surge and the fact that the US is now starting to draw down its troop levels in Iraq comes this short and revealing piece about former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

If you haven't worked it out yet, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is as good as won. Shiite militia are joining with Iraq's military and police forces and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been routed with the help of the Iraqis themselves.

It's all good news.
After confessing to slaughtering 180,000 Kurds and plotting to build a doomsday nuke, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was so upset when his FBI interrogator left for home that he cried like a baby.

FBI Special Agent George Piro whipped out two Cuban Cohibas - Saddam's favorite cigar - and they smoked on the patio behind his cell at Baghdad's airport.

"When we were saying bye, he started to tear up," Piro recalled in the new book "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack."

The self-effacing G-man was hardly surprised - he had spent nearly a year carefully becoming Saddam's best friend in a successful ploy to extract confessions from the notorious brute.

Piro's inside account of spending up to seven hours a day, every day, for eight months with Saddam is revealed in the new book by journalist Ronald Kessler.

Piro, then 36, began grilling Saddam in early 2004.

Instead of bright lights, loud music or waterboarding, the Beirut-born Arabic speaker - who immigrated to the U.S. as a teen - built a rapport with the dictator nabbed in a spider hole. He treated him with respect and took care of his every need.

On his birthday, Piro showed Saddam news clippings showing that Iraqis no longer celebrated the date. But then the agent gave him baklava Piro's Lebanese mother sent him in Baghdad.

They talked about sports and Saddam's pulp novels, and soon the despot was spilling his guts over thick cups of Folger's.

Saddam never used body doubles - as was widely believed - because no one could "play" him, Piro quoted Saddam as saying.

He admired Americans, particularly ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan - but loathed the two Bushes he fought wars with.

The "Butcher of Baghdad" also confessed he ordered Kurdish civilians gassed and slaughtered thousands more, their remains left in mass graves.

Until 9/11, Saddam thought UN sanctions would go away and he could make a nuclear bomb. His prewar weapons of mass destruction deceptions were a ruse to convince Iran - whom he feared - that he had an arsenal.

Kessler said Saddam trusted Piro more than his own monstrous sons Uday and Qusay, for whom he had little love before G.I.s gunned them down.

In more human moments, Saddam tried to hit on a "cute" American nurse. And despite praying and reading the Koran, he had a fondness for whiskey and cigars.
(Nothing Follows)