Sunday, May 09, 2010

Milk Fascism comes to Australia

If people prefer their milk unprocessed, why should they be penalized for taking the small risk involved?

And the risk really is small. TB is the big bugbear behind pasteurization as cows can carry TB if the herd is not tested. But the answer to that is to test the herd for it and remove the affected animals. That is now normal practice in most places.

Milk processing in the small Australian country town where I grew up must have been pretty casual because when all the kids at my school were tested for TB (with the Mantoux skin test), hardly any of us needed vaccination because we all had TB antibodies in us anyway. Being young and healthy country kids, we had been infected with TB but had simply thrown it off with no lasting effects and without even knowing about it

People in poor health would be unwise to take risks, however

IT'S a story of undercover agents and an illegal substance, set in the heart of Queensland's best-known hippie community.

The Maple Street Food Co-op in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast has become an alternative lifestylers' icon over the past three decades. But now the store has been busted – for allegedly promoting the sale of raw, or unpasteurised, milk for drinking which has been illegal in Australia since the 1980s.

The co-op stocks raw milk produced by Trevor Mahaffey at his dairy farm in Goomboorian near Gympie and sold around the country under the brand "Cleopatra's Bath Milk" as a cosmetic.

In February last year, a plain-clothes Queensland Health official bought a bottle from the Maleny store. Authorities allege a shop assistant promoted the milk for drinking. The co-op claims entrapment, saying the official acted as an agent provocateur, asking if the milk was fit for human consumption. The worker said although she drank it, the shop's policy was that it was for cosmetic purposes only.

The case is due to be heard at Caloundra Magistrates Court on July 9. If convicted, the co-op could face fines of up to tens of thousands of dollars. "We are terrified," said financial officer Dick Newman. "This could put us out of business, kill us. They have a couple of high-powered barristers working on the case and we have a folk singer representing us." Mr Newman said the co-op had always complied with regulations. "This does seem a bit insane."


Most Australians (2 out of 3) not convinced that climate change is man-made

A huge collapse in faith -- brought on by the crookedness of the "scientists" at the centre of the scare

Two out of three Australians are not convinced climate change is man-made, and even those who do believe it is aren't prepared to pay much to fix it, a new poll shows.

A Galaxy Poll, commissioned by the conservative Institute of Public Affairs, found 35 per cent of respondents blamed humans for global warming. Fully 26 per cent believed it was just part of a natural cycle, while 38 per cent remained uncertain.

Thirty-five per cent said they would not be prepared to pay anything to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming.

Of those who believed climate change to be man-made, 27 per cent said they would be prepared to pay only $100 or less a year in increased tax and utility costs.

The poll shows young people are most convinced that global warming is man-made, and older people are the least worried. Just 27 per cent of those aged over 50 believe climate change to be man-made.

Institute executive director John Roskam said this was the polling Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did not want Australians to see. "This reveals why Kevin Rudd has run away from what he had previously described as the greatest moral challenge of our times," he said in a statement.


Victoria police again: Blind faith in DNA evidence slammed

SERIOUS failings within Victorian police, prosecutors and forensic services in viewing DNA evidence as having almost "mystical infallibility" led to the wrongful conviction and jailing of a 22-year-old man for a rape that did not occur.

In a scathing independent review of the "disastrous" case of Farah Jama, former Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent found a miscarriage of justice had occurred when the DNA evidence that prosecutors used solely to convict the Sudanese man was contaminated and forensic procedures did not adhere to national standards.

He also found that "warning bells" about the lack of evidence in the case were overlooked by police investigators and prosecutors because they were so blinded by the DNA evidence.

"In this present case, the obviously unreserved acceptance of the reliability of DNA evidence appears to have so confined thought that it enabled all involved to leap over a veritable mountain of improbabilities and unexplained aspects that . . . could be seen to block the path to conviction," Mr Vincent wrote.

Mr Jama spent 15 months in jail after a sample of his DNA contaminated one taken from a 48-year-old woman believed to have been raped at an over-28s nightclub in Melbourne's southeastern suburbs.

The 22-year-old was not seen by any witnesses in the nightclub or in the area, the alleged rape victim had no memory of the sexual assault and Mr Jama had an alibi for the night of the incident. Despite this, police went ahead with the prosecution and a jury found Mr Jama guilty.

"It is almost incredible that, in consequence of a minute particle . . . by some mechanism settling on a swab, slide or trolley surface, a chain of events could be started that culminated in the conviction of an individual for a crime that had never been committed by him or anyone else," Mr Vincent wrote.

Mr Vincent recommended that police and prosecutors be trained on the limitations of DNA evidence, that procedures at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine be improved, and that sealed sexual examination kits be used.

The Victorian government has adopted all the recommendations in the report.

SOURCE (Note that my Queensland Police blog is still getting frequent updates)

Australia treats adult video gamers like children

THE head of one of the world's largest computer game publishers has accused Australia of censoring video games.

Frank Gibeau, the head of interactive powerhouse EA Games, weighed into the debate on whether games in Australia should be granted an R18+ rating by writing an open letter to the Government criticising its lack of support for the adult rating.

Mr Gibeau's comments come on the eve of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, which begins today and is expected to address the R18+ Rating proposal.

Australia is one of the few Western nations in the world which doesn't have an adult rating for games and it will take a unanimous verdict by all seven state representatives to change the classification.

More than 90,000 signatures have been collected in a petition calling for an R18+ rating by game retailers EB Games, GAME and review website PAL GN and delivered to each state's Attorney-General.

Mr Gibeau said the current policy forcing developers to rewrite game code was "censorship". "Government policies that don't allow for the rating of mature content in video games effectively censor entertainment choices for adults," he said. "These policies show a poor understanding of today's video gaming audience.

"Existing legislation in Australia that limits age ratings of games to 16 demonstrates a distance between those policies and the reality of the video game industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today."

Mr Gibeau said adult consumers were entitled to be responsible for their own entertainment choices and the classification system for films had done a good job protecting children from inappropriate content. "The spectrum of gamers is as wide as the viewership of television, movies, theatre, and the readers of books," he said.

"Governments don't insist that all books be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. "Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie-goers and book readers. "Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play, including those with mature themes."

Mr Gibeau also warns the existing Australian policy towards gaming classification could also have a negative financial impact on the many talented local developers. "Policy makers should consider the environment they create for game makers," he said. "Governments that design policies hostile to game developers and their creative medium will struggle to attract investment from the global industry."


Patients forced into long waits for surgery in NSW hospitals

MORE than a third of patients waiting for semi-urgent elective surgery were not treated in time in 30 NSW hospitals, according to the latest annual figures. The list includes major hospitals such as Canterbury and Sutherland as well as country hospitals such as Coonabarabran, which only managed to treat just over half its category two elective surgery patients within the desired 90 days.

And in the Gosford emergency department, almost half of all patients with imminently life-threatening conditions were not seen by a doctor within the 10-minute target time.
my hospital

The Sun-Herald analysis of hospital performance is presented on our MyHospital website and is based on the NSW Health Services Comparison Data Book 2007/2008. The most recent quarterly figures show some hospitals have improved, but these figures are less comprehensive and do not include all hospitals or performance categories.

Doctors have warned that the hospital performance data is being manipulated and the actual figures could be far worse. In February, Dubbo Base Hospital emergency physician Antony Nocera wrote an article for the Medical Journal of Australia claiming emergency data had been manipulated since performance-based funding was introduced in the 1990s.

He highlighted examples of data manipulation in hospitals including Shellharbour, Ryde and Gosford. In Shellharbour, the hospital created four virtual beds in the emergency department to bump up performance figures.

"If you don't have true data then what you have is propaganda," Dr Nocera said last week. "What is interesting now is that you are getting reports of hospitals not performing when it is actually the true circumstances emerging because of increased surveillance of hospital data."

He pointed to a 2003 Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into claims of misrepresentation of elective surgery waiting times at five hospitals. ICAC found the guidelines were "so loose and ambiguous that they created extensive opportunities for data to be … manipulated."


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