The F Word Is Famine

Drought causes huge corn losses in Iowa...

SAUDI ARABIA, from next year, is planning to incrementally, and completely, phase out domestic wheat production over the next several years due to fears over water supplies, introducing plans to halt wheat production by 2016 because of concerns about the desert kingdom's scarce water resources, according to a US government agency.

According to the Financial Times Saudi Arabia will begin reducing production annually by 12.5 per cent from next year and will use imports to bridge the domestic consumption gap. As the Saudis gouges the West with its oil exports, some might wonder why is this a matter for concern? But perhaps we should not allow ourselves even a tiny bit of smugness.

For one, world food prices are already skyrocketing. The price of wheat alone has doubled in the last year, partly due to vehicles now competing with people for 'fuel'; partly due to developing nations like China becoming wealthier and demanding both more food, and more energy intensive foodstuffs, like meat and dairy that use significantly more land, water and fossil fuel resources; partly due to climate change reducing yields through droughts and floods; partly due to the continuing trend of soil erosion and desertification; and partly due to reduced yields from the use of genetically modified crops.

As the Financial Times article states, by 1991 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had become a net exporter of wheat. Turn those exports around, and make the Kingdom's almost 25 million people begin to completely rely on imports at a time where stresses on global food supplies are mounting, and the terms 'vulnerability' and 'political instability' begin to move to the fore.

Eric Brooks draws parallels between the peaking of global food production and the peaking of oil, and further outlines the worrying state of grain production around the world:

But here's the most worrisome parallel of all: Flattening productivity increases, limited land area, insatiable meat demand, population growth, ethanol, biodiesel and climate change—these factors are turning once major grain exporters such as Australia, the EU and China into minor exporters or even large grain importers. As one country after another's oil production peaked, there remained fewer and fewer net oil exporters they could rely on to fulfil their needs.

Now, just as most of the world imports much of its oil from a handful of OPEC nations, most countries source an increasing proportion of their grain from the United States, Canada and Latin America. As happened in the oil patch decades ago, most of the world now depends on just five or six countries in North America and South America—the Persian Gulf of feed grain supplies.

At the same time, we see the list of countries that can be relied on to supply the rest of the world with feed grains steadily shrinking. Thanks to drought and biodiesel, China still imports rapeseed from Canada but no longer from the EU or Australia. The EU, once a grain exporter, now suffers serious feed grain deficits. On a recent tour of Europe to assess the severity of the situation, Ken Hobbie, USGC's president and CEO noted that, "The EU recently lifted all import tariffs and duties temporarily as a result of the ongoing grain shortages."

Chris Corry, USGC's senior director of international operations added that, "They have a real big problem over here with grain supplies. We are hearing that Europe will need 17 to 18 million metric tons of feed grains next year. That is how bad things are." For Asian countries, the EU's transformation into a net grain importer removes another major exporter from their supply chain equations.

As Europe vanishes off the feed grain export list, South America's corn exports are also fading. The USDA's December 13, 2007 Feed Outlook reports that, "Argentina's government has been keeping export registrations for corn closed, thereby limiting corn exports and keeping a lid on prices in Argentina." Apparently, even large grain exporters fear the consequences of today's global grain shortage.

At around the same time, the Korea Herald reported that "American corn achieved an 84 percent market share in South Korea." Byong Royal Min, the USGC director in Korea, said it was "a lack of corn supplies from South America that propelled the United States to this market leading position." Whether America can continue raising its ethanol production and remain a major corn exporter is itself in doubt.

Clearly, as the number of reliable feed grain exporters dwindles, large importers fear they are too dependent on a handful of large, powerful suppliers. Indeed, Chinese reluctance to import corn from the US dominated western hemisphere mirrors American anxiety about relying on Middle Eastern oil.

For a nation like Saudi Arabia to just give up growing its own grain (they do like Pita bread, after all), things are clearly getting desperate on the water front. Even without climate change, water stresses have been mounting worldwide (see also). Add climate change to the mix, and we can expect to see a growing number of nations making similar drastic decisions. Without a major change of direction, such growing national interdependencies will increase international tensions.

Some might assume that as the need for a reprioritization of basic food needs become more pronounced, the world will adjust its production systems to suit (think 'the invisible hand of the market')— i.e. that people will begin to reduce the strain by moving away from meat based diets, for example. But, I would venture to say that the more likely scenario is that those who can afford to continue with the lifestyle they now have, will do so, and those that cannot afford to outbid wealthy nations like Saudi Arabia, the U.S., China, etc., will simply go without.

When storing food away, stay organized.
We're seeing this already with food, oil, and climate change issues. People on the bottom rungs of the ladder are falling off while the wealthy continue lifestyles of excess.

Essentially, money talks. The Saudi situation is a case in point. It is already believed that Saudi Arabia is consuming large amounts of water through water injection—they pump water into failing oil wells to force the oil out. Instead of growing food with the water, it may be getting used to postpone peak oil. Oil may well be more valuable to the nation than food, at least for the moment...

There are those who perceive solutions to these issues, and it is the hope of many that these solutions will finally begin to get the long-overdue attention they deserve. For example, Permaculture techniques have been shown to create food where before there was only desert. We know that converting agriculture to organic systems can considerably increase yields, even in dry regions. Re-vegetating formerly depleted soils, and re-greening regions has the knock-on effect of enabling land to filter and hold vast amounts of water. Conversely, contemporary agricultural practices use considerably more water—as the lack of soil structure inherent with industrialized systems causes water to rapidly leech away or run off.

The monoculture systems that globalised food production requires are less productive than bio-diverse systems—systems that not only enable local populations to provide for their own needs, but also do away with the fossil fuel inputs currently used for both food production and global transport (and lets not forget that chemical-based agricultural imputs contaminate the little water we have).

Peak oil, peak soil, peak water, population growth and climate change all add up to mounting pressure on our most basic needs—food and water. If we don't wake up soon, we may well see more nations being added to the list of countries unable to provide for their own needs. Perhaps the only (short term) winners in this scenario will be the trans-nationals and transport organisations that get to make a buck on every sale and transfer.

It's grim news for everybody. The global economy is just about coping with the sub-prime crisis, the fall of the dollar and oil at $102 a barrel. But the inflationary surge in the costs of food, which now dwarfs the rise in oil prices, could prove to be the final straw. World grain reserves are at their lowest levels since records were first kept back in 1960, and the U.S. stockpile had not been this low since 1948.

This problem has been coming for some time, driven by three separate factors. The first is overall population increase. The second is that emergent economies like China and India are climbing up the prosperity chain and demanding more meat protein, which takes eight times as much land to produce as vegetable protein. The third is that short-sighted government subsidies for biofuels is eroding the amount of crops available for eating.

Read morel here and here.

The Neutron Bomb

This article was published in the LA Times on June 15, 1997 by reporter Christopher Ruddy. Read it and weep at the repercussions of a deaf and blind society...

Samuel T. Cohen, Inventor of the neutron bomb
Samuel T. Cohen, Inventor of the neutron bomb

LOS ANGELES—For most of Sam Cohen's life, he has struggled against politicians who, in his opinion, have sacrificed good sense when it comes to the nation's defenses. Cohen is the physicist who invented the neutron bomb, the one that kills people but leaves things like tanks and buildings intact. Plans to deploy his creations in Europe during the '70s and '80s awakened the "peace movement" across that continent, stopping its deployment.

With that and other battles lost, the 76-year-old Cohen finds solace in his Brentwood home, nestled high on a hill overlooking Los Angeles. There the world is far more peaceful, or so it seems. Just down the road is the Rockingham estate of one O.J. Simpson. Cohen would pass there often during his morning walks, and occasionally see the former football star. "He was always pleasant," Cohen recounted.

Cohen would probably be unfazed if confronted by a knife-wielding mugger—a threat insignificant in the scheme of things. What worries him are weapons of mass destruction—nuclear ones that destroy whole cities.

The politicians tell us that our security has never been better. Cohen describes the present situation as "scary, more scary than ever before." He's concerned that the Clinton administration has decided it is politically incorrect to even think about the design and development of nuclear weapons. The head of the division of the Livermore National Laboratories in charge of such weapon development has threatened to resign if he is ordered to develop new weapons, Cohen noted in a recent interview.

The government doesn't want people to even think about nuclear weapons, which is like telling Sam Cohen he is no longer permitted to breathe.

As a kid from Brooklyn who graduated with a physics degree from UCLA, he enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. In 1944 Cohen was assigned to the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop atomic weapons at Los Alamos, N.M. Cohen had the mundane job of calculating how neutrons behaved in "Fat Man"— the nickname of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. (The bomb dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier was nicknamed "Little Boy.")

The boring work was all worthwhile because Cohen eventually stood in the Nevada desert and witnessed something on par with the Transfiguration: an atomic explosion. Cohen saw firsthand the awesome power of the unleashed atom as human history entered a new age. "Awesome spectacle" is how Cohen still describes the event. Puffing on a cigar as he relaxed in his easy chair wearing a T-shirt and jogging pants, Sam remembered that day vividly. World War II flying hero Jimmy Doolittle stood next to him when the bomb went off. "The little guy was blown down," Cohen recalled.

After the war ended, Cohen joined the Rand Corp. where he was paid to continue thinking about nuclear weapons. He was obsessed with the idea of a neutron bomb, one that would make use of the lethal particles he had observed so studiously at Los Alamos.

The earliest bombs had used nuclear fission, splitting heavy atoms to release energy. Later bombs used nuclear fusion, which fused hydrogen atoms to release energy. Both designs produced tremendous blasts that could level whole cities, and left them uninhabitable for long periods because of lingering radiation.

Cohen's neutron bomb would use nuclear fusion, but in a different way. The detonation of a neutron bomb would still produce an explosion, but one much smaller than a standard nuclear weapon's. The main effect of a neutron bomb would be the release of high-energy neutrons that would take lives far beyond the blast area. The result: fewer buildings, cars, tanks, roads, highways and other structures destroyed.

And unlike standard nuclear bombs that leave long-term contamination of the soil and infrastructure, the neutron radiation quickly dissipates after the explosion.

For Cohen, the neutron bomb is the ultimate sane weapon. It kills humans, or as he puts it "the bad guys," but doesn't produce tremendous collateral damage on civilian populations and the infrastructure a civilian population needs to survive. This meant, in Cohen's mind, that a conventional war could escalate without immediately leading to an all-out nuclear holocaust. If regular nuclear weapons were used across Europe, the radioactive fallout could turn the continent into a wasteland for decades. That wouldn't be the case if neutron bombs were used.

Between 1958 and 1961 the neutron bomb idea was tested successfully, but the politicians in Washington nixed development and deployment of the weapon. Cohen persisted. As the Vietnam War began and festered in the 1960s, Cohen became an advocate of using neutron bombs there. To Cohen, his weapon was "a perfect fit" for dealing with the Viet Cong hidden in the jungles and rice paddies.

Again, the politicians had other ideas. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ruled that no nuclear weapons of any type would be used in the war. The use of the small neutron bombs would have brought the war to a quick end, Cohen still argues, and saved the loss of more than 50,000 American lives.

In 1969, Cohen was fired from the Rand Corp. for continuing to advocate the use of tactical neutron bombs to end the conflict. "I lost all my battles," Cohen says today.

In 1979, he was in Paris helping the French build their own arsenal of neutron bombs when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan came through on a European tour. Cohen met with Reagan to brief him on the neutron bomb. Reagan grasped the idea of neutron weaponry immediately, and made a pledge to Cohen, and later a public pledge, that he would reverse Carter administration policy by building and deploying a large number of neutron bombs.

As president, Reagan fulfilled that pledge and approximately a thousand weapons were constructed. But criticism from European allies kept the weapons from being deployed across Europe. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism as we knew it, the Bush administration moved to dismantle all of our tactical nuclear weapons, including the Reagan stockpile of neutron bombs. In Cohen's mind, America was brought back to Square One. Without tactical weapons like the neutron bomb, America would be left with two choices if an enemy was winning a conventional war: surrender, or unleash the holocaust of strategic nuclear weapons. Other nations haven't been afflicted by the U.S. blindness regarding neutron bombs. According to Cohen:

Evidence exists that China has neutron bombs stockpiled, and that the United States gave the Chinese the technology to build them. Russia has a large quantity of such weapons, as well as the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Israel has hundreds of neutron weapons. The neutron bombs would allow Israel to stop advancing Arab armies and tank columns—even one on Israeli soil—without permanently contaminating the land.

South Africa, which constructed a cache of neutron weapons before the end of white rule, claimed it dismantled those weapons before handing over power to the Nelson Mandela government. Cohen, however, claims to have it on good authority that white military leaders still control the secret stockpile as "an insurance policy."

Most frightening for Cohen is the relative ease by which neutron bombs can be created with a substance called red mercury. Red mercury is a compound containing mercury that has undergone massive irradiation. When exploded, it creates tremendous heat and pressure— the same type needed to trigger a fusion device such as a mini-neutron bomb. Before, an obstacle to creating a nuclear bomb was the need for plutonium, which when exploded could create a fusion reaction in hydrogen atoms. But red mercury has changed that. The cheap substance has been produced in Russia, Cohen said, and shipped on the black market throughout the world.

Cohen said that when U.N. inspectors went to Iraq to examine the Iraqis' nuclear weapons capabilities, the U.N. team found documents showing that they had purchased quantities of red mercury. The material means a neutron bomb can be built "the size of baseball" but able to kill everyone within several square blocks. The public isn't being warned about this development because the politicians have little desire to combat the menace or to confront nations like Iraq, Iran and Libya that likely would use such weapons, Cohen said, adding, "I have little faith in the politicians anyway. Every president since Truman, with the possible exception of Eisenhower, would have sold the country out if it came down to a nuclear confrontation," he said.

In a recent interview, Sam Cohen, the father of the neutron bomb, offered his views on several national security issues:

RUSSIA: Though the Cold War is over and Russia appears in disarray, Cohen suggested that the situation remains dangerous because Russia has "far and away substantially more nuclear weapons than we do." While U.S. policy makers have been busy dismantling our nuclear arsenal, Russia continues to modernize.

The United States has been paying billions of dollars for the leftover plutonium from Russia's dismantled weapons, but evidence indicates that the Russians have not been turning over weapons-grade plutonium. Instead, the United States has been paying for, and not objecting to, material from their nuclear power plants—a strong sign the Russians are not dismantling their weapons.

MISSILE DEFENSES: Calling a ballistic missile defense system "absolutely necessary," Cohen said American space-based plans so far have been a "debacle" that have cost taxpayers more than $50 billion.

Cohen argued that the "Star Wars" plan envisioned by President Ronald Reagan was inherently flawed. Politicians, once again fearing the "n" word, promised that nuclear weapons would not be used in any missile defense system. Cohen contends Reagan received misleading advice that technology was advanced enough to create a non-nuclear missile defense system.

Almost 15 years have passed since Reagan's call for a missile defense system, and still no weapons have been deployed. Cohen said that, had nuclear weapons been used, a fairly inexpensive system could already have been deployed. In such a system, nuclear weapons are exploded high in the atmosphere to either destroy or knock off trajectory incoming missiles. While the radioactive fallout from such explosions would pose some threat to civilian populations, it would be infinitely less harmful than having enemy missiles hit their targets.

Already, Cohen reported, the Russians have a sophisticated nuclear-based missile defense system around Moscow and possibly elsewhere. According to published intelligence reports, in the late 1980s the Russians began developing a "plasma weapon" for missile defenses. The plasma weapon uses nuclear energy to ionize the atmosphere, destroying or rendering inoperable any missiles passing through the plasma field.

SEAPOWER: Cohen said navies have become "obsolete" in terms of global warfare using nuclear weapons, and he described floating ships as "sitting ducks" for nuclear weapons. The U.S. Navy depends on AEGIS missile defense systems to protect its fleets, but Cohen said AEGIS has failed all of its tests, and there is no proof that it could fend off a multi-missile strike against a fleet, let alone a country.

Cohen said the U.S. Navy should put more resources into nuclear-powered submarines because of the difficulty any enemy might have in destroying them in a first strike.

For years, the nuclear submarines were the most important part of our deterrent against surprise nuclear attack, primarily because the submarine captain and crew did not need special codes, known as permissive action links or PALs, to fire their weapons. Thus, if a surprise attack disabled our military communications, the submarine could still counterattack.

In recent years, Cohen said, the Clinton administration has instituted the use of PALs on nuclear missile submarines, limiting their deterrence value.

CHINA: Cohen thinks China will soon be in position to blackmail the United States into reneging on promises to defend Taiwan. Already China has made overt threats about hitting the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons. "China has said, `OK, if you defend Taiwan, we'll drop a nuclear weapon on Los Angeles,'" Cohen said. In a later trip to Taiwan, Cohen spoke before the military leadership there and strongly advised them to begin their own nuclear weapons program. The United States will not defend you because the politicians don't care about you, he told them.

The Gears Of Preparedness

BATTLING FEARS OF THE FUTURE? Here's what one fellow says you can do to help ease your mind. Consider the necessities of life—purchase now in bulk, especially storable food.

  • if inflation ensues, it will be worth more tomorrow.
  • if deflation, it may not be available tomorrow due to shortages.
  • If a complete financial breakdown follows, you're already more self-sufficient and can barter for other necessities.
  • If nothing happens, you will have paid off the future now instead of later.

    When storing food away, stay organized.

    Begin buying in your local area now, and keep buying there. Tell your friends what you are doing, and encourage them to do the same. We also need to slow down on purchasing imported items. I am one who doesn't believe we MUST buy imported anything! Globalism has suffocated American industrial know-how and can do, and thus the skills of self-preservation.

    The problem in America is the same problem as in the rest of the nations on our planet; it's the rich/poor system. As long as rich people get richer, the country and the world will continue to spiral towards the oblivion we see elsewhere around the world. We must again tax the rich according to the benefits they have acquired through a system slanted in their favor at the outset; once upon a time if one earned in excess of the masses annually, one would be obliged to give back in kind to the system.

    I am not a socialist or a communist. Nor am I currently poverty-stricken. But we are our brother's keeper, and as long as competition squashes the natural caring for our nation, we will keep slouching as a civilization toward that beastly keeper of Hell crushed by the gears of our own unpreparedness.

    On the national front, here's some advice from an old codger:

  • Cut non-essential government spending. Nearly all of it is non-essential. Cut all social programs. Cut all pork spending. Cut at least half of the humongous Federal work force (the government will run better.)
  • Bring our troops home who are scattered all around the world. We'll be stronger. Drastically downsize our armed forces, but maintain a large reserve in case we're attacked.
  • Bail out no one. No home owners, no Companies. For every company or homeowner that fails there is someone there to pick up the pieces at a bargain price. We're a resilient people. We'll bounce back.
  • Tighten our belt. If we survived The Great Depression—we can survive anything. I'm near eighty and I remember the depression. It was awful. Incidentally, we were slowly pulling out of it before WWII started.

  • Enough Of Radical Islam

    The following remarks were penned by Ben Shapiro:

    Ben Shapiro
    Ben Shapiro

    Inough with the pseudonyms. Western civilization isn't at war with terrorism any more than it is at war with grenades. Western civilization is at war with militant Islam, which dominates Muslim communities all over the world. Militant Islam isn't a tiny minority of otherwise goodhearted Muslims. It's a dominant strain of evil that runs rampant in a population of well over 1 billion.

    Enough with the psychoanalysis. They don't hate us because of Israel. They don't hate us because of Kashmir. They don't hate us because we have troops in Saudi Arabia or because we deposed Saddam Hussein. They don't hate us because of Britney Spears. They hate us because we are infidels, and because we don't plan on surrendering or providing them material aid in their war of aggressive expansion.

    Actually Ben, they hate us for each and every one of these things. They hate us because they hate life and instead love a lie.

    Enough with the niceties. We don't lose our souls when we treat our enemies as enemies. We don't undermine our principles when we post more police officers in vulnerable areas, or when we send Marines to kill bad guys, or when we torture terrorists for information. And we don't redeem ourselves when we close Guantanamo Bay or try terrorists in civilian courts or censor anti-Islam comics. When it comes to war, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

    Enough with the words. Talking with Iran without wielding the threat of force, either economic or military, won't help. Appealing to the United Nations, run by thugs and dictators ranging from Putin to Chavez to Ahmadinejad, is an exercise in pathetic futility. Evil countries don't suddenly decide to abandon their evil goals— they are forced to do so by pressure and circumstance.

    Enough with the faux allies. We don't gain anything by pretending that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are true allies. They aren't. At best, they are playing both sides of the table. We ought to be drilling now in order to break OPEC. Building windmills isn't going to cut it. We should also be backing India to the hilt in its current conflict with Pakistan—unless Pakistan can destroy its terrorist element, India should be given full leeway to do what it needs to do. Russia and China, meanwhile, are facilitating anti-Western terrorism. Treating them as friends in this global war is simply begging for a backstabbing.

    Enough with the myths. Not everyone on earth is crying out for freedom. There are plenty of people who are happy in their misery, believing that their suffering is part and parcel of a correct religious system. Those people direct their anger outward, targeting unbelievers. We cannot simply knock off dictators and expect indoctrinated populations to rise to the liberal democratic challenge. The election of Hamas in the Gaza Strip is more a rule than an exception in the Islamic world.

    Enough with the lies. Stop telling us that Islam is a religion of peace. If it is, prove it through action. Stop telling us that President-elect Barack Obama will fix our broken relationship with the Muslim world. They hate Obama just as much as they hated President George W. Bush, although they think Obama is more of a patsy than Bush was. Stop telling us that we shouldn't worry about the Islamic infiltration of our economy. If the Saudis own a large chunk of our banking institutions and control the oil market, they can certainly leverage their influence in dangerous ways.

    Enough. After the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the plane downed in Pennsylvania, the endless suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks in Israel, the Bali bombings, the synagogue bombing in Tunisia, the LAX shootings, the Kenyan hotel bombing, the Casablanca attacks, the Turkey synagogue attacks, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, and the repeated attacks in India culminating in the Mumbai massacres—among literally thousands of others—it's about time that the West got the point: we're in a war. Our enemies are determined. They will not quit just because we offer them Big Macs, Christina Aguilera CDs, or even the freedom to vote. They will not quit just because we ensure that they have Korans in their Guantanamo cells, or because we offer to ban "The Satanic Verses" (as India did). They will only quit when they are dead. It is our job to make them so, and to eliminate every obstacle to their destruction.

    So enough. No more empty talk. No more idle promises. No more happy ignorance, half measures, or appeasement-minded platitudes. The time for hard-nosed, uncompromising action hasn't merely come—it's been overdue by seven years. The voice of our brothers' blood cries out from the ground.

    Aussie Muslims Hail Apartheid

    Australia, slow to anger under a continued assault for preferential treatment by Islamic immigrants, now faces an unabashed call for apartheid for Muslims, a situation long considered the norm for the codified aggression and triumphalism of raw Mohammedism, but continually ignored by Western authorities.

    Of course, using taqiyya and good old-fashioned horse sense to justify its positions, the Islamic group weaves and bobs in every direction to make its point of thwarting the Australian multiculturalist establishment saddled with its own misguided agenda.

    But just ask the Europeans and the Scandanavians. Cut to the chase, just ask the Hindus of India how the Muslim enclaves develope and fester. Building a Muslim-only no-go enclave is ALWAYS the path the Koran and hadith-inspired invaders take to establish a strategic foothold from which to foster sharia within its community, effectively creating a no go zone for kafir authorities.

    Read it all:


    THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY plans to build a Muslim-only housing development and recreation center as part of a $10 million complex in Rivervale. Islamic Council of WA spokesman Rahim Ghauri said the group had an architect-designed concept plan for a six-storey housing development, an underground carpark and a hall for weddings, conferences and religious and recreational activities.

    Mr. Ghauri rejected claims the housing would further isolate sectors of the Muslim community from mainstream society, claiming the venue would be used to teach Islamic youth how to become good Australian citizens. And the council’s religious adviser, Abdul Jalil Ahmad, said it was useful for different religious or ethnic groups to have separate residential enclaves so their customs and exotic cooking smells did not offend neighbours.

    “It’s ideal for any ethnic group because you can deal with each other in an easier way,” Mr. Ahmad said. “In South Africa, because of apartheid, all different communities were set up and it worked well. It kept people separate. We can be together in terms of our contribution to the wider community.”

    Mr. Jalil, who once tried to set up a sharia court in WA to settle disputes in the Muslim community through an incorporated body, plans to live in the 20-unit complex on the community’s 1280sqm Malvern Street block.

    He said there was an argument for separate aged-care facilities based on race or religion, but building a general housing complex for families set a dangerous precedent which he believed would not have support in the Muslim or broader communities. “Self exclusion is just as bad as being excluded by other parties in Australia.

    Mr. Rahim said it would provide affordable housing for Muslims and be first-stop accommodation for Islamic students and newcomers to help integrate them into society. The group wants donations from “generous Muslims” locally and all over the world for the complex and so far had $100,000. He declined to reveal who was approached but said all donations would be declared to the Government.

    The council hoped to buy neighbouring vacant land from Landcorp to extend the development, possibly with offices, another carpark and sporting facilities. Mr. Rahim said WA’s Muslim community was one of the only religious groups which did not have its own recreation centre. It would offer to rent the hall to non-Muslims. He said the inclusion of units was necessary to pass local planning laws but the council would include the Muslim-only housing block even if it was forced to move to another area.

    Ethnic Communities Council president Ramdas Sankaran supported the development of a Muslim recreation hall but said a separate housing complex for any religious or ethnic group was a “deplorable” idea because it undermined social cohesion and promoted segregation.

    He said there was an argument for separate aged-care facilities based on race or religion, but building a general housing complex for families set a dangerous precedent which he believed would not have support in the Muslim or broader communities. “Self exclusion is just as bad as being excluded by other parties in Australia. It’s not in the interests of any group,” Mr. Sankaran said.

    Belmont mayor Glenys Godfrey had informal talks with the group but a council spokesman said it could not comment until it saw the plans.

    Sharia Finance Creeps Into Japan

    finance  jihad
    Sharia Finance in Japan?

    Nhe Japanese government has taken a small but important step toward introducing Islamic finance here amid the global financial crisis triggered by unsustainable subprime loans in the United States. Earlier this month, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) amended financial regulations to let bank subsidiaries handle Islamic finance operations. The Islamic finance market has become increasingly attractive for Japanese, having already grown to about $1 trillion with a potential to reach an estimated $4 trillion. Obviously, "oil money" has been undermined by the global financial crisis. Yet the latest push forward by the FSA strongly suggests that Japan has a growing interest in Islamic finance as a competitive way to attract huge amounts of petro-funds.

    Last year, the Japanese government revealed its Asia Gateway Initiative, which includes the promotion of Islamic finance as a method to develop the Asian bond market. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also touched upon Islamic finance in last year's White Paper on Trade. Other countries, like Britain and Singapore, are way ahead of Japan in the field, having made moves to use Islamic finance to enhance their own financial markets.

    Bringing in oil money...

    Yoshihiro Watanabe, managing director of the Institute for International Monetary Affairs, said the significance of Islamic finance is "to bring in oil money to Japan and stimulate the Japanese economy."

    Etsuaki Yoshida, deputy division chief at the Policy and Strategy Department for Financial Operations at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), is known as one of the few specialists in Japan.

    "Although this is my personal view, the current (global) situation actually heightens the relative significance of getting involved (in Islamic finance)," he said. Although only a few books on Islamic finance have been published in Japan, Yoshida has already written two of them. Experts acknowledge that Islamic finance is also important for starting projects in the Middle East and can serve to enhance the Asian bond market.

    Despite the various barriers remaining in Japan, the private sector has been participating in a number of overseas projects through Islamic financing methods. This year, a Mizuho Corporate Bank subsidiary in the Netherlands became a lead manager of a syndicated loan for a Saudi Arabian project to mine and refine phosphate ore. Part of the loan was made through Islamic financing.

    Read it all.

    Government Sanctioned Bias

    Australia faces trouble, too...
    Australia faces trouble, too...

    DISCRIMINATION against dominant white males will soon be encouraged in a bid to boost the status of women, the disabled and cultural and religious minorities. This report comes from Australia, home of the kangaroo and tragically misguided liberal. Such positive discrimination—treating people differently in order to obtain equality for marginalised groups—is set to be legalised under planned changes to the Equal Opportunity Act foreshadowed last week by state Attorney-General Rob Hulls. The laws are also expected to protect the rights of people with criminal records to get a job, as long as their past misdeeds are irrelevant to work being sought. Equal Opportunity Commission CEO Dr. Helen Szoke said males had "been the big success story in business and goods and services".

    "Clearly, they will have their position changed because they will be competing in a different way with these people who have been traditionally marginalised," she said. "Let's open it up so everyone can have a fair go."

    But one must question how can "fair go" mean certain underprivileged males will now be shunned for opportunities based on the fact other males have been successful.

    Victoria's peak business body expressed concern yesterday about the need for the proposed laws, and questioned if they would undermine the right of companies to make legitimate business decisions.

    At present, individuals or bodies wanting to single out any race or gender for special treatment must gain an exemption from VCAT. Companies and public bodies accused of discrimination can only be held to account after a complaint has been made.

    But the proposed changes go much further, allowing the commission to inquire into discrimination, seize documents and search and enter premises after attempts to bring about change have failed. Businesses and individuals would be required to change their ways even if a complaint had not been received.

    Action could be taken where an unlawful act was "likely to occur", not just in cases where discrimination has taken place. The commission would also have real teeth to enforce its rulings via VCAT and, as a last resort, in the courts. The changes, shown in a Department of Justice report by former public advocate Julian Gardner, would also:

    EDUCATE people so they know their rights.

    GIVE more protection to people with disabilities, requiring companies and public entities to reasonably accommodate their needs.

    GRANT the homeless and people who act as volunteers better protection from discrimination.

    Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace general manager David Gregory said business supported the objectives of equal opportunity legislation. "But I am concerned and curious about whether these changes mean the commission can second-guess the legitimate business decisions of individual businesses," he said.

    The first raft of changes to the Equal Opportunity Act were introduced into Parliament last week.

    While I realize that the so-called objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, with its cult status of the "Great Man" is somewhat flawed, this latest action by the Australian parliament is patently stupid. This persistent apotheosis of mediocrity in the West is no replacement for true achievement, although we each can point to individual and systemic examples of bias and preferential treatment in daily unfettered life. But suffice it to say, we do not believe that piling on even more systemic bias will cure what ails us.

    We must return to the life of the individual. Groupthink serves no one but the powerbrokers.