Friday, January 18, 2008

Victoria police not surrendering yet

It seems that they are not yet ready to adopt the British policy of hiding in their police stations while "minorities" run riot. See e.g. here

An aggressive, fearless and increasingly violent Generation Y is forcing police to rethink tactics and training as more people under 25 openly take on authority, Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon declared yesterday. The Victorian police boss said the level of disrespect being exhibited on the streets was getting worse and she laid the blame squarely on Generation Y. Young men and women born after 1984 were increasingly using technology - SMS and the internet - to gather in numbers and intimidate police. "We are seeing a level of aggression that our police officers are seeing within the city itself that is much worse," Ms Nixon said yesterday. "I think it's a generational issue. It is the Why - W-H-Y - Generation. They really are far more aggressive. They'll cluster more and will send SMS and a lot of their friends will come," Ms Nixon said.

A recent study of GenerationY in NSW by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research revealed that almost one in 10 people born in the state in 1984 had a criminal record by the time they turned 21.

In an unusual break from the police tradition of playing down the level of violence in the community, a frank Ms Nixon said alcohol-fuelled violence was on the rise and was forcing a change in strategies. "We have to be training our officers differently, and we are," she said. "We have to take a much harder line than we have before."

Ms Nixon's candid comments came just days after she attacked a group of teenagers for their behaviour at a suburban house party on the weekend, which turned ugly as revellers hurled bottles at police. The confrontation escalated to the point that the air squad and the dog squad had to be called in to deal with up to 500 youngsters and ended with up to $20,000 damage being done to police vehicles by the drunken teenagers.

It came as Ms Nixon defended her officers who resorted to the use of capsicum spray to subdue unruly fans at the Australian Open tennis tournament. One of the officers trying to evict members of the crowd for chanting offensive statements on Wednesday described how he was pushed and shoved by the spectators and that he feared being hurt. Footage of the confrontation revealed angry fans - including young women - shouting abuse at police and openly defying the officers.

Ms Nixon, deflecting the use of pepper spray, which was described by critics as heavy-handed, said police had no choice these days but to take a much more aggressive approach to unruly behaviour. "We think this issue around violence in the community is growing and that's why we're not going to tolerate it," shesaid. "We've come down hard, and some people will agree with us sometimes and don't agree with us others. But that's part of the process. We're not going to tolerate it any more." The police's approach would be one of zero tolerance, Ms Nixon said. "We think we've got to a point where we're seeing so much more violence on the streets than we've ever seen in Melbourne in the inner-city," she said. "The state Government has given us new powers to exclude people. And we've now got our summer blitz operation where we've given extra resources to officers to be able to actually take control back (so) people need to realise we're not tolerating it any more."


Airport screening ludicrous in Australia too

The company responsible for security at Brisbane's airports has failed two Federal Government weapons tests in the past three weeks, casting a further cloud on safety levels at the international and domestic terminals. Transport Department inspectors slipped two knives past screeners working for contractor ISS Security as part of random checks on anti-terror measures in the nation's airports.

The failures come amid controversy over security at Brisbane's airports after a former Australian Federal Police officer and six former ISS employees revealed regular and unreported security breaches. The concerns included two knives being found on passengers who had already passed through security checkpoints before boarding flights and broad failures of screeners to monitor passengers and baggage. More current and former ISS workers came forward to detail concerns, revealing how Transport Department inspectors had recently slipped knives in a backpack and a briefcase past screeners. They followed another failed random test in the second half of last year.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said he would not seek meetings with the workers who detailed the security flaws. Mr Albanese said his office would "determine the facts" from ISS and its contractor, the Brisbane Airport Corporation. The BAC and ISS have refused to answer detailed questions and insist that security at the airports is already of "the highest standard".

The Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman's Office confirmed it was investigating complaints about rostering and workplace safety at Brisbane airport. The investigation is expected to be completed next month. Ombudsman Don Brown is also completing a report on employment practices within the contract security industry.

The Flight Attendants' Association of Australia and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots said they would welcome inquiries into security at Brisbane airport. Flight Attendants' Association president Steven Reed said an inquiry should be held into whether the Government should be outsourcing airport security. "It really is a matter of national security. It amazes me that because of the need for cost-cutting it is farmed out," he said. "It is vitally important to have a regulator overseeing the whole thing." He said it might be more appropriate for airport security to come under the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots said domestic pilots regularly lodged complaints about inconsistent and lax security. Executive director Terry O'Connell said the organisation would welcome an inquiry.


Another "peaceful" Muslim in Australia

A man who had ammunition in his pocket and a loaded pistol on the back seat of his car when he was pulled over told police he was, "going hunting with my uncle". The gun was ready to fire when police pulled over Mahmud Jihad, 26, in Rooty Hill on Tuesday. Also in a bag in the back seat was a tazer, Mount Druitt local court heard yesterday. A further three pistols - including a Russian semi-automatic - were found when police raided Jihad's Shalvey home later the same day. Along with the cache of guns and ammunition found in the bedroom of the builder's labourer, was $59,550 in cash.

Jihad yesterday faced court on 15 charges, including having a firearm in a public place. The court heard Jihad was sentenced to 12 months' jail in 2005 for similar offences. Jihad's estranged parents and sister were in court yesterday when he applied for bail. His lawyer Charles Zarb argued that although his client had priors for similar offences, he had always turned up at court, even when a jail sentence was likely.

But prosecutor Pauline McCann said Jihad's actions demonstrated that he was an active risk to the public. Jihad was refused bail and remanded in custody to appear again on March 28.


Global Warming Hysteria in "The West Australian"

By Roger Underwood -- a research manager and bushfire (forest fire) specialist with over 40 years experience of bushfire management in Australia and overseas

Over the last 6 months, readers of The West Australian newspaper have been subjected to a barrage of hysteria over global warming. Very bad news stories of one kind or another are published almost every day, all with the common theme that civilisation as we know it is about to be destroyed.

Some of these stories are simply laughable, like the article asserting that a rise in temperature of 1-2 degrees will result in the extinction of the karri forest. Another reported that rising sea levels (caused by global warming) will, amongst other calamities, lead to a killer increase in salinity in the Swan River. Many readers were surprised by this, since the Swan River is a tidal estuary in its lower reaches, and is fed by the salt-laden Avon River in its upper reaches.

Day after day The West Australian delivers stories unequivocally foretelling the melting of ice caps and glaciers, death of forests, disease outbreaks, the collapse of agriculture, social disruption, loss of coastal communities and beaches, catastrophic storms, floods, droughts and bushfires. All of this is based on an unquestioning acceptance of the theory that human-induced CO2 emissions are causing the world to heat up, and an unquestioning belief in the link between projected warming and ghastly consequences.

I am curious about this lack of editorial scepticism. When it comes to reporting politics or community issues, journalists generally pride themselves on pricking sacred balloons, cutting down tall poppies, exposing spin and highlighting hidden agendas, in short doing what journalists do. The West Australian is quite good in this area, even if their judgement is not always infallible. They have not been afraid to attack government Ministers or powerful Union bosses or to probe politically-incorrect issues, such as alcoholism and education in Indigenous communities. But on global warming their stance is one of uncritical acceptance of Worst Case Scenarios.

The whole package of political game-playing and agenda-driven alarmism is taken at face value and delivered on to readers as if the newspaper was a propaganda pamphlet, rather than a mature organ of the Australian media.

It is not just The West Australian. ABC current affairs journalists to a man and woman are also promoters of Global Warming Apocalypse. A good example was the recent segment on The 7.30 Report which suggested that a slight projected increase in temperature would result in a regime of completely unstoppable bushfires. This proposition was put to the gullible journalist by a climatologist and an environmental activist, neither of whom had any experience in bushfire science or management. No one with this knowledge or experience was interviewed.

And just before the Global Warming True Believers launch their barbs at me, I assure them that I accept the idea of climate change - the climate is always changing. I am also concerned about air pollution from industry and vehicles. However, I regard as unproven the theory of `accelerated global warming" as a result of human CO2 emissions. And I consider the worst-case scenarios uncritically presented as fact by journalists to be unhelpful to a community struggling to make sense of a complex issue.

There are risks associated with constant promotion of Worst Case Scenarios. The first is that people will start to shrug their shoulders, feeling that the whole situation is beyond hope: the planet is doomed, so we might as well live for the minute. This leads to the second risk: doomsday projections becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

The one-sided reporting of the global warming debate is perhaps explained by the fact that journalists are frightened of presenting both sides of the global warming story. They do not want to alienate those powerful sections of the community who will attack them if they do, i.e. environmentalists, academics and business interests profiting from global warming alarm.

Alternatively we are just seeing another example of the professional immaturity of the Australian media. I have observed that they have always regarded dramatic disasters and fearsome calamities as more newsworthy than everyday life or good citizenship. Thus trees being chainsawed to the accompaniment of wailing protesters is a far "better" story than a forest quietly regrowing under the stewardship of dedicated foresters. I can see no solution to this.


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