More magic puddings

Ken Davidson has a good summary of the various devices that make the Federal Budget about as useful as the annual reports of Enron. The prime examples are the adoption of a confused mixture of accrual and cash accounting and the use of long-term leases as a ‘debt-free’ method of financing.

Murray flows no more

Gary Sauer-Thompson has an excellent post on the news that the minimal flow through the mouth of the Murray is about to stop altogether. Clearly the only sustainable response is a reduction in the amount used for irrigation. Sharing this around is going to be difficult, especially when some users are still trying to increase the amount they take.

Too good to be true

According to this NYT report, an Iraqi scientist has reported to the US that
(a) The Iraqis successfully concealed weapons from the UN but destroyed them just before the war
(b) The Iraqis transferred weapons to Syria
(c) The entire operation was linked to Al Qaeda
(d) He had taken the trouble to bury some samples (not chemical weapons, but precursors)
(e) Jacques Chirac regularly visited the site

OK, I made (e) up. But, in the absence of any actual weapons, items (a) to (d) are so close to today’s wishlist for testimony from a defecting scientist, it’s hard not to see this as someone trying too hard to please. As the NYT report, which has apparently been closely vetted by the US military, notes,

But he has given the Americans information about other unconventional weapons activities, they said, as well as information about Iraqi weapons cooperation with Syria, and with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. It was not clear how the scientist knew of such a connection. (Emphasis added)

On a related topic, I haven’t had much good to say about Donald Rumsfeld, but his prompt repudiation of a report that the Pentagon expects to establish permanent bases in Iraq was a piece of good sense. I had meant to post on this report under the heading “I really hope this isn’t true”, and for once my hopes appear to have been realised. As Rumsfeld said, it’s not as though the US is short of bases as it is.

Monday message board

I hope everyone is having a great Easter weekend. For anyone who’d like to tell the world about it (or about anything else), here’s your chance to post your thoughts on any topic (no coarse language and civilised discussion, please).

What I'm reading and more

My main reading for the Easter weekend has been the program for the National Folk Festival in Canberra. I’ve had a great time. A quote to remember “Song predates speech” (Frankie Armstrong).

Going to festivals like this always tends to induce the belief that if we would only all be nice to one another and play lots of music the problems of the world would all be solved. This belief is obviously fallacious, but I’m not sure why.