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Aussies Back Down on Blocking ‘X’ Crime Video


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From Heartland Daily News

By J.D. Tuccille

Aussies back down on blocking ‘X’ video of a crime after realizing they would have to censor the world.

In a welcome development for people who care about liberty, Australia’s government suspended its efforts to censor the planet. The country’s officials suffered pushback from X (formerly Twitter) and condemnation by free speech advocates after attempting to block anybody, anywhere from seeing video of an attack at a Sydney church. At least for the moment, they’ve conceded defeat based, in part, on recognition that X is protected by American law, making censorship efforts unenforceable.

“I have decided to discontinue the proceedings in the Federal Court against X Corp in relation to the matter of extreme violent material depicting the real-life graphic stabbing of a religious leader at Wakeley in Sydney on 15 April 2024,” the office of Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, announced last week. “We now welcome the opportunity for a thorough and independent merits review of my decision to issue a removal notice to X Corp by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.”

The free speech battle stems from the stabbing in April of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Father Isaac Royel at an Orthodox Christian Church by a 16-year-old in what is being treated as an Islamist terrorist incident. Both victims recovered, but Australian officials quickly sought to scrub graphic video footage of the incident from the internet. Most social media platforms complied, including X, which geoblocked access to video of the attack from Australia pending an appeal of the order.

But Australian officials fretted that their countrymen might use virtual private networks (VPNs) to evade the blocks. The only solution, they insisted, was to suppress access to the video for the whole world. X understandably pushed back out of fear of the precedent that would set for the globe’s control freaks.

Global Content Battle

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?” responded X owner Elon Musk.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also argued that “no single country should be able to restrict speech across the entire internet” as did the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). The organizations jointly sought, and received, intervener status in the case based on “the capacity for many global internet users to be substantially affected.”

In short, officials lost control over a tussle they tried to portray as a righteous battle by servants of the people against, in the words of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, “arrogant billionaire” Elon Musk. Instead, civil libertarians correctly saw it as a battle for free speech against grasping politicians who aren’t content to misgovern their own country but reach for control over people outside their borders.

Worse for them, one of their own judges agreed.

“The removal notice would govern (and subject to punitive consequences under Australian law) the activities of a foreign corporation in the United States (where X Corp’s corporate decision-making occurs) and every country where its servers are located; and it would likewise govern the relationships between that corporation and its users everywhere in the world,” noted Justice Geoffrey Kennett in May as he considered the eSafety commissioner’s application to extend an injunction against access to the stabbing video. “The Commissioner, exercising her power under s 109, would be deciding what users of social media services throughout the world were allowed to see on those services.”

He added, “most likely, the notice would be ignored or disparaged in other countries.”

American Speech Protections Shield the World

This is where the U.S. First Amendment and America’s strong protections for free speech come into play to thwart Australian officials’ efforts to censor the world.

“There is uncontroversial expert evidence that a court in the US (where X Corp is based) would be highly unlikely to enforce a final injunction of the kind sought by the Commissioner,” added Kennett. “Courts rightly hesitate to make orders that cannot be enforced, as it has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

Rather than have his government exposed as impotently overreaching to impose its will beyond its borders, Kennett refused to extend the injunction.

Three weeks later, with free speech groups joining the case to argue against eSafety’s censorious ambitions, the agency dropped its legal case pending review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“We are pleased that the Commissioner saw the error in her efforts and dropped the action,” responded David Greene and Hudson Hongo for EFF. “Global takedown orders threaten freedom of expression around the world, create conflicting legal obligations, and lead to the lowest common denominator of internet content being available around the world, allowing the least tolerant legal system to determine what we all are able to read and distribute online.”

But if the world escaped the grasp of Australia’s censors, the country’s residents may not be so lucky.

Domestic Censorship Politics

The fight between eSafety and X “isn’t actually about the Wakeley church stabbing attacks in April — it’s about how much power the government ultimately hands the commissioner once it’s finished reviewing the Online Safety Act in October,” Ange Lavoipierre wrote for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The video in dispute in the case against X has been used, in my opinion, as a vehicle for the federal government to push for powers to compel social media companies to enforce rules of misinformation and disinformation on their platforms,” agrees Morgan Begg of the free-market Institute of Public Affairs, which opposes intrusive government efforts to regulate online content. “The Federal Court’s decision highlights the government’s fixation with censorship.”

That is, the campaign to force X to suppress video of one crime is largely about domestic political maneuvering for power. But it comes as governments around the world—especially that of the European Union—become increasingly aggressive with their plans to control online speech.

If the battle between Australia’s eSafety commissioner and X is any indication, the strongest barrier to international censorship lies in countries—the U.S. in particular—that vigorously protect free speech. From such safe havens, authoritarian officials and their grasping content controls can properly be “ignored or disparaged.”

Originally published by the Reason Foundation. Republished with permission.

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The Netherlands Reverses Host of Climate Policies

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From Heartland Daily News

Agriculture-focused polices the new government is reversing include the previous government’s forced buyout and retirement of farms to cut fertilizer use and associated nitrogen emissions

The Netherlands recently elected a new right-of-center government which is downplaying climate alarm and European Union (EU)-driven climate policies that harm the country’s residents and agricultural producers.

“Geert Wilders, a prominent figure in Dutch politics, has led a coalition that marks a decisive shift in the Netherlands’ approach to climate policy. Wilders, often dubbed the “Dutch Trump,” formed a new government that includes the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB),” writes Charles Rotter at Watts Up With That. Rotter quotes a report in The Telegraph on the political right’s rise in the Netherlands and what it means for climate policy:

The Netherlands will tear up rules forcing homeowners to buy heat pumps as part of a war on net zero by Geert Wilders and the Dutch farmers’ party. Six months after his shock election victory, Mr. Wilders this week struck an agreement to usher in a Right-wing coalition government of four parties. “We are writing history,” he said as he announced the program for the new government.

Among the EU-endorsed climate policies Wilders’ coalition government is rescinding is the heat pump mandate, which would have forced homeowners to switch to expensive, inefficient hybrid heat pumps  from traditional air conditioning and heating systems.

The EU had established a goal of installing a minimum of 10 million new heat pumps by 2027 as part of its 2050 net-zero ambition, a plan the previous Dutch government had endorsed and imposed. As The Telegraph reported, the Dutch government’s heat pump mandate was intended to drive “down Dutch household use of natural gas for heating, which is the largest source of its gas consumption, equivalent to about 30 percent in total.”

Commending the new coalition government’s reversal, Caroline van der Plas, leader of the BBB,  cheerfully said, “Thanks to BBB’s efforts, the mandatory heat pump will be abolished.”

Agriculture-focused polices the new government is reversing include the previous government’s forced buyout and retirement of farms to cut fertilizer use and associated nitrogen emissions. In its place, the new government will establish a series of voluntary incentives to reduce emissions and offer interested farmers voluntary buyouts to end production.

Wilders government is also set to end subsidies for electric vehicles by 2025, which, as Rotter notes, is “a departure from the EU’s blanket approach to climate policy. These subsidies have been criticized for benefiting the wealthy who can afford electric vehicles while doing little to address broader environmental issues.”

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Heartland Daily News

On Extreme Weather, the More We Learn, the More We Know How Little We Knew Before (and Still Don’t Know)

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Fr0m Heartland Daily News

No EF5 tornado, “one of the most catastrophic weather events on Earth … [which can] grow to be more than a mile wide and pack winds over 200 mph—stronger than any Category 5 hurricane on record across the Atlantic basin,” has struck the United States in more than 11 years—the longest such EF5 drought since consistent records have been maintained.

In contrast to many climate scientists and writers with the mainstream media covering climate change, who in their hubris claim the science is settled, Albert Einstein expressed modesty with regard to his knowledge, reportedly saying, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Eistein, a genius by any measure, was not the first to express such wisdom. Socrates, nearly 2,400 years ago, reputedly stated, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing,” and Aristotle expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Would that contemporary climate researchers displayed such a cautious, honest assessment of the state of knowledge in their field about the causes and consequences of contemporary climate change—but they rarely do.

Still, research comes out daily suggesting that far more remains unknown about climate change and the extent to which it drives extreme weather than is known by climate scientists and their journalist sycophants, and is assumed, and built into, climate models. Two recent studies provide examples showing this.

One recent study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters, examines the correlations of tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane basins  to multi-decadal variations in sea-surface temperatures tied to shifts in Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV). In analyzing two sets of climate model simulations, adding and subtracting AMV anomalies, researchers found the Atlantic and Pacific respond differently to warm AMV phases, which produce warmer temperatures:

Relative to cold or negative AMV anomalies, a warm AMV:

produces much more frequent TCs (including those making landfalls) over the North Atlantic. This is because AMV+ offers favorable conditions for TC development, including warmer SSTs, higher relative humidity, increased relative vorticity, and weaker vertical wind shear. By contrast, AMV+ causes less frequent TCs across the western North Pacific and South Pacific due to unfavorable conditions for TC occurrence (stronger vertical wind shear and less moist air). The contrasts in TC environment are due to increased zonal flow between the Atlantic and Pacific basins with AMV+.

What they didn’t find to be a factor in hurricane strength or formation was long-term global climate change. Rather, climate models suggest shifts in the Atlantic Ocean current oscillations are the forcing factor for tropical cyclones, or their absence. This study lends credence to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent AR6 physical science report, which confirms that there is no detection or attribution of any trend for either the number or strength of tropical cyclones tied to climate change. The IPCC’s assessment suggested that even under the most extreme emission scenarios, it could find no evidence climate change had or would affect tropical cyclones through 2100. (See chart below.)

Despite the IPCC’s clear statements and the findings in this new research, I’d bet money that this year when tropical storms and hurricanes form, especially when one or the other makes landfall and causes damage, mainstream media outlets will publish stories claiming climate change is to blame, citing “studies” from bogus climate science outfits like World Weather Attribution as evidence supporting their claim.

And, of course, hurricanes are only one type of extreme weather event we are only beginning to understand, and, as a result, show how little we know about their formation and cause. Tornados are another such type of event.

Every year, some scientists and reporters in the mainstream media try to tie climate change to the frequency or strength of tornados. Climate Realism has debunked such claims on dozens of occasions, citing research demonstrating there is no trend in increasing numbers or strength of hurricanes. Now the UPI is reporting the same fact.

One recent article published by UPI noted that no EF5 tornado, “one of the most catastrophic weather events on Earth … [which can] grow to be more than a mile wide and pack winds over 200 mph—stronger than any Category 5 hurricane on record across the Atlantic basin,” has struck the United States in more than 11 years—the longest such EF5 drought since consistent records have been maintained. And this is despite billions of additional tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere over that 13-year period. Commenting on this blessed severe tornado drought, UPI writes:

On May 20, 2013, an extremely powerful tornado destroyed a huge part of Moore, Okla. Eleven years later, it remains the most recent tornado to be rated EF5, the strongest possible rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The 11-year gap is the longest since official U.S. records began in 1950.

Before the Moore tornado, the blockbuster tornado season in 2011 led to the confirmation of five EF5 twisters, including the Joplin, Missouri, EF5 that killed 161 people. A total of 50 tornadoes have been rated F5/EF5 since records began in the United States in 1950.

Meteorologist Bob Henson said in 2023 that the current EF5 “drought” is hard to explain since damage estimates can be subjective. Damage to a “well-constructed building” is the most common factor that helps the National Weather Service (NWS) confirm an EF5, yet many homes in the U.S. do not meet that criteria.

During this busy tornado season, think back to how many stories you’ve already seen that mentioned climate change as a factor—modifying their timing, number, behavior, and power. Then, remember  mainstream media column inches and broadcast air-time to the contrary, there is no evidence whatsoever that climate change has, will, or can, even in climate models, impact tornados.

Heartland Institute Research Fellow Linnea Lueken answers the question: “Is climate change making tropical cyclones, meaning hurricanes and tropical storms, worse around the world?” The answer is, “No.”

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