01 July 2007

UNneedful

[source, source]

There is a rutted track that passes a nearly empty dam where a truck has broken down and been left to its own fate.

Sheds and barns for curing tobacco are deserted. Gates hang open and there is scant fencing. A fallen tree lies across the track. The only sign of activity is a flock of sheep owned by a neighbouring white farmer who leases the unused grazing.

This is the farm of Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, who became chairman of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development last month. He occupied Nyamanda farm, just south of the small town of Karoi in northern Zimbabwe in 2003, a year after its owner, Chris Shepherd, and his family were driven out by lawless ruling party militias.

On its 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres), Mr Shepherd had planted 80 hectares of high-grade tobacco and 200 hectares of maize. Cattle grazed on 300 hectares.

Last year Mr Nhema managed three hectares of tobacco and ten hectares of maize.

“This year there is nothing,? said a former farm security guard, who asked to remain anonymous. “There is a small patch of soya beans. The rest is weeds. The whole 1,000 hectares are weeds.?

Mr Nhema, who is now the world’s leading international authority on global policies for the prudent management of rural and industrial resources, has never been on the farm for more than a few hours and comes once every few months, said the guard. A relative lived in the house for a while “but he knew nothing about farming?, and it is now empty, he said.

The 4,300 farms seized illegally by President Mugabe since 2000 have followed the same pattern overwhelmingly, and turned one of the most robust and enterprising agricultural industries into a model of neglect.

Welcome to the UN.

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Giving up on the "alpha male" stylings

Al Gore hands down his Seven Commandments. The only difference between these and the work of an earnest 13-year-old girl is the lack of pony drawings.

Tim Blair

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Betrayed by a source

[source]

On June 28, in an historic move the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the expert review comments and responses to its latest assessment of the science of climate change. The IPCC report is the primary source of data for Al Gore’s movie and book titled “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Many of the comments by the reviewers are strongly critical of claims contained in the final report, and they are directly at odds with the so-called “scientific consensus” touted by Gore and others calling for immediate government action. For example, the following comment by Eric Steig appears in Second Order Draft Comments, Chapter 6; section 6-42:

In general, the certainty with which this chapter presents our understanding of abrupt climate change is overstated. There is confusion between hypothesis and evidence throughout the chapter, and a great deal of confusion on the differences between an abrupt “climate change” and possible, hypothetical causes of such climate changes.

[…]

See the IPCC expert comments “here”: http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Comments/wg1-commentFrameset.html

Unbiased observers have known from the start that the IPCC was primarily a political document. It’s interesting that even as it tones down the “destroy us all!” rhetoric from previous releases, the actual scientists still think it’s over the top.

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Insourcing enemy propaganda

[source]

June 29, 2007: U.S. troops have been mystified at how differently the war they fight in Iraq is portrayed by the U.S. media back home. Most just shrug it off as “politics,” and yet another reason to not trust what the mass media presents as reliable reporting. But recently, the troops have been passing around an interesting discovery. Namely, that the Japanese psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;

  1. Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.
  2. This war is illegal.
  3. You cannot win the war.

The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that their own media is now sending out this message. Fighting the enemy in Iraq is simple, compared to figuring out what news editors are thinking back home. A few times, the mass media has been bold, or foolish, enough to confront the troops about this divergence of perceptions. The result is usually a surreal exchange, with the troops giving the journalist a “what planet are YOU from” look. Naturally, this sort of thing doesn’t get much exposure. When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the opinions of the troops (of all ranks), because they are “too close” to see “the big picture.” For the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing with the troops, find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used at all. Historians will have a good time with all this.

And when editorial bias isn’t enough, Old Media is quite willing to just make stuff up.

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