December 28, 2012

Three Scenarios

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change


Summaries of the Three Scenarios


Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change

By 2040 average global temperature rises 1.3°C above the 1990 average.
Warming is greater over land masses and increases from low to high latitudes.

Generally, the most damaging local impacts occur at
  • low latitudes because of ecosystem sensitivity to altered climate and high human vulnerability in developing countries, and
  • in the Arctic because of particularly large temperature changes at high northern latitudes.

Global mean sea level increases by 0.23 meters, causing
  • damage to the most vulnerable coastal wetlands with associated negative impacts on local fisheries,
  • seawater intrusion into groundwater supplies in low-lying coastal areas and small islands, and
  • elevated storm surge and tsunami heights, damaging unprotected coastlines.
Many of the affected areas have large, vulnerable populations requiring international assistance to cope with or escape the effects of sea level rise.
Marine fisheries and agricultural zones shift poleward in response to warming, in some cases moving across international boundaries.
The North Atlantic MOC is not affected significantly. …

The largest and most widespread impacts relate to reductions in water availability and increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The Mediterranean region, sub-Saharan Africa, northern Mexico, and the southwestern United States experience more frequent and longer-lasting drought and associated extreme heat events, in addition to forest loss from increased insect damage and wildfires.

[Northern] mid-latitudes see a mix of benefits and damages.
Benefits include
  • reduced cost of winter heating,
  • decreased mortality and injury from cold exposure, and
  • increased agricultural and forest productivity in wetter regions because of longer growing seasons, CO2 fertilization, and fewer freezes.
Negative consequences include
  • higher cost of summer cooling,
  • more heavy rainfall events,
  • more heat-related death and illness, and
  • more intense storms with associated flooding, wind damage, and loss of life, property, and infrastructure.

Climate Scenario 2: Severe Climate Change

Average global surface temperature rises at an unexpectedly rapid rate to 2.6°C above 1990 levels by 2040 …

[The] rate of [polar] ice flow into the sea [accelerates] rapidly, resulting in 0.52 meters of global mean sea level rise.
[There is] high confidence that the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets have become unstable and that 4 to 6 meters of sea level rise are now inevitable over the next few centuries.

Water availability decreases strongly in the most affected regions at lower latitudes (dry tropics and subtropics), affecting about 2 billion people worldwide. …
Crop yields decline significantly in the fertile river deltas because of sea level rise and damage from increased storm surges.
Agriculture becomes nonviable in the dry subtropics [due to:]
  • low water availability and
  • increased soil salinization resulting from more rapid evaporation of water from irrigated fields.
Arid regions at low latitudes expand, taking previously marginally productive croplands out of production.
(p 42)

North Atlantic fisheries are affected by significant slowing of the North Atlantic MOC.
Globally, there is
  • widespread coral bleaching,
  • ocean acidification,
  • substantial loss of coastal nursery wetlands, and
  • warming and drying of tributaries that serve as breeding grounds for anadromous fish (ie, ocean-dwelling fish that breed in freshwater, eg, salmon).
Because of a dramatic decrease in the extent of Arctic sea ice, the Arctic marine ecosystem is dramatically altered and the Arctic Ocean is navigable for much of the year.

Developing nations at lower latitudes are affected most severely because of climate sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.
Industrialized nations to the north experience clear net harm and must divert greater proportions of their wealth to adapting to climate change at home.


Climate Scenario 3: Catastrophic Climate Change

Between 2040 and 2100 the impacts associated with climate scenario two progress and large-scale singular events of abrupt climate change occur.
The average global temperature rises to 5.6°C above 1990 levels …
[Mean] sea level rises [of] 2 meters [render] low-lying coastal regions uninhabitable, including many large coastal cities.
The large fertile deltas of the world become largely uncultivable [as] inundation and more frequent and higher storm surges … reach further inland.

The North Atlantic MOC stops at mid-century, generating large-scale collapse of North Atlantic marine ecosystems and associated fisheries.
Northwestern Europe experiences colder winters, shorter growing seasons, and reduced crop yields …
[Globally, the] MOC collapse increases average temperatures in most regions and reorganizes precipitation patterns in unpredictable ways, hampering water resource planning around the world and drying out existing grain-exporting regions.
Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region … continue to experience hotter, drier summers with more heat waves, more frequent and larger wildfires, and lower crop yields.

Agriculture in the traditional breadbaskets is severely compromised by alternating persistent drought and extreme storm events that bring irregular severe flooding.
Crops are physiologically stressed by temperatures and grow more slowly …
Even in … regions with increased precipitation, summertime soil moisture is reduced by increased evaporation.
Breadbasket-like climates shift strongly northward into formerly sub-arctic regions with … little infrastructure …
[Extreme] year-to-year climate variability … makes sustainable [agriculture] difficult on the scale needed to feed the world population.

Mountain glaciers are virtually gone and annual snow pack dramatically reduced in regions where large human populations [have] relied on glaciers and annual snowfall for water supply and storage, including Central Asia, the Andes, Europe, and western North America.
[The] area requiring remote water sources for habitability [increases] dramatically [as] such remote sources [become] less available.
{Half of the world’s human population experiences persistent water scarcity.}

Arid regions expand rapidly, overtaking regions [previously able] to support dense populations.
The dry subtropics, including the Mediterranean region, much of Central Asia, northern Mexico, much of South America, and the southwestern United States are no longer [habitable.]
(p 43)

[Tropical] and mid-latitude storm activity and associated wind and flood damage becomes much more intense and occurs annually, leading to frequent losses of life, property, and infrastructure in many countries every year.

[Water] availability and loss of food security disproportionately affect poor countries at lower latitudes …
[However,] extreme weather events are more or less evenly distributed, with perhaps greater frequency at mid-latitudes because of stronger extratropical storm systems, including severe winter storms.
(p 44)

December 27, 2012

Carbon Capture and Storage

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Elizabeth Finkel & Belinda Smith:
China and India plan to build more than 1600 new coal-fired power plants between them by 2030, according to the online Global Coal Plant tracker.
(p 82)

[The Chinese ultra-supercritical] plants are designed to scrub air pollutants, not CO2.
But they are more efficient than standard coal plants, and reduce CO2 emissions by 30%.
(p 55)

CarbonNet was conceived in 2008 [by the Victorian state government] to connect CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations [and] oil and gas fields to an offshore geological deposit capable of storing at least 20 billion tonnes of CO2.
When Australia repealed the carbon price the project did not advance.
(Can We Bury the Problem?, Cosmos, Feb-Mar 2016, p 54)

IPCC:
Scenarios that are likely to maintain warming at below 2°C include
  • more rapid improvements in energy efficiency and
  • a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewable energy, nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.
(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Version, 1 November, 2014, p 39)

CSIRO:
Electricity, industrial emissions and transport deliver 40 to 75% of cost-effective national abatement by 2050 (assuming successful deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies) …
Modelling confirms that successful global deployment of carbon capture and storage has a crucial role in limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2°C.
(Australian National Outlook, October, 2015, p 25)

George Marshall:
There are currently eight large-scale CCS projects and eight more under construction …
[We] will need sixteen thousand more plants … to deal with current emissions [and] another thousand plants [per year] to keep up with the annual increase [in emissions.]
(Don't Even Think About It, 2014, p 179, emphasis added)

Wikipedia:
Of the 22 demonstration [clean coal] projects funded by the US Department of Energy since 2003, none are in operation as of February 2017, having been abandoned or delayed due to capital budget overruns or discontinued because of excessive operating expenses. (Coal pollution mitigation, 19 February 2017)

Costs and Potential


In most scenarios for stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations between 450 and 750 ppmv CO2 and in a least-cost portfolio of mitigation options, the economic potential of CCS would amount to 220-2,200 GtCO2 (60–600 GtC) cumulatively, which would mean that CCS contributes 15–55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100, averaged over a range of baseline scenarios.
It is likely that the technical potential for geological storage is sufficient to cover the high end of the economic potential range, but for specific regions, this may not be true. …


For CCS to achieve such an economic potential, several hundreds to thousands of CO2 capture systems would need to be installed over the coming century, each capturing some 1–5 MtCO2 per year.

The actual implementation of CCS, as for other mitigation options, is likely to be lower than the economic potential due to factors such as
  • environmental impacts,
  • risks of leakage and
  • the lack of a clear legal framework or public acceptance. …

[The] inclusion of CCS in a mitigation portfolio is found to reduce the costs of stabilizing CO2 concentrations by 30% or more.
(p 12, emphasis added)

Three industrial-scale storage projects are [presently] in operation:
  • the Sleipner project in an offshore saline formation in Norway,
  • the Weyburn [Enhanced Oil Recovery] project in Canada, and
  • the In Salah project in a gas field in Algeria.
(p 7)


Tim Flannery


[When] compressed to liquid form, [the daily CO2 output of Australia's coal fired power plants] would take up a cubic kilometre …
[Given that] Australia accounts for less than 2% of global emissions [imagine] injecting 50 cubic kilometres of liquid CO2 into the Earth’s crust every day of the year for the next century or two.

If geosequestration were to be practised on the scale needed to offset all the emissions from coal, the world would very quickly run out of [safe and / or readily accessible] reservoirs …
(p 254)

(The Weather Makers, 2005)

December 24, 2012

Counterpoint: 2011

Counterpoint

Mark Steyn (1959):
In a democratic age, you can't buck demography — except through civil war.
The Serbs figured that out: if you can't outbreed [Muslims,] cull 'em.
The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia's demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.
(America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, Regnery Publishing, 2006)

[If Obama] can establish federal spending at 25% of GDP as the new baseline, then he fundamentally transforms the nature of American society in a way that is tremendously advantageous to those of his political disposition. …
(Armageddon will be brought to you by "the experts", 26 September 2011)

December 22, 2012

Tony Abbott

Blue Army: Persons of Interest




(Sarah Ferguson, The Killing Season: The Long Shadow, ABC Television, 2015)




(Adam Elliot, Harvey Krumpet, 2003)

Denial:
Refusal to believe a problem exists.
(Wiktionary, 24 May 2014)

Tony Abbott:
[If] you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?
(How to successfully market an ETS, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 16 July 2015)

Coal is essential for the prosperity of Australia.
Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world.
And coal is the world's principal energy source and will be for many decades to come.
(Geoff Thompson and Deborah Richards, The End of Coal?, Four Corners, ABC Television, 15 June 2015)

John Quiggin (1956):
Tony Abbott was, by a wide margin, the most anti-science prime minister in Australian history.
(Innovation: the test is yet to come, Inside Story, 10 December 2016)

Daniel Kahneman (1934):
[A] reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth (p 62). …
[People] can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers (p 217).
(Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011)

George Megalogenis (1964):
Before Abbott, the conservatives had replaced three sitting prime ministers: In each case, the basic complaint was leadership style: arrogance …
(Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal, Quarterly Essay, Issue 61, 2016, p 4)

Keri Phillips:
Within a few hours of being sworn in as Prime Minister, Tony Abbott announced a significant reorganisation of several government portfolios.
Just short of its 40th birthday, AusAID, an independent statutory body, would become part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
(Australian Aid, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 22 December 2014)

Raimond Gaita (1946):
National pride and national shame … are two sides of the same coin …
The wish to be proud without sometimes acknowledging the need to be ashamed is that corrupt attachment to country … that we call jingoism. …
The present and the past of most countries is a mixture of good and evil.
One can be proud of the good things and ashamed of the evil while loving the country and its people.
Sometimes it is a painful love. …
I do not remember a time in Australian politics when I heard the word "un-Australian" used so often.
Nor … a time when jingoism was so persistently mistaken for patriotism.
(Breach of Trust: Truth, Morality and Politics, Quarterly Essay, Issue 16, December 2004, pp 8, 10, 15, emphasis added)

The Language of Evil


Raymond Gaita (1946)

Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, King's College London

[The] concept of evil, really, has no serious place in politics.
I can't think of any political event whose understanding is deepened by describing it as 'evil'.
[It's] just absurd to say that the beheading of that person is an act of pure evil. …
{[It doesn't have] any explanatory value …
[To] call someone evil, or to call an act evil offers no understanding of its genesis and motives and so on …
That doesn't mean it plays no role in the characterization of what was done, and some of our responses to it.
But that's quite different from thinking it has any explanatory role in our thought at all.}

There are things that are morally terrible, and … much of what ISIL has done is morally terrible.
But, obviously, if you were to say: … we're going to wage war against the morally terrible.
That doesn't have the same kind of rhetorical appeal as: we're going to wage war against evil.
Especially if you imply that this is a [Manichean] war between Good and Evil. …

I can't take seriously [Abbott's] concept of evil when … a few months before — when he was confronted with the evidence about torture in Sri Lanka — he said: oh well, sometimes bad things happen (something to that effect). …

There's so many different conceptions of evil.
But, in so far as I take it seriously, I don't think it characterizes the person.
One thing … is uncontroversially true, which is: that evil deeds can be done for quite banal motives. …

[In] the case of ISIS we have perfectly good concepts in international law to describe what they're doing.
They're no doubt committing crimes against humanity.
They no doubt, also, have genocidal intent.
That's enough.
What more do you need?


James Dawes

Professor of American Literature, Literary and Language Theory, Macalester College, Minnesota

[Calling something evil] is a sign of insecurity and weakness. …
If you are fighting evil, you are not a helpless victim of a traumatic event in a declining empire, you are a powerful enactor of almost mythic heroism. …

In the case of the United States … evil is often more about what we want to do, than what is happening. …
Genocides have occurred and the United States has not condemned them as evil.
Calling something 'evil' is just our effort to psychologically, collectively, prepare ourselves to do injury to others — because it's hard to make citizens tolerate the images of death and destruction at our hands, abroad.
So evil is a word we use to prepare our population for violence …
And once you get your population embedded in this notion of the absolute evil of the other, it makes it almost impossible to step back from violence.
And you've seen some pretty catastrophic American invasions resulting from this. …

We don't want to treat opponents as if they have ideas … or beliefs that need to be understood. …
They rise only to the level of moral condemnation and not ideological discussion.

(Good v Evil: The politics of language, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 19 October 2014)

Would you like to know more?

Countering Violent Extremism


Tony Abbott:
There are now well over 100 Australians fighting with terror groups in Iraq and Syria.

Andrew Zammit:
[Most] of the people who go fight with jihadist groups overseas don't become a threat on [return; however, the] very small number [who do] often prove extremely dangerous …
[Thomas Hegghammer, a prominent European researcher, has said that] up to a maximum of one in nine has ended up proving a threat in return, although he has often said that the real figure is more likely to be around one in 20.
The one in nine estimate, the maximum one, is the one that gets used a lot.

David Malet [Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Melbourne]:
The vast majority of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria today are from Arab states.
Out of 25,000 there may be 3,000 or 4,000 Westerners. …
It's hard to get an exact count, but Australia has been one of the leaders per capita in Western countries or even the entire world of foreign fighters, first in Syria and then in Iraq. …

[Osasma Bin Laden] is exhibit A of what happens when somebody is stripped of their citizenship, which is what Saudi Arabia did …
[In] continental Europe you're seeing a very different approach [compared to the hard] line taken by Commonwealth countries.
Denmark in particular is offering not only amnesty but they are offering rehabilitation services, job training, psychological counselling, anything you want to foreign fighters, and they are saying their numbers of people going off to fight have dropped off from a couple of hundred to just one last year.

(Tackling foreign fighters, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 15 July 2015)


Andrew Zammit

Researcher, Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University

The Australian Government has described the foreign fighter threat as its “number-one national security priority” and raised the National Terrorism Public Alert from medium to high in September 2014.
(p 11)

In response to the threat [posed by DAESH, the Australian] Government has
  • joined the US-led military coalition against IS,
  • provided $630 million in extra funding to intelligence and security agencies, and
  • introduced extensive new counter-terrorism legislation.
The Government’s response also includes a softer element, in the form of a renewed (CVE) effort.
This term refers …
(p 2)

After its election in 2013, the Abbott Government … made substantial funding cuts to [Countering Violent Extremism programs ie non-coercive efforts to dissuade involvement in terrorist activity.]
However, in August 2014 … it announced that it would [spend around $35 million on CVE.]
(p 13)

Thomas Hegghammer’s study of all known jihadist plots in Western countries between 1990 and 2010 found that 46 per cent involved foreign fighters.
Moreover, those plots that involved foreign fighters were more likely to result in fatalities.
This is consistent with research conducted by Marc Sageman and Paul Cruickshank that also found that plots were more likely to succeed if some of the conspirators had fought or trained abroad. …
(p 3)

In May 2014, a gunman who allegedly had returned from training with IS in Syria murdered four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
The incident was only unusual in that the attack was successful; in Europe, Syria returnees have been involved in around ten alleged jihadist plots so far.
(p 4)

Van Zuijdewijn’s study of Western jihadist foreign fighters involved in European terror plots found that two-thirds had trained, while only one-third had actually engaged in combat.
A study by Jonathan Githens-Mazer on UK foreign fighters … found that many jihadist combat veterans often went quiet on return or actively discouraged others from becoming involved …
(p 6)

ASIO has estimated that, as of February 2015, around 90 Australians were fighting for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, that up to 30 have returned, and that over 20 have died.
Several have appeared in propaganda videos for Jabhat al-Nusra and IS, three are believed to have carried out suicide bombings, and some Australians are occupying leadership positions.
Some have also boasted of war crimes, and explicitly threatened Australia. …

So far, neither Jabhat al-Nusra nor IS appear to have made attacks in the West as high a strategic priority [as al-Qaeda. …]

However, [research indicates that it is] those foreign fighters who receive training but see little actual combat tend to be more likely to attempt attacks on return than jihadist combat veterans.
Combat experience increases their likelihood of foreign fighters becoming disillusioned, killed, or coming to the awareness of Australian authorities. …
Moreover, a decade ago Australia’s security services were far less prepared for terror plots than they are today, having gained dramatically increased funding, powers, staff, and counter-terrorism experience.
(p 10)

Therefore, while the scale and seriousness of the Syria-Iraq mobilisation greatly exceeds any of Australia’s earlier jihadist mobilisations, suggesting a greatly increased threat, the actual threat may prove less than feared.
Apart from any decisions by IS to use foreign fighters for terrorist attacks abroad, much will depend on
  • how many return,
  • what their intentions are,
  • what activities they undertake on return, and
  • what influence they have on like-minded individuals. …

A blanket attempt to imprison foreign fighters (such as in France, which recently jailed two underage boys who had returned voluntarily after becoming disillusioned with IS) could have a radicalising effect on the returnees' friends, families, and communities, reinforcing a perception of a wider war between the West and Islam.
Just as the justice system allows flexibility in dealing with a range of non-terrorist criminals (such as diverting some offenders into drug treatment rather than jail), including a CVE element in Australia’s counter-terrorism approach can allow similar flexibility.
(p 11)

[There] are currently some community-driven CVE efforts in Australia, which work directly with individuals on a radicalisation trajectory, but these programs are struggling to operate with little to no support.
Moreover, the poor consultation by the government with the Muslim community on much of Australia’s new counter-terrorism legislation as well as the Prime Minister’s claim that Muslim leaders are not doing enough to speak out against radical ideas have undermined the prospects for effective cooperation. …

Framing social-cohesion programs (that are often worthy in themselves) as counter-terrorism initiatives risks further stigmatising large sections of the population as potential terrorists and prompting backlashes that may worsen the problem.
However, that these programs will be run by the DSS rather than the Attorney-General’s Department may reduce this risk.
(p 15)

(Australian Foreign Fighters: Risks and Responses, Lowy Institute for International Policy, April 2015)


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

The religion of the Prophet [Mohammed] was a simple monotheism, uncomplicated by the elaborate theology of rite Trinity and the Incarnation.
The Prophet made no claim to be divine …
He revived the Jewish prohibition of graven images, and forbade the use of wine.
It was the duty of the faithful to conquer as much of the world as possible for Islam, but there was to be no persecution of Christians, Jews, or Zoroastrians — the "people of the Book," as the Koran calls them …

The Syrians, who were largely Nestorian [Christians,] suffered persecution at the hands of the Catholics, whereas Mohammedans tolerated all sects of Christians in return for the payment of tribute.
Similarly in Egypt the Monophysites, who were the bulk of the population, welcomed the invaders. …

The populations, moreover, in order to escape the tribute, very largely abandoned Christianity for Islam.

(A History of Western Philosophy, 2nd Ed, 1961, pp 413-4)


The Logic of Bigotry: Muslims, Terrorists, and Refugees


Tony Abbott

DAESH is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message:
Submit or die! …
The tentacles of the death cult have extended even here …

(Opening Address, Counter-Terrorism Summit, 11 June 2015)


The world has woken, this morning, to another televised decapitation.
This just demonstrates [that] we are dealing with pure evil.
This is a hideous movement.
That not only does evil: it revels in evil, it exalts in evil. …
Sometimes dire and dreadful measures are necessary in response to the pure evil we are now seeing.

(The Wrap: real estate, Islamic State and vaccinating paramedics, Drive, ABC Radio National, 12 June 2015)


We are also determined to engage in every closer consultation with communities, including the Australian Muslim community.
When it comes to counter-terrorism everyone needs to be part of Team Australia …

(Heath Aston, Tony Abbott dumps controversial changes to 18C racial discrimination laws, SMH, 5 August 2014)


My position is that everyone has got to be on Team Australia.
Everyone has got to put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, and you don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team …

(Lisa Cox, You don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team': Tony Abbott renews push on national security laws, SMH, 18 August 2014)


[While] the overwhelming majority of Muslims don't support terrorism … many still think that death should be the punishment for apostasy. …

peaceandlonglife:
Many Muslims want to kill apostates.
We are apostates.
Many Muslims want to kill us.

If you are not with us, you are against us.
A triumph of moral reasoning worthy of Aquinas and Loyola.
A first class education does not, evidently, always succeed in broadening the mind:
  • Jesuit primary and secondary schooling,
  • University of Sydney (BA Law and Economics),
  • Queen's College, Oxford (BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics) on a Rhodes Scholarship, and
  • three years in Jesuit seminary.

Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902):
[I bequeath all my] estates and effects of every kind … to the Secretary of State for the Colonies … for the purposes of
  • extending British rule throughout the world,
  • for the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom to all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise,
  • the consolidation of the Empire,
  • the restoration of the Anglo Saxon unity destroyed by the schism of the eighteenth century,
  • the representation of the colonies in Parliament, "and finally,
  • the foundation of so great a Power as to hereafter render wars impossible and to promote the best interests of humanity."
(Last Will and Testament)

[No] country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself.
This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism. …

Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives.
It's not to provide permanent residency to anyone and everyone who would rather live in a prosperous Western country than their own.
That's why the countries of Europe, while absolutely obliged to support the countries neighbouring the Syrian conflict, are more-than-entitled to control their borders against those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life.

This means turning boats around, for people coming by sea.
It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come; and it means establishing [concentration] camps for people who currently have nowhere to go.

It will require some force; it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences — yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever. …
peaceandlonglife:
Perhaps for the better.
Historically, the US and Australia benefited enormously from fleeing Europeans at the time of the Second World War — and from Vietnamese refugees after the American War.
That is to say, refugees can make countries stronger rather than weaker.

[Too] much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all. …
peaceandlonglife:
This is not about justice.
It is about self-justification.
The victory of narrowness of spirit over breadth of mind.
Of ideology over conscience.

(Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture, 27 October 2015, emphasis added)


Gerard Henderson (1945): Executive Director, Sydney Institute

Sure, the overwhelming majority of Muslim Australians are peaceful and law-abiding.
But a small minority are not.
All those who are serving, or have served, time in Australian prisons for terrorism-related offences are Muslim. …

It is unlikely the radicalisation of young Muslims can be substantially reduced by a change of tone on the part of the government. …

Australia has large communities of Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs, among others.
Yet there are not even small minorities within these communities who wish to wage a war against Australians or to overthrow democracy and establish a theocracy in its wake.

Australia is a tolerant, accepting country.
This can be gauged by the fact Australia has a relatively low level of ethnic-motivated crime and a relatively high level of intermarriage between the various ethnic groups. …
[Consequently, calls] on Australians to unite against a backlash directed at Muslim Australians [are] quite unnecessary since there is no evidence of acts of murder or assault by non-Muslims against Muslims just because they are Muslims. …

The Muslim community in Australia and elsewhere is deeply divided — between the Sunni and Shia sects and more besides.
This is vividly demonstrated in the Syrian civil war.
In recent years the Australian Defence Force has been dispatched to Afghanistan and Iraq to protect some Muslims against attack from other Muslims. …

It is unfashionable to say so, but Abbott’s “Team Australia” makes a lot of sense.

(Ex-PM Tony Abbott’s ‘Team Australia’ makes a lot of sense, The Australian, 10 October 2015)


Free Tertiary Education


Chris Graham: Editor, New Matilda
David Marr (1947):
In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a young woman faces jail because word got out that one of his daughters was given a $60,000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. …
{The chair of the institute is Liberal Party donor and friend of the prime minister, Les Taylor.}
News of Frances Abbott’s [windfall] provoked a two-month investigation by the New South Wales Police and a charge of accessing restricted data without authorisation.
Penalty: imprisonment for a maximum of two years. …
(Freedom Abbott, The Monthly, September 2014)
I don't think that people who act in the public interest should be charged with a public crime.
I think if you act in the public interest you deserve the protection of the public.
But if you are going to charge whisleblowers for acting in the public interest … then this sort of outcome is preferable.
Not only is she on a bond, but importantly no conviction will be recorded if she behaves herself [for the] two years. …
In the case of the Whitehouse Institute of Design, it accesses public funding to provide education but people who work [there] not afforded the same [limited] protections as [are] public servants. …

… Frances Abbott was not awarded this scholarship on merit, as the Prime Minister claims. …
Frances Abbott was the only person to whom this scholarship was available. …
The college's own website [clearly states] says that scholarships are not available …
Frances was pursued by the Whitehouse Institute of Design to study there when she was considering studying at a rival school …

[Keep in mind] that the government [has] just handed down a federal budget that was proposing to, in many cases, double the cost for everybody else to get a tertiary degree. …
[Furthermore, this] very same government is now seeking to make available to these … private colleges $800 million in [new] public funding …

… Tony Abbott has used [the] parliamentary interests register to tell people when his daughter Frances … got free tickets to the movies.
How he can apply that standard to a free movie ticket and not to a $60,000 secret scholarship [is remarkable.]

For a scholarship to be acceptable to the Australian Tax Office … it must be available to a wide number of people …
[This] scholarship was not known to anybody outside a couple of very senior people and the owner at Whitehouse Institute of Design and, of course, [the Abbott family.]
It wasn't available to any other students …
It wasn't even known by other senior staff at the college …
[So] you've got a private institution seeking access to large buckets of government money, and a recipient of the largesse of that institution is the daughter of the [then federal opposition leader (and soon to be Prime Minister) …]
If that's not a matter of public interest … I don't know what is. …

We saw Christopher Pine, Minister for Education, today tweeting that he thought the sentence was inappropriate. …
I understand why people in Christopher Pine's position, a position of enormous power and privilege, will feel that this sort of whistleblowing deserves a much much stiffer sentence …

(Could whistleblowers be better protected?, Drive, ABC Radio National, 25 November 2014)


The Accidental Prime Minister


Phillip Adams (1939)

We should remember of course that Abbott won the [opposition leadership in 2009 by just] one vote from [Malcolm] Turnbull
Mungo MacCallum (1941):
… and only because Joe Hockey didn't want it.
Joe Hockey refused to bend on giving the party a free vote on climate change and therefore the great warlord Nick Minchin said:
No, you're not acceptable, we're going to have to go to Tony Abbott.
He was always the fallback.
(Campaign 2013 wash up, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 30 September 2013)


Paul Kelly (1947)

Editor at Large, The Australian

I can't begin to describe the extent and depth and confusion as Turnbull, Hockey and Abbott were manoeuvering in those last couple of days before the party meeting.
And, eventually, the three of them … ended up as candidates.
[Hockey expected] that he'd end up Liberal leader because he didn't think, if the leadership was declared vacant, that Turnbull would run.
[So Turnbull and Hockey] misunderstood one another.
Abbott, when he went into the party room meeting, didn't think he'd end up leader.
… I think Abbott's comment — that he ended up leader by accident — is correct. …

The only way the conservative side could stay united [and electorally viable] was on an anti-carbon pricing position.
[Abbott succeeded by turning opposition to carbon pricing] into a very populist campaign. …
Abbott … stands for opposition to carbon pricing.
That's his ideological position. …
Now, depending upon what happens in the world in the [next] couple of years … it may well be that international developments render obsolete the position Abbott now has.

(The Rise and Fall of Labor, Big Ideas, ABC Television, 24 October 2014)


NewSpeak Dictionary

  • Efficiency Dividend = Funding Cut

    More than 400 people [at the ABC] will lose their jobs as a result of federal government funding cuts. …
    Among sweeping changes … Bush Telegraph here on RN [will be axed,] and five small regional radio stations will be closed. …
    Bill Shorten [Leader, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition]:
    Did the Prime Minister say, on the night before the election on SBS television …
    No cuts to the ABC or SBS …
    Tony Abbott:
    I never said there would be special treatment for the ABC.
    Everyone knew there was going to be an Efficiency Dividend applied across government. …
    [What] we are doing to the ABC, is applying an Efficiency Dividend …
    (Fran Kelly, Nationals Senator protests ABC cuts to rural services, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 25 November 2014)

  • Advocacy = Criticism of the Government
    Tony Abbott:
    {I’m a passionate supporter of free speech.}
    [However, the] problem with a bill of rights is that it takes power off the elected politicians. …

    George Brandis [Federal Attorney General, 2013]:
    [We] in the Liberal Party are the party of human rights. …
    [George Brandis decrees that] artists who refuse private sponsorship on political grounds may be stripped of public funding.
    Troubled by Transfield’s links to offshore detention centres, a handful of artists had pressured the company to withdraw sponsorship from the Sydney Biennale. …
    He directs the Australia Council to find a formula for deciding when public funding will be withdrawn because private sponsorship has been “unreasonably” rejected.
    … Brandis wants artists to know they will pay a price for embarrassing the government. …

    [Scott Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection)] strips the Refugee Council of Australia of half a million dollars allocated in the budget only ten days before. …
    Scott Morrison:
    It’s not my view, or the government’s view, that taxpayer funding should be there for what is effectively an advocacy group. …
    [Under Labor, government] funding for NGOs [came] with the guarantee that they were
    [Free] to enter into public debate or criticism of the Commonwealth, its agencies, employees, servants or agents.
    Under Abbott, [this] guarantee disappears [— as do] many sources of independent advice.
    The budgets of
    • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service,
    • the Environmental Defender’s Offices and
    • the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
    are slashed.
    Axed are
    • [the Climate Commission,]
    • the Social Inclusion Board,
    • the National Housing Supply Council,
    • the National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing,
    • the National Children and Family Roundtable,
    • the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, and …
    • the Immigration Health Advisory Group.

    (David Marr, Freedom Abbott, The Monthly, September 2014)

    Would you like to know more?

  • Budget Emergency = Austerity
    Joseph Stiglitz:
    In the United States, a full time male worker, median, income has stagnated for a third of a century.
    No increase.
    Household income today is the same as it was 15 years ago.
    All the increase to the income has gone to the top. …

    [As] the incomes of most American's were stagnating, or declining.
    We said:
    Don't let it bother you.
    Keep spending as if your income was going up.
    And they did that very well. …

    [The] remarkable thing is that countries, like the UK [and Australia,] that have a choice, are voluntarily putting themselves through austerity.
    And, almost certainly, we know what will happen.
    The economy will get weaker.
    Unemployment will go up.
    And there will be an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering.
    (Keynes, Masters of Money, BBC Two, 17 September 2012)
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques = Cruel and unusual punishment (including torture)
  • Business As Usual = Recipe For Disaster
  • Saving Lives At Sea = Destroying Lives On Land
  • Illegal Maritime Arrival = Legal Asylum Seeker
  • Economic Rationalism = Moral Insanity
  • Laissez Faire = I Don't Care


Simplistic Ideological Solutions


Tony Abbott: President of the Student Representative Council (SRC), University of Sydney

[In] the economic environment, in the marketplace, you have workers and employers involved in … an economic struggle for survival.
But if you look, on the other hand, at students and administrations, there is no clash of economic interests between the students and the people who run the universities.
[This] is the fundamental difference between the two situations.
And I think that eliminates the need for a compulsorily funded student organisation. …
I don't think the government has any real interest in victimizing students in anything like the same way that employers might have an interest in putting the knife into their employees. …

At Sidney University, we've always had a penchant for getting involved in esoterica and, what one might say, trivial extravagance, particularly in the Arts and Economics faculties.
There's an awful lot of courses here which can only be described as so much nonsense.
For instance, the General Philosophy course, Aesthetics courses — devoted entirely to a study of punk rock.
However enjoyable that might be, it doesn't seem a suitable subject for a course leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In the Government Department, for instance, you have extensive courses on things like: Feminism, and The Political Exploitation Of Women …
[These courses are not only trivial] but they are attempts by unscrupulous academics to impose simplistic ideological solutions upon students.
[To] make students the cannon-fodder for their own private versions of the Revolution.
If there were further cuts to the education system, then we would certainly see the universities cracking down on that sort of course.
The fact that they can offer that sort of course at the moment is proof to me that there is room for further cuts. …
Certainly Political Economy and General Philosophy are thinly disguised attempts by, as I said, unscrupulous people to impose a very simplistic, and … quite wrong ideological solution on students. …

I find it a little alarming that people today think of themselves … not so much as members of the community, but as women, blacks, migrants, homosexuals, or whatever.
Similarly, people on campus don't seem to think of themselves as students — but they very often think of themselves … as women, homosexuals and what have you. …
[It] seems to me, that if there is adequate representation for students as a whole [this would automatically provide] adequate representation for all these other groups [as well. …]

[All] people should have equal opportunity …
… I think, certainly, there should be provision for the severely underprivileged to get to university for free …
[I] strongly support the idea that those who are underprivileged should certainly have the state intervene to try and correct that situation.
So that — if they are sufficiently capable in themselves — the fact that they were born into a poor family will not permanently disadvantage them. …

… The people attending universities are … an overwhelmingly middle-class group. …
[So] I do not think that the government should … be going around giving all students handouts to study. …

I would like to see the universities brought back to a situation where they cherished excellence and learning.
And where they actually inculcated into students a real love of truth and learning, and what have you.
And I think, with the enormous expansion of the universities, this has been lost to a certain extent.
I'd also like to see a situation where all students were assured of jobs when they left university. …
So not only would I like to see universities revert back to this quest and hunger for excellence and learning, but I would also like to see the numbers at university reduced and the courses made … more attractive to employers.
So that everyone will have a job when they leave.

I would to see the universities prepare students, more than they are at moment, to take a role in changing our society — not into some Marxist Utopia, because I don't think that can exist — but into a society which is based on a genuinely Christian principle.
And into a society where every [man or woman] is free to develop his or her unique talents in the way they best see fit as individuals. …

I see women as having having an equal opportunity in every area as men have.
Just as I think all groups should have an equal opportunity.
Mind you [I should emphasize] that while I think men and women are equal, they are also different.
[Consequently,] I think it's inevitable, and I don't think it's a bad thing at all, that we will always, say, have more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework, and probably more men doing things like digging ditches and that style of thing.

(Radio interview with Steven Horrocks, Campus Wide, TUNE FM, 1979)

Would you like to know more?


Bipartisanship and the National Interest


Greig Gailey: President, Business Council of Australia
Tony Abbott:
[An emissions trading scheme is a] so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one.
[The Business Council of Australia (BCA)] supports the [Rudd] Government’s intention to introduce an emissions trading scheme …
[And we] agree that industry must assume part of the burden in doing this.
(p 13)

It is probably the most significant economic decision any government will have made since the introduction of the GST [by the Howard Coalition Government in the late 90s. …]
As such the BCA believes that it must be a bipartisan decision.
Uncertainty is the great enemy of investment. …

The BCA implores the Government and the Opposition to work together constructively on the design and implementation of the CPRS.
The impact of the CPRS is just too great for us to be at the mercy of party politics.
We ask both parties to forswear opposition for opposition’s sake. …
The payoff from emissions policy bipartisanship will be a stronger Australian economy.

(The Great Climate Change Challenge, Address to the Sydney Institute 27 August 2008, p 12)


Preaching to the Converted


Tony Abbott

[The] Coalition will …
  • repeal the carbon tax,
  • abolish the Department of Climate Change,
  • abolish the Clean Energy Fund. …
  • repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act …
  • abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies …
  • {repeal the mining tax [and]
  • stop throwing good money after bad on the [National Broadband Network.]}

[Furthermore, we will:]
  • deliver $1 billion in red tape savings every year. …
  • develop northern Australia. …
  • create a one stop shop for environmental approvals. …
  • privatise Medibank Private [and]
  • trim the public service …

(70th Anniversary Dinner, Institute of Public Affairs, 4 April 2013.)


A Political Jesuit

Tony Abbott:
I have been under the Santamaria spell ever since [1976. …]
He was the greatest living Australian …
[Bob Santamaria's] real role was to create a type of secular religious order, something like a band of political Jesuits …
[A] group of men and women whose religious values translated into strong commitment, not necessarily to any political party, but to a set of social principles.
Honi Soit [Student Newspaper, Sydney University]:
[After narrowly losing a vote for a position on the university senate Abbott] came down to the SRC and kicked a glass panel on the front door in …

Tony Abbott [SRC Presidential Address, Orientation Week, 1979]:
[All] human works are quite insubstantial in the parade of eternity — only God endures.
In all ages progressive thinkers have announced the death of God. …
For most of us, he refuses to die.
This is the FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH that has been forgotten by the university in its rush to be fashionable …

Lawyer and former student political activist:
I can't recall a constructive policy for the benefit of the student body that he ever put forward …
My lasting impression is of negativity and destruction. …

Tony Abbott:
The SRC is unnecessary and superfluous.

December 19, 2012

Ozone

Naomi Oreskes: Merchants of Doubt


Contents


Supersonic Transport

Chlorine

Regulation

Antiscience

Ideologues


NAOMI ORESKES (1958)


Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.

  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Bloomsbury, New York, 2010.
    Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway.

    CONSTRUCTING A COUNTERNARRATIVE: THE FIGHT OVER THE OZONE HOLE


    [In 1971] Congress financed $21 million for a Climate Impact Assessment Program [(CIAP). …]
    This three-year effort involved nearly a thousand scientists across many agencies, universities, and several other countries, [sought] to assess the potential [atmospheric] impact of [supersonic transport (SST). …]
    [It] found that a fleet of five hundred Boeing-type SSTs was likely to deplete the ozone layer by 10 to 20 percent [overall, with] vastly worse depletions over the highly traveled North Atlantic routes.

    But [due to a Department of Transport whitewash] the report's Executive Summary … didn't say that.
    [It] claimed that an improved SST, to be developed in the future … wouldn't deplete the ozone layer. …
    The resulting newspaper headlines said things like SST CLEARED ON THE OZONE.
    But the report hadn't cleared the Boeing SST, or the Concorde …
    [It] had only cleared an imaginary technology that didn't exist. …

    Columns in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Pittsburgh Press promptly [went on the attack:]
    Pittsburgh Press:
    [The CIAP shows that concerns about ozone depletion are] unscientific nonsense.
    The phony ozone argument has no place in rational scientific discourse and no place in the SST debate.
    The CIAP scientists were furious about the misleading presentation of their work.
    [Harold] Johnston [Atmospheric Chemist, University of California] and Thomas M Donahue of the University of Michigan tried to publish corrective letters in several newspapers, but without success.
    [The newspapers] simply declined to publish their letters.
    (p 110)

    [Donahue] finally got Science to publish a letter laying out the correct interpretation of the study.
    This forced the Department of [Transportation to acknowledge] the misleading nature of the summary.
    But … once again, scientific claims were being published in scientific journals, where only scientists would read them …
    [Meanwhile the] unscientific claims were being published in the mass media.
    The public was left with the impression that the ozone layer was fine, and the "alarmists" had got it wrong. …

    In 1970, British scientist James Lovelock had documented the widespread presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the Earth's troposphere (the lower portion of the atmosphere).
    (p 111)


    The Ozone War

    Harold Schiff [Chemist, York University, Toronto]:
    [The CFC industry] challenged the theory every step of the way.
    They said there was
    • no proof that fluorocarbons even got into the stratosphere,
    • no proof that they split apart to produce chlorine,
    • no proof that, even if they did, the chlorine was destroying ozone.
    Each of these claims was defeated by evidence during 1975 and 1976.
    (p 115)


    Holes in the Ozone Layer


    In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey announced the existence of an area of severe ozone depletion over Antarctica …
    The British scientists had actually detected it four years earlier, but had disbelieved their own results.
    (p 118)


    Creating an Adaptive Regulatory Regime


    The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) imposed no restrictions on CFCs at all.
    It was simply a procedural framework for future negotiations on a protocol … which might include actual production cuts.
    [Two] more years of negotiations [resulted in the] Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer [which] specified cuts of 50 percent by the CFC-producing nations. …
    (p 122)

    The combined results of [further research later] caused the Montreal Protocol to be renegotiated.
    The results … convinced the industry that their products really were doing harm, and opposition began to fade. …
    In a series of meetings culminating in London in June 1990, the protocol was revised to include a complete ban on the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbons …
    CFC production was scheduled to cease in 2000 …


    Constructing a Counternarrative


    If environmental regulation should be based on science, then ozone is a success story.
    It took time to work out the complex science, but scientists, with support from the US government and international scientific organizations, did it.
    Regulations were put in place based on the science, and adjusted in response to advances in it.

    But running in parallel to this were persistent efforts to challenge the science.
    Industry representatives and other skeptics doubted that ozone depletion was real, or argued that if it was real, it was inconsequential, or caused by volcanoes.

    [In 1987] President Reagan's secretary of the interior, Donald Hodel … proposed a "personal protection plan" … against ozone depletion: wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts. …

    During the early 1980s, anti environmentalism had taken root in a network of conservative and Libertarian think tanks in Washington.
    These think tanks — which included the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Marshall Institute, variously promoted business interests and "free market" economic policies, and the rollback of environmental, health, safety, and labor protections.
    They were supported by donations from businessmen, corporations, and conservative foundations. …
    [The] Heritage Foundation was supported by a wide range of corporations and banks, including General Motors, Chase Manhattan, and Mobil Oil.
    (p 125)

    One aspect of the effort to cast doubt on ozone depletion was the construction of a counternarrative that depicted ozone depletion as a natural variation that was being cynically exploited by a corrupt, self-interested, and extremist scientific community to get more money for their research. …

    [S Fred Singer] a fellow at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1980s [and later] CHIEF SCIENTIST for the US Department of Transportation … first protested what he called the “ozone scare" in an article that the Wall Street Journal ran on page one [in April 1987. …]

    [Among other things he] recycled the old tobacco tactic of refutation by distraction, noting that there are many causes of skin cancer, including
    viruses, genetic predisposition, environmental carcinogens, population shifts to the Sun Belt, changes in life style, earlier detection of melanomas, and even diet.
    All true, but beside the point ..
    [The point being] that if ozone depletion continued, it would lead to additional skin cancers, on top of those already generated by other causes. …

    [He] claimed that scientists had wrongly worried that water vapor from [Supersonic Transport] would destroy ozone.
    [That they] had overreacted before, were overreacting now, and therefore couldn't be trusted.
    [This mechanism for ozone depletion had been considered in 1970 and found to be of minor significance.]
    (p 126)

    Singer argued that the real cause of the [ozone] hole was the stratospheric cooling, and this cooling was just part of the Earth's natural climate variability.
    [He claimed that ozone depletion was not due to man made CFCs but natural stratospheric cooling, when in fact stratospheric cooling was also anthropogenic but by a different mechanisms — greenhouse gas pollution. …]

    [Singer insisted] that replacing CFCs was likely to prove difficult and expensive — even dangerous.
    [CFC substitutes] may be toxic, flammable, and corrosive; and they certainly won't work as well.
    They'll reduce the energy efficiency of appliances such as refrigerators, and they'll deteriorate, requiring frequent replenishment. …
    How could Singer know that, if substitutes hadn't yet been developed?
    (p 128)

    Singer was doing just what he had done for acid rain — insisting that any solution would be difficult and expensive, yet providing scant evidence to support the claim.
    In fact, he was going further, making bold assertions about the nature of technologies that did not yet exist. …

    Singer's story had three major themes:
    • the science is incomplete and uncertain;
    • replacing CFCs will be difficult, dangerous, and expensive; and
    • the scientific community is corrupt and motivated by self-interest and political ideology.
    The first was true, but the adaptive structure of the Montreal Protocol had accounted for it.
    The second was baseless.
    [And] the third, considering Singer's ties to the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation, and … the venues in which he published, [amounted to rank hypocrisy. …]

    Non-CFC refrigerants are now available that are more energy efficient … than the materials they replaced, and they aren't toxic, flammable, or corrosive. …

    WITH THE AMENDMENTS to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1992, ratified by the US Senate, and even accepted by the DuPont Corporation, the debate over ozone depletion had come to a practical end. …

    … Singer did not give up.
    In 1990 he had established his own non profit organization, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) …
    (p 129)

    While we don't have access to SEPP's tax returns for the 1990s, in 2007 it netted $226,443, and had accumulated assets of $1.69 million.
    (p 134)

    The outfit was initially affiliated with the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, which was itself financed by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church [— an organization] known for its passionate anti-Communism …
    The church owned a newspaper, the Washington Times, and … publisher, Paragon House.
    In the years to come, Singer would use both to [propagate] his views. …
    Dixy Lee Ray [Zoologist and former Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission]:
    [The] eruption of Mount St Augustine in 1976 injected 289 billion kilograms of hydrochloric acid directly into the stratosphere.
    That amount is 570 times the total world production of chlorine and fluorocarbon compounds in the year 1975.
    Mount Erebus … has been erupting, constantly, for the last 100 years, ejecting more than 1,000 tons (907,184 kg) of chlorine per day …
    (Trashing the Planet: How Science Can Help Us Deal with Acid Rain, Depletion of Ozone, and Nuclear Waste (Among Other Things), 1990)
    (p 130)

    Ray cited a 1989 article by Singer in his Global Climate Change [in which] he presented no original data.
    He had simply cited other papers, without explaining what those papers actually said.

    The details about Mt Erebus and Mt Augustine [were] published in 1989 [by] Rogelio Maduro, in a political magazine called 21st Century Science and Technology
    [Maduro's source] that Mt Erebus erupted more chlorine into the atmosphere in a week than CFCs released in a year [was Reid Bryson:] an expert on paleoclimate studies using pollen and tree rings — nothing to do with ozone …

    Mt Erebus did produce substantial chlorine emissions, but it did not erupt explosively, so whatever chlorine it released did not get injected into the stratosphere …
    (p 131)

    [Ray later insisted in her] 1993 bestseller, Environmental Overkill … that CFCs were too heavy to rise into the stratosphere in the first place! …

    Sherry Rowland:
    [CFCs have been measured] in literally thousands of stratospheric air samples by dozens of research groups all over the world.
    (AAAS Presidential Address, 1993)
    [Rowland] debunked the 1980 Science paper that had argued that a single eruption of Mt Augustine, Alaska, in 1976 had put as much chlorine into the stratosphere as the entire 1975 CFC production.
    That claim was based on the chlorine content of ashfall, not on what had actually reached the stratosphere.
    Sherry Rowland:
    No actual evidence was presented in this … paper to show that any hydrogen chloride had … reached the stratosphere in this volcanic plume.
    (ibid)
    [The] eruption of El Chichon in April 1982 had produced an increase of hydrogen chloride in the stratosphere of less than 10 percent, and … the June 1991 eruption of Pinatubo — a much larger eruption — had increased it even less.
    Yet hydrogen chloride levels had increased steadily between those two eruptions, despite the lack of any other explosive eruptions during the interceding nine years. …

    In March 1994, Singer repeated the now-refuted claim that the evidence
    [The evidence suggested] that stratospheric chlorine comes mostly from natural sources.
    (p 132)

    In September 1995, Singer served as a star witness in hearings in the US Congress, sponsored by Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher — on “scientific integrity." …
    [There is] no scientific consensus on ozone depletion or its consequences.
    [When Sherry Rowland was awarded] the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen for their work on the understanding of stratospheric ozone chemistry … Singer attacked the Nobel committee …
    Tom DeLay [Republican House Majority Leader, 2003-2005]:
    [My assessment of ozone depletion] is from reading people like Fred Singer.
    (1995)
    (p 133)


    What Was This Really About?


    [According to Singer the] "real" agenda of environmentalists — and the scientists who provided the data on which they relied — was to destroy capitalism …
    [That] environmental regulation was the slippery slope to Socialism. …

    To fight environmental regulation, Singer and Ray told a story in which science was corrupt and scientists could not be trusted. …
    Fred Seitz … in a 1994 Marshall Institute "report" on ozone depletion and climate change [implied] that CFCs couldn't reach the stratosphere [—] a claim even a freshmen physics major would know was wrong … much less a former president of the National Academy of Science.
    Patrick Michaels, an agricultural climatologist at the University of Virginia … reiterated the volcanic argument as late as 2000. (p 134)

    The Wall Street Journal kept up the drumbeat for several years with articles and editorials having titles such as “Bad Climate in Ozone Debate," and “Ozone , CFCs, and Science Fiction," “The Dreaded Ozone Hole," and, after the Nobel award to Rowland and his colleagues, "Nobel Politicized Award in Chemistry."
    (p 135)

December 14, 2012

America

George W Bush


Contents


Justice

Life

Freedom


GEORGE W BUSH (1946)


43rd President of the United States (2001-2009).

  • The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W Bush, Text, Melbourne, 2004.
    ISBN 0-525-94813-9.
    Peter Singer: Ira W DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University; Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

    A SINGLE NATION OF JUSTICE AND OPPORTUNITY


    Bush's moral case for a tax cut


    Bush's language seems to echo the libertarian view that all taxation is theft …
    [If] 'it's your money', then isn't it theft for the government to demand your money from you, under pain of fines or imprisonment if you refuse to hand it over? …
    (p 15)

    [Yet, Bush rejects the minimalist state.]
    [In] his inaugural address, after referring to the duty to relieve suffering, [he] said:
    Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities.
    [Federal] spending on education [and] helping Americans in need [appeared] to be among his priorities.
    The proportion of the taxes you pay that go towards meeting these priorities, then, is presumably not 'your money' but the government's money.
    So the government should give the taxpayers back only the money that is left over after the government has met 'priorities' or 'needs'. …

    In arguing for his initial tax cut [in 2000], Bush pointed out that the government was running a surplus.
    [But this surplus] was not a surplus after all needs and priorities [had been met.]
    [He referred to] the unmet needs of, for example, disadvantaged children.
    If the government had spent more on ways of giving these children a greater opportunity to achieve the American dream and on other programs to overcome deep, persistent poverty, there would have been no surplus.
    There may have been a deficit, requiring a substantial tax rise to cover it.
    (p 16)


    Is it really your money?


    The best justification of a right to private property is that we will all be better off if we recognise such a right.
    But if it is the common good that justifies the recognition of a right to private property, then the common good can also set limits to that right. …

    [Say] I work for a large corporation that makes automobiles …
    For my labour, the corporation pays me a wage, on which I pay taxes.
    [An] opponent of [taxation might object saying, 'but it's] your money!'

    (p 19)

    [Without a] system of regulation … the corporation would not be able to pay me …
    [And] if, somehow, I did get paid, the money would be of little value because I could not be secure in my ownership of anything I bought with it.
    (p 20)


    Fairness in taxation?


    {Bush apparently [believed] that a fair tax cut is one that cuts marginal income tax rates by roughly the same number of percentage points at the top and at the bottom of the income scales. …
    [However, this widens] income inequalities, both in absolute dollars and in percentage terms.
    (p 23)}

    [Cutting] the lowest marginal tax rate [further benefit] the wealthy, because they pay that rate on a part of their income. …

    [In 2001,] four out of five income tax payers [were] earning less than $73,000 a year in 2001 …
    [Out of Bush's initial tax cuts] they got, on average … $350, and over the next ten years, their yearly savings …. generally [stayed] below $500.
    On the other hand … the richest 1% [got] to keep, on average, another $45,000 [by 2010. …]
    By [2010, 52%] of the total tax cuts [would go] to the richest 1%.
    (p 22)

    [The] richest 1.4 million taxpayers [enjoyed,] on average, over 100 times the tax saving [than] the rest …

    The 2003 tax cut [gave a] couple, earning more than twelve times as much as the couple on a lower income, [savings of] nearly forty times as much in taxes. …

    This [was] not an even-handed reduction of the tax burden for all taxpayers.
    (p 22)


    The 'death tax' and equality of opportunity

    George W Bush [Inaugural Address, 2001]:
    The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth …
    [Sometimes] our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.
    We do not accept this, and we will not allow it.
    [I pledge to] build a single nation of justice and opportunity.
    He was right to say that the differences between [the prosperous and the poor in America] 'run deep'.
    They run much deeper than they do in other developed nations, and they have become deeper over the past twenty years.

    … America is one of the world's richest nations, [yet] the proportion of the adult population living in relative poverty is more than twice as high in the United States as it is in France, Germany or Italy — 19% as against about 8%.
    [Australia] is around 12%.
    [One] quarter of [American children] live in poverty, compared with about a tenth or less in the major nations of continental Western Europe.
    [In absolute terms] the poorest 10% of the American population are worse off [than] the poorest tenth of the populations of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
    A Swedish family … that is at the threshold of that poorest 10% … will also have the security of a safety net of income support and free health care services that far surpasses anything available to the poor in America.
    (p 27)

    [American] life expectancy at birth [falls] somewhere between that of Greece and Portugal. …

    [The] richest 1% of Americans hold more than 38% of the nation's wealth, a concentration unmatched in any other developed nation. …
    [Between] 1979 and 1997, the after-tax income of the top 1% of Americans rose 157%, while the income of those in the middle-income range rose by only 5%, and that of the poorest fifth of the population actually fell. …
    In 1970 … the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was thirty-nine times the pay of an ordinary worker.
    By 1999, it had risen to more than one thousand times …

    Would you like to know more?

    Such deep differences in income and wealth raise, as Bush correctly noted, a serious doubt about whether America is a just society. …
    But [then] equality of wealth has never been prominent among American values.
    (p 28)

    [The] distinctively American form of equality has [always] been equality of opportunity. …
    George W Bush:
    [Every] child must have an equal place at the starting line.
    [In a nation with a] high percentage of its children living in relative poverty [some children will] have plenty of nutritious food, a warm place to sleep in winter, and air-conditioning in summer.
    From their early years of schooling, they have their own room, desk and [networked] computer.
    Others [will] have none of these advantages.
    How can children living in such different circumstances have an equal start in life?
    (p 29)

    In 1994, the last year for which figures are available, a student … from a family with earnings in the top quarter of the population, was ten times more likely to gain a degree by the age of twenty-four than a student from a family with earnings in the bottom quarter.
    [In 1979 the ratio was 4:1.]
    (p 30)

    [An inheritance tax] taxes people who are receiving a benefit [that] they have done nothing to deserve.
    [It] is just as likely to come to the idle as to the hard-working.
    [Those] who worry about the disincentive effects of welfare on the poor should have no difficulty in accepting that a similar effect can [apply to the rich.]
    Several studies suggest that people who grow up knowing that they will never need to earn their own living consume more and work less …
    [Even if this were not true,] as long as people can pass great wealth on to their children, there can never be real equality of opportunity.
    (p 31)
    William Gates Snr:
    While we may not be able to ensure that all children start their lives on a level playing field, that is something we should strive for and the estate tax keeps us closer to that ideal.

    Bush's choice


    Bush's conception of 'a single nation of justice and opportunity' cannot be reconciled
    • with his opposition to taxes on a small number of especially high value estates and on dividends, nor
    • with his support for giving most of the budget surplus that existed when he was elected … back to taxpayers who are not in need, nor
    • with his continued support for tax cuts favourable to the rich after that surplus disappeared.
    (p 32)

    Studies of national tax and spending policies have shown that societies in which [tax more have] lower income inequality.
    [Among] the richer nations … the more equal ones have … a higher income per capita [and lower rates of absolute and relative poverty.]
    (p 33)

    One might think … that the highest priority of [a compassionate conservative] administration … would be to provide very substantial additional funds for faith-based and other non-profit charities.
    Since the budget was in surplus when Bush took office, these funds were available even without tax increases.
    Instead, the tax cut was a higher priority.
    Now, having got the tax cut, the Bush administration says that it has to cut back spending.
    (p 35)
    John J Dilulio Jnr [Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives]:
    Repeal [of the estate tax] could undercut another administration priority: encouraging private contributions to charities, religious and nonreligious alike, that help the poor. …
    The number of Americans living in poverty rose in 2001 and increased again in 2002. …
    In 2003, when it was clear that the budget surplus had turned into a substantial deficit, and that more spending was needed for the war with Iraq, Bush [passed] another huge tax cut [which] he promoted … as a means of helping to speed up economic recovery.
    (p 36)

    George Akerlof, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley and the 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, has described the current deficit as as 'a form of looting' and warned that in future, if America is to avoid the threat of bankruptcy, Medicare and Social Security will have to be cut back heavily. …

    [The] Financial Times speculated [that] the real agenda was deliberately to bring about what Akerlof has warned is likely to happen: a fiscal crisis that would provide a justification for slashing federal spending on popular social programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
    [If] true, 'compassionate conservatism' will have turned into its very opposite: a conservatism that increases the power and affluence of the rich, and is prepared to be utterly heartless to the poor and elderly.
    (p 38)


    THE CULTURE OF LIFE


    On his first day in office [Bush] reinstated President Reagan's order barring health care organisations all over the world from receiving American funding if they perform abortions — even when these services are separately financed — or if they even offer women advice about abortion.
    Subsequently … he froze millions of dollars of American assistance for the World Health Organization and United Nations Population Fund programs to advance reproductive health.
    (p 48)


    Capital punishment


    [Few] countries use the death penalty.
    Only China and Iran execute more people than the US. …
    Under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, it is regarded as a human rights violation …
    (p 53)

    When Bush was elected president, the federal government had not used the death penalty for thirty-eight years.
    Bush reinstated it.
    When he was Governor of Texas [he] signed 152 death warrants — more than any previous Governor of Texas, or any other American governor in modern times.
    Typically, he made his life-and-death decision after a half-hour briefing with his legal counsel.
    Only once, as governor, did he stop an execution.
    (p 54)

    The Death Penalty Information Center has a list of 102 people wrongly sentenced to death in the United States between 1973 and 2000.
    An investigation by the Chicago Tribune of all 682 executions in the United States between 1976 and 2000 found that at least 120 people were put to death while still proclaiming their innocence, and in four of these cases there was evidence supporting the claim of innocence.
    (p 55)

    In 1999 Governor George Ryan of Illinois [set up a commission that] conducted the most thorough study of the death penalty ever carried out in a single state.
    It concluded that thirteen condemned prisoners were innocent. …
    George Ryan:
    Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error, error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die.
    The commission proposed changes to the criminal justice system that were repeatedly rejected by the Illinois legislature.
    [Just] before he left office, Ryan felt he could no longer live with the risk of executing the innocent [so he] commuted all death sentences … to terms of imprisonment. …
    George W Bush:
    I don't think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. …
    I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people's lives.
    (p 56)

    [After] the 1976 US Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty is constitutional, a dozen states chose not to enact laws allowing it.
    These states have not had higher homicide rates than the states that did enact such laws — in fact ten of them have had homicide rates lower than the national average.
    South Dakota has it, and North Dakota does not.
    The homicide rate is higher in South Dakota than in North Dakota.
    Connecticut has it, and Massachusetts does not.
    Again, the homicide rate is higher in the state with the death penalty.
    [These states] are roughly comparable, in terms of their economic and ethnic mix.
    Moreover, homicide rates have risen and fallen in roughly symmetrical patterns in states with and without the death penalty, suggesting that the existence or absence of the death penalty has little effect on the incidence of homicide.

    In 1992 California carried out its first execution in twenty-five years.
    Homicide rates in Los Angeles rose.
    [After] Oklahoma restored the death penalty [a study] comparing 293 [matched] pairs of neighbouring counties… found no deterrent effect from capital punishment, executions, or whether a county has a population on death row.
    (p 57)

    [There were] higher violent crime rates in death penalty counties. …

    [A] study of the effect of executions in Texas from 1982 until 1997 … concluded that the number of executions was unrelated to murder rates.

    [There] are some studies that suggest that the death penalty does have a deterrent effect.
    [However,] they usually turn out to have serious flaws. …

    Bush, as Governor of Texas [opposed a bill to prohibit] the use of the death penalty [on those] with IQs of less than 65 [saying:]
    I like the law the way it is right now
    (p 58)

    In May 1997 [he executed] Terry Washington, a thirty-three-year-old mentally retarded man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old. …

    In June 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled that [executing the intellectually disabled violates] the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution [prohibiting 'cruel and unusual punishment'.]
    (p 59)


    Killing in war


    [During the 2003 Iraq War] the approval of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [was required] for air attacks considered likely to kill more than thirty civilians.
    More than fifty such attacks were proposed, and Rumsfeld approved all of them …
    (p 61)

    "Just War" Doctrine


    The Immunity of Non-combatants

    Only … combatants are legitimate targets.
    Civilians are not to be directly attacked …
    [The] greatest possible care must be taken to avoid harming them indirectly, and when that cannot be done, to minimise the harm done.


    Proportionality

    Gaining an objective should not involve inflicting harms that are disproportional to the value of the objective itself.
    [Causing] disproportionate harm to civilians cannot be justified, even when the harm is not directly intended.


    Right Intention

    The intention with which each act is carried out must be just …
    [Indiscriminate] violence is wrong, even in the course of a war. …

    (The Challenge of Peace, United States Bishops Conference, 1983)
    (p 62)
    Donald Rumsfeld:
    [No] nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict. …

    General Tommy R Franks [Commander, US Forces, Afghanistan]:
    I can't imagine there's been a conflict in history where there has been less collateral damage, less unintended consequences.
    [In] Kosovo the NATO forces dropped more bombs than the US dropped in Afghanistan, yet the Afghanistan bombing killed twice as many civilians.
    (p 63)

    [In] responding to [an attack] that killed twelve villagers, a Pentagon spokesman said that … trucks and equipment belonging to the Taliban were … 'authorised military targets'.
    (p 64)

    On the only occasion reported in Woodward's book [Bush at War] when there was a discussion of the 'collateral damage' issue, Bush was more concerned with the public relations aspect of such damage than with probing whether more could be done to avoid it.
    George W Bush:
    Well, we also need to highlight the fact that the Taliban are killing people and conducting their own terror operations, so get a little bit more balance here about what the situation is.
    In Iraq, too, [it appears] Bush was more concerned with image than with reality. …
    George W Bush:
    … I was worried that the first pictures coming out of Iraq would be a wounded grandchild of Saddam Hussein …
    [That] the first images of the American attack would be death to young children.
    The concern Bush expresses here is not about the risk that American bombs might kill or wound children [but about the public relations impact of] images of the dead or wounded children …
    (p 68)


    A selective culture of life


    Bush's support for the death penalty, in the face of evidence that it is not an effective deterrent [and] that the American system of justice allows some innocent people to be executed, is not consistent with his professed ethic of respect for innocent human life.
    [His] concern for the lives of innocent people on death row, and for innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq falls far short of his concern with protecting embryos that might be used for stem cell research. …
    The frozen embryos that scientists wish to use will be destroyed anyway, if they are not used.
    They have no future.
    [None] of them have, or have had, any conscious awareness, any hopes or desires of their own.
    (p 68)

    … Bush is [not] an evil person in the way that Osama bin Laden is evil. …
    But it is important to notice that Osama bin Laden has appealed to exactly the same distinction between what we intend, and what we foresee will happen as a result of our actions, in order to deny that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were contrary to Islamic law. …
    Osama bin Laden:
    [I agree that the] prophet Mohammed forbade the killing of babies and women …
    [However, the hijackers] did not intend to kill babies …
    [They] intended to destroy the strongest military power in the world, to attack the Pentagon that houses more than 64,000 employees, a military centre that houses the strength and the military intelligence …

    The [twin] towers are an economic power and not a children's school.
    Those that were there are men that supported the biggest economic power in the world. …
    (Television interview, Al Jazeera, October 2001)
    (p 73, emphasis added)

    If we allow Bush to justify acts that he knew would kill innocents by saying that killing innocents was not his intention, then we should be aware that others, too, can use the same distinction between intention and unwanted consequences to reconcile their deadly deeds with a religious ethic that would otherwise rule them out. …

    It might be possible to justify the loss of innocent life … by making a utilitarian calculation that [military action] would save more lives in the end.
    [However, we would need to be] quite certain that the facts are really as they are claimed to be.
    Is the goal worth pursuing?
    Will our actions really help us to achieve it?
    Is it important enough to justify the loss of civilian lives? …
    [Such] an argument leads, not to black and white distinctions between evil terrorism and good military bombings of residential districts, but to shades of grey.
    (p 74)


    THE FREEST NATION IN THE WORLD?


    A philosophy that trusts individuals

    George W Bush:
    My philosophy trusts individuals to make the right decisions for their, families and communities, and that is far more compassionate than a philosophy that seeks solutions from distant bureaucracies. …
    I believe government closest to the people governs best.
    (p 76)
    George W Bush:
    … I don't trust the federal government.
    I don't want the federal government making decisions on behalf of everybody. …
    (p 77)


    Choosing how to die


    In 1994 a majority of voters in the state of Oregon approved a proposal to allow physicians to prescribe, but not to administer, a lethal dose of drugs to patients who are terminally ill.
    Two doctors must confirm that the patient is likely to die within six months …
    [The] patient must be informed and mentally competent, and must make three requests, two oral and one written, for assistance in dying.
    The requests must be at least fifteen days apart. …

    Opponents of the new law [delayed] the law's implementation [in the courts.]
    Three years later, [they] succeeded in getting the issue placed on the ballot again.
    [Despite] a well-funded campaign … by pro-life organisations … Roman Catholics and other conservative Christians, Oregon voters reaffirmed their support for physician-assisted suicide, by a considerably larger majority than in 1994. Further attempts to stop the law through the courts failed …
    [Since the] law went into effect [there] is no evidence of abuse or a 'slippery slope' to less justified uses of physician-assisted suicide.
    (p 79)

    Between 1997 [and 2001] 129 patients used their prescriptions to end their lives.
    The overwhelming majority of them had cancer and their median age was sixty-nine. …

    President Clinton's attorney-general, Janet Reno [declared that there was] nothing in the federal laws governing prescription drugs that forbade their use for this purpose …
    (p 80)

    [On] 9 November 2001 … Bush's attorney-general, John Ashcroft, reversed Reno's decision and asserted that federally controlled substances could not be used in physician-assisted suicide.
    (p 81)

    It is difficult to see why a president with a philosophy of trusting individuals to make the right decisions would not allow terminally ill, mentally competent individuals to decide when they have had enough and wish to die. …

    [He] can hardly claim to be a supporter of [states rights] if he only allows them to pass laws that he personally supports.
    Wikipedia:
    [In 2006 the Supreme Court] ruled that the United States Attorney General could not enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act against physicians who prescribed drugs … for the assisted suicide of the terminally ill.
    (p 83)


    Choosing what drugs to take, and who to marry


    During the 1999 election campaign … Bush said that he would allow the states to decide on the medical use of marijuana, and [on the] question on gay marriage …
    (p 84)

    [After taking office there were] raids involving dozens of federal government agents on co-operatives that distribute marijuana to people who are ill.
    (p 85)
    George W Bush:
    [I believe] marriage is between a man and a woman …
    [We] ought to codify that one way or the other …
    [This was] understood to express support for a constitutional amendment to rule out same-sex marriages …
    No genuine advocate of small government would seek to take from the states the right to decide whether people of the same sex can marry.


    The environment


    One area in which Bush has lived up to the pledge to cut back the role of the federal government is the environment.
    (p 86)


    Freedom and the Bush philosophy


    [Bush's] record as president suggests that neither the promotion of individual rights and freedoms, nor the curtailment of the powers of the federal government, is a high priority for him.
    (p 103)

    When individuals make decisions he thinks wrong — whether it is terminally ill patients who wish to end their own lives, or people who find smoking marijuana helps them deal with illness — he will try to prevent them from acting on their decisions.
    When states pass laws that allow their citizens freedoms that Bush thinks they ought not to have, he will try to use the power of the federal government to overturn or thwart those laws.
    The chief area in which he has been ready to support states' rights and local decision-making is the environment …

    To the extent that Bush is successful in forcing Americans to do what he thinks to be right, America will fall behind other nations in terms of freedom.
    Residents of the Netherlands and Belgium … have more freedom than Americans to choose how they die.
    In those countries, patients who are terminally or incurably ill, and suffering in ways that cannot be relieved, may ask a doctor to assist them in committing suicide, or to give them a lethal injection.
    About 2% of all deaths in the Netherlands occur as a result of such a request.
    (p 104)

    A rather larger number obtain the assurance of their doctor that if their suffering becomes unbearable, the doctor will end their lives, but, having received this assurance, they do not find it necessary to make use of it. …
    The Dutch are also freer than Americans with regard to the use of marijuana. …
    Admittedly … Dutch residents are less free than most Americans [when it comes to buying a gun. …]

    It used to be possible to say that the rights and liberties of Americans are more secure than those of the citizens of other countries because they are protected by a written constitution that is upheld by an independent judiciary.
    Under Bush, it is no longer possible to say this.
    Basic rights to liberty and due process have been denied, and the Bush administration has resorted to secret assassinations of those it suspects of terrorism.

    [When] examining the killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq [and of prisoners in America, it is clear that] Bush's support for the right to life is less absolute than his statements about abortion and the rights of embryos would lead one to expect.
    (p 105)