Monday, December 14, 2015
More pandering to Muslims
A member of a far-right anti-Islam group has filmed himself walking into a bank wearing a motorbike helmet, furry dog suit, and a burqa as part of what he claims is a social experiment to 'test bank security protocols.'
In the footage, Perth man Dennis Huts sets about disproving what he believes is a 'politically correct allowance'. He thinks burqas should not be worn inside Australian banks for the safety of customers.
The video was uploaded to the United Patriots Front Facebook page with the caption: 'This shows how our society cowers before Islam in fear of offending it.'
'This is the clear and present danger and people need to wake up.'
Mr Huts begins his 'social experiment' by putting on a motorbike helmet and stepping into a Westpac branch, but is immediately told by security he must leave the premises.
'I got two feet into the bank and they told me to get out and take off the helmet - and I can't come back into the bank with the helmet on,' Mr Huts said.
'It seems that you're not allowed to go into a bank with your identity concealed, probably because it gives you a better chance of robbing the bank and getting away with it,' he added.
Next up he puts on an oversized furry dog suit - much to the amusement of a child resting in his arms - and attempts to enter the bank for a second time.
Once again, he is quickly asked to leave by the security - who he captures using a hidden camera inside the dog suit.
His final outfit is a traditional Islamic burqa, covering his body from head to toe except for a small slither of skin to show his eyes.
He receives a number of strange looks from customers inside the bank, but is not told to leave the bank - despite wandering around aimlessly with the pretense of depositing cash.
Clearly disappointed by the lack of attention his final outfit received, Mr Huts approached two staff members to question why he had not been asked to leave.
'I came in the bank today three times with my identity hidden,' he told the gentle security guard.
'Do you think we make allowances on the grounds of cultural sensitivity?' he probed.
'Do you think the risk is the same? In that burqa I could have had a gun under that thing or anything,' he said.
The video has received mixed messages on the United Fronts Facebook page, which has been known to post controversial material to incite reactions from its near-30,000 followers.
The group is unapologetic in its message of denouncing Islam and says it will fight if necessary.
Federal Government lifts Tony Abbott's wind farm investment ban
More money wasted on intellectual fashion
The Federal Government has lifted a ban on wind farm investment first introduced by former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt issued new advice to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), requesting a focus on "offshore wind technologies".
Under the new mandate, signed by Mr Hunt and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on December 3, the $10 billion fund will be allowed to invest in wind projects, as long as they incorporate "emerging and innovative" methods.
"The Government has also directed the Corporation to include, as part of its investment activities in clean energy technologies, a focus on offshore wind technologies," the directive issued to the CEFC said.
"This recognises that, in many circumstances, the financing requirements for mature and established clean energy technologies such as onshore wind technologies may be met from commercial financing sources."
In July, former treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the CEFC to stop funding wind power projects, as well as small-scale solar projects, a move condemned by the industry, as well as environmental groups and the federal opposition.
Five months later, the CEFC quietly announced $67 million in financing for Australia's third largest wind farm at Ararat in Western Victoria.
It follows consultations with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has promised more certainty for the renewable energy sector.
Acting Greens leader Larissa Waters said it was a small but welcome step. "Tony Abbott was prepared to take the axe to renewable energy and was going to restrict investment," she said. "We know wind is going to be part of the solution and we've got some fantastic wind deposits here in Australia."
Victoria's Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the decision to overturn the ban was good news for local jobs and dealing with climate change. "It's been a very rocky 18 months for the industry and investment which has caused a lot of losses of jobs across Australia so this is a positive step forward," she said.
South Australia's Environment Minister Ian Hunter also welcomed the move. "There are a number of wind farms in the pipeline. We're aiming for $10 billion worth of investment, we've already had $6.4 billion, and I know that there'll be a number announced in the new term," he said.
The general manager of wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince, Steve Garner, said it was the start of a new era for renewable energy under the Turnbull Government. "People need to realise, the CEFC is a real strong arm of renewable energy and projects through out the nation and there is an absolute need to maintain the CFEC's position in the industry because it really does help any new wind farm to get up there going," he said.
"With the RET out there at the moment being a target that needs to be met by 2020, I see the CEFC as an important group that need to survive to ensure that target is actually met."
He said it was another level of certainty for the wind energy industry. "We've had a lot of ups and downs but we've got two more federal elections before 2020 and I'd have a lot of confidence to say that target will increase dramatically," he said.
Muslim leaders call for WA mosques to fly Australian flag on Australia Day
My local Sudanese mosque does fly the Australian flag, which may mean something
Muslim leaders have called for mosques to fly the Australian flag on Australia Day.
The move is being supported by large sections of the Muslim community in Perth, including the Imam and worshippers at the Mirrabooka Mosque.
Spokesman for the Mirrabooka Mosque, Ismael Fredericks, said the mosque will be flying the Australian flag and having an open day with a barbecue on Australia Day.
"We are saying that we are as Australian as anyone else and we hope that lots of non-Muslims come along and join us as we celebrate Australia Day," he said.
The call for Muslims to 'fly-the-flag' came from Murdoch University academic Dr Ameer Ali, the former president of the Federation of Islamic Councils.
Writing in The West Australian he said the move would be a small but vital step towards national integration.
"By hoisting the national flag in the mosque compound at least on the national day the Muslim community is reinforcing its unassailable position that it is a community of and not in Australia," he said.
"The national flag and the national anthem are national icons of this country. Muslims should respect them and that goes a long way towards demonstrating their readiness to integrate with mainstream Australians."
Mr Fredericks agreed. "I came to Australia from South Africa 40 years ago and as soon as I got here I knew I wanted to stay so I became an Australian citizen and I've been a dinky-di Aussie since then. This is a very good country full of very good people," he said.
10 years of slow progress with teaching literacy
CIS held a roundtable this week to mark the tenth anniversary of the National Inquiry into Teaching Literacy. The inquiry was prompted by an open letter to then federal education minister Brendan Nelson from 26 academics who were deeply concerned about persistent low literacy of Australian students. Published in The Australian, the letter stated that in many schools, teachers were not using the most effective, evidence-based instruction methods and literacy programs. It warned literacy rates would not improve until this changed.
The report from the inquiry supported the letter's claims. However, 10 years later, progress has been slow and literacy rates reflect this. At the CIS roundtable, Emeritus Professor Max Coltheart -- one of the signatories to the 2004 letter -- described the timeline of action and inaction over the past 10 years: a somewhat depressing illustration of the challenge of getting research evidence into classroom practice. Dr Jenny Donovan talked about the work of the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE); an important initiative of the NSW Department of Education and Training that is attempting to bridge the research-to-practice gap.
For substantial change to occur, multiple players will need to be involved. High-level policy documents now more often reflect the evidence on teaching reading, but principals and teachers carry the responsibility for classroom implementation -- and this has been patchy. Western Australian media this week reported on a study of nine schools that had achieved exceptional performance in NAPLAN. It found that all nine had in common the explicit and systematic teaching of phonics (also known as 'synthetic phonics') in the early years of primary school.
The study author, Emeritus Professor Bill Louden -- who was deputy chair of the NITL committee in 2005 -- said "All of the schools were using synthetic phonics and 10 years ago that wouldn't have been the case...from my point of view, there is no excuse not to begin with synthetic phonics with small children, otherwise you're just waiting for them to fail."
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope after all. Early next year, the CIS will launch its project to ensure effective reading instruction is provided for all children. Stay tuned.
Charging for yoga is wrong??
POPULAR activewear brand Lorna Jane has come under fire from an international Hindu organisation over its latest project, a “wellness lounge” in Sydney airport offering yoga and pilates classes.
The Lorna Jane Active Living Room is located in the T2 domestic terminal and features an exercise room overlooking the runway, a Lorna Jane clothing store and a health food cafe.
There are eleven other Active Living Rooms around the country with similar facilities and most are located in large shopping hubs. Members of the Lorna Jane rewards club can access these facilities for free.
At the Sydney airport facility, travellers who are non-members have to pay $12 to join a 45-minute yoga or pilates class.
But the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, self-described “Hindu statesman” Rajan Zed, has urged Sydney airport to provide a free yoga space for all passengers.
The Nevada-based Hindu leader sent a press release to Australian media outlets on Thursday criticising the airport, which is run by a private company but sits on public land.
“Airports should provide yoga space for the passengers, staff and visitors without any charge if airport managements are serious [about] reducing their stress levels and becoming a world-class airport,” Mr Zed told news.com.au.
“Yoga is a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilised by all and charging a fee for it at a public facility like Sydney Airport does not seem right ... These yoga spaces should be open to people of all faiths.”