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Last updated on July 27th, 2017 at 02:38 pm
Merry Christmas to … the world:
This week, Freedom House released its survey for 2005. The survey grades each country (from a best of 1 to a worst of 7) and then simplifies these scores into a broader categorization of “free,” “partly free” or “not free.” (For example, the U.S. and Australia are “free”; Burma and Cuba are “not free”; Turkey and Nigeria are “partly free.”) Because countries usually evolve gradually, not many of the numeric scores change in any one year, and even a rise or fall in a country’s score is usually insufficient to move it from one of the three broad categories to another.
This year, however, more countries than usual changed category. Eight countries plus the Palestinian Authority, not yet officially a country, moved up — either from “not free” to “partly free” or from “partly free” to “free.” Four countries moved down. In all, this made it a good year for freedom.
The piece offers some credit for this to George W. Bush’s “strategy of promoting freedom and democracy, including by means of war in Iraq”:
Saad Edin Ibrahim, the dean of Egyptian dissidents and an opponent of the war in Iraq, said recently that it had “unfrozen the Middle East just as Napoleon’s 1798 expedition did.”
Merry Christmas to … US forces:
Rumsfeld helped serve the soldiers a dinner of rib-eye steak, lobster, crab legs, Cornish game hens and all the seasonal fixings. Grinning widely and wearing a white cooks hat, he worked his tongs as many of the soldiers snapped pictures of him and politely asked for their helpings.
“Steak’s the big seller tonight,” he declared after the first several dozen soldiers had gone through the line.
According to Lib Dem calculations, a team of nine reindeer would emit methane with a global-warming impact equivalent to 40,667 tonnes of carbon dioxide as they covered the 122 million miles needed for Santa to deliver presents to every house in the world.
This makes his sleigh ride almost as environmentally unfriendly as an aircraft, which would produce 41,480 tonnes of CO2 on the Christmas Eve trip.
And saaaaad Christmas to … The Independent’s Martin Hickman:
Gifts are made at factories that use lots of energy and contribute to global warming. Finite and diminishing natural resources such as metals go into them. In particular, plastics use a high amount of oil, yet these goods are often poor quality and disposable, something especially so for toys at Christmas.
Transporting these products to the shops results in more energy use and pollution.
Intensive food production to sate our festive appetite discourages wildlife and allows pesticides to leach into streams and rivers …
The only bright spot environmentally is that while we are stuffing our mouths with food or ripping open our presents (wrapped with disposable paper), we are not jumping into our cars and spewing pollution from the exhaust pipes. Or working in factories to supply goods for the next Christmas.
Actually, reducing pollution is bad for the environment. Martin hasn’t been keeping up with the very latest scientific discoveries.