Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another aggressive Muslim -- threatens woman

But now he's whining

A PERTH doctor will find out tomorrow if he becomes the first person in WA to have his vehicle permanently confiscated under road rage legislation. Ala’A Mohammed Ali Al Rammahi, 44, of Noranda, was fined $1000 and has his licence suspended for nine months after pleading guilty to reckless driving in September.

The GP drove his Alfa Romeo through a roundabout in March as he attempted to overtake a woman with her two children in the car.

The woman feared a collision and sounded her horn, prompting the doctor to chase her for several kilometres. She drove at high speed trying to lose her pursuer and at one point ran a red light. The woman drove past an unmarked police car and the doctor cut in front of the vehicle, almost causing a collision.

Police alleged he then approached the woman in a threatening and aggressive manner when all three vehicles came to a halt. His vehicle was impounded for 28 days.

In giving evidence at Perth Magistrates’ Court today, the doctor said he was suffering financial hardship and his two medical practices were not making any money. “I haven’t been paid since the (last) medical centre opened in April,” he said.

The court heard that payments on the Alfa Romeo, which the GP estimated to be worth $17000 to $20,0000, were in arrears although he was expected to have the estimated $6700 owing on the car paid off by March next year.

The doctor said he now has to rely on taxis to get to and from work and has had to cancel home visits. He said his wife had given up her university course to help him commute but she was now overseas.


Another bungled Greenie scheme in Qld.

THE State Government has been accused of a pink-batts-style subsidy debacle after hundreds of solar hot water system installations were found to be defective and even dangerous.

More than 400 systems funded by the Government's solar hot water rebate scheme were found to be faulty or illegally installed on the Gold Coast alone, with hundreds more discovered in Brisbane.

Faults include a failure to install temper valves, which prevent people being scalded, and the use of plastic pipes instead of copper. Some systems have been installed by people with no proper qualifications.

The Gold Coast City Council said the large number of defective solar systems was "nothing short of alarming".

A spokesman said the Government had been warned the systems should be inspected before the rebates were paid but this had been ignored.

He said it had echoes of the Federal Government's controversial pink batts roof insulation scheme, where widespread dodgy installations led to several deaths.

Gold Coast City Council planning committee chairman Ted Shepherd said more than a third of the 1080 rebate-funded solar hot water systems installed on the Coast were found by council inspectors to be defective or installed by unlicensed or unqulaified plumbers. "The 430 breaches are nothing short of alarming," he said.


Fisheries need to be protected -- sensibly

That very statement is going to land me in hot water with thousands of Australian recreational anglers, whose pasttime, and in some cases livelihood, is under genuine threat from the implementation of marine sanctuaries and no-fishing zones around the country.

I say it, though, to make it known right off the bat that I am an environmentalist, and have been a Greens voter in the past. You won’t find many anglers who believe that protecting our oceans isn’t crucial, and it is in this sense the truth has been lost in an ongoing heated debate.

The ‘us and them’ battle for access to fishing spots has painted us bloodthirsty murderers and the Marine Parks Authority as knights in shining green armour.

In reality, anglers are generally far more passionate and environmentally conscious than most of the people I meet; the types of people who sternly remind me of the dire situation our oceans are in while munching on their tuna sushi rolls or fish and chips.

Let it be known: most recreational anglers want marine parks. What we don’t want is marine parks in their current form.

For God’s sake, hand down tighter bag limits and bracketed size limits to protect large breeding fish. Please, create no-take zones like those so effective in our native freshwater fisheries during important spawning times for demersal species. By all means, implement catch-and-release-only zones and lure-fishing only zones in some areas.

Ban the use of stainless steel hooks and make lead sinkers things of the past. Limit and strictly monitor commercial quotas even further. Get more Fisheries officers out on the water to enforce the rational rules that, in many cases, are already in place.

Make sense? Of course, but such practical measures for protecting our recreational fisheries also sound like a lot of work, planning, money, communication and genuine scientific research. Wouldn’t it be easier to just cordon off massive sections of known fish-holding areas and slap a blanket ban on all forms of fishing in them? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you marine parks as they currently exist.

News flash: fish swim, a lot.

Like us, their movement is often motivated by the availability of food and sex, but other factors we can’t relate to as much, including tide, moon phase, barometric pressure and water temperature/quality play their part, too. Closures and restrictions relating to recreational angling should take the mobility of fish and the seasonal and biological factors that influence it into account.

I know the thought of a huge area of protected happy fish warms the cockles of the heart, but there are more practical measures to take that will probably do our fisheries more good while being fair to those that love getting out on the water and wetting a line.

I do not feel comfortable with the fate of my access to my favourite fisheries resting in the hands of environmentalist groups whose very methods of research and implementation betray they have never held a fishing rod in their lives.

The dark days of full iceboxes of slaughtered fish and trophy weigh-ins are in the past. Catch-and-release is sweeping recreational fishing and more anglers than you’d think are extremely conscious of their impact.

The bad eggs remain, and bloodthirsty redneck anglers are still, unfortunately, out there. Know though that they do not represent a majority of fishing Aussies, most of whom are only disgruntled about the management of our fisheries and marine parks because they are not being involved in the process.

The moral high ground of “the better interest of our fisheries and planet” that the marine parks advocates like to claim in their defence of no-take reserves shrinks to the size of an anchovy if you take the time to actually discuss the issue with an informed recreational angler.


Bible study opens door to mastering literature

David Hastie

In this yuletide Tony Abbott went on record again as regarding the Bible as essential for all Australian schools. "It is important for people to leave school with some understanding of the Bible," he responded to a question from the floor at his Penrith community forum on November 29. "It is impossible to imagine our society without the influence of Christendom."

Abbott stated a similar position in December 2009, drawing the ire of ACT Labor Senator Kate Lundy, prominent Muslim academic Ameer Ali and Australian Education Union federal president, Angelo Gavrielatos, who stated: " ultimately we consider it a private matter for parents and their children". Is it?

In my role as an English and history teacher, rather than as a person of faith, I am convinced we disadvantage our public school students by not acquainting them with the meta-structures, motifs and moral queries of the Abrahamic scriptures. And I am not alone.

Cantankerous atheist Christopher Hitchens declared in 2006: "You are not educated if you don't know the Bible. You can't read Shakespeare or Milton without it . . . And with the schools now, that's what I hate about secular relativism. They're afraid of insurance liability. They don't even teach it as a document. They stay out of the whole thing to avoid controversy."

Indeed, when studying literature, children now in Australian faith-based schools (about 32 per cent of total enrolments, and much higher in senior secondary) enjoy a significant advantage over their state-school peers. Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dickens, Bronte (both), George Eliot, Hopkins, Hardy, T.S.Eliot, Steinbeck, Beckett, Yeats, Plath, Golding, Attwood and many, many others, require more than a passing knowledge of the Abrahamic Old and New Testaments.

The necessary time taken to induct students unfamiliar with them when studying literature is time saved in faith-based schools.

And it's not just Western texts: post-colonial writers such as Rushdie, Allende, Marquez, Neruda and lots more are infused with biblical material. Emerging Australian "canons" - Hart, Murray, Winton, Harwood, Dawe, Keneally and so forth - are also littered with biblical plot lines and motifs. With the shift of the New Australian English Curriculum back to a more "canonical" approach to teaching literature, this inequity is only set to intensify.

Similarly in teaching history, ancient religion is extra weird for students who can't access the language and categories of our own Western (even secular) religiosity.

So too medieval and renaissance history, the Elizabethan era, the English republic, the Reformation, the post-Christian Enlightenment, the American and French revolutions, anti-slavery movements, Darwin, American civil rights, Australian stolen generations, and political language of the Cold War. These are all intrinsically informed by explanations, motivations and the language of the Bible. The same could be equally said for the study of film, visual art and music.

British educationalist John Hull describes the phenomena of "bafflement" in adolescents: suddenly realising their lived experience contradicts their education. If an institution continues to dogmatically hold the line in such matters, students develop what he terms "learning sickness" or "ideological enclosure", ultimately rejecting what they have learned, along with its institutional context.

Ironically, he was describing fundamentalist religious schools, yet his critique applies to much of Australian state education where religion is concerned, effectively excised from curriculum as a "non-topic". Hence, the master-originating Urtext of the Bible is treated as the "untext".

Yet students continually stumble across it in their novels and history lessons, in their homes, in public debate, in geopolitics, in the playground, and become baffled by the contradiction.

Certainly, religious proselytising is inappropriate through the state curriculum: parents thus inclined can send their child to a faith-based school. But vital cultural knowledge is vital to the universal "public guarantee".

Narratives and motifs of Abrahamic scriptures form a vitally significant mythic text for Western civilisation, and are also important for Jewish and Islamic civilisations.

After all, curriculum is always about what is deemed as important. Existing Australian English curricula, and the New Australian English Curriculum, for example, rightly regard Aboriginal spirituality as nationally important. Indigenous dreaming stories are thus mandated and studied as "canonical" texts.

Yet, even though these are obviously religious in character, they are clearly not to be treated as "religious tracts", but rather as significant cultural texts.

Why should we not also endow our children with understanding of Western literary and historical heritage in the Abrahamic Old and New Testaments?

Abbott may be regarded as the mad monk, but in the case of the Bible in schools, there's certainly method in him, particularly considering the vast amount of Australians vaguely sentimental about Christianity, or Christmas, or voting.


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