Arab Republic of Jordan Turns Own Citizens into Refugees

July 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

As part of ongoing Arab attempts to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem, in order to extort money from the Western world and bring about the destruction of Israel, Jordan has announced that it is revoking the passports of thousands of its own citizens who had lived in the West bank until 1967.

Sadly, mainstream media coverage of this matter has been virtually non-existent.

The Hashemite Kingdom of of Jordan (originally Transjordan) was created by the British in 1923, by separating 76% of the territory of Palestine located east of the Jordan river and giving it to King Abdullah as a favour in exchange for not fighting the French in Syria. Jordan was founded with a policy forbidding Jewish people from living there.

This move by the British to create Jordan from lands under its administration was controversial, considering that the land was commited to being part of the Jewish state in the Balfour declaration of 1917, which was recognised by the League of Nations [the forerunner of the UN],  in 1922.

Jordan was one of the Arab participants in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war who invaded Palestine following the declaration of Israeli independence. By the end of the war, it captured land West of the Jordan river, which today is commonly referred to as the West Bank, Cis-Jordan or the Hebrew names Judea and Samaria.

Jordan annexed this territory following the war and gave citizenship to all residents, except Jewish people who had been forced to flee.

Jordan lost control of the West Bank following the six-day war of 1967, when Israel defeated the Arab coalition comprising Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Jordan eventually gave up all territorial claims to the West Bank in 1988, following the first Intifadah.

Women Falsely Claiming Paternity Benefits

The Child Support Assessment Act was recently amended to allow men who have been falsely paying child support payments to apply to recover their money. This has generated much controversy:

Paternity Tests Prove Hundreds of Men Duped

SMS after DNA test: You’re not the father

Australian men’s group seeks tests before child support

There is no doubt that the decision of a man and a women to have intercourse requires considerable understanding of the potential consequences.

The obligation of a father to financially support his child is clearly established in law. The retired tennis champion, Boris Becker, learnt this valuable lesson after being forced to pay millions of dollars for a child conceived during a brief liaison with a waitress in a restaurant broom closet in 1999.

Similarly, the responsibility of the woman to be truthful about her relationships is equally serious.  A women knows exactly whom she has slept with and would certainly know if there is any doubt about paternity.

To extract money out of an innocent person by making false claims of paternity is a very serious matter which also has serious consequences on the other party, both psychological and financial

  • It is a gross betrayal of trust
  • It is traumatic for the man and the child. The man may have formed a close emotional bond to a child, only to find out that he is not the father
  • A man may be deprived of his livelihood for almost two decades until the child reaches adulthood and becomes independent

Apparently, some feminist groups are up in arms stating that the only person that will suffer will be the child. To this, I say that the same argument could apply to a woman who obtains support money by robbing a bank or stealing from her workplace. Does this make her any less culpable for the crime? Of course not.

So not only do I fully support this reform – I feel it should be made even stronger in the following ways:

  • In the case of false paternity, child support money must be repaid WITH INTEREST to compensate for the man’s lost opportunities
  • Mandatory DNA testing of both parents and children must be performed in all custodial disputes
  • Where there has been a proven element of deception or fraud on the part of the woman who has falsely claimed child support, she should be subject to all applicable criminal law concerning fraud and theft
  • In the above case, the man should also be entitled to seek civil damages as considered appropriate for the case

What are your thoughts?

NSW State Government – Worse than a Desperate Crack Addict?

In a predictable move, the NSW state government, led by Nathan Rees, has cancelled several major rail infrastructure projects – namely, the North West Metro and the Richmond Line duplication, which has been ‘deferred‘.

These had been promised for many years and are needed to cope with the growing population in these areas. Housing has become highly unaffordable in inner-city Sydney, so people were encouraged to move to the outer areas in the expectation that the these Government transport projects, when completed, would be able to take them to their places of employment in the inner city.

The government of course states that these projects, which they previously claimed to be ‘fully funded’, have to be abandoned due to the budget ‘black hole’ created by the financial mismanagement of the past NSW Labor governments led by Morris Iemma and Bob Carr, and the global financial crisis which has led to reduced tax revenue.

Despite having cancelled these projects, the NSW government is desperate for cold hard cash and is prepared to sell all the public assets they can at any price. The latest assets up for sale are the electricity retailers, NSW Lotteries and Waste Services NSW. These are all profitable and income-generating.

One major reason cited by the state government for refusing to borrow money for infrastructure is that they want to maintain their ‘AAA’ credit rating. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole purpose of having credit ratings in the first place to allow reliable borrowers to obtain loans on good terms?

Now is the perfect time for the government to spend borrowed money. NSW is in recession and the economy needs to be stimulated – capital works projects have been historically effective in these situations.

Reviving the cancelled infrastructure projects will remove bottlenecks and lead to increased taxation revenue and economic growth. As we are are now in a higher inflation environment, the net present value of future loan payments will keep falling, reducing the future costs of servicing these loans.

Furthermore, keeping those public assets will ensure that their income is retained, and this income will of course reduce the burden of loan repayments.

Stock Valuations and Kevin Rudd’s $1M Bank Deposit Guarantee

Hello Everyone,

Pardon the sparseness of my posts in the last fortnight. I have been reading and thinking very hard. For me, it is important to try and say something meaningful rather than contribute to the endless media waffle concerning the current financial crisis that does nothing more than waste time and confuse people further.

As first glance, many ASX stocks look incredibly cheap based on historic valuations. There are now heaps of shares that have P/E ratios less than 10, and offer fully-franked dividend yields greater than 10%. These are not just the battered property trusts who have high debt – many of these companies are in other sectors and are still reporting record earnings growth. So why aren’t these companies’ share prices going up?

The reason is that sentiment is very very poor. The market is anticipating future drops in earnings over the next few years as the financial crisis runs its course. People lack accurate, trustworthy information, so they are expecting the worst.

I personally see reasons to be positive. Emerging markets like Brazil, China and India are still growing strongly, and many Australian companies have exposure to these economies. There will still be demand for cheap consumer goods. Plenty of money will still be made in biotechnology and agriculture.

My share portfolio has been battered heavily – I have many small cap stocks which naturally are more volatile and lack liquidity, but they’ve all been paying their dividends like clockwork and most of these dividends are higher than last year. I do not buy shares that do not pay a good dividend – I see the dividend as a mark of business stability and compensation for periods of stagnation.

Right now, I expect the market to see-saw up and down for a prolonged period. I am looking at ways to take advantage of this. One area I am reading up on is the investment technique known as Value Averaging. Most people are familiar with Dollar Cost Averaging, in which one regularly invests a fixed amount of money into a share or managed fund, regardless of the price. 

With Value Averaging you vary the contributed amount depending on the value of your portfolio at the end of each time period, in order to reach a pre-defined target. The end effect is to buy more shares when prices are lower and buy fewer shares when prices are higher. Research has shown Value Averaging to outperform Dollat Cost Averaging about 95% of the time. I plan to write a post on this in the near future. If you can’t wait, click on the above link.

In other news, on the 12th of October, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd surprised everyone by announcing a package to provide an unlimited  guarantee on bank deposits. The financial markets reacted like an agitated grizzly bear hit with a tranquiliser dart – there was a day of temporary euphoria, followed by a swift return to instinctive behaviour.

A week later, Kevin realised that the package may have been overly generous and he announced that the bank deposit guarantee would be limited to $1 million. Beyond this amount, bank account holders would have to pay for insurance.

I question the wisdom of this scheme. Although this may have allayed consumer fears about the solvency of banks, it may have had the unintended side effect of further fuelling an exodus from shares and other asset classes into this newly created ‘perfect safe haven’.

Furthermore, in the event that the financial crisis worsens and a bank does become insolvent, where is the Government going to get the money to meet their guarantee obligations? Probably by printing more money! This will cause increased inflation and devalue everyones’ wealth. Nonetheless, this is probably far more emotionally palatable than going to your bank and being told that your money is gone.

Speaking of inflation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will reach a 13-year high of 5% this year. The current interest rate on Australian bank deposits is around 6%-6.5% per annum, so people who have their money in cash will be treading water.

In contrast, corporate earnings are more resistant to inflation. Assuming that demand remains constant, corporate revenue rises with inflation. For this reason, I see better value in making defensive investments in defensive low-debt stocks than blindly putting money in the bank, unless you need to access your money in the short-term.

How to Take Advantage of the First Home Saver Scheme

The Australian Government does not concern itself much with the affairs of young people these days – we have an aging population and the young person’s vote is not considered important, but every now and again, it throws a token gesture their way.

By this, I am talking about the First Home Saver Scheme, which commenced last Wednesday, the 1st October.
Read more

Short Selling Bans Imposed in UK and USA

In response to the recent unprecedented volatility in the financial markets, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) have both imposed temporary bans on the short selling of financial stocks.

For those not in the know, short selling is the act of selling stock one does not own, with the aim of buying it back at a lower price and profiting from the difference. This strategy is used to make money in a falling market, or when one expects a fall in the near future.

Large hedge funds have been blamed for abusing short selling to manipulate the market and contributing to the deterioration of world stock prices. 

The US ban applies to 799 stocks, and will initially last for 10 days, but may be extended. The UK ban applies to 32 companies and will last until the beginning of January 2009.

In Australia, our own so-called regulator ASIC has stated that we already have restrictions on short selling. Many people would consider this laughable.

I have an article that’s been sitting on the back-burner concerning my opinion of the role of short selling in the world stockmarket turmoil. It will follow next.

Nurofen Plus to Remain on Sale

August 11, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Australian News, Medicine, Uncategorized 

The Australian reports that the popular over-the-counter pain reliever, Nurofen Plus, will remain on sale.

Earlier this year, there was talk that this medicine was going to be rescheduled as a prescription drug, due to reports that people were consuming whole packs to get high.

The active ingredients in Nurofen Plus are ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) and a small quantity of codeine (an opiate closely related to morphine). Taking a whole pack would deliver enough codeine to get one high, but the excessive dose of ibuprofen could lead to a number of adverse reactions, potentially harming parts of the digestive system.

Nonetheless, it is a very effective medicine for headaches and muscular pain and it would be wrong to deprive the vast majority of people due to a few idiots, who are always going to be around, so I fully support the decision to keep it over-the-counter.

Saving Money on Tea

July 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Uncategorized 

I enjoy drinking all varieties of tea. I usually have black tea with one spoon of sugar. I usually drink green tea and white tea plain. The only exception is Moroccan green tea, which is made by taking green tea and adding a fresh mint leaf and lots of sugar. I consider the presence of milk in tea to be an abomination, but this is probably a result of my upbringing.

My favourite supermarket brand is Twinings. Usually, I buy tea in tea bags, but I discovered that loose leaf tea is far better value for money. The other day at my local Woolworths supermarket, I found a large pack of loose leaf Lady Grey for less than half the price of a much smaller pack of teabags.

The traditional problem with loose leaf is that it is hard to make a single individual cup – people usually make a whole pot, which is messy and requires a lot of paraphernalia.

I have solved this problem for myself with the aid of a split-sphere mesh tea infuser (the top utensil in the image below).

When you want to make a cup, you squeeze the handle, scoop up some loose-leaf tea into the bottom sphere, and then release the handle to close the spheres.

You then put the tea-filled infuser in an empty cup or mug, and pour in some freshly boiled water. You can optionally add sugar, and then stir it using using the handle of the infuser, saving the need for a separate spoon.

Once you’ve brewed the tea to the desired strength, you can remove the infuser from the cup.

To clean the infuser, hold it over a waste container and squeeze the handle. You may need to gently knock the handle against the side of the container. The bulk of the used loose-leaf tea should fall out in a ball-like mass. Rinse the infuser under a tap to remove any remaining tea leaves.

After many uses, tea residue may build up and discolour the mesh. I found that I could return the infuser to mint condition by standing it in a glass of dilute laundry bleach for a few minutes, then rinsing it under a tap.

I purchased my infuser from the local gourmet tea store T2 for just under $4. They can also be purchased from most tea shops and online.

Comparative Advantage for Everyone

One very interesting topic in economics is the principle of comparative advantage. This topic is traditionally taught in the context of teaching the justifications and benefits for International Trade between countries, even if one trading country could produce all of its desired goods at a cheaper price than its trading partners.

When I have asked economics students to explain it, I have found it to be poorly understood. I have come up with my own analogy to explain the principle. Furthermore, it also explains how this principle applies to individuals in everyday life. Here is my example:

Let’s say I have a day job as contract web developer for which I get paid $50/hr. After work, I can either eat out for dinner or buy ingredients and cook at home.

When I go out to eat, my favourite meal is a Thai stir fry which has meat, vegetables and rice, which I can buy for $10. The resturant takes care of all the preparation and cleaning. All I do it eat and leave.

When I eat at home, I might prepare something in the kitchen with frozen vegetables, beef and potatoes, and the ingredients for that will average out to $5/day over the course of a week.

On the surface, it seems that I am saving $5/day when I eat at home, but this is not the whole story.

In addition to the time spent shopping, I will also have to spend time to unpack and prepare the ingredients, wait for them to cook and clean up afterwards. Let’s say that the total time from preparing to washing up takes 1 hour.

What If instead of doing that, I worked for an additional hour per day and decided to always eat out?

I would earn an extra $50, spend $10 on the Thai meal, leaving me up $40 from my starting balance, and $45 ahead of cooking at home. Amazing.

I can extend this further to the Thai restaurant itself. Let’s say the owner/head chef wants to promote the restaurant by creating a website. She could either close the shop, read web design books and learn how to use HTML editing software, or she could hire me. The website the chef wants is simple – it just has the restaurant’s name, phone, address, a street map and the current menu.

I could hammer this out within 2 hours, for which I would charge $100. The chef is also clever, but she might take 5 hours as she has to perform software installation, read documentation and debug common beginner mistakes.

What should the chef do? Let’s say the restaurant serves 20 people per hour, and makes an average margin of $5 on each meal, the restaurant’s hourly income is $100/hr.

If the chef builds her website herself during restaurant hours, she would forego $500 in revenue. If she hires me, her total out of pocket expense is $100. Hence, she is $400 better off by hiring me to build her website.

For this example, we would conclude that my comparative advantage is in web development, and the restaurant’s comparative advantage is in preparing food.

This principle can be used to justify why a multi-talented business owner may be justified in hiring a graduate fresh out of university for clerical tasks, or why one would hire an accountant to do a simple tax return.

Of course this example makes a few assumptions. If I were in a permanent job, perhaps I would not have the ability to work an extra hour. Also, some people might in fact like cooking at home or spending time with family. Also, some Thai restaurants use excessive amounts of oil which could lead to weight gain.

How to Win the War on Global Warming

May 11, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Science, Uncategorized 

This was the title of a recent special issue of Time Magazine

The moment saw it, I immediately recalled the climactic line from the movie Wargames, when the military computer Joshua discovers the futility of nuclear war and announces – “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play”.

I state my view straight up with no sugar on top. Global Warming Alarmism is Bullsh**. It is the greatest scientific embarrassment of the 21st century. I have not yet seen any evidence that proves that human activity has had a significant impact on Global Climate.

Children are having nightmares about disappearing polar bears and living in underwater cities. Billions of dollars are being spent on promoting monopoly money (carbon credits) and the whole thing stinks.

Amongst the most recent stupidities, the great polluting nation of New Zealand has announced that its Kyoto Protocol liability will exceed $1 Billion. Our own Government plans to spend $2.3 Billion of the budget windfall on fighting climate change.

In the process or whipping up this world frenzy, I have seen the following fundamental scientific and logical errors:

  1. Lack of falsifiability in weather predictions
  2. Combining measurements obtained using inconsistent methods, e.g. those used to produce graphs of historic temperature, ice thickness
  3. Mapping a relationship between variables by curve fitting instead of creating a correct model of the underlying process
  4. Retrospectively adjusting models to fit experimental data after abherrations are found
  5. Violating Occam’s Razor
  6. Confusing causation and correlation

To my knowledge, these are the only things that have been proven:

  • We have more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere today than we did at the turn of the century, largely attributable to industrialisation
  • Global temperature was in a downward trend between 1940 and 1970 and since then has been in an upward trend.
  • Animal migration and breeding is linked to the weather in a certain area.

I include the following websites that do a far better job of explaining the specifics:

http://junkscience.com/Features.html

Basic Greenhouse Equations ‘Totally Wrong’

I expect a barrage of criticism, so I preemptively will answer the following questions:

What about the Polar Bears stranded on ice?

This is a myth that originated from a widely published photo. Polar bears can swim.

What about the Movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”?

A High Court judge in the UK found that the contains 9 scientific errors covering many of its key points concerning attribution of certain events to anthropogenic climate change.

What about the “Scientific Consensus”?

Science is not a popularity contest. The only valid science comes from the application of the scientific method – you need to have a testable hypothesis.

In any case, there certainly is not a scientific consensus. The following links on Wikipedia describe the controversy and scientists who oppose the “Mainstream Assessment”.

What about the IPCC report?

Short answer: the contributors who disagreed had their opinions suppressed.

OK Mr Skeptic, then, do you believe that CFCs harm the Ozone Layer?

That was genuine science. The ability of CFCs to break down Ozone was experimentally proven, and the presence of CFCs was detected in the upper atmosphere.

In fact, the evidence was so convincing, that the Montreal Protocol that phased out the use of CFCs was ratified by more countries than the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

What has made Global Warming Alarmism so popular?

These are my guesses:

  • Economic rivalry between Europe and the USA
  • A convenient distraction for the UN to cover up its failure to act on Human Rights Abuses throughout the world
  • A way for the Left to attack Capitalism
  • A sure-fire way to attract research funding for academics who otherwise struggle for money

I will update this article with more comments at the next convenient opportunity.

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