Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two high school students take on teacher over climate and win standing ovation

A reader Russell writes in to tell me his Year 9 son Jordan and his friend, Tom, took on their teacher’s sacred belief in man-made global warming. Given no warning, and called insulting names in front of the class, they took up the challenge with gusto and stayed up til 1am that night to put the presentation together. Not surprisingly the teacher tried to pull out the next day, but the class would not let her.

One of the slides quotes Al Gore mocking “the tiny minority”, like the ones “who still believe that the moon landing was faked…”. Then it shows and quotes four Apollo Astronauts and Burt Rutan (the first private astronaut):

"The other week at school my eldest son (15) was challenged by his teacher to present to the class why he is a ”climate change denier”. He had to do this presentation the next day.

At the start of his class the next day he advised the teacher he was ready.  She told him she wasn’t interested now, maybe another day. His classmates started heckling her saying ”You Chicken Miss”. She eventually agreed and got another teacher to sit in as well. Before my son spoke she showed the class the promo to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. After his presentation the class gave him a standing ovation. There is a lot more to this story, the above overview sort of explains what occurred.

To start his talk he read out five quotes from the ”US Senate Minority Report” below, then his power point. She made him stop the Prof Carter video 3min into it, the Prof Ball podcast about 5min in and let the class watch the other 10min video all the way through."

May there be a thousand young rebels following in their footsteps, says Jo.

Russell explained his son and friends get a hard time at school, though it seems, give their teachers a pretty hard time in return:

“…They [the boys] question everything they being taught and who’s the messenger. They know the truth about  AGW, Sustainable Development, UNESCO,OECD, over population, open borders, media, communism, politics, the list goes on. One his mates sent the 10min video ”Agenda 21 for Dummies” reply all on the schools email, even the teachers received the link.”

“… there is some history with the boys and this teacher, she is a true socialist. One example of this is she told Jordan ‘His opinion is irrelevant, and only when you become an adult people will listen to what you have to say. Shut up, I am the TEACHER and you’re here to learn.’

I expect the teacher in question will not forget this lesson (though possibly she will interpret her mistake as being to let students speak).

Russell says that skepticism is alive and well in teenagers, despite them being raised on the climate dogma:

“Children are waking up to this hoax. I know of at least 50 kids in year 9 that realise this. I coach an under 15 rugby team and all 20 of them don’t believe in AGW, plus his large group of friends that attend different high schools in the area.

Sustainable Development has overtaken AGW. AGW is still pushed in the classroom but SD is across every subject.’


Australian Greens ignore Israel's rights

The Green party is full of old Commos and Trots  -- JR

WHEN Norman Finkelstein, an icon of the anti-Israel movement, blasted the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as a "duplicitous, disingenuous cult", his words were met with a great sense of betrayal among the campaign's adherents. After all, Finkelstein was once revered as a veteran campaigner who, among many other things, called Israel a "satanic state".

Finkelstein had experienced no great awakening. At the centre of his disassociation with the BDS movement, which has hijacked the Palestinian cause, is what he calls a "deliberate ambiguity" on Israel's basic right to exist. In Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, Australia has its own longstanding supporter of the anti-Israel movement. Unfortunately, the leaders of BDS in Australia have yet to heed Finkelstein's advice to be open about their aims and to cease their selective application of international law.

During a typically vitriolic and hateful speech in the Senate earlier this month, Rhiannon urged Australia "to cease military co-operation and trade with Israel ... as a small but significant step". In a new and bizarre line of attack, Rhiannon justifies this call on the basis that Israel perpetuates war and conflict to battle-test its weapons for "public marketing by the Israeli arms industry" as a means of boosting its sale of weapons to countries like Australia.

In her latest allegations, one detects a near pathological aversion to the Jewish state. As one would expect from Rhiannon, nowhere does she recognise that Israel has a very real and genuine need to defend itself. Nor does she entertain the idea that the Israeli army could have any legitimate defence function whatsoever.

To be sure, Israel exists only because it has defended itself from three invasions, two intifada, Iranian proxy campaigns, numerous border incursions, and the constant threat of war from enemies who do not bother to veil their desires to destroy Israel in the misappropriated language of human rights. This is the function of the Israeli army.

While presented as a pacifist's rebuke to militarism, Rhiannon's argument is steeped in double standards. If she opposes militarism in all its forms, why is Israel the only country with which Australia should sever military ties? If indeed her message is one of peace and demilitarisation, one could have expected her to start by calling for the disarming of a state less vulnerable than Israel.

There is also an uncomfortable inconsistency between Rhiannon's assault on Israel's means of defence and her history of support for the Soviet Union, which built and maintained an empire through force and coercion and whose arms exports had a uniquely deleterious impact on the world, not least in the Middle East. In the 1980s, shortly after Rhiannon led solidarity delegations to the Soviet Union, Moscow was responsible for 34 per cent of the world's arms trade, and supplied such states as Libya, Syria and Iraq. This is precisely the sort of hypocrisy to which Finkelstein refers.

While the anti-Israel movement goes to great lengths to demonstrate that its hatred of the Jewish state should not be mistaken for a hatred of the Jewish people, it is deeply troubling that Rhiannon's latest assault casts the Jewish state in a historically dubious and familiar light. The image of the Jew as a war profiteer, conspirator and driven solely by money is steeped in anti-Jewish tradition and it is alarming that such accusations have now been evoked and transferred to the Jewish collective, the state of Israel. Senator Rhiannon and her peers in the anti-Israel movement should recognise that advancing Palestinian rights does not need the denial of Israel's right to exist as a national home for the Jewish people.


The unspoken truth about marriage and kids

 Bettina Arndt

Couples should not have children if their relationship is not stable enough to merit getting married, a British High Court judge said last week.

Sir Paul Coleridge, speaking out before retirement from a long family law career, challenged the common notion that it makes no difference whether parents cohabit or marry. "One [arrangement] tends to last and the other doesn't," he said, quoting Marriage Foundation research suggesting children with unmarried parents were twice as likely to suffer a family break-up as those with married parents. The proportion of children born to unmarried parents in Britain reached a record 47.5 per cent last year.

Children in cohabiting families lag behind children with married parents in overall socio-emotional and general development.

When a British authority figure dares to give voice to concerns about this crucial social issue, it makes news because it is so rare. Here in Australia, too, there is deathly silence from our leaders - politicians, social scientists, the clergy, judges - about the increasing casualisation of relationships involving children.

Yet talk to people working with disadvantaged communities and you hear a very different story. They witness the effects on children of being raised in unstable relationships - effects well documented in Australia.

Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, Lixia Qu and Ruth Weston, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, found young families with cohabiting parents were nearly three times more likely to break up than married families. The same researchers showed children in cohabiting families lag behind children with married parents in overall socio-emotional and general development, show poorer learning, more behavioural problems and experience poorer parenting.

Contrary to expectations, it has turned out that children don't provide the glue to keep cohabiting parents together. Marriage - often dismissed as just a piece of paper - does make a difference.

This year, the "Knot Yet" report on changing marriage patterns, by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, examined why this was so and suggested the answer may lie in the decision-making process.

Most people marry after a process of discovering mutual commitment to long-term goals. That's often lacking in cohabiting relationships where couples move in together sometimes because a lease runs out, or they are seeking cheaper rent, or it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Families that evolve from these non-decisions are, unsurprisingly, far less stable. The non-decisions apply also to child-bearing - the Brookings report notes the high incidence of unplanned pregnancy in these arrangements, with half of births to unmarried 20-something women "unintended".

The result, according to the report, is a growing social divide, with well-educated people still tending to marry and then have children, while lower socio-economic groups are more likely to have children in de facto relationships. These children often end up in single-parent families. This emerging difference in marriage patterns is adding to the gap between the haves and have-nots, increasing social disadvantage.

Of course there are de facto couples with lasting relationships and thriving children, but the broader patterns tell a different story - just as the 90-year-old who smokes has no bearing on the link between cigarettes and health risks.

Pope Francis recently announced he was surveying all Catholics about family life. His questionnaire, which seeks response from clergy, Catholic organisations and parishioners, expresses concern about social changes, including "the widespread practice of cohabitation", and asks about the prevalence of such couples in Catholic communities and problems with pastoral care in these circumstances.

Responses will be interesting, given that 40 years ago clergy readily spoke out about the benefits of marriage, whereas these days few dare raise the "M" question for fear of ostracising their shrinking pool of parishioners and attracting unfavourable media attention.

The media is part of the problem, given in their number are more than a fair share of cohabiting couples. For instance, the ABC is full of well-educated presenters and producers bucking social trends by successfully raising children in stable de facto relationships or single-parent families. They naturally resist any public discussion of their choices.

One example is Richard Glover, from ABC Sydney, who boasts of his long-lasting de facto relationship. He has publicly taken issue with my reporting of research on this subject. "Do our children miss out on anything?" he wrote. "Well, yes, Bettina … Principally, I think, they miss out on vases," he said, of his family's lack of expensive crystal vases commonly given as wedding presents.

Public discussion of this important social trend is discouraged by media players who won't acknowledge that their preferred lifestyle choices have very different consequences on the other side of the social divide - yet the impact on kids of the casualisation of family relations is no laughing matter.


Good ol' Fred  -- Fred lives his beliefs

If the headlines marking their wedding were to say, simply, "Man marries woman," it might please the Reverend Fred Nile and his bride Silvana Nero, and it might please their Lord.

The couple were perhaps less pleased when, across the road from their nuptials on Sunday, a small group staged a protest ceremony for which the headline might read: "Man marries man-in-drag."

Here's a man, 70-something years old, marrying a woman of 55. Are they really going to procreate?

In this mock marriage, bottle blond Brae Michaels married bottle blonde Viva la Bang. She was radiant in a traditional white gown, if not as dazzling as Nile's younger bride, 55-year-old Nero, who wore an embroidered white dress.

Nile, the 79-year-old groom and Christian Democrat MP, came with subtle blond streaks in his hair. Only last month he declared he would celebrate the "victory" of his stand against gay marriage - and his part in the defeat of a bill in the NSW upper house that might have allowed it - with his own wedding.

He welled up with tears as Nero approached the altar of St Thomas' Anglican Church in North Sydney, where guests included O'Farrell government ministers Mike Baird, Greg Smith and Duncan Gay and Labor's Luke Foley and Walt Secord, while the best man was upper house Liberal MP David Clarke.

The bridal procession had been preceded by the blowing of the shofar, biblical instruments honed from the horns of rams or other kosher animals. The protesters refrained, for now, from using their loudhailer. It would have been of no use against the crescendo of organ, trumpets, bagpipes, drums, the South Pacific Island Choir and rousing renditions of Shania Twain and Michael Buble songs that provided the soundtrack to Nile's second wedding.

The celebrant Reverend Simon Manchester said it was important to Nile to have his family's support. Two of his sons, David and Mark, did attend. But another son Steve and daughter Sharon chose not to.

In June, one of Nile's children revealed they were "hurt and angry" he was remarrying so soon after his 53-year marriage to Elaine ended with her death from cancer in October 2011. Four months later, Nile saw Nero at a Christian Democratic Party meeting.

It was "love at first sight", he said then. He acknowledged "friction" with his children but said Elaine had wanted him to find a new wife. And he said Nero did not want to take their mother's place and would retain her surname.

"She will not become the new Mrs Nile," he said, and gushed about her "beautiful legs" and how "ravishing" she looked for their first date at a Monarchist League lunch.

On Sunday, the celebrant noted Nelson Mandela remarried in his 80s, making Nile a "youngster in his 70s". After exchanging vows, the youngster kissed his bride with such prolonged enthusiasm that Nero used a hanky to remove the lipstick smudge on his lips.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent them a message: "Marriage is about walking the same path together. It is a profound, rich and fulfilling journey that should draw out the better angels of our nature."

Viva la Bang would agree. She said Nile's "point of being against gay marriage is because the Bible says it's between a man and a woman for the means of procreation".

"Yet's here's a man, 70-something years old, marrying a woman of 55. Are they really going to procreate? So if they can get married, why can't we?"

As the wedding party emerged, the protesters resorted to the loudhailer: "Divorce the church from the state/Love is equal, don't preach hate." A woman returned fire with blasts from the shofar.

"I feel like going over there to thump one of them," a wedding guest said. A man wearing a magenta jacket that would have blended just as well on the other side of the street, said: "Stupid people. It's a federal issue, not state. And it's his wedding day … They're dicks."


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