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Dan Byrnes
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Note: This personal website was begun on 13 August 2008 as an adjunct on the domain - http://www.danbyrnes.com.au/ It replaces a different and older personal website which is now superseded. It will be a vanilla, no-frills website and will probably carry various family pictures and some family history information, and a little "blogging" as well. Anyone who can manage a website doesn't really need a blog, is the feeling. - Dan Byrnes

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Cooking at a friend's party one night, 1990s
Dan Byrnes cooking at a party


March 2014: Message for The Vatican and Cardinal Pell in Sydney. Who evidently thought (by 24-3-2014) that people complaining about Catholic priests sexually-abusing children are "enemies of the Church". Below is a choice quote from the first enemy of the Church to speak on such issues.
"If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 18:6. Luke 17:2. Mark 9:42.)
Is it the case then that The Vatican has become its own millstone because it cannot understand its founder's own words? What could be clearer?

Dear Linked-In History Enthusiasts forum members. The below on Moral Panic comes from an issue of the Australian political newsletter, crikey.com of 13-1-2014. It well expresses why this forum is badgered so often by conservative US citizens of the ill-informed and argumentative variety, Fox News viewers. And why not move on to the kind of criticism usually heaped on President Obama on this forum? Crikey conveys, 'The concept of the "moral panic" once belonged to the academic discipline of sociology, but it has now largely leaked into everyday language. A moral panic is a diagnostic tool used to understand how a given social group experiences fears and anxieties (often about social change) and projects them onto what is called a "folk devil" -- a social figure who may be represented by actual people, but functions to gather fear and anxiety' . .. The creator of the moral panic concept, Stanley Cohen, included some critical comments about the concept as a revised introduction to the 2002 third edition of his iconic Folk Devils and Moral Panics book: "A panic, by definition, is self-limiting, temporary and spasmodic, a splutter of rage which burns itself out. Every now and then speeches, TV documentaries, trials, parliamentary debates, headlines and editorials cluster into the peculiar mode of managing information and expressing indignation that we call a moral panic ... Successful moral panics owe their appeal to their ability to find points of resonance with wider anxieties. But each appeal is a sleight of hand, magic without a magician."

2013 - Things we Australian voters resent

2013 Letter to editor (not actually sent): Ok folks, let´s kick off the year with resentment from voters about stupidity from our Federal politicians. Stupidity is not on! We can start from Jan 1-2 with Jenny Macklin, Minister, who blithely says in a TV interview that yes, she could survive on the dole (Newstart Allowance, $35 per day). We who know about Australian social security facts know for a fact she could not do it. Eg., not run a busy and useful life on such an income. So we need to ask, why does our political system continue to pay politicians who utter nonsense? To actually pay them good money? Perhaps some system should be organised, whereas the Speaker of the Australian Parliament be empowered to fine politicians from any political party who utter arrant nonsense. (We leave it to the parliamentarians to organise a panel to assess the severity of said nonsense.) For what we need is a system where we, the voters, can penalize politicians who utter nonsense. What we need to do is arrange a system whereby politicians live in some persistent fear of the consequences of saying something stupid, this would do them good and keep them in check. It might also do their interviewers some good as well. Life is too short, situations are too serious, for voters to continue to put up with stupid remarks from politicians. Voting them out at the next election takes far too long for voters to be rid of them. As with school students, some kind of system is needed for the more regular discipline of politicians to ensure they keep sensible with their modes of speech. Stupidity is not good enough, it is not on. Complaints about other stupid remarks from Australian politicians in due course during 2013 will be lodged here. (Joe Hockey should stand warned already for the season.) -Ed

US admission by 9-4-2008, in a new book, that WMDs were not the pretext of the Iraq war but a pre-emptive strike against any further problems from Iraq, or with Saddam Hussein's regime, and a special case re Hussein's regime, a case reigned of anticipatory self-defence. (By the way, see the Oliver Stone movie, "W" on the life of the man who became US President G. W. Bush. -Ed)

Bernie Madoff by 7 February 2009 is causing fresh worries which attack egos and create angst over privacy issues. Madoff's A-list clients were not as exclusive as they thought. Lists have been found of almost-ordinary folk who've been defrauded by Madoff, their names and addresses, and they include mere retirees, housewives, a plumber's union and a high school. Upper echelon names defrauded by Madoff include actor John Malkovich, US baseball giant Sandy Koufax. One of the names listed seems to be Madoff's own lawyer. Some of the lesser names listed, contacted by journalists, now worry that they have been "outed" and that they may now be mistaken as rich, and hence become targets for thieves. (Well, once rich, then defrauded by Madoff.) See www.madoffsearch.com/. (By November 2009, Madoff is still routinely derided on The David Letterman Late Show from New York, which advertises how many years he still has in jail [149].)

Extreme bankers: By 5-10-2008, Has massive fraud been perpetrated by investment bankers? By 8-10-2008. Britain declares itself in recession. By 8-10-08, US, TV reports that policy makers are making it up as they go along, all this is unprecedented, is of historical dimensions. By 15-10-08, Lateline TV news (Australia), Australian PM Rudd criticises "extreme capitalism" and its ills, an obscenity brought about by greed, obscene failures in US regulations on corporate governance ... rating agencies are now up for inspection in Rudd's views, there is a need to reign in executives greed. By 16-10-08, NY Stock Exchange nose dives again. Markets are uncertain and unconvinced. By 16-1-0-08, There will be recession and it will be deep. Negative feedback loops are setting in, Gasp. The real economy is suffering, and is America on the skids? By 16-10-08, Interesting question arises, How would anyone quickly tell if China was experiencing a speculative bubble or a downturn? By 25-10-2008, Another day of market turmoil, but are things becoming more subtle? Greenspan's mistake, versus Bob Dylan's line, the pump don't work 'cos the vandals took the handle. By 13-11-08, Germany and UK now in recession, Japan is predicted to go to recession. By 14-11-2008, the entire developed world is in recession.

20 October 2009: Blog emotion: A Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is like re-investing in the cancer you are suffering from, feeding it. It is socio-political nonsense and an avoidance of real issues. Any ETS adopted should be monitored through taxation systems, with rewards given for emissions reductions, or commissioning of replacement energy-producing technology. Climate change itself will help penalize non-reductions. Read a rare article arguing such a line in Weekend Australian, 17-18 October, 2009, page 12, by Rebecca Weisser. "Tax carbon rather than trade in it". Highly recommended by this website.

Today's feeling/Blog emotion 21 October 2009: Law of the Sea: We have earlier loudly complained that leader of the Australian Liberal Party Malcolm Turnbull keeps speaking tosh. Lately we find his party is complaining about "illegal migrants" appearing freshly in boats off the n/w Australian coast. They are not "illegal" till proved so: they may be ordinary asylum seekers or stateless persons. The current Liberal Party stance on such folks is a moral and legal abomination in terms of the age-old Law of the Sea. Which is, that if any shipped party on the water has the wherewithal, they shall duly assist any other parties in trouble on the waters they become aware of, if it interferes with their own current business or not. It is an age-old standing human/moral obligation of maritime life. The current Liberal Party rhetoric is in dire breach of this convention and has been since John Howard's day. This website cannot understand why Australia's newspapers have not been pointing this out for years!

Brisbane public art, riverside, July 2008
Brisbane thematic public art, riverside, 2008
Photo by Dan Byrnes

Just how much power do politicians really have today?

Preamble: This essay is prompted more than anything else by the shenanigans of Australia's Liberal Party of the week-ending 28 November 2009. (All quotations below are from Australia's major newspapers of the weekend 28-29 November unless otherwise indicated.)

On Tuesday 1 December 2009 at 9am, the Liberal party will have a meeting to decide yet again on its leadership. It seems the party is in self-destruct mode, and some party pundits say it might be out of government, languishing in opposition, for two or even three more parliamentary terms. In Australian terms, this is a sweet prospect for Labor Party voters, my kind of voter, more so, so early in a new century.

But on quick reflection, this is very bad for good government in Australia. Our parliamentary system needs a good strong opposition to keep any incumbent government restrained, this is the Australian way.

Australian Liberal Party Update 2009
Classic image from Michaelangelo
The day the Australian Liberal Party
started to take climate change seriously

Unfortunately, the Liberal Party has just sabotaged this along with sabotaging itself as a viable party, and are sabotaging themselves as individual politicians representing a constituency. So this is not the time for party-political gloating.

Power, the exercise of? Australia's Labor government now in power cannot even successfully command that more housing shall be built for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The exercise of political power is about getting things done, not merely talking. Talk is cheap, but it appears that today, action in Australia is very expensive.

Along with some friends, most of us with no party-political affiliations, I've anyway been wondering for some time ... just how much power do politicians have today, anyway, over anything? I think politicians have decreasing power. But it's hard to describe just how this is. Apart from wondering if their lack of real eloquence, the deadness of their speech, might be a signal that they'll do no real good.

Historically, the easiest way to put it -- and this has been the case since the great British Reform Act era of the 1830s -- is that if universal suffrage is assumed in voterdom, then a well-educated, universally-enfranchised voterdom will gradually take more and more power from politicians. As well, if encouraged by their democratic system, this voterdom might widen opportunities for education to the point of insisting that university education be free for citizens. Which in turn might mean that the state bears the cost of widening educational opportunity in a context where a more-educated society will then arrogate itself more power and further reduce the power of politicians.

My point is that the Australian Liberal Party in late November 2009 is suffering from precisely this problem. Their voters know as much about climate change problems, if not more, than politicians appear to. I think they are suffering from it in ways which many governments in the Western World, including the USA, could well learn from. As follows ...

The paradox is that if a well-educated voterdom (some of whom enter the governmental bureaucracy, of course) slowly reduces the actual power that politicians used to have, does there arrive a point at which the politicians (but not the voters who put them where they are) find that they live in a power vacuum? This seems to be precisely the problem that the Liberal Party is responding to so badly.

A Melbourne blogging friend quotes a line getting about in the media – that if the Liberal Party agrees that asylum seekers on their way to Australia should not sabotage their own boat, should asylum seekers agree that the Liberal Party should not sabotage its own boat? And, does the Liberal party now understand the mindset of suicide bombers, since it is doing what the suicidals do, taking things so seriously that they feel moved to destroy themselves to gain part of their objective.

And their objective is ? To avoid the implications of climate change. To rush into irrelevance and into the past that existed before climate was widely perceived as a problem.

So may you live in interesting times
Photo of Penny Wong by Adam Knott
Australia's Minister for Climate Change, Senator Penny Wong. Original portrait (and a superb one!) by Adam Knott.

Remember, Australia has a Minister for Climate Change, a lawyer, Ms Penny Wong, who reminds the Senate that the emissions trading market is “politically constructed”. This website agrees, and find this is precisely the problem. The ETS is not a creature of economic demand at all, it's the opposite. It is a deluded attempt to make money from a problem without trying to solve the problem. It is not the way to discourage levels of demand for products/services which in a climate-change scenario will seem unhealthy.

We might also observe that the industries presently under most threat from any ETS-type measures are extractive – they are the the Australia-as-quarry view of Australia. There are other definitions of Australia to be re-examined. The Lifeboat Australia view; how many people can we find water for, feed and house?

There is the old White Australia view about population composition here, which might not take kindly to the arrival of large numbers of climate-change refugees from the Pacific or anywhere else. A hefty argument here would be quite ironic, Moslems might think: fine, this will distract attention from “Moslems”. But what about an argument about electricity supplies? One big attention-getter in Australia is security of baseload electricity supplies. What's at risk here are our beloved air-conditioners, for example.

There is a lot to argue about – such as, lifestyle. The last thing politicians want to talk about is real change in lifestyle now or in the future.

Many in the Liberal Party wish to avoid making a decision on the Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS, CETS) or Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The Liberals seem set to give themselves a climate-change Christmas. This year they don't believe that any conference in wonderful wonderful Copenhagen could possibly be wonderful.

It's fascinating. The Howard (Liberal) government for a decade thrived on spreading the politics of fear and loathing, and used “wedge politics” on its opposition. (A way of dividing issues into two or more sections to divide the opposition's energies.) Several years after Howard departed the scene, and ironically, his party is wedging itself, opposing the ETS for business reasons, dividing itself due to fear of climate change, wishing for business as usual.

But the ETS gives this website a problem. We think it is a very bad policy indeed. This website thinks that the ETS will provide incentives for society to invest money, time and effort in what is causing the problem, reducing or redirecting money time and effort to be invested in climate change adjustment reactions or in new and better technology. We think that responses to climate change problems should be mediated through modification of existing Federal and State tax systems, which can be adjusted/readjusted relatively quickly in response to events.

Here we can note the fetish in democracies for new legislation when modification to old legislation might suffice just as well. (There was no real need in the UK, Australia or the USA for new “anti-terror laws” after 9/11. The ordinary criminal law was enough of a legal arsenal for use against actual or aspiring terrorists. It might even be far better, for Westerners at least, if any apprehended terrorists were regarded as ordinary criminals and not dignified by new legislation which gave them added status as “special threats”.)

The ETS will generate various investment schemes (or is that, disinvestment schemes?) which will take time to shape themselves. But whether this is the case or not, the Liberals are now splitting their own party to avoid climate change problems by the simple expedient of not believing it is being made worse by human activity. If climate change is occurring, it's part of some natural cycle they insist, while assuming that business will be as usual. Even so, they are failing to propose any measures to be taken in Australia or elsewhere. So they condemn themselves to irrelevance. and one wonders if they actually read today's newspapers.

The headlines are egregious, and dismaying. What might this weekend's newspapers tell us? Sydney Morning Herald says that getting the Liberals to an ETS proved more difficult than herding cats, and adds that current Liberal dilemmas are “a plot written and directed by Nick Minchin, with Tony Abbott volunteered to be the suicide bomber”.

“Howard's legacy: Without a shepherd, Liberals find themselves in the dark”.

Brisbane public art, riverside, July 2008
Brisbane thematic public art, riverside, 2008
Photo by Dan Byrnes

In the Australian, Lenore Taylor is headlined “Rambuctious conservatives put reason, facts and history off to one side - The Liberal Party has cynically changed its mind, then shot itself in the foot”.

The Australian's editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, who makes up his own mind, is headlined “Rebels with a lost cause – The test is whether this wilful contest is the party's political suicide or the means of its salvation”. Kelly thinks that Rudd will construe matters as the Liberals having ceased to be a mainstream political party and retreated into introspective denial.

Some quotes are funny. Dennis Shanahan in Weekend Australian says that never has the Liberal Party so lacked authority as now, and he quotes a “senior Liberal”, “The Liberal Party is now a circus without a tent.” Shanahan asks, can the Liberals settle policy differences without tearing their party apart?

“Liberals wallow in sceptic tank”, says Miranda Devine in Sydney Morning Herald, but she thinks the ETS is a dog and that the anti-Turnbull forces will prevail. So just to be more amusing, the SMH places beside Devine a column by Susan Butler, editor of Macquarie Dictionary, who outlines changes in our language usage as the risks of climate change dawn on us. Possibly, Butler thinks that a consensus about climate change will arrive via changing language use, not necessarily by “politics”. Which seems a very good way to look at it. Yet another reason for the world to be watching Australia's dysfunctional shenanigans just now.

One wonders, if climate change denial is somewhat similar, as a form of denial-of-real-threat, to Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in 1938?

A Sydney Morning Herald columnist reminds us that Turnbull is perceived, at least, as lacking sincerity. The wider problem here is that most of Turnbull's enemies in his own party are sincerely wrong, or at least wrenchingly out of touch with public opinion.

In the SMH, a UK columnist, George Monbiot, is quoted as saying that climate-change denial is now spreading like a contagious disease (while climate-change sceptics say that climate-change alarmism has spread like a contagious disease).

One view scuttling about like a pair of ragged claws on the sea bottom is that climate change deniers, who are now being serviced by a brand-new mini-publishing-industry, have room-temperature IQs. Which could well be said of the Australian Liberal Party today.

Monbiot notes that a lot of climate change deniers are older people. The psychology of which is interesting. Just maybe, older people have a longer experience of “normal” weather variations and are more tolerant of weather oddities?

On the other hand, this website is interested in maritime history, and notes that regarding the famous and non-existent North-West Passage that Captain Cook sought, it has never till recent years ever been predicted that the Passage will one day be free of Arctic ice. But it now seems the Passage might open up in 20 years or so when the summer Arctic is ice-free. Which means, the long-fabled North-West Passage, enabling cheaper transport by ship, will only appear because of climate disaster!

Yes, today we need to read geography globally, not just locally, while we react to mere slogans and think globally and act locally - another paradox likely to encourage political meltdown in your local area quite soon.

Australian Liberal Party Update 2009
Classic image from Michaelangelo
The day the Australian Liberal Party
started to take climate change seriously

Monbiot goes on to speculate that a scenario like climate change will only remind people of our frailties, of the reality of death. Since older people are closer to death anyway, they reject notions about climate change due to their personal psychology. Certainly with climate change, if it happens severely, water and food supplies will seem frail, and the world already refuses to supply all its populations with food; while over-population is not discussed usefully.

It's all getting curiouser and curiouser, turning very peculiar and pear-shaped. This website feels anyway that the pointiest ends of climate change problems in Australia right now are questions of water supplies for all purposes, drought, extra risks of bushfires and the idea, already growing, that beachfront and near-beachfront real estate development in Australia should cease. Or be greatly slowed. (Noosa Heads in Queensland and Byron Bay in NSW being the mostly-publicized beachfront case studies so far available.)

Reported in this weekend's Australian is the case in Victoria of a dark shadow being cast over the future of beachfront development due to the state's planning tribunal deciding that the risks of sea-level rises and extra flooding are too great. And there's a hint of a republican management question of Australia here: why not have uniform regulations about such matters nationwide, not piecemeal, state by state? Given Australia's small population, why not have uniform regulations about everything? But that's a broader story.

The Liberal Party has proposed nothing new, interesting, creative or viable about any of these problems. The only way out for any of the Liberal Party is Stalinist in style: it is for one side or other of the argument to win, enabling the winners to purge the entire party of dissenters, and get back to being a successful opposition. (While Sydney-based forces in the party seem to dominate over Melbourne, presumably a legacy of the Howard years). Whichever side wins, half the party and half its talent will be lost.

The current Liberal leader, Turnbull, would rather die on his feet than live on his knees, praying to the right wing, climate-change deniers in his party. Is this an argument about the Liberals' philosophy and future direction, a battle for the party's soul, or plain self-destruction (led by a right-wing) of the kind that ruined the Labor Party in the 1950s. If these problems bring on a double-dissolution, many commentators feel that the Liberal-National coalition in opposition will be annihilated, which seems correct.

All this is very Catch-22 in style, no one would want to lead the Liberal Party (as it is now), for fear of being thought insane, the risk of political death is high. It seems clear that whoever becomes Liberal leader, the party will have to change in the light of the most divisive issues, which are those posed by apparent climate change. First of all, due to voter anxieties (if not “green politics”), the Liberals had better be seen to be actually thinking clearly about climate change. And this is where the paradox rubs again and causes political friction. If an educated voterdom feels anxious about climate problems, right now they don't even have to vote. They just have to watch Liberal Party politicians reduce their own power of their own volition.

The voters will have their say in due course, more so if this Liberal self-destruction brings on a double-dissolution of parliament and an election has to be held.

If we need some more precise terminology here, where do we find it while so many disagree that the science is “in”? No one in Australia pretends to fully understand the ETS (or, Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, CETS), not even Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, who remains quite unconvincing as she tries to sell the ETS.

There is an alternative phrase to ETS, CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) as discussed in the Australian case on a Wikipedia page. This is “a cap-and-trade system”. About which, this website thinks, cap (demand for carbon) by all means, but trade in what, exactly? What is there to trade but finally, a reduction in demand for carbon-based products and services? (It seems risky, what participants in any Australian ETS will probably be trading will be the crumbs of marginal price differentials as carbon-based goods and services change. fall, or try with the aid of public relations to rise in price.)

So despite new entries in Macquarie Dictionary, we rather lack the vocabulary for discussing our problems. Certainly, Australia's Liberal Party is demonstrating how we need vocabulary to express our thoughts, while they are not thinking anyway. And here's the point. The rest of the world can learn much from Australia in late 2009 about the ways an educated national electorate can neuter the power of politicians – just at a time when better leadership is required. Certainly, most Australians now seem highly sceptical about the ETS/CPRS.

The whole world should be watching, because when Kevin Rudd, Australia's prime minister, attends a Copenhagen meeting about “environmental matters” in December, he will be representing a nation that is a perfect disgrace. He contents himself with saying that the Liberal chaos is undermining his presentation. It's more the case that in terms of Australia's settlement patterns, we have been shockingly prodigal of space and resources. We dislike living in residential density, so for two centuries we have spread infrastructure everywhere, and now we find it becoming more expensive to maintain.

Rudd will be speaking for a nation which has just seen a major political party neuter itself due to its avoidance of environmental issues. A nation which lets its Murray River basin decline in quality, and has done for decades. A nation with capital cities becoming more nervous about assured supplies of water and country towns more nervous about bushfires. Nationally, irrigation-based industries are becoming more nervous.

A nation which ignores its own solar power resources and technologies, if it admires other nations' solar technology or not. A population increasingly nervous about electricity pricing.

A nation which is a world-scale litmus test signalling alarm for all measures by which all issues can be measured, more so since Australia is stand-alone and has no land-neighbours. A nation with indefensible coastlines, with a population moving more to the coasts, now due to rising sea-levels becoming nervous about have to slow near-coastline real estate development.

Once again, Australia turns out to be a social laboratory, but right now, nervous that the most serious experiment yet undertaken on its soil is in train while the coal underneath that soil continues to be mined so enthusiastically.

World-wide, there is only one thing to be hopeful about from any of it. That something like this could happen with the right wing of the USA's Republican Party.

Australian Liberal Party Update 2009
Classic image from Michaelangelo
The day the Australian Liberal Party
started to take climate change seriously

The outcome: And on Tuesday morning from 9am, with three contenders for its leadership, the Liberal Party excluded Joe Hockey from consideration, and votes were 42 for Tony Abbott and 41 for the previous leader, Malcolm Turnbull. Which is ridiculous. The Australian Liberal Party is now of at least two minds, to say the least. All this website can do now is track the Liberal Party closely as it tries to cobble together a climate change policy. (Ends)

(Parliamentarian Wilson Tuckey surprised this website on Tuesday morning by saying he had "some" climate change policy items on his website. He does indeed, at least, have an idea that wave power could be developed on the Kimberley Coast area. His material is mostly available as downloadable PDF files. Meantime, Liberal MP for North Sydney, Joe Hockey, has nothing prominent about climate change on his personal website. -Ed)

And after we have looked up a variety of the personal websites of a variety of MPs, we find there is something easy that the webmasters of Australia can do to help keep the Liberals honest after their embarrassments of late November 2009. Keep a list on which of them have a section on climate change issues, and which do not. This way, it ought to be easy, nationally, to induce Liberal MPs to train their webmasters to update on climate change issues and keep us all informed. Very, very informed.

So some survey results. Tony Abbott (2-12-2009) has nothing prominent re climate change issues on his personal website, apart from his usual anti-ETS opinions.

Opinions of late

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Nailing the artefacts

From The Telegraph UK on 2-3-2010 - Nail from Christ's crucifixion found? A nail dating from the time of Christ's crucifixion has been found at a remote fort believed to have once been a stronghold of the Knights Templar.

Published: 6:56AM GMT 02 Mar 2010 Nail from Christ's crucifixion found? Photo: GREG GRUNDY

The four-inch long nail is thought to be one of thousands used in crucifixions across the Roman empire. Archaeologists believe it dates from either the first or second century AD.

The nail was found last summer in a decorated box in a fort on the tiny isle of Ilheu de Pontinha, just off the coast of Madeira.

Pontinha was thought to have been held by the Knights Templar, the religious order that was part of the Christian forces which occupied Jerusalem during the Crusades in the 12th century.

The knights were part of the plot of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code.

Bryn Walters, an archaeologist, said the iron nail's remarkable condition suggested it had been handed with extreme care, as if it was a relic.

"It dates from the first to second centuries," he told the Daily Mirror.

While one would expect the surface to be "pitted and rough" he said on this nail the surface was smooth. That suggested that many people had handled it over the centuries, with the acid on their hands giving it a "peculiar finish".

Christopher Macklin of the Knights Templar of Britannia said the discovery was "momentous". He said the original Knights Templar may have thought it was one of the nails used in Christ's crucifixion.

The nail was found together with three skeletons and three swords. One of the swords had the Knight Templar's cross inscribed on it.

Recent news, recent views

This file new by September 2009 is for comment on recent topics in the news in Australia, and to store new material incoming for the websites of this domain.

UK Muslim leader to issue fatwa against Jihad By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 02/03/2010 00:05

Ruling is most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism. Talkbacks (11)

LONDON – A revered mainstream Muslim scholar is set to announce in London on Tuesday a fatwa (Muslim ruling) against terrorism and suicide bombing in the name of Islam.

Sheikh Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri, a widely recognized and respected authority on Islamic jurisprudence, will issue a comprehensive fatwa prohibiting terrorism and suicide bombing at a press conference in Westminster, centralLondon.

The Pakistani-born Dr. Qadri has authored an unprecedented, 600-page fatwa on why suicide bombings and terrorism are un-Islamic and scripturally forbidden. The ruling is the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date.

The fatwa will also be posted on the Internet and in English, making it readily accessible. It will also set an important precedent and allow other scholars to similarly condemn the ideas behind terrorism.

Dr. Qadri has used texts in the Koran and other Islamic writings to argue that suicide and other terrorist attacks are “absolutely against the teachings of Islam” and that “Islam does not permit such acts on any excuse, reason or pretext.”

The fatwa condemns suicide bombers as destined for hell, refuting the claim used by Islamists that such terrorists will earn paradise after death.

“Today’s tragedy is that terrorists, murderers, mischief-mongers and rioters try to prove their criminal, rebellious, tyrannous, brutal and blasphemous activities as a right and a justified reaction to foreign aggression under the garb of defense ofIslam and national interests,” he says about suicide bombing.

“It can in no way be permissible to keep foreign delegates under unlawful custody and murder them and other peaceful non-Muslim citizens in retaliation for interference, unjust activities and aggressive advances of their countries,” Qadri said, asserting, “The one who does has no relation toIslam.”

Dr. Qadri is the founder of the international Minhaj-ul-Quran movement. Supporters say his fatwa is significant because he is issuing it himself and his movement, a major grass-roots global organization, has hundreds of thousands of followers in South Asia and the UK.

The move has been welcomed by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based anti-extremism think-tank led by former Islamists.

“This fatwa has the potential to be a highly significant step towards eradicating Islamist terrorism,” a Quilliam spokesperson said. “Fatwas by Wahhabi-influenced clerics and Islamist ideologues initiated modern terrorism against civilians. Terrorist groups such as al-Qaida continue to justify their mass killings with self-serving readings of religious scripture.

“Fatwas that demolish and expose such theological innovations will consign Islamist terrorism to the dustbin of history.”

London’s Centre for Social Cohesion think-tank has also welcomed the initiative.

CSC director Douglas Murray believes that in recent years, and since the July 2005 terrorist attack in London, Muslim leaders have failed to unequivocally condemn violence committed in the name of Islam.

“A sentence that may to many people seem clear, such as ‘There can be no justification for the killing of innocent people’ is filled with caveats – what is an ‘innocent’ person? Who decides who is or is not ‘innocent’?"

“Too many Muslim religious figures sound as if they are condemning violence when in fact they are merely condemning violence in certain situations, against certain people,” he said.

Murray said the fatwa takes away the caveats and will have far-reaching consequences. However he said it won’t stop Islamic terrorism instantaneously.

“Dr. ul-Qadri is respected for his ability to cross some of the notable sectarian boundaries that abound in the Islamic faith as in all others. Even Muslims who might dislike him will not be able to dismiss him out of hand.

“Yet even if the contents of this fatwa are what people have long hoped for, it will not, of course, stop Islamic terrorism straight away. A single fatwa will not change the level of denial and lack of self-criticism inherent in so much of modern Islam. Nor will it stop every fevered young radical eager to kill and maim. But the trickle-down effect is important. The most violent interpretations of Islam have indeed trickled down to terrorists via learned scholars,” he said.

Interested in promoting modern democracy?

Are you (like George W. Bush) interested in promoting modern democracy around the world? Not even in any gung ho way? Here's where to start. With a list of the world's ten most unliveable cities as based on indicators of social stability, healthcare, environment, education and infrastructure. (1) Harare in Zimbabwe. (2) Dhaka in Bangladesh. (3) Algiers in Algeria. (4) Port Moresby in Papua/ New Ginear. (5) Lagos in Nigeria. (6) Karachi in Pakistan. (7) Douala in Camerooon. (8) Kathmandu in Nepeal. (9) Colombo in Sri Lanka. (10) Dakar in Senegal. So, Happy democracy hunting to you and the very best of luck!! Not forgetting that Johannesburg in South Africa and Washington DC, USA, both have very high murder rates. (Reported The Weekend Australian, 20-21 March 2010 from The Economist, UK)

Recent poetry from Dan Byrnes

A Photo by John Fields
Dan Byrnes in his early 60s
Webmaster Dan Byrnes in his early 60s. Photo by John Fields, taken in Armidale Mall at Courthouse coffee shop during a chance meeting of friends.

Poem by Dan Byrnes on John Fields, 14-2-2013


(For John Fields, Vale, February 2013)

Man with a soul
man with a heart
man with a camera
man with a place to start

Man with an eye
man with an aim
man with a beautiful purpose
man with wit about the more helpful game

Man with an art before art got burned
man with a goal a little stark
to get to goodness before it is ever spurned
man who seldom missed the mark

- Dan Byrnes (otherwise indicated in these pages as -Editor)

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