Monday, June 18, 2012

A homosexual nobody criticizes the Salvation Army

When homosexuals have done one thousandfth of the good works that the Salvos have done I might listen to them

THE Salvation Army is facing a backlash after its online anti-homosexuality and gay marriage stance sparked a social media boycott campaign.

Gay pop star Darren Hayes - the face of '90s hit machine Savage Garden and a mentor on The Voice - has called for the boycott.

The Salvos responded last night by pointing out they helped Australia's most marginalised and needy, including gay and transgender people.

After spotting the Salvos' online statement on homosexuality, Hayes tweeted to his 60,748 followers: "Important for gay people to know the true position of the Salvation Army when considering who to donate to. Sad." He said asking people to control their sexuality was like asking someone to change their eye colour.

Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer said most of Australia's faith-based charities would be excluded from receiving donations if judged purely on Hayes' criteria.

"TSA would suggest a more appropriate measure for people to use is to look at how an organisation treats and deals with members of the community who are marginalised, vulnerable, experiencing disadvantage or oppression," he said. "On that measure, TSA is one of the most compassionate and non-discriminatory in the way it works with people who are marginalised in our community, including many who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender."

He said gay people could be officers of the church if they vowed to be celibate as well as unmarried heterosexuals. Major Harmer said a statement on its website, which described homosexuality as "unacceptable" to God and that it should be "restrained" with willpower, was its current position.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard's talking up the economy glosses over grassroots fears

By Mike O'Connor (Mike is normally a humorous writer but the lies and deceptions of the illegitimate Gillard government seem to have strained his good humour to the limit)

ASKED how they expected their family's finances to fare for the rest of the year, a third of those surveyed recently said they expected matters to get worse.

The poll, conducted by Westpac and the Melbourne Institute, found that this was the most negative outlook recorded in 22 years.

Meanwhile, at the business leaders' forum held in Brisbane, organised by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and to which only a handful of Queensland's business leaders were invited, the Prime Minister urged the "suits" to talk up the economy.

It seems it is their fault that people feel so glum about their futures.

All that is needed is for everyone to hold hands and sing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and we'll be fine.

As a result of this summit, the Prime Minister now knows that the business community is not happy about the carbon tax.

If it took a summit conference for her to establish this, we're in more trouble than most of us thought.

The conference was symptomatic of the reason so many of us feel let down, for in the end it was a stage erected for the Prime Minister's podium, one from which she could attempt to gain the support of the business community by telling them that she was listening and that a cut in company tax was back on the agenda.

Was this the same tax cut promised in Treasurer Wayne Swan's Budget, an assurance as easily broken as it was made?

Well, yes, it was but this time it will be different.  Saying it was now an "absolute priority", the Prime Minister promised the cut.

But there was a slight catch.  Someone would have to work out a way for it to somehow pay for itself so it would not affect the Budget's bottom line.

This was the equivalent of telling every wage-earner in Australia that they could have a $100-a-week pay increase as long as they could find a way that it would not cost their employer any money.

The speeches made, nothing decided and nothing gained, the stage was then dismantled and the Prime Minister and her entourage scuttled back to Canberra, leaving the rest of us sitting by the flickering light of a candle trying to read our latest electricity bill, one in which the decimal point seemed to have moved one place to the right since the same time last year.

Shielding the candle against the wind, I shuffled out to the post box to see if my household assistance grant, otherwise known as The Don't Mention The Carbon Tax Handout, had arrived.

Then I remembered that our household had been judged to be fantastically wealthy and therefore ineligible for any help in coping with the impost of the Prime Minister's carbon dioxide tax.

The only mail, however, was from my superannuation fund telling me that all the money I'd put in over the past year had disappeared.

This meant that I would have been better off taking my weekly super contribution to Eagle Farm or Doomben every Saturday and putting it on the favourite in the feature race.

Please stop telling me that Australia is the envy of the world when my retirement savings are being trashed, and don't tell me I will be cushioned against rising prices caused by the carbon tax when every rational element in my being tells me that this will not happen.

Please stop trying to buy votes by handing out bucketloads of cash to people for having babies, buying new homes or simply not earning as much money as other people when the nation plainly can't afford it, and please stop trying to split us by attempting to paint everyone who earns more than $80,000 a year as a filthy capitalist pig.  It is, believe me, extremely irritating.

Look after the abjectly poor and dispossessed but please stop institutionalising a system that in many instances penalises people who have worked hard throughout their lives while rewarding those who have done as little as possible.

Oh, yes, and a word about hypocrisy.

Last week, Treasurer Swan blasted European leaders for lacking political guts. "Put simply, what is required is some basic political courage," thundered the Treasurer.

Was this the same Swan who took one look at the Henry review into our taxation system, one which urged the Government to undertake sweeping reforms, and quickly filed it under Too Hard?

Still, one must look on the bright side. Now that Treasurer Swan has branded the euro leaders as cowards from the incredibly brave distance of 20,000km, there's little doubt they'll lift their game and solve the whole mess by the end of the week.

It was left to Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens to urge the Government to take direction from the Productivity Commission.

Is this the same commission the Government ignores because it says that the mountains of money spent by the Gillard Government as a sop to the unions in propping up doomed industries such as the car industry are an absolute waste? The same.

As Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia's chief economist told The Financial Review: "When it (the Government) doesn't want the opinions it thinks the commission will give, it doesn't ask them."

What was it that Swan said the Europeans were lacking?  Ah, yes. That's right.  Courage. Basic political courage.


Testing reveals some surprisingly good schools in poor areas

Sitting in the parliamentary press gallery in Canberra, waiting with the other vultures for Craig Thomson to make his statement to Parliament on May 21, I was surprised by the venom already being directed in the chamber. It had nothing to do with Thomson. Dr Sharman Stone, a Liberal MP, was on her feet blasting away:

"We all know that NAPLAN is a farce - it is not a sensible way to measure your children's increasing knowledge across the nation - but we already have NAPLAN indicating that there is a substantial drop in literacy, numeracy and people being able to interpret literature."

Stone's loathing of the one-size-fits-all measurements imposed on the nation's schools by the Gillard government was echoed in an open letter signed by 100 academics last month which condemned the NAPLAN tests wholesale:

"As a group we are appalled at the way in which the Commonwealth government has moved to a high stakes testing regime in the form of NAPLAN, despite international evidence that such approaches do not improve children's learning outcomes."

Farce. Appalled. These are strong terms. Then last week came a report from the Australian National Audit Office which found that the $322 million spent by the government over the past three years to lift national literacy and numeracy standards had barely made a dent.

All this raises the question: is the NAPLAN scheme just another Labor bureaucratic white elephant like the pink batts scheme, the gold-plated school building program and the billion-dollar-a-year asylum-seekers debacle?

The jury is out. Whatever flaws the NAPLAN data may have, it does tell a great deal. It confirms private schools generally outperform non-selective public schools of comparable socio-economic rank. It confirms girls schools outperform boys schools. It confirms that a school's socio-economic catchment area has a huge bearing on school performance.

Everyone already knew that - except for the NSW Teachers Federation, which prefers ideology over reality - but now the figures say it. What those NAPLAN scores and ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) indexes also reveal - and this is their point - is that the hero schools can rise above their socio-economic limitations and deliver superior academic performance that breaks the iron grip of wealth.

You don't have to be wealthy to get a good education. I've gone through the data and ranked schools by their ICSEA socio-economic scores, then cross-referenced these with their NAPLAN scores rank. I found a dozen schools which rank at least 200 places in NAPLAN results above their socio-economic rank.

Here are those schools, from modest, low socio-economic areas. Half are public and half are private:

1. Pal College Sydney School of Mathematics and Science, Cabramatta (NAPLAN scores rank 161)

2. Taree Christian College (321)

3. Moriah College, Queens Park (87)

4. Sefton High (42)

5. Barellan Central (134)

6. Tempe High (116)

7. Macquarie Fields High (86)

8. Cabramatta High (481)

9. Freeman Catholic College, Bonnyrigg (140)

10. Malek Fahd Islamic, Greenacre (48)

11. James Sheahan Catholic High, Orange (303)

12. St Ursula's College, Kingsgrove (110)

Two schools have the advantage of being partially selective, Sefton High and Tempe High, while two other state schools, Barellan Central and Macquarie Fields High, belong to centre-of-excellence programs. But all draw students from modest socio-economic areas.

Why rate a school like Cabramatta High so highly when it ranks only 481 on the NAPLAN scores? Because it ranks 758 among the 783 high schools in NSW in the ICSEA socio-economic measure. Thus it is a comprehensive school in one of the 30 poorest areas in the state but its scores ranked it 277 places above its socio-economic ranking. This is exceptional.

Another school in Cabramatta did even better, topping my list. Pal College Sydney School of Mathematics and Science is a small private school which, like Cabramatta High, has more than 90 per cent of its students from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Despite a low socio-economic score of 925, Pal College ranked 161 in NAPLAN scores, by my calculation a phenomenal 510 places above its ICSEA socio-economic rank.

Seven of these 12 schools have students who are predominantly from non-English-speaking backgrounds while an eighth, St Ursula's, has a small NESB majority, mainly Chinese. These schools - Pal College, Sefton High, Tempe High, Macquarie Fields High, Cabramatta High, Freeman Catholic, Malek Fahd and St Ursula's - are engine rooms of upward social mobility for immigrant families.

The three schools in regional NSW on this list, Taree Christian, Barellan Central, and James Sheahan Catholic, have almost no students from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

The six private schools, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, would be selected by parents with a heavy investment in their children's education, as would non-denominational Pal College.

Overall, good religious schools deliver the highest economic pay-off in delivering above-average performance. Although state selective schools, being free, are the great bargains of the education system, even they tend to match the high correlation between superior test scores and superior socio-economic ranking.

The sheer diversity of these 12 schools points to common advantage: they must all have high-quality leadership. Thus the move to give greater autonomy for headmasters at state schools, to match that of private schools, should be buttressed by the NAPLAN data because it shows schools can rise above modest circumstances.

The chairman of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, Barry McGaw, says: "Opponents of NAPLAN would deny parents and students information that sits in a bigger picture than the local school. They would deny the schools the chance to identify others from which they might usefully learn."


Australia's  'how-to guide' for people smugglers

THE Immigration Department has been accused of running a "marketing department" for people smugglers after publishing an online guide to asylum-seeker processing and fact sheets detailing free legal assistance available to arrivals.

A new section of the department's website explains the journey irregular maritime arrivals take when their boat is intercepted in Australia.

The site also explains the appeals process for rejected claims and the visa process for successful applications.

"This website contains general information for you if you arrived in Australia by boat without a visa," the department tells visitors.

The government yesterday said it was best to be proactive and distribute the facts rather than let asylum seekers be fooled by people smugglers.

But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison dubbed it a "how-to guide".   "The only thing missing from this website is a hotline to the people smugglers that they can call and an introductory video from Captain Emad," he said. "You can effectively call this ''."

Some of the information has been available on the department's website for months, but was compiled into an easy-to-use resource in recent days.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen yesterday said the information was important to counter the false promises people smugglers peddled.

"Scott Morrison would rather asylum seekers get the myths from people smugglers; these are simply the facts," the spokesman said.


21yo Aussie woman jailed in Thailand over false rape  claim

What stupid woman!  The Thais have been extraordinarily lenient in sentencing her to only 15 days.  Even in Britain she would probably have got years

A 21-year-old Sydney woman has been sentenced to 15 days jail in Phuket for falsely accusing a local taxi driver of assaulting her.

The woman, whose name has not been released, told Thai police she was the victim of an assault early on Sunday on the resort island and that two other Thai men restrained her during the attack.

The report, confirmed by Phuket Provincial Court sources, said the woman initially told the officers she become separated from her boyfriend in a nightclub area of Patong early on Sunday morning.

She said she was taking a taxi back to her resort when the driver picked up two other men.  She alleged he then drove to a secluded area and assaulted her while the other men held her down. Afterwards, they took her passport and cash.

However, Phuket police said they interviewed the women over two days before she confessed to fabricating the story after security camera footage revealed she had been safely taken back to her resort by a motor bike taxi driver.  After confessing to giving false evidence the woman was detained and held in a local cell.

Deputy Superintendent of the Phuket Kathu district Police station, Colonel Sermphan Sirikong, told a local newspaper the allegations had the potential to harm Phuket's reputation as a holiday destination.  "It's sad that tourists have to lie about this kind of thing," Col Sermphan said. "It could damage Phuket's tourism industry."

The woman faced the court today in the company of Australian consular officials.


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