Is there an end in sight to Poland’s constitutional crisis?

The Constitution Unit Blog

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Poland’s constitutional tribunal crisis escalated last month when the European Commission initiated the next stage of its rule of law procedure calling upon the country’s government to take action or face possible sanctions. But while the crisis is forcing the ruling party to expend political capital defending its position, it does not show any signs of backing down. Aleks Szczerbiak provides an update.

An escalating crisis

The row over Poland’s constitutional tribunal, a powerful body that rules on the constitutionality of laws, is the most serious constitutional crisis to affect the country since the collapse of communism in 1989. It began when, immediately following its victory in last October’s parliamentary election, the new government led by the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party annulled the appointment of five judges elected by the previous parliament to the 15-member tribunal. Earlier these judges were unable to assume their posts because Law and Justice-backed…

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“Faster, Higher, Stronger”: Corruption and Negligence Again Reach Olympic Levels In Rio

JONATHAN TURLEY

Olympic_rings_without_rims.svgUnknown-1Below is my column in USA Today on the history of corruption and negligence at the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) remains a troubled (and frankly troubling) international organization. After this column ran, a new doping scandal emerged around the Kenyan Olympic team. Here is the column:

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Just how anti-science are the Australian @Greens?

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Source: Denying Problems When We Don’t Like the Solutions | Duke Today

I am not sure that the Australian Greens earn brownie points for referring to the scientific consensus on global warming as follows

Current global climate change is primarily caused by human activities contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and is already contributing to disruption of human societies through sea level rise, extreme weather events, desertification, harm to health, wellbeing and other effects. This is the overwhelming consensus of the international scientific community.

The Greens then give their opponents a free kick regarding their views on coal:and their commitment to science-based risk policy:

No new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines, plus the development of programs to assist coal-dependent communities to make the transition to other more sustainable sources of economic prosperity.

There is no attempt to refer to science to justify this blanket prohibition against a specific energy source.

The views of the Australian Greens is no more science based on atomic energy:

    1. The world should be free of nuclear weapons and the nuclear fuel chain.
    2. There is a strong link between the mining and export of uranium and nuclear weapons proliferation.
    3. The use of nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents or attacks on reactors pose unacceptable risk of catastrophic consequences.
    4. Future generations must not be burdened with dangerous levels of radioactive waste.
    5. Nuclear power is not a safe, clean, timely, economic or practical solution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

If there is any basis in science with this blanket opposition, I am sure the Australian Greens might have mentioned it.

Do the Australian Greens refer to the scientific consensus on GMOs in their policy platform as a helpful reminder or is there just have an ever rising demand for more evidence

    1. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their products, and the chemicals used to manage them may pose significant risks to natural and agricultural ecosystems.
    2. GMOs have not been proven safe to human health.
    3. Scientific evidence produced independently from the developers and proponents of the GMO must be undertaken and form the basis for assessing and licensing of GMOs. GMO assessments must be broad, independent and scientifically robust.
    4. The precautionary principle must be applied to the production and use of GMOs.

Unlike the New Zealand Greens, at least they do not simply reject the possibility of GMOs, the Australian Greens prefer the tactic of never being satisfied by the evidence.

The only thing I can find on the position of the Greens on fluoridation and vaccines is from a Victorian upper house MP who is half sensible on these issues. On fluoridation she says on behalf of the Greens

The Greens policy is quite clear on this. We do not have a policy for or against fluoride. Our policy supports the right of communities to determine the introduction of fluoride into local water supplies.

Not expressing the opinion on the wisdom of not putting fluoride in local water supply hardly shows a strong commitment to science-based public health policy.

On vaccines, this Victorian upper house green MP is not too bad at all:

I want to begin by stating that the Greens join health and scientific experts in absolutely supporting vaccination as a safe, proven and critical preventative health measure. The elimination of horrific diseases such as polio in Australia is testament to the incredible effectiveness and importance of vaccines…

There is also a group of people who might be called ‘hesitators’. They are not strongly opposed to vaccination, but they have heard that there might be some risks and they are thus unsure about them. These people do not perceive a strong risk of their child contracting any of the horrible diseases that immunisation prevents, so they think that on balance it might be reasonable not to vaccinate or to delay vaccination until their child is older or they simply have not yet made a decision either way. Hesitating parents may not realise that in some areas the local vaccination rate is getting well below safe levels and thus the risk of an outbreak is increasing.

This is far better than her New Zealand counterparts who do not seem to have an opinion on this vital public health issue. Indeed, the New South Wales Greens moved in the state parliament to tighten up a bill on exemptions from vaccinations.

Changes to the NSW Public Health Act in 2013 prohibited unvaccinated children from attending childcare unless their parents held “a personal, philosophical, religious or medical belief involving a conviction that vaccination under the National Immunisation Program should not take place” and they had discussed the matter with their GP”. The NSW Greens moved an amendment to remove personal, philosophical and religious beliefs as a grounds for exemption. This is one of the few times I can say something nice about a green MP.

Many on the right have their doubts about climate change science, much of which is actually delivered driven by solution aversion.They do not like the costs of the solution so they attack the rationale for it for tactical reasons. Cass Sunstein explains:

It is often said that people who don’t want to solve the problem of climate change reject the underlying science, and hence don’t think there’s any problem to solve. But consider a different possibility: Because they reject the proposed solution, they dismiss the science. If this is right, our whole picture of the politics of climate change is off.

The Left picks and chooses which scientific consensus as it accepts. The overwhelming consensus among researchers is biotech crops are safe for humans and the environment. This is a conclusion that is rejected by the very environmentalist organisations that loudly insist on the policy relevance of the scientific consensus on global warming.

What is worse is this rejection of science is not based on solution aversion; that the costs are high. It is a plain rejection of science on principle by the green left rather than for tactical reasons such as by the right on global warming.

What is more worrying is all the science that is rejected by the left will make us more prosperous. Only when the solutions make is poorer does the green left support them such as with global warming and carbon taxes.

In many ways what divides the left and right onn science is a question of values: the value placed on progress, on the Great Enrichment, on the Great Fact and on the Great Escape.

The Greens are no more than a reincarnation of the 19th century British Tory Radicals with their aristocratic sensibilities that combined strong support for centralised power with a paternalistic concern for the plight of the poor:

  • 19th century Tory radicals opposed the middle classes and the aesthetic ugliness they associated with an industrial economy; and
  • Like the 19th century Tory Radicals, today’s green gentry see the untamed middle classes as the true enemy.

Many Greens think they are expressing an entirely new and progressive philosophy as they mouthed the same prejudices as Trollope’s 19th century Tory squires; attacking any further expansion of industry and commerce as impossibly vulgar, because it was

ecologically unfair to their pheasants and wild ducks.

Neither the failure of the environmental apocalypse to arrive nor the steady improvement in environmental conditions because of capitalism has dampened the ardour of those well-off enough to be eager to make hair-shirts for others to wear.

True to its 1960s origins, environmentalism is a mix of bureaucrats and hippies: a global, little-brother government that keeps the lower classes in line and a back-to-the-earth localism imposed on others but presenting no real threat to the inner city green elites’ comfortable middle class lives.

PolitiFact or Politi-fiction?

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Andy May

This is a critique of the coverage of the man-made climate change debate by Politifact.com. It’s an update of a post I wrote last year. Journalism has not improved in the last 19 months and may actually be worse. Because Politifact is often characterized as an unbiased and credible source by the rest of the media it must be held to a very high standard. This is why finding two well documented cases of the organization deliberately mischaracterizing the facts and misquoting sources on the climate change debate is so shocking. As a result of these “fact checks” it is annoying that the press cites Politifact as if it were objective and honest, it is neither.

In their fact check of Senator Rick Santorum they misquoted Professor Richard Tol on several points. Tol pointed out the errors and Politifact refused to correct them. This is…

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@NZGreens very sane compared to @DrJillStein @GreenPartyUS

Jill Stein managed to denounce American imperialism without mentioning the invasion of the Crimea and Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War to prop up the old regime.

Stein is what Orwell called a renegade liberal. Progressives hunt the world for dictators to worship. As George Orwell said in 1941

Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’.

Balance of Power Aussie Senators Clash over WHY a Carbon Tax is Bad

Watts Up With That?

Malcolm Roberts, One Nation (Left), David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats) Right Malcolm Roberts, One Nation (Left), David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats) Right

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

It is a good day to be an Aussie climate skeptic. Two key small party senators, part of a group which holds the balance of power in Australia’s divided Federal senate, both agree a carbon tax is a bad idea, but for different reasons.

Senators clash over climate change

In an early forecast of the new Senate climate, a pair of crossbenchers have clashed over the best approach to take to environmental policy – though both agree tax isn’t the way.

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts says he’ll only support policies based on empirical evidence, and he doesn’t believe the evidence shows any need to tax carbon dioxide.

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm says his small-government party just doesn’t believe there should be more taxes, on anything.

‘Our policy is we’re politicians or political people…

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Most of the extreme poor will be in sub-Saharan Africa in 2030