“Walled In!” is a 10-minute computer-animated documentary, in which the Berlin Wall and the East German-West German border (Inner-German border) have been reconstructed in incredible detail.
It was produced by Deutsche Welle – Germany’s international broadcaster.
You can really get a sense of how scared the Communist government was of letting its citizens flee its repression. Amongst the most gruesome booby traps installed inside the no-mans land include:
- “Stalin’s Lawn” – sheets of vertical metal spikes, usually placed underneath the balconies of buildings that reached over the East German side of the Berlin Wall./li>
- SM-70 Antipersonnel Mines – a spring gun that fires lethal shots at defectors trying to climb the wall on the West German side of the Inner-German border.
Also fascinating were the measures taken to reduce the likelihood of the East German border guards defecting themselves.
Here is another link for more information:
Filed under: Australian News, Australian Politics
The Australian Labor Government is desperate for money after several years of relentless spending on stupid projects and general mismanagement.
They have just rushed through legislation to enable the transfer of all money from accounts that have not been used for three years into their own revenues. This will commence after May 31st 2013.
There is no better time to read up on one of our most popular posts – How To Find Your Unclaimed Money, and tell all your friends to retrieve their unclaimed money while they still can.
Hat tip to Tim Blair for bringing this to my attention.
Filed under: International News, International Politics
The death of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il at age 69 has made news all over the world. Apparently, he had a heart attack whilst on a train.
He will be remembered for his skillful use of nuclear brinkmanship to protect his tyrannical regime and how he starved and brutalised his people, whilst lavishing the country’s limited wealth on himself and the military.
Here are a few sites with collections of reputed crazy facts about his lunatic, eccentric and brutal rule:
His son Kim Jong-Un has taken over. No-one really knows what to expect – he is young and baby-faced, in his late 20’s. Some in the media hope that he may be more modern-minded as he was educated in Switzerland, and so he may liberalise North Korea. I don’t buy this type of wishful thinking.
I recall the case of another long-ruling dictator – Syria’s Hafez al-Assad. When he died in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad took over. Prior to becoming leader, Bashar was an opthamologist who spent several years studying in the UK – a democratic society. People believed he would bring democratic ideals to Syria. They were proven wrong.
The fact is, Bashar had to maintain the loyalty of the old guard of military men and politicians, and act ruthlessly to prevent civilian unrest from toppling his regime, so he had to continue in his father’s tyrannical ways. It is only due to the momentum of the “Arab Spring” that began at the end of 2010 that Bashar’s rule is now at risk, with popular protests fueled by the Islamic movement.
The people of North Korea are far more isolated that the people of Syria and do not have a passionate political or religious movement to rally the population. Nonetheless, we will see what happens.
Following the election of Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard, I expected her to tread carefully by not embarking on any decisions policies that would anger the population and endanger her political survival. Sadly, I was wrong.
In a major pandering to her Greens Party coalition partners, she has backflipped on her pre-election promise to NOT introduce a tax on Carbon Dioxide emissions.
She has now announced that a carbon tax will be introduced from July 2012. The price per tonne of carbon will be fixed for a period of up to 5 years, after which market-based mechanisms will be used to set the price. Although the carbon price has not been announced, a popular figure thrown around in the media is $26/tonne. This will increase the cost of electricity across the nation, as Australia generates most of its power from coal and natural gas. The government has not announced whether petrol will also be subject to the carbon tax, but various Green party members have announced that they want it to. This will also result in an avalanche of other price increases as businesses pass on their increased costs directly to consumers.
Gillard has claimed that “low-income families” and the Agricultural sector will receive some form of compensation for the increased costs, but has not gone into details. Liberal Opposition Leader Tony Abbot has claimed that the carbon tax will result in an average electricity bill increasing by $300/year and the price for petrol increasing by 6.5c/Litre. Abbot has already pledged to repeal this tax if he wins the next election.
Regardless of one’s opinion of the causes of climate change, this tax is a stupid and pointless exercise that will needlessly punish the middle class and hard the Australian economy, whilst making no global impact on carbon dioxide emissions.
- None of the tax money is being used to replace our fossil fuel burning power stations with non-CO2 producing alternatives like Nuclear power
- We will still be exporting coal that will be burnt and converted into CO2 overseas, contributing to global emissions. No-one would ever dare suggest that we stop selling coal.
- Even if Australia ceased to exist and emitted no CO2, the growth in Chinese emissions would replace it within a few months.
- Australian households have already been forced to reduce electricity and fuel consumption in the face of skyrocketing global crude oil prices and increases in domestic electricity costs. The fact is, Australians still need gas and electricity for cooking and powering appliances and in this 21st century, no-one should have to return to a pre-industrial age state of existence. People also need to travel to work and transport their children to school. There really is little scope for further drastic cuts
- Australia goes to great lengths to protect its own agriculture sector from foreign competition, so that we can be self-reliant on food. Also, Australia is raking a fortune in from mining and resources, which generates a lot of tax revenue to fill government coffers. Both these sectors intrinsically emit a lot of CO2. Do we really want to bite the hands that feed us?
- There will be absolutely no indicator or measurement that can prove that this carbon tax is having any effect on either global CO2 levels or climate events, so it will be impossible to tell whether this policy is working. Money is effectively being thrown into a black hole.
Daily Telegraph journalist Tim Blair brilliantly demolishes the case for a Carbon Tax in his article here where he addresses a series of rhetorical questions regarding the purpose and implementation of the “Carbon Tax”:
Regardless of the outcome, no-one will ever trust Julia again.
OK, long time no speak, but I must catch up on all recent Australian political developments before talking about anything else.
Following the Australian election, Labor PM Julia Gillard managed to form a fragile minority government by the skin of her teeth, by forming a coalition with a rag-tag group consisting of independents and greens party members with irreconcilable policy differences. For the time being, things are still working out, but I think it’s only a matter of time before there’s a serious clash that will destabilise the government and result in another election.
She abandoned her crazy idea of an unelected group of 150 citizens to determine how to “tackle climate change”. It is uncertain how things are going to proceed. Hopefully, they won’t.
She appointed the ousted former Labor PM Kevin Rudd as Foreign Minister in order to appease his anger and that of his supporters over the way in which he was ousted and sidelined.
Despite identifying herself as an atheist, contrasting herself with the religiously observant former PM Kevin Rudd and current Communications Minister Senator Conroy, she has expressed support for continuing with Conroy’s idiotic Internet Filtering scheme, but she has baulked on setting a deadline for its implementation.
Regarding the handling of boat people, she is back in talks with the East Timorese government over the establishment of a new “refugee processing centre”, after they had previously expressed reluctance. I guess the money earning potential for East Timor was too much for their government to refuse. Good on them. I still reckon reopening the existing facility on Nauru would’ve been better value for Australia. Nonetheless, to placate her Greens party coalition partners, she has agreed to a plan to release some asylum seekers, who are currently in detention, into the community. It is not clear yet who will be released and who won’t be.
All in all, I will say that she is taking all the correct measures to ensure her political survival in the current climate.
What do I think of Australia having its first female prime minister?
We are in a modern age where men and women have equal opportunities. Whether they choose to take up these opportunities is a separate matter.
I will judge Julia Gillard the same way I judge any politician or person in a leadership or managerial role – through his or her policies and competence as a leader.
At the moment, I do not expect much to change, after all, she was a key policy maker under her predecessor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Perhaps now that she has a fresh start, she can change her mind and abandon bad policies without losing face.
Since taking up the role of PM, she reached a compromise with the big miners on the controversial Super Profits tax. A compromise was expected, considering that Kevin Rudd was brought down after adopting a hard-line stance. I never knew what the truth was about the need for a Super Profits tax – all I heard was propaganda coming from both sides, so I cannot say whether a compromise is a good thing or a bad thing. Time will tell.
I do like that she in an atheist, unlike religiosly devout Kevin Rudd. Perhaps religious lobby groups and ministers like Stephen Conroy will have less influence and his could spell the end for the stupid Internet filter.
She also appears to have taken a leaf out of former Liberal PM John Howard’s successful “Pacific Solution” as a means of deterring people smugglers and their boats. She has proposed the establishment of a processing centre for boat people in East Timor, instead of the former Nauru location. Naturally, this has already generated much controversy amongst her party, but it clearly will be popular amongst voters.
In followup to my previous post Men At Work Should Pay Minimal Damages For Using “Kookaburra” Riff in Hit Song, the judge has ruled on damages.
Men at Work is to pay 5% of all royalties on their song “I come from the land down under” earned from 2002 onwards, to Larrikin Music. This was far less than the 60% share that Larrikin were seeking.
In my opinion, this is a just outcome, because it upholds copyright law, but acknowledges the opportunistic nature of the case, which I described thoroughly in my previous post.
Filed under: International News, International Politics, Middle-East Affairs, Religion
The former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has died in hospital at the age of 69, after a prolonged illness. His presidency commenced after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1999.
Wahid’s leadership and policies attracted much controversy amongst Indonesians. Eventually, he was alienated within his own party and removed from office in 2001.
During and after his presidency, he promoted religious and ethnic tolerance. He wrote a seminal article published in the Wall Street Journal on December 30, 2005 titled “Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam” in which he called on “people of good will of every faith and nation” to unite to defeat the ideology of religious hatred that underlies and animates terrorism. He advocated for relations with Israel. When the Iranian government held a Holocaust Denial Conference in 2006, President Wahid convened a counter conference in Bali to promote the true historical view.
Filed under: International News, Politics and Policy
The only certainty from the climate summit was that in the process of hosting the summit they would spent a lot of money, generate a lot of CO2 and attract a lot of crazy people.
I must say that I am half impressed with the outcome – I was half expecting that the summit would be terminated by a walkout by disgruntled countries, but I am sure they realised that would be bad PR.
Instead, they have announced a non-binding declaration – a US-brokered deal with India, China, Brazil and South Africa – that they say will limit global warming to 2 degrees.
Here are a couple of links:
I am trying to work the meaning and impact of the declaration. My understanding is that they have a few pledges from countries to achieve certain drops in CO2 emissions by 2020, but the specific figures have not been disclosed.
Also, they may impose additional tax air and sea travel to raise billions of dollars yearly to assist island nations who believe that they are at risk of being submerged.
Naturally, most opposition and criticism is coming from countries that don’t thing the measures go far enough, and other countries who do not want to harm their economies atoning for the sins of the developed world.
More to come as things are clarified in the media.
Filed under: Australian News, Australian Politics, International News, International Politics, Science
‘ClimateGate’ is the name given to the controversy surrounding the leaking of emails belonging to the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia that took place in late November. This institute is a major research centre that played a key role in promoting Global Warming Alarmism and contributing to the IPCC report on Global Warming.
There has been some coverage in the Australian mainstream media, but most of it has completely ignored the meat of the issue, and instead focussed on ‘computer hacking’ or how it could impede the Copenhagen climate summit. The most thorough coverage has been in the Australian newspaper and the blogs of News Ltd. columnists Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair.
For those of you that are unfamiliar, emails contained in these archives strongly suggest that academics at CRU have prepetrated widescale scientific fraud and engaged in highly unprofessional, if not criminal conduct. Furthermore, it casts a strong shadow of suspicion and doubt on their conclusions of future global climate catastrophe.
These practices include:
- Suppressing the views of dissenting scientists
- Mathematically manipulating climate data to hide features of the curve that disagree with alarmist opinions
- Knowingly incorporating poor quality, unreliable data into their research
- Subverting the peer review process
- Withholding and destroying information in response to Freedom of Information requests
I have no doubt that ClimateGate played a significant role in increasing opposition to the Australian ETS legislation and the fall of Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.
Plenty of great posts have been written that explain the content of these emails and surrounding issues in depth, so I will just include the links: