Wednesday, May 04, 2005


After eight years and three trials, a group of protesters whose eyes were swabbed with pepper spray during a series of anti-logging demonstrations finally won their case Thursday against Humboldt County sheriff's deputies and Eureka police -- but were awarded only $1 each in damages. A federal jury deliberated for about 12 hours starting Tuesday before returning its verdict, finding that law enforcement had used excessive force while trying to break up three different protests in the fall of 1997, including one at then-Rep. Frank Riggs' Eureka office and another at the Scotia headquarters of the Pacific Lumber Co.

It was the third time the civil case has gone to trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The first two trials -- one in 1998 and the other in 2004 -- ended in deadlocked juries. This time, Attorney Dennis Cunningham asked the jurors to award Spring Lundberg, who was 17 at the time of the protests, and the other seven plaintiffs in the case between $10,000 and $100,000 for pain and suffering. Despite the jury's paltry award, he said his clients feel vindicated. "It was never about the money," Cunningham said. "It was always about the principle."

He said that the jurors, who appeared to be emotionally drained after the two-week trial, didn't say much about how they came to their decision. He said he could only surmise that the eight-person panel compromised. "They probably felt that the cops had to do something," said Cunningham, adding that although the protesters did not suffer long-term injuries from the pepper spray, it was a "profound experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."

Police and deputies put pepper spray directly into the eyes of the protesters, who had chained themselves together, in hopes that the burning would force them to unlock their shackles.

More here


Michael Duffy (former Leftist politician) writes:

Many farmers in Australia face ruin from environmental legislation. I stress that I'm not opposed to the objectives of much of this. But there's a moral issue here, the crushing burden that's being placed on farmers to achieve environmental benefits for all of us. In the past decade a series of innocuously named "native vegetation" laws and regulations has been introduced in NSW, as in other states. The effect is to ban almost all further clearing of land. This includes not just virgin forest but regrowth, of which there is a great deal around the state.

Spencer bought his property in the 1980s. It included about 4000 hectares of lightly wooded grazing land that he could not begin to farm for more than a decade, in which time saplings grew all over it. When he was ready to introduce stock, the native vegetation regulations had come in and it was illegal to clear the tree growth. He now owns 4000 hectares of what is effectively national park, even though - as I saw when driving through it last weekend - it has gates and fences running through the trees, indicating how, before the 1980s, it was productive grazing land. For this government assault on his assets and his livelihood he has received no compensation.

Spencer's case is extreme, but I have communicated with dozens of other farmers who have been severely affected by native vegetation laws. Others are quoted in the Productivity Commission's report of last August on the effects of these laws. It was severely critical of the unfairness of the laws and their implications for the economy, even finding that in some situations they are environmentally counterproductive. The commission called for decent compensation for farmers - there is some available at the moment, but almost none.

The full implications of native vegetation regulation are still to be calculated, but initial estimates are disturbing. Professor Wolfgang Kasper, of the liberal Centre for Independent Studies, says his crude guesstimate is the regulations will reduce the value of Australia's agricultural output by 15 per cent. The human cost will be considerable, with the Productivity Commission saying "a relatively large number of landholders have been affected".

The issue was touched on at last month's Outlook conference held by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics. A paper presented by a bureau economist, Lisa Elliston, described the damaging effects of native vegetation regulation for farmers in north-western NSW, not least because it prevents them from using long cycle rotations of grazing and cropping activities. Commenting on the regulations' impact on farming practices, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, told the conference: "What absurd, unadulterated hogwash. What rubbish. What sort of blinded, ideologically driven bureaucrat thinks this sort of nonsense up?" Anderson promised to take the issue to the Council of Australian Governments in June.

The farmers I've spoken to, while pleased with Anderson's sentiments, wonder what he can achieve, as native vegetation regulation is a state issue. They also point out that the Federal Government has put money into supporting the laws in NSW. The central issue for the council will be fair compensation for farmers' loss of asset value and income. The Federal Government has supported the Productivity Commission's call for compensation, but the amount involved is enormous, running into many billions of dollars. In 2002 the Australian Conservation Foundation described compensation as "an unreasonable burden on the public purse", and pointed out that there would be much less environmental legislation if governments had to pay those hurt by it. It's a logical argument, if a little short on compassion.

Native vegetation laws are an extraordinary attack on private property, and effectively nationalise large areas of private land. They are a reminder of how much harm can occur if only the cause in which it is done is sufficiently noble. It is disturbing to see just how savagely a group of Australian citizens can be targeted and hurt once they become unfashionable.


Objectivity and balance would sink them

Residents in the New York metropolitan region now can consult Climate Change Information Resources. This new web page sews together climate science and public advice through an advisory committee that includes government agencies and environmental organizations. The fabric may be chic; the science woven into it is a minor thread. That thread can be summarized thusly: The air's concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases has increased over the past 200 years, as the gases have been released by energy production and land-use changes. As a result, the enhanced greenhouse effect has surely affected climate.

Even scientific climate skeptics agree on those points. But the question skeptics persist in asking is: How much of recent climate change is caused by that enhanced greenhouse effect? To find the answer, more accurate knowledge is needed on the roles of other human effects on climate, for example, the emission of soot, or black carbon, and sulfate aerosols, plus landscape modification itself, and natural climate factors.

At present, dividing the recent surface warming trend among natural and human contributions is an art yielding uncertain results. Nonetheless, CCIR displays temperature and precipitation projections decades in the future based on work from the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre and Canadian Climate Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis that is similar to projections in the 2001 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Of the various model results from the 2001 IPCC report that could have been exhibited, the UK and Canadian models produced among the most extreme projections for the United States -- the Hadley Centre's for precipitation; the Canadian Centre's for temperature. In other words, the projections shown are not middle-values but high-end, unlikely results.

The web resource thus lost an opportunity to detail and quantify uncertainties in the projections. And it did so again in referencing but not quoting the 2001 National Academy of Sciences report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions. That report noted: "A causal linkage between the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate changes during the 20th century cannot be unequivocally established." It also said: "The fact that the magnitude of observed [surface] warming [trend] is large compared to natural variability as simulated in climate models ... does not constitute proof of a linkage [to the increased atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases] because the model simulations could be deficient."

Another missed opportunity opens when CCIR shows examples of past large and rapid climate change of uncertain or unknown origin. Such change occurs well before the recent period of industrialization, and emphasizes the need for better understanding of natural climate change.

Another absence is discussion about a key, unresolved contradiction of the climate models that estimate a significant warming trend for the last 25 years resulting from the enhanced greenhouse effect. During that period, satellite-based observations and good measurements have been made independently from instruments carried aloft in weather balloons. The measurements contradict the projections that the layer of air from the surface to about five miles in altitude should have shown an accelerated warming compared with the observed surface temperature, not the other way around. The disagreement suggests that better theoretical understanding of clouds and water vapor is needed, model deficiencies that were described in the scientific portion of the 2001 IPCC report.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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