Thursday, May 09, 2013

Homosexuality critic for the Senate?

A TOOWOOMBA doctor who has compared gay surrogacy to the Stolen Generations and claims "a gay person can stop being gay" has survived the LNP's vetting process and will stand as a candidate for Barnaby Joyce's Senate spot.

Dr David van Gend is among a dozen candidates who were yesterday named by the party as possible replacements for Mr Joyce, who will resign to contest the NSW Lower House seat of New England. Mr Joyce's replacement will be selected by the party's state council on May 25 in Mackay.

Former LNP treasurer Barry O'Sullivan has also officially entered the race, which has left some party members unimpressed.

But Dr van Gend - who was vetted by the party's "applicant review committee" over the weekend - could prove to be the more controversial candidate.

In June 2011, he wrote a column for The Courier-Mail comparing the Stolen Generations with what he called the "'gay stolen generation' of children forcibly deprived of a mother".  "The offence is the same; only the justification changes," he wrote.

"This time round the justification for separating a baby from the love of its mother is that it meets the emotional needs of homosexual men."

On March 20, Dr van Gend reiterated, via Twitter, his belief in the comparison and implied a national apology for gay surrogacy was needed.

"3 ways to force a child from her mother: #StolenGenerations; #ForcedAdoption and #GaySurrogacy by two men; a #NationalApology for only 2," he tweeted.

He has also written that "a black person cannot stop being black, but a gay person can stop being gay".

"Homosexual people are able, where motivated, to modify unwanted homosexual attractions and even achieve complete transformation to a heterosexual orientation, as documented in peer-reviewed clinical papers, such as that published by American psychiatrist Robert Spitzer in 2003," he wrote.

Other candidates running for Mr Joyce's senate position include former NSW MP Larry Anthony and Western Downs mayor Ray Brown.

Dr van Gend did not return calls for comment last night.


Qld. Attorney-General takes fun out of youth detention centres

BUCKING bulls, jumping castles and scuba diving lessons have been scrapped at youth detention centres in a bid to take the fun out of being locked up.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has revealed he has no problem being the fun police and said even more perks for juvenile offenders could be chopped.

Mr Bleijie has asked the Justice Department for a brief on initiatives implemented to "strengthen operations" at the state's two detention centres and scope for further cuts.

Mr Bleijie said statistics showed that 30 per cent of young offenders had been in detention five times or more.  "It's not a holiday camp," he said.

The hard line follows The Courier-Mail yesterday reporting that Mr Bleijie was considering plans to force juvenile offenders to make amends to their victims.

While stakeholders were not highly critical of this, they rejected plans to remove the principle of detention as last resort.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O'Gorman yesterday challenged Mr Bleijie to provide evidence that youth crime was out of control in the community.

"The President of the Childrens Court's latest report shows a 20 per cent decrease in children appearing," he said.

Mr O'Gorman said Mr Bleijie was dealing with the lives and the future of youth, and should make policies based on evidence.

Mr Bleijie said youth crime was "not going away".  "Ultimately, we want to change the culture of youth crime and reduce the number of repeat offenders," he said.

"The same report (referred to by Mr O'Gorman) shows there has been a 9.7 per cent increase in the number of offences being committed."

Youth Affairs Network of Queensland director Siyavash Doostkhah said the plan could send more youths to detention at a time when money was tight.

It costs $660 a day to house a person in a youth detention centre. As of yesterday, there were 179 young offenders in youth detention centres - 124 in Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and 55 in Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.

Mr Bleijie said if the principle of detention as a last resort were changed, it could allow courts to consider a broader range of options when sentencing young offenders.


Australia's swamps not up to snuff, according to Greenies

Murray-Darling Basin lakes and the Coorong lagoons in South Australia would be deemed critically endangered under a new global system to rank the conservation status of ecosystems in the same way as threatened species.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE on Thursday, a team of international scientists will outline the proposed system, which would act as a companion to the global "red list" of threatened species managed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Under the new system, conservation ratings would be given to ecosystems - a collection of plants and animals that exist in an area of land or water that interact - from critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened and least concern.

Instead of deeming an ecosystem extinct, as in an animal, they would instead be classified "collapsed". Examples of ecosystems include coral reefs, forests and lakes.

The team studied 20 ecosystems around the world to test the ecosystem red list. Eight were in Australia, including the Coorong lagoons, the swamps, marshes and lakes of the Murray-Darling Basin, and coolibah-black box woodlands.

The researchers found one collapsed ecosystem among the 20 studied - the Aral Sea, in Central Asia. Once one of the largest lakes in the world, the Aral Sea was drained for irrigation in the 1960s and has since nearly disappeared

In Australia, the Coorong lagoons, near the mouth of the Murray, were found to be critically endangered.

Professor David Keith, of the University of NSW, a lead author of the paper, said the Coorong scored the rating because of the pace of fish species and vegetation decline, along with a rise in salinity, during the millennium drought between 2000 and 2010.

He said heavy rains in recent years had given Australia a second chance to better manage the lagoons.

The lakes, swamps and marshes of the Murray-Darling were deemed endangered to critically endangered, while coolibah-black box woodlands were classified endangered.

Professor Keith said the new ranking system was important because not enough was known about most of the world's plant and animal species. "Globally, only 3 per cent of species have so far been assessed for their status; we don't know much about the remainder yet," he said.

"What the ecosystem assessment does is step back to a more general assessment that includes some consideration of all the species that are components of those systems.  "So it is a more general way of casting the net across a much wider set of biodiversity and the species that make up an ecosystem."


Spiralling healthcare costs are the parasite feeding on the economy

A similar sound can be heard in Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, London and throughout the eurozone - the thrum of government printing presses as central banks try to print, print, print their governments out of political trouble. Australia is not immune to this rising global tide, so borrowing here is cheap, stock prices are rising and real estate is rebounding.

Yet Australian consumers remain cautious amid all the cheap money, because households are being smarter than their federal government.

On the eve of the Swansong federal budget, expect reminders about what Treasurer Wayne Swan promised when he introduced last year's federal budget: "In an uncertain and fast-changing world, we walk tall as a nation confidently living within its means. This budget delivers a surplus this coming year, on time, as promised, and surpluses each year after that, strengthening over time … The deficit years of the global recession are behind us. The surplus years are here."

This sounded dubious on the night and has proved to be delusional. Electorates do not like bombast, delusion and wishful thinking from governments (except in France, where they demand it), so the mute button seems to have been applied by millions of Australians to the utterances of Swan and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. People do not trust spendthrift politicians for guidance about what this rising ocean of cheap money means. My top preferred option is someone who has created $270 billion in market value: Warren Buffett.

He recently had plenty to say about all this cheap money during an interview with US financial channel CNBC.

"Throughout the world, decisions are being made on the basis that money is free," he said. "There is going to be a problem when they [central banks] unwind [the money printing] … How extreme it gets, I don't know. It will be the biggest economic event we've seen in a long time."

In other words, we are in bubble territory. Again.

He is especially askance at fixed-term deposits at a time of rampant money-printing.  "Interest rates are to investments like gravity is to physics," he said. "Everything goes off interest rates … The dumbest investment is a long-term government bond.".

So buying bonds with an interest rate of virtually zero is a fool's game. Speaking of fools, Buffett does not buy the nonsense coming out of western Europe that the eurozone has touched bottom.

"They still haven't worked out a sustainable system for the Euro," he said. "The inconsistency of fiscal policies of [governments] who are tying themselves to a common monetary unit [the Euro] has to be solved. And we haven't got there."

This bespeaks fundamental change. Either the eurozone has to be broken up, or democracy as it is commonly understood in Europe has to be replaced by a super-government in Brussels. Either outcome will be a political earthquake. Structural changes are coming in the major economies that will be a disaster for politicians on the wrong side of these changes.

Buffett says he will not be deterred by noise and tumult, even if it gets very tumultuous (as it will in France). He offers the calm of the long view.

"I bought my first stock when we were losing the war in the Pacific," he said. "Since then, the Dow [Jones Industrial Average] has gone from 92 to 14,000. And headlines were terrible but we have such a strong country we will overcome what 535 people [in Congress] do over time."

He feels similarly sanguine about western Europe, in the long-term, after a period of pain.

"I'm always positive about the economy in the long-range," he said. "In my lifetime, there has been a sixfold growth in [US] GDP [gross domestic product]. You have millions and millions of people trying to figure out how to make their lives better tomorrow. They create companies."

Note his use of the term "companies", not bureaucracies.

Buffett believes the greatest single threat to budget stability in the US is the rise in healthcare spending and liabilities, which is exactly the same great financial challenge facing Australian governments.

"If you go back to 1970, there were six leading economies in the world and healthcare [costs] were 5.5 per cent of GDP," he said. "Now the US is at 17 per cent and nobody else is above 11 per cent. So that is a 6 per cent of GDP cost we are bearing that our competitors are not … This is the tapeworm in the American economy."

Ouch. The same parasite is at work here, where real healthcare spending has blown out by more than 50 per cent over the past decade and multibillion-dollar obligations are being added by the Gillard government, to be funded by … fairy dust.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"a black person cannot stop being black, but a gay person can stop being gay"

Good slogan for Westboro Baptist Church, but that's about as clever as it gets. I can promise you one truth: more people "turn Gay" than go the other way in later years. I don't know why, maybe its the result of a more permissive culture, or just having had no luck with the women/men in their lives, or maybe they always just wanted to but never could in their youth, or maybe its too much soy in the diet, or not enough Jesus. I know Gay men who married women and have children, I observed a male/female couple many years ago who remained together and in love even though he upped and had a full sex change late in life. An ex-army guy in a dress and makeup (no irony) beat up on a musician friend of mine who tried to have a go at him one night. Point to me is, people peddling "cures" for complex human behaviours are generally peddling snake-oil. Whether it be sexual choices and behaviours, drug/alcohol/tobacco/gambling or any other foible or vice you care to name, the only "cure" is to stop doing it. Everyone has the power to do that already. That they don't is something called life. If only humans would keep things plain and simple.

Robert Spitzer is an interesting Google. His recent years seem to have mellowed his perspectives quite a lot. Peer review is one thing, but when most of the peers call your paper crap, while I guess that's still "peer review".