Sunday, February 01, 2009

The "Obesity" war is the latest excuse for a Fascist attack on families

People's weight is mostly genetic, tends to rebound after efforts to change it and is rarely harmful. And who draws the line to say when fat is "too fat"?

CHILD protection authorities should be called in to handle "extreme" cases where parents allow their kids to get too fat, an Australian doctor says. Parents should have their children seized if they failed to do enough to address diet problems, says Dr Shirley Alexander from The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney. "We argue that in a sufficiently extreme case, notification of child protection services may be an appropriate professional response," Dr Alexander writes in the Medical Journal of Australia.

She describes the case of an unidentified four-year-old girl, who was 110cm tall and weighed a hefty 40kg. The girl watched TV for six hours a day and had temper tantrums when denied food, according to the report. Dr Alexander said despite the efforts of health workers, a "family-focused" program "failed to stop or reverse the child's weight gain".

She said child protection authorities were then notified, and the child was put on a dietary and physical activity program that soon had her losing weight. Dr Alexander's report concludes that a doctor is duty bound to "report severe cases of inadequately managed paediatric obesity to the authorities".


Exodus to private schools continues in Queensland

Tracking the decay of discipline in government schools

PARENTS deserted Queensland's state schools last year, with independent primary schools growing at a much higher rate than government schools. Catholic primary schools also experienced massive growth compared to their state counterparts. The surprising figures were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week in its "Schools, Preliminary Australia" 2008 report. It showed state primary schools, which had 308,698 students in 2007, attracted only 73 more students in 2008. Meanwhile, independent primary schools grew their ranks from 48,035 in 2007 to 50,577 in 2008.

Government high schools fared better, with growth rates only eight and five times higher in the independent and Catholic sectors respectively.

The figures also confirm the government is having trouble retaining staff, with full-time teaching staff growth rates dipping just below 0 per cent, while non-government schools grew 4 per cent.

Independent Schools Queensland executive director Dr John Roulston said choosing a school was "a very considered decision these days", with many parents settling on the independent sector for its academic excellence, sense of community and variety, including Christian, Muslim, Montessori, Steiner and grammar schools.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Mike Byrne said parents and students were continuing to choose Catholic schools for their Christian values, emphasis on pastoral care, academic excellence and strong family partnerships.

Non-government Queensland schools also had one of the highest rates of students staying on to Year 12 in the nation, according to a Productivity Commission report released yesterday.

Education Minister Rod Welford said enrolments continued to grow at state schools, which this year enrolled more than 480,000 children - about 65 per cent of Queensland's students. "School subject options ranging from academic to vocational education offered by state schools are equivalent to, or exceed those offered at many private schools," he said. "State school enrolments continue to increase."


Homosexual flag on city hall

AUSTRALIA'S national flag on the St Kilda town hall has been replaced with gay colours, infuriating council workers who say they are not all gay. Angry Port Phillip council workers say the multi-coloured gay flag replaced Australia's official flag on Australia Day, leaving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags flying. One worker, who fears retribution if he is named, says staff at the council are "insulted'' because it infers everyone who works there is gay. "It's not right that they replace the Australian flag," he said today. "Why not take down one of the others?''

The rainbow flag was flying high above the St Kilda Rd council building when the Sunday Herald Sun visited. Port Phillip council mayor Frank O'Connor said they were following protocol and flying the flag in preparation for tomorrow's Gay Pride March. He denied the Australian flag was replaced on Australia Day.

He said most of the staff supported the rainbow flag replacing the Australian flag this week. "The staff at the City of Port Phillip are strongly supportive. the city supports diversity,'' Cr O'Connor said. [Well, if diversity is the aim, why not a Swastika flag? That would be even more diverse. There are probably at least as many people with racist sympathies as there are homosexuals. Or am I missing something?]


"Soft" prisons

INMATES at a Darwin prison have been given access to portable DVD players as a reward for good behaviour. The Northern Territory News understands prisoners are being allowed to hire a machine to watch movies in their own cells. Prison superintendent Kevin Raby said that portable DVD players were part of an "incentive-based program" for low security "clients".

But some prison officers believe the DVD players are a luxury the inmates could do without. One guard said Berrimah Prison was one of the "softest" in Australia. "The reality is, many offenders like prison and they don't mind doing time because they know they will be treated very well in there," the officer said.

In December, readers were fired up by a report from Victoria that police had been told to show more respect to their prisoners. They were told to dim the lights at night, not to slam cell doors and serve tea, coffee or milk at least three times a day. The "soft cell" human rights guidelines from the Office of Police Integrity said cell blocks should be calm and relaxing, with light-shaded wall colours. They also said meals should be of good nutritional value and quantity, and second helpings should be available "on reasonable request".

But the Police Association and a victims' lobby group claimed the OPI's standards for police cells treated prisoners better than many pensioners. Association secretary Sen-Sgt Greg Davies said the reaction of police would be "fits of hysterical laughter followed by justified outrage". "No doubt we'll have a queue of pensioners and victims of the financial crisis lined up to smash a window at a police station to be housed in such luxurious surroundings," Sen-Sgt Davies said at the time.

In June last year, thousands of prisoners in the UK were reportedly declining offers of early release because they preferred the "soft" conditions of jails. Prison authorities had even caught dozens of people trying to break in to jail in the past five years, the UK's Daily Mail said.


Loudmouths risk being kicked off Perth trains, buses

And not a moment too soon

LOUDMOUTH mobile phone users on trains and buses will be targeted in a new campaign to tackle the growing annoyance. Blaring portable music players will also attract attention from transit officers, who will ask passengers to quieten down. The Public Transport Authority will roll out a series of posters aimed at tackling what is fast becoming public enemy No.1 on public transport. Nuisance passengers who refuse to lower the decibels risk being kicked off public transport.

``We expect this will be self-regulating and will not lead to serious confrontation because transit officers are trained in mediation and conflict resolution,'' Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said. ``They are entitled to ask people to leave the train if they continue with any offences, but we hope this issue will not come to that. ``Once the posters go up, there will be fair amount of peer pressure applied because there will be something there in black and white for everyone to see. ``This is all about showing manners and respect for other people.'' Transport Minister Simon O'Brien said he fully supported the campaign. ``I encourage people to show courtesy when using our public transport system,'' he said.

This week, The Sunday Times conducted a commuter survey, which clearly identified loud mobile phone chat and noisy portable music players as the top two annoyances. Ear-piercing polyphonic ringtones were No.3 in the straw poll of 50 people at Perth train station and bus stops along Wellington St. An overwhelming 90 per cent said loud mobile phone conversations were the most annoying part of their journeys. Some commuters wanted them prohibited on trains, while others suggested phone and music-free ``quiet carriages''.

A number spoke passionately about their hatred of being forced to listen to private phone conversations and thumping bass music from earphones. Perth woman Veronica Harwood described it as a potential cause of passenger rage. ``You hear the most personal, inane, stupid things right in your ear, and this is every day, every trip,'' she said. ``It is contributing to hideous aggravation of just normal people who don't want to hear the constant blare of personal information everywhere you go, buses and trains especially.''

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi joined the debate, saying people should send silent SMS messages or emails rather than chat on mobile phones while commuting and at restaurants. ``Talking on mobiles in restaurants and on public transport is not appropriate, but texts and emails on public transport is a good use of one's time,'' she said.

WA author and customer services specialist Jurek Leon has written a book on telephone etiquette. Mr Leon said manners were everything when talking on mobile phones. He acknowledged that was not extending to public transport. ``I would like to see talking on mobile phones banned at peak times on trains and buses when it is hard for other passengers to escape out of earshot of the press and yap brigade,'' Mr Leon, of Willetton, said.

He also suggested that an Australian Communications and Media Authority decision this month to allow mobile phone use on planes should be reversed. ``I am not normally in favour of more regulation, but I would like to see the use of mobiles on aeroplanes banned, not promoted,'' Mr Leon said.

The head of Edith Cowan University's school of psychology, Craig Speelman, said talking loudly on mobiles was not necessarily a form of attention seeking. ``I reckon these people are just generally loud on the phone and become oblivious to who is around them,'' he said.


No comments: