Friday, December 04, 2015
MP Bob Baldwin uses speech in Parliament to criticise Muslim community leaders
BOB Baldwin has questioned why male refugees fleeing war-torn countries don’t “stand and fight” and says he would expect his two sons to defend Australia from terrorism.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday night, Mr Baldwin criticised Muslim community leaders for their response to acts of terrorism, and said he was concerned some were seeking to prevent the celebration of Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. He also questioned why “males aged 18 to 45” were fleeing countries like Iraq and Syria.
“I have to ask the question on behalf of my constituents, why are they not staying [and] training to defend their land, their lifestyle [and] their rights,” he said.
Mr Baldwin said if Australia was attacked by a terrorist group like Islamic State he would “stay to fight” and he would “expect the same of my sons”.
He said it was “a bit rich” to expect soldiers from other countries to “lay down their life for you if you are not prepared to stand and fight”.
But Paul Power, chief executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, said refugee numbers suggested many men were staying behind.
“Almost a quarter of the families that have sought refuge outside Syria have a female as their head, suggesting many males have stayed behind to defend their homes and their lives,” he said. “Many single men are continuing on to Europe in the hope they can send some financial assistance to the family members they leave behind.”
An estimated 220,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria since it began four years ago, and Mr Power said for many “staying and fighting is simply not an option” in the face of bombings, chemical weapons and Islamic State brutality.
“We would like to meet with Mr Baldwin and discuss with him some of the many challenges that those who are in the midst of the conflict face,” he said. “We have written to him on a number of occasions to offer him briefings and remain hopeful we will have the opportunity to meet him in the near future.”
Climate mumbo jumbo
This reminds me of medieval controversies about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I know the answer but I'm not telling
Environment Minister Greg Hunt says Australia will back a call from small island nations for a Paris climate change agreement to include an aspirational goal of capping global temperature rises at 1.5 degrees celsius which is lower than the United Nations current target of 2C.
Pacific states and other nations vulnerable to rising sea levels are calling for a tougher cap on global warming at the UN Paris talks taking place over the next fortnight. Their concerns are heightened by the series of national carbon reduction pledges made in the lead up to the UN conference which will not be enough to meet the agreed goal of keeping warming to within 2C of pre-industrial levels - estimates suggest the current commitments add up to about 2.7 degrees of warming.
The government's attitude towards its smaller regional neighbours came into question this week after an attempt by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to ridicule Labor's Tanya Plibersbek backfired. Ms Bishop accused her rival of wrongly claiming the island of Eneko had "disappeared" but instead got the name of the island wrong herself.
However, the Alliance of Small Island States, whose members include Fiji and Jamaica, has used Australia as broker in its discussions with bigger nations about including the 1.5C aspiration in the wording of any agreement. The 1.5C goal cannot be included as a firm target because it would be vetoed by larger developing nations who argue it would put too much pressure on the their growing economies which require fossil fuels to overcome issues such as access to electricity.
"The small island states would obviously like to see a clear goal for 1.5 degrees," Mr Hunt said. "Some of the largest developing countries are more resistant to that. Australia is happy to have a reference to 1.5 degrees with obviously the clear over-arching goal fo the agreement being below 2C. We are acting as a broker in that space. Our approach is to be flexible and construtive."
Mr Hunt said one of the main challenges for the more than 190 countries represented at the Paris summit will be agreeing on "genuine" five-yearly reviews of national carbon reduction targets. Developed countries such as the US, Australia and France - as well as some fast-growing economies such as China - believe reviews are critical to ensuring nations meet and then progressively improve their carbon reduction targets for 2030.
"I think that the central element to a solution here will be the review mechanisms," Mr Hunt said. "We have said that genuine five-year reviews beginning with a review that takes real effect in 2020, 2025, 2030 is the right way to do it."
France has set a Saturday deadline for the various negotiating groups to come up with a draft document that eventually could form the basis of a formal agreement. The text of this preliminary document will be at the heart of further negotiations between countries - Australia will be represented by Ms Bishop - during the second week of the conference.
Mr Hunt caused a minor commotion when he appeared to suggest the host nation had already produced a "French text". Smaller nations are sensitive to suggestions that France and other richer countries have pre-judged the process. However, Mr Hunt's office later clarified his reference was meant to refer to the text that would be produced as a result of the negotiating groups.
Mr Hunt said he remained confident that India - which is resisting strict five year reviews - would not be an obstacle to a binding agreement.
"I remain confident it will be hard fought two weeks but at the end of the day we are likely to achieve - and will achieve - an agreement," he said.
Climate Wankathon Begins
A comment from Australia here featuring typical Australian irreverence. Note: A "wanker" is the Australian version of "jerk"
In the lead up to the Paris climate conference, I suggested that Obama thought people in Syria wouldn’t be so angry if global warming hadn’t made it so damn hot over there.
Perhaps having taken my encouragement, Prince Charles then chimed in and said that climate change was the ‘root cause’ of the Syrian war (yes, really).
The only thing missing now are claims that we’re ruining the solar system, galaxy and universe in some sort of butterfly effect (I sincerely apologise if this encourages some climate nut to seriously make this claim).
Now that the conference has started, we can easily see what this campaign been designed to do – extract money from us:
Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for rich nations to honour their commitment to provide $US100 billion ($A138.98 billion) a year to developing countries to tackle climate change.
‘Developed countries should honour their commitment of mobilising $US100 billion each year from 2020 and provide stronger financial support to developing countries afterwards,’ Xi said, according to an official translation of his remarks.
I wonder if Jinping is including China, which is responsible for around 25% of worldwide emissions and which will keep building more coal power plants and ‘maybe’ reduce its emissions by 2030? (PS: I don’t blame China one bit – I would be doing the same if I saw a bunch of idiots hell bent on parting company with $100 billion a year).
And where is this $100 billion a year going to go I hear you ask? (Don’t ask too loud, or else the climate police may come and haul you before a climate court):
That includes $US53.8 billion annually to reduce emissions and $US39.9 billion to deal with more extreme weather and rising seas, according to a report from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
And here I was getting worried that there wouldn’t be a proper account of where the money was headed. I just wonder which section of that budget the travel and hotel expenses for this conference (with 40,000 attendees) will be booked under? (NB: 40,000 at a conservative $10,000 per person is $400 million).
At least the $800 million pledged by Turnbull so far is coming out of our existing foreign aid budget. So we’re in the clear, for now…
Buckle in, there’s another 10 days of this crap to go and the only guarantee is that a lot money will be pissed against the wall.
Sydney raids: Police storm homes in Merrylands as the line between Jihadis and Middle Eastern crime blurs
POLICE say the line between Middle Eastern organised crime and extremism has blurred after they uncovered threats to shoot up Merrylands police station.
The homes of two well known Sydney families, the Hauochars and the Alameddines, were raided by police yesterday after Facebook threats were uncovered.
The Alameddines, relatives of the man accused of supplying the gun that killed Curtis Cheng, and the family of one-eyed Osman Haouchar, detained on returning from the Middle East last week, brawled just hours after the 26-year-old landed. Neither family would help police.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins said raids were organised crime-related but there was no longer a definitive line between Middle Eastern organised crime and homegrown Islamic radicals. “The lines have blurred,” he said.
Mr Jenkins would not say if the counter-terrorism unit was involved in the raids but said despite “no items of interest” being found at either premises, police would continue investigations.
“(The Parramatta attack) has increased the threat environment for police and that threat environment is high … we will act very, very quickly in relation to specific information that we receive on those particular threats,” Mr Jenkins said.
No one was charged after the raids or in relation to the incident between the families.
NSW Police said the searches were being “conducted under the powers of firearms prohibition orders which were previously served on a number of men linked to the addresses being searched”.
The MEOC squad began an investigation into the alleged threats two weeks ago.
It is understood that a number of people at both houses were subject to the Firearms Prohibition Act, which gives police the power to swoop without a warrant.
“We will use a suite of powers when it comes to these types of threats and we make no apologies for that,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Jenkins said the operation was about ensuring the safety of police and the community, and followed information about the threat against a police station in greater Sydney involving a firearm.
“Any threat to police officers or police premises is of major concern and taken extremely seriously, as demonstrated by the operation we undertook today,” Mr Jenkins said.
“We will continue to take every precaution necessary to protect our officers and the safety of the wider community, and will respond swiftly to any specific threats that are received.
“As this is an ongoing operation, no further details are currently available but we will endeavour to provide an update later today.”
This morning’s raids follow on from a family feud between the Alamaddines — the relatives of the man accused of supplying the gun which killed Curtis Cheng in the Parramatta shooting — and the family of one-eyed Osman Haouchar, 26, who was detained upon returning from the Middle East last week.
The operation is being led by the Middle Eastern Organised Crime squad and is not believed that counter-terrorism police are involved.
Osman Haouchar told The Daily Telegraph he was angered the raids had been branded as terror-related and that they had been a waste of “taxpayer money”.
Police were called to the Haouchar home just hours after Mr Haouchar landed in Australia last week, to break up a heated argument between members of the two families. Neither party co-operated with police at the time.
Mr Haouchar told family and friends he moved to Antakya on the Turkish-Syrian border in February. He posted pictures taken in the town to social media and listed his occupation as “humanitarian aide”.
He was questioned by Australian Federal Police for more than four hours when he touched down at Sydney airport from Dubai but was released without charge. He had been travelling with two women, thought to be his mother and sister.
Talal Alamaddine, 22, was recently refused bail after he was charged with supplying the gun which was used by teen terrorist Farhad Jabar, 15, to execute Mr Cheng in October.
Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 while Assistant Commissioner Jenkins urges anyone with knowledge of threats to police or police stations to call triple-0.
Target Australia praised for using real women in latest catalogue
WOMEN of Australia are rejoicing and heaping praise on Target Australia for breaking away from tradition this Christmas.
Their latest Christmas catalogue features their new range of summer bikinis being modelled by women of varying sizes and body shapes as well as differing ages. And women of Australia were quick to notice and thank the retailer for showing “real women”.
Their Facebook page has been inundated with people applauding the retail giant’s decision, something Target Spokesperson, Kristene Reynolds is more than happy to see.
“We’re thrilled with the amazing response that has been generated on social media for the new swimwear catalogue as we are continuously committed to promoting diversity and celebrating all women,” Reynolds said.
“In August of this year we launched the Every Body campaign with the introduction of size 16 mannequins in store and women of all shapes and sizes across our TV, digital and print campaigns. Both initiatives are small but vital steps in continuing Target’s promise to make quality style and fashion not only more affordable but also more accessible and relevant for women.”
But it’s not just the “real women” getting a run in Target’s new advertising, regular blokes are also appearing in their pages.
Behind the ‘white student unions’ springing up at Australian universities
SO-CALLED white student unions are springing up at universities across Australia, charged with supporting and defending the interests of white students who they say are becoming marginalised from on-campus life and political debate.
At least seven unofficial unions have formed at rapid speed in the past week, claiming to represent students of European descent at the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, the University of NSW and the University of Western Australia.
However, there are allegations that the movement is in fact an elaborate attempt to troll universities and the media, by the likes of users of online bulletin boards 4chan and 8chan.
If it is a hoax, it is a pretty sophisticated one, with members reaching out to news.com.au to share their views on the need to “advance our interests as white students”.
The proliferation of white student unions follows a similar trend in the US, where groups have built considerable support on social media and many intend to establish an on-campus presence in the new year. However, this has also been dismissed as a hoax.
Australian universities have distanced themselves from these unofficial groups, which are copping backlash on social media by fellow students and others who accuse them of white supremacy and racism. Responses to the groups on social media have ranged from “be proud of your heritage!” to “f*** off Nazis”.
Others have responded with utter incredulity: “This page is satire, right?” one person asked.
But the students behind the unions deny white pride is akin to racism, and argue they have as legitimate a place in university life as any other student group.
‘ALL WE WANT IS EQUALITY’
The White Students Union at the Western Sydney University, which formed over the weekend and is already “into the double digits” of members, is “not out to antagonise anyone”, according its spokesman.
The spokesman, who approached news.com.au to write a story, said he was a 24-year-old journalism student and gave us his name, but we have chosen not to publish it because we could not verify it.
He said the group, which will seek formal registration with the university in 2016 and already has a six-person committee, was designed to “advance our interests as white students and promote a safe space where we can come together as a community and organise”.
“We’re a genuine group, we’re not doing it to troll anyone,” he told news.com.au.
“If you roll up to any university these days you’ll have gay safe spaces, Muslim safe spaces: in the last four or five years it’s become very politically correct.
“That’s great. I’m as PC as they come. We’re staying within the narrative. All we want is equality.”
He said he was “absolutely” expecting a backlash, but wanted to “test the boundaries of what they’re willing to acknowledge”.
“We just thought, why not? Everyone else is doing it, why can’t we do it? Anecdotally we have a lot of support from the ethnic students,” he said.
“Our main antagonists are actually the older, white academics. These people say they’re all about equality. The academics try to build this narrative that nobody supports this stuff, but it’s happening. We’re just using that language ourselves.”
Despite the hoax claims, universities are taking the rise of these unions seriously.
In a statement, a spokesman for Western Sydney University said the group was not an official or authorised student group, adding: “The university prides itself on the diversity of its university community and condemns any action that seeks to undermine this.”
The University of Technology, Sydney, and Macquarie University both said white student unions formed by their students were not official and did not reflect the views of the universities or the majority of their students.
In the “About” section of the Facebook page for the UTS White Student Union, it says the group was “advancing the rights for the people of European descent” and “anyone from any background can join”.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie University said it had publicly contacted the administrators of the page yesterday, requesting that they remove the campus image and refrain from referring to themselves as “a student organisation at Macquarie University”.
“We understand this page is likely to be part of a wider hoax, stemming from North America, nevertheless we are continuing our investigations into the origin of this page,” the spokeswoman told news.com.au.
A spokeswoman for the University of NSW said a Facebook page for the UNSW White Student Union was “in no way related” to UNSW or its student groups. “The university will be asking Facebook to delete the page,” the spokeswoman said.
The University of Queensland went so far as to condemn the University of Queensland White Student Union, which was formed last Tuesday, as a “racist web hoax”.
On its Facebook page, which has 378 likes, the University of Queensland White Student Union group rails against university overcrowding and “rich international students” outbidding white Australian students for rental housing and casual work.
“We’re forced to put up with an overcrowded campus that hosts thousands more students than it was ever designed for. Not enough parking, not enough toilets, not enough computers, not enough study spaces,” a post dated November 24 reads.
“We’re forced to do group work with internationals who can’t speak English, we carry the load and do all the work while our marks are dragged down.
“We’re forced to put up with the anti-social behaviour of a particular group of students who treat study spaces as social spaces and constantly attempt to ‘reserve’ public resources such as computers. Enough is enough.”
The founders of the UQ group asked not to be identified but said they represented white students “who’ve had their voices silenced by political correctness”.
“Individual people can be bullied into submission but as a group we can’t be silenced,” the group told news.com.au
“Political correctness and free speech are issues that are becoming more and more important.”
The group said existing student organisations were “obsessed with catering to minorities” and they planned to establish their own society on campus in 2016.
“We’re very clear on our position that white people have every right to organise themselves and act collectively to further their mutual interests,” they said.
“We don’t think whites are inherently ‘superior’ and definitely don’t think they should ‘rule over’ anybody else.
“We think the ideas and issues we’re raising have become more relevant to students as a new strain of political correctness has swept across the Western word over the past few years promoting ideas like ‘white privilege’. There are all these nasty ideas around now that white people, particularly white men, are always ‘privileged’ regardless of their background and personal circumstances and that if they suffer hardship they deserve it, and that white people are the cause of everything that’s wrong in the world.”
News.com.au asked the spokesman to prove that he was a legitimate student at the university, but he said he thought it was in his best interests to “maintain anonymity” due to death threats the group had received.
Third-year University of Western Australia student Michael (who did not wish to reveal his last name) said he founded the UWA White Student Association on the weekend.
He said ensuring all students and staff spoke fluent English, making sure “the full breadth of white, European holidays and festivities” were celebrated on campus, getting racist attacks on white students recognised as racism, and having the recently dumped European studies major reinstated were among the issues his group intended to lobby for.
“Our basic aims are to represent the interests of white students on campus, as well as do our bit to reverse what we view as the rapid decline of Western civilisation, caused by mass immigration resulting in a clash of values, and the decline of family values,” Michael told news.com.au.
A spokesman for UWA said the university did not endorse “behaviours and actions which are deemed to be racially and culturally intolerant or offensive”.
“UWA has a strong track record on promoting cultural and religious diversity and the university is committed to produce graduates who are intellectually and emotionally comfortable with difference,” the spokesman said.
In response to accusations of racism, Michael says he and the group were not racists and “we never will be”. “Supporting white students doesn’t imply hatred of other races, it’s not a logical accusation,” he said. “We would be happy to work with other ethnic clubs to fulfil mutual goals.
“(Groups that represent ethnic minority groups) are nothing new, and we don’t have an issue with them. What is new is the increasing difficulty white students face in expressing their views, identity, or culture on campus without being shouted down and labelled.
“White students are not a minority, but they are currently being treated worse than most minorities, if they break rank with the left-wing multicultural orthodoxy that is hellbent of persecuting expression of whiteness.”
On its Facebook page, the UWA White Student Association points out that the university already has a Singapore Students Association and an African Student Union, among other groups, so it was “about time white students organised and started working together”.
A RISING TREND
The emergence of white student unions at universities in the US, including Berkeley and Harvard, have been suggested to be a response to a wave of recent anti-racism protests. One such union at the University of Illinois sprung up hours after a black solidarity event was held on campus. Others, however, have been revealed as hoaxes.
Dr Peter Gale from the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education at the University of South Australia told news.com.au the parallel emergence of such groups in Australia was not the first time mainstream society has attempted to redress what many perceived to be “reverse racism”.
He said it was “not unrelated” to our current political climate.
“We can go back to the late 1990s with the rise of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party where there was a backlash from groups within mainstream Australia who even claimed there was reverse racism,” he said.
“Then we had an intensification of what I term as a politics of fear following September 11 so discourse around reverse racism increased following that.
“And unfortunately there’s a perception problem where many people don’t recognise the ongoing inequalities and difficulties that many minority groups within Western countries generally are still experiencing, which contributes to a level of resentment when we have affirmative action programs for those seeking to address disadvantage that’s been experienced by some groups.
“So where we may have a scholarship program for indigenous students, or we may have programs that seek to enhance the experience of international students on campus, and that’s perceived at discrimination, it’s very disappointing when people take that position.”
Dr Gale said it was also disappointing some people who were part of mainstream Australia didn’t “have an appreciation for the privileged position” of being at university.
“They certainly don’t have the experience of many minority groups that have had to overcome many difficulties and inequalities to get to a privileged position of being able to study at a tertiary level,” he said.
“There are many groups within Australian society where there is an ongoing inequality in terms of the participation rates in just getting to university. There's still an ongoing inequality for indigenous people in accessing university.
“We need far more of an emphasis on improving relations between groups within society rather than responses that are going to create further divisions.
“I’d be concerned that there’s an emphasis on what are the benefits for one particular group over another particular group. we should be working together to enhance interculturalism rather than further separation and segregation between groups.”