Thursday, June 25, 2009

One in four prisoners is black

It's the alcohol that does it. They generally can't handle alcohol -- often getting violent under its influence

ONE in four prisoners in Australia is indigenous and their over-representation in the jail system is only getting worse, a new report states. Aborigines are 13 times more likely to be locked up than other Australians, while the proportion of indigenous women being incarcerated has tripled in the past 20-odd years. Half of the 10- to 17-year-olds in corrective institutions are indigenous.

"The fact is, every year it gets worse,'' Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) executive director Gino Vumbaca said. "The investment in prison cells is clearly flawed. It's not working. "If you build more prison cells, invariably you'll fill them with more indigenous people.''

In the decade to 2007, the number of indigenous Australians in prison rose by 6.7 per cent a year, on average. Aboriginal people went from comprising 18 per cent of the prison population to 24 per cent. The situation is worst in the Northern Territory, where 83 per cent of the prison population is indigenous. In Western Australia, it's 41 per cent. Victoria has the lowest proportion of Aboriginal prisoners - 6 per cent of that state's inmates are black.

The statistics are collated in the ANCD's National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) report Bridges and Barriers - Addressing Indigenous Incarceration and Health. Mr Vumbaca says the report proves tinkering around the edges of the problem hasn't worked and it makes economic sense to invest more in rehabilitation. "What we need is greater investment in things like residential treatment services so judges, magistrates and the police have options other than incarceration.''

The report estimates it costs governments $269 per day to lock up a prisoner. That's compared to just $98 per day for someone in residential rehabilitation.

NIDAC chair Ted Wilkes says treatment provides people with a chance of recovery - which leads to less re-offending. "Indigenous Australians increasingly fill our country's prisons and juvenile detention centres at alarmingly disproportionate rates,'' he said. "Treatment is simply far more effective in terms of outcomes and costs than imprisoning people.''

The report recommends making diversion programs more accessible for indigenous Australians, while simultaneously establishing a network of indigenous-only residential rehabilitation centres as alternatives to jail. It also suggests every young Aboriginal person be given an individual education fund "to assist and promote their participation and retention within the education system''.


Breastfeeding tyranny comes to Australia

The informal oppression of women unable or unwilling to breastfeed is in high gear in NYC and it seems that it has now come to Australia

A Queensland Health campaign hoping to convince new mothers to breastfeed is under fire for using "guilt-inducing" language. The $100,000-a-year campaign is called "12+months on the breast: Normal, natural, healthy".

Women's Forum Australia spokeswoman Katrina George said any campaign to support breastfeeding as a choice was a good move, but she questioned the use of the term "normal". "The use of the word 'normal' in the campaign slogan is ill-considered, as it may imply women who do not breastfeed for 12 months or more may have failed – failed their babies and failed as a mother," Ms George said. "That is an unfortunate message to send to women."

Beyond Blue deputy chief executive Nicole Highet said that, as an advertising campaign, the slogan could risk a negative impact on some people. "This advertisement is great for women who are breastfeeding as it will make them feel better about doing it," Ms Highet said. "But for those who can't breastfeed or are struggling, it can be yet another disappointment and point of view that could make them feel guilty and make them feel like they have failed. "I don't think they have looked at the target audiences who will read this. As a result I don't think they have considered the potential risk this campaign might lead to for those women."

Population Health Queensland acting executive director Sophie Dwyer said the booklet, written by Queensland Health and the Australian Breastfeeding Association, would be given to every mother attending publicly funded antenatal services across the state, backed up by posters and a website. "The content . . . (was) market-tested with Queensland mothers (including pregnant women, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers)," Ms Dwyer said.

The booklet describes how breast milk boosts the health of infants, promotes mother-child bonding and is cheaper than formula feeding, and tells how common problems can be overcome.

Bub Hub co-founder Brad Lauder, whose website has more than 400,000 visitors every month, said the site's feeding forum was one of the most emotive discussion boards. "People feel so strongly about it one way or the other," Mr Lauder said.

Bottle formula was fine for happy baby Nataley. YERONGA mum Ewa Bramwell had trouble breastfeeding soon after the induced birth of her daughter Nataley, now 20 months. Bramwell and her husband Brett decided she would express breastmilk via a pump and bottle feed their baby. They moved on to formula four months later.

"I was taught about breastfeeding in antenatal classes and I was all for it. And then when I tried to breastfeed, it didn't work," she said. "Nataley was really hungry and nothing was working, so my mother-in-law suggested I try to express. I did that, and in between we tried a little bit of formula, because she just needed to eat. "It was stressful to us as parents because that's the way it is supposed to be – a mother to breastfeed a child. It's supposed to be perfect. "Luckily, my milk kicked in after expressing, and Nataley was bottle fed straight away, but only as a delivery method."

Ewa expressed for a few months, but her supply waned and the length of time it took to pump enough breastmilk became cumbersome. "I had to have a life, I couldn't spend all day on a pump. So I stopped and took up formula. She's fine and perfectly happy. "I believe I will breastfeed my next baby. But if I can't I will give it formula. I think that's perfectly fine. I don't think when kids grow up you can say 'That person was breastfed and that person was on formula'."



Four articles below

Global warming isn't real, says Senator Fielding

Family First senator Steve Fielding has made up his mind on climate change - the world is not warming now, and humans aren't changing the climate. The government and the country's top scientists have tried to convince Senator Fielding, who holds a crucial vote in the upper house, that global warming is real. But he's released a document setting out his position.

"Global temperature isn't rising," it says. On emissions trading, Senator Fielding said he wouldn't risk job losses on "unconvincing green science". The document says it is a "fact" that the evidence does not support the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are causing dangerous global warming.

Senator Fielding later sought to clarify his position, saying he believed in global warming, but he did not think the world was warming now and did not think humans were causing global warming. "Over the last 15 years, global temperatures haven't been going up and, therefore, there hasn't been in the last 15 years a period of global warming," Senator Fielding told AAP. "I think that global warming is real, and climate change is real, but on average global temperatures have stayed steady while carbon emissions have increased over the last 15 years. "Man-made carbon emissions don't appear to be causing it."

Because of the numbers in the upper house, Senator Fielding's verdict means the government will have to rely on the opposition to get its emissions trading scheme (ETS) legislation passed. The Senate was initially supposed to vote on the ETS this week, but that now appears unlikely as the legislation has been shunted towards the bottom of the agenda....


Senate conservatives delay vote on Warmist laws

KEVIN Rudd attacked the Coalition yesterday for deferring a vote on the emissions trading scheme until August, saying it was more evidence of Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's "lack of leadership". "They have such strength of leadership that they have now resolved to vote not to vote ... They cannot unite themselves even to bring on a vote for the simple reason that they fear that they will split right down the middle," the Prime Minister said during question time.

The Coalition wants to delay a final vote on the laws until after the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December, but Mr Turnbull told the Business Council of Australia last week he wanted to avoid a double-dissolution election on the issue.

Yesterday's delay was achieved through a deal between the Coalition and Independent senator Nick Xenophon, in which the Coalition promised to bring the laws to a vote for the first time when the Senate resumes after the winter break in August. That commitment means the government could bring them on for a second vote in November, just before the Copenhagen conference, with the necessary three-month interregnum for that vote to be the one that decides whether they become a possible trigger for a double-dissolution election.

Business lobbyists welcomed the delay because it gives them time to finalise negotiations with the government over crucial regulations and proposed compensation. But the Climate Institute think tank said the delay "further hinders low carbon investments and hurts Australia's global credibility".

"Stretching out the squabbles in the Senate on clean energy and low carbon industrial legislation like the renewable energy target and now the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme helps nobody," Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said. The delay came as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a study into the effects of the scheme on small and medium businesses including food processing, plastics and chemicals, and machinery and equipment manufacturing.

The study found the scheme would generate extra costs that would reduce the firms' profitability by between 4 and 7 per cent. A large part of that impact came from the expected inclusion of transport fuels in the scheme from 2014.

Mr Turnbull and his climate change spokesman Greg Hunt have indicated the opposition is "predisposed" to support the government's proposed 20 per cent renewable energy target after it has been considered by a Senate committee, but several Coalition MPs at yesterday's party meeting said they were not inclined to support the laws.


Major changes in views on the environment

We live in a world in which we are constantly bombarded with the results of surveys about attitudes to political, social and economic issues of the day. Even the Australian Statistician undertakes surveys that produce subjective data that has potential implications for government policies.

The state of the environment is a prime survey target as it is now of considerable interest to a high proportion of the community. It is not surprising, then, that last week the Statistician undertook a survey covering environmental views and behaviour. This is the Bureau's first such survey and I examined it with considerable interest.

That led me to write to the Statistician querying the approach adopted and pointing out the importance of taking the utmost care in surveying present attitudes on the environment. What I had particularly in mind was not only the legislation on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be debated in the Senate but also the international meeting (in December) in Copenhagen on the mooted global scheme to reduce CO2 emissions.

The attitudes (supposedly) adopted by the Australian public on such issues could have a significant influence on relevant policies adopted by our government and opposition parties. A survey of such attitudes by the normally respected Statistician would assume even greater significance than one by firms involved in the survey business.

The basis of my querying the Statistician is that, while the questions seem largely to fall into the category of having obvious answers, they could be quoted as providing general support for government policies to reduce emissions. The basic survey question was "Are you concerned or not concerned about climate change, water shortage and accumulation of waste". It was the only question asked relevant to those issues.

Faced with such a question, it would be difficult to imagine a majority "Not concerned" answer. That in fact was the case, with "concern" being expressed by nine out of ten about water shortages, around three-quarters about climate change and nearly seventy per cent about the accumulation of waste.

My letter to the Statistician suggested it would have been more meaningful to adopt the approach of some surveys overseas and attempt to identify a wider range of aspects on which people assess environmental issues For example, in surveying views on global warming, the Gallup poll in the US asks "thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming - [generally exaggerated, generally correct or is it under-estimated]?" Note also that the Gallup survey is about global warming not the meaningless concept of "climate change" used by the Statistician.

The US Gallup poll is of particular interest given the reported "passionate" belief of President Obama that the world faces a serious threat of dangerously high temperatures from increasing emissions and the current consideration by Congress of ETS legislation also. Importantly, the Gallup poll for March recorded a big jump in Americans judging the seriousness of global warming to be exaggerated, up to 41 per cent from 31 in 2005 and 35 last year. Evidently the President's passion has had little effect so far.

This Gallup polling also produces a rating of seriousness of various environmental issues and, of eight environmental issues (including water supply and water and air pollution), global warming not only ranked last but had fallen by 6 percentage points in extent of concern since last year. Although a general diminution of concern about environmental issues was to be expected given the economic downturn, the continued relatively low ranking for global warming led Gallup to suggest "something unique may be happening with the issue".

Also of considerable interest is the latest survey by the Pew Research Center. This shows that "Protecting the environment" has dropped from tenth to sixteenth on the priority issues for American voters and global warming was last on the top twenty priority list.

These surveys have obvious implications in terms of the all-important US policy position on global warming- and should also do so for the policy positions of Australia's political parties too. Unfortunately, our major political parties seem way behind the ball game in gauging both community attitudes and the fundamental flaws in the science used in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


GREENWASH: Shopping centre reserves parking for hybrid vehicles

Shopping mall operator Westfield has installed hybrid-only car-parking spaces at some of their shopping centres.

Here’s a pic I took this morning of the spaces at Westfield Hornsby in Sydney. They are sited directly opposite the main entry. They are empty. They usually are.

What I find fascinating about this is that Hornsby is a battlers’ area so there are very few Toyota Prius cars or other hybrids. Some have noted that the hybrid Lexus RX400h SUV produces 192g/km of CO2 but the non-hybrid Volkswagen Golf 118TSI produces 144g/km of CO2, suggesting that the hybrid designation is arbitrary and does little to assist the environment.

Basically all Westfield have done is removed two of the best parking spaces in the complex and allocated them to those wealthy but environmentally conscious souls who had the money to buy one of these expensive motor vehicles. [VEXNEWS: We are reminded of the former Soviet Union with its special express lanes on highways for ministerial vehicles in the form of Zim limousines. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.]

This does not benefit their customers, the only benefit is to Westfield. This pointless action gives them a warm, fuzzy inner-glow and something to boast about in corporate communications and with pesky left-wing environment reporters keen to denigrate Westfield’s big shrines to retail as concrete eyesores.

SOURCE (See the original for pix)

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