Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Climate alarmists are overlooking scientific facts
Some letters to the editor below that appeared in "The Australian" on 27th
ALARMISTS such as Fred Cehak and Chris Roylance (Letters, 26/9) criticise acclaimed scientists such as Dan Wood and Steven Koonin for their sceptical views, yet continue to peddle the fiction that the “science is settled” in the climate debate.
Those aboard the ship stuck in Antarctic ice early this year believed their own shoddy science that said the poles were melting. Today, the Antarctic ice sheet is at an all-time record high, and Arctic ice is now refreezing as normal.
The junk models used by the alarmists to frighten the world are in a state of disarray as more than 50 excuses are circulating trying to explain, unsuccessfully, the 17-year halt to global warming, even with rising carbon dioxide emissions.
Despite its shortcomings, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared there is no relationship between emissions and hurricanes, Atlantic storms, drought and wildfires, and any other catastrophe served up as fact by the alarmists, whose arguments are always based on appeals to authority rather than the tenets of true science as embraced by sceptics.
G. M. Derrick, Sherwood, Qld
THE informative and balanced article by Steven Koonin (“A degree of uncertainty”, 23/9) brings me to the following conclusion. Much of the vast sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on researching and controlling man-made climate change should be directed to researching the magnitude and causes of natural climate change.
We would all then be in a better position to determine how significant is man-made climate change in comparison to natural climate change, and develop appropriate policy.
Charles Stanger, Manuka, ACT
FRED Cehak criticises those who doubt the accuracy of climate models and says the majority of scientists support the views of the IPCC. Yet doesn’t the IPCC’s fifth assessment report state that the rate of warming over the past 15 years, a 20th of a degree per decade, is smaller than the trend since 1951, an eighth of a degree per decade? This despite an unabated increase in the alleged driver, atmospheric carbon dioxide. Surely that’s justification for critical review of some of the more alarming predictions.
And we never see any criticism from Cehak or others of the failed predictions by Tim Flannery that Sydney and Brisbane’s dams would now be dry never to fill again, or of the equally ludicrous suggestion by Greens leader Christine Milne that repeal of the Renewable Energy Target would lead to only a billion people being left alive by 2100.
Peter Troy, Kingston, Tas
That ABC show is Questionable & Adversarial
A DANGEROUS parallel universe now exists alongside the reality of what the Police Commissioner calls the “clear and present threat” of homegrown Islamic terrorism.
This sham reality has been constructed by the “progressive” Left-leaning establishment of academics, politicians, journalists, media organisations and activists who have inexplicably joined forces with Islamic ideologues to downplay the threat, undermine our security and accuse those trying to keep us safe of Islamophobia and fearmongering.
In their eyes, the terror raids last week were suspiciously timed to distract from the Abbott government’s troubles and somehow to justify sending troops to the Middle East to help Iraq confront the Islamic State.
In politicising a security issue, they are wilfully deaf, dumb and blind to the assessments of those who actually are privy to the intelligence which led to last week’s terror raids.
“Let me tell you that matter that we dealt with last week was well past being a thought bubble,” NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione tells me.
“There was a clear and present threat that was very soon to be delivered. We know in Queensland only the week before, again, a matter of days before it was to be delivered.
“… It’s such a difficult call that the experts in the counterterrorism command area have to make.
“It’s a matter of waiting to get as much evidence as possible but ensuring that nothing happens. And we will always err on the side of going a little bit early because … if that attack that was planned last week had been successful. this nation’s history would have changed forever.”
That’s the reality which the tinfoil hat crowd deny, on the basis of zero evidence.
They ignore Monday’s order by Islamic State extremists to their supporters to kill Australians in whatever way they can.
For a view into the belly of this tinfoil beast, go no further than Monday night’s Q & A on ABC-TV. It distilled every delusion and pernicious idea about Muslim victimhood into one hour of dangerous insanity.
Western imperialism is to blame. Israel is to blame. “Team Australia” is to blame.
Two belligerent Muslim women controlled the conversation: sociologist and Islamophobia specialist Randa Abdel-Fattah and Anne Azza Aly, a social science research fellow at Curtin University, who was billed by the ABC as a “terrorism expert”.
Fattah claimed the terror raids were like an NCIS episode, “whipping people up into a frenzy of hysteria of war fever”.
“(They) reinforced this wider narrative of Muslims as criminals,” she said.
Then, after being the font of all wisdom for 50 minutes, Fattah said it was too complex to explain why Iraq asked for Australia’s help to stop Islamic State beheading, crucifying and raping its citizens.
“I’m not an expert because I’m too busy battling Islamophobia,” she said.
Aly, meanwhile, described terrorism as “theatre”.
Fellow panellist and Greens MP Scott Ludlam agreed the timing of the raids was an “amazing coincidence” and the terror threat was a beat-up hatched by “tabloid papers” which are “hurling fear” at people.
“Divisiveness” and fear is what terrorism is all about, he said, that “corroding and undermining of the underpinnings of society”.
Silly you if you thought terrorism was about chopping off heads and blowing up people.
Mark Dreyfus, Julia Gillard’s former attorney general, accused the government of “overstating” the jihadist threat,
Justice Minister Michael Keenan did a valiant job rebutting the nonsense but he was outnumbered five to one, and his most effective opponent was the host.
Tony Jones cut across Keenan, allowed guests to badger and interrupt him, and at one stage made the most extraordinary intervention. He interrupted Keenan to quiz a Muslim woman in the audience whom he imagined had claimed that “ASIO” had threatened to behead her, rape her corpse and slit her children’s throats.
Who would believe such a thing?
It turned out the woman’s claims were about “right-wing Nazis” on social media.
Even the audience laughed at Jones then.
The ABC could have brought in any number of sensible Muslims who understand the terrorist threat. It could have brought in Christian Assyrians or Afghan refugees or actual terrorism experts.
Instead the taxpayer-funded broadcaster chose deliberately to sow community disharmony, to smear Australians as racists and bigots, and to feed the sense of misplaced grievance and victimhood that justifies radicalism.
But the reality remains that we have a serious terrorist problem and the people charged with keeping us safe must not be distracted by spurious claims of Islamophobia and legal threats.
Were police not supposed to question three men at the football who were pointed out to them by spectators because the men might hire lawyer Adam Houda and threaten civil action?
Were they supposed to ignore two carloads of bearded Muslim men stopped near the Lucas Height nuclear reactor?
This isn’t a game. It’s not politics. It’s about saving lives.
“There are tough times ahead,” Scipione says.
“We can never become complacent. Just because something’s been thwarted … doesn’t mean the threat has gone away. In fact every day … that you don’t read about it is one day closer to the day when the attack will happen.
“They’re out there and they’re plotting.”
That’s the truth.
The halal racket
A South Australian company is paying one of many competing Islamic Halal Certification “services” (AFIC) an undisclosed monthly fee for its seal of approval. But Scholle Industries Pty Ltd, based in Elizabeth, is a manufacturer of plastic packaging (plastic is derived from oil) and has apparently been able to assure Muslim fraudsters that all oil wells are facing Mecca.
Farcical Halal certification is being exposed as nothing more than an extortion racket adding to the cost of almost every type of purchase and governments are failing to act to protect Australians from this Islamic curse on our retail trade for fear of an Islamic electoral backlash.
Coercion, and threats by the Islamic “certifiers” to economically cripple Australian manufacturers and processors who refuse to pay up are being ignored by authorities.
Since the scam has been exposed, Aussie shoppers are refusing to buy product with the Halal certified label and the little Arab motifs are disappearing from shelf products everywhere like pork pies at a Passover, but the payments and the threats remain.
Halal certification headquarters are based in Saudi Arabia with Indonesia (MUI) administering the Asian arm and many various competing Australian “certifiers” operating both nationally and in most States.
Total income from the world-wide scam is a reported $1.2 trillion, with Australia contributing a mere billion or so while our Defence Force wonders where the hell the House of Saud gets the money to pay the Islamic State.
It was reported here earlier this year that one major Aussie meat processor, who refused to be identified, claimed he had been told to pay $27,000 a month for halal certification or risk being banned from exporting.
Mr Stephen Kelly, an executive of the Japanese-owned Nippon Meat Packers in Queensland, said last year that MUI had already banned his abattoirs from selling meat to Indonesia because he had procured his “certification” from one of MUI’s Australian opposition certifiers, AHFS.
Meanwhile the Heart Foundation’s “tick of approval” is proving another fraudulent impost on embattled Aussies with “ticks” being thrown to pizzas, deep-fried chips and pies, if the right amount of money is paid of course.
MacDonald’s has forked out millions over the past eight years to have the Heart Foundation's “tick” of approval on their junk food.
The Heart Foundation is a (cough, cough) non-profit organisation but their “advisers”, “consultants” and executives drive very nice cars, live in very nice houses and take extended, very expensive and all exes paid overseas trips to study other "ticksters".
If this government was able to get rid of the carbon tax, Halal, Kosher and the “tick” taxes should be a piece of piss.
A balancing act-home schooling regulation
Most parents never progress beyond day-dreaming about home schooling, but it is becoming increasingly mainstream-everyone seems to know at least one home schooling family and most admire their choice.
Statistics for NSW confirm this perception. The number of children registered for home schooling has increased by 64% in five years, from 1,945 in 2009 to 3,194 in 2013. However, these figures underestimate the true size of the home schooling population. According to estimates by the Home Education Association, there could be as many as 12,000 unregistered, home schooled children in NSW.
Whether you see this as a problem depends on where you sit on the parental rights spectrum. At one end is the idea that parents know what is best for their children and should be free to make decisions about their children's education without government interference. At the other end is the notion that since children have a right to a decent education, governments have an obligation to ensure this occurs, and this takes precedence over parental rights.
Submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into home schooling in NSW cover the full range of views. Many home schooling families and their advocate organisations argue that the registration requirements in NSW are too onerous, and deter families from registering. They argue that home education (their preferred term) is unique and should not be regulated like a school. The NSW Teachers Federation, on the other hand, strongly favours strict regulation, taking the position that public schools provide the best education and that any exception must be justified.
The requirements of home school families are stricter in NSW than in other states: adherence to the NSW syllabus is mandatory and student progress is monitored by home school inspectors (or 'Authorised Persons'). The extent to which this is enforced is debatable; anecdotal reports from home school families claim it is heavy handed, but according to the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES), less than half of one percent of registrations are refused or revoked due to failure to meet requirements.
Currently, home schooling families are doing all the work in their relationship with the state and getting little in return, receiving no educational or financial support. Nevertheless, home schooling is increasingly being seen as a viable option. If this trend continues, government policy will have to strike the right balance and adapt to challenges of providing parents with the flexibility they want and giving children the protection they need.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Tough new terror laws clear the Senate
Australian spies will soon get stronger powers to help fight against terrorism.
The government's first tranche of tougher anti-terrorism laws, which beef up the domestic spy agency's powers, passed the Senate on Thursday with bipartisan support.
Anyone who identifies an ASIO agent could also face a decade in prison under the new laws, a tenfold increase in the existing maximum penalty.
Attorney-General George Brandis said in a "newly dangerous age" it was vital that those protecting Australia were equipped with the powers and capabilities they needed.
The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives, where passage is all but guaranteed.
The legislation addresses a number of recommendations of a bipartisan joint parliamentary inquiry into Australia's national security laws. It allows ASIO to access third party computers and apply one warrant to multiple devices.
After concerns were raised by Labor and Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm, the government agreed to amend the legislation to specifically rule out ASIO using torture. "ASIO cannot, does not and has never engaged in torture," Senator Brandis said.
The Palmer United Party was successful in amending the law so anyone who exposes an undercover ASIO operative could face up to 10 years behind bars instead of one.
The Australian Greens voted against the bill, slamming the new measures as extreme and a "relentless expansion of powers" of the surveillance state.
Senator Leyonhjelm and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon - who moved a number of unsuccessful amendments - also opposed the legislation.
The legal changes come amid growing concern over Islamic State (IS) extremists in the Middle East and terror threats at home. IS has ordered followers to directly target civilian Australians.
In less than a week, police in two states launched the biggest terror raids in Australia's history, and shot dead a known terror suspect after he stabbed two officers in Melbourne.
A second suite of anti-terror laws targeting foreign fighters was introduced on Wednesday and will be debated next month. These changes have opposition support and would make it a criminal office to travel to a terrorist hot-spot without a reasonable excuse. The government is aware of about 60 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq.
A third bill enabling the collection of metadata will be introduced later this year.
The wolf isn’t at the door, it’s in the house
THANKS to the publicly funded ethnic lobby and its supporters at the ABC, SBS and Fairfax, Australians were denied the opportunity to examine and possibly root out the evil of Islamo-fascism when it first came to public attention during the so-called Cronulla riots of December 2005.
Then, when convoys of young Lebanese-Australian publicly demonstrated their hatred for Western culture, terrorising whole suburbs as they smashed windows, vandalised cars and shouted abuse at men and women dressed in regular street clothing, the public was advised: Move along, nothing to see here.
But there was plenty to see. Just as there had been when some Australian Muslims cheered the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and failed to condemn the Bali bombings. What was on show was undeniable evidence that within the Muslim community there were many, not just a handful, who were supporters of terrorism.
But the handful of commentators who dared point out the obvious were warned off with threats from various taxpayer-funded organisations and nanny state apparatchiks that publicising the blatant unvarnished facts about Cronulla might whip up unnecessary fear and create division in the community. Instead of highlighting the self-evident antagonism of many young men in the Muslim communities in Sydney and Melbourne, particularly, to the society in which they or in many cases, their parents, had sought and received sanctuary from attacks from other Muslim groups in their former homelands, the publicly funded media portrayed the violent bullies as victims.
They weren’t seeking to assimilate into Australian society, they wanted to be separate. They didn’t want their sisters to be free to mingle with non-Muslims socially, they didn’t approve of Western fashions, they hated the West. The bien pensants who would not admit that young Lebanese-Australians had been responsible for the Cronulla riots, the weak-kneed self-interested Labor politicians who didn’t want the police to investigate the convoy which had set out from Punchbowl Park to terrorise and vandalise, must now confront the consequences of their stupid politically correct approach to a criminal enterprise.
The weakness shown by the authorities then has undoubtedly encouraged a generation to arrogantly believe in their own supremacy now. Whenever challenged, they and their lawyers would play the victimhood card.
Whether it was the increase in fanatical suicide bombings, the 9/11 attacks, or even the gang rapes carried out by young men who self-identified as Muslims even as they were committing the most heinous crimes, the kumbaya crowd has always insisted the perpetrators were the real victims.
Just as the Islamic Council of Victoria has refused to condemn 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider, who was shot and killed at Endeavour Hills Police Station in Melbourne on Tuesday after he arrived for an interview with two knives and savagely wounded an Australian Federal Police officer and a Victorian policeman before he was shot dead. Political leaders have been too quick to say Islam is not the problem.
But elements of Islam are clearly part of the problem, as anyone familiar with the Koran must be aware.
Constant appeasement of the vocal radicals is not the answer, be it with the censorship of free speech by S18C of the Racial Discrimination Act or through biased programming like the ABC’s Q & A show.
Having failed to address the issue of Islamo-fascism when it started to emerge within the Australian Muslim community, politicians are still reluctant to confront reality. There is a division in Australian society between those who refuse to assimilate and those who welcome the freedoms offered by our pluralistic society.
It is little wonder young men, in particular, feel angry and frustrated when told they cannot enjoy the company of girls dressed in stylish clothing, or enjoy the company of workmates without guiltily wondering whether they have broken some religious edict.
That they are easily swayed by the dramatic propaganda spewed out by Islamic State is of real concern and indicates the values being taught in their schools and within their homes are not compatible with those held by Western societies.
While the majority of Muslims may not bear ill-will toward the West, it is clear there are radicals holding influential positions within religious schools and mosques who do.
Australian citizenship is to be cherished and respected. Most citizenship ceremonies extol the values that attract migrants to our country — the obligations that go with citizenship deserve equal emphasis.
Leftist voter fraud comes to Australia
It's a huge issue in the USA but has been rare in Australia
Allegedly false voter enrolments in a key seat in last year's federal election contributed to the defeat of the Liberal Party's Sophie Mirabella, it's been reported.
Independent Cathy McGowan's 439-vote winning margin in the Victorian rural seat of Indi came after a number of her younger backers allegedly engaged in electoral fraud, News Corp Australia reports.
It says they switched voter enrolments to Indi in the weeks before the September 7 election, despite living and working in other seats, including Melbourne.
More than 20 dodgy enrolments of McGowan backers are at the centre of a probe by the Australian Electoral Commission's new integrity unit.
The Indi enrolment addresses are contradicted by home addresses in other seats, job and study locations, previous enrolment data, and profiles and output on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, News Corp reports.
Ms McGowan won Indi with 44,741 votes to Ms Mirabella's 44,302.
Ms McGowan told News Corp that if there was any wrongdoing, it would be on a small scale.
"Numbers of young people made their own decisions about what they would do. I would be very surprised if there were 200 who did that."
The truth about fact checkers
The ABC's Fact Check website was launched in August last year on a mission to determine 'the accuracy of claims by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate.' But when it comes to the most important policy questions it is not necessarily the facts that are in question but their interpretation.
This has been demonstrated by the federal government's recent move to delay increases in the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) rate.
The SG rate freeze means the percentage of gross wages that must be put into super will remain at 9.5% rather than being increased to 12% by 2019-20. The Prime Minister has asserted that no-one would be worse off as this money would be put back into take-home pay, a claim that Fact Check determined to be 'Incorrect'. This is an oversimplification.
The most literal interpretation of what the PM said-that every single worker will receive an increase in take-home pay equal to the proposed SG rate increases-may not be universally true. However, the economics of how the SG rate freeze will impact take-home pay are extremely complex. For most workers, the claim that 'money that would otherwise be squirrelled away in superannuation funds will instead be in the pockets of the workers of Australia' is right.
On the topic of the SG rate freeze it is not the government that is misleading the public, it is the super funds.
The super funds' estimates of the cost to workers of the SG rate freeze ignore any increase in take-home pay that would result. Their claim that voluntary super contributions do not receive the same concessional tax treatment as the compulsory contributions mandated by the SG rate is also not true.
Workers are free to make voluntary super contributions, before tax, above the SG rate. These are taxed at the same concessional 15% tax rate provided that total (before tax) contributions do not exceed $30,000 a year (for those under 50). This is known as "salary sacrifice".
While Fact Check has exposed some of the most egregious examples of misinformation with an appeal to official statistics, on this occasion it has inadvertently perpetuated the super fund's tax myth.
This is not to suggest political bias on the part of the ABC. In this instance the subject matter is complex and the outcomes uncertain. What this underlines is that Fact Check best serves the public when it sticks to claims made by those who have quite clearly sought to mislead and scrutinises claims that can be verified by a direct appeal to the facts.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Muslim anger and global warming
The inability of Muslims to see any wrongdoing by their fellow Muslims seems to be common worldwide. And we have now seen a prime example of it in Australia. A report of it below. After a young Afghan Muslim, Numan Haider, was shot by police, the sentiment among his community seems to be that he had done no wrong. He had simply made a "mistake" and police should not have shot him. That the police shot him while he was stabbing them with a knife and inflicting serious injuries doesn't matter, apparently. "Infidel" police should let themselves be stabbed by Muslims seems to be the idea. Decent people would be embarrassed that one of their number had behaved so badly but brains rotted by Islam are apparently incapable of that.
The rage is so irrational that it reminds me of a couple of other things. In 1980 or thereabouts in Australia a Yugoslav hoodlum named Kresimir Dragosevic died in a hail of police bullets. Mrs Dragosevic, his mother, thought it was most unfair that the police shot her dear little Kresimir. The fact that Kresimir was shooting at the police at the time did not seem to matter.
So, clearly, for many people, reason flies out the window when their own personal interests are threatened or damaged. Which brings me to global warming. Warmists have the wonderful feelgood belief that they are "saving the planet" and that is far too rewarding to let facts get in the way of such a belief. They will even let themselves be lectured by an emptyheaded High School dropout like Leonardo di Caprio on the subject if it helps to bolster their feelings of righteousness and mission. No wonder there is so much poverty and so much suffering in the world when rationality can so easily be overwhelmed by personal emotional needs.
ANGER boiled over outside a mosque as the body of the shot teen was prepared for burial.
A man threw rocks at media waiting at the Doveton mosque after earlier being seen at Numan Haider’s family home.
The teen terror suspect’s family spoke of their devastation.
Others grieving the loss of Haider lashed out at police for shooting him.
Religious leaders told the Herald Sun Haider was expected to be buried as soon as today, after a Muslim service.
A friend who visited the family’s Endeavour Hills home said they were overwhelmed by grief. “They are very, very upset and devastated,” the family friend said.
“No one knows what happened. It’s a big shock to their family, and they can’t believe what has happened.
“This family is bright. They are well educated and have good connection to the Afghan families.”
There were angry scenes when a member of the Afghan community, on leaving the house, blamed police.
“They should not have shot him — he was 18,” the woman screamed. “If you (the police) can’t protect yourself, how are you going to protect the nation? Did you make mistakes when you were 18? “If someone makes a mistake, you can’t shoot him.”
Conservative sheik Mohammad Jamal Omran visited the home to offer his condolences, and said he was saddened by the tragedy.
“We spoke about their sadness and we spoke about their loss. “They cried on my shoulder, but still they need a long time to recover,” he said.
“There (is) trouble around us in the world. We don’t have to bring the trouble home.
“When I look at my right, I see the sorrow of the two police families.
“And I look at my left, and see this family losing a young man of theirs, of ours, and of Australia altogether.”
The 1915 Battle of Broken Hill – Another gift to Australia from Islam
Muslims were as murderous then as now but the response to them was more robust in 1915
Muslims like to claim that Islam is a religion of peace, a religion of science and a religion of human rights but in reality Islam’s major contribution to humanity has been terrorism. For close to 1,400 years Islam has struck fear into the hearts of the unbeliever, becoming synonymous with terrorism.
Since the Saudi funded World Trade Centre terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 there has been over 22,000 Muslim terror attacks worldwide. In 2013 alone, over 16,000 people lost their lives to Islamic terror attacks.
The most recent Muslim terror attacks occurred in the Russian city of Volgograd on the 29th and 30th of December 2013, when two cowardly Muslim Chechen terrorists blew up a bus and detonated explosives at the central train station killing 34 innocent Russians. Many children also died in the attacks.
One hundred years ago, on the 1st January 1915, a ‘picnic train’ left Broken Hill Sulphide Street station at 10am, carrying over 1,200 Broken Hill residents to Silverton for new year day celebrations.
The train carriages were normally used for carting iron ore but once a year were thoroughly washed out and fitted with temporary bench seats to transport passengers to Silverton for a new year’s picnic. Unknown to the vulnerable passengers was the bloodbath that was about to unfold.
Many of the train’s passengers noticed a Turkish flag was fluttering in the dry wind, just a few kilometres outside of town. As the train approached, unknown to the train’s passengers were two Muslim Jihadists lying in a trench. As the train drew closer, the two Muslims fired close to 30 shots at the train carriages murdering two teenagers and wounding six people.
The locals were in total shock and couldn’t understand why these two foreigners had opened fire on innocent civilians. The Police wasted no time in pursuing the two Muslim men as they attempted to escape. The Muslims came across and murdered Alfred Millard who had tried to hide in his hut.
The bloodthirsty pair continued to run but was sighted by Police who fired shots in the air in order to force them to surrender. Instead the pair returned fire at the Police and seriously wounded Constable Robert Mills.
The homicidal pair made their final stand at the top of hill where they found good protection behind boulders. The Police had the pair surrounded and ordered them to surrender but the Muslims would not. The gun battle raged on for nearly one and a half hours resulting in the death of the assailants.
The local constabulary identified the dead Muslims as Gool Mohamed, an ice cream seller and Mullah Abdullah, an Iman and halal butcher who was well known to smoke copious amounts of hash. Gool and Mullah were both Pashtun Muslim migrants from Afghanistan with a lust for Jihad against the kuffar (non-believer).
The former camel drivers attack on local civilians was pre-meditated. The Police investigation found out that the two Muslims had used Gool’s ice cream cart to transport their rifles, the flag and ammunition to the place previously selected by them for the attack. Notes were also found, left by the Muslim perpetrators stating they had become martyrs for Islam defending the Ottoman caliphate and their faith.
Today the people of Australia remember this unfortunate event, the first terrorist attack on Australia soil carried out by Muslim maniacs blinded by a savage and brutal political ideology.
It is an important time to commemorate the Australian victims; Alma Cowie, William Shaw and Alfred Millard who were murdered by crazed Jihadists carrying out the will of their mentor and soothsayer Moahmmad in the name of Allah.
The Battle of Broken Hill is a warning to the people of Australia of what Muslim immigration will bring to our nation. It is time to protect the Australian people from future terror attacks by halting all Muslim immigration and repatriating those who occupy our gaols and abuse our generous welfare.
Grim life awaits would-be illegal imigrants in Cambodia
Arrangements have now beem made to give "refuge" in Cambodia to many illegals held on Manus Is. and Christmas Is.
A coalition of 21 organisations working to promote human rights in Cambodia on Friday described the plan as a cynical attempt to place refugees who had already suffered persecution in their home countries and harsh detention in Australia into further hardship in Cambodia.
Amnesty International called the plan a new low in Australia's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. The plan is also opposed by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, which only has a small office in Cambodia and was excluded from negotiations that led to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison signing the agreement in Phnom Penh on Friday.
"Think about the refugees … they cannot speak Khmer. There are no jobs for them. They will have no land. They will not understand the culture," Sou Sotheavy says, adding that if they are given special treatment that will be unfair to impoverished Cambodians, and could cause trouble in communities.
Mr Morrison says the refugees who attempted to reach Australia by boat are "quite innovative and entrepreneurial and I think there would be opportunities for people with those sorts of skills and enthusiasms" in Cambodia.
He says "support will be tailored to the needs of those as part of a package of measures that will go to their resettlement, which is designed to make them self-reliant as quickly as possible".
Many countries, including Australia, have people like Srey Kuoch in dire need of help but no-one has to look far in Cambodia to see chronic disadvantage in the country still recovering from years of civil war and a genocide where an estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation, execution and disease.
Families are living in Phnom Penh slums under tarpaulins. Others scavenge on rubbish dumps. Vulnerable children beg before tourists on Phnom Penh's riverside.
In rural areas most of the people live a hand-to-mouth existence and while the country has made economic progress, it still struggles to provide adequate services in areas such as health and education.
Cambodia is ruled by a regime considered among the world's most corrupt despite receiving hundreds of millions in foreign aid, including an additional $40 million from Australia over the next four years in return for the country taking refugees.
Cambodia's government, ruled by strongman Hun Sen, has a long history of playing politics with refugees and using them as bargaining chips in bilateral relations with countries such as Vietnam and China.
The most prominent case was in December 2009 when Cambodia forcibly returned 20 UN-recognised Uighur refugees to China and then a few days later collected a huge aid package from Beijing.
Sixty refugees already in the country want to leave and would be destitute if they were not receiving support from organisations such as the Jesuit Refuge Service.
Cambodian officials have made clear that any refugees who arrive will be forbidden from engaging in politics connected to the country from which they fled, a violation of refugees' civil and political rights.
Cambodia has not taken steps to deal with what rights advocates say is the serious discrimination and deprivation of rights of ethnic Vietnamese, some of whom have lived in Cambodia for generations yet are still stateless without access to basic government services.
"The Hun Sen government severely restricts the rights and freedom of expression, assembly and association and state security forces routinely commit killings, torture and other abuses with impunity," Human Rights Watch says. "Those living on the margins – including refugees and asylum seekers lacking employment, Khmer language skills and social network – are at particular risk," the New York-based organisation says.
"For instance, Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest, detention and mistreatment of undesirables housed in squalid detention centres run by the Social Welfare Ministry, where beatings, torture and rapes by guards go unpunished."
Defending the decision of his government, Mr Morrison says Cambodian poverty has fallen from more than 50 per cent to around 20 per cent. "I mean this is a country that is trying to get on its feet; this is a country that is making great progress," he says.
Mr Morrison noted that Cambodia's population has doubled from the dark years of the Khmer Rouge period.
He said that rather than keep the country isolated, the rest of the world should give them a chance to do positive things such as co-operating with Australia on the resettlement plan. "We say we should give them a go," he said.
Warmist rage directed at Australia
Good to see that Australia's abolition of the carbon tax (etc.) has been widely noted
The United Nations has an awkward habit of using celebrities to give voice to its key concerns, at once amplifying its messages and somehow diminishing their significance.
At this week's General Assembly the key concern was global warming and the celebrity mouthpiece was Leonardo DiCaprio.
As though aware of the awkwardness of his position, in his address to the General Assembly, DiCaprio sought to buttress his call for drastic and immediate action to reduce carbon emissions with a voice harder to challenge than his own.
"The Chief of the US Navy's Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat," said DiCaprio. "My friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history, or be vilified by it."
The speech was well given and well received, but it turned out that his prediction was not entirely correct. Australia did not have to wait for history, it was vilified for its stance on climate change on the spot.
On Sunday the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, told members of the Major Economies Forum at a side meeting that Australia intended to stick with its low target of 5 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
This, she said, was an ambitious target, and she noted that Australia was responsible for producing only 1.5 per cent of the world's greenhouse gasses.
"I'm disappointed but not surprised with Australia," Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambia's Climate Change Minister who represents the 54 least developed nations at UN climate talks, told the Responding to Climate Change analysis website later. "What the Foreign Minister said was as good as not coming. It's nothing… as good as not attending."
Indeed Tony Abbott did not attend Tuesday's meeting, though many attendees detected a reference to Australia – among a handful of other notable recalcitrants – in Barack Obama's keynote speech.
"We can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation – developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass," he said.
"The emerging economies that have experienced some of the most dynamic growth in recent years have also emitted rising levels of carbon pollution.
"It is those emerging economies that are likely to produce more and more carbon emissions in the years to come. So nobody can stand on the sidelines on this issue. We have to set aside the old divides. We have to raise our collective ambition, each of us doing what we can to confront this global challenge."
Obama appeared to be addressing not only Australia and Canada, the developed nations dependent on mineral exports, as well as China and India, the developing nations whose carbon footprint is expanding rapidly and which have asserted their right to economic expansion before carbon reduction.
As with Mr Abbott, China's Xi Jinping did not attend and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, sent Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. China now emits more greenhouse gases than the US and EU combined and India is the third-largest emitter.
But it was Australia and to an extent Canada that were subject to most of the opprobrium, in part because they have already enjoyed the economic benefits of carbon emissions, in part because China is perceived to be on the brink of significant action.
One of the successes of Tuesday's meeting was China's announcement for the first time ever that it would set an emissions target, aiming to reduce its emissions of carbon per unit of GDP by 45 per cent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005.
"As a responsible major country, a major developing country, China will make even greater effort to address climate change," Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said.
"All countries need to follow the path of green and low carbon development that suits their national conditions, [and] set forth post-2020 actions in light of actual circumstances."
An adviser who attended a meeting of small island states that excoriated Australia's inaction on climate said the group now viewed China's commitments optimistically.
The reaction to Australia's presence could not have been more different. Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, told Fairfax that small islands states were frustrated and baffled by Australia's stance, especially as they had regarded the nation as a "big brother down south" and advocated for its seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Asked if "betrayal" was too strong a word, he paused and said, "Now it is, maybe not soon."
On Tuesday the Pulitzer Prize-winning climate change news website Inside Climate News published a story about the "Canada-Australia axis of carbon". It suggested that not only were the two nations not willing to pull their weight, but that they were seeking to derail the binding agreement on emissions reductions at next year's talks in Paris that many view as the world's last best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.
"Neither the prime ministers of Canada nor Australia will speak at the summit, and the subordinates they have sent will not be offering the kind of "bold" new steps that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking on the way to a treaty in Paris late next year," it reported.
"Instead, these two governments, with their energy-rich domains sprawling across opposite ends of the earth, will present strikingly similar defences against what much of the rest of the world is offering. And their stance is earning them opprobrium among advocates of strong and immediate action."
The online magazine Slate published a story headlined, "The Saudi Arabia of the Pacific, How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world."
It charted Australian climate politics since the last election – noting for an international audience Australia's history as a leader in solar technology, the creation and then scrapping of a carbon trading scheme, the promotion of climate change sceptics to key advisory roles, the attacks on the solar industry, the scrapping of the mining tax, the failed bid to expand logging in Tasmanian wilderness.
"Let's hope that the rapacious policies of the current government represent only a temporary bout of insanity," Slate concluded. "If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there but openly hostile."
Whether or not the UN summit was a success is open to debate. Its organisers kept its goals vague enough so as to avoid failure, declaring its intention was to build momentum towards next year's critical talks in Paris, when it is hoped a binding international resolution will be hammered out.
China's announcement was welcomed, as was the declaration by pension funds, insurers and asset management firms controlling $2 trillion worth of funds that they wanted avenues for climate friendly investments. More than a 1000 business and investors backed a World Bank campaign for emissions taxes and trading schemes like the one Australia just abandoned. Leaders reaffirmed a goal to limit climate change to 2 degrees.
More than $US2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) of a called-for $US10 billion was pledged for a Green Climate Fund to help developing nations get access to clean technologies. Organisers of Sunday's march in support of action were thrilled at a turnout of between 300,000 and 400,000.
Whether it was enough to spur real action will not be known until December next year.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Signals of jihad in Australia have been building for years
The knifing of two police officers by 18-year-old Numan Haider at Endeavour Hills Police Station in Melbourne on Tuesday night is not a new threshold of Muslim violence in Australia. What is new is Haider's support for Islamic State and his desire to behead people and video the slaughtered bodies draped in the black flag of Islamic State.
Such is the new fashion among some radical young Muslims that Haider took a large knife and a black IS flag when he drove to the police station.
The warning signs have grown more ominous for a long time. On November 1, 1998, Lakemba police station in Sydney was peppered with gunfire in a drive-by shooting. Sixteen shots were fired from four different weapons by men in a stolen car. Those charged included several Lebanese-Australians including Michael Kanaan, Wassim El-Assaad and Saleh Mahmoud Jamal.
Kanaan, a Maronite Catholic, would later be convicted of three murders, among multiple other violent crimes. In a bizarre footnote to his bloody career, the former magistrate, Pat O'Shane, infamously discharged Kanaan from standing trial over shooting a police officer, describing the decision by two officers to pull over his car, then return gun fire, as "stupid, reckless and foolhardy". She said their conduct had "indicated police harassment of youth".
Saleh Jamal, a former drug dealer, fled Australia to Lebanon on a stolen passport in 2004. In Lebanon, he was jailed for weapons charges. Before being extradited back to Australia, he told a reporter he had wanted to undertake a terror attack in Sydney in the name of Islam.
Wassim El-Assaad, like Jamal and many Muslims who enter the criminal milieu here and overseas, gravitated to Islamic fundamentalism. He belongs to a group of Muslims serving long-term sentences who espoused jihad. Police have named El-Assaad (convicted murderer), Bassam Hamzy (convicted murderer), Rabeeh Mawas (convicted murderer) and Emad Sleiman (convicted murderer), among others, of espousing sympathy for jihad.
Muslims are over-represented in Goulburn's super max prison and were prominent in an outbreak of violence last Sunday when prisoners reacted to a clamp-down of security. The cry of "Allah Akbah", the rallying call of jihadists, was reportedly shouted by a number of inmates as they threatened guards.
Since the shootings at Lakemba police station there have been numerous terror plots, terror convictions and acts of social intimidation by Muslims in Australia, undercutting the widely preferred mantra of victimology of Muslims in Australia.
On Wednesday, Fairfax Media ran an opinion piece by a Muslim woman who wrote: "I still feel the scars of the Cronulla riots, where the flag of my beloved country was used as a symbol of pure hatred, of thuggery and racism."
This is ironic given that most of the hatred, thuggery and racism at Cronulla in December, 2005, came from Muslims. The demonstration and fracas at Cronulla beach, on December 11, was sparked by hundreds of incidents of harassment and violence by young Lebanese-Australian men, mainly directed at young women in bikinis or short skirts. I conducted dozens of interviews after the event and they can be summed up by a teacher at Cronulla High School:
"I have felt afraid for the safety of my family for the last 10 years [from] gangs of men of Middle Eastern appearance who have taunted, bullied or assaulted groups or individuals. My daughter has been taunted consistently when she goes to the beach… Women in swimming costumes… are often intimidated or taunted with 'sluts' and 'filth' and told they are 'asking for it'."
On December 12, on the night after the fracas, dozens of cars congregated at Punchbowl Park in south-west Sydney. Most of the men had armed themselves with a variety of weapons. Some left messages written on the street: "AUSSI TO DIE". "INTIFADA". "IT'S WAR". "WE FEAR NO OZY DOGS".
Two convoys of cars then headed off to the eastern beaches. For the next several hours an estimated 200 men, predominantly Lebanese Muslims, engaged in a show of force, smashing hundreds of cars and windows, stabbing or bashing several people and threatening women with rape.
Rape was a key issue. In the years leading up to the Cronulla explosion, dozens of young Muslim men had participated in a series of gang rapes in Sydney which terrorised young non-Muslim women. This fuelled the build-up of tensions, which the police at Cronulla had preferred not to confront, lest they be accused of racism.
Six weeks ago, at the height of the latest Gaza-Israel conflict, another convoy of cars drove through south-west Sydney. This time, some occupants brandished the black flag of Islamic State. I saw the images posted on YouTube (later removed) and heard this chant from demonstrators: "Jew and Christian will not stand. You can never stop Islam."
DON'T TELL THE MURDEROUS KID IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM ... you'll break his heart
For God’s sake make sure you include this in any comment you make: “This crime has nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with religion.” It seems this memo went out to every politician, public servant and copper in the country. But it has backfired. You can fool some of the people some of the time but none of the people this time.
Okay, so we mustn’t upset the nice Islamic community because we need their help to tell us where the mad nutters are, but unfortunately there seems to be mad nutters everywhere and, if you really believe their mums and dads will dob them in, then you’ve got your hand on it.
A normal kid born in Australia would never think of bombing the MCG or cutting someone’s head off, so where exactly does this kid learn all this violent anti-Australian stuff?
I can think of only two possible places; either in the home or in the mosque.
A normal Aussie school has a sane Head Teacher and a few insane pupils. A normal Aussie mosque has an insane Head Teacher and a few sane pupils... and some of those sane pupils will turn feral.
At home, in any good Islamic family, a kid must pray five times a day, read the cover off the Koran and recite a hadith of Sharia law hanging from a magnet on the fridge.
He will get as angry as hell when he can’t eat for a month during Ramadan and can only go out with sheilas he can’t shag (and probably wouldn’t want to if he could see them) so by the time he’s 18 and breaking out in pimples, a bevy of 72 virgins is sounding pretty bloody good.
Right now the kid has a permanent woody and is understandably besotted with these virgins and desperate to get his hands on just one of them... and that’s where the trouble starts.
Before you know it he’s borrowed his mate’s vest and bought a ticket to Syria.
But his dear old mum refuses to let him go, so he gets on his computer and learns how to make bombs out of stuff in the laundry cupboard.
He then figures out how to set the bomb off with his phone and buys one of those toy drones with a remote control.
Now he decides to sit in Punt Road and rehearse flying the thing into the MCG at half time. But he only manages to knock over one behind post and cause a ringing sound in Tom Jones’ ears... and he is still not more than one pubic hair closer to those virgins.
“Bugger this”, he thinks, “I gotta cut some bastard copper's head off, that should do it!”
So he borrows his mate’s knife and a black flag with white Arabic words on it and drives into Endeavour Hills cop shop wielding the knife and yelling, “Allahu Akbar! I’m gunna kill you lot and f***in’ Tony Abbott too!”
Well, now the kid’s getting somewhere... there are two cops covered in blood trying to keep their heads on and the kid’s begging to be shot, so they shoot him! Ripper! He’s as dead as a dodo, with a smile on his face and listening to these Muslim elders going off their heads about police brutality.
Islamic preacher, Sheikh Ustadh Mohammed Junaid Thorne said, “Unfortunately, our young brother went alone to meet with these ‘ambiguous’ policemen, the violators of his privacy”.
He complained, “What we are sure of is that he was murdered in cold blood right in front of a police station, in front of a place that is supposed to be providing security and comfort to our youth.”
Shiekh Thorne extended his prayers and deep condolences to the family of the kid without mention of the two coppers (one was rushed to hospital with knife wounds to the throat and chest) and both were lucky to escape with their lives.
The idiot Sheik continued, “This boy was not a casualty of an armed heist, nor was his death the result of some drug deal that went wrong, rather he was killed by the same people who are supposed to be protecting this country.”
On went the idiot Sheik, “We still ask and wonder why deadly force was immediately used against a teenager who was provoked in the first place and forced into such a situation.
“I address the Australian community, the Muslims and non Muslims, when I say that the Government will try its best to frame this young kid as a ‘terrorist’.
“They will use all their efforts and resources to brand him a threat to the community, but we must not forget that he was nothing but an average teenager who once again fell victim to police brutality and murder.”
WTF? Don’t these galahs really believe in this 72 virgins stuff after all? They should be happy for him.
Unlike the media and the Muslim elders, this dead kid reckons he’s really glad his first tilt at terrorism had something to do with Islam ‘cos right now he’s as happy as a pig in shit!
Harper Review Flags Need For Affordable Housing Reform
The need for national competition policy reforms that target housing affordability has been highlighted by the Harper Competition Policy Review’s Draft Report.
“Released yesterday, the draft report correctly identified the link between less affordable housing and inefficient planning and zoning processes,” Wilhelm Harnisch CEO of Master Builders Australia said.
“However the Harper Review’s draft recommendations need further review to be effective in reforming local government reform planning and zoning processes. This is important given the impact of local council red and green tape on the community’s access to affordable housing,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.
“Inefficiency at the local level is a major obstacle to affordable home ownership because it unnecessarily drives up the cost of construction and chokes the supply of new housing,” he said.
“Reforms that increase housing stock would more effectively target housing affordability pressures than abolishing negative gearing,”
“Tackling the nation’s massive housing undersupply will ensure access to affordable homeownership, provide adequate social housing and allow the housing industry to do its job and drive increased investment in non-mining sectors of the economy,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.
“Master Builders response to the Harper Review’s Draft Report will reinforce the building and construction industry’s need for bold competition policy reforms that target solutions for these major issues and call on the Government to consult with business to ensure that reforms are actively pursued and implemented,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.
Three current articles below
Climate-related disasters cost the world half a trillion dollars, warns Oxfam on eve of UN Climate Summit
A wild and completely unsubstantiated claim. There has in any case been no global warming in the period concerned. And there have also been fewer weather extremes in the period
On the eve of the UN Climate Summit, Oxfam has released research showing that since global leaders last met in Copenhagen to discuss climate change five years ago, climate-related disasters have cost the world almost half a trillion dollars.
Oxfam Australia climate change policy advisor Simon Bradshaw said that given tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets over the weekend, Oxfam was disappointed the Prime Minister was not attending the summit in New York, and urged the Australian Government to start living up to its international responsibilities on climate change.
“While others forge ahead with ambitious plans, Australia is continuing down a path of irresponsibility and recklessness,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“Oxfam’s research shows that over the five years since the Copenhagen summit, more than 650 million people have been affected by climate-related disasters and more than 112,000 lives have been lost.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s expected no-show at the landmark summit is yet another affront to our neighbours in the Pacific who, despite their limited resources, are working determinedly to confront the climate challenge.”
The 120 or so world leaders expected in New York – the largest group that has ever come together to discuss climate change - include the heads of most of Australia’s major trading partners and the leaders of almost all Pacific island countries.
“As an international development agency working in countries throughout the region, we know that even the poorest countries – those with the least responsibility for the climate crisis - are no longer waiting for rich countries like Australia to get their houses in order,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“From Timor Leste to Vanuatu, communities are working with whatever means they have. They are leapfrogging the dirty technologies of the past and drawing on their strengths to build the sustainable, resilient economies of the future.”
He said Australia must have an ambitious long-term plan to cut its own emissions, increase support to developing countries, and play a constructive role towards a strong global climate agreement.
“A decision by a rich country like Australia to roll back its climate policies and flout its international obligations is a decision to place an even greater burden onto poor communities in developing countries, who are already being hit first and hardest by climate change,” he said.
Oxfam also said that in pushing to expand its fossil fuel sector, Australia was not only increasing its contribution to dangerous climate change but risked being left behind in the global transition to renewable energy.
“For now, Australia appears willing to ignore pleas from the international community, remain wilfully ignorant to the situation of its Pacific neighbours, and work against its own long-term national interest,” Dr Bradshaw said. “Australians have sent the strongest possible signal this weekend that they expect better.”
For interviews, please contact Laurelle Keough on +61 425 701 801
ABC science guy denies the science that even the IPCC now accepts
Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted in its latest report that global warming had paused for some 15 years.
Read for yourself the section in the report with the headline that says it all: "Climate Models and the Hiatus in Global-Mean Surface Warming of the Past 15 Years"
So it says something about the ABC that its science presenters still deny what even the IPCC admits. Who are the true deniers of science now?
Well, here is Karl S. Kruszelnicki, who has form for denying what doesn’t suit his astonishing climate alarmism:
In the USA, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “temperatures have been flat for 15 years - nobody can properly explain it.”
Another newspaper from the same stable, the UK Daily Mail wrote “global warming ‘pause’ may last 20 more years, and Arctic sea ice has already started to recover”. Both of these statements are very reassuring, but unfortunately, very very wrong.
With regard to this ‘pause’, there are two major claims made by those who deny the science of climate change.
The first one is that the climate is actually cooling - not warming. This is incorrect.
The second claim is that after some previous warming, the global climate is now constant, and neither warming nor cooling. In other words, that the climate is in a kind of holding pattern, or haitus. This is also incorrect… The climate is still heating up.
You can read Dr Karl’s long and curious justification for refusing to believe in the warming pause, or you can simply check this graphic and decide for yourself whether Dr Karl should really be presenting science for the ABC:
Nationals MP George Christensen calls Green activists 'terrorists'
Nationals MP George Christensen is fighting activists whom he calls "gutless green grubs" opposed to the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal in his electorate. In his speech to Parliament, the outspoken MP said "the greatest terrorism threat in North Queensland, I'm sad to say, comes from the extreme green movement".
Mr Christensen says groups oppose the expansion and associated jobs out of ideology and not to save the Great Barrier Reef, because they are still campaigning against the proposal, even though an onshore dumping proposal has been found.
"The eco-terrorists butchered the international tourism market for our greatest tourism attraction, not for the reef but for political ideology," he said.
Mr Christensen said the green groups had threatened to lie in front of trains in cardboard boxes and referred Fairfax Media to the radical Alpha Generation's "Over our Dead Bodies" campaign.
The Over Our Dead Bodies homepage vows to "trash the Aurizon brand, by telling the world Aurizon are actively enabling an environmental catastrophe". Aurizon is the freight company that transports coal. Ben Pennings from the group confirmed that activists had "talked about stopping trains" but said "we're not going to be putting people in harm's way".
In a statement issued after his speech, Mr Christensen referred to the "gutless green germ" activists as "terrorists" five times.
He did not retreat from his comments when contacted by Fairfax Media on Thursday and said the activists might not like coal mining, but had no right to try to shut down a legitimate business. "It's not illegal to mine or export coal," he said.
Mr Feeney slammed Mr Christensen's "infantile rhetoric", particularly in light of Tuesday's stabbing of two police officers during an encounter in which an 18-year-old "terror suspect" was shot dead.
"There are two police officers still in hospital and this government MP thinks it's OK to throw the word 'terrorism' around as part of a cheap political stunt," Mr Feeney told Fairfax Media. "This is an incredibly insensitive and stupid thing to say, especially given the horrific attack we saw less than 48 hours ago.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disgusted at the softball interview with Julia Gillard on channel 9
GreenPower at risk under RET changes
GreenPower is a voluntary Australian system whereby hard-core Greenies can buy their electicity from "renewable" sources even though it costs more. It encourages the building of absurdities like windmills and solar farms, which is a deplorable waste of capital. So it is good to hear the pips squeaking
The highly successful GreenPower program faces a precarious future if proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Target go ahead, according to the Property Council of Australia.
Buried in the controversial Warburton Review is a proposal to count energy purchased by GreenPower customers towards Australia’s renewables target.
Currently, GreenPower operates separately to the RET – providing purchasers with access to guaranteed, additional renewable energy.
GreenPower customers bought $80 million worth of energy last year – with over $40 million of that from the commercial sector. This additional investment would cease if purchasers find that GreenPower makes no difference to how much renewable energy Australia generates.
Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, says industry is alarmed by the proposal – which would completely undermine the GreenPower program.
“GreenPower has been an effective market-based option for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint,” Mr Morrison said.
“Including GreenPower in the RET calculations would mean customers are paying for something already funded by the RET. It would become valueless to end users.
“The outcome would be the withdrawal of $80 million worth of private renewables funding every year. That’s a whopping blow to Australia’s renewable energy sector and would make our carbon abatement task even harder.
“Double-counting of GreenPower would have significant flow on impacts to other government and industry programs, such as the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme (NABERS) and GreenStar, which have endorsed the current GreenPower model,” Mr Morrison concluded.
The Property Council has supported the retention of the RET, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The property industry has been a significant investor in renewable energy and has a considerable pipeline of upcoming projects which risk being derailed by any weakening of the RET.
Victoria Police Shoot Dead Alleged Terror Suspect
An alleged terrorist suspect was shot dead by police in a Melbourne suburb, in the latest incident to raise concerns sympathizers of Islamist militants abroad are targeting Australians.
The 18-year-old man was killed late Tuesday outside of a police station in southeast Melbourne after stabbing two law-enforcement officers, Michael Keenan, Australia's Justice Minister, said on Wednesday.
An Australian Federal Police officer is in serious but stable condition in a hospital, Mr. Keenan told reporters, adding that an officer from the Victoria state police suffered less serious injuries and was in stable condition.
"This incident occurred during a police investigation and it appears that the shooting by the police officer was in self-defense," Mr. Keenan said.
Mr. Keenan said the young man was a known terror suspect who had been invited to attend the police station for a routine interview and had turned up on his own volition.
Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay told reporters Wednesday that the state-police officer shot the assailant after being stabbed in the arm. The AFP officer, meanwhile, suffered stab wounds to his head, neck and stomach, he said.
"We first became aware of this male about three months ago when he came into contact with Victorian Police," Mr. Lay said. "It's true to say late last week we learned of some behaviors that were causing us concern."
Intelligence indicating the individual had earlier been seen waving an Islamic State flag was being investigated by authorities, AFP Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters. The suspect's passport had been suspended about a week ago, Mr. Colvin said.
Tough new antiterror laws are set to be introduced in Australia's Parliament on Wednesday. They would allow the government to designate certain countries or regions as "no-go zones" from which returning citizens may need to prove they hadn't been engaged in terrorist activity.
The proposed laws are also intended to make it simpler for authorities, including police and spy agencies, to detain terrorist suspects and search their homes.
The Australian proposals come after 16 people were detained, and two charged, following police raids last week across suburbs in Sydney and Brisbane, aimed at defusing an alleged plot by Islamic State sympathizers to behead members of the public.
Australia, a close U.S. ally, raised its terror alert on Sept. 12 to the second-highest level, and warned that attacks inside the country were expected in response to recent events in the Middle East.
Islamic State, a radical Sunni group, has in the past month released videos showing the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.
Mr. Abbott has ordered Australian warplanes and 200 special-forces soldiers to Iraq to join the U.S.-led global coalition planning airstrikes against Islamic State insurgents there.
Lawmakers in Canberra are also on high alert after local intelligence agencies last week intercepted correspondence allegedly showing Islamic State supporters may be planning to attack the country's Parliament.
Negative gearing is not just for the rich
THE vast majority of property investors taking advantage of negative gearing are “mum and dads” earning less than $80,000 a year, countering the long-held view that the property investment measure was a tax lurk for the rich.
Australian Taxation Office data shows that of the 1.266 million Australians who declared that the rental on their investment properties didn’t meet the interest repayment in 2011-12, 883,325 earned less than $80,000.
More than 70 per cent of people who accessed negative-gearing benefits, where losses on property investments can be deducted from taxable personal income, only owned one investment property. A further 18 per cent owned two investment properties.
About 60,000 clerical staff earning less than $80,000 benefited from negative gearing, as did 54,000 teachers, 46,000 sales staff and 35,590 nurses and midwives. Lizzy Hubbard, a 29-year-old teacher from The Ponds, in Sydney’s northwest, said negative gearing was helping her pay for an investment property she had purchased in Muswellbrook in the NSW Hunter Valley.
“I really did want to get into the property market, and I knew it would be difficult to get into,” said Ms Hubbard, who purchased her house when she was 25.
“I hadn’t moved out of home, but I knew I could get a steady income and one day I would be able to benefit from my investment.”
Ms Hubbard admitted she didn’t know the details of negative gearing, and had gone through Aussie Home Loans instead, but knew that an increased tax refund had made it easier to save and pay back her loan.
With no sign of a slowdown in house-price growth — investment bank UBS has forecast that tomorrow’s Australian Bureau of Statistics figures will show a 10 per cent year-on-year increase — calls to address affordability and the debate around the housing bubble will continue.
With a tax review likely over the coming months, a number of economists are already calling for negative gearing to be abolished or pared back to make property investment less attractive, leading industry groups to lobby for it to remain.
“Negative gearing works efficiently over the life cycle of Australians, with younger people relying upon the concession with a shift towards positive gearing as people get closer to retirement,” said Nick Proud, the executive director of the Residential Development Council, which provided the statistics to The Australian.
“Individual investors incentivised by negative gearing have increased over the past 30 years and their emergence will reduce the future reliance on the pension.”
Mr Proud pointed out negative gearing applied in the majority of OECD countries and said its removal in Britain had not improved housing affordability.
Sir Lunchalot is still hungry for money
The ABC is attempting to defend a defamation case brought against it by corrupt former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald by arguing his "bad reputation" could not have been further damaged by claims made in a TV news broadcast.
Mr Macdonald, who has been found corrupt in three separate Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries, says a 7pm ABC news broadcast last year falsely claimed he "made millions" of dollars from a coal deal involving corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.
He contends he made no money from the deals and is seeking damages in the NSW Supreme Court because his reputation has been "gravely injured".
In a defence filed in court, the ABC says it broadcast a correction a day after the original report that said the ICAC had made "no finding that Ian Macdonald made any money from the deals".
But the ABC also says the report conveyed a range of other meanings, including that the ICAC found last year that Mr Macdonald was involved in "grand corruption", "abused his position as a government minister" and was a dishonest witness.
The national broadcaster argues it did not defame Mr Macdonald because those claims are true and, under a defence known as contextual truth, any other meanings that may have been conveyed by the broadcast "do not further harm the reputation of the plaintiff".
If its defences are unsuccessful, the ABC says the court should take into account Mr Macdonald's "bad reputation" in assessing damages.
It argues that, at the time of the broadcast in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT – and the publication of the story online – Mr Macdonald had acquired "a reputation as a corrupt former NSW member of Parliament and government minister".
The news report on October 30 last year included footage of Mr Macdonald with a voice-over stating the former mining minister and his political ally, Mr Obeid, "made millions over mining deals in NSW. They were found to be corrupt and now face possible criminal charges".
In a report released in July last year, the ICAC found that Mr Macdonald, Mr Obeid and Mr Obeid's middle son, Moses, corruptly agreed in 2008 to create a coal tenement over the Obeids' Bylong Valley farm.
It recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider criminal charges against all three men.
The Obeids made $30 million from the deal. There was evidence before the ICAC of an arrangement for Mr Macdonald to receive a $4 million cut of the proceeds of the planned sale of the company which acquired a coal exploration licence over the property.
But the ICAC heard the sale did not go ahead and Mr Macdonald did not receive the money.
Mr Macdonald says the broadcast has brought him into "hatred, ridicule and contempt". He is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, and costs.
The former minister has been investigated in three separate ICAC inquiries and was found to have acted corruptly in each of them.
In July last year, the ICAC found the then energy minister corruptly solicited the services of a prostitute called Tiffanie as a "reward" for setting up meetings with state-owned energy company executives for businessman Ron Medich.
Mr Medich was later charged with murder in an unrelated case.
In August last year, the ICAC found that, in December 2008, Mr Macdonald corruptly awarded a coal exploration licence to a company then chaired by his "mate" and former union boss John Maitland.
Multicultural arsonist, it seems
The owner of a Rozelle convenience store destroyed by a fire that killed three people has now been charged with three counts of murder and two of attempted murder.
Adeel Khan, 44, was also charged with three counts of manslaughter and 17 charges relating to the damage to property caused by the fire in Darling Street on September 4. One of those charges is setting fire for a financial gain, with police alleging the fire was deliberately lit.
Mr Khan, who was injured in the blast, was charged by detectives while he remains in Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
He was granted a bedside hearing where he was remanded in custody and will appear in court again in October.
Bianka O'Brien, 31, her baby son Jude and their neighbour Chris Noble, 27, all died in the Darling Street fire. Three others were injured, including Mr Khan, who was discovered by fire crews trapped underneath a commercial fridge.
The fire tore through the convenience store, which he had owned for only months, the neighbouring mobile phone shop and the residential units above in the early hours of September 4.
Mr Noble's two flatmates and another resident, Anthony Carroll, who lived above the store managed to jump free from the building while it was on fire.
A large section of the Rozelle end of Darling Street was closed for almost a fortnight as police combed through the rubble and demolished a neighbouring store amid fears it too could collapse.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
From commenter "Olbe"
Here is a statistic that you will not be told about because of political-correctness and the infamous anti-discrimination clause section-18C.
The largest recipients of the DSP welfare benefits are groups of men of middle-eastern heritage located in the inner western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. A visit to the numerous Gyms in these suburbs will highlight the number of fit, muscle bound and steroid induced types pumping iron who are all on DSP (Disability Support Pensions). They use these welfare benefits as a form of a cash-flow to support and hide their other illegal activities.
They get these welfare benefits by intimidating and standing over CentreLink staff and by using compliant ethnic doctors.
Liberal MP Alex Hawke accuses ABC's Q&A of broadcasting 'conspiracy theories' on terror raids
A federal Liberal MP has slammed the ABC for broadcasting what he says are inflammatory "conspiracy theories" about last week's terror raids on last night's Q&A program.
Alex Hawke's electorate of Mitchell in Sydney's Hills district was the focus for many of the raids, in which police say they foiled a plot to carry out a random "demonstration execution" on the streets of Sydney.
He gave an impassioned speech to the Coalition party room on Tuesday morning, which sources say the Attorney-General George Brandis praised as the finest contribution of the meeting. Mr Hawke also asked that his concerns be conveyed to ABC management via official channels.
He criticised the views expressed by the two non-MP panellists, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Anne-Azza Aly, and said the publicly funded ABC is obliged to present more balanced views from the Muslim community.
Ms Abdel-Fattah described the terror raids as a "spectacle" and "conveniently timed" ahead of the government's "most draconian" national security legislation which is being introduced into Parliament this week.
"You cannot help but feel cynical about the timing of these raids, the fact that it is whipping people up into a frenzy of hysteria, or war fever," she said. "It reinforced this wider narrative of Muslims as criminals ... and I'm very cynical about the government's decision to politicise these raids," she added.
Counter terrorism expert and academic Ms Aly said "all terrorism is theatre and all counter-terrorism is theatre, so yes, [the raids were] a manufactured spectacle".
When contacted by Fairfax Media for a comment, Mr Hawke said "I thought the ABC let the team down by entertaining these conspiracies".
A source said Mr Hawke's criticisms of the ABC were well-received. "There were a lot of hear, hears," the MP said.
A spokesman for the ABC defended the program and pointed to the variety of panelists, which included the government's Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
"We were confident when we brought them together that all of the panelists would be more than capable of putting their own case, participating in a vigorous debate and answering challenging questions; that's exactly what they did," said the spokesman.
The spokesman added that Q&A is a "significant component of Australia's vigorous democracy" and gives Australians the opportunity to debate national issues.
The ABC is facing more funding cuts, in breach of the government's pre-election pledge not to cut funding to the national broadcaster, and it is possible that flagship programs including Lateline could be slashed.
Anti-muslim protest: Hundreds rally at proposed Sunshine Coast mosque
Hundreds of people protesting against a mosque on Queensland's Sunshine Coast have come to verbal blows with the building's supporters, with about 20 police separating the emotionally charged groups.
More than 200 anti-Muslim demonstrators shook placards stating: "Islam is plotting our destruction" and "Australia we have a problem" at the site of the planned mosque, on Church Street in Maroochydore.
The protesters said they were concerned the site could become a hub of radicalisation, threatening the local community.
"I'm not for it anywhere in Australia," a man who called himself Aussie Ron told the ABC.
One Nation state president Jim Savage, who said he had two adopted Asian daughters, said he was not a religious bigot nor a racist.
"This is nothing to do with race," he said. "What Muslim preaches violates the laws of my country. It is an ideological, political organisation wrapped up in a very thin skin of religion.
"I ask anybody to name any Western country in the world where there had been a large influx of Muslims where they have seen an improvement and have not seen social issues."
Pakistani-born Justin Albert warned of experiences of oppression in his native country. "Chopping their heads, it is their Jihad," he said.
More than 50 pro-mosque demonstrators tried to shout down the anti-mosque group, calling them bigots and ignorant. They riled their opponents further by singing the national anthem and other iconic national songs. "You've never read anything," one pro-mosque protester taunted the angry mob.
Another promoter, who did not release his name, said there needed to be more education. "The Sunshine Coast Muslim community has existed here for over 30 years guys and no one has even batted an eyelid," he said. "I think it's just a lack of education at the end of the day guys.
"Education, if people could sit down I would have a chat with every single person here at the end of the day if they would love to and I can teach them a few things on the truth of Islam the truth of these Muslim people."
The protest comes just days after a mosque was rejected by the Gold Coast Council, which cited a lack of parking, noise issues and community concern
Taking the fight to terrorism is a job for Morrison
Tough, relentless, uncompromising - Scott Morrison is just the politician to respond to the threat of terrorism that today sent a chill through Australia, writes Barrie Cassidy
Scott Morrison's day has come. It's now time for the Immigration Minister to step up and take responsibility for the fight against terrorism.
Nobody is better qualified. Nobody would bring the same sense of reassurance, confidence and security that the country now needs.
Make no mistake, the allegation that Australian citizens turned terrorists were preparing to snatch people from the streets, drape them in the IS flag, and behead them will send a chill through the nation. No matter the level of threat, the public will be on edge.
This is no longer a vaguely held belief that those who choose to join terrorists overseas represent some sort of threat if and when they return home. The suggestion now is that those who would commit unspeakable evil are living here among us.
Granted, the Immigration Minister is the most polarising politician in the country. He is probably the most popular in the eyes of Coalition voters, and the most despised by the partisans who support Labor.
Witness Chris Uhlmann's question to Morrison on the ABC's AM program on Thursday morning. Uhlmann:
"Finally, has there been a personal toll on you? You've been described as a brute, a barbarian - even a murderer."
Morrison: "Well, I think there are all sorts of outrageous claims and I just get on and do my job. I mean, we were elected on the basis of stopping the boats and doing what we said we would do. Now I've done that, I've got the results to date... I think people should feel pleased with that ... when it comes to border protection and on many other issues."
That the question could be asked in those terms, and that Morrison could respond without blinking an eye, is testimony to the passion and emotion that he can generate.
He has as well left himself open to ridicule for his over-reliance on "on water matters" to avoid taking difficult questions on the treatment of asylum seekers.
He wasn't, however, silly enough to embrace the declaration in some media outlets on Thursday morning that the mission has been accomplished:
"We can never do that because this mission is always ongoing. You must be eternally vigilant."
Morrison could have added that the mission cannot be truly accomplished until those on Manus Island - the 50 per cent of asylum seekers already deemed to be genuine refugees - are found a permanent safe haven.
Yet unquestionably Morrison is a tough, relentless, uncompromising operator who doesn't obsess about his own popularity. They are precisely the qualities that are now required. He needs to seamlessly switch his attention from people smugglers to terrorists.
Niki Savva observed in The Australian on Thursday that because Morrison's border protection brief had already provided scope for his involvement in the terrorism issue, he "has been swung into the frontline to bolster the arguments".
And sure enough, when news broke of the massive raids in Sydney and Brisbane, Morrison was first on to the national media.
Savva wrote: "This has added weight to speculation within the bureaucracy that any reshuffle by Abbott could see Morrison put in charge of a ramped-up homeland security-type portfolio.
Let's hope she's right."
There has already been speculation that Morrison might replace the underperforming David Johnston as Defence Minister. That might have made sense a few weeks ago. But now, somehow even that senior role is not big enough.
Morrison needs an all-encompassing role that oversees the terrorism threat from both home and abroad; and the government needs his occasionally pugnacious but direct communications skills on the issue that will now feature strongly in the national debate all the way through to the next election
Ground forces should come from Arab countries: Julie Bishop
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has made a strong pitch for Arab countries providing any ground forces that might be needed to beat back the brutal Islamic State group in Iraq.
Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media that if ground forces are required – a possibility raised this week by the top US military commander if the strategy against the militants fails – the responsibility should fall to Iraq's neighbours rather than countries such as Australia.
"The Arab nations have sophisticated weaponry, they have defence forces and they are more at risk given the proximity of ISIL than Australia," Ms Bishop said, using the alternative name for the Islamic State group.
"To my mind that's where the first call should be made on anything beyond the current strategy."
Ms Bishop will on Friday attend a US-led United Nations debate on Iraq and remain in New York for the start of a broader General Assembly meeting next week. Prime Minister Tony Abbott will arrive next week for discussion on countering terrorism and foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.
Her remarks came as the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, confirmed that Australian special forces soldiers would go "beyond the wire" of bases and move with Iraqi troops on the battlefield. But they would operate out of headquarters at the level of battalions, meaning each small team of Australians would advise and help about 100 Iraqi soldiers, which Air Chief Marshal Binskin said would keep them back from the front line.
"We will not be conducting independent combat operations as formed forces. We'll be in support of the Iraqi Security Forces," he said.
The special forces would be commandos, rather than SAS soldiers who would receive the standard military allowances for "war-like situations". But the military chief said calling the Australian operation "war" would give the Islamic State "a legitimacy they don't deserve".
Australian military planners are in Baghdad working with the Americans and Iraqis on how missions would be carried out. They will report to Air Chief Marshal Binskin and he will advise the government before ahead of any final decision.
Australia's Super Hornet planes will also be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as air strikes and "close air support" of Iraqi troops on the ground, he said.
General Martin Dempsey, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opened the door on Tuesday night to a US ground force, saying: "If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President."
Ms Bishop reiterated that Australia had "no intention" of sending ground combat troops – a pledge the Obama administration is also sticking to.
"If the United States military experts say otherwise somewhere down the track, then … I assume the United States would go for support from other countries in the region who are there with the capacity to do that," Ms Bishop said.
"If you look at the General Dempsey scenario – and that's what it is, it's a scenario, a hypothetical – they can point to many other parts of the world that would have a much closer role and logistically be far better able to support any United States strategy in that regard."
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Goulburn Jail cancels Muslim prayer meetings as prisoners go berserk
PRISON officers in riot gear have used tear gas to control maximum security inmates who tore apart Goulburn Jail in a racially fuelled riot described as the biggest in 10 years.
With shouts of “Allah Akbar”, prisoners armed with homemade weapons threatened guards and smashed through an internal fence at the state’s toughest jail, which was in lockdown yesterday.
The riot came as prison authorities cracked down on Muslim prayer meetings in the state’s jails, believed to be a key way Islamic extremists foment their hatred and plot their attacks. Police were called in and investigations are ongoing.
Tensions have been running high in the prison system as federal and NSW police step up their surveillance of suspected terrorists and any of their associates inside and outside prisons after the country’s terror alert was raised to high.
A source has revealed how the violence began in the maximum wing of the Goulburn facility about 3pm on Saturday when a number of ringleaders refused to line up for afternoon muster.
The source said the unrest had begun as a result of some privileges being requested — and denied — for a handful of inmates, but the situation quickly turned into a full-scale riot along religious lines.
“They’d been knocked back something ...,” the source said. “The issue wasn’t a Muslim-related issue, but it was the Muslim guys who got into it, yelling out to Allah. “They were refusing to go into their cells. They refused to line up, then it went from there and exploded.”
The prison officers had “geared-up” as soon as they sensed trouble.
The riot did not involve convicted terrorists held in Goulburn’s Supermax, who remain under constant surveillance.
Those inmates include Mohamed Ali Elomar who is serving a 21-year sentence for his leadership in the 2005 Pendennis terror plot.
He is the uncle of former boxer Mohamed Elomar, one of the Australian jihadis currently fighting with the Islamic State in Syria. Mohamed Elomar is with Khaled Sharrouf, who had been jailed along with Ali Elomar over the 2005 plot and fled overseas last year when he was released from jail.
Following Saturday’s riots, seven ringleaders were segregated and four were seen by medical staff for minor injuries. Corrective Services NSW confirmed it had used chemicals on Saturday against inmates who caused damage but denied reports that it was religiously motivated.
“Inmate unrest began about 3pm yesterday after staff informed inmates in that yard that a good behaviour privilege was being withdrawn, due to earlier verbal abuse of correctional staff,” a spokesman said.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said: “I have every confidence in Corrective Services in keeping our community safe
Australian Megachurch With a Beat Lures a Young Flock Worldwide
LOS ANGELES — A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”
The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.
The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.
Powered by a thriving, and lucrative, recording label that dominates Christian contemporary music, it has a vast reach — by some estimates, 100,000 people in the pews each weekend, 10 million followers on social media, 16 million albums sold, with its songs popping up in churches from Uzbekistan to Papua New Guinea.
Founded 30 years ago, Hillsong has churches in Amsterdam; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin; Cape Town; Copenhagen; Kiev, Ukraine; London; New York; Paris; and Stockholm, as well as multiple campuses in Australia and, now, an embryonic congregation in Los Angeles.
The Hillsong empire might appear to be a musical powerhouse first and a church second. It is, after all, a multimillion-dollar enterprise, drawing large crowds to arena concert performances; one of its bands, Hillsong United, is even the subject of a documentary scheduled for release by Warner Bros. next year.
Its songs, with a folk rock sound and simple, accessible lyrics, pervade the Christian charts and have transformed the Christian songbook.
“They are without a doubt the most influential producers of worship music in Christendom,” said Fred Markert, a Colorado-based leader of Youth With a Mission, a Christian organization. And Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, an organization based in Nashville that studies practices in American Christianity, declared in an analysis of Hillsong, “In sensory stimulation, Hillsong’s productions rival any other contemporary form of entertainment.”
But its critics, and there are many, deride Hillsong as hipster Christianity, suggesting that its theology is thin, its enthusiasm for celebrities (Justin Bieber is among its fans) unbecoming, its politics (opposition to abortion and a murky position on homosexuality) opaque.
“It’s a prosperity movement for the millennials, in which the polyester and middle-class associations of Oral Roberts have given way to ripped jeans and sophisticated rock music,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel, and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.”
For young Christians in cities where Hillsong has churches, it has become a magnet, combining the production values of a rock concert, the energy of a nightclub and the community of a megachurch. Many of the worshipers say they are drawn by the music but have stayed because of the opportunity to be with other young Christians, and because they believe that the churches can help transform cities, both through prayer and through direct social services.
“I want to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Tricia Hidalgo, 29, who said that she first heard Hillsong music played in her childhood church in Ontario, Calif., and that as a young adult she gave up studying to be a teacher to move to Australia to attend Hillsong’s Bible college. Now, she is volunteering for the church in Los Angeles.
“We’re going to love the city, love the people, and, to me, I feel like love can break any walls,” she said.
Amanda-Paige Whittington, 32, recalled hearing Hillsong’s first huge hit, “Shout to the Lord,” as a girl in a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi.
“I told my mom, ‘One day I’m going to Hillsong,’ ” said Ms. Whittington, who also attended Hillsong’s Bible college in Sydney and now lives in Orange County. “The music drew me to the church.”
Hillsong Los Angeles, as well as Hillsong New York, which opened four years ago, is an example of a growing phenomenon in global Christianity: big church brands taking on big secular cities. This year, Saddleback Church, the Orange County megachurch led by Rick Warren, opened its own campus in Los Angeles, while several years ago, Willow Creek, the megachurch based in South Barrington, Ill., opened a campus in Chicago.
“There’s no question there’s a real current of evangelical enamorment with cities,” Mr. Stetzer said. “Evangelicals have been a rural people historically, and the cities were the places where sin was. But cities are also where the people are.”
Hillsong chooses cities not only because of population density, but also because of their impact on culture.
“These are tough, hard, dry towns for contemporary churches,” said Brian Houston, the Sydney-based senior pastor of the Hillsong empire. “We want to be strategic, and really impact cities of influence, so that the influence can reach far beyond.”
Hillsong has critics who monitor speakers at its conferences, and utterances by its leaders, for deviations from Christian orthodoxy (of concern to the right) or evidence of social conservatism (of concern to the left). Its finances have been scrutinized by the Australian news media; its preaching is tracked by a critical blog. This year, Mr. Houston issued a clarification after being criticized by other evangelicals for suggesting that Christians and Muslims serve the same God.
Hillsong, founded by Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, has been anti-abortion and has described gay sex as sinful. But recently, church leaders have moderated their tone; the pastor of Hillsong New York, Carl Lentz, passed up two opportunities this year to express a view on same-sex marriage, in interviews with Katie
In the United States, Hillsong is nondenominational; in Australia, it is associated with the Australian Christian Churches, which is an affiliate of the Assemblies of God. For a time, Mr. Houston was the head of the denomination, and in 2000, he fired his father, Frank Houston, who was serving at another church, after the elder Mr. Houston acknowledged having abused a boy decades earlier.
One of Brian Houston’s sons, Joel, is Hillsong’s creative director, performs with Hillsong United and serves as a pastor at Hillsong New York. Another son, Ben, is the pastor of Hillsong Los Angeles. Ben has the “Faith” tattoo on one arm, as well as tattoos of the characters +=♥ (Jesus Is Love) and the names of his three daughters, surrounded by images of flowers and butterflies, as well as that of a lion, “to remind me I’m a man.”
Hillsong’s worship style is charismatic, meaning there is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on divine healing, but there is little speaking in tongues, which is seen at more conventional Pentecostal churches.
The Houstons like to say that worship should be enjoyed, not endured. Services are often held in dimly lit concert venues: In New York, the church started at Irving Plaza and then relocated to the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center; in Los Angeles, a debut was held at 1 Oak, a West Hollywood club. There are lines to get in, and fewer seats than worshipers. Some worshipers share images and thoughts on social media during services.
The sound has evolved over the decades, but is now sometimes compared to U2’s. Tom Wagner, an ethnomusicologist at the University of Edinburgh, said Hillsong’s music was characterized by rich orchestration, but simple harmonies, and was often regarded by listeners as “spiritually anointed.”
“They’re very good at writing songs that are catchy,” Mr. Wagner said. “They know what works.”
Hard conversation about Aboriginal culture and child protection needed
Conservative social commentators have indulged in 'divisive grandstanding' by linking Aboriginal culture to the abuse and neglect of Aboriginal children, according to Ngiare Brown, the deputy chairman of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council.
These claims suppress the hard conversation we need to have about Aboriginal culture and child protection.
We cannot afford to ignore the question of 'culture' when discussing child maltreatment in disadvantaged Aboriginal communities, because 'culture' has long been pivotal to what is and isn't done to protect Aboriginal children.
Since at least the publication in 1997 of the Bringing them home report ('Stolen Generations' report), the standard literature on Aboriginal child protection has used the defence of traditional culture to downplay the impact of customary Aboriginal parenting practices on child wellbeing.
Bringing them home blamed the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system on the 'cultural bias' of caseworkers who failed to understand and respect Aboriginal family values. Because these values differed from the Western view of the 'normal' nuclear family, Aboriginal customs - such as lack of parental supervision, encouraging children to be self-reliant, and the involvement of extended kin networks in rearing children - were incorrectly labelled by caseworkers as neglectful.
This analysis of the Aboriginal 'village' stepping in for parents and caring for children remains influential. The 2007 Wood report into child protection in NSW stressed how difficult it is for caseworkers 'raised in Anglo-Celtic society' and valuing 'the nuclear family above other conceptualizations of the "family", to have any insight into ...the safety of an Aboriginal child.' Similarly, the 2013 Cummins report into child protection in Victoria also stressed the need for 'culturally competent' assessments of the needs of Aboriginal children and families.
The problems with a 'culturally appropriate' approach to Aboriginal child protection are twofold.
The first problem is that the sort of culturally determined parenting practices described above, which may have been suitable in the social conditions of the past, are no longer functioning well in the present. This has created a genuine child protection problem; it has been well-documented by the Australian Institute of Family Studies that the most common form of maltreatment experienced by Aboriginal children is chronic parental neglect of basic needs including 'adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, hygiene or medical attention.'
The anthropologist Peter Sutton (who is no conservative) has argued that culturally embedded Aboriginal parenting practices, which he describes as a 'customary permissiveness in the raising of children', play an important role in accounting for neglect of children's most fundamental needs.
The second problem is under-responding to the protective needs of Aboriginal children out of fear of being judgemental or 'culturally inappropriate'. The assertion that concerns about Aboriginal families are motivated by cultural insensitivity, at best, and racism, at worst, creates a powerful justification for non-intervention by child protection authorities. It promotes double standards and reverse racism in the name of 'respecting culture' that lead to Aboriginal children being left in circumstances from which non-Aboriginal children would be removed.
It may not be politically correct to discuss how culture - the habits accumulated overtime and passed down through the generations - might be maladapted and have negative welfare effects. But nor is it 'racist' to do so.
'Culture', whether it is Aboriginal or otherwise, cannot be used as an excuse if child protection policy is to advance the best interests of Aboriginal children.
Snowden reveals tapping of major Australia-New Zealand undersea telecommunications cable
A major undersea telecommunications cable that connects Australia and New Zealand to North America has been tapped to allow the United States National Security Agency and its espionage partners to comprehensively harvest Australian and New Zealand internet data.
Documents published by The Intercept website by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden show that New Zealand's electronic spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), worked in 2012 and 2013 to implement a mass metadata surveillance system based on covert access to the Southern Cross undersea cable network.
Founded in 1997, Southern Cross owns and operates a Trans-Pacific submarine cable network connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii to the internet backbone on the west coast of the United States. The network was developed to service the rapid growth of Internet traffic across the Pacific. It is owned by Telecom New Zealand with a 50 per cent share, SingTel Optus (Australia's second-largest telecommunications provider) with 40 per cent and Verizon Business with 10 per cent.
Top secret documents provided by Mr Snowden show that the GCSB, with ongoing cooperation from the US National Security Agency, implemented Phase I of a mass surveillance program code-named "Speargun" at some time in 2012 or early 2013.
"Speargun" involved the covert installation of "cable access" equipment connected to New Zealand's main undersea cable link, the Southern Cross Cable, which carries internet traffic between Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Upon completion of the first stage, Speargun moved to Phase II, under which "metadata probes" were to be inserted into those cables. The leaked NSA documents note that the first such metadata probe was scheduled for installation in "mid-2013". Surveillance probes of this sort are used by NSA and its "5-eyes" partners including the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to tap into high capacity fibre-optic communication cables, enabling them to extract vast flows of data including the dates, times, senders, and recipients of emails, phone calls, as well as the actual content of communications as required.
The latest disclosures from top secret documents leaked by Mr Snowden come in the context of the final stages of New Zealand's election campaign where New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been under pressure to explain the extent of GCSB's surveillance activities. On Sunday Mr Key stridently attacked US journalist Glen Greenwald, who is the author of numerous articles based on Mr Snowden's materials including Monday's report published on The Intercept website.
Mr Snowden, in a post for The Intercept, also published on Monday, accused Prime Minster Key of misleading the New Zealand public about GCSB's role in mass surveillance. "The Prime Minister's claim to the public, that 'there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance', is false," the former NSA analyst wrote. "The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargetted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks."
Mr Snowden explained that "at the NSA, I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called 'X-Keyscore'". He further observed that "the GCSB provides mass surveillance data into X-KEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at facilities such as the GCSB facility in Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact."
Mr Key responded quickly to the latest disclosures, claiming that "there is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB".
The New Zealand Prime Minister said he would not discuss the X-Keyscore program, saying "we don't discuss the specific programmes the GCSB may, or may not use".
"But the GCSB does not collect mass metadata on New Zealanders, therefore it is clearly not contributing such data to anything or anyone," Mr Key said.
Fairfax Media has previously reported on the Australian Signals Directorate's involvement in the X-Keyscore program and the ASD's cooperation with Singapore's Ministry of Defence to tap submarine cables in South East Asia.
The Australian Signals Directorate has also acquired sophisticated technology designed to tap high-speed fibre optic data cables including those that connect Australia with Asia and North America. The huge volume of intelligence now collected by the ASD data has required the construction of a new $163.5 million data storage facility at the HMAS Harman naval communications facility near Canberra.
The latest revelations from Mr Snowden's trove of leaked intelligence documents are likely to fuel debate in Australia about the Commonwealth Government's controversial proposals for compulsory retention of metadata by telecommunications and internet service providers for access without warrant by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and law enforcement agencies. Attorney-General George Brandis yesterday confirmed the Australian Government's determination to introduce legislation to mandate the compulsory data retention "later in the year".