Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Australia is about to put a probable carcinogen into all its bread

See today's posts on FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC

"Ethnic" knife-crime being covered up

Muslims wouldn't be behind it, of course

It is usually alcohol that has parents worried when they allow their teenage children to go to parties on a weekend. Now knives have become a common threat. In Melbourne on Friday night, a 15-year-old boy ended up in hospital with stab wounds when a party descended into a violent brawl. And last weekend, seven people were hurt when gatecrashers armed with knives and machetes barged into a birthday party at a soccer club. Officially, police say there is no evidence the problem is getting worse, but that is a line contradicted by youth workers and officers on the beat.

Melbourne mother Rosanna Loretta was half asleep on the couch last weekend when one of her son's friends called to tell her to get to the hospital. Her 17-year-old son had been dancing at a party in Melbourne's west when gatecrashers broke in. "He heard a scream as he turned, he copped the first machete blow to his head," she said. "He came down, he tried to get up and then kept knocking him down. He was surrounded at one stage by 10 young boys, all slamming into him with baseball bats, iron bars and machetes." Ms Loretta told Southern Cross Radio that one of those machete blows cracked her son's skull. "He got a full-on whack with a baseball bat in his left eye, and at this point it will be months before we know whether he will keep that eye," she said.

Also on the weekend, this time in Melbourne's outer east, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed in his stomach and arm during a brawl that broke out after gatecrashers invaded a party at a suburban house.

Youth worker Les Twentyman says in places, 80 per cent of young people now carry knives. "I've been working on the streets for almost 30 years, and this is as bad as I've ever seen it," he said. "If you couple the fact that more and more young people don't feel confident... about the day's existence without being armed, and also the type of drugs that are out on the street at the moment, particularly amphetamines and ice, which just makes them paranoid, it's extremely dangerous on the street."

But Victoria Police is keen to stamp out that suggestion. Detective Superintendent Jack Blayney says the recent cases are spikes that do not reflect overall trends. "Actually, over the last five years there's been a reduction of approximately 20 per cent in the incidence of assaults using knives within Victoria," he said.

But former deputy police commissioner Bob Falconer says he is no longer obliged to stick to the official line. "It is worse, without a doubt," he said. He says carrying knives is ostensibly for self-defence. "Now, I think that's right in some instances and that's a very bad trend, hence the need to educate young people," he said. "It is not the thing to do to carry knives."

Doctors and social workers are saying that the evidence is there and the problem is getting worse, but Mr Falconer says he is unsure why the police seem to disagree with that. "I think it's the way you count numbers, the way you embrace statistical data over and above anecdotal evidence, and it's interesting that some bureaucrats, and indeed senior police, when they mention anecdotal evidence, they say it as a pejorative term," he said. "What I'm suggesting is the amounts of incidence, the numbers of incidence that come to the attention of the police, they may be accurately portraying those. "But there are many, many incidents occurring with knives and the carriage of them and the use of them that don't necessarily come to the attention of the police. "There's no requirement for a medical practitioner at a major hospital to report the fact somebody has been slashed or hit over the head with a machete."

Mr Falconer says all around the country, more teenagers are carrying knives. "I spoke recently, earlier this year to a group of people who are from education departments, security units, in every state and territory," he said. "I then posed the question to the group - remembering, they're from every state in Australia - 'How big a problem is gangs and knives in schools?' That was the most animated I saw them all morning. Huge problem."

Mr Falconer says police and governments are afraid to publicly identify the problem because of a misguided sense of political correctness. "Because there's often an ethnicity factor getting involved, particularly where there's gangs and weapons combined, I think there's a lot of political correctness and super-sensitivity about whether or not by nominating gangs and weapons in the same breath, and then being asked were they any particular groups involved, and then you start talking about specific ethnic groups," he said. "I think they're frightened of it. The first way to deal with the problem is to acknowledge there is a problem, and they're not doing it."


Australian immigration law used to detain suspect Muslim doctor

The Australian government said Monday it would detain a doctor accused of supporting the foiled car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow on immigration violations, overriding a magistrate's order granting him bail. Mohamed Haneef's work visa was canceled because the Indian doctor had "failed the character test," and he would be taken into immigration custody if he meets his bail conditions, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said. "I reasonably suspect that he has, or has had, an association with persons engaged in criminal activity, namely terrorism, in the U.K.," Andrews told reporters in Canberra, the national capital. "That's the basis on which I have made this decision."

Hours earlier, Queensland state Magistrate Jacqui Payne granted Haneef bail, saying there was no clear evidence he was involved in the car bomb plot. Police, acting on information from British investigators in the attack plot, arrested Haneef on July 2 as he tried to board a flight from the eastern city of Brisbane to India. Haneef, 27, was charged Saturday with providing support to a terrorist organization by giving his mobile phone SIM card to British suspects Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed when he moved to Australia in July 2006. Haneef is a distant cousin of the Ahmed brothers and he shared a house with them in Liverpool before moving to Australia for a job at a hospital on Queensland state's Gold Coast.

Haneef's lawyer Stephen Keim has slammed the government's case as "extremely weak," saying his client only left the SIM card so his cousin could take advantage of a special deal on his mobile phone plan. Under Australian law, the government can withdraw a person's visa for a variety of reasons, including if the minister judges a person is not of good character. Magistrate Jacqui Payne set the bail for Haneef with several conditions, including staying away from international ports, checking in with police three times a week and putting up an $8,700 bond. Andrews said that if Haneef meets the bail conditions, immigration officials would step in before he can be freed and bring him to a detention facility in Sydney.

Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo said he would appeal the government's decision. "We will start the next battle. If that's the way they want to do it - bring it on," he told reporters outside the Brisbane jailhouse where Haneef has been held for two weeks. The move was criticized by Cameron Murphy, the secretary of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties. "The reason we have an independent court system is so these incredibly important decisions are made for the right reasons, and aren't subject to political interference," Murphy said. "It is not appropriate for the government to just keep him incarcerated because they don't like the decision of the magistrates court." Haneef's wife has maintained her husband is innocent and pleaded with authorities to help free him, Indian media reported Sunday.


Another public hospital with diagnostic failure

ANOTHER Queensland hospital has cut patient access to vital diagnostic equipment because of critical staff shortages. The Gold Coast Hospital is the latest Queensland Health facility forced to sideline multimillion-dollar diagnostic tools. The move affects equipment such as CT scanners and MRI machines, and could delay the diagnoses of hundreds of patients who could be suffering anything from cancer to brain aneurisms. It follows similar equipment shutdowns at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, while the Princess Alexandra Hospital has had to scale back its operating theatre services. An acute shortage of radiographers, who are trained to operate the diagnostic equipment, has forced each of the hospitals to act.

In a leaked email obtained by The Courier-Mail, Gold Coast Hospital medical imaging services director John Andersen said planned service cutbacks were necessary to "preserve staff sanity". Mr Andersen outlined plans to stop outpatient access to CT and MRI scanners between 5pm and 9pm. Only patients with imminently life-threatening conditions will get after-hours CT scans on the Gold Coast, while the region's existing 11-week waiting time for an MRI is likely to blow out further. Mr Andersen also detailed plans to cut diagnostic mammography services from five days to one day a week, potentially delaying diagnoses for women with suspected breast cancer. There will also be ultrasound and interventional radiology service cutbacks.

In the email to acting district manager Brian Bell, Mr Andersen warned the hospital would also have to staff a new emergency department at Robina. A Queensland Health spokeswoman refused to comment on the likely impact of the cutbacks.


Australian professor challenges global warming theory

An Australian academic has spoken out against the popular view that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. He believes that global warming and climate change are caused by cycles in the sun's electro-magnetic radiation. He says scientists are taking a narrow view and politicians are making policy with the wrong information.

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee AO is a former Dean of Engineering and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Monash University. He told Tom Harwood, ABC Western Queensland's Morning Program producer that the world has been warming naturally due to increased magnetic radiation from the sun.

"One thousand years ago the Vikings were in Greenland, and they settled there and it was a warm period, known as the medieval warm period and Europe was prosperous," he said. "And then from about 1300 on it got progressively colder and in the time of the 1600s it was terribly cold in Europe. Finland lost about one-third of their population and the Thames froze over regularly every year and people were able to travel from London up the river on sleighs - so it was a different climate," explained Professor Endersbee.

He said since about 1700 the earth has been getting progressively warmer. "It's shown in what we call the sunspot records. The sun is also emitting a great deal of electro-magnetic radiation and nowadays with NASA we can see that more plainly on the surface of the sun."

The professor says that the incredible thing is that the electro-magnetic radiation from the sun varies up and down over an eleven year cycle. "And every eleven years there's a change in the electrical polarity of the sun."

He explained that the El Nino cycles we observe on earth are also related to these eleven year cycles with the sun. "NASA can now measure and observe the flow of plasma in the ionosphere (about thirteen kilometres above the Earth's surface). "This flow of plasma is equivalent to huge electric currents," said Professor Endersbee. He believes that this is influencing the climate on earth through electrical activity in the ionosphere. "NASA is now telling us the way the electric flows in the ionosphere seem to be connected with thunderstorms on Earth around the equator."

He explained the the earth is an electrical conductor moving through the magnetic flux of the sun. "So we have these electric currents being created within the earth in response to the electro-magnetic radiation of the sun and that is the main driver of climate change on earth - it's not man."

In summary, Professor Endersbee said that the world's been warming naturally due to this increased magnetic flow from the sun that started around the year 1700. "And now we're starting to depict that it seems to be reaching an end of that cycle and it does seem as though the earth may be cooling down."

Tom Harwood asked the professor what air pollution and carbon dioxide have to do with global warming? "We've been talking about global warming - now air pollution is an entirely different thing and what's happening is that mankind is putting a lot of pollutants into the atmosphere - they certainly cause problems and mankind is also putting dust and water vapour into the atmosphere and that has an influence... but there's a lot of nonsense being talked about carbon dioxide." He explained that we breathe carbon dioxide in and out - all the plants grow from carbon dioxide and so it's ridiculous to say that it's causing global warming..

"The oceans breathe carbon dioxide and methane in and out with the seasons and that's simply due to the fact that the oceans are a bit like a bottle of lemonade... if you warm it up the bubbles rise to the surface." "They're contemplating the possibility of cooling - that means that carbon dioxide levels will be decreased because the ocean is cooler and can absorb more," he said. "It's just a matter of Henry's law and so on - it's happening continuously and the same thing happens with methane."

The professor is adamant that the concept of carbon trading is absolute madness. "What terrifies me is the way the state governments in Australia with their emissions trading they are contemplating using the superannuation funds to invest in carbon trading - they're going to lose their money!" He says governments are getting tied-up with carbon trading for commercial and political reasons - not scientific reasons.

The other problem that concerns the professor is his view that scholarship has taken a nose-dive. "Scholarship is being driven by media and media attention and this is a terrifying state of affairs." All the research is determined by government, he said. "You can get all the money in the world if the research you're doing is related to climate change... if you say climate change isn't caused by man it's caused by the sun, it doesn't get any money at all."

He said a lot of the business of carbon trading and global warming is just a popular delusion. He refers to a book written by Mackay in the 1840s called "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds". "We've got it now... he could see it 150 years ago - the crowd is mad!"


Global cooling in Sydney again

Sydneysiders woke up to their coldest July morning in 21 years today, when the thermometer dipped to 3.7 degrees. The minimum temperature was reached at 6.54am today and beat by one degree a July record set just yesterday. "We had high pressure sitting over the state so, with a clear sky and very little wind, here it comes, the lowest temperature," senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Peter Zmijewski, said. The temperature is the lowest recorded at Sydney's Observatory Hill since July 27, 1986, when the mercury plunged to 3.1 degrees.....

Early risers wrote into about frost-covered gardens in Hornsby Heights, rowing in Balmain on water like a millpond and running on ovals of crunchy grass....

As winds pick up, tonight is expected to be milder than last night, with a warmer morning tomorrow but a colder day later. The bureau has forecast snow and sleet today for the Southern and Central Tablelands (including the Blue Mountains) above 500 metres. Blizzards are also expected over much of the NSW snowfields this afternoon.


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