Thursday, July 19, 2018

Victorian judge bans niqab in court's public gallery

A Victorian judge has banned a woman whose husband is facing terrorism charges from wearing a niqab in court, saying it posed a potential security risk.

The woman applied through her husband’s lawyers to wear the face veil, which she said was a “a fundamental way in which she observes her faith”, while sitting in the public gallery to support him through the six-week trial.

She said she had been permitted to wear the niqab during a committal hearing in the magistrates court and was willing to show her face to security guards manning the metal detector and weapons check at the court entrance to verify her identity.

But the supreme court judge Christopher Beale said the risk of a mistrial or other incident caused by “misbehaving” in the public gallery would be heightened if a person could not be instantly identified because their face was covered, and ruled that the risk outweighed the infringement upon the woman’s right to freedom of religious expression.

“Deterrence, identification and proof are all served by a requirement that spectators in the public gallery have their faces uncovered,” he said in a decision handed down on Monday.

Beale said lawyers for the accused had indicated there were other women who would also wear niqabs in court if permission were granted, which would further confuse identity issues because “such dress tends to be very similar”.

Lawyers for the woman argued that she did not pose a security risk and would abide by all court orders, but Beale said the stress felt by people accused of serious crimes was often shared by family members and that “as a consequence of that stress, incidents happen from time to time in court”.

“Australia is obviously a multicultural society and I agree that religious dress should be accommodated as much as possible, but the right of religious freedom and the right to participate in public life are not absolutes,” Beale said in his decision.

He said the Victorian charter of human rights recognised that rights “may be subject to limitations which can be ‘demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom’”.

Lawyers for the woman said there was an implied right of wear a veil when not giving evidence, citing a number of cases in Commonwealth countries.

Those cases generally concerned whether a person was able to wear religious facial coverings while giving evidence and did not contest a person’s right to wear religious attire when not on the stand. Among them is a ruling by the New South Wales court of appeal concerning a civil damages trial against NSW police, which upheld the trial judge’s ruling that the complainant could not wear her niqab while giving evidence.

“A requirement that spectators have their faces uncovered is not to force anyone to act immodestly,” Beale said. “First, the exposure of one’s face in a courtroom cannot reasonably be viewed as an immodest act: subjective views to the contrary cannot rule the day, or the management of a courtroom.

“Second, if someone feels strongly that it would be improper for them to uncover their face in court, they can choose not to attend.”

He said the trial could be livestreamed to another room in the court building to allow the woman to follow it if she chose not to remove her veil.

The Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, said religious and cultural rights were protected under Victorian law, and that those rights also applied in a courtroom.

“Victorian law is clear that when courts are acting in an administrative way – such as making decisions about procedure in the courtroom – they must consider and act compatibly with human rights,” Hilton said.

“The law allows for restrictions on human rights, such as restricting a person’s right to observe their religion or culture through what they wear, but limits are only justified where there is clear evidence the limit is reasonable.”


'Absolute prize': Why selective schools are eclipsing private schools

Because they are more selective.  Private schools cater for a wider ability range

Selective schools have overtaken private schools as the state's most advantaged, with schools such as Normanhurst Boys and Hornsby Girls now eclipsing elite colleges such as St Ignatius, Barker and Ascham.

More than half of the state's top 20 most socio-educationally advantaged schools are now state selective because they are the "absolute education prize" for parents, a report from the Centre for Policy Development has found.

Securing a selective school spot requires such investment of time and money that almost three quarters of their students come from the highest quarter of socio-educational advantage, and only two per cent from the lowest.

But their popularity has come at a cost; researchers also measured the wider ''brain drain'' when new selective schools were established, and found that results and enrolments at neighbouring suburban schools fell.

The report, part of a series on equity in schools, argues that selective schools were designed to cater for all high achievers but are now dominated by the children of parents with the resources to pay for things like coaching.

"It reflects the ferocious competition to get into these schools," said co-author Christina Ho. "They are public schools, you wouldn't expect to see them at the top of these advantage lists. It doesn't seem possible for them to be eclipsing private schools.

"But among middle class families they have become the absolute education prize. Families begin planning years in advance. Tutoring begins in early primary school, costing thousands. If you don't start planning early, you jeopardise your chances.

"Those resources are not available to most families. That's how you end up with this concentration of [advantaged] families."

The socio-educational score of a school looks at the education and occupation of its students' parents.

The report also looked at selective schools' impact on suburban high schools by studying the opening of four partially selective schools in Sydney's south-west in 2010, namely Bonnyrigg, Prairiewood, Moorebank and Elizabeth Macarthur.

Between 2005 and 2017, the number of HSC ''distinguished achievers'' rose at those selective schools. At Moorebank, the proportion rose from 13 per cent to 28 per cent. But neighbouring high schools experienced no increase or a decrease.

In some cases, their number of high achievers halved. Enrolment dropped, too.

Co-author Chris Bonnor said the loss of high achievers to selective schools made neighbourhood schools less desirable. "They lose enrolments, they lose those aspirant students that make up [more challenging] classes," he said.

A teacher from one of the south-west Sydney schools affected, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the impact on her school had been stark. "We used to be able to say to parents, 'we can help your children get really good results'," she said. "We can't say that any longer."

The NSW government is reviewing the selective school and primary school opportunity class tests amid concerns that wealthy families are gaming the system by engaging tutors for their children.

A department spokesman said the final report would be released later this year.

But Dr Ho said the review was "tinkering around the edges of the admissions system," and called for bigger changes. "We have the means, the technology, and the model that could inform a much more far-reaching review of selective schools so we don't have this segregation of students," she said.

Mark Jordan's two children, Sophia, 15, and Bill, 12, both attend the partially selective Sydney Secondary College Balmain Campus. Bill might have attended a private school if he didn't get into Balmain, and did some coaching ahead of the entrance test.

With the money he has saved on private school fees, Mr Jordan invests in extra coaching. "We spend about $1800 [a year]. It's not a small amount of money but it's a lot cheaper than private school fees."

''We've noticed less diversity than we expected,'' Mr Jordan said. ''So we think the entry process could be unfair."


Why more Kiwis are deported from Australia than any other group

No mystery.  Kiwis can come here without checks -- so their crooks come too

NEW Zealanders are being deported from Australia in huge numbers, and it’s becoming huge problem for both countries.

“WE DON’T want you here, the broader community doesn’t want you here.” That was the message from an Australian Federal Police superintendent to motorcycle club members when a notorious New Zealand-born bikie was arrested for his bikie links in 2015.

The visa of Aaron Joe Thomas Graham was cancelled and he was set to be deported back to New Zealand.

The situation has become a familiar one in recent years. More than 1300 Kiwis have been deported from Australia in the past three years, with another 15,000 set to be sent back over the next decade.

In last night’s Foreign Correspondent, journalist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons goes to New Zealand to see how deportation has affected the relations between the two countries.

“I wasn’t on criminal charges … but I was still treated as a prisoner who has committed a crime,” Ko Haapu, a former New Zealand soldier turned motorcycle gang member and deportee, told FitzSimons.

In the program titled “Don’t call Australia home!” FitzSimons found that under the changes to the Migrant Act, “just being a member of a bike gang, an organisation suspected of criminal behaviour, was enough to get Haapu deported on “bad character” grounds even though it’s not illegal in Western Australia to belong to one.”

Since the Migration Act was amended in December 2014, it gave powers to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs to together with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton the ability to cancel the visas of people who could pose a risk to the community or that they’ve deemed are not of “good character”.

Peter FitzSimons talks to deportee KO Haapu. He fought in the NZ army in Afghanistan against the Taliban, after settling in Perth he joined the Rebels motorcycle gang. Source: ABC
Peter FitzSimons talks to deportee KO Haapu. He fought in the NZ army in Afghanistan against the Taliban, after settling in Perth he joined the Rebels motorcycle gang. Source: ABCSource:Supplied

It gives coward punchers, drug dealers and violent offenders a one-way ticket to their home country — anyone with a criminal record who isn’t an Australian citizen can now be deported.

However in Haapu’s case, he told FitzSimons he wasn’t there on criminal charges. “I was there on immigration which are two different things,” he said.

FitzSimons finds that Australia’s detaining, cuffing and deportation of New Zealanders is riling Kiwis and straining relations across the ditch.

He says there’s real resentment in New Zealand — and that even he’s taken aback by the anger of New Zealanders — from ordinary citizens to political heavyweights — at what they see as a lopsided relationship.

The general consensus is that New Zealanders don’t think they have been treated fairly as a country, with the New Zealand Justice Minister even labelling the policy as a breach of human rights.

“Well we just need to see the evidence instead of the emotions,” Mr Dutton told FitzSimons.

“They’re New Zealand citizens, they’re not Australian citizens. And it’s no breach of human rights, in fact it’s a breach of, ah, civil rights of Australians who fall victims to these criminals and Australia won’t tolerate it.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re talking about. The criteria for us is whether you’ve committed an offence against Australian citizens and that’s the test that we apply.”

Last year, more than 600 Kiwis were deported on grounds of “bad character”.

When confronting Mr Dutton about Haapu’s case, FitzSimons put it straight to the Home Affairs minister. “He was held with no charge, no crime committed,” he said.

“Peter, he was a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, and we know that they are part of a syndicate which is the biggest distributor of drugs in our country,” Mr Dutton told FitzSimons.

“In fact, this passed through the parliament with bipartisan support. If you’re a member of that gang, you face deportation.”

FitzSimons hit back saying, “You imply a raft of strong allegations, accusations against the fellow that we can’t see.”

“Well, Peter, that happens every day. I mean, there’s intelligence that’s gathered that’s not released for a variety of reasons,” Mr Dutton said.

New Zealand’s Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters recently asked Australia for “a fair suck of the sav, so to speak, where international protocols are observed.”

It was in relation to a 17-year-old boy, the youngest New Zealander to be detained since the special powers came into effect four years ago, who landed himself in a Sydney juvenile detention centre.

His offences had not been disclosed, but his lawyer argued they were “stock standard” and not enough to spark deportation.

When he was about to be released, the boy was instead taken more than 12 hours away to an immigration holding centre in Melbourne and was awaiting deportation since March.

Mr Peters made a direct appeal to Australia to release the teenager saying it was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and called on the country to live up to its obligations.

“This person is regarded as a child or a minor, and I’m just reminding the Australians — you’re a signatory, live up to it,” Mr Peters told reporters earlier this month. .

“They are clearly in breach of it. There’s no complication. They know that, we know that.

While career crooks are among the deportees, Mr FitzSimons says lesser players have been hit by tougher immigration rules allowing deportation for anyone sentenced to more than a year’s jail — even if it’s suspended.

In the program, FitzSimons discovers change can bring opportunities for some of the deportees.

He tells of how Australia, once the receptacle for Britain’s unwanted convicts, has itself become a player in the exile business.


Keep Australia’s coal-fired power plants operating, says AEMO report

The nation’s independent energy market operator yesterday called for Australia’s fleet of coal-fired power stations to remain in operation for as long as possible.

Extending the operation of this fleet for as long as they are economically viable represents the “ least-cost option” for the next twenty years, according to the recommendation. It is thought the move would ward off any future price shock, as Australia transitions to a more renewables-involved grid.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the report speaks a lot of sense.

“I certainly know that the ACCC report and the AEMO report, they do give hope for investment in coal. Certainly other technologies as well, but coal has to be party of the mix,” he says.

“But we also need to as a nation, know and understand there are some of those coal-fired power stations which could be enhanced, which could be revitalised and expanded. That could also provide a solution if the investment isn’t there for new coal-fired power stations.”

The report and this kind of sentiment is predicted to flare up debate around AGL’s planned 2022 closure of the Liddell power station. McCormack says government should not “ rush in and nationalise things” when it comes to privately operated assets, also reiterating his technologically agnostic stance.

“The ACCC chairman said only last week, that only a technology neutral approach will get prices down. Whenever government prescribes that the technology should be one thing or another, that is when you get higher prices.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amazed at the ACTU importing  a Hollywood personality to star at their congress

Australia's ABC panned over Paul Bongiorno's Uncle Tom slur

This is a bit hard to sort out, but it seems that Bongiornio found an ABC panel show to be boring.  He attributed that to the that fact that the participants were all Leftists and "Uncle Toms".  Whether that was true or not, his usage of the term "Uncle Tom" was greeted as politically incorrect.  In the original novel about him, Uncle Tom was a good guy.  But Leftists hate that

Warren Mundine [An Aborigine] has slammed a “hypocritical and disgraceful” response from the ABC after it distanced itself from commentator Paul Bongiorno and his reference to the indigenous businessman with the racial slur “Uncle Tom”.

In a statement provided to The Australian yesterday, the public broadcaster said: “Mr Bongiorno is not an ABC employee; his Twitter account is not an ABC ­account; any tweets are Mr Bongiorno’s own.”

It came a week after Bongiorno tweeted on July 8: “As many ‘righties’ on Dky (sic) after dark panels … and that includes ‘Uncle Tom’ lefties craving relevance.”

Mr Mundine told The Australian last night the tweet was written in clear reference to him, and described the ABC’s reaction as unacceptable. “Any organisation that reacted in this way would deserve to be pilloried for their pathetic, weak response,” he said.

Bongiorno apologised last night for causing offence and said he never intended to use a racist slur but he objected to Mr Mundine calling for the ABC to sack him.

“I am an independent commentator and journalist, currently on holidays; it is passing strange that the only reaction to some who take offence is to demand one of my employers sack me,” he tweeted.

“My tweet was in response to an attack on the ABC for only having ‘lefty’ panels. I made the point that there is plenty of evidence to show Sky has ‘rightie’ panels or acceptable ‘lefties’, which was my intention using the term ‘Uncle Tom.’ ”


Turnbull says there is ‘real concern about Sudanese gangs’ in Melbourne

Malcolm Turnbull has said there is “real concern about Sudanese gangs” in Melbourne and defended earlier remarks by Peter Dutton suggesting people were afraid to go out for dinner in the Victorian capital because of the fear of “African gangs”.

On Tuesday, Turnbull defended the home affairs minister’s remarks in January, while insisting his government had “zero tolerance for racism”.

The prime minister’s comments come amid escalating campaigning by the Coalition on immigration and crime in the lead-up to both the super Saturday byelections on 28 July and the Victorian state election later this year.

On Monday, the Liberal senator Dean Smith used the fact Australia’s population will soon tick over to 25m to call for an inquiry into population growth, while Dutton injected the immigration debate into the byelection campaigns in Longman and Braddon by boasting that permanent migration has fallen on his watch.

Turnbull picked up on that theme in an interview on 3AW radio on Tuesday, noting that permanent migration of 163,000 people in the past financial year was “the lowest its been in a decade”.

Despite describing immigration as an exercise in “recruitment” of the “best and brightest” to Australia, the prime minister suggested it was “good that it’s down, on the basis we’re not taking any more than we need”.

Business and industry groups have blasted the reduction, noting Australia has taken 12,500 fewer workers on skilled visas in the past year and warning of labour shortages in areas outside Sydney and Melbourne.

On Tuesday, the Infrastructure Australia chief, ­Philip Davies, told the Australian the country lacked “national-level, long-term planning” about population growth and had been “lazy” in planning for its infrastructure needs.

Turnbull said it was “not right” to claim there was no planning around population levels, citing intergenerational reporting started by the former treasurer Peter Costello, and arguing the level of skilled migration “responds to the demands of the economy”.

“Where there has been a massive failure is in terms of infrastructure,” he said, adding there was “real concern about congestion, in particular”.

Regional Australia had “different concerns” because “in many places they want to see more migration”, he said. Turnbull said his government was considering how to encourage people who come to Australia to work in regional areas to remain by adding conditions to their visas.

On Saturday the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive, James Pearson, told Guardian Australia the government was pursuing a “contradictory policy approach” by attempting to encourage more workers to the regions while lowering the overall migration intake.

Turnbull left the door open to a parliamentary inquiry into population, suggesting the joint standing committee on migration was “always open” to review the issue.

Asked about alleged fears of “Sudanese gangs”, Turnbull said that he had “heard that from people in Melbourne”. “I’ve heard people – colleagues from Melbourne – say that there is real anxiety about crime in Melbourne. It is a real issue. “There is certainly concern about street crime in Melbourne.”

On Monday, the Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, warned against “racially divisive statements” after a resurgence in race discrimination complaints.

Asked whether Dutton had provoked racial hatred with his comments, Turnbull said it was “nonsense” to suggest that, adding he was “simply seeking to do the best job” as the minister for home affairs, responsible for domestic security and migration.

“There is real concern about Sudanese gangs,” Turnbull said. “You’d have to be walking around with your hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear it.”

At a later press conference in Baxter to announce an upgrade of the Baxter to Frankston line, Turnbull said “not everyone is frightened of street crime, but a lot of people are”.

“You have to be honest; there are Sudanese gangs in Melbourne. No one is making any reflections about Sudanese migrants, Sudanese [people] in general.”

Last week the Victorian Liberal opposition was labelled “nasty and bigoted” by the state Labor government for releasing a pamphlet warning of “gangs hunting in packs”.

Overall crime rates in Victoria are down, including youth crime. Sudanese-born people are disproportionately represented in some offence categories such as violence and affray, although experts argue this is due to a higher incidence of other factors that are associated with a high crime rate, such as poverty and a lack of engagement in work and school.


My Health Record: privacy, cybersecurity and the hacking risk

Health bodies say the digital record will improve care but privacy advocates say it is an ‘uncontrolled’ data dump

From Monday, Australians will have three months to opt out of a new digital medical record that can hold on to information for up to 30 years after they die.

The digital record, called My Health Record, will be automatically set up for every Australian unless they opt out before 15 October.

It will track Australians’ allergies, medical conditions, previous or current medication, test results and anything else that is uploaded by your doctor – and share it between medical providers.

Doctors say it will improve the quality of care but others are urging people to opt out due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns.

So what are the pros and cons of My Health Record?
The positives

My Health Record has the backing of all of Australia’s peak health bodies, including the Australian Medical Association, the Royal College of Australian GPs, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and others.

The president of the AMA, Dr Tony Bartone, said it would improve the care that patients receive.

“It will assist in reducing unnecessary or duplicate tests, provide a full PBS medication history (thus helping avoid medication errors) and be of significant aid to doctors working in emergency situations,” he said.

“My Health Record will support practitioners, particularly those who may be seeing a patient for the first time, to have access to the information they need to best care for the patient.”

Currently, 5.9 million people already use My Health Record and 6.46 million medical records have been uploaded to the system. A total of 6,498 GPs, 3,273 pharmacists and nearly a thousand hospital organisations have used it.

Bartone said privacy concerns were understandable and patients should make an informed decision whether to opt out.

“Health information is highly sensitive and we, as doctors, understand that,” he said. “My Health Record gives individuals absolute control over what data is in their record and who is able to view it. This will go a long way to allaying concerns about privacy.”

A spokeswoman for the Digitial Health Agency, which is overseeing My Health Record, said it was a myth that newborn children would be automatically signed up.

Parents can exclude their current children under 18 from My Health Record when they opt out and are given the choice with newborn children. New immigrants will also be given the opportunity to opt out.
The privacy problem

But privacy advocates say that, even with the safeguards, the system takes too much information, stores it too simply and shares it too freely.

If you cancel your record, any information already there will be retained for 30 years after your death or 130 years after your birth (if the date of death is unknown).

Any person who downloaded and stored your record will be able to still view that version of it after you cancel your record.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn, from the Australian Privacy Foundation, described it as an “uncontrolled, uncurated, data dump”. He said sensitive information could be shared with irrelevant people.

“Better sharing of health data among health professional is a good thing – as long as it is done in a controlled manner,” he said. “But if somebody has mental health issues, you don’t want that shared with a dentist or someone who looks at your feet.

“An ex-partner or someone stalking a patient could get at that health information. If you’re at risk from someone, that person might access data about you that identifies where you live or what doctor you’re using.”

He added that certain conditions still carried a stigma that made patients vulnerable to their information being misused.

“If somebody has a medical condition that might result in discrimination – specifically HIV or mental health problems – they don’t want their data shared. There’s vulnerable communities – the gay community, the HIV community, mental health sufferers – who feel at risk.”

Ralph Holz, an expert in cybersecurity from the University of Sydney, said it was also an issue that My Health Record was so centralised.

“It would be safe to assume that some attack is going to be successful,” he said. “There will be some data loss. That is inevitable. The contingency plan with how to deal with that is what is important.

“We always see a problem when we keep data in one place, especially if it is data that is a complete profile. There is a saying in computer science: once the data is out, it’s out. You can never get it back. The danger in building such systems is that it’s enough if they fail once.”
My Health patient data will be safe despite Medicare breach, GPs say

Holz said a breach would not affect individual patients but rather the system as a whole – hackers could use the data to hold the department to ransom, or release the data to third parties.
What are the safeguards?

Patients who don’t opt out of My Health Record but still want to control their privacy can ask for specific documents not to be added to the record, or remove them once they are up.

They can also restrict access to their record by setting special codes. One code – a record access code – blocks access to a patient’s entire record unless a user has their four to eight-character code.

Another code can be used to lock individual documents from access.

Users can also track every instance when their record is accessed. Alerts can be set up to flag when this happens.

However, Robertson-Dunn has pointed out that, once your record is downloaded or copied, that new version can be accessed or shared without notifying you.

The Digital Health Agency said any practitioners who downloaded information to their own system were still subject to Australian privacy laws and access was audited by the Australian Digital Health Agency.

Robertson-Dunn said the system should be reformed in two main ways: decentralisation to store information with medical providers rather than the government, and that My Health Record become opt-in, rather than opt-out.

“I wouldn’t give a stuff about my privacy if it helped me get better,” he said. “It is dynamic and it depends on context.”

To opt out of My Health Record, visit


NZ a bolthole for people wanting to enter Australia: Winston Peters

Acting New Zealand Prime Minister Winston Peters says he regrets that his country has allowed itself to be used as a “bolthole” for people wanting to enter Australia.

The New Zealand First leader and Foreign Minister, who is standing in for Jacinda Ardern while she is on maternity leave, said he believed Australia’s relationship with New Zealand had been “patchy” since then prime ministers Helen Clark and John Howard signed an agreement in 2001, denying welfare to New Zealanders living in Australia.

Mr Peters said he acknowledged’ Australia’s right to deport New Zealanders who have been convicted of crimes in Australia.

“We first of all acknowledge the right of Australia to write its own laws where the issue of their sovereignty is concerned, we accept that,” he told ABC radio.

“We’ve got enormous respect for Australia and our special relationship, but things have been somewhat patchy since 2001-2002 when our great relationship was ended under an agreement between John Howard and our then prime minister Helen Clark.

“We regret that, and me personally I regret the circumstances behind that, because back then I was warning New Zealand that we were allowing our country to be used as a bolthole to first of all enter New Zealand, and then go as a right because of our special relationship to Australia.

“I warned of consequences then, and I’m saying to the Australian people, I understand. “We understand that we should have been more careful about that, but we do want the restoration of the relationship we once had, and we both need each other.”

Mr Peters’ views appear to contrast with those of Ms Ardern, who has repeatedly condemned Australia for not accepting her offer to resettle asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island in New Zealand.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has refused the offer on the basis that it would create a “back door” means of entering Australia.

Mr Peter’s comments come as self-styled pastor and New Zealand national Logan Robertson faces deportation after his visa was cancelled over allegedly harassing worshippers at two Queensland mosques last week.

Mr Dutton said Mr Robertson was specifically counselled by immigration authorities about his history of extremist rhetoric when he moved to Australia.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Revolt against collectivism

A lack of leadership lies behind the Australian Senate's stoush on pepper spray

By Corrine Barraclough, who has written wisely before.  She even likes Mr Trump!

If politics is the robust exchange of ideas, there are certainly times when one must look beyond personalities to see the crux of what is being debated.

In the furious exchange between Sarah Hanson-Young and David Leyonhjelm many have become fixated on male versus female or civility versus offensive language. However, it strikes me that the crux of this debacle is actually about collectivism.

Whatever the specifics of the exchange in the Senate were this much we know for sure: Leyonhjelm is rejecting misandry and blanket blame being placed at the feet of all men as penance for the crimes of some.

Men as a collective gender should not, cannot and will not be blamed for the actions of criminals.

Of course, individual responsibility is at the very heart of Liberal Democrat Leyonhjelm’s belief system. It decrees that each individual is solely responsible for his or her choices and accountability sits squarely with the person rather than the community or society as a whole.

It is utterly absurd that during a time when diversity is being forced down our collective throats, gender politics is speaking in such clearly divisive language. While diversity agendas are a priority in businesses and institutions across the country gender politics clearly defines bias which gender discriminates between male and female.

No wonder there is a growing revolt against the collectivism that gender politics dictates. Make no mistake, this is not going to conveniently vanish; it will keep rearing its ugly head no matter which personality happens to personify the problem in the political arena at any given time.

Before Leyonhjelm told Hanson-Young to ‘stop shagging men’, the debate on that day in the Senate was about women’s safety. Senator Fraser Anning put forward a motion to relax the import on pepper spray or mace. ‘Access to a means of self-protection by women in particular would provide greatly increased security and confidence that they will not become just another assault, rape or murder statistic,’ Anning said. This comes after police were widely criticised for advising women to take care after the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne.

The troubling coverage of Dixon’s death shone a bright and damning light on the stalemate we have arrived at in Australia regarding collective male blame.

Fierce feminists on one side say rather than telling women to take care we should be telling men not to rape. This is collectivism in its clearest form. The fembot army wants all men to step up and fix the reality of crime. Not only is that unreasonable, it’s impossible.

After Dixon’s murder it was clear to see how deeply far left activist messaging has permeated society’s narrative on ‘violence against women’.

Through the dark magic of gender politics, all women are deemed under threat from all men.

Such collectivism is a destructive and unhelpful worldview. Ultimately, this may well be what ensures feminism implodes.

The reality is, our battle in life is good versus evil rather than men versus women. In that, feminism has collectivism all wrong – and the masses are beginning to revolt.

The response to Anning’s motion in the senate came from Senator Janet Rice. ‘The last thing women in Australia need now is another man in power telling us that we are responsible for violence against us. The priority must be to eradicate men’s violence.’

Those two words, ‘men’s violence’, are commonly used when left feminists screech that it is all men’s cumulative responsibility to end crime.

Statistics are pored over, dead women are counted in the name of political point scoring, so that far left fembots can wag their finger in men’s faces and tell them, ‘this is your mess, clear it up’.

What they fail to acknowledge is that schooling the good will never eradicate evil.

On this issue both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are as clueless as each other. There is no leader between them.

So desperate are they to virtue signal their way to securing the female vote they have both bought into this costly narrative.

After Dixon’s death, Turnbull told parliament, ‘Our hearts go out to Eurydice’s family. Our prayers, our sympathy, our love are with them as they grieve her loss. Women must be safe everywhere. On the street, walking through a park, in their home, at work. We need to ensure that we have a culture of respect for women.’

He added, ‘I believe, Mr Speaker, that I speak for every honourable member in saying we must never, ever, ever, tolerate violence against women. Eurydice Dixon, we mourn her loss. We grieve with her family. And we say “never again”.’

And with that, Turnbull promised to end crime; he was just too blinded by feminist brainwashing to realise it.

Shorten said on that day in parliament, ‘Women in Australia have a right to movement. It is not the fault of women if they choose to walk home from transport to their house.’

He added, ‘We need to tackle the enablers of violence and we need to change the attitudes of men.’

He too promised to end crime – and he too was too blinded by incontestable bias to recognise.

Both Turnbull, Shorten and the majority of politicians have bought into the collectivism that feminist theory outlines. Apparently all have forgotten that any ‘ism’ is dangerous.

Fast-forward again to Anning’s motion to relax the import on pepper spray in an effort to help women feel safer. This new spat between Hanson-Young and Leyonhjelm centres on precisely the same issue.

Why? Because we do not have a leader strong enough to stand up to the feminist army and tell them that not only is ending crime unreasonable, it is utterly outrageous to lay the blame for violence at men’s feet.

It is offensive and sexist that we have arrived at a position where we’re talking about ‘male violence’ unchallenged.

Leyonhjelm is entirely correct to say that misandry is equally as objectionable as misogyny. What a crying shame it is that ‘slut-shaming’ ever entered this debate and the real issue wasn’t addressed.

The focus should be on misandry. We should all be talking about the injustice of blanket blame.

Ultimately, each and every one of us should be voicing our collective fury at the injustice of feminist collectivism and defending the right of good men not to be tarred by criminals.


Newspoll: Labor leader under pump as PM extends lead

Bill Shorten’s leadership is poised to come under renewed internal pressure, with Malcolm Turnbull opening up the largest margin over his political rival in more than two years as both leaders prepare for a critical test in next week’s by-elections.

A Newspoll conducted exclusively for The Australian shows Mr Turnbull has extended his lead over the Labor leader by four points, blowing out the margin to 19 points.

The last time the Prime Minister held a lead of this magnitude was two months before the 2016 election.

With the slide in Mr Shorten’s approval ratings, the Coalition has held its ground but still trails on a small and unchanged two-party margin of 51-49.

The poll marks a 36-poll losing streak for the Coalition under Mr Turnbull’s leadership and comes on the back of a fortnight that has seen the government tread dangerous political ground with the release of controversial changes to the GST carve-up for the states and territories.

The ACCC also last week released its report into energy pricing that called for the wholesale reform of the national electricity market.

Neither issue, however, has resulted in any erosion of the Prime Minister’s dominance as preferred prime minister, with the Liberal leader lifting two points to 48 per cent.

Mr Shorten, whose leadership was already under pressure following a major gaff on tax policy, has on the other hand dropped two points to 29 per cent.

This marks the biggest gulf between the two since May 5, 2016, with the risk that it will add to internal pressure on Mr Shorten.


Labor in grip of ethnic activists, Tony Abbott says

Tony Abbott says Labor is “in the grip of ethnic activists”, urging his Coalition colleagues to back calls to cut total migration numbers.

The former prime minister’s comments come after WA Liberal senator Dean Smith urged Malcolm Turnbull to sanction a wide-ranging Senate inquiry into population policy, arguing the recent reduction in immigration levels does not go far enough to ease community concerns about population growth.

On Friday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced there had been a cut of more than 10 per cent to the annual permanent migrant intake.

A special Newspoll today reveals that 72 per cent of voters support the Turnbull government’s cut to the annual permanent migrant intake to 163,000 last financial year, on the back of a crackdown on fraudulent claims and a sharp rise in visa refusals.

Mr Abbott congratulated Mr Dutton on the reduction, but said the government needed to do more to differentiate itself from Labor.

“If the government wants to say, ‘look, there are these big distinctions between us and the Labor Party, well support for baseload power particularly coal is one area, and support for a substantial cut in immigration is another area, because it seems that the Labor Party is in the grip of, I suppose, ethnic activists in certain respects, so good on Peter Dutton for administering the system in such a way that we’ve had a modest reduction in the permanent migration numbers,” Mr Abbott told 2GB.

“But last year net overseas migration, which is the total migration numbers, was still 240,000, it’s still a record level, so we’ve got to bring it down pretty sharply if we are going to start getting the downward pressure off wages, if we’re going to take the upward pressure off housing prices, if we’re going to unclog our infrastructure. “Our public transport is full, our roads are blocked, and if we’re going to take some of the pressure off integration, particularly in places like Melbourne.”

Liberal frontbencher Michael Sukkar downplayed Senator Smith’s calls, arguing the government already maintains constant vigilance where migration levels are concerned. Mr Sukkar said there was nothing wrong with raising the issue, but the reality is we keep an eye on our migration intake in real time. “It’s the job of the minister. (Home Affairs Minister) Peter Dutton does it. His team does it,” Mr Sukkar told Sky News.

“We don’t run, as a general rule, a purely benevolent immigration program, we run an immigration program that’s in our best interests, and in our best economic interests and in the best interests of our nation more broadly, and quite frankly, the numbers of immigrants changes every year depending on what we need, what the economy needs, and what is in the best interests of our country, so the reality is we do keep an eye on the total immigration program.

“It was pretty widely reported that this year we’ve come in relatively lower than we expected and certainly a lot lower than the case in previous years, but that’s in some respects business as usual, because the program has flexibility, it changes from year to year depending on what our country needs.

“I’m not proposing a review. It’s not my portfolio. Again there’s nothing inherently wrong with looking at any particular issue, and I don’t think that’s the case here.

“I’m not proposing it simply because of the point I just made, that we have an inherently flexible immigration program that serves our nation’s best interests, we’ve obviously secured our borders, we now as a country decide who comes to our country, and for those reasons I think the immigration program is serving our nation very well as it is.”

Labor frontbencher Ed Husic said Senator Smith was “yet another Liberal politician trying to use immigration to make a story and make a name for himself.”

“I mean the reality is it’s very complex what we’ve got in this country,” he told Sky News. “The government looks at immigration levels as part of the budget process. That’s where the evidence is taken into account, but we have a lot of Libs that like I said want to make a name for themselves.

“The minute they talk about cutting immigration they get what we’ve seen today, a lot of coverage.

“The reality that we’ve got to focus on too is this: We have an ageing community where we don’t have enough taxpayers supporting enough older Australians, so we have birthrate issues as well, and we have skills shortages that are affecting a lot of industries.

“Now the government can do a lot of things to make things easier. If they want to improve the birthrate, one of the things families are worried about is how do they afford the cost of families when wages are stagnant, unemployment or employment is less secure, and they’re wondering whether or not they can afford it based on government changes to things like childcare.”

Mr Husic said the government should invest more in education to ensure Australians can fill skill gaps. “If the government’s concerned about migration levels, or government backbenchers are concerned about migration levels, why don’t they take into account the decisions that they are taking to make life harder for people right now in addressing some of those big factors that I just outlined a couple of moments ago?” he said.

“It’s all about balance. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got local talent trained up for jobs that we know people can fill.

“We’ve seen some skilled migration rorts where you’ve seen people being brought in, in terms of being bakers or cleaners, and we think there’s got to be a better way to manage a very complicated process.”


Victoria’s Western Front Erupts: Locals Launch All-Out Attack On Hawkesdale Wind Farm Plans

A community meeting at Hawkesdale on Wednesday concerning wind farm growth in the south-west, left local MPs, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) representatives and the national windfarm commissioner in no doubt as to the position of the majority of locals.

The meeting, organised by community members, invited DEWLP members and windfarm commissioner, Andrew Dyer, to town to address community concerns about the planning and application processes for proposed windfarms in the region. The vocal room of around 100 people projected their questions to the panel, which included Mr Dyer, DELWP Executive Director statutory planning services, Jane Homewood and senior planner, Tim Doolan.

“You’ve heard these people today, everything is negative, you should get that from the feel of the meeting,” one attendee said, followed by a large round of applause, showing the panel the united belief of those in the room.

“Nobody wants you here … Go away.”

People travelled from around the region to express concerns and ensure the health, agriculture and social impacts of wind towers was clearly understood.

Mr Doolan began the evening with a presentation on the planning process for windfarm approval.

He explained that windfarm applications had to meet a number of requirements, including a noise assessment, landscape and visual impact assessment, safety, environmental impacts, traffic and road infrastructure impacts, electromagnetic interference and shutter flicker.

“These are all the different types of technical reports that need to be provided for any application for a windfarm” Mr Doolan said.

The senior planner said there were three stages of the windfarm approval process; the application stage, post-approval and amendment.

He said all wind turbines needed to comply with a noise limit of 40-decibels and could not be erected less than 1 km of any dwelling.

Turbines within this range needed consent. If consent was not given, the application was prohibited.

Local residents were advised that the town boundary is not a consideration during planning stages, but that the nearest turbine, which in Hawkesdale will sit around 1 km from the nearest dwelling, was enough to meet Victorian requirements.

Mr Dyer quashed any thought, risen by Penshurst District Pharma and windfarm opponent, Annie Gardner, That There Was a Bill in Parliament’s Upper House to Remove Noise Nuisance under the Victorian Public Health and Well-Being Act.

“The act is an act of Parliament, I don’t think councils had thought about how to make a complaint under the health and well-being act,” Mr Dyer said.

“The act is still there, you can make a complaint this afternoon under the act and Council needs a procedure in place to receive an address that complaint properly.”

Ms Gardner said that she had experienced a number of health issues as a result of the Macarthur windfarm which neighbours her property, and asked the Commissioner to consider low-frequency noise and infrasound when having an acoustician measure turbine noise.

“In the guidelines there is nothing about low-frequency noise or infrasound and this is what is affecting most of us in the sense we are sensitised when we go away from home,” Ms Gardner said. “When we go into a cafĂ© with air-conditioning or supermarket, our symptoms come back because the issue is cumulative. The low-frequency noise is what we feel in our chest and in our hearts.”

When questioned why the compulsory distance of turbines from dwellings has changed from 2 km to 1 km when the Andrew’s Labor government was elected in 2014, no panel member could provide a satisfactory answer.

“I don’t know why it was changed from 2 to 1 km, but there is a noise decibel level that is based on the New Zealand standard and I’m hearing that it is totally inadequate for you, so we will take that on notice,” Ms Homewood said.

One Cape Bridgewater resident, who lives within 640 m of wind turbines told the Commissioner she was “living a life of misery” as her house was now worthless, to which the Commissioner advised her to move out.

The Cape Bridgewater windfarm was erected before any minimal distance between dwellings was enforced in 2011.

Hawkesdale resident, Liana Blake, told the room the proposed Hawkesdale windfarm would allow for wind towers to be built within 2 km of her house, the closest at 1.1 km.

“That’s our home, that’s where we decided to live and build our business,” she said.

“What are we going to do? Do we just move out because the noise is too much for us?

“You’ve wrecked our lives … these windfarms are wrecking people’s lives.”

Residents also raise concerned about the future growth of the Hawkesdale community, believing windfarms would deter people from moving to the area, “unfortunately, the panels look for evidence and that is difficult if you’ve got a new windfarm,” Ms Homewood told the room.

“It is a requirement of the panel to consider the social and economic impact of the windfarm, when they are considering whether or not the windfarm will go ahead.”


Coal price sets Whitehaven for record year

Comment has been sought from Al Gore ...

Whitehaven Coal is benefiting from thermal coal prices hovering at seven-year highs, amid strong demand from China and India.

Whitehaven Coal says its on track to deliver "a record set of financials" this year as thermal coal prices hover at seven-year highs, thanks to strong demand, particularly from China and India.

The miner produced 5.9 million tonnes of coal in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, and 22.9 million tonnes of coal for the year.

Chief executive Paul Flynn said record production at Whitehaven's Maules Creek mine in the fourth quarter, and ongoing strong performance at its Gunnedah mine helped the group hit sales within the guidance range.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cold snap sends temperatures plummeting across Australia's east coast – and it's not over yet

Far be it from me to challenge evidence of global cooling but I think it is only fair to note that they are talking below about the Southern half of Australia.  In Brisbane we have had some very chilly nights by our standards but I have yet to experience an afternoon when I have not sat around in just undershorts and a singlet -- with the front door wide open. Brisbane's famous warm afternoons have not deserted us yet --- even in the depth of winter.  Which all helps to show the folly of thinking that temperature aggregates tell you much about anything

The east coast of Australia is suffering through an icy weekend with the frosty temperatures expected to last into the middle of the week.

The lowest temperature recorded in Sydney was at Penrith, which dropped to below zero degrees, recording -0.9C at 5am on Sunday morning and not reaching above 1C until after 8am.

Other areas of Sydney to record low temperatures were 4.5C at Sydney Airport and 5.1C at Sydney's Observatory Hill.

A strong westerly wind of 24km/h overnight played a role in causing the icy temperatures across the state.

Inland New South Wales is also suffering through the cold with Wagga Wagga recording morning temperatures of -0.3C.

A number of other regions in New South Wales recorded below zero temperatures including Richmond, 63.4km from Sydney, which had overnight temperatures of -3.8C.

While Camden, 65km south west of Sydney, recorded overnight lows of -4.3C, the lowest overnight temperatures for the area since June 2010.

Bathurst, located 200km from Sydney, recorded freezing temperatures of -8.1C and did not break the minus temperatures until 10.20am when it recorded 0.4C. 

The lowest forecast temperatures for all of New South Wales for all of Sunday is at Thredbo, expected to reach a daily maximum of only 1C.

And according to Bureau of Meteorology Senior Forecaster Jake Phillips the east coast's glacial conditions have yet to reach their trough.

'Just about the whole state is cooler than average for this time of year. In some parts of the state it can be five or six degrees below average,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 

'Places like Penrith and Richmond the next couple of mornings are going to be down to the zero mark – maybe even below zero.

'And it’s going to get even colder, with a lot of places set to be six or even eight degrees below average for their minimum temperatures over the weekend.' 

Melbourne temperatures weren't quite as low as Sydney but that doesn't mean Melburnians weren't suffering through the cold snap.  Residents woke to temperatures as low as 7C on Saturday morning with a daily high of 9.3C.

Elsewhere in eastern Australia, the notoriously frosty city of Ballarat in central Victoria had its coldest July day in 24 years this week recording a maximum of 5C on Wednesday, one degree below the July average.

In the nearby city Bendigo, temperatures were also at a record low, freezing through its coldest July day since 1996 with a maximum recording of just 0C.

The cold weather pushed well up into Queensland with the outback town of Blackall dropping to 1.2C while Lochington, near Emerald, was just 0.5C at 7.11am. 

Brisbane experienced temperatures of 5 degrees on Sunday morning, even Rockhampton, up on the state's central coast, dropped to a low of 6.5C just before 7am.

Forecasters are expecting conditions to remain below average until Tuesday or Wednesday.

'We're definitely not through the cold snap as yet, you couldn't say that,' Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jonti Hall told AAP.

However the coldest temperatures along eastern Australia was clearly Canberra which recorded temperatures as low as -4.8C on Sunday morning.


Provide farm deposit accounts, banks told

A very sensible step -- though it is a big tax break.  You pay tax on deposits only in a loss year -- meaning low to zero tax

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wants Australia's big banks to join a scheme allowing farmers to set aside pre-tax income in good years to plan for tough times.

Banking executives will take part in a drought roundtable in Canberra on Monday where Mr Littleproud will ask the banks for a timeline for the provision of farm management deposit accounts.

Mr Littleproud claims the major lenders have already had two years to provide the service, but resisted because it would eat into profits. "Time's up," Mr Littleproud told ABC radio.

Customers in capital cities could walk into a bank and offset their savings against a home loan. "You should be able to do that for farming families as well," the minister said.

The scheme allows farmers to remove money from their taxable income in good years by depositing it into a farm management deposit account. Primary producers can withdraw the money during a bad year and pay tax on the withdrawal then.

Mr Littleproud said the government didn't want to have to force the banks to adopt the accounts through legislation, calling on them to do the right thing. "They need to look at their social conscience," he said.

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused the Nationals of pork-barrelling to hold seats rather than directing money into drought relief.

"After five years of doing nothing, David Littleproud now wants to blame the banks," Mr Fitzgibbon told reporters in Sydney. "Yes, the banks need to sharpen their pencil but farmers need the government to do something too."

A push to simplify a welfare payment for drought-affected farmers will also be on the agenda at a meeting on Monday of national and state farming bodies.

The federal government recently extended the time limit on the Farm Household Assistance payment from three years to four years.

"This buys those farming families an additional year to give them the time to structure their business to get through this drought and prepare for the next one," Mr Littleproud said.

But there's ongoing concerns about the complicated application process.

Mr Littleproud said his department is working with Centrelink to make applying for the payment easier, but noted rural financial counsellors could also help with the process.


Protesters accuse NSW library of ‘spreading propaganda’ with drag queen event

ANGRY protesters have slammed an upcoming storytelling event for children and adults which will be hosted by a drag queen.

As a gesture of support for the Wollongong Queer Arts Festival, the city’s central library is hosting the July 21 event, in which Roxee Horror — the alter-ego of Adam Larkham — will read stories, sing and make crafts.

However, the seemingly harmless event has raised the ire of hundreds on social media who have launched homophobic slurs at the event and its host.

Many accused the library of using taxpayer’s money to “spread propaganda” and “sexualising children” by choosing a drag queen to host an event that will be attended by people of all ages.

Some irate locals even wrote to the library to express their dismay and called for the event to scrapped.

However, staff hit back at some of the abusive messages posted on the library’s Facebook page.

“Thank you for your feedback,” wrote a spokesman for Wollongong City Libraries. “The libraries’ support of the Wollongong Queer Arts Festival is an opportunity to highlight that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from or what motivates you to come into the library, this is a safe and inclusive space for everyone.”

Messages of support for the event have also begun to appear on the library’s Facebook page — with one reading, “If you don’t like it, don’t come.”

Another commenter wrote: “I think this is marvellous. Teaching kids and the community that people come in all shapes and sizes through the art of storytelling, and demonstrating the importance of respect, love, kindness and education.”

Another said: “Don’t let the haters get you down. This is a wonderful opportunity for children who may be LGBTQ+ or children of parents within the LGBTQ+ community to see positive role models out and about in the wider community.”

Ms Horror, who hosts drag bingo nights and other events in the area, appeared to be excited for the event when she announced it on her public Facebook page.

“Cannot wait to read some books and do some craft!” she wrote.

The library’s manager Jenny Thompson told the Illawarra Mercury she doesn’t care about the criticism of the event.

“The central library is a pretty big place, and our community and our world is a big place and there is space for everybody,” she said.

“We offer a range of different events for all different parts of the community and this is, I guess, part of our community we haven’t done that overtly for before. “So it’s important to us that we’re getting with the program.”


Trump is calling the shots for Australia too

Donald Trump is unleashed and is changing history. Trump now is implementing what he promised — dismantling the existing global order created by America, punishing its allies for short-changing the US, imposing a new protectionism and deconstructing the governing status quo in Washington.

Trump is delivering for his voting base. He loves his base and cultivates its prejudices. Much of Trump’s global grandstanding and denigration of allies from Germany to Canada works a treat on his home front. By abandoning political niceties Trump becomes an agent of cut-through politics — draining the swamp as he pledged.

He has seduced much of the Republican Party and sent the Democrats into an incoherent and counter-productive rage. Now he is imposing a conservative ideological majority on the US ­Supreme Court with the potential to shape an entire generation of ­social policy. Trump almost totally sets the media agenda in American politics and, while it is often unfavourable, it is his agenda, focused on his issues.

Those who predicted Trump as president would quickly fall apart made the wrong call — yet again. Trump projects a sense of empowerment.

Among his more rational haters there is a real sense of fear. But the anti-Trump frenzy of many Democrats may drive the party to the Left and play into Trump’s hands. The Trump experiment is compelling as a spectacle and alarming in its consequences.

The message from Washington insiders is that Trump will press ahead with his trade war against China. He seems to have no plan; his legitimate claim against China — its huge stealing of intellectual property — does not have a trade war as its solution. But Trump has exposed the authentic picture here: America and China are engaged in a ruthless rivalry short of formal conflict and this will only spill into global and Australian calculations.

While the US economy booms off an excessive stimulus there is mounting business alarm about the scale of tariff restrictions on imports from China, with China, so far, resolute in retaliation.

Companies warn against a trade war and markets are getting the jitters — Trump risks a showdown between politics and the markets, a consequence of him pushing too hard on the wrong lever.

Australia lives in a zone of false reality. Remote from the action, shielded so far by the deft management of the Turnbull government, a lesser target because we run a trade deficit with the US and are widely liked, the worst Australian folly is to think the Trump phenomenon will leave us untouched.

Governing systems among the allied partners in Europe, Germany in particular, Canada, Japan and South Korea are in upheaval because of Trump.

His latest reckless offence is the threat to British Prime Minister Theresa May that she has ruined her chances of a US-UK trade deal down the track because Trump opposes her Brexit plan, unveiled at Chequers, saying, in effect, it is far too soft an exit from the EU. This is an unjustified intervention in British politics, undermining May in support of her hardline Brexit opponents, notably Boris Johnson, who has quit the ministry and contemplates a strike for the top job. There is no permanent immunity. Australia needs to grasp this.

Trump rejects the fundamental principles that have guided Australia’s polity for the past half-century — US acceptance of global responsibility and leadership, the liberal international order, the utility of the US alliance systems in Europe and Asia, and belief in global free trade.

He neither understands nor accepts these institutions and the logic that has sustained them. The situation is hard to grasp but the evidence from what Trump says and does is persuasive — he repudiates the global arrangements that have delivered security and prosperity to nations including Australia during the past several decades.

Australia, like other partners, faces in Trump a situation without precedent since World War II. So far Trump has been a positive president for Australia. Yet the framework he champions is contrary to our national interest.

Indeed, Trump believes this system has seen America being ripped off — he wants a looser arrangement with fewer norms where nations rise or fall off their own national power, and he thinks the US will do better in a world of transactional jungle.

This is the real meaning of “America First”. It legitimises America as a bully. It rests on the idea that pulling things apart is easier than constructing something that works. The US government is a project in schizophrenia — officials trying to operate rationally with an unpredictable president who runs his own show.

His performance at the NATO summit was Trump enjoying himself, reckless and more unleashed — but don’t think he doesn’t have a case.

Trump treats his allies with contempt, branding Germany a “captive of Russia” because of its gas import dependence. Accusing Angela Merkel of being Russia’s prisoner sits bizarrely with Trump’s appeasement of Vladimir Putin and Merkel’s past growing up in East Germany under Russian domination.

Trump knows how to overkill a winning argument. He is right on Europe’s low defence budget complacency, Germany being a major culprit. After attacking NATO partners for failing to hit the 2 per cent gross domestic product spending target, Trump said the target should be achieved “immediately”, then raised a 4 per cent target, an idea none of his advisers knew anything about.

In the guise of helping NATO, he shakes internal trust in the alliance system just ahead of the Trump-Putin summit — and recall Trump’s past refusal to say the US would support the Baltic ­nations if subjected to Russian ­interference.

Meanwhile Trump’s flawed agreement with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is undisguised.

How long the pretence of full denuclearisation can be maintained is hard to say but the bigger issue is security in northeast Asia and the extent to which Trump betrays his allies in South Korea and Japan, an issue with pivotal consequence for Australia.

Across the Western world the leadership elites are horrified. In America, the Trump voters merely say “it’s about time”. They love Trump’s break from past presidents and his language of brutal realism.

His approval ratings hover around 40-43 per cent and are stable amid the turbulence. Disapproval runs in the 53-56 per cent zone. America is getting more polarised but Republican voters endorse Trump around a huge 85-90 per cent. While Trump holds that core Republican vote he is untouchable against internal treachery.

He has a significant problem with the female vote and if the Democrats poll strongly at the midterm election then deeper cracks may appear in Trump’s brazen edifice.

The annual Australian American Leadership Dialogue was conducted in Washington last week against this turbulent backdrop. Outside the off-record meeting Tony Abbott threw a political bomb into Australia’s response to the Trump phenomenon.

Breaking from past conservative assessments of Trump, Abbott warned about the consequences of Trump. He said that Trump constituted “a new age” — while American values would endure, American reliability was now in question. Abbott said under Trump the American legions “are going home”, that Trump’s mes­sage to allies must be accepted and acted on by Australia.

That meant assuming more responsibility for our own defence. It meant recognising the long era of spending less on defence courtesy of the US alliance was ending.

Abbott seeks not to demolish the US alliance but argues that Trump, as the most unconventional and transforming US president for 70 years, is determined to implement his agenda and that means a different alliance.

Abbott said Australia must increase its defence spending well above the current 2 per cent GDP target, develop a stronger maritime capacity, refuse to tolerate a 15-year delay before getting its new submarines, acquire an anti-missile capability and fashion a defence force that can operate more independently “against even a substantial adversary”.

The Turnbull government and Shorten Labor Party prefer to restrain public debate about Trump and work behind the scenes to minimise damage and sustain the relationship. Abbott has broken free of that restraint and his intervention will drive a more public and polarised debate about the consequences of Trump.

The government’s senior minister at the Dialogue, Josh Frydenberg, spoke at the main dinner and afterwards to Inquirer with a subtle but unmistakeable message to the Trump administration.

Frydenberg said the US was the nation of the Marshall Plan, the nation of Lend-Lease aid during World War II, the nation whose president called for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and said: “That’s the America that we want and that we need.”

Frydenberg said it was known that Trump was an “unconventional” president and then quoted from the August 1, 1950, address to the US congress by Sir Robert Menzies when Menzies said: “It is not merely our privilege to be strong; it is our duty to be strong.”

Point made. The trouble, of course, is the while the American system agrees, it deals with a president who seems unreachable and often unpersuadable.

In the corridors of the Dialogue, former World Bank president, former deputy secretary of state and former Bush administration lead US trade negotiator Robert Zoellick described Trump as a “transactional” president who is “quite ambivalent about ­alliances”.

Zoellick told Inquirer that countries that “keep getting battered around begin to think about plan B and other alternatives”.

Addressing Australia’s alliance with the US, Zoellick said: “The depth of security ties with Australia means the alliance is well grounded. It has support not just from the congress but from the American public that likes Australia. I think Australians need to keep active those relationships with the US, political, military and economic. Where you can, stay under the radar screen on issues that might otherwise provoke controversy. The US has got a lot of weight to throw around and in my view it’s not doing that properly.”

The role of Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis universally is seen as decisive, with Mattis the avenue to Trump for much of the national security-alliance orthodoxy. The evidence, to this point, is that Trump still needs Mattis, a situation vital for Australia and other allies. Zoellick said Trump’s “dismissive attitude towards allies and his penchant for authoritarian leaders” revealed an insensitivity to security issues.

Talking in general terms, Zoellick felt that security arrangements were likelier than trade arrangements to withstand the Trump trauma. First, there was a strong military and strategic infrastructure better able to resist or push back. Trump had to be careful in deciding whether he “will go after these people”.

Second, because Trump “is at heart a protectionist” the trade outlook was “quite serious”. Offering a cool assessment of Trump’s trade views, Zoellick said: “If it’s a choice between raising tariffs to protect interests and opening markets then Trump will choose to close markets.”

He believes the US disadvantaged itself by creating over the past 70 years a system where it had disproportionate responsibility and paid too high a cost, whether on security alliances or trade and economics.

“Trump feels the US would be better off if we could have more autonomy and use our power to be more transactional and, in his view, use his negotiating skills. He believes that bilateral trade deficits are about losing. You don’t find many economists who agree with that. But it doesn’t matter because this is Trump’s view.

“That puts targets on the back of Mexico, Japan and China, South Korea and Germany and Europe. His trade policy seeks to reduce those bilateral trade deficits as opposed to using American leverage to open markets and devise new rules for the cutting edge economy of the future. That means there’s an opportunity cost.

“But I think Trump’s focus on trade protection runs deeper because it is analogous to his position on the wall with Mexico and immigration. It’s an issue from the start he has used to communicate with his core supporters and demonstrate not only his policy views but show that he’s a different type of politician. This is key to him being authentic. Therefore, I don’t think issues like the wall or immigration or trade will ever be resolved because they are wounds he wants to continue to pick at.

“He makes one move and if it destabilises the system and creates uncertainty he thinks that will work to his advantage because he believes America is more powerful and he is a shrewder leader.

“But when other countries retaliate then you find that companies like Harley-Davidson have to move out. That adds another dimension. Trump’s view of executive power is not confined in the traditional way. He came after Harley-Davidson became they said they were moving as a result of his protectionist policies.

“Trump believes it is the president’s right to pummel companies to change their business policies.”

Questioned about Trump’s trade conflict with China, Zoellick said: “I believe China wants to avoid a big clash. This could be destabilising enough that they would like to reach a result.”

He said the problem China had was confusion in the US administration — it was unsure who it was negotiating with or what was the American ask.

“Some of the people around Trump don’t want to really fix the problem,” Zoellick said.

“China doesn’t want to have a conflict but it’s got a sense of its own respect and honour. But Trump thinks he has the advantage because China sells more to us than we sell to them.”

Expect Trump to hang flexible on the trade war with China. He has a lot to judge — how markets react, how farmers react to retaliatory restrictions against them and the midterm elections.

But the bottom line for Zoellick is to expect “more volatility, more movements towards trade barriers, this is not a problem that’s going away”.

Trump reminds of two truisms — protection begets more protectionism; populism begets more populism. Former Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane, also in Washington, argues that Trump is a catalyst for a global phenomenon in centre-right parties. “There is a Trump faction emerging in most centre-right parties across Western democracies,” Loughnane said.

“This is not based on values or philosophy — it is based on crude pragmatism and grievance. Mainstream conservatism faces a challenge — it must develop solutions to the concerns of the populations that are driving this process.”

The big message cannot be missed: America is changing decisively under Trump and the longer he governs the more decisive that change will prove. Australia is unprepared for the challenge Trump constitutes.

This is obvious from talks in Washington during the past week. It is entirely sensible for Australia to seek to skate through and engage in damage limitation.

But that will not suffice. The only interpretation to apply to Trump at present is that he acts tough but is disposed to strategic retreat and unilateralism.

If this is the experience that Australia faces then it will constitute the greatest challenge to our role in the world for a half-century. We need to start thinking.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Uniting Church of Australia consents to same-sex marriages at its premises

The Methodist church of old stood for both rationality and a serious study of the scriptures.  When they combined with the more wishy-washy end of the Presbyterians to form the Uniting Church, however, the desire for compromise seems to have led to the whole of the new denomination suddenly becoming spineless. I am pleased that the congregation of my old Presbyterian church stood outside the union

And attitude to homosexuality is the litmus test of whether a church is still a Christian church or not.  The Bible is crystal clear on homosexuality.  It is an abomination.  See Jude 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Leviticus 18:32; Leviticus 20:13.  There is ZERO wriggle-room in the scriptures for any expression of approval for homosexuality.  You are for the Bible or not. "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth" (Matthew  12:30).

But the Bible is the source of Christianity so rejecting it is rejecting Christianity.  So the Uniting "church" may be many things but it is not Christian, nor are its adherents Christians.  They are pretend Christians, disciples of the Devil.

I wonder if there are some Bible-loving congregations among the Methodists who might break with their "church" and join the continuing Presbyterians.  Such independence of mind would be very Presbyterian and they would be welcomed

SAME-SEX couples wanting to get hitched in a church can now breathe a sigh of relief. This is because the Uniting Church of Australia has finally given the green light for such unions to take place inside its premises.

The church will now have two equal yet distinct views on marriage to show the “diversity of Christian belief” among its members after the denomination’s national body met on Friday night in Melbourne’s southeast.

Members of the church’s national decision-making body agreed to adopt a second statement during a seven-day triennial assembly at Box Hill Town Hall.

“Marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life,” the new additional statement reads.

Under the new ruling, ministers will be allowed to conduct — or refuse to conduct — same-sex marriages.

The existing belief statement reads: “Marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life.”

Uniting Church president Deidre Palmer said the decision came after years of reflection, prayer and discernment, thanking members for their response to “a difficult conversation for many people of faith”.

“I know that this conversation is painful and difficult for you,” Dr Palmer said while addressing LGBTIQ church members.

“We also acknowledge those who for whatever reason have not been able to support this change — and your pain and difficulty in this space. “Please rest assured that your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will be respected and protected.

“I thank you all for modelling a loving Christian community, holding together and caring for each other, across our diversity of strongly and faithfully held views.”

Same-sex marriages in the church are expected to start taking place in coming months.


Lauren Southern appears on Sky News Australia, making one point very clear

CONTROVERSIAL alt-right YouTube star Lauren Southern has appeared on Sky News Australia making it clear that she is “happy to be white”.

The 23-year-old Canadian activist, who touched down in Australia yesterday, told Sky News host Rita Panahi that she feels “zero shame whatsoever for being white.”

“If I were black I could say I’m proud, if I were Asian I could say I’m proud, if I were any other ethnicity I could say I’m proud because that’s how our culture is, but if I’m white and I say I’m proud the media will go nuts.”

Ms Southern, who previously worked for Canadian website Rebel Media, was barred from entering the UK earlier this year for distributing “racist” flyers reading “Allah is a Gay God” and “Allah is trans” outside a restaurant in the English town of Luton.

Ms Southern is in Australia to headline a tour that advocates for free speech.

She was originally denied access from entering the country, but her visa was approved by the Home Affairs Department on Tuesday.

After landing in Brisbane on Friday sporting a “It’s okay to be white” T-shirt, Ms Southern claimed to have received online rape threats. “I was just reading the comments on the article that came out about the ‘It’s okay to be white shirt’, and someone was saying, ‘I hope she gets raped’,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

She told the publication she believed the “unprecedented” number of hurdles being put in her way to enter Australia were due to her criticism of radical Islam. “There are so many people that are offended by debate and free speech that sometimes governments cower. It’s just way easier to play into the hands of people who are totalitarian,” she said.

“I have criticised radical Islam, I have criticised the increasing blasphemy laws that are being brought into our societies. You won’t see Christians violently attacking people for criticising their religion like you do with Islam, things like the Charlie Hebdo attack.”

The outspoken activist will tour Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland alongside commentator Stefan Molyneux later this month.

Ms Southern’s visit will also feature screenings of her documentary film Farmlands, which delves into the racially charged issue of South African farm killings.

The alt-right activist has also revealed that she plans to have dinner with Pauline Hanson after receiving a Tweet from the One Nation Leader on Tuesday.

“Sorry to hear about your trouble getting a visa @Lauren_Southern,” the senator tweeted. “If you are still in Oz when Parliament sits in August you have an open invitation to dinner. “I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the situation in South Africa & on Islam. “Good luck with your tour.”

In a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Telegraph, the activist said Australians should be allowed to own guns to protect themselves against a “totalitarian” government.

“I think the Americans have it right. The idea of having guns is essentially to protect yourself from a totalitarian government,” she said.

“You can see that, for example, in Paris — where they have horrific shootings and terrorist attacks, the theatre attack, the Charlie Hebdo attack. They have some of the strictest gun laws in the world in France yet these horrific attacks and shootings still happen. Unfortunately there will always be bad people and bad people don’t follow the law.”

Australia has had just one mass shooting — a domestic violence incident — since former Prime Minister John Howard banned semiautomatic and other military-style weapons in 1996. America has had 154 this year alone.

During her week-long visit in Australia Ms Southern, a friend of confessed troll Milo Yiannopoulos, told The Daily Telegraph there would be heavy security at her shows to protect herself from “crazy protesters”. She said she regularly received death threats.


Hanson to revisit 'ban the burqa' bill

DENMARK has become the latest country to ban the burqa, as a push to outlaw face-covering Islamic garments worn by women and teenage girls gathers pace across Europe.

At least 10 European countries have now introduced full or partial burqa bans, as Senator Pauline Hanson launches a new bid to have the face-covering garment banned in Australia.

Many of the countries are democracies similar to Australia with similar social policies, including Denmark, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Norway.

One Nation’s Senator Hanson returned last month from a visit from France, where the burqa is banned in public, and announced she would renew her bid to criminalise the wearing of a burqa in Australia.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled it out, several Liberal and National MPs told News Corp they were privately supportive of the move. Some individual Australian magistrates have taken action against women who refuse to show their faces in court.

“This isn’t something that should be controversial. All over the world countries are taking action,” Senator Hanson said last week. “This is about national security … also, many women are forced to wear the burqa by their male family members and this measure will help free those women from this oppression.”

In Denmark, Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen described burqas and face-covering niqabs as “incompatible with Danish society and disrespectful to the community,’’ as the parliament voted to introduce fines of around $213 for those wearing the garments in public.

“With a ban on covering the face we are drawing a line in the sand and underlining that in Denmark we show each other trust and respect by meeting face-to-face,’’ he told the media.

The move came despite estimates only around 30 women in the country completely cover their faces.

The Scandinavian nation has followed France, Belgium, Austria and Bulgaria in banning the burqa. There are partial bans in the Netherlands, Norway and regional bans in parts of Spain and Italy. In Switzerland, the district of Ticino has introduced bans in public areas, and the country is preparing a referendum on a proposed national ban.

Even Germany, the European nation which most enthusiastically welcomed Muslim migration when it opened the doors to one million refugees in 2015, has expressed concern, with Chancellor Angela Merkel urging people to “show your face’’ and saying the burqa “should be banned.’’

German drivers have been banned from wearing the burqa, as have women working in the public service, judiciary or the military.

In Canada, the province of Quebec banned women wearing burqas from accessing services or holding down government jobs, to the displeasure of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It was the first western democracy outside Europe to implement such bans.

The move to outlaw the garment is usually justified by politicians on security grounds, and comes off the back of growing uneasy at the scale of migration from Muslim countries.

Supporters of bans say burqas oppress women and girls, limit normal human interaction, and pose a security threat.

Critics say governments should not be involved in telling women what to wear, and that forcing them to uncover could result in some women being socially isolated and unable to go out in public.

Danish Muslims told News Corp the ban was an attack on their freedom and claimed it would incite more violence in the community against them.

Copenhagen mother-of-three and student Sarah, who asked for her last name to be withheld, has been wearing the niqab — the veil that covers the entire face except for the eyes — for more than 10 years and vowed to defy the ban.

“I won’t stop wearing it, because I feel like this is a very unjust ban and it’s a discriminatory ban and I feel like this is just the beginning of bans,” she said.

Danish-born to Muslim parents, Sarah said the niqab gave her “empowerment”. “I feel very strong when I wear the niqab, I feel like a strong connection to God,” she said.

She said she thought the proposed ban was unconstitutional and contradictory to Danish values which emphasise freedom and religious choice.

Sarah is one of a group of local Muslim women who have formed a group Kvinder I Dialog — Women in Dialogue — an organisation protesting the ban.

She estimated only about 30 women covered their face in Denmark.  “We’re really like a minority within a minority,” she said.

Annette Bellaoui, a 59-year-old chef in Copenhagen, converted to Islam 19 years ago, covers her hair but not her face, and said she too opposed the ban.

“Personally I’m vehemently opposed to face coverings, I absolutely hate it, I detest it. I think it’s a vile violation of Islam,” she said. “There’s nothing in Islam that says anything about covering your face and I think it is a dismissal of your identity as a person.

“On the other hand if you want to wear it that’s alright by me, I’m very much in favour of personal freedom. “I would rather die than wear it, but I should not prevent you from wearing it if that’s what you want.’’


School funding review makes the grade

After the platitude-heavy and detail-light Gonski 2 report, it was refreshing to read the concisely-written methodical analysis of government school funding policy released last Friday by the National Schooling Resource Board, chaired by businessman (and CIS board member) Michael Chaney.

Federal government funding for non-government schools is dependent on an estimate of the school’s socioeconomic status ­­(SES) — non-government schools receive less money if they have a higher deemed SES score, calculated by an area-based aggregate measure.

The Chaney review recommends moving to a direct measure of parental income to determine school SES scores, to replace the current area-based measure. Until recently, a direct measure of income would have required schools to collect tax file numbers, with attendant privacy issues.

The Chaney review vindicates the Catholic school sector’s claim that the area-based model tends to disadvantage Catholic system schools compared to independent schools.

However, modelling suggests the overall effect of moving to a direct measure method will not be particularly dramatic. The majority of non-government schools would have little or no change in SES score. Catholic schools would see a relatively small increase in funding, while independent schools would see a relatively small decrease in funding, on average — but there would still be many schools in both sectors with the opposite impact. The difference is the Catholic sector could smooth out these impacts within their own systems.

It is important to remember this simple fact: federal funding is going up significantly for all school sectors, at rates well above inflation and enrolments. And the Catholic system retains the right to distribute the money to its schools however it wishes.

Enough is enough. The Turnbull government should finally realise that spending more taxpayer money on schools will never silence demands for even larger funding increases. And there is no evidence more money will inevitably improve school results.


The Nuclear alternative is the greenest

Globally, nuclear power, in case you were wondering, generates just over 2,000 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, about 8 times more than solar and more than double wind power.

Now let’s run some basic numbers and compare the ecological impact of renewables with that of nuclear power.

First let’s deal with the inevitable cry from people who are anti-nuclear without ever having thought much about it: “Nuclear isn’t clean, think about the mining and the waste!!!”.

Mines? Nuclear power is miserly on mines. The amount of mining required for hydro, solar or wind is many times greater. The recent ACOLA report made this point, let me repeat the relevant graph from a previous article.

As you can see, nuclear requires minimal mining.

So why do so many people seem to think mining is some kind of nuclear achilles heel? That’s an interesting question. I’ll try to answer it later. But the graph massively underestimates the mining required for renewables on two fronts; it ignores mining for batteries and it ignores mining for all the extra transmission lines needed by wind and solar. I’ve dealt with the relative ease of nuclear waste handling many times in the past … most recently here.

But mining is a minor issue compared to the massive habitat destruction associated with renewables.

Hydro-electricity, as we’ve seen produces roughly 4,000 terawatt hours per year globally from reservoirs covering 343,000 square kilometres, so, using global averages, you need to flood about 82 square kilometres per annual terawatt-hour. Let’s compare that with the land used by nuclear power. The power station itself uses very little land, but what about the mines?

The Ranger Uranium mine is about 16 square kilometres of open cut mine (including the tailings dam) producing enough uranium on average each year during the past decade to generate 148 terawatt hours of electricity per year. To get that using hydro electricity, you’d need to flood, on average, about (148×82) 12,136 square kilometres.

And what about generating 148 terawatt hours with wood? Vaclav Smil is an expert’s expert on energy. He estimates that using wood to power a 1 gigawatt electric power plant with a 70 percent capacity factor requires about 3,300 square kilometres of fast growing tree plantations. That works out at about 538 square kilometres per annual terawatt-hour. Which means that matching the output of the 16 square kilometre Ranger mine, you’d need to be harvesting 79,647 square kilometres of tree plantations; and considerably more if you were harvesting non-plantation forests.

How much uranium do you need to power a 1 gigawatt reactor for a year? With current reactors, about 200 tonnes. With those of the future? About 2 tonnes.

We can summarise the relative land use impacts of nuclear and renewables in one simple image. When the Fukushima Daiichi reactors failed in 2011 the Japanese effectively lost 4.7 gigawatts of power from their grid. Should the Japanese rebuild with new reactors on or near the site? New reactors of the same power but modern reliability could deliver about 37 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. So how much land would renewables need to generate 37 terawatt-hours annually?

The following figure tells the story. If you wanted to use solar, then you’d need to level most of the 20 km “evacuation” zone to install panels. I’ve seriously underestimated the land required by assuming Japan had Australian levels of sunshine!

If you used hydro power, you’d be flooding a semicircle with a radius of 44 kms.

And what if you did what Germany and the UK are doing, and just started burning forests? Then the semicircle would have a radius of 114 kms.

Here’s a summary map. You can imagine the size of the biggest possible uranium mine (open cut) required to supply uranium to a plant like this. It’s about a square with sides of 2km.

Remember when the environment movement was about protecting forests and rivers? Remember when they cared about maximising habitat for wildlife? Not anymore.

The obvious alternative to hydro and biomass electricity is nuclear, but globally and locally the Green movement is either anti-science or counts far too many in that group among its voting base. Either way it bases its rejection of nuclear power on science formulated in the DNA dark ages; meaning well before the most basic of information on radiation, DNA and cancer was understood.

At the dawn of the anti-nuclear movement, nobody knew anything about the daily churn of normal DNA damage and repair; they didn’t even know that repair of DNA damage was possible; let alone an essential part of staying alive.

The best scientists back in the 1950s and 60s thought DNA damage was an incredibly rare chance event which was permanent and cumulative. But those who study such things now know that both damage and repair are ongoing during every second of your life; due to the entirely normal processes of energy metabolism, simply staying alive.

Let’s suppose you wanted to raise background radiation levels to the kinds of levels that would cause the level of serious DNA damage caused by normal energy metabolism. What do I mean by serious? Breaks across both strands of DNA. Those kinds of breaks are tough to fix and may go on to cause cancer. You get about 50 of these in every cell every day.

How much would you need to increase background radiation to cause this level of double strand breaks? About 219,000 times.

When Japanese Prime Minister Nato Kan ordered the evacuation of Fukushima, he was acting contrary to the best expert opinion, based on 30 years of science, as specified in the IAEA guidelines.

The result of Nato Kan’s fear, ignorance and defiance of the best available science, was cruel and deadly. Sick, frail and elderly people died after being shunted onto busses in the middle of the night in a crazy and totally unnecessary panic spawned by decades of anti-nuclear propaganda; some younger people committed suicide. One radiation expert called the Japanese handling of the Fukushima accident “stark staring mad”; which it was. And continues to be.

No radiotherapist, geneticist, oncologist or DNA biologist trained in the past 40 years believes the assumptions that were used back in 1959 by Linus Pauling to predict cancer and birth defects from weapons test radioactive fallout… except the anti-nuclear movement which those predictions spawned.

Look at any textbook on DNA or cell biology and you’ll find a chapter or two or three on DNA repair. There are whole textbooks on DNA repair. The IAEA guidelines didn’t spring out of the imagination of the nuclear industry, but from bog-standard science. But it’s only bog-standard science if you are paying attention and not stuck in the oral tradition of Green policy which involves passing down mantras about radiation that go back to the 1950s.

Environmentalist George Monbiot called the movement out for its misleading claims about radiation back in 2011, during the Fukushima meltdowns. He began what was a devastating critique of Helen Caldicott as follows:

"Over the past fortnight I’ve made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged and wildly wrong."

When he questioned Helen Caldicott over her many failed disaster predictions, she retreated to a grand conspiracy theory about a cover up by the United Nations.

In conclusion

Starting some time before Monbiot’s devastating critique, many environmental scientists had already rejected the fear-mongering and were shifting toward nuclear as simply the cleanest, greenest, safest energy on the planet, including some of the world’s leading climate scientists. Many, like me, had gone back to the basic science and found, like Monbiot, that the anti-nuclear position was built on, at best, misinformation and obsolete science.

What do you say of people that simply refuse to read any kind of information which may challenge their radiation slogans? Technically it isn’t lying if you believe it, but deliberate ignorance is arguably worse; particularly when it threatens so many horrid consequences.

The Green movement has been incredibly effective in using misinformation to make people frightened of nuclear power. Which has been an absolute godsend for those who love building dams, pelletising forests, fracking gas and, yes, even digging coal.

The climate needs fixing and wildlife habitat needs protecting. The latter has been shrinking for decades as wildlife is replaced by more and more animals for those who eat them. The global environment movement doesn’t get that either.

The consequences of basing policy on slogans and populist ignorance rather than evidence are dire for the planet. It’s time for the global Green movement to move to rational evidenced-based policies. Many luddite supporters may abandon it in the short term, but it has to lead and transform it’s support base rather than pander to dangerous ignorant populist bullshit.

We desperately need a strong global evidence-based environmental movement, given that both politics-as-usual and the Trump/Brexit alternative are both just minor variations on poll-based populism.

More HERE 

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here